The Ketogenic Diet - A Keto Guide for Beginners

what is the keto diet?

What does keto even mean and how is it done? First of all let's get this out of the way. What does the word “keto" mean? Basically the body can run on two different fuels.

One is sugar from carbohydrates in the food we eat and that's what most people today primarily use. Let's say if they're eating bread, pasta, rice, potatoes etc. The other fuel is fat.

The keto diet is a very low-carb diet. So low in carbs that the body has to switch to mainly using fat for fuel. For example from real foods like eggs, meat, avocados, butter, olive oil, nuts, etc.

Even the brain can become fueled by fat. When the body is out of sugar, fat is converted in the liver into energy molecules called ketones that fuel the brain.

And the diet that results in this is called ketogenic, meaning it produces ketones.

And that's why the diet is called the keto diet. Being fueled mostly by fat, a state called "ketosis", has many​benefits including that you become a fat-burning machine.

It's perfect for weight loss without hunger burning fat 24/7 even when you're sleeping. Because it gives you tons of energy, you'll basically never run out.

The foundation of keto is something old that you've heard about a million


It's a strict low-carb diet, it's a gluten-free diet, it's similar to the paleo diet

and it's very close to the old and well-known Atkins diet. The basic idea is super simple and based on real foods.

You simply avoid most carbohydrates like sugar, processed junk food, bread, pasta, rice etc. And instead you eat meat, fish, eggs, vegetables and natural fats like butter.

What is different with keto?

Is that it's a supercharged low-carb diet So keto is a supercharged version of an old idea. Similar diets have been tried for decades, even centuries.

These similar diets keep returning more popular than ever because they work.

And this could have an evolutionary explanation as our ancestors did not eat refined carbohydrates or sugar like we do today, so our bodies may not be adapted to those foods. Modern science proves that it works. On a keto diet most people can lose excess weight without hunger and a number of health issues tend to improve. Most importantly a keto diet is not just used as a temporary fix.

Many people enjoy it as a long term lifestyle. Many people feel energized, full of mental clarity and have stable blood sugar levels. Most of the hunger disappears, cravings for sweets foods are reduced, so there's no need to snack all the time anymore.

People save time by being happy with fewer meals. They eat delicious food whenever they're hungry and there's not even any need to count calories.

Most people feel so satiated on keto that they can eat when they're hungry and still eat less and lose excess weight.

They don't even have to exercise. Now of course some exercise is good for you

for health and feeling your best, but it's not required for weight loss and certainly not on keto.  

History on the Ketogenic Diet

the original ketogenic diet referred to as the classic ketogenic diet was designed in 1923 by dr. Russell Wilder at the Mayo Clinic for the treatment of epilepsy all ketogenic diets are a variation of the classic ketogenic diet they are described by the ratio of fat to protein and carbohydrate this is called the macronutrient ratio the classic ketogenic diet carries a four to one ratio which means that there are four grams of fat for every one gram of protein and carbohydrate combined the main difference between the five types of ketogenic diets is this macronutrient ratio fat is higher in calories than protein and carbohydrate fat has nine calories per gram while both protein and carbohydrate have just four calories per gram in a four-to-one classic ketogenic diet 90% of calories come from fat while the remaining 10% come from protein and carbohydrate  

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Why a Ketogenic Diet is Best for Weight Loss 

1. Reduced appetite. One of the worst parts about dieting is that feeling of always being hungry. When you don’t eat as many carbs, you don’t feel as hungry because your meals have more staying power.

2. Easier and quicker weight loss. Excess water is shed from the body on this type of diet, lowering insulin levels, so the kidneys can get rid of all that extra sodium.

3. Reduction in harmful abdominal fat, greatly reducing the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

4. Higher levels of HDL, the so-called “good” cholesterol. Instead of carrying cholesterol from the liver to the rest of the body like LDL does, HDL encourages the flow of cholesterol away from the body and to the liver. Then, it can be either excreted or re-used.

5. Reduction in blood triglycerides, which can lower your heart disease risk factor.

6. Reduction in blood sugar and insulin levels. This is great news for type 2 diabetes sufferers, as they can more easily manage, treat or even reverse their symptoms.

7. Decreased blood pressure. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, can put you at risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.

8. Improved symptoms of the metabolic syndrome, which if left unchecked can increase your risk of diabetes and heart disease. Improved symptoms with a ketogenic diet can include a reduction in anything from abdominal obesity to high fasting blood sugar levels.

9. Higher energy levels. Instead of all those heavy carbs and processed foods, you’re eating more meats and proteins which will give you the energy boost you need to get through your day. You’ll feel more alert and less sluggish.

10. Tasty food choices. From seafood and meat to poultry and eggs, you have a wide variety of tasty, filling foods that can complement your lifestyle in many ways.  

Paleo vs Keto

Paleo vs Keto Differences While both the Paleo and Keto diets can be used to achieve a certain outcome, the Keto diet is more rigorous and targeted, while the Paleo diet is more of a long-term lifestyle choice that can produce certain health benefits — including weight loss — but isn’t as restrictive or intense as the Keto diet. Here are the main differences between the Paleo and the Keto diet.

1. The Paleo Diet Isn’t Necessarily Low-Carb, High-Fat. The Paleo diet may restrict grains, legumes, and refined sugar, but there’s no real limit to the amount of carbs you can eat when it comes to fruit and starchy vegetables, such as squash, sweet potato, and pumpkin. You can also use natural

sweeteners liberally on the Paleo diet, such as raw honey, coconut nectar and pure maple syrup, which are higher in carbs.

The fact that the Paleo diet has no emphasis on carb consumption means your body will almost certainly continue burning glucose as energy, unless you intentionally restrict carbs to a low enough percentage (around 5%) to enter ketosis.

The Paleo diet also encourages healthy fats like the keto diet does, but again, a person can easily consume carbs from fruit and starchy vegetables as 60% of their diet and fats as 10% of their diet and still be following a Paleo diet correctly.

2. The Keto Diet Doesn’t Restrict Dairy. milk shake Full-fat dairy products are permitted on the Keto diet (although depending on who you ask, they’re not always encouraged).

As we covered above, the Paleo diet removes foods that are hard for the body to break down and can wreak havoc on gut health — dairy products are one of them. Dairy is a common food intolerance because most of us stop producing an adequate amount of lactase, which is the enzyme needed to digest the milk sugar lactose found in dairy, around age 4 (once breastfeeding has stopped)

3. The Keto Diet Measures Fat, Protein, and Carb Percentage. In order for the Keto diet to work, there’s a specific macronutrient percentage you must follow — otherwise your body can’t enter ketosis. On the Standard Keto Diet (SKD), the percentages usually fall around 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs. On the other hand, you don’t have to abide by macronutrient percentages when it

comes to following a Paleo diet.

4. The Keto Diet Requires Testing for Ketosis. Since the goal of the keto diet is to enter ketosis, how do you know you’ve achieved it? By testing for it, of course. The keto diet has several testing methods to detect ketone bodies in your blood, which indicate your body has successfully begun to burn fatty acids for energy.

Since the Paleo diet doesn’t have a specific metabolic goal, there’s no testing method for being Paleo — you ‘just know’ you’re Paleo if you cut dairy, grains, legumes and refined sugar from your diet.

5. The Keto Diet Focuses on a Specific Outcome: Burning Fat instead of Carbs. 

The biggest difference between the Keto and Paleo diets is the desired outcome: burning fat instead of carbs. As you now understand, following the keto diet is a way to manipulate your metabolism and accelerate fat loss. The Paleo diet can still promote weight loss, especially by cutting out refined sugar and grains, which trigger fat storage and weight gain, but your metabolism will most likely remain in the default state which is burning carbs for energy (unless of course, you decide to drastically reduce your carbs down to 5% while eating Paleo — which would essentially be following both

diets at the same time.)  

Ketogenic Diet vs Low Carb Diet

The words "low-carb" and "keto" get thrown around a lot. Are they the same thing? At first glance, it may appear that if you eat one less cup of rice, you can transition from a low-carbohydrate diet to a ketogenic diet. 

After all, both nutritional strategies place an emphasis on reducing carbohydrates, and both are often followed for their fat-loss potential. Pretty much the same thing, right? Not so fast, ketobro. 

Although both diets are considered low-carb compared to the standard Western diet—you know, the one made up mostly of processed carbs and mystery ingredients—the similarities stop there, both in philosophy and execution.

Here's what you need to know about low-carb and ketogenic diets so you can make an informed choice!. The Low-Carbohydrate Diet Defined.

A low-carbohydrate diet is a pretty vague description in and of itself. 

After all, "low" is a relative term. But in the most effective versions of this approach, the priority is being more selective about your carbs and where they come from.

In many cases, you can still eat fruit, vegetables, and beans, while eliminating or cutting back on grains, baked goods, and processed sugars. This shift from carb-dense sources to low-density ones naturally reduces the daily amount of carbs you take in.

However, a low-carbohydrate diet lacks specific classifications of what "low" means, and often neglects protein and fat recommendations. Technically, if you're used to eating 300 grams of carbohydrates per day, and drop to 200 per day, you're following a lower-carbohydrate diet. 

If you don't replace those lost calories, you'll probably lose some weight, but it may have been the lower calories that caused it, not the lower carbs. 

Conversely, if you replace those missing calories with either more fat or more protein, you produce two very different diets. The Difference Is In The Ketones.

One byproduct of carbohydrate restriction is increased production of ketone bodies, which are small molecules derived from fat produced in the liver. When your body's stored glucose levels are low, ketone production increases. 

This can be measured via blood- or urine-ketone testing. A traditional high-carb diet results in blood ketones between 0.1 and 0.2 millimoles

(mmols), and a moderate-to-low-carb diet has no significant effect on this. 

However, once you truly embrace a ketogenic diet, blood ketones rise to 0.5 -5.0 millimoles, putting you in a state of "nutritional ketosis" and signifying that you're keto-adapted.

[2] This is the primary indicator that you're following a ketogenic diet.

Carbohydrates. In most research studies, a low-carbohydrate diet is defined as eating less than 30 percent of calories from carbohydrates, which often equates to 50-125 grams per day.

[3,4] For comparison's sake, The American Dietary Guidelines (2010) recommend that 45-65 percent of calories come from carbohydrates each day.

[5] A ketogenic diet, on the other hand, is defined as eating 5-10 percent of total calories from carbohydrates.

[6] This often equates to 25-30 grams of carbohydrates per day, with a suggested maximum of 50 grams per day. Protein. Protein intake can run the gamut in a low-carb approach. 

Personally, when weight loss is the goal, I recommend maintaining a moderate to high protein level to support muscle mass and satiety.

High-protein diet: Greater than 0.7 grams per pound of body weight.

Moderate-protein diet: 0.36 - 0.69 grams per pound of body weight.

Low-protein diet: Less than 0.36 grams per pound of body weight.


A well-designed low-carbohydrate diet should still have a moderate amount of

fat—you have to fill your calories somehow, right? Far too many physique

competitors have discovered the hard way that going low-fat and low-carb leads to poor recovery and feeling awful most of the time. 

That said, provided you're getting the minimum, your fat level isn't as crucial in a low-carb approach, since your body is still running off of carbohydrates as its primary fuel source.  

Foods to Eat

1. Egg, including yolks

2. All green, leafy vegetables, as well as cauliflower, avocado,

mushrooms, peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

3. When choosing dairy, opt for full-fat version of cheeses,

butter, sour cream, yogurt, and milk.

4. Eat nuts such as walnuts, almonds, filberts, and sunflower and

pumpkin seeds.  

Foods to Avoid

1. Any food containing sugar, including cereals; soft drinks,

juices, and sports drinks, candies, and chocolate. Limit

artificial sweeteners as much as possible.

2. Starchy food such as pasta and potatoes, breads, potato chips,

and french fries, cooking oils, and margarine.

3. All beers.  

Signs You Might Be in Ketosis

1. Weight Loss 

One of the obvious signs of ketosis is weight loss but this can also be pretty deceptive because many people don’t experience the kind of weight loss that they expect.

This can happen for a variety of reasons but when you get close to entering ketosis or do enter ketosis you’ll find that you lose a healthy amount of weight quickly.

For example, when you switch to low carbs you usually experience significant weight loss in the first week. In fact, my wife lost 12 lbs in the first 28 days of Keto and I lost 13.

This isn’t your body burning fat but finally being able to release the water that was being held by the fat cells. If your fat cells don’t release this water then they can’t flow through the bloodstream to be used as fuel so losing water weight is a good thing.

After the initial rapid drop in water weight, you should continue to lose body fat consistently if you are able to stick with the low-carb aspects of the diet and keep your body in a caloric deficit.

2. Loss of Appetite

Something strange happens when you leave the world of carbs behind.

You don’t get as hungry. You still get hungry but your stomach won’t do earth shattering rumblings that make you think you need to clear out the buffet.

Instead, you will find that you eat only what is necessary and continue on with your day. The reason for this is because your body does a better job of regulating the hormones that trigger your brain to let you know that you need to eat.

When you overeat enough with carbs your brain starts to ignore the hormone. This is why you can sometimes eat so much you feel like you are going to explode.

3. Increased Focus and Energy

A personal favorite when it comes to ketosis. If you are the type of person that is used to your body crashing in the afternoon then ketosis might seem like a miracle diet.

When people talk about no longer being tired in the afternoon it’s just a small

difference that produces huge results. 

In ketosis, your body does a great job of producing ketones (it’s good at what it does) so you almost have an endless supply of fuel for your brain.

When your brain has the fuel it allows you to stay focused instead of wandering off envisioning the cupcakes in the break room.

4. Short-Term Fatigue

Wait, what? We just talked about increased energy and now we are talking about fatigue. The problem with switching over to the ketogenic diet is that your body has to completely transition over.

During this transition, your body is looking for glucose and when it doesn’t have it, it isn’t quite ready yet to produce enough ketones to sustain you.

Your body is also releasing a lot of electrolytes through urine that you aren’t used to replacing. Hint: If you aren’t in ketosis yet it might be because you aren’t drinking enough water.

To fight the short-term fatigue and get over this initial hump simply make sure that you are replacing all of the electrolytes that your body is losing. You can do this with specialized drinks and supplements or make sure you get them in the foods that you eat.

5. Bad Breath

Halitosis is one of the side effects that I do not like with the ketogenic diet. It’s no fun waking up and wondering what died in your mouth. It’s probably not as bad as I made it sound but you will experience bad breath.

The reason for this is because your body is producing more acetone which exits your body through your urine and breath. It doesn’t carry on throughout the day, just when you wake up so make sure you brush your teeth.


The Keto flu

keto flu describes the flu-like symptoms that people starting a low-carb diet often experience.

These symptoms are caused by your body being too used to receiving carbohydrates from the food you eat and not being able to change your body’s energy source when you stop eating carbs. (If you’re interested in the science, then this article provides a very detailed explanation of why keto flu happens.)

Some people explain keto flu as symptoms resulting from withdrawal from carbohydrates (think drug addiction here). And indeed, there are studies showing that sugars (which are a form of carbohydrates) can cause drug-like additions.

But don’t panic if you think you have keto flu. I will tell you several ways to shorten that period 


If you just started a low carb or ketogenic diet, then you might experience keto flu symptoms like:


Sugar cravings,


Difficulty focusing (or Brain Fog),


Difficulty Getting To Sleep,


Stomach Irritability,


This is a tough one as it varies from person to person. But generally, most people find the keto flu symptoms are worst in the first week of ditching carbs from their diet.

Some people will find symptoms linger into the second week. A few people report keto flu lasting 3-5 weeks. (If you haven’t started a low carb or ketogenic diet yet, don’t despair as keto flu doesn’t affect everyone and even if it does, it’s usually very short lived.)


Many people suggest diluting a bouillon cube in water and drinking that to cure keto flu. But if you’ve ever looked at the ingredients in bouillon cubes, you’ll probably think twice about using them again (they read like a nutrition nightmare regardless of what diet you’re on)!

So, my suggestion is to make your own bone broth and add salt and spices to it. While the symptoms of keto flu (or carb flu) are painful, they are worth it! Not only do most people experience weight loss after that initial period, they also find they have more energy, less bloating, fewer digestive issues, and a bunch more benefits.

But as I mentioned above, the diet only works if you stick to it. So if you find the symptoms unbearable, then try to introduce more clean carbs like sweet potatoes and other vegetables or some fruits.

And if you do give up or end up cheating on your diet, don’t despair! Just pick it back up again the next day. There’s no guilt – just your journey to better health.