This is the most definitive guide to the Keto diet.
We have described every little detail about the keto diet, backed up by research studies and unique ideas, in 8 definitive chapters.
With this guide, you don’t need to look anywhere else for information.
You will find out why this diet has so many other benefits besides weight loss; why it could be used as a treatment for certain medical conditions; how keto diet boosts your cognitive functions; how to create your individual plan; keto recipes and much, much more!
Keep on reading if you want to experiment with the most popular diet and learn everything about it.
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The ketogenic diet is a very low carb, moderate protein, high fat diet that claims to have many benefits, including weight loss, improved health and performance. It has many similarities with the Low Carb diet and Atkins diet.
Broadly speaking, the Keto diet involves drastically reducing carbohydrates intake and replacing it with healthy fats. This switch aims to put the body into a metabolic state called ketosis, which is supposed to make the body more efficient at burning fat for energy.
Read the whole chapter and you will find out how exactly ketosis happens, what does “keto” mean, and much, much more!
Let’s take a closer look at what actually is going on.
A “ketogenic” (or “keto”) diet makes the body produce small fuel molecules, which are called “ketones”. The term “ketone” was actually coined around 1850 by German chemist Leopold Gmelin.
Two types of ketones can be used as energy sources – acetoacetate and D-β-hydroxybutyrate. (The β sign means “beta”.)
Our body can make ketones through a complex biochemical pathway. Some people like to think of ketone bodies as the fourth energy source for humans (in addition to carbohydrates, fats and proteins).
Broadly speaking, ketosis mimics the metabolic pathway of starvation, without hunger.
Glucose (blood sugar) is the prefered fuel for many cells in your body.
When you follow a ketogenic diet, your liver produces ketones from fats, which is an alternative to using glucose as the main source of energy for the body. This is called nutritional ketosis.
During starvation, there is also an increase in ketones, which refers to starvation ketosis.
However, in order to reach a starvation ketosis you must fast for a week (at least), which is often dangerous and not recommended.
Ketosis occurs when blood ketones are higher than normal. This can happen either through dietary changes (which leads to very low blood glucose), or through supplementation (independent of blood glucose concentrations).
Put very simply, when the conditions are right (for example, during very low carbohydrates intake, less than 30-40g per day, or during starvation/fasting):
Believe it or not, you can reach 30-40 g of carbohydrates within a few bites, which is why you should be careful with what you eat. (there is a complete list with the foods to eat in chapter 5)
The point is that even a small amount of certain food can take you out of ketosis, so make sure you are eating less than 30-40 g of carbs per day.
The keto diet has a long and interesting history.
The Ketogenic diet is a prevalent dietary therapy that was designed to reproduce the success and remove the limitations of fasting, which was used to treat epilepsy.
Physicians of ancient Greece treated different diseases, including epilepsy, by altering their patients’ diets. They knew there was a correlation between a diet and disease but couldn’t say what exactly.
The author of Epidemics (Hippocrates, Epidemics, VII, 46; vol. 5.) describes the case of a man whose epilepsy is cured as quickly as it had appeared, through complete abstinence of food and drink.
The royal physician and Greek anatomist Erasistratus reported, “One inclining to epilepsy should be made to fast without mercy and be put on short rations.”
In the beginning of the 20th century, Bernarr Macfadden, an American exponent of physical culture, popularised the use of fasting to restore health. His student, the osteopathic physician Dr. Hugh William Conklin, began to treat his epilepsy patients by recommending fasting.
He assumed that epileptic seizures were caused when a toxin, secreted from the Peyer’s patches in the intestines, was discharged into the bloodstream. His recommendation was a long fast, between 18 to 25 days, to allow this toxin to dissipate.
Hundreds of epilepsy patients had been treated with Conklin’s “water diet”. He reached a 90% cure rate in children and 50% in adults. However, further studies in the 1920s indicated that seizures generally returned after the fast.
In 1921, Rollin Turner Woodyatt inspected the research on diet and diabetes. He stated that three water-soluble compounds, β-hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate, and acetone (known collectively as ketone bodies), were produced by the liver in healthy people, when they were starved or if they consumed a very low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. (Finally, no more starvation for epilepsy patients!)
Dr. Russell Morse Wilder, at the Mayo Clinic, built on this research, hoping to obtain the benefits of fasting in a dietary therapy that could be maintained indefinitely. He coined the term “ketogenic diet” to describe a diet that produced a high level of ketone bodies in the blood through an excess of fat and lack of carbohydrate.
The paediatrician Mynie Gustav Peterman, who was a colleague of Wilder, later formulated the classic ketogenic diet, with a ratio of one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight in children, 10 -15 g of carbohydrate per day, and the remainder of calories from fat.
Peterman documented positive effects, such as improved alertness, behaviour, and sleep. Adverse effects had been found as well, including nausea and vomiting due to excess ketosis. You will learn all of the benefits and side effects from the diet in chapter 4.
Over the years, the ketogenic diet has been modified and currently, there are a few different types of keto diet.
Nowadays, keto is the most popular diet because of a few reasons.
First, it has been studied a lot. The diet was initially a treatment for epilepsy and hundreds of studies had been conducted, proving its efficiency and finding other effects from following it.
Second, one of the most widespread beliefs is that carbohydrates make you fat. You must have heard that if you want to lose weight, you should cut off the carbs. This is a misunderstanding and you can read more about it in the next section.
Keep in mind that only the Standard ketogenic diet and the High protein keto diet have been extensively studied. The CKD and TKD are more advanced methods, mostly used by athletes and bodybuilders. Check chapter 7 to find out more about combining keto diet with sports.
There are so many different diets these days that people often wonder which diet is better.
Of course not! You cannot compare these approaches!
The paleo diet focuses on foods that in the past could be found by hunting and gathering, while the vegan diet is a lifestyle for people, who don’t want to consume anything that comes from animals.
The keto diet is the most popular diet where followers aim to enter ketosis by excluding carbohydrates from their menu and consume high amount of healthy fats.
The ketogenic diet was initially designed as a treatment for children and adults, who suffer from epilepsy. Soon after this, the keto diet becomes one of the most prefered ways to lose weight, because of the many benefits it delivers.
Are you curious to find out who ctry the Keto diet and who should avoid it? Read the next chapter then!
Let’s be honest – the keto diet is restrictive and might not be suitable for everyone. There are many factors that should be considered well before starting such a plan.
Age, sex and physical activity matter when you are choosing a diet. Medical conditions matter. Budget matters.
In this chapter, you will learn whether the diet is safe for you to try and what the recommendations for beginners are.
We made different categories, such as women in menopause, men over 40, children and teenagers, etc. This should help you identify which category you fall into and decide whether the diet is for you.
Keto is fairly safe for women, if you want to try it for 2-4 months, or practice keto eating once or twice per year.
Eating keto for too long, though, might cause serious trouble to some women.
Extreme restrictions, such as eating too low carb for too long can lead to disruptions to many hormones.
Women’s bodies are more sensitive than men’s to low energy and carbohydrates intake. (28) The evolutionary importance of having enough nutrients to sustain a pregnancy could be the reason for this.
Our central nervous system (CNS) is responsible for the hormone production. The CNS consists of two main parts: the brain and the spinal cord.
Our brain is the interpreter of the environment around us, the center of our thoughts, and the origin of control of our actions.
The hypothalamus and pituitary glands are located in the brain and they are exquisitely sensitive to things like energy availability and stress (which can include life stress and exercise stress). Interacting with the adrenal glands they make up the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal, or HPA, axis.
The HPA axis is our central stress response system. It also regulates our mood, digestion, immune system, libido, metabolism and energy levels.
In some cases, when women don’t consume enough calories or carbohydrates, the hypothalamus slows or stops releasing gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), the hormone that starts the menstrual cycle. This condition is called hypothalamic amenorrhea and causes stopped or irregular periods, because of the HPA’s response to perceived starvation and stress.
In hypothalamic amenorrhea the hormone levels decrease significantly, which leads to low levels of luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
Furthermore, not eating enough calories and carbohydrates for too long causes an increase in cortisol (the stress hormone). Cortisol signals your HPA axis to further decrease pituitary gland activity, which is not something you want.
With all that said, here is the takeaway message: Hormone levels are not something we want to mess up with. Women that eat low carb for too long (especially active women and athletes), can face:
When we decide to start a diet, we aim to be healthy and fit, not to have issues like these. None of this is guaranteed to happen to every woman, but it is a lot more likely for them to experience hormonal disbalances.
Make sure you follow the diet correctly and do not restrict your calories significantly. You can even consult with your doctor, or healthcare provider, to check that everything is under control.
If you are a woman, who is planning to start a keto diet, make sure you follow it for a few months only and stop immediately, in case you notice some of the symptoms mentioned above.
The keto diet is not recommended for women, who are pregnant or breastfeeding. They need about 170-220 grams of carbs per day for a healthy and balanced diet that meets all of theirs and baby’s nutrients demands.
Pregnant or nursing women demand all of the macronutrients, in order to be healthy and avoid nutrient deficiencies. They need healthy carbs, such as rice, quinoa, potatoes, sweet potatoes, amaranth, and whole grains.
However, if you are pregnant or nursing your baby, you can still make some healthy changes in the way you eat, without starting a particular diet.
This includes fast foods, cakes, candy, deeply fried food, white bread, white pasta, etc. Consume healthy carbs instead.
Such food includes seasonal fruits and vegetables, organic eggs, organic dairy and meat, wild-caught fish, raw seeds and nuts.
Besides alcohol and caffeine-infused drinks, pregnant women might try to exclude, or minimize, sugary and soft drinks, such as coca cola, fanta, sweetened juices and smoothies, sweetened lemonades, etc. Instead, choose organic, naturally sweetened drinks, or freshly squeezed juices.
For example, if you really want a slice of chocolate cake, do not go into the first candy shop and buy heavily processed cake. Try to find a place with organic sweets or make it yourself with natural ingredients.
Another thing you can do is to have a bowl of your favourite fresh, seasonal fruits, instead of eating processed foods. This will reduce inflammation and provide you with healthy micronutrients.
You are used to making poor choices and don’t pay attention to what you eat? Well, it is not just about you now, it is about your child too.
You don’t have to be perfect at it, mistakes are part of the journey, but remember that the food you eat is also the food that feeds your baby, so try to make the better choices.
When you think like giving up your new healthy habits, try to think about your motivations to start in the first place. Your health and child will be thankful later, if you manage to adopt new, healthier behaviors.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine disorder that affects women in reproductive years. It is associated with obesity, hyperinsulinemia, and insulin resistance.
The 3 main features of PCOS include:
Signs and symptoms of PCOS often develop around the first menstrual period during puberty, but this condition can also develop later, such as early 20s. If you are obese, these symptoms could be more severe, which is why the number 1 recommendation for PCOS patients is to lose weight (if needed). (15)
The signs and symptoms of PCOS include:
PCOS is also related to an elevated risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life, because of high cholesterol levels.
There is no cure for PCOS. However, symptoms can be treated, focusing on individual concerns. Specific treatment includes lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and maintaining a balanced diet and active life, and medications. (15)
The keto diet is not a treatment itself for PCOS symptoms but studies suggest that it has a positive impact on patients.
We already know that ketogenic diets can lead to weight loss and improvements in insulin resistance, which might be beneficial for PCOS.
A pilot study showed that following a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet led to a decrease in body weight, percent free testosterone,fasting serum insulin, and symptoms in women diagnosed with PCOS over a six-month period. (16)
However, these findings are not enough to determine if the benefits were from weight loss or from carbohydrate restriction specifically, so further research is needed.
Also, keep in mind that ketogenic diets might increase cortisol levels (stress hormone levels), which may be risky for women with PCOS. If you are diagnosed with this condition, talk with your doctor first, before starting a ketogenic diet.
Menopause is the time that marks the end of your menstrual cycle. It usually happens in your late 40s or 50s.
Menopause is a natural biological process. In the months or years leading up to menopause (perimenopause), women might experience some of the following symptoms:
Menopause might cause many changes in women’s bodies. These symptoms are the result of a decreased production of estrogen and progesterone in the ovaries.
Diet and lifestyle choices impact menopausal symptoms significantly. Modifying your diet under the guidance of a healthcare professional might help you balance your hormone levels.
The keto diet is associated with several benefits for women in menopause, such as improved insulin sensitivity, decreased cravings, preventing weight gain. Do you want to know why? Let’s take a closer look!
As mentioned a few times already, menopause causes changes in hormone levels. Besides altering levels of sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone, menopause can decrease insulin sensitivity. This can impair your body’s ability to use insulin efficiently.
Insulin is the prindal satiety hormone, which allows your body to use glucose for energy or to store it for future use, and regulates your blood sugar levels. Research studies suggest that keto diets improve insulin sensitivity, which can promote better blood sugar control. (4)
Furthermore, many women experience increased hunger and cravings during the transition into menopause. This might lead to overeating and obesity, unless food behavior changes are made. Studies reveal that ketogenic diets decrease appetite and the levels of ghrelin (the hunger hormone), which helps combat cravings. (5)
Last but not least, going keto excludes many unhealthy foods, such fast foods, heavily processed foods, sweets, etc. Women experience a decrease in calorie needs during menopause, so these high-calorie foods should definitely be excluded from their menus, in order to prevent weight gain.
When men reach 30 years old, their testosterone levels start to decrease naturally by 1-2% per year.
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone. It is responsible for a number of important roles, including regulating sex drive, muscle and bone mass, and fat distribution, sperm and red blood cells production.
Low testosterone levels cause a variety of symptoms, including:
In order to slow down, or even avoid these symptoms, the number one priority to men over 40 should be boosting their testosterone levels.
Restrictive diets, such as keto, low carb, low fat, might have a negative impact on testosterone levels. Men over 40 need enough carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, to keep their hormones in balance.
Furthermore, men who exercise regularly should consume carbohydrates, because otherwise the testosterone levels decrease, while cortisol levels increase.
Research show that carbs rich diets support higher testosterone levels in men, and the production of GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone) is decreased, if there is not enough glucose available. (17) (18)
Men younger than 40 years old can experiment with more eating approaches, as their testosterone levels are higher.
However, as mentioned in the previous section, testosterone starts to decrease after the age of 30, so if you are in your late 30s, do not jump straight to extreme restrictions.
You can try the low carb diet first and slowly progress into keto, only if you feel good with less carbs.
In chapter 1 we found out that the Keto diet was originally designed as a treatment for children and adults with epilepsy. You can read more about ketogenic diets and medical conditions in chapter 3.
However, for the average, healthy growing child, or teen, the keto diet is not safe because it is too restrictive. Children and teenagers need carbohydrates to be mentally and physically active.
Carbohydrates should provide 50-60% of the energy a child needs from food.
Stick to healthy carbs when choosing your kid’s food, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, rice, quinoa, organic pasta and bread. Avoid giving your child unhealthy carbs, including sweets, candy, while pasta and bread, etc.
Children need to consume all of the macronutrients – carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, in order to be healthy. They need the energy from the carbs for development, growth, to do homework, to read books, and to go outside and play.
Furthermore, kids need the micronutrients from fruits and veggies. For example, pears, bananas, figs, mangos, potatoes, might be high in carbs but these foods are healthy for your children and they must be in their menus.
This is probably one of the most controversial topics. Can you follow a keto diet and still perform great at the gym? Well, it depends. (I know… I hate that answer too!)
The keto diet is suitable for many different sports and activities that require low to moderate intensity. Examples of such sports are volleyball, table tennis, short distance running (3-6 km), dancing, skating, rollerblading, city biking, etc.
The diet might not be the best option for marathon runners and bikers, weight lifters, martial artists, and professional athletes. There are many reasons for that and we are going to explain this in chapter 7.
Beginner dieters refer to people, who never followed a diet in their lives, or have very little experience with diets (such as, a few weeks).
Beginners usually have less willpower and it’s more difficult for them to plan their meals, get into a routine, and follow strict rules. The keto diet is a highly restrictive approach, which even experienced dieters might struggle with. In order to help you succeed with it, here are top 3 tips for beginners on keto:
This is a crucial one. If this is the first time you go on a diet, and you choose keto, do not expect to follow it for half an year straight without having your ups and downs. You will experience cravings and doubs, guilt (if you eat something from the foods to avoid list), and discomfort.
Remember that it is normal and you don’t have to be perfect at it – you just need to be honest with yourself to make it work. You had a slice of cake the second week you started? Okay, cool. Now forgive yourself and move on. It is less likely to happen again if you accept that you are only human that is allowed to make mistakes.
This is important for every dieter, not only for beginners.
Remember the 5 P’s: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Having an idea about what you are going to eat prevents you from making choices you are going to regret.
Preparation can be something simple, such as keeping canned salmon in the fridge, or extra cottage cheese, and eating it, when you don’t have anything cooked.
Motivation comes and goes but knowing how much you’ve overcome can always boost your performance.
Write down your progress every day or once/twice per week, in order to keep track of your development.
There are no rules for this, writing is a creative process. Use your imagination! You might like to write about how you feel everyday, what challenges you, your measures and how they change, what is difficult to you, what is easy, etc.
You can also look for convenient apps for this, if you prefer keeping an e-journal.
If you want to find out more about the different keto ingredients in a simplified way for beginners, read this article!
The keto diet is a restrictive eating approach that requires some time to get used to. It is beneficial for women in menopause, but it has risks for other women, so they should not follow the plan for longer than 5-6 months.
The diet is also not suitable for children and professional athletes, because they require more energy from all of the macronutrients – carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The ketogenic diet is also not a good option for men over 40, if they want to support their testosterone levels.
Do you want to learn about the relationship between the keto diet and some medical conditions? I will see you in the next chapter then!
Consulting your doctor first, when starting a diet with a medical condition, is the safest way to do it.
The keto diet can be beneficial for treating some medical conditions but it might be risky too. Always remain cautious when you choose a restrictive diet that eliminates a certain macronutrient, if you have a certain condition.
In this chapter, we are taking a closer look of the effect of the diet on different diseases.
In chapter 1, you learnt that the Keto diet was initially designed as a treatment for children and adults with epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a central nervous system (neurological) disorder, in which brain activity becomes abnormal. It causes seizures or periods of unusual behaviors, loss of awareness, and sensations. Seizures are a burst of electrical activity in the brain that affect how it works temporarily.
Epilepsy affects both men and women of all races and ethnic backgrounds. It can occur at any age but it’s most common in children or people over 60. This condition is often lifelong, but sometimes, it can get better over time. Some children with epilepsy could outgrow it with age.
Seizure symptoms can vary widely and having a single seizure does not mean you have epilepsy. At least two unprovoked seizures are required to get diagnosed with this disease.
Since epilepsy is caused by abnormal activity in the brain, seizures can impact any process that your brain coordinates.
Possible signs and symptoms include:
In most cases, a person tends to have the same type of seizure each time, so the symptoms will be similar for each episode.
Approximately 70% of people with epilepsy might have their seizures controlled with anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs). (11) Other treatment methods include surgery, deep brain stimulation, vagus and nerve stimulation, and ketogenic diet.
The understanding of the mechanisms of action of the keto diet is still incomplete.
However, some theories have been advanced about how ketogenic diets modify the neuronal metabolism and excitability in order to reduce the seizure frequency.
Some of the systems involved in seizure reduction are related to metabolic changes in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), including a decrease in glucose levels and an increase in ketone bodies. The mitochondria function and energy reserve may also play a role in the ketogenic diet mechanisms, resulting in synapse stabilization and excitatory decrease.
These changes may decrease the excitability of neurons, which could have a stabilizing effect on seizures. (12)
Both children and adults with drug resistant epilepsy can benefit from a ketogenic diet, as well as children with focal seizures. The keto diet might be especially helpful for people, who suffer from the following types of epilepsy, including:
The keto diet has been a reliable treatment for epilepsy since the 1920s and there is a fair chance to be beneficial for a child, or an adult with epilepsy. However, experts suggest that the diet should be followed for about 2 years and going back slowly to eating everything again. Furthermore, the keto plan should be designed individually for each patient and followed under the strict supervision of a doctor.
Many of our famous celebrities have epilepsy too and live with it, day in, day out.
Some of these people are Lil Wayne,Theodore Roosevel, Dai Greene, Danny Glover, Jason Snelling, and many others.
Diabetes is a lifelong condition, in which your blood sugar levels become too high.
The three major types of diabetes include Type 1, Type 2, and gestational diabetes.
People who suffer from type 1 diabetes are dependent on insulin. This means they must take artificial insulin regularly to stay alive. The causes of type 1 diabetes are unknown.
You can develop type 2 diabetes at any age.The causes of type 2 diabetes are complex but genetics can often play a big role.
Some symptoms and signs include increased thirst and hunger, frequent urination, fatigue and blurred vision, frequent infections, slow-healing wounds, and low energy levels.
If you are diagnosed with diabetes, lifestyle changes should be made, in order to maintain healthy body weight. Besides becoming more physically active, eating more nutritious food, and avoiding heavily processed foods, a ketogenic diet might provide some benefits as well.
Studies reveal that the ketogenic diet improves glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes such that diabetes medications are discontinued or reduced in many of them.
However, there is a risk of hyperglycemia (too low blood sugar levels) in patients with type 2 diabetes, if the diet is not properly adjusted. Make sure you consult your doctor first before starting any diet.
Furthermore, the ketogenic diet is dangerous for patients with type 1 diabetes, because it might cause ketoacidosis (read more about this in chapter 4).
People with type 1 diabetes or gestational diabetes should not follow a ketogenic diet because it might lead to many complications. Read more about keto and diabetes in this article.
Who didn’t suffer from acne in their teenage years? At some point in our lives we all have skin issues.
While we care much more about the skin products we use, we often forget that what goes in our bodies is also very important. Before diving deeper into this, let’s find out more about acne.
Acne is a long-term skin condition that occurs when oil from the skin and dead skin cells plug the hair follicles. It usually appears on the face, chest, upper back, and shoulders, causing pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads. Acne affects mostly teenagers and people in their 20s, but people of all ages could develop acne.
Genetics is the primary cause of acne. (19) However, there are other factors that put you at risk for acne, including:
More severe forms of acne can lead to emotional distress and leave scars on the skin. This is why it is important to start a treatment as early as possible. Treatment methods include topical and oral medications, skin therapies, and lifestyle changes.
In this case, lifestyle changes refers to a change in the diet. While this might not be enough to cure acne, research studies suggest that keto diets might contribute to treating acne. (20)
Ketogenic diets decrease insulin levels, which might help with your acne. The androgen hormones become more active when insulin is increased, which boost sebum and skin cells production, so keeping your insulin levels low is important.
Furthermore, a ketogenic diet can decrease IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1) levels. This also regulates sebum production. (20)
Another plus of a keto diet is that it excludes heavily processed foods, refined carbs and sugars, which are known to cause skin problems. The keto diet focuses on whole and fresh foods that have a positive impact on your skin health, such as low carb fruits and vegetables, eggs, and fish.
The nervous system (NS) coordinates and regulates body activities. It contains two major divisions – the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system.
The central NS includes the brain and the spinal cord, while the peripheral NS consists of the peripheral nerves and autonomic nerves, which form the communication network between the central nervous system and the other body parts.
Various disorders can affect the nervous system, including:
We learned already that a keto diet has been a treatment for epilepsy patients since 1920, but are there other NS disorders that can benefit from it?
Current research studies are showing promising results in treating, or preventing, neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson disease, with ketogenic diets. Further studies are necessary to validate the benefits and study the long-term effects, but some interesting studies reveal the following results:
To some up these results, we can conclude that higher levels of blood ketones leads to improvements in cognitive functions among patients with cognitive impairments.
Cancer is a group of diseases and refers to abnormal cell growth anywhere in a body. There are over 100 types of cancer, including breast cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, and lymphoma.
Depending on the type, symptoms vary. There are many possible causes for developing cancer, but some general risk factors include:
There are many different treatments of cancer, including surgery, radiation, medications, and other therapies. Depending on the situation a patient may receive a combination of treatments.
Further research is still needed but data from case reports and trials suggest that ketogenic diet might help improve tumor response in a combination with other treatment methods. (25)
The logic behind this statement is that the keto diet reduces glucose, which is the cancer cells fuel. Abnormal cancer cells are not as adaptive to a low glucose situation as healthy cells. This suggests that cancer cells’ ability to survive decreases when a patient follows a keto diet.
However, it is too early to say whether the potential benefits of a keto diet outweigh the risks for a cancer patient. Always talk with your oncologist or healthcare provider first before changing your diet.
Read more about keto diet and cancer in this article.
Asthma is a long-term lung condition, in which the airways swell and narrow, causing occasional breathing difficulties. It affects people of all ages and often begins in childhood.
There is no cure for asthma but the symptoms can be controlled, so the condition doesn’t impact the patients’ lives that much. The symptoms of asthma vary but the most common include coughing, wheezing when exhaling, chest tightness or pain. When the symptoms temporarily get worse, this refers to an asthma attack.
Asthma might develop randomly or after exposure to a trigger, such as:
Asthma symptoms are usually treated by using an inhaler, which is a small device that lets you breathe in medications, or taking oral medications.
A recent German study suggests that a ketogenic diet may help relieve asthma. Researchers at the University of Bonn revealed that mice that switched to a low carb, high fat diet showed decreased inflammation of the respiratory tract. (26)
The researchers explained that severe inflammation of the bronchi and enhanced production of mucus is the reason for asthma attacks.
Their study revealed that increased consumption of fats on ketogenic diet reduces inflammation by improving the functions of Innate Lymphoid Cells (ILC) in the immune system. These cells repair damaged mucous membrane, which protects the lungs.
Furthermore, ILC work together with cytokines, promoting division of the mucous cells and stimulation mucous production. These cells help the body accelerate the process to heal from harmful substances and pathogens. (26)
However, these findings must be further investigated, because ILC and cytokines might also contribute to a development of asthma. When claiming that a certain thing helps treat a medical condition, there are many factors that must be considered carefully. If you suffer from asthma and consider changing your diet, talk with your doctor first.
The keto diet might be beneficial for certain medical conditions but it could be dangerous for others. This diet has a long history of research studies and trials, investigating the effects of ketosis on different patients. While further research is still needed, a ketogenic diet might help sufferers from epilepsy, type 2 diabetes, acne, and some degenerative disorders.
However, you should always consult speak to your doctor or healthcare provider first, if you are diagnosed with a medical condition and consider starting a new diet.
Do you want to find out what the pros, cons, and dangers of the keto diet are? How to deal with the keto “flu”? Read the next chapter then!
There is no golden approach that fits all – each diet has its pros and cons, its health benefits and its potential dangers.
The keto diet is one of the most studied diets out there, which reveals lots of its effects on different people – healthy, sick, athletes, women in menopause, and so on.
In this chapter we will learn about the pros and cons from the keto diet, and how to avoid the risks.
People, who suffer from these diseases can’t use enough of the available glucose to handle cognition and perception. Ketogenic diets assist in these cases by providing alternative source of energy.
Furthermore, studies unanimously agree that keto diets provide cognitive benefits for healthy people as well, such as improved memory and focus. (10)
However, this often works better for men (even though it is not necessary); for women there are too many other factors that play a role and keto is not always the right option for them.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of the keto diet, check this article.
Furthermore, fruits are not absolutely forbidden and they are also rich in fiber, so make sure you eat one fruit per day from our keto friendly food list.
Instead, choose places where they have enough different food options, such as salads, steaks, omelets, cheese dishes.
It is great for you, if you are used to running 10 kilometers a few times a week, but if you also want to try keto, it might be wise to switch to short and effective workouts.
Ketoacidosis is a complication of type 1 diabetes and the percentage of people affected by this is low.
Ketoacidosis occurs when a person does not take enough insulin at the right time. As a result, the body is not able to move blood to the cells at the right time, in order to ensure energy.
You are in ketoacidosis, if your blood ketone levels reach 240 mg/dl, which can be tested using urine tests.
Learn more about the dangers and drawbacks from ketogenic diets here.
If you want to find out what the 11 long term effects of a keto diet are, check this article.
Another potential con of the diet is the keto flu.
While some keto dieters might start the diet and feel great, others often asked the following question:
Let’s face it, new beginnings are always hard! The keto diet is different from the ordinary diet, where we consume carbohydrates, proteins, and some fats. This difference can result in certain symptoms that dieters experience at the beginning of the diet.
Fatigue, nausea, and headaches are only part of the symptoms during the keto “flu” that some people might experience.
The keto flu may occur during the transition from burning glucose for energy to burning fat, which is usually in the first 2-3 weeks of the diet. Think of this as adaptation time that your body and its organs take to get used to the new fuel.
We already know that the keto diet lowers your insulin levels, which changes many things in the way your organism works. One of the body’s response to this is to excrete more sodium and water in the urine. Because of this, you might find yourself going to the WC a lot more often in the first few weeks, and experience some of the following unpleasant symptoms.
However, the keto flu is not something that everyone experiences. Many people who follow keto never have these symptoms.
Remember that just drinking more water does not restore the fluid balance in your body because you are losing electrolytes too.
Keto friendly and hydrating drinks include bone or veggies broth (add more salt if needed), chicken or beef stock, water with a half a tsp salt and a ½ squeezed lemon, electrolyte sports drink that is sugar-free.
Decrease your carbs intake gradually for 2 weeks, before actually starting the diet. This way you will give your body some time to adjust and avoid the stress.
You can start the low carb diet first and progressively switch to keto.
Adjust your diet according to your needs and eat healthy and nutritious meals daily. Slightly decreasing your portion size is okay but eating too little can cause many complications.
The keto diet is not a protein diet, it is a high fat, moderate protein diet. A balanced ketogenic diet must include enough healthy fats in each meal to ensure you do not feel miserable, hungry, or tired after eating.
Check chapter 5 to find out which foods are keto friendly and why they are important.
Give your body and mind some time to adjust and be okay with not working out the way you used to.
The keto diet has its pros, cons, and risks. While it might be very beneficial for some people, it could be really dangerous for others. Many dieters experience keto “flu” symptoms in the first few weeks of their keto journey, including headache, nausea, fatigue, brain fog, and muscle cramps. These symptoms are common and go away after your body adapts to the new fuel – fats.
Do you know which foods you can eat on keto and which you should avoid? We are taking a closer look at this in the next chapter!
Pro tip: Make sure you buy meat from well-trusted sources and brands. Choose organic options if possible.
Pro tip: Choose wild caught seafood whenever you have the option. Seafood is high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and is low in calories and carbs. Fish is packed with calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, iodine, riboflavin, magnesium, and much more. The best fish options include salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna, anchovies, trout.
Pro tip: Besides chicken eggs, there are other edible eggs, such as duck, turkey, goose.
Pro tip: Dairy products are naturally low carb and suitable for your keto plan. However, hard cheeses tend to have less carbs than soft cheeses (even though soft cheeses are okay for keto too), so try to choose hard cheeses like parmesan and swiss more often.
Salad greens are very important for a healthy and balanced diet. While being low in calories, they are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Perfect for keto, these nutritious greens should be part of at least one of your meals every day.
Pro tip: Stick to seasonal vegetables and try to pick organic and fresh products. If possible, buy locally produced vegetables from farms or markets.
Well, the keto diet is not a carnivore diet, where it is all about meat. You can enjoy the taste of fruits as well.
Even if you are not a big fan of chocolate, when you are on a low carb diet and eat only 20-40g of carbs, your brain will think of sweets more often than usual. In order to satisfy your cravings and still stick to your diet, make sure you have at least a few of these keto friendly fruits at home.
Carbohydrates per 100g: 9,61 g; 43 kcal
Carbohydrates per 100g: 11.9 g; 52 kcal
Carbohydrates per 100g: 7 g; 32 kcal
Carbohydrates per 100g: 15 g; 354 kcal
Carbohydrates per 100g: 7 g; 33 kcal
Carbohydrates per 100g: 7.55 g; 30 kcal
Carbohydrates per 100g: 9 g; 30 kcal
Carbohydrates per 100g: 8 g; 33 kcal
Carbohydrates per 100g: 10 g; 42 kcal
Carbohydrates per 100g: 8 g; 35 kcal
Carbohydrates per 100g: 14 g; 61 kcal
Carbohydrates per 100g: 11 g; 48 kcal
Carbohydrates per 100g: 46 g; 11 kcal
Check out our low carb diet guide to find out which are the top 9 low carb vegetables.
Find out more about why nuts are important on a keto diet in this article.
Keep in mind that it is very easy to consume a large amount of calories when eating nuts. Always keep your calories checked.
Healthy tip: Consume only raw nuts and seeds, or bake them yourself. Do not eat fried nuts that are too salty and much higher in carbohydrates.
Healthy tip: Coconut and coconut products are very low in carbs and high in healthy fats. The coconut flour is the perfect substitute to a high carb flour.
Pro tip: These products are great protein source for vegans, while being low in calories and carbs. Tofu is the number 1 keto friendly protein source from these three, with only 1.69g of carbs and 8.19 g of proteins per 100g.
Healthy tip: Beans and legumes are not the most keto friendly foods, as they contain some carbs. However, eating a small amount of them a few times a week is okay, as long as you do not exceed your allowed portion of carbs for the day.
Beware of “zero” labels, and always check for the following chemicals, which are used in refining sugar.
How to eliminate the keto unfriendly foods?
Read labels. Always check the ingredients carefully before buying a product. There are many foods that contain added sugars
Before diving into this topic, it is important to say that supplements are not necessary, if you have a well balanced diet with a wide variety of foods.
However, the keto diet is restrictive and there are many foods you cannot eat. Furthermore, there are supplements that boost your keto experience and provide many benefits, so let’s take a look at these.
In chapter 1 we learned what MCTs are and how they differ from the long chain triglycerides. MCTs are easily digested and many, due to their shorter length, and many health benefits are related to the way these fats are processed.
More than 15% of the fatty acids in coconut oil come from MCTs, which is why MCT oil is usually extracted from there. Dairy products and palm oil are also high in MCTs, but not as much as coconut oil.
Supplementing MCT oil can increase the level of ketones and the release of peptide YY and leptin. These hormones promote the feeling of fullness, which is beneficial, if you are trying to lose weight, while the higher ketone levels help you stay in ketosis.
MCTs enter your bloodstream very quickly, which makes them a perfect energy source for the brain and muscles. They can be used immediately for energy, or converted into ketones to fuel the brain.
Another great benefit of MCTs is that they have antifungal and anti inflammatory effects. The powerful fatty acids in MCTs, including caprylic, capric and lauric acid, have been shown to suppress the growth of yeast and bacteria.
Many people might experience digestive issues when eating mostly high fat meals. In the previous chapter you learned about the top 5 tips on how to handle the keto flu symptoms, such as nausea, diarrhea, and headache. In addition to these tips, you can consider supplementing with digestive enzymes.
Supplements that contain lipases (an enzyme breaking down fats) and proteases (an enzyme breaking down proteins) can optimize digestion and reduce unpleasant symptoms, while following a ketogenic diet.
Magnesium is a mineral that regulates blood sugar levels, increases energy, and promotes a healthier immune system.
Many high carb foods that should be avoided on a keto diet contain magnesium, such as potatoes, beans, legumes, whole grains, and some fruits. Nuts and fish are other great sources of magnesium but if you think you don’t meet your adequate daily intake (400-420 mg for males and 310-320 mg for females) then you can consider taking magnesium supplements.
Taking magnesium can help with muscle cramps and sleeping issues, regulate blood pressure and nerve function. It might also elevate your energy levels and reduce anxiety.
Many people think that in order to eat healthy, they should consume macro- and micronutrients from different sources. Eating various foods is important for a well balanced diet, but there is no need to eat eggs, fish, two types of meat, and 10 different vegetables in a single day to consider your meals healthy.
For example, it is much easier to eat chicken meals for a week or two, then beef, then fish, and so on. This way you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen, cooking and preparing food. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you can use the same approach by switching from eggs to organic dairy, tofu, tempeh, and so on, every once in a while. You can do the same with the vegetables and fruits you consume.
Here are a few different shopping lists. You can use them as a guideline for your weekly shopping.
Read this article, if you want to learn how to follow a vegan or vegetarian keto diet.
Just because you are going keto, it does not mean you have to give up desserts. Read this article to find out more about keto and desserts, and check our great recipes in chapter 7!
Healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive. It is enough to choose whole, minimally processed foods. Here is a top list with nutritious rich keto diet ingredients that don’t cost much. You don’t need to buy all of these ingredients; choose the ones you like to eat.
In case you are on a tight budget and still want to follow a ketogenic diet, there is good news for you – you can definitely do that! There are many keto budget foods, as mentioned in the shopping list above. There is no need to eat fancy meals, such as Coffin Bay King Oysters, in order to be successful with your keto diet.
Fruits and vegetables are expensive when you buy them out-season. For example, eat leafy greens during spring and summer and leave the cabbage and brussels sprouts for the winter. If possible, buy locally grown fruits and veggies, because they tend to be cheaper and taste better.
You might not need butter on the day you are shopping groceries but if the store offers two packages on the price of one, buying it would save you money. Stock up on the things you use the most when they are cheaper and avoid getting them when they are more expensive.
Chicken can be cooked in hundreds different ways, it is not expensive, and is a source of protein. Chicken is usually cheaper to get it whole and cut it in pieces yourself.
Cuts from the shoulders or back legs are often more affordable than the leaner parts.
Things like nuts, seeds, frozen berries and veggies, coconut oil, olive oil, etc. can be found in bulk in the grocery stores, which is a great way to cut down on food costs.
The keto diet can actually be pretty various, as long as you make sure you are eating different sources of fats, proteins, low carb fruits and veggies. Shopping lists can be your best friends when you go on your weekly visit to the supermarket – first, you will always buy everything you need, and second, you will resist buying non keto friendly foods.
Do you want to find out how to create your diet plan and how to cook tasty keto meals? Read the next chapter then!
In every diet, the individual approach is essential for success. There is no “one portion fits all” thing. People differ by age, sex, physical activity, and much more, which is why everyone needs different amount of food.
However, here is a sample plan to guide you when creating your own. Adjust the portion size according to your needs.
Sample keto meal plan with 4 meals per day
Breakfast: choose one of the following options
Lunch: choose one of the following options
Snack: choose one of the following options
Dinner: choose one of the following options
Tip: do not have as much protein as you had at lunch, unless you are following a high protein keto diet. If you are on a standard keto diet, have ½ of the protein you had at lunch
Check out our candida diet guide, chapter 5, where you can find a 3 days detox plan that can help you cleanse your body from toxins and get into a ketosis faster.
Read this article, if you need more information about creating your keto meal plan.
This probably the most common question among keto dieters and enthusiasts. The answer is – it depends on the type of a ketogenic diet you choose.
If you are active in the gym, or practice any kind of sport, the high protein keto diet is probably the best option for you.
Protein is the building block of the muscles and you need to have enough of it, in order to keep your muscle mass and progress with your trainings. In this case your meal plan should contain 60% of healthy fat, 35% protein, and 5% carb.
If your physical activity is low, you can chose a standard keto diet, or MCT keto diet, where 75% of your food is high in fats, 20% is proteins, and the rest 5% is for carbs.
Before starting a ketogenic diet, it would be best if you get rid of the high carb snacks and treats in your house. Crackers, dried fruits, chips, popcorns, chocolate, ice cream, biscuits, cakes, waffles, muesli bars… Keeping such things might increase your cravings and ruin your diet.
Pro tip: Besides cleaning your house from temptations, it would be best if you don’t buy them at all. Follow some of our shopping lists when going to the store and stay focused on your goal.
After a few weeks into keto, carbs cravings usually go away and you enjoy steady energy levels, and decreased appetite.
There are going to be days where you need more food and desire something small and tasty. For example, if you didn’t sleep much the previous night, your body needs more energy the next day and usually, the first thing you think of is a chocolate bar or other high carb snack.
However, on keto you rely on fats for fuel and after you get used to it, there is a pretty good chance you manage to control your appetite, even in long, tiring days.
For days like this, it would be best if you have keto snacks with you. Raw nuts, raw keto bars, coconut milk with seeds, are perfect examples of appropriate snack that will not mess up with your ketosis. You can also follow some of our recipes and prepare yourself delicious snacks.
The diet should not be followed only when you have free time at home. It does not matter if you are going to work, attending lectures, taking a business trip, or going on a vacation.If you made a decision to follow a particular diet, stick to it in any circumstances.
This might sound easier said than done but once you get into a routine, it would feel like a piece of cake! (a piece of a keto cake, okay?) Basically, all you need to do is get yourself a few food boxes and plan your meals.
For example, are you going on a long road trip? Do not rely on petrol stations food, boil a few eggs and put them in a box with a cucumber and some hard cheese. Take a package of raw nuts with you as well, and there you are! A keto meal, which is ready under 10 minutes and is easily transported.
Alternative pro tip: If you are not a fan of bringing food with you and you already have experience with intermittent fasting, you can fast within the hours you are at school or work.
After you come home, make sure you consume foods that are high in healthy fats and adequate amounts of protein.
However, this is an option only for healthy and experienced fasters! This approach is not recommended for beginners.
The tastier your food is, the bigger your chances are to succeed with the diet.
Keto food is really delicious because of the fatty ingredients it is served, or cooked with. But, can you make it even better? Adding the right herbs and spices can really take your food to the next level and it is a great way to boost your meals with extra phytonutrients.
If you are new to cooking, do not get overwhelmed with all of the spices and condiments. Take your time to experiment and try to keep it simple.
Here is a list of the things you will eat often and the spices that go well with them. Adding just one or a few spices to your food can really make a difference.
Chicken – ground black pepper, ground paprika, rosemary, savory, orange or lemon peel, garlic, curry.
Beef – onion, garlic, ground black pepper, cayenne, basil, thyme, sage.
Pork – cumin, ground black pepper, savory, caraway, ginger, garlic, onion, ground paprika.
Turkey – cumin, rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano, ground black pepper, ground white pepper, lemon peel.
Fish/Seafood – basil, oregano, mint, coriander, ground black pepper, tarragon, sage, anise.
Eggs – parsley, ground paprika, chivas, pepper.
Cheese and tofu – chives, oregano, basil, nutmeg, sage, thyme.
Vegetables – oregano, basil, parsley, cilantro, chives, dill, mint, tarragon.
Bulletproof coffee tastes better than latte and helps you stay focused, concentrated and more alert. This drink makes you feel sated and is perfect for a snack, or morning coffee.
Coffee is a lot more than a tasty drink, or social experience. It provides many health benefits, wakes you up and helps you get more things done.
Caffeine boosts your metabolism, increases your energy levels, helps you burn fat, and improves physical performance. Coffee is rich in essential nutrients, including potassium, vitamin B2, B5, and B3.
Bulletproof coffee is simply your favorite cup of coffee combined with a tbsp of coconut oil and a tbsp of grass-fed butter, mixed well in a blender, or blender bottle. By combining caffeine and high-powered fats, this coffee boosts your energy levels significantly and fires up brainpower, thanks to the quick-acting MCTs.
However, beware of calories because a bulletproof coffee can reach up to 300 – 400 calories.
The first few weeks will probably be hard until you get used to your new way of eating, and the preparations that come with it.
Everyone has a different reason to decide to try keto – you might want to lose weight, or you are struggling with controlling your appetite, or you suffer from epilepsy, and so on. No matter what your Why is, try not to forget it.
When you feel like giving up, remind yourself that the temporary relief that you will feel after eating a candy bar is not worth it, comparing it to the satisfaction of being successful in a long-term goal.
Keto meals are not difficult to cook. All you need is keto ingredients, some time and willingness to make your own food.
Before diving into keto recipes for lunch and dinner, take a look at our top 10 keto breakfasts to kickstart your day.
This is an easy side dish that goes well with any protein source – from tofu to ribeye steak, this risotto is here to make your keto meals more interesting.
Preparing time: 7 min | Cooking time: 22 min
Ingredients for 4 portions:
Bonus tip: Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley.
One serving ~ 350 g
Amount per serving
This vegetarian meal is budget friendly, delicious, easy to make, and perfect for lunch or dinner. It could be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days, so you can make a larger quantity and have something ready for a few days.
Preparing time: 10 min | Cooking time: 40 min
Ingredients for 6 portions:
Bonus tip: If you want to add extra protein to this meal, eat with a few boiled eggs on the side.
One serving ~ 250 g
Amount per serving
Simple meals are the best, especially when we don’t have much free time. This dish is great for beginners in the kitchen and is rich in proteins, fats, and micronutrients. Everything we can ask for from a keto meal, right?
Preparing time: 10 min | Cooking time: 35 min
Ingredients for 4 portions:
Ingredients for the salad (4 portions):
Bonus tip: Sprinkle grated parmesan over the salad for extra flavour.
One serving ~ 400g
Amount per serving
This meal is perfect for dinner and is very rich in flavour. It doesn’t take much time to cook and is high in proteins and fats.
Preparing time: 25 min | Cooking time: 45 min
Ingredients for 4 portions:
For the meatballs:
For the sauce:
Bonus tip: Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.
One serving ~ 300 g
Amount per serving
Beef might take a little bit longer to cook but the final result is always worth it. Make this stew when you need a warm dish, that is rich in flavour and healthy macro- and micronutrients.
Preparing time: 20 min | Cooking time: 2 hours and 20 min
Ingredients for 6 portions:
Bonus tip: Add a few drops of vinegar in the meal before eating.
One serving ~ 300 g
Amount per serving
Salads are usually not meant to be the whole meal, but if they are nutritious and filling, why not?
Besides being full of vitamins and minerals, salads are easy to make, or pack in a box to go.
These salads are perfect for lunch and dinner, or even when you have guests over. Furthermore, they are so delicious that they make you forget you are on a diet.
Preparing time: 6 min | Cooking time: 7 min
Ingredients for 1 portion:
One serving ~ 300 g
Amount per serving
Preparing time: 9 min | Cooking time: 6 min
Ingredients for 1 portion:
For the salad:
For the dressing
One serving ~ 220 g
Amount per serving
Preparing time: 8 min | Cooking time: 0 min
Ingredients for 1 portion:
Serving size ~ 380 g
Amount per serving
Preparing time: 10 min | Cooking time: 0 min
Ingredients for 1 portion:
Serving size ~ 300 g
Amount per serving
Preparing time: 10 min | Cooking time: 14 min
Ingredients for 1 portion:
One serving ~ 360 g
Amount per serving
Preparing time: 10 min | Cooking time: 0 min
Ingredients for 1 portion:
Serving size ~ 280 g
Amount per serving