What is the Ketogenic Diet? A Beginner’s Guide (see photos)

Written by Tim Skwiat

Ketogenic Diet Plan

With so many different types of diets available, it’s difficult to keep track of what each one does, how it may (or may not) be beneficial to your health, fitness, and weight-loss efforts, and what it takes to follow the diet. That is certainly the case with the ketogenic diet. With so much confusion and misinformation, let’s get clear on the ketogenic diet plan, what it is, and the science surrounding it.

What is the Ketogenic Diet?

The ketogenic diet is a very-low-carbohydrate, high-fat, moderate-protein dietary approach. It’s more commonly referred to as a very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet (VLCKD). Or “keto” for short.

Dr. Russell Wilder was credited as the creator of the diet back in 1924 when he designed it as a treatment for epilepsy. It is still successfully used for that purpose today. In fact, in some cases, the keto diet can remove the need for medication.

Case in point, 11-month-old Charlie Abrahams had difficult-to-control epilepsy (despite using multiple medications). As a last resort, his parents turned to the ketogenic diet. It worked. Charlie became seizure- and drug-free within a month, and he hasn’t had a seizure since. In 1994, his parents founded the Charlie Foundation, recognized as a global leader in promoting ketogenic therapies for people with epilepsy, neurological disorders, select cancers, and various other health conditions.

Beginning in the 1960s and ’70s, the ketogenic diet became a popular tool for weight loss, particularly as the (induction phase of the) Atkins Diet. While the crux of this article will focus on the effectiveness of the ketogenic diet in weight management, it’s worth noting the therapeutic potential of the ketogenic diet for:1

  • Cancer
  • Autism
  • ALS
  • Parkinson’s
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Type 2 Diabetes (T2D)
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
  • Acne

Why Is It Called the “Ketogenic” Diet?

The name “ketogenic” stems from the diet’s ability to upregulate ketogenesis, the process by which the body creates ketones. During prolonged periods of fasting or several days of severe carbohydrate restriction (< 20 – 30 grams per day), the body’s supply of glucose (blood sugar) becomes depleted.

Because the central nervous system (i.e., brain) normally uses glucose and cannot use fat for fuel, the body is “forced” to find an alternative energy source. As a result, the liver ramps up the process of ketogenesis and the production of ketone bodies (from fats), which serve as an important energy source for the brain and other tissues (e.g., muscles).

Not only are ketones a critical energy source, they are the most energy efficient, yielding more usable energy than glucose or fat. Simply put, the ketogenic diet shifts the body’s metabolism away from using glucose (carbohydrates) toward a heavy reliance on fat.

Given the very nature of the ketogenic diet (i.e., severe carbohydrate restriction and near elimination of reliance on glucose), it should come as no surprise it is a highly effective dietary strategy for folks with insulin resistance and carbohydrate intolerance. For instance, in studies that have evaluated well-formulated VLCKD and documented high rates of compliance in individuals with T2D, “results have been nothing short of remarkable.” This includes dramatic improvements in glycemic control, HbA1c, insulin sensitivity, lipid markers (cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides), and body weight.1–3

Is It Effective for Weight Loss?

While there is indeed debate as to what’s the “best” diet, the evidence is strong that the ketogenic diet plan is effective for weight management. In a randomized, controlled trial published in the journal Endocrine, researchers from Spain found obese participants following a VLCKD for just two months lost nearly 30 pounds. During the same time, participants following a standard low-calorie diet lost just 10 ½ pounds. After 12 months, 88% of the folks in the VLCKD group had lost more than 10% of their initial starting weight and nearly 3 times more weight than the low-calorie group.4

Perhaps most telling are the results from two systematic reviews with meta-analysis (arguably the most critical assessment of research on a particular topic). In one published in the British Journal of Nutrition, Brazilian researchers concluded, “Individuals assigned to a VLCKD achieved greater weight loss than those assigned to a [conventional low-fat diet] in the long-term. Hence, a VLCKD may be an alternative tool against obesity.”5

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In another published in The Lancet, researchers looked at trials examining the effects of different diets on weight-loss outcomes. The authors concluded, “In weight-loss trials, higher-fat weight-loss interventions led to significantly greater weight loss than low-fat interventions.”6

How Does It Work?

There is no doubt there is strong evidence that keto diets are effective for weight loss. However, there are contrasting theories regarding how they work. For instance, some have proposed that a ketogenic diet plan offer a “metabolic advantage.”

That is, the “carbohydrate-insulin model of obesity” states that diets high in carbs are particularly fattening because they raise insulin, which increases fat storage and decreases fat burning. So, the VLCKD, which severely restricts carbohydrate and therefore lowers insulin levels, is thought to work by increasing calorie expenditure and fat burning and reducing fat storage.

In essence, this view refutes the notion that a “calorie is a calorie.” However, a series of recent very well-controlled studies have provided evidence contrary to the “metabolic advantage” theory, failing to validate the carbohydrate-insulin model.7–9

A research team led by Dr. Antonio Paoli, from the University of Padova in Italy, suggests a “simpler, perhaps more likely, explanation for improved weight loss is a possible appetite-suppressant action of ketosis.”1 The ketogenic diet has been shown to have favorable effects on appetite by reducing levels of the “hunger hormone” ghrelin and increasing levels of appetite-regulating hormones, such as CCK.10

For instance, ketogenic diets typically provide moderate amounts of protein, which is well-known for its effects on satiety (feelings of fullness and satisfaction). What’s more, ketones may directly suppress appetite.


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Speaking of protein, it’s very important to point out that a true keto diet provides only moderate amounts of protein. It’s NOT a high-protein diet. In fact, consuming too much protein may impair ketogenesis. Whether it’s through the process of converting excess protein to carbs (gluconeogenesis) or simply burning it for energy (prioritizing amino acids over fats), extra protein can reduce the body’s need to produce ketones.

What Does the Ketogenic Diet Plan Look Like?

Traditionally, ketogenic diet plans:

  • Are very high in fat (~75 – 80% of calories)
  • Are very low in carbohydrate (~5% of calories or ≤ 30 grams per day)
  • Provide adequate protein (~ 15 – 20% of calories)

VLCKD are distinct from other diets that restrict carbohydrates, which are unlikely to be ketogenic and are typically defined as:11

  • “Low-carbohydrate” diets that contain less than 130 grams of carbs per day or 26% of the energy from a 2,000-calorie diet.
  • “Moderate-carbohydrate” diets provide between 26 and 45% of calories from carbohydrate.

What does the ketogenic diet look like on a traditional 2,000-calorie diet?

  • 165 grams of fat (75% of calories)
  • <30 grams of carbohydrate (5% of calories)
  • 100 grams of protein (20% of calories)

Photo: What is the Ketogenic Diet

Ketogenic Diet

What Types of Foods Can You Eat on a Ketogenic Diet Plan?

A very small amount of very-low-carbohydrate foods, mainly non-starchy vegetables:

  • Green leafy veggies
  • Cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage)
  • Asparagus
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Mushrooms
  • Zucchini
  • *Once adapted, a small amount of low-sugar fruit (e.g., berries) can be added

An adequate amount of protein-rich foods, including:

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Seafood
  • Eggs

A liberal amount of high-fat foods, including:

  • Avocados
  • Egg yolks
  • Fatty fish
  • Coconut, coconut oil, coconut milk
  • MCT oil
  • Olives and olive oil
  • Nuts, nut butters, and seeds
  • Bacon
  • Butter and ghee
  • Cheese
  • Heavy cream

Photo: The Ketogenic Diet Plan

Keto Diet Plan

It is also incredibly important to properly hydrate by drinking plenty of clean water along with adequate consumption of sodium, potassium, and magnesium. In addition, the following drinks are typically permitted:

  • Unsweetened tea
  • Unsweetened coffee
  • Zero-calorie soda and sparkling water

What’s the Next Step?

Okay, if your interest is piqued and you’re now considering a ketogenic diet, that’s great! Now that you have some of the basics down, it’s time to take some next steps. There are fantastic resources available, including recipes, articles, communities, and even keto calculators. Please post your questions or comments below, and we’ll be happy to help you get started.

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References

  • 1. Paoli A, Rubini A, Volek JS, Grimaldi KA. Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013;67(8):789-796. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2013.116.
  • 2. Yancy WS, Foy M, Chalecki AM, Vernon MC, Westman EC. A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet to treat type 2 diabetes. Nutr Metab. 2005;2:34. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-2-34.
  • 3. Feinman RD, Pogozelski WK, Astrup A, et al. Dietary carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management: Critical review and evidence base. Nutrition. 2015;31(1):1-13. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2014.06.011.
  • 4. Moreno B, Bellido D, Sajoux I, et al. Comparison of a very low-calorie-ketogenic diet with a standard low-calorie diet in the treatment of obesity. Endocrine. 2014;47(3):793-805. doi:10.1007/s12020-014-0192-3.
  • 5. Bueno NB, de Melo ISV, de Oliveira SL, da Rocha Ataide T. Very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet v. low-fat diet for long-term weight loss: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Br J Nutr. 2013;110(7):1178-1187. doi:10.1017/S0007114513000548.
  • 6. Tobias DK, Chen M, Manson JE, Ludwig DS, Willett W, Hu FB. Effect of low-fat diet interventions versus other diet interventions on long-term weight change in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2015;3(12):968-979. doi:10.1016/S2213-8587(15)00367-8.
  • 7. Hall KD. A review of the carbohydrate-insulin model of obesity. Eur J Clin Nutr. January 2017. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2016.260.
  • 8. Hall KD, Chen KY, Guo J, et al. Energy expenditure and body composition changes after an isocaloric ketogenic diet in overweight and obese men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016;104(2):324-333. doi:10.3945/ajcn.116.1335
  • 9. Hall KD, Bemis T, Brychta R, et al. Calorie for Calorie, Dietary Fat Restriction Results in More Body Fat Loss than Carbohydrate Restriction in People with Obesity. Cell Metab. 2015;22(3):427-436. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2015.07.021.
  • 10. Paoli A, Bosco G, Camporesi EM, Mangar D. Ketosis, ketogenic diet and food intake control: a complex relationship. Front Psychol. 2015;6. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00027.
  • 11. Accurso A, Bernstein RK, Dahlqvist A, et al. Dietary carbohydrate restriction in type 2 diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome: time for a critical appraisal. Nutr Metab. 2008;5:9. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-5-9.
  • Matt Mosman

    Great article Tim!

  • Peter Sharples

    This interesting article provides solid evidence that the ketogenic diet is exceptionally effective for weight loss and has other important health benefits including reversal or prevention of Type 2 diabetes. Yet, the article is followed by the BioTrust thread on Leptin and “four tricks” to lose belly fat, including a weekly cheat day with norm + 1000 calories and reverse carbohydrate tapering (adding extra carbs daily until the next cheat day). These two strategies – the ketogenic diet and use of Leptiburn therefore are mutually exclusive options, which leaves me confused. Especially when it’s claimed all diets that don’t increase leptin and leptin sensitivity are doomed to failure. Can someone at BioTrust please explain the obvious contradiction?

    • Michelle Mihalko

      I would like to know this answer also. I’ve been doing Keto for over 2 months without any weight loss. I was wondering if the leptin would help if that is a resistance I’m having.

    • Coach

      It all depends on the particular diet you want to follow and can adhere to. If you find it easy to follow a keto diet, then give it a go. I just recommend having one high carb day per week to increase leptin sensitivity. OR… if you don’t like cutting carbs and you tolerate them well then doing the reverse tapering can be very effective. I could probably give you a dozen more diets that are amazing for your health and work well for weight loss too… you just have to find one that is appealing for the long term so you can stick with it. Hope this helps.

    • Hi Peter,

      I hope this finds you doing well! Thank you very much for taking the time to read the article, provide your feedback, and share your questions. We appreciate you!

      To Coach’s point, while there is indeed solid evidence that the ketogenic diet is an effective tool for weight loss, it’s not necessarily the “most” effective or the “best” diet. In other words, it works, but so do many others. As generic as it may sound, the “best” diet is the one that works for you. At the end of the day, the single-most important factor influencing weight loss and improvements overall health is adherence, or your ability to stick with a program and consistently meet program goals for diet, physical activity, etc.

      With that being said, another point to make here is that this article is intended to be a primer for the ketogenic diet. By no means is it all-encompassing. For instance, there are several “offshoots” of the ketogenic diet, including the cyclical ketogenic diet, which indeed incorporates intermittent “refeeds” (which are similar but distinct from “cheat days”) every 7 – 10 days or so.

      Perhaps more pertinent to your question, any effective weight-loss diet is going to result in reduced leptin levels. It really is that simple. Remember, leptin is a “satiety,” “anti-starvation,” and “energy-sensing” hormone. When you eat fewer calories than you burn, which is fundamental for weight loss, leptin levels drop. In addition, leptin is secreted by your fat cells. So, when you lose fat (as a result of your weight-loss program), leptin levels also drop since you have less fat, which acts as an endocrine tissue.

      So, no matter what the weight-loss program is that you find works best for you, if it’s working, then leptin levels are going to drop. In response to said decline in leptin, the body initiates a series of metabolic adjustments, collectively referred to as “adaptive thermogenesis.” There’s a lot going on here, but essentially, this is a cascade of energy preservation mechanisms (e.g., decreased NEAT, decreased sympathetic tone, decreased thyroid output, decreased reproductive hormone output, increased muscle efficiencies, increased parasympathetic activity, increased hunger and activity of food reward centers) intended to reduce calorie expenditure and increase caloric intake.

      In other words, this is an evolutionary security system, so to speak, intended to promote survival. That is, the body views long-term energy restriction and declining fat stores as a threat to survival.

      Having said all that, the ingredients in LeptiBurn have been shown to provide potential benefits that run counter to these very adaptations. For instance, green tea and Aframomum melegueta have both been shown to significantly increase metabolic rate. Meanwhile, green tea extract and 5-HTP have both been shown to have beneficial effects on appetite management and satiety. Further, IGOB131, which has been shown to promote weight management, is thought to work, at least in part, by improving leptin sensitivity.

      I hope this explains the perceived contradiction, Peter. Please let me know if you have any additional questions or concerns. We’re here to help.

  • Jeannie Bartley

    I have been using this method, very successfully, but unfortunately also just had a heart attack. This diet does not go down well with heart health. Have you any suggestions. Really appreciate your help the clinic is not willing to budge.

    • Cristina

      Hi Jeannie. We are extremely grateful to have you joining us here, and for sharing your story with us.

      Due to the nature of this discussion, it is important to mention that any advice or information we provide is intended to supplement, not replace, the medical advice of your physician or medical professional. I would recommend consulting with your physician before adopting any suggestions made within these articles, or making any changes to your current diet or exercise program.

      With that being said, I am pleased to hear that you were successful in your implementation of the ketogenic diet, however it is very unfortunate to hear of your recent heart attack. I would be hesitant to make the claim that adhering to a ketogenic diet is not favorable for heart health, as this type of meal plan has been shown to normalize cholesterol, triglyceride, and beta-lipoprotein serum values, as well as reduce insulin resistance while effectively controlling appetite and facilitating weight loss.

      There are many risk factors that should be taken into consideration when one has been diagnosed with a disease or illness, such as genetic predisposition, meaning that regardless of any external factors and without showing any symptoms, due to a family history you may be more susceptible to acquire the same illness or disease.

      Other factors such as stress management, physical activity/inactivity, weight management, and high blood pressure can be limiting factors when it comes to achieving optimal health and wellness, and preventing illness and disease.

      Earlier this year, Bob Harper, celebrity trainer, fitness guru, and host of the show “The Biggest Loser”, suffered cardiac arrest at age 51 and was in a coma for two days before regaining consciousness. While I am not privy to his complete medical history, on the surface it would appear that Harper is the epitome of perfect health. He has admitted that he has a family history of heart disease and that his mother died as a result of a heart attack.

      Without knowing more about your current habits, as well as your complete medical history, it would be ill advised for me to speculate to the cause of your health concerns, however I would recommend that you discuss an action plan with your physician so that you can improve the quality of your life and become the best version of Jeannie possible.

      I look forward to connecting with you soon and continuing this discussion.

    • Jeannie Bartley

      Christina, I am so pleased to hear back from you thank you. I’ll put you in the picture, fit healthy 70year old on no medication at all. After the above incident I have gone from 0-7 pills a day😫 I’m coming to terms with this. I have not discussed my keto choices with my DR as I so infrequently go. Personally I’m very happy with my choices as I only see and feel favourable results.
      I grew up and live in rural New Zealand so grass fed is the only option along with other food choices you suggest.
      Exercise is also implemented into my lifestyle. My cholesterol is high as is my BP citing genetics as the cause.
      My Doctor has recently left town, he was happy to go along with my ‘alternative’ suggestions and supported me. My new Dr who I have only just met is less inclined to listen, busy as she is ploughs on with her own agenda. I appreciate your position as a professional in being guarded inyour advise. I also am grateful for your support and any suggestions you can offer

  • SFAmerican

    Ok, I have been doing much of this for several months now. I am at a plateau though. I am a long time Bio Trust user. I use most of what you sell now.
    How much of your Protien powder for one day? I have several jugs still.
    I have lost 80 lbs over the last six years but I want a waist. I never have had a waist. Thin legs arms and thighs. I have IBD too.
    Bloated tummy all the time. Help! You can check my history of orders and see I am using lots of your products. I still need help with tummy big time. I even make my own Kefir and drink daily to help my intestines. I also eat sauerkraut.
    I look forward to hearing back with suggestions to help my tummy go down.
    Sue Fancher
    Rohnert Park, CA

    • Cristina

      Hello Sue. We appreciate loyal customers such as yourself, as you truly make what we do here a pleasure.

      Congratulations on your outstanding 80 pound weight loss! That is a true testament to your dedication and determination to become the best version of Sue possible. I am sorry to hear of your concerns with hitting a plateau in your weight loss, and feelings of bloating and intestinal discomfort. I would be very interested to learn more about your current habits, and if you are by chance including a probiotic in your diet.

      I’ll be happy to share some information with the understanding that it is not a substitute for advice from you physician or other qualified healthcare specialist. The great news is that there is mounting research to suggest that probiotics may indeed be helpful in improving the symptoms of IBS.

      In that particular meta-analysis, which is an investigation of multiple existing research studies, scientists examined 8 existing studies that investigated the efficacy of probiotics in improving the symptoms of IBS patients. The researchers concluded:

      “Probiotics may improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and can be used as supplement to standard therapy.”

      Even better news is that that is just one of several studies that have shown an improvement in IBS symptoms with the use of probiotics. Generally speaking, the cause of IBS is attributed to several factors, including inflammation, small-bowel bacterial overgrowth, and alterations in gut motility. As mentioned, probiotics have been implicated in the management of IBS, and a multitude of studies have shown research-proven benefits:

      A randomized controlled trial of a probiotic,VSL#3, on gut transit and symptoms in diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome

      A randomized controlled trial of a probiotic combination VSL# 3 and placebo in irritable bowel syndrome with bloating

      Single-blind follow-up study on the effectiveness of a symbiotic preparation in irritable bowel syndrome

      Probiotics in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome

      As you’ll see in reviewing those research articles, the shortest clinical studies were around 4 weeks, with others lasting 12 weeks or longer. When you think about the fact that there are somewhere on the order of 10 times as many microbes (i.e., bacteria) in the body than human cells, you can gain an appreciation of how it may take some time for the positive conversion of the gut microbiome.

      With regards to your inquiry about our Low Carb Protein Blend, there really isn’t a wrong way to include this in your diet. You can have a shake as a meal replacement, or you can use as a healthy snack, post work-out or pre-bedtime. For all intents and purposes, BioTRUST Low Carb is a food as it is a high-quality source of protein.

      If you want to make a smoothie, you can try some of the recipes in the following ebook:

      53 Fat Burning Smoothie Recipes

      You can also use BioTRUST Low Carb whenever you feel like you have a craving coming on (instead of eating junk food). Protein has a profound
      effect on appetite.

      Along these lines it may be important to point out that our Low Carb Protein Blend is not a weight loss shake, per se. In fact you could say that this is a nutrition supplement, and we recommend that you use our supplements to complement good nutrition behaviors and regular physical activity.

      With that being said, by including Low Carb Protein Blend in your healthy diet, you are able to optimize your protein intake, which can have far reaching benefits, including but not limited to:

      • Accelerate fat loss and spare calorie-burning lean body mass
      • Prevent weight regain and contribute to long-term weight maintenance.
      • Optimize 24-hour muscle protein synthesis and facilitate the maintenance or building of calorie-burning lean muscle mass.
      • Boost metabolic rate.
      • Preserve metabolic rate after weight loss.
      • Increase satiety and improve appetite control.
      • Improve carbohydrate metabolism and glycemic regulation.
      • Increase calcium absorption

      To learn more about the importance of protein, and how you can benefit from including adequate protein in your healthy diet, the following article written by our very own Coach Tim is a terrific resource:

      Why Is Optimizing Protein Intake So Important?

      On behalf of our team, we wish you continued success and hope you will keep us updated on your progress.

  • Yossi Peles

    I don’t know how healthy ketogenic diet is (I’m quite skeptical about all those “studies” and “researches”). What I do know for sure is that this diet, as presented in the above article, is immoral: “chicken”, “meat” and “fish” mean murder of innocent animals, eggs and diary products mean their abuse.

    • Lynn LaMar

      A very long time ago on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Johnny interviewed a scientist on the biology of plants. (Cleve Backster
      Plant biologist
      Grover Cleveland “Cleve” Backster, Jr. was an interrogation specialist for the Central Intelligence Agency, best known for his experiments with plants using a polygraph instrument in the 1960s .
      Born: February 27, 1924, Lafayette Township, NJ
      Died: June 24, 2013, San Diego, CA
      Books: Primary Perception: Biocommunication with Plants, Living Foods, and Human Cells)
      The scientist talked about a murder trial where the only ‘eyewitness’ was a plant. When the murderer was bought into the courtroom, the plant, hooked up to sensing wires on it’s leaves for the experiment, sent the gauges off the board. Now, tell me that plants don’t feel pain? A plant is a living thing. I raised my own animals for almost 10 years in Maine. I loved them, respected them, took excellent care of them and they repaid me with good clean nutritious food. It is possible and the human body is designed carnivorous.

    • Sue Freivald

      Oh, please! how in the world can eating the produce of animals (which would not be kept/alive without their produce) be abuse? I’m not going into the “murder” of innocent animals since we wouldn’t be supporting most of them at all if we didn’t use them as a food source, but I can empathize with your emotional attachment. However, please tell me how it abuses an animal to drink its milk or eat the eggs produced by a fowl? How does this harm the animal? I am flabbergasted.

    • Petra

      I certainly can understand how you feel about it and you should most certainly not apply this approach. However, I was vegetarian for twenty years
      and I at a young age I was diagnosed with osteoporosis of my spine and left hip. Until I reintroduced meat into my diet my hormones were really off with cessation of hair growth and constant indigestion. After the first week of reintroduction of grass-fed beef, chicken etc; all my symptoms disappeared!
      This is my experience and I believe we as a species are reliant on how our forefathers developed into the creatures that we are today.
      They ate meat! My health depends on this and I am not going to judge my moral stance based on the need to maintain the natural order of life.

    • LGG

      then do not eat it, but dont you dare try to put your belief system on someone else. People have been eating meat for many years, and will continue to do so. By your comment, I would presume you prefer a vegan diet. I say, whatever your preference, enjoy it, and do not infringe on others right to do the same

  • Kathleen

    Thank you for this interesting, well written article! What is a good source for meal planning on the ketogenic way of eating?

    • Cristina

      Hi Kathleen. Your words of appreciation make a world of difference and we sincerely appreciate your feedback.

      If you are new to a ketogenic diet, I would recommend using the helpful infographics provided in the article above as a guideline for planning your meals.

      Depending on whether you are looking to consume three meals per day, or break those up into smaller, more frequent meals, you would simply divide your proteins, carbohydrates, and fats among those meals. Let’s use the sample 2000 calorie meal plan shown above:

      • 165 grams of fat (75% of calories)
      • <30 grams of carbohydrate (5% of calories)
      • 100 grams of protein (20% of calories)

      If I were to consume three meals per day, I may have the following meal for breakfast:
      2 eggs fried in 1 tablespoon of butter
      2 pieces of bacon
      *3/4 cup of spinach
      *1/2 cup of mushrooms
      *cooked in the bacon grease

      This meal is roughly 775 calories, and contains 25 grams of protein, 5 grams of carbohydrates, and 56 grams of fat. Not only is this a great meal to get you fired up to start your day, but it allows you to have 1,225 calories remaining for lunch and dinner. Of those 1,225 calories you have approximately 75 grams of protein, <25 grams of carbohydrates, and 110 grams of fat to use.

      By plugging in various foods from the Ketogenic Food Pyramid, you are able to create a healthy meal plan with foods you enjoy.

      I know if may seem tedious to calculate your macros each day, however once you get the hang of how to balance your meals correctly, it will become easier as you go. If you are like me, you have been programmed to avoid consuming too many fats in your diet, so for me personally this is the most difficult part of adhering to a ketogenic diet. I have found that if I can get my carbohydrates and proteins dialed in first, then I fill in the blanks with fats.

      I hope this helps, Kathleen. If you want to run a sample meal plan by us, we would be more than happy to help with the fine tuning.

    • Hi Kathleen,

      Thank you very much for your feedback and encouragement; it’s greatly appreciated.

      If the excellent, helpful information that Cristina provided isn’t enough, you might also consider checking out the following resources:

      The Charlie Foundation – Learn about ketogenic therapies, variations of the ketogenic diet, recipes, books, keto products, and more.

      Ketogenic.com – One-stop-shop for all things keto, including a personalized keto calorie and macronutrient calculator, articles on nutrition, therapeutics, and performance, and delicious recipes.

      TheKetogenicDiet.org – A resource for beginner and seasoned ketogenic dieters containing keto tips and tricks, diet plans, menus, recipes, and more.

      I hope this is helpful!

  • Nadine

    Appreciate clarification and details of this eating plan! Will u Please comment on how ketosis affects the kidneys… I have read that this (ketosis) is not good for kidney functions. Thank u!

    • Cristina

      Welcome Nadine. We are thankful for your time and willingness to share your feedback on our beginner’s guide to a ketogenic diet.

      Before I address your specific inquiry, I want to mention that this article was intended to show general guidelines, and those with special nutrient needs, or who may have special dietary requirements, should seek the guidance of a registered dietitian or a medical professional before making any changes to their current meal plan. If you have been diagnosed with a disease or illness, we would recommend discussing your individual nutrient requirements with your physician prior to implementing a ketogenic diet.

      With that being said, for an otherwise healthy individual who is adhering to a ketogenic diet, there should be no cause for concern about any long term damage. Depending on your specific goals and what your desired outcome is, there are numerous benefits, especially if your goal is weight loss. While many studies have been conducted on the short term benefits of a ketogenic diet, one study in particular confirmed adherence to a ketogenic diet is both safe and effective long term.

      In the beginning stages of a ketogenic diet, it is important to be mindful of following the macro guidelines, and some may even recommend utilizing ketone testing strips. I personally do not believe that one needs to test ketones several times a day, as our bodies have a way of regulating things all on their own. If ketones ever get too high, your body will ultimately cause some release of insulin, which in turn will suppress ketones, keeping you from from generating too many. For folks who have been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, there is a potential risk that the pancreas will not make enough insulin to suppress ketones before they get dangerously high, and it is for reasons such as this, that I strongly urge everyone to discuss their individual needs with their physician.

  • Kathryn Stefaniak

    Hi Tim! I’m wondering if this ketogenic diet would work for me? I’ve been on the One Day diet for years and still can’t seem to lose weight and keep it off for long enough. Would you suggest I give it a try? I have to be careful about my kidneys, is this diet kidney friendly? I miss “talking” to you on the forums, hope all is well with you and your family! Keep up the great work, I’m always interested in hearing from you.

    • Cristina

      Hi Kathy! What a wonderful surprise. I am sorry to hear that you are struggling with maintaining your weight loss as I know how hard you have been working. I wouldn’t sell yourself short, as you have come a long way since we were first introduced. You have the determination, strength, knowledge, and not to mention the social support of your number one fan, Katelyn.

      I know your journey hasn’t always been easy, but one of the things I admire most about you is that you always remain positive. You are so generous and compassionate, and spend most of your time caring for others. While I have such a high regard for these traits, I would love to see you take some more time for yourself.

      In terms of implementing a ketogenic type diet, switching to this type of program from the One Day Diet could potentially be more manageable and even more effective. Although the ketogenic diet does not incorporate intermittent fasting, it does provide many similar benefits. Ultimately, the biggest benefit is the decreased need for insulin.

      When our insulin levels get too high, this affects our blood sugar causing us to store fat. For women especially this is not favorable as not only will this increased insulin cause stress to our bodies, but it really messes with our hormones.

      For folks such as yourself who have been diagnosed with kidney disease, it is important to be mindful of your protein intake. Too much protein can cause your kidneys to work harder than they need (or can). Since the ketogenic diet uses fat as it’s primary energy source, and probably less protein than you may be used to coming from the One Day Diet, combined with reduced carbohydrates, this may be a suitable plan for you.

      As with anything, I would recommend running this by your physician for prior approval, as they may have some recommendations or adjustments to suit your individual needs.

      I am looking forward to your next visit, Kathy.

    • Hi Kathy,

      It’s great to hear from you, and I hope that this finds you doing well!

      As mentioned above, the ketogenic diet can be a very effective tool for weight management, and it also holds tremendous promise as a therapeutic tool in numerous situations. Having said that, the information provided above is intended for otherwise healthy adults. We do urge anyone who’s taking prescription medications and/or being treated for any medical conditions to consult with his/her physician prior to making any changes to his/her diet.

      From a weight management standpoint, the ketogenic diet seems to exert its most powerful effects by suppressing the appetite (via ketones). Along those lines, the ketogenic diet may be particularly advantageous for folks with appetite management issues. There are also a number of metabolic benefits, including better glycemic control and notable improvements in insulin. However, these changes do not seem to create a metabolic advantage, as some have proposed.

      The ketogenic diet is often mistakenly referred to as a high-protein diet; however, unlike a low-carbohydrate diet (which may indeed be high in protein), the ketogenic diet is an adequate (or moderate) protein diet. As mentioned above, too much protein may impair ketogenesis.

      As Cristina mentioned above, long-term studies in otherwise healthy individuals demonstrate that the ketogenic diet is safe (and effective), with no abnormal changes in renal function. However, I am not aware of any studies conducted on the ketogenic diet in individuals with kidney issues. Unfortunately, I would not be able to comment on your specific question. Having said that, you may consider reaching out to someone at The Charlie Foundation, which specializes in therapeutic applications of the ketogenic diet.

      I hope this helps, Kathy; take care!

  • David McKinney

    I am interested and would like to know more about it

    • Cristina

      Greetings, David. Thank you for your interest in our beginners guide to a ketogenic diet.

      Do you have any specific questions we can address for you? We would be more than happy to provide you with some additional information, and appreciate the opportunity to serve as your resource for achieving optimal health, body composition, and performance.

      We look forward to your next visit!

  • Sue Freivald

    grandson on a strict keto diet eliminated seizure activity without medication. His dad went on the diet with him as support and lost weight, gained energy – will “never go back” to a “normal” diet.

    How does intermittent fasting (i.e. no food between 7 pm and 11 am as an example) assist a keto approach? How strict does one need to be before the benefits (actual ketogenesis) occurs?

    • Cristina

      Hi Sue. Thanks for joining our ketogenic diet discussion. That is great to hear that your grandson has seen favorable results, including the elimination of seizures, as a result of implementing changes to his diet. It is also wonderful to hear that his father also saw positive changes to his own health, as a result of providing support for his son.

      With regards to your inquiry about incorporating intermittent fasting alongside a ketogenic diet, I would be inclined to ask what benefit you are hoping to achieve from doing this? While intermittent fasting has been purported to have health benefits, I would be cautious to include intermittent fasting in the beginning stages of a ketogenic diet unless it was purely from a convenience stand point.

      Getting acclimated to a ketogenic diet takes a little bit of work and comes with its own set of rules and restrictions. Allowing your body time to adapt to the reduction in carbohydrates, increase in fats, and depending on your previous meal plan either an increase or decrease in protein, is something I would work on implementing prior to adding in any further restrictions such as limiting your feeding window.

      Anytime you make a change to your diet or meal plan, it is important to be mindful of how certain foods sustain your energy and combat your hunger and cravings. When you are working with a program such as a ketogenic diet, it is crucial to consume the required amount of macros (more importantly fats) in order for your body to benefit from ketosis. When you engage in periods of fasting, you are limiting your feeding window, and it may become more difficult to meet your daily intake of food.

      As mentioned in the article above, “The ketogenic diet has been shown to have favorable effects on appetite by reducing levels of the “hunger hormone” ghrelin and increasing levels of appetite-regulating hormones….[in other words] ketones may directly suppress appetite.” This may be a benefit in terms of weight loss, however if you are limiting your feeding window, then it may present some concerns for your ability to adhere to your meal plan.

      I don’t want it to appear that I am against intermittent fasting, as I engage in intermittent fasting myself, albeit naturally. The way my schedule is structured, my mornings are very hectic with getting two children off to school, getting my work day set up, and going to the gym. My internal hunger cues don’t typically signal that I am running low on energy until around noon, so this is when my feeding window begins. I try and refeed/refuel every 2-3 hours, and each meal dictates the next. I am aware of how many calories and macros I need to run on all cylinders and maintain my health, body composition, and performance, and I plan my meals accordingly.

      Being in tune with what my body requires didn’t happen overnight, as it was through a great deal of trial and error that I found what works for me. We are all just as unique on the inside as we are on the outside, so it is critical to find what works for you, as an individual, and it must be something that is both manageable and effective.

      I hope this helps, Sue.

      • Sue Freivald

        Very helpful, thank you. Also the keto tools sent were a good measure to go by. I also put in my husband’s statistics, since we are in this together. the intermittent fasting came out of a long term frustration with the conventional advice to have a good breakfast to start the day and a husband who never wanted to eat until about noon! So to resolve that conflict we went to a two meal a day routine and found that we needed to be sure to not eat after 7 pm to keep our bodies happy with the plan! So the daily fasting window was a natural for us. It resulted in a 24# weight loss for me over a year and a stabilization of weight for my husband. We both feel much better. While we don’t restrict carbs to a keto level, we have found that incorporating good fats has decreased our desire for carbs and increased our energy. I doubt that we are in true keto, but there has been a healthy balance achieved for us. We are both moderately active (walking, riding, etc.) at 80 and feel great!

    • Hi Sue,

      I hope this finds you doing well! Thanks for sharing your grandson’s and his father’s testimonials using the ketogenic diet. While the emphasis of the article above was weight loss, I have heard many, many life-changing stories such as these using the ketogenic diet therapeutically. There’s quite a bit of information on The Charlie Foundation website.

      As far as your question about combining intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet, one thing that may be particularly interesting is that one of the tried and true ways to get into (nutritional) ketosis, which is also the goal of the ketogenic diet, is fasting. In other words, the ketogenic diet (via ketosis) essentially mimics fasting.

      Along those lines, I don’t think there would be a problem combining the ketogenic diet with periodic fasting, whether that be time-restricted feeding, alternate-day fasting, or a diet that mimics fasting. It’s possible that it may be an easier transition to go to and from fasting while using a ketogenic diet for a number of reasons.

      Having said that, I’m not aware of any research that specifically looks at this combination, and I’m not sure that there would necessarily be any synergy in terms of weight loss. From that standpoint, the various intermittent fasting protocols seem to be useful because they provide an alternative way to control energy balance. That said, just like the ketogenic diet, there’s a likelihood of myriad potential benefits to fasting beyond weight management.

      As far as how strict one would need to be, this varies a bit across individuals, but generally speaking, most people need to be very dialed in with their carbohydrate and protein intakes (within the guidelines mentioned above) to get into ketosis and stay there. It does require some trial and error, and if you need more direction than what’s provided above, you might consider trying this keto calculator.

      I hope this helps, Sue; please keep us posted.

  • Ron

    Why would you allow diet sodas? The artificial sweeteners commonly used would torpedo this diet. It might be acceptable if it was just carbonated water, natural flavorings, electrolytes, and, possibly, sweetened with stevia. Are there any commercial products like that, and have they been tested as part of a ketogenic diet?

    • Cristina

      Great feedback, Ron. I would tend to agree with your thought process on the health benefits of diet sodas. I believe Coach Tim was including diet sodas as an option for folks who may be having difficulty satisfying their sweet tooth without adding too many carbohydrates.

      There are plenty of other ways to quench your thirst while staying in ketosis such as unsweetened teas and coffees, and no calorie flavored waters.

      For me personally, I enjoy drinking La Croix. It is a sparkling water (AKA carbonated water) that has all natural flavors. 80% or more of my hydration comes from good ole H2O, but the other 20% is protein shakes, La Croix, and an occasion cup of black coffee.

      • The Deer

        I agree that the only sodas that are reasonable to use on KETO are sugar free but not “diet”, in other words sweetened with natural sweeteners but not SUGAR. Stevia, if it can be tolerated(some just don’t like it) is very sweet and works well.

    • Hi Ron,

      Thanks for sharing your feedback and questions. It’s stated in the article that zero-calorie sodas are permitted, and this is not intended to imply diet sodas with artificial sweeteners. I apologize for not making that more clear. If you’ve followed BioTrust for any period of time, our brand is adamantly outspoken against the use of artificial sweeteners. For example:

      Ditch the Diet Sodas and Drink More of This

      Thus, the implication was that “zero-calorie sodas” refer to stevia-sweetened sodas, flavorless soda water, mineral water, etc. However, I should have been more conscious that there may have been folks reading the article who were unfamiliar with our stance on this topic.

      Having said that, I wouldn’t expect stevia to have any negative effect on getting into or staying in ketosis, as stevia does not increase blood sugar or insulin. In fact, it may have a beneficial effect on both variables.

      I hope this helps clarify, Ron. Please let me know if you have any additional question, concerns, or feedback. Thanks!

  • philnmdg

    Very concise and very well put together article. My compliments to the author.

    • Cristina

      Hi philnmdg. We are ever so grateful for your feedback.

      Your opinion is very valuable to us and helps to shape everything we do. If there are any other topics of interest that you would like to learn more about, please let us know.

    • Thanks, philnmdg! I greatly appreciate you taking the time to read the article and share your encouraging feedback.

  • Kathryn Jordan

    I thought this diet was also used in children who have Epilepsy to help control (besides medication) seizures; possibly stop the seizures completely and help the person get off their medications altogether. I have a movie called “First Do No Harm” which is a true story and uses people who were on this diet and it helped to stop their seizures completely; now they are medication free. Does it also work on adults?

    • John McDonell

      It should be +++ zinc carnosine and taurine.

    • Cristina

      Hi Kathryn. Thank you for taking the time to explore this article, and for sharing your feedback.

      Before I respond, I do need to mention that any advice or recommendations I make should never replace that of your regular physician, and if you are being treated for a disease or illness, we advise you to get prior approval from your physician before making any changes to your diet or meal plan. And never stop taking any medications with your physicians consent.

      With that being said, great reference of the movie “First Do No Harm”. It was rumored that Meryl Streep was so moved hearing the stories of the children who were being treated for epilepsy while she was doing research, that she refused to accept payment for her role in the film.

      Along these lines, you are indeed correct that the ketogenic diet was originally created to help with the symptoms of epilepsy and other neurological illnesses, as depicted in the film. While many of the studies that have been conducted focus on children with epilepsy, there is evidence to support that adults who suffer from seizures may also benefit from a ketogenic diet.

      This is something that would need to be determined on a case by case basis, and I would recommend that if you were to implement a ketogenic diet as treatment for seizures, that you do so in a controlled environment where your physician could monitor your symptoms and provide proper guidance on a suitable meal plan.

      We welcome your contributions and hope you will join us again, Kathryn.

      • Kathryn Jordan

        I will ask my neurologist about it when I see him in June. If it work for children, why should it not help adults? I’ve lived with Epilepsy since 1969 and have undergone three brain surgeries. I would rather not have to deal with that again. If this diet can help with my seizures, it would be a Godsend. Thank you for the article.

    • Hi Kathryn,

      I hope this finds you doing well!

      I mentioned it in the introduction, 11-month-old Charlie Abrahams had difficult-to-control epilepsy (despite using multiple medications). As a last resort, his parents turned to the ketogenic diet. It worked. Charlie became seizure- and drug-free within a month, and he hasn’t had a seizure since. In 1994, his parents founded the Charlie Foundation, recognized as a global leader in promoting ketogenic therapies for people with epilepsy, neurological disorders, select cancers, and various other health conditions.

      Along those lines, you may consider checking out The Charlie Foundation, which is a great resource for ketogenic therapies, variations of the ketogenic diet, recipes, books, keto products, and more.

      I hope this helps!

      • Kathryn Jordan

        Thank you, Tim. I will check out The Charlie Foundation. Before I even try to do anything of this, I will discuss this with my neurologist come June 2017. I do appreciate the web site. I am doing well dispite having two seizures after going 31 months seizure free; something I can rejoice — the time I was seizure free. Look at the positive side of things. That is how I get through the tough times.

      • Jina

        What do you mean by Selected Cancers? I have ovarian cancer. Would this diet help me?

        • Hi Jina,

          Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your questions. I’m very sorry to hear about your cancer diagnosis, and I applaud you for leaving no stone unturned in your quest to beat it. I want you to know that we’ll be here every step of the way to provide you encouragement and support in your fight; you can do it!

          Having said that, I am required to remind you that we’re not trained to provide medical nutrition therapy. In other words, I can’t answer your question specifically about whether or not the ketogenic diet can help you.

          However, I can provide you with some additional information from qualified sources that I encourage you to share and discuss with your healthcare team to make the best decision for you. For starters, I qualified the application of the ketogenic diet in cancer therapy by saying “select cancers” because cancer is a very complex disease, as I’m sure you’re aware. And it’s not as cut and dry as saying that the ketogenic diet starves cancer cells, as some may lead us to believe. In fact, this is a somewhat controversial topic given the potentially promising, albeit inconsistent, results.

          Having said that, as alluded to above, there is evidence that the ketogenic diet (combined with radiation therapy) may be therapeutic in treating certain forms of cancer, such as brain and gastric cancers. That doesn’t mean there isn’t additional application, as there’s animal evidence and an accumulating body of human evidence that it may be beneficial in other instances. Here are a few additional resources that you might consider looking into:

          Chad Macias – Cancer Metabolism & Caution Over Ketogenic Diet/Ketones

          The Charlie Foundation

          A Nutritional Perspective of Ketogenic Diet in Cancer: A Narrative Review.

          Assessing the Role of the Ketogenic Diet as a Metabolic Therapy in Cancer: Is it Evidence Based?

          Speaking of nutrition, another very promising area of cancer research is fasting, or more specifically, the Fasting-Mimicking Diet (FMD), which was created by Dr. Valter Longo. There’s an accumulating body of evidence suggesting that FMD (combined with radiation therapy) may be beneficial for cancer treatment. Again, the evidence is still mounting, so this is something to discuss with your healthcare team. As a primer, the following interview with Dr. Longo is an excellent starting point:

          Valter Longo, Ph.D. on Fasting-Mimicking Diet & Fasting for Longevity, Cancer & Multiple Sclerosis

          I do hope that you and your medical team find this to be helpful, Jina. Please keep us posted.

  • Jen Ashworth

    I’m following a keto diet and successfully in ketotis but not sure how many calories I should be aiming at for weight loss. For the last couple of weeks I’ve been aiming at 1100 a day but I’ve only lost 2 lbs. Am I eating too little?? I’m a 45 year old female with a desk job so very sedentary.

    • Scott Moore

      The only diet that works is making sure that you take in less KCAL in then you burn. if you burn lets say 2000 KCAL a day and you cut it down to 1500 KCAL of intake then you would lose 1 lb per week. see it takes 3500 KCALS to lose a pound and 3500 KCAL to gain a pound.

      • Scott, she’s been aiming at 1100 calories per day. That’s WAY too low. That means she’s not getting enough fat for her adapt into ketosis. Otherwise, she’d probably have lost more than 2 lbs in a couple weeks.

    • My bet is you’re NOT eating enough fat to get adapted into ketosis. Your body is likely using amio acids, or in gluco-neo-genesis. I’d recommend bumping up your fat intake to 150-200g per day for a couple weeks, avoid your scale for that time, exercise upper moderate intensity and give make sure you get a full night sleep every night. Keep stress low to manage your cortisol levels and you should start seeing some inches trim and pounds go bye-bye 🙂

      • Jen Ashworth

        Thanks for that, I’ll give it a go.

        • Cristina

          Awesome, Jen. We would love for you to hit us back up with some feedback should you decide to implement a ketogenic diet.

          If you have any questions along your journey, please don’t hesitate to let us know. We are here to help and happy to do so!

          • Jen Ashworth

            Thanks Cristina, I think I’m sort of getting the hang of it. I’ve no problems keeping my carbs low, that’s the easy bit. Where I am struggling is keeping my protein down – it’s been running closer to 40% rather than 20. I’ve done a little better this week and I think batch cooking will help me manage my protein portion control better. I’m also going to give fat bombs a go to increase the fat percentage. I’ve got a few days off now so I’m going to do a bit of experimental cooking (lots of keto recipes to try out)!!

          • Cristina

            I can completely understand your struggle with keeping your protein consumption down. That was something I had difficulty with as well, outside of learning to wrap my brain around the understanding that I shouldn’t be avoiding fats.

            Doing weekly meal prep is a life saver, and is one of the ways I stay on track. I am generally consistent with preparing most of my meals in advance not just when I am adhering to a particular diet such as the ketogenic diet, but all the time.

            I know it can be cumbersome to calculate macros every day, and some days you may end up just reaching for something not in line with your goals for convenience sake. Meal prep eliminates the daily stress for me of doing these calculations, and keeps me on track.

            If you discover any good keto recipes, we would love for you to share them.

        • You’re welcome Jen! Best of luck. Cristina probably has it handled, but please don’t hesitate to reach out for help if ya need it 🙂

      • Cristina

        Great advice, TCMM Fitness. I appreciate your fresh perspective and agree with your recommendations. When the goal is weight loss, in addition to a modification to ones diet and exercise, often times factors such as sleep hygiene and stress management are overlooked. These habits are just as important and what I would consider to be “big rocks” in terms of achieving optimal health, body composition, and performance.

        Your contributions are always welcome, and are an enormous value to our readers. I look forward to future discussions with you.

        • You’re welcome Cristina! And THANK YOU! I’m happy to help whenever/wherever I can. I look forward to future discussions as well 🙂

    • Hi Jen,

      I think we may need some more details to make informed suggestions. Generally speaking, losing about 0.5 – 1.0% of body weight per week is typically considered to be good progress. Two pounds in two weeks, in general, is not too shabby. Weight loss becomes more challenging as we get older, and unfortunately, females have an even more challenging time. So, I think exercising patience is important.

      Speaking of exercise, it is a tremendously important tool to ensure quality weight loss: losing fat while maintaining/building muscle. Along those lines, weight training and brief, intense interval training are very effective tools. Check out some of our recommendations here:

      Our Top 6 Exercises for Fat Loss

      With that being said, if you’re looking for a little more direction on how much to eat (calories and macronutrients), you may consider using the following keto calculator as a reference:

      Keto Calculator

      Remember, calculators like these are just guidelines. At the end of the day, we are each different, and assuming that we’re compliant, the most important question to ask is, “How’s that working for me?”

      I hope this helps, Jen; keep up the good work!

      • Jen Ashworth

        Thanks Tim, I think I’m getting the hang of it now. I’ve calculated my macros using one of the on-line calculators but it’s taken me a while to get my fats up and protein down. Think I’m finding my footing with it now though. Thanks for the info, it’s all very helpful stuff.

  • Jean Mcneff

    I have used the keto diet and the xp and have lost 20 pounds in one month. It’s the easiest way I have found to lose weight with not much effort.

    • Cristina

      Hi Jean. Thanks for sharing your story with us, and congratulations on your 20 pound weight loss. Are you currently adhering to a ketogenic diet?

      We would love to hear more about your meal plan, and what other habits you have included as part of your healthy lifestyle that have helped you to be so successful in reaching your goals.

  • philnmdg

    I can’t seem to get below 75 grams per day of carbs on my current diet. Any suggestions on how to get to a Keto diet 5% daily amount? Everything seems to have carbs and sugars in them. Thanks

    • Hey philnmdg,

      That’s a great question. A good starting place would be for you to tell us a little bit more about what you are eating (i.e., what’s contributing to your carb content). Are you using the “Ketogenic Food Pyramid” as your guide? If you aren’t, that’s a great place to start.

      Thanks, philnmdg!

  • David

    I want to start the Ketogenic Diet How do I began?

    • Cristina

      Hi David. Where should you begin? Great question. I would recommend taking a look at the Ketogenic Food Pyramid contained within the above article to get a good idea of how you can implement this type of meal plan into your lifestyle.

      Some additional resources provided by Coach Tim can be found here:

      The Charlie Foundation – Learn about ketogenic therapies, variations of the ketogenic diet, recipes, books, keto products, and more.

      Ketogenic.com– One-stop-shop for all things keto, including a personalized keto calorie and macronutrient calculator, articles on nutrition, therapeutics, and performance, and delicious recipes.

      TheKetogenicDiet.org – A resource for beginner and seasoned ketogenic dieters containing keto tips and tricks, diet plans, menus, recipes, and more.

      This should be helpful information to get the ball rolling. Once you have had a chance to review these resources, let us know if you have any follow up questions.

  • Desiree Cilenti

    I have T2D so of course I also have the insulin resistance. I am a 50+ woman going through menopause, am obese, have high LDL, and blood pressure issues off and on. I do not have a lot of money for food every month so I need to find information so I can make this work. Can you please help me?

  • Hi Wayne,

    Unfortunately, since we’re not medically trained, we can’t speak to your questions pertaining to medications and interactions with the ketogenic diet. Speaking generally, however, I do have a question: How is the Atkins-style diet working for you?

    In other words, despite the fact that you’ve not measured yourself in a state of ketosis, have you achieved the results? I’m sure that I can make some inferences, but this is an important question. As keto expert Luis Villasenor (KetoGains) says, “Chase results, not ketones.” That’s not to say that nutritional ketosis doesn’t offer potential benefits. However, it highlights the fact that, at least when it comes to weight management and body composition, ketosis is a secondary by-product of the ketogenic diet.

    With that being said, there may be several reasons why one may experience difficulty with the ketogenic diet and getting into ketosis, some which I discuss in the following article:

    Keto Tips: Beyond the Basics

    As I mention in that article, the authoritative, go-to resource on the topic is the Ketogenic Bible, and if you haven’t already, I encourage you to check it out. And, if you’d like to share any additional information about your experiences with the Atkins-style diet, please feel free. Although I’m not intimately familiar with the Atkins diet and your personal experiences, it is my understanding that the Atkins diet does allow some flexibility in carbohydrate intake, particularly after the very-low-carbohydrate induction phase. Along those lines, if carbohydrates are not restricted severely enough, that could certainly have an impact on blood/urine/breath levels of ketone bodies.

  • Great question, fbooker! Coach Cristina has posted a handful of keto-friendly recipes here on our blog, which you can find using this link. Outside of that, here are some wonderful, highly recommended resources:

    The Ketogenic Bible

    Ketogenic.com

    The Ketogenic Diet.org

    Ruled.Me Keto Diet

    I hope this is helpful, fbooker!

  • Hey Jeff,

    Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your feedback on your experiences with the ketogenic diet. You highlight a tremendously important point: There does not appear to be a one-size-fits-all diet approach that works best for everyone. That is, while keto can be an effective tool for many folks to reduce body fat, improve health, and live an optimal life, it does not apply to everyone, and there are other dietary strategies that may be better suited to certain individuals. It’s about finding what works best for you.

    Having said that, I’d be curious to hear a little bit more about your keto experiences, and if you have any data that you can share to illustrate your point about your metabolic function when you were following it. On one hand, we would tend to expect an improvement in blood glucose profiles (e.g., fasting, 24-hour, HbA1c) and measurements of insulin sensitivity when adhering to the ketogenic diet. These are findings that we see consistently in the research, however, as I pointed out above, as individuals vary, so too do results. Along those lines, this highlights the significance genetic variability in response to dietary carbohydrate (consumption and restriction).

    However, to your point, I think that may be a bit misleading when we say that a very-low-carbohydrate diet improves insulin sensitivity. You see, severe carbohydrate restriction leads to a heavy and primary reliance on fat/ketones for fuel, and this can result in what is often referred to as “physiological” carbohydrate intolerance and insulin resistance. In other words, as the metabolic flux is shifted, a series of processes makes the body more adept at handling fats and less so at carbohydrate. That’s an over simplification, but the point is that this seems to be a temporary metabolic state (at least in otherwise healthy individuals) that results from prolonged carbohydrate restriction. From that standpoint, this state of “physiological insulin resistance” is essentially a “good” thing and a normal metabolic adaptation. It is also something that appears to normalize over time if/when returning to a normal/mixed diet. However, it highlights the significance of metabolic flexibility and the approach that one takes when re-introducing carbohydrate.

    Other people far smarter than I—such as Mark Sisson and Richard Nikoley—have written on the topic of physiological insulin resistance in case you’re interested in checking out their work.

  • Hi Elizabeth,

    Although your question about vegetarian keto recipes may sound a little paradoxical, the great news is that keto is becoming so popular, that there is no shortage of recipes, virtually regardless of personal preferences and food restrictions.

    With that in mind, here are some top-recommended resources. I admit that they are predominant in animal-based foods; however, I do think that you’ll find options that suit your needs. Out of curiosity, since you specified that you’re not vegan, what animal-based foods do you permit (e.g., fish, dairy, eggs)?

    The Ketogenic Bible

    Ketogenic.com

    The Ketogenic Diet.org

    Ruled.Me Keto Diet

    Perfect Keto

    I hope this is helpful, Elizabeth. I’d love for you to check in with us to let us know about your experiences on keto, particularly because there may be others just like you who are interested but hesitant to try due to misconceptions about what the diet entails (e.g., “lots of meat and animal-based foods”).

    Thank you!

  • This is a great question, Pamela, and an important one. BioTrust Chief Scientific Officer Shawn Wells and I actually discuss this to a certain extent on an upcoming BioTrust podcast.

    There are several different variations of the ketogenic diet, and what I described in this article essentially sets the stage for the most basic standard ketogenic diet (SKD), although there are even further modifications to personalize this. In addition to SKD, you have at least couple other general varieties, including the cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD) and targeted ketogenic diet (TKD).

    In the case of the latter, TKD typically involves eating ketogenic throughout the day but including some carbohydrate before, during, and/or after exercise. TKD tends to be implemented more by hard-training athletes and exercisers, as the properly-timed carbohydrates can help fuel performance and recovery.

    On the other hand, CKD generally involves eating keto for 5 days followed by 2 days of a very high-carb, low-fat diet. Dr. Mauro Di Pasquale comes to mind as popularizing the CKD back in the late 90s with his book The Anabolic Diet. This approach has traditionally been geared toward bodybuilders.

    You can find out more about SKD, TKD, and CKD via the following link:

    The 3 Ketogenic Diets Explained: SKD, CKD & TKD

    I know that doesn’t necessarily answer your question, but it provides some background and context. Along those lines, none of these versions of keto promote a cheat day in the traditional sense. Even on the CKD, on the high-carb days, one must be very careful to keep fat intake low to optimize its effects.

    Having said that, in practice, I do believe it’s common practice for many folks who have adopted keto to indulge in an occasional cheat day. For instance, as Dr. Roberson, who has experienced tremendous success with keto, mentioned in his interview with me, he implemented a cheat day, which he ultimately dialed down to a single cheat meal.

    Also, Shawn, who is an avid keto dieter, is also known to indulge in an occasional cheat day. However, with the growing popularity of the ketogenic diet, you can pretty much have keto versions of all your favorite “cheat” foods, including pizza and ice cream.

    There is no reason to believe that incorporating a cheat day or meal every once in a while would have a negative impact on liver health and function in an otherwise healthy individual.

    With that being said, I think you bring up an excellent point that it may be best to hold off on the cheat day/meal, if possible, until you’ve keto adapted. And in general, keto experts like Shawn suggest being as strict as possible with keto until you’ve adapted. (Here are some additional tips.)

    Having said all that, Shawn and I have also discusses the relevance of occasionally including carbohydrates in the diet (even if you are predominantly keto) to promote metabolic flexibility, which essentially refers to the body’s ability to shift between fuels (e.g., fats and carbohydrates) based on what’s available and the demands being placed on the body.

    With a long-term ketogenic diet (i.e., severe carbohydrate restriction), you could say that the body’s ability to process and utilize carbohydrate gets compromised. (This was discussed as “physiological” carbohydrate intolerance and insulin resistance in another series of comments.) And while, evolutionary speaking, many populations likely went extended periods of time without substantial carbohydrate (e.g., fasting, seasonal changes), it’s also likely that many of these same populations also had seasonal/timely access to carb-rich foods.

    The point is that the body is a “dual-fuel” system, designed to be metabolically flexible and to utilize both carbohydrates and fats (and fat by-products, such as ketones). Along those lines, strategically consuming them may be optimal for metabolic health and function. Hopefully future research will help us flesh this out.

    But, to your initial question, a cheat day is probably okay while following the ketogenic diet, and if it helps you stick with your diet, then the benefits are likely to outweigh potential negatives (although there are exceptions). Also keep in mind that some would argue that you can have your cake and eat it to while still being keto. In other words, consider that there are many delicious recipes that have “ketofied” popular foods.

  • You are welcome, Debbie; thank you!

  • Hi Gail,

    Thanks so much for stopping by and for sharing your experiences with stevia. You highlight the fact that individual differences most certainly apply, and what may be “healthy” or “acceptable” for one person, may not be for another. I’m glad that you identified the culprit and are able to make appropriate choices for yourself as a result.

    Have you ever tried Swerve? It is an all-natural, zero-calorie sugar replacement that is purported to be non-glycemic and diabetes friendly. I don’t believe that it’s featured in any sodas, however, it can be found in both granular and packet options.

  • Hi Sharon,

    Do you happen to remember where you read that? I’d like to review the source, if possible.

    Thank you!