Ketogenic Diet

Do you know what the best diet is for you? Every person has unique health needs and fitness preferences, and because of that, no single dietary approach works for everyone.

One diet that has garnered a lot of attention these days is the ketogenic diet. Celebrities, fitness enthusiasts, and some athletes use it. You’ll find an endless stream of stories and recipes about keto. But the question is, is the keto diet healthy?

What Is the Ketogenic Diet?

Also called keto diet, the ketogenic diet is a dietary approach where you consume high amounts of fat, very low carbohydrates, and moderate protein. You’d only eat about 20-50 grams of carbs daily if you had a 2,000 calorie per day diet.

Here’s how the diet works

Normally, our bodies rely on glucose as its primary fuel. Dietary carbohydrates make glucose readily available. When we starve our body of carbohydrates, as in a keto diet, we rely on fat instead. The liver breaks down fat into ketones which now become our alternate fuel. Ketones effectively supply energy to the heart, muscle tissue, kidneys, and brain.

How much fat, carbs, and protein should you eat? To be in a state of ketosis, you need to follow these keto macro percentages:

  • 60-75% of calories from fat
  • 15-30% of calories from protein
  • 5-10% of calories from carbs

In case you’re wondering where it all started, the keto diet was first used by Russel Wilder in 1921 to treat epilepsy.

Health Benefits of the Keto Diet

There are also plenty of studies showing how the keto diet promotes weight loss, helps women with PCOS, increases physical performance, and manages some mental health conditions.

1. Kicks sugar addiction

Did you know that sugar is as addictive as cocaine? Sugar tricks the brain into wanting more food. Too much of sugar is bad for your health as sugar increases your risk of developing diabetes, cancer, and heart diseases. Sugar reduces your ability to fight infections. Recovering from sugar addiction is possible with a low-glycemic diet like keto.

2. Boosts brain function

Your brain readily receives ketones when glucose is unavailable. The ketogenic diet has a neuroprotective effect in that it increases your brain’s resistance to metabolic stress. A study that involved rats showed that a low-carbohydrate, keto diet reduces anxiety symptoms. The diet may also improve memory performance in Alzheimer’s disease patients.

3. Improves exercise performance

If you like staying fit, one of the things that the keto diet does is it takes your endurance to the next level. A recent study revealed that ultra-endurance athletes who consumed a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet for 6 months achieved higher peak exercise intensity. Being fat adapted allows you to perform more intensely and maintain recovery.

4. Brings about weight loss

Weight loss is a common reason people go on keto. Fat isn’t just important for your energy reserve, it also increases your satiety. Fat cells produce leptin, a hormone that controls appetite.

What to Eat and Avoid on Keto

Are you a meat eater or vegetarian? Either way, you’ll be glad to know that the keto diet fits any dietary preference. With the availability of so many food choices, preparing a two-week keto meal plan is easy.

Foods to Eat

  • Eggs
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Seafood and fish
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower)
  • Coffee and tea without sugar
  • Soft and hard cheeses

Foods to Avoid

  • All grains (oats, barley, corn, quinoa)
  • Biscuits and crackers
  • Bad fats (shortening, refined vegetable oils)
  • Ice cream
  • Cakes
  • Candies
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Fruit and vegetable juices
  • Cured meat

The Keto Flu: What Is It?

When you immediately jump into a keto diet, you experience withdrawal from carbs. As your body switches from being carb-adapted to fat-adapted, you feel these unpleasant symptoms.

Collectively, they’re called the keto flu:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Cramps
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Muscle aches
  • Stomach pains
  • Brain fog
  • Poor focus

The keto flu starts to happen within 2 days and usually lasts a week.

Take note that not everyone experiences the keto flu. If you do, know that it’s not life-threatening and you can take simple measures to reduce the symptoms. We’re going to discuss them in the next section.

How to Transition to Keto

Some people fail on the keto diet because they’re not prepared. By following the tips below, you can start the diet with less struggle.

1. Give yourself wiggle room

Be patient with yourself. Do what spells an improvement for you, no matter how small that change may be. If you’re used to eating grains, you’ll want to start reducing their amount instead of eliminating them at once.

2. Drink more water

Hydration is essential when you’re on the keto diet. You experience a rapid water loss (through urination) because carbohydrates need water. Drinking more water doesn’t only prevent dehydration, but it also relieves symptoms of the keto flu. Water is also a great beverage that helps with weight loss.

3. Eat clean

If you’ve ever heard of the term “clean keto,” it means choosing whole food versions. Processed foods lack vitamins and minerals that are essential to your health. Eating dirty on keto is one reason why some people don’t achieve the results they want. While doing keto, always think about health and longevity.

4. Exercise to boost your results

You already know that exercise is good for you. While a keto diet increases your physical performance, exercise also speeds up keto results. Exercise lowers your glycogen reserves. When this happens, your body taps into fat to get energy. This stimulates ketosis.

5. Bump up your salt intake

If you feel lethargic or nauseous, that’s because your sodium levels decreased. Recall that on a keto diet, you’re eliminating processed foods that are rich in salt. Sodium is an important electrolyte as it maintains your body’s water balance. You can add at least 1 teaspoon of salt to your diet or consume saltier healthy snacks.

Consult with a Physician

The ketogenic diet shows many advantages for people who want to live healthier and lose that extra weight. Start small and prioritize quality when eating keto. Most importantly, consult a physician because there are certain health conditions that don’t respond well to this diet.

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)

13 Comments or Reviews

Comments now closed
  1. bahar

    please tell me my macros because this is so confusing i keep getting it wrong….if i want to start OMAD diet/ 1 meal a day + keto diet
    i am female 31 yrs, 5ft 6inch hight, 165 weight, work out 60 min fast workout for 5 days a week.

  2. CJ

    Just so you know, the macro calculator on this site automatically populates the Keto macro ratios as 10/45/45 when you click on the word “Keto” in the Common Macro Ratios box. This is incorrect and should be changed to the correct macros of 5/25/70.

  3. Kevin Short

    I started on a ketogenic diet on May 11, 2010 at 245 pounds; I am 6 feet 2 inches tall, and 52 years old. I have lost over 35 pounds so far, and a recent blood test showed all my numbers right in the good zone. There was one low number: sodium. I guess I should use more salt! I do take some of the best-rated vitamins, to make sure my vitamin K (and others) are good. I find it very easy to maintain. Two weeks into the diet I was having craving for sweets — but I turned my food over to the care of God, and immediately all cravings stopped. It works!

  4. Shay

    I started a 600 calorie ketogenic diet under a medical doctor on June 10th. I have a ton of vitamins/supplements that I have to take, along with a b-12 mixture (with some other things) that I take every 4 days and an appetite suppressant (1/2 a table twice a day..morning and very early afternoon).

    I have a ton of energy and up until now (the 3rd day), the diet has been easy. I don’t get hungry and I have a bunch of energy!

    I am a diabetic and just wondering how long it takes to see results. I know that it has only been 2 days, but it does not appear that any weight has been loss on my end.

    And, the only other liquids that I have been drinking beyond the shakes I was given is water. I’m drinking about 130 oz a day.

  5. Holly

    I have been on a ketogenic diet for the past 6 weeks and have noticed weight loss within the first week. My body has slimmed down significantly and left me with ungodly stretch marks. I recommend doing lots of light exercise at first and increase it gradually. I’ve noticed my acid reflux has almost disappeared and I’m no longer constipated. I would recommend this diet to everyone; however, it is definitely for those with discipline.

    • bahar

      so this diet causes severe stretch marks?? tears :((

      • Heath

        Accelerated growth under the skin stretches it out, which is what causes stretch marks. When you lose weight, and the skin is under less tension, those stretch marks appear to be more visible. Women who have had children often exhibit this on their bellies.

        It is better to have stretch marks and a lower body fat than to remain fat so that whatever stretch marks you may have aren’t “as visible”. Besides, you should wear stretch marks as a badge of honor. You had a baby. You grew huge muscles faster than your skin could adapt to. You used to be fat and are not as fat as you used to be. These are all things to be proud of, and stretch marks give us a reminder of that journey.

  6. Terri

    I havent tried any diets yet, wxcept cutting back on junk food,just wanted to know if anyone knew what kind of diet is safe and works for children ages 12 & 8. They are getting bigger(stomach’s) every week I think. Could use some input.
    Thanks…

  7. gisele

    I have lost 105 lbs in one year being in ketosis, feel ery energenic,, actually have a bounce in my step and no more blood pressure issues, no more feeling bloated . we recommend to all

  8. tianti kiser

    where are you located?

  9. Mary

    I do a ketogenic diet, and it has been very beneficial. i have very regular BMs without the aid of scratchy fiber. No cholesterol problems. I absorb nutrients much easier than before. If you stick with it, it will stick with you. I highly recommend it.

  10. Mark

    I used this diet before going on a more moderate diet, and was advised to work out really hard during it – the theory being that if you don’t, the cholesterol and fat’s gonna get me into trouble! The diet definitely worked – my workouts got really aggressive too, and I felt no ill effects after three days. I will recommend this though……if you don’t taker a fiber supplement twice a day with this diet, you are asking for BIG trouble in the bathroom!

Last Reviewed: January 31, 2019