As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This post may contain affiliate links, view our disclosure policy for details.
The ketogenic diet has been gaining popularity over the past couple of years and for good reason. There are countless proven results that it works. Speaking from personal experience and proven results, the ketogenic diet can help you lose weight, increase your energy levels, decrease your blood sugar levels, stabilize your insulin levels and improve your overall health.
It is known to be especially advantageous for people with type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Having experienced three of these diseases myself, I wholeheartedly believe in the ketogenic diet and its benefits.
Because of the ketogenic diet, I was able to reverse my type 2 diabetes and completely reverse my PCOS. My insulin levels have finally become stable after years of gaining weight and I was able to lose more than 100 pounds following the keto diet.
I have more pounds to shed for sure, but am extremely happy with the results I have experienced thus far.
Before starting a ketogenic diet, I think it is important to understand how it works, what it is exactly and why it’s so effective.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I cannot guarantee that people following a ketogenic diet will experience the same benefits as I did. Make sure to talk to your health care provider to find out what kind of diet plan is best for you and your health.
Continue reading or jump to the sections you're interested in!
- What is the keto diet?
- What happens when you eat carbs.
- How keto works.
- What are the signs of ketosis?
- How to start a low carb diet or keto diet.
- Steps to starting a successful keto diet.
- What to eat on a ketogenic diet.
- What to drink on a ketogenic diet.
- Foods to avoid on a ketogenic diet and low carb diet.
- How to measure ketones.
- Reasons to start a ketogenic diet.
- Different types of keto diets.
- How to track your macros.
- Keto diet side effects.
- Keto diet plan.
- Download all of the infographics to print!
What is the keto diet?
There are two ways the human body can function. One is by burning glucose for energy, what most do, and the other is by burning fat for energy, what people on a ketogenic diet or low carb diet do.
The human body is designed to use energy from glucose in your body. But when you do not eat carbs, your body can’t burn glucose for energy as there isn’t any to burn. So, on a ketogenic diet, when your body burns fat, whether dietary fat or body fat, it starts to produce molecules called ketones, which is what is used to make energy.
The body will use these ketones for fuel when blood sugar (glucose) is in short supply. Ketones are produced by eating very few carbs and moderate amounts of protein. When the body starts to use ketones as fuel, it is called ketosis.
When in ketosis, the daily energy requirements are met by burning fat so you do not need to ingest glucose.
The amount of carbs that need to be ingested in order to reach ketosis greatly differs on the person. Things like stress, weight, heritage, diseases and so on all play factors. The standard is ingesting less than 20 grams of carbs per day, but some people (like me) can do up to 50g of carbs and still stay in ketosis.
What happens when you eat carbs
Carbohydrates that are eaten are broken down in glucose, which is then used for energy. When you have more than enough glucose in your bloodstream, your body stores the excess into the liver and the muscles as glycogen.
The human body will automatically go to glucose for energy. But because the body can only store up to two thousand calories of glucose at any given time (2), it’s not a sustainable source of energy. That’s why, when eating a standard high-carb diet, you always need to replenish your energy sources by eating constantly throughout the day as the cravings for food never stop.
Because of this, it’s hard to stabilize our blood sugars that spike and drop after eating food. We rely on glucose so much that it’s very hard to lose weight.
Moreover, the hormone insulin is deeply affected by the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. Insulin is the hormone that balances blood sugars. It tells the liver, fat and muscles cells to absorb the incoming glucose and therefore lower the level of glucose in the bloodstream.
Insulin also pauses any fat burning so that we can store or burn the glucose coming in. Only once then the glucose is dealt with, will the insulin start to burn fat again.
Those with good insulin sensitivity have no problems maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. But problems start to happen when glucose levels in the bloodstream are constantly high.
When there is a constant stream of glucose coming in (when you eat multiple times a day or large amount of carbs), the corresponding high levels of insulin cause the cells to become deaf to insulin, meaning that the cells no longer absorb glucose so the glucose levels in the bloodstream are always high or too high. This can cause insulin resistance, obesity, type 2 diabetes, PCOS and many more lifestyle diseases.
How Keto Works
When there is a lack of glucose in the bloodstream (from not eating carbs), a hormone called glucagon is released. Glucagon stimulates the liver to convert the stored glycogen into glucose which is then released into the bloodstream. Glucagon also tells the body to use the stored fuel source, fat. As it burns fat, ketones are created by the body.
Ketones are used as a fuel source throughout the body, especially the brain. In the human body, the brain requires the most energy and it can only run glucose or ketones.
Ketones are then used as your primary source of energy. It can take a little bit of time for the body to get used to burning fat instead of glucose for energy. This period is usually called “fat adaptation” or “becoming fat adapted”.
Once you’re in nutritional ketosis, your insulin and blood sugar levels drop, your HDL cholesterol increases, and you start to finally lose weight. Since your body starts to burn dietary and body fat as its main source of fuel, you also start to lose weight.
Because the insulin levels are constantly stable, the insulin hormone doesn’t need to alert the brain that we are hungry since we always feel satiated from all of the fat that we are burning.
- Carbohydrate intakes is decreased to less than 20-50g per day.
- The body uses the last of its stored glycogen.
- The body starts to burn fat (dietary and body fat) for energy.
- Fat is broken down for energy creating ketones.
- The body also creates glucose from protein sources (gluconeogenesis) since some bodily processes still require glucose.
- Ketones become the body’s primary source of fuel instead of glucose.
What are Net Carbs?
When following a low carb or ketogenic diet, you can subtract the fiber and sugar alcohols from the total carbohydrates to give you net carbs. Since fiber and sugar alcohols don’t affect your blood sugar or get stored as glycogen, they pass right through your body so you do not have to count them.
However, some people choose to use total carbs as their carb limit. Just know that if you choose to use total carbs, the food you can eat will be even more limited.
What is Fat Adaption?
Fat adaptation is the period where your body gets used to burning fat for energy instead of glucose.
What is Fat Adapted?
Once you get used to burning fat for fuel instead of glucose, this period is called fat adapted.
What is Ketosis?
When you stop eating carbohydrates, the human body can’t burn glucose as there isn’t any to burn. So instead it starts to burn fat (dietary and body) which then produces molecules called ketones. The body will use these ketones as energy, which is called ketosis.
You don’t necessarily need high ketone levels to do a keto diet. Ketones are not the cause of fat loss, they are simply the result of fat burning.
What are the Signs of Ketosis?
To tell if you’re in ketosis or not, there are a few things that you can do to.
- Ketone levels
- You can check your ketone levels with a blood meter or urine sticks.
- Great energy
- If you have steady energy, better focus and a reduced appetite, it’s usually a sign that you’re in ketosis.
- Reduced hunger
- Eating healthy fats keeps you feeling full and satiated. Ketones also suppress your hunger hormones, helping you feel full longer.
- Keto breath
- Some people often experience a metallic taste in their mouths due to increased ketones in their blood.
- Weight loss
- This seems like an obvious one, but if you’re losing weight it’s because it’s working and you’re in ketosis!
- Flu-like symptoms
- When you first start out, you may experience flu-like symptoms like a headache, lethargy, or muscle cramps. Taking your electrolytes should help alleviate these symptoms.
How to start a low carb diet or keto diet
Now that you’re a little bit familiar with the science behind the ketogenic diet, you’re ready to start! The easiest way to define the ketogenic diet is by saying it is a high healthy fat, moderate protein and low carb diet.
The first thing that you need to do when starting a ketogenic diet, is to cut carbs down. On a Standard American Diet, you would normally eat between 300-400 grams of carbs per day. However, on a ketogenic diet, you will need to decrease your intake of carbohydrates to under 50g per day or preferably less than 20g per day.
The fewer the carbs, the easier it is to reach nutritional ketosis.
The keto diet itself is quite simple to do but may be difficult to adapt to at first. Our bodies are so used to burning glucose for energy that doing a completely 180° requires a massive change in our physiology and lifestyle.
What are Macros
Carbohydrates, fat, and protein are all macronutrients (macros) that make up the bulk of our food. The rest is called micronutrients and include vitamins and minerals, which are both essential for the human body.
Carbohydrates are largely found in grains, sugar, rice, bread, pasta, quinoa and buckwheat. They are also abundant in fruits and vegetables. Starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn have the most carbs. Fruits like bananas, mangos, grapes and dried fruit like raisins have an extremely high amount of sugar so are very high in carbs.
Protein are found in animal foods like pork, beef, chicken, fish, and eggs. You can also find some protein in plant-based foods like beans, lentils, nuts and seeds.
Fats are found in oils (avocado, coconut, olive), avocado, nuts, olives, seeds and animal proteins like ribs, pork belly, steak and dairy.
Tips to get into ketosis
- Lower your carb consumptions to under 50g net carbs or preferably under 20g.
- Include coconut oil, especially MCT oil, into your diet. MCTs are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and taken directly to the liver, where they can be converted into energy or ketones.
- Be more active. Doing endurance exercise like HIIT training or weight training helps get into ketosis faster.
- Increase your fat intake the first couple of weeks. Choose high quality sources including olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, butter, lard or tallow.
- Try intermittent fasting. Short fasts can also induce ketosis. 16 to 20-hour fasts should do it.
- Don’t eat too much protein.
Steps to Starting A Successful Keto Diet
- Calculate your Macros
- Only buy food from the approved Keto Grocery List
- Try to have greens at every plate
- Eat only when hungry
- Just eat real food
- Don’t eat between meals
- Follow your macros
- Make sure to keep up with your electrolytes (NECESSARY)
- Drink 3-4L/1 gallon of water or more every day
- Read labels carefully
- Use keto friendly sweeteners and flours
- Incorporate Intermittent Fasting into your diet (optional)
- Do some HIIT training or weight training 2-3 times a week (optional)
Calculate your macros
You will need to calculate how much carbs, protein and fat you can eat during the day with my keto calculator. This will give you a guideline to how much you can eat depending on your activity levels and what your goals are.
The general guideline is to do 5% carbs, 25% protein and 70% fat. You can adjust the macro ratio, though, to fit your needs.
I personally have a lot of body fat so I usually subtract 30% of the fat grams because I want to also burn my own body fat. So, if the calculator gave me 110g of fat per day, I would subtract 30% and try to eat less than 77g per day, which isn’t a problem because I always feel so full at about 50g of fat per day.
Only buy food from the approved Keto Grocery List
Use this handy keto grocery list to bring to the grocery store with you. This list will help you see what foods are keto approved so you never have to worry about buy high carb things ever again.
Try to have greens at every plate
Try to take your carbs from leafy greens every day. Dark leafy grains have high nutrient levels like vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K and are rich in iron. Since leafy greens and green vegetables tend to be lower in carbs than other vegetables, they are a great source of carbs to choose from.
On a ketogenic diet, you still eat a few carbs (0-50g) so it’s important to choose where those carbs will come from since protein and fat do not have carbs.
Only Eat when Hungry
You’ll notice at about 1 or 2 weeks into the ketogenic diet, you’re not as hungry as you once were when you were eating lots of carbohydrates. Because a low carb diet is rich in healthy fats and protein, this tends to fill you right up for hours.
So, I can’t stress this enough. If you’re not hungry, then simply don’t eat. You don’t need to. It doesn’t matter if you only had one or two meals for the day. If you feel satiated, then you simply don’t need to eat until you become hungry again.
Just Eat Real Food
Try to stick to real food. Stop buying pre-made packages, microwavable dinners, and so on. Stick to real healthy food. Homemade is even better because you know exactly what’s inside.
Don’t Eat Between Meals
Our goal with a ketogenic diet is to decrease blood sugar and insulin levels. If you eat between meals and have snacks, your insulin levels will always stay high and you will not be able to lose weight because your body won’t be burning any fat.
Remember insulin needs to burn the stored glucose that’s coming in before it can start to burn the fat that you ate or your body fat.
Longer periods without meals allow for the insulin to drop completely and start to burn as much fat as possible, which is why intermittent fasting is often recommended while doing keto.
Follow your macros
Try to follow your macros as much as possible, but don’t be discouraged if you go over them once in a while. Eating more than 20g of net carbs will not kick you out of ketosis. I can personally eat up to 50g net carbs and still maintain 1.8 levels of ketones.
However, eating something from the not approved list will have more chance of kicking you out of ketosis.
- Fat is a lever
- Protein is a goal
- Carbs are a limit
There is a saying in the keto community that fat is a lever, carbs are a limit and protein is a goal. That means that fat is only eaten to satisfy you. You do not need to eat the whole amount of fats listed on the macro calculator. If you’re hungry, then go right ahead and eat some healthy fat choices, but once you feel full, stop.
Protein is a goal because humans need protein to survive and keep muscles intact. If you’re weight lifting, your protein intake will be larger than the average dieter, but definitely do not eat less than 60g of protein per day. That’s the minimum required to not have any muscle loss.
Carbs are a limit. Try not to go over them. The more carbs you eat, the more glucose and insulin will be created, so it’ll take longer for the levels to go down before you can start burning fat and lose weight again.
Make sure to keep up with your electrolytes
This step is absolutely necessary. Do not skimp out on electrolytes. While your body gets used to burning fat instead of glucose, your body is losing more water than before so you need to replace all of those lost electrolytes. This period is also called the keto flu.
When a loss of electrolytes happens, you will get something called the keto flu. Symptoms from the keto flu include tiredness, lethargy, headache, diarrhea, bodily odor, muscle cramps, Charlie horses, keto rash and more.
You need to drink 3-4L of water per day and make sure to take the necessary electrolytes every day. These include magnesium, potassium and sodium.
- You’ll need to take at least 300mg of magnesium per day. A supplement eaten with a meal is perfect. I take this magnesium supplement every day.
- You’ll need at least 1000mg of potassium every day. Preferably from food sources. Green leafy vegetables, avocados, nuts, salmon and mushroom are filled with potassium so it’s great to have some at every meal.
- The most important one maybe. You’ll need 5000mg of sodium per day. This can be from sea salt, Himalayan salt, Nosalt or LiteSalt. You can either sprinkle it everywhere on your food or add ½ tsp of salt to a bottle of water and sip it.
- 5000mg of sodium equals to 1.5 tsp of salt per day.
Drink 3-4L/1 gallon of water or more every day
Because we lose so much more water when burning fat instead of glucose, it’s important to keep hydrated during the whole day! Make sure to drink at least 3-4 liters/1 gallon of water per day.
Read labels carefully
Any food that comes in a package can have hidden carbs. It’s very important that you read the nutritional label and read the ingredients list. Just because something is 0 carbs, doesn’t mean the ingredients are necessarily healthy.
Take this stevia powder for example. They’re both practically 0 carbs, but the NuNaturals one has maltodextrin and natural flavors as its ingredients. These are two products that are advertising the same product, stevia powder, but both use different ingredients. NOW Better Stevia only has stevia extract powder so that is the choice you would go with when choosing stevia as a sweetener.
If you take a look at these two maple syrups, you’ll see that one is pure Canadian maple syrup and one is keto-friendly maple syrup from Lakanto.
The net carbs for the pure maple syrup is 53g per ¼ cup, while the net carbs for the Lakanto syrup is 2g per ¼ cup. You can see why it’s very important to read nutritional labels. The pure maple syrup would kick you out of ketosis right away, while you can enjoy the Lakanto one more freely and still stay within your carb limit for the day.
Use Keto Friendly Sweeteners and Flours
Wheat flour, whole wheat flour, arrowroot powder, tapioca starch, or gluten free flour mixes are not keto-friendly. Anything made with grains or starches isn’t keto friendly as you’ll reach your carb limit too quickly and will want to eat more carbs after.
Sugar, maple syrup, honey, molasses, dates, coconut sugars and artificial sweeteners are not approved keto sweeteners because of their carb count and also because as soon as you eat a little, you’ll want to eat more since it will instigate massive carb cravings.
Incorporate Intermittent Fasting into your diet
Intermittent fasting is completely optional, but it does help in losing weight. Everyone fasts at least 12 hours a day from when they go to bed until they wake up and eat breakfast.
Skipping breakfast and fasting 16 hours, or skipping breakfast and lunch and fasting 20-23 hours can be beneficial for insulin resistance and weight loss. The longer you fast, the longer your body has time to decrease insulin levels and start burning fat. If you don’t eat, your body can’t burn the fat that you eat, so it will start burning your body fat.
Intermittent fasting can be challenging for many, so I recommend starting small with only 16 hours and go from there. I personally skip breakfast every single day and fast 16-18 hours every day simply because I am not hungry in the morning. My dinner keeps me full and satiated for hours so I have never felt the need to eat breakfast.
Do some HIIT training or weight training 2-3 times a week
Exercising while on the ketogenic diet is completely optional. Many people choose to do HIIT training or weight lifting while on keto to help with excess skin due to sudden weight loss. I personally rarely exercise and still managed to lose 100 pounds. HIIT trainings are something that I want to incorporate into my life for health, just not for weight loss.
Coming from one of my favourite books, The Obesity Code, from Jason Fung. Exercise is still healthy and important and certainly has many benefits, but weight loss is not guaranteed. Exercise is good for you and should be done every day, just don’t expect to lose weight from it.
What to Eat on a Ketogenic Diet
Now that you’re ready to start your diet, let’s get to the good part: FOOD! Now what exactly can you eat while on a ketogenic diet? Here’s a rundown on what foods you can buy.
- Beef, pork, poultry, eggs, lamb, turkey, fish, seafood, etc.
- Healthy Oils and Fat
- Coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, butter, ghee, shortening, etc.
- Green Leafy Vegetables
- Swiss chard, kale, cabbage, lettuce, arugula, spinach, etc.
- Green Vegetables
- Cucumbers, cabbage, broccoli, zucchini, asparagus, etc.
- Low Carb Vegetables
- Cauliflower, daikon, tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, garlic, ginger, green onions, radish, etc.
- Full Fat Dairy
- Cheese, cream, Greek yogurt, butter
- Nuts and Seeds
- Macadamias, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, etc.
- Berries & Low Carb Fruit
- Raspberry, blackberry, strawberries, blueberries, lemon, lime, etc.
- Stevia, monk fruit, erythritol, xylitol.
- Baking Flours
- Almond flour, coconut flour, sesame seed flour, peanut flour, etc.
You can easily transform some of your favorite meals using keto friendly ingredients. Here are a few examples you can check out.
- For desserts, you can make this easy black forest cake low carb with keto-friendly ingredients.
- This keto fried chicken recipe uses whey protein or egg white protein as the coating to recreate the perfect fried chicken recipe.
- These coconut flour tortillas are so soft and pliable that you won’t even know they’re gluten free or low carb.
- These keto buns are so soft and fluffy, you won’t want to share these with the rest of the family.
- With this cream cheese pie crust recipe, you can make any keto pie you’ve ever wanted!
- For a chocolate treat, you must try making these keto avocado brownies! They’re so fudgy, creamy and sweet!
What to Drink on a Ketogenic Diet
You may be wondering what you can drink on a ketogenic diet. It’s quite easy and the list is quite short!
- Sparkling Water
- Nut Milks
- Dry Wines (in moderation)
- Spirits (like Vodka, Whiskey, Gin and so on – in moderation)
A small amount of cream in your coffee or tea is perfectly acceptable! Just don’t use any milk or low fat dairy as those are quite high in carbs.
Foods to Avoid on a Ketogenic Diet and Low Carb Diet
Foods containing a lot of starch and sugar should be absolutely avoided. While no ingredient is technically “keto” since keto is a body state, it’s best to avoid high-carb foods and sugary foods so that you don’t instigate cravings.
Here’s a list of food that should be avoided while on a keto diet.
- Maple Syrup
- Coconut Sugar
- Sweet Potatoes
- High Carb Fruits
- Sugar-sweetened Gums & Mints
- Baked Goods
- Ice Cream & Frozen Treats
- Sauces, Ketchup and other condiments with added sugar
- Low Fat Dairy
- Alcoholic Drinks
- Factory Farmed Meats, Eggs, Dairy & Seafood
- Salad Dressings made with Unhealthy Oils
- Artificial Sweeteners
- Artificial Flavors, Colorings and Preservatives
- Vegetable Oils
- Seed Oils
- Sugary Sweets
- Processed Meats
- Junk Food
- Processed Snacks
- Sugary Drinks
- Sugary Cocktails
This may seem like a huge list of items to avoid, but there are so many more nutritious options available that are much better for your health and body. All of the items mentioned above will raise blood sugar levels, insulin levels, or male and female hormones and should not be consumed on a ketogenic diet.
Are cheat days allowed?
Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend it. You are of course to do as you please, but I personally cannot handle cheat days. Once I cheat, I cheat for the next 6 months and it’s really hard for me to get back on track.
If you think you can handle a cheat day once in a while, go for it. But personally, one day turns into 6 months so I really can’t recommend it.
How to measure ketones
You’ve started the ketogenic diet and now you want to know if you’re burning fat and producing ketones. There are three ways to check to see if you’re in ketosis.
You can measure ketone levels by using some blood glucose meters. I use the one from Keto Mojo as it measures blood sugar, ketones, and hemoglobin. It's really easy to use and I find it gives really good accurate results.
Measuring ketones with a ketone meter is the most accurate way to test for ketones as it measures the ketones inside your blood. The downside is that the meter and the test strips can be quite pricey.
Urine Ketone Strips
Using urine strips to measure ketones can be very cheap, but isn’t always accurate. Once in ketosis, the readings tend to be negative so I wouldn't rely on them so much.
A breathalyzer works by measuring acetone on the breath that your body produces. Acetone is produced when you’re in a state of ketosis. It’s not as accurate as blood ketone tests, but is much better than the urine strips. Rather than
The nice thing about the breathalyzer is that the device can be pretty cheap to buy and you can use it forever.
How do you know if you're in ketosis?
To check whether you're in ketosis, you'll need to measure your ketone levels with either a blood ketone meter or urine strips. For the urine strips, you simply need to match the color of the pee stick with the color on the box to see where you're at.
For a blood ketone meter, you'll want to look at this chart for reference. Nutritional ketosis starts at 0.5 mmol/L and is a good starting point when starting a ketogenic diet. From there, aim for 1.5 mmol/L to 3.5 mmol/L as that would put you in optimal ketosis.
When fasting, you can reach levels up to 8.0 mmol/L, but you do not have to go there.
Those who are type 1 diabetics always need to check their blood sugars and ketone levels to make sure they do not reach 10 mmol/L as they face the potential to produce a dangerous diabetic complication called ketoacidosis. I recommend people with type 1 diabetes to develop a diet plan with their health care provider.
However, if you do not have type 1 diabetes, it is practically impossible for you to reach 10 mmol/L and it does not provide any more benefits.
Another way to test your ketones is to use a breathalyzer. A breathalyzer will measure ketones through acetone levels in the breath. Breath acetone has been shown to be a reliable indicator of ketosis in adults consuming a ketogenic diet (1).
The only thing to remember is that the breathalyzer is not always accurate because it can be affected by your alcohol consumption and water intake.
Depending on the maker of your breathalyzer, it may show results in colors or in numbers. Here is a chart to help you see where you are at.
Zero to Low Production of Ketones: 0 – 150 nmol/L OR 0 - 15.75 mg/L
Low Production of Ketones = 150 – 400 nmol/L OR 15.75 - 42 mg/L
Moderate Production of Ketones = 400 – 930 nmol/L OR 42 - 97.65 mg/L
High Production of Ketones= > 930 nmol/L OR 97.65 mg/L
The moderate and high production of ketones stages correlate to nutritional ketosis.
Reasons to Start a Ketogenic Diet
Here are a few reasons why you should start a ketogenic diet. These are some of the most common benefits that people on a ketogenic diet experience, myself included.
- Increased energy: Running on fat instead of glucose gives you a surplus of energy.
- Burn body fat: When on a ketogenic diet, your body burns body fat and ingested fat from your diet as fuel.
- Reduced appetite: Eating healthy fats and moderate protein helps you keep satiated for hours.
- Reduces inflammation: By eliminating grains and sugar from your diet, you are allowing your body to heal and decreasing the inflammation all those carbs caused. By reducing inflammation, you’ll also be able to lose a bit of weight.
- Reduces bloating: By simply eliminating grains and sugar, you’ll notice your belly will be much less bloated after a few days.
- Reduced cravings: Since you eat lots of healthy fats on keto, you feel satiated much longer. The longer you continue keto, the less carb cravings you have.
- Stable blood sugars: Eating low carb doesn’t spike blood sugars as much as grains and sugar so you can expect to have nice low and stable blood sugar levels.
Personal Health Benefits I experienced
- Reversed Type II Diabetes: By controlling how many carbohydrates I was eating and following a low carb ketogenic diet, I was able to bring my a1c numbers down to 5.4.
- Reversed PCOS: A ketogenic diet helped me control my PCOS symptoms and regulate my periods and hormones. You can read more on my PCOS diagnosis progress here, but here’s a quick recap of what happened.
- Ovary cysts disappeared.
- Periods went from 1/year to every 31 days.
- Facial hair stopped growing. You can read more about PCOS facial hair.
- Female and male hormones normalized to normal levels.
- Insulin levels went down to 7.
- Weight loss: I have lost 100 pounds following a ketogenic low carb diet.
- Improved cholesterol: All of my cholesterol numbers improved drastically.
Different Types of Keto Diets
Standard Keto: You eat 20-50g net carbs per day. Most will eat under 20g or 30g, but some can do 50g while staying in ketosis.
Dairy Free Keto: You eat 20-30g net carbs per day. You do not eat any dairy products including ghee or butter. If you notice that you do not lose weight while eating a standard keto diet, try doing a dairy free ketogenic diet. Dairy causes inflammation and is a big reason why people can’t lose weight.
Strict Clean Keto: You eat less than 20g net carbs per day. You do not eat dairy, nuts, fruits, or sweeteners. Only vegetables, protein and dairy free fats. This is a version of keto that is very strict. Some people who can’t lost weight on a standard ketogenic diet, can try this strict version of keto. Since fruits, nuts and sweeteners aren’t allowed, baked goods are also not possible.
Dirty Keto: You can eat 20-50g net carbs per day. You eat the same amount of fat, protein and carbs. The only thing is that you do not care where the food comes from. It could be from fries, hamburgers, pizza. As long as you meet your macros, it doesn’t matter what the food is.
Lazy Keto: You don’t count your macros, but you try to stick to the keto approved grocery list.
Low Carb: You eat 50-100g net carbs per day. Protein and fat are the same amount as a standard keto diet. The low carb diet is for those who want more freedom in the food that they can eat.
How to Know Which Keto Diet Suits You Best
I personally recommend the standard keto, dairy free keto or strict clean keto diet. I have found success in the three of those. I personally care about what goes into my body so I don’t recommend the dirty keto. I also know that if I don’t count my macros, I will overeat so I can’t recommend lazy keto. As for low carb, I personally gain weight if I eat more than 50g net carbs every day so I don’t usually follow a low carb diet.
Try each version of the keto diet for at least a month. See if it’s working or not. See how you feel. I’ve tried all three and feel much better with either the standard keto diet, dairy free keto diet or strict clean keto diet.
How to track your macros
The next step is to know how to track your macros. There are many apps and websites that allow for you to track your protein, carbs and fats.
Here are a few recommendations that you can try. I personally use fat secret, but that’s because it works in English and Japanese so I can use it in Japan too.
Keto Diet Side Effects
- On a keto diet, you store less water than when you eat carbohydrates. Because of this, it’s very easy to get dehydrated. With dehydration and low electrolytes, your muscles can get cramping too, which is why you absolutely need to drink enough water daily and make sure to get enough electrolytes every day. These include potassium, sodium and magnesium.
- Muscle Cramps
- Muscle cramps, especially Charlie horses, happen because you’re not getting enough electrolytes. Make sure to supplement with magnesium, sodium and potassium every day.
- I personally get Charlie horses automatically if I don’t take a magnesium supplement.
- Make sure to take your supplements every day, especially magnesium.
- Your body can also be adjusting to your new macros and could take a little bit of time until you get normal sleep
- If you’re combining intermittent fasting with the keto diet, your stress hormone cortisol may be elevated. You may need to take one step at a time. Try the keto diet for a little bit of time and once you’re used to it, then you can start intermittent fasting.
- Keto Rash
- For some people who try keto, the diet can bring about a red rash, known as Prurigo pigmentosa. It’s not life-threatening, dangerous or contagious. The rash usually appears on your back, chest, neck, and can spread all over the body. It usually happens after you enter ketosis. The exact causes are unknown, but some believe that the skin is reacting to the ketones in sweat.
- It gets worse in hot and humid weather and under hot water. It gets even more itchy after sweating. Avoid exercise and humid weather at all cost. Also avoid tight clothing.
- The keto rash will disappear within a day if you up your carbs.
- Other than upping your carbs, you cake take apple cider vinegar and fish oil supplements to help control your PH levels. This personally works for me as I ALWAYS get the keto rash. Taking 2 ACV tablets and a fish oil tablet every day, the rash disappeared within two days. If not, it stays literally forever for me so I always need to take those two supplements.
- Keto Flu
- The keto flu can bring about a variety of symptoms, including all of the symptoms above. It usually kicks in 24 to 48 hours after you started the keto diet. Symptoms include brain fog, headache, irritability, sugar cravings and muscle soreness. Make sure to take those electrolytes supplements (magnesium, potassium, sodium) and you should be able to avoid the keto flu. And remember, you need to take these supplements every day, not only just for a few days.
- Spotting, early periods or late periods
- Some women who start the keto diet experience random spotting, irregular periods or missed periods. This is usually temporary and your periods should go back to their normal cycle once your body gets used to being in ketosis.
- I myself spotted for a couple of weeks when I first started, but the spotting stopped after two weeks. My periods, which I usually got once a year, also normalized into 29-33 days cycle the first year and have been the same for the last 5 years.
Keto Diet Plan
Now that you know all about the ketogenic diet, you are absolutely ready to start! To give you some help, here are a few meal plans that you can checkout before starting a ketogenic diet.
- 3 week free keto dairy-free plan: This meal plan gives you 3 weeks full of recipes with the nutritional information and grocery list. This keto diet plan is also dairy free.
- 1 week low carb diet plan: This meal plan gives you 1 week full of low carb recipes with the nutritional information and grocery list.
- keto paleo recipe book: This is a free e-book that I give to new subscribers containing keto paleo recipes not available on the blog!
Download the Keto Infographics to Print!
If you liked the infographics I made for this guide to keto, then you'll definitely want to download and print them. CLICK HERE to download and print! No need to subscribe!
Her meal plans are fantastic!! I did the 7 day meal plan twice in a row and lost 10 pounds over the two weeks! And now im following the 21 day meal plan and im down another 5 on day three!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE (mixed with Metformin)
Please come out with more strict meal plans !!
also my facial hair is less as well!! Ill still have to wax but the amount is amazingly less!
Ive had PCOS since I was diagnosed at 15 and did nothing to control it i am a very large lady and to be honest this was a very very drastic meal change we always cooked fairly healthy meals at home but always high carb and also eating probably three times the portion i should have
Thank you for helping me get my life on track!
Hey, Mira. Thanks for this detailed Keto Guide. I am planning to do a keto diet. I do the 9-5 office and I feel too hungry and eat a lot of junk food. I am adaptive to these kinds of food, Now, thinking the keto guide will harm my working ability or not. I heard in the keto diet people feel dizzy.
What's your suggestion?
Hi Samia, if you follow the instructions to beat the keto flu and take your sodium, magnesium and potassium ever day, you won't have any problems!