Whether you are trying to lose weight, to reduce inflammation, to be healthier or to increase your cognitive functions, the ketogenic diet (aka keto diet) is a diet you might want to look into.
In this article, you’ll find out all you need to know about the ketogenic diet.
You will learn how the ketogenic diet works, what should you eat, benefits and side effects of the ketogenic diet, you will find recipes and a grocery shopping list, the types of ketogenic diets and a final checklist to get started with the keto diet.
At the end you will be able to decide if the ketogenic diet is the right diet for you.
BONUS: Download the checklist to getting started with the Ketogenic diet and have all you need to know in one easy PDF! (Click to download)
What Is A Ketogenic Diet? The Ketogenic Diet Explained
The ketogenic diet is a high fat very low carbs diet.
In a ketogenic diet you are not going to use carbohydrates as your primary source of energy.
You are going to use fat.
In a few words (more on this later), you will drastically reduce your carbohydrates intake and increase your fat intake while eating a moderate amount of protein.
This means no pasta, bread, potatoes, pizza, cookies, cakes, candies while plenty of vegetables, coconut oil, olive oil, bacon, lard, avocados, eggs, meat, and fatty fishes.
You might be puzzled right now and I can truly understand that.
Since we were kids we have been told that our brains run on carbohydrates and to keep your energy levels high, well, you need to eat carbohydrates.
So how does the ketogenic diet work, then?
Our bodies are very complex machines. Our metabolisms are malleable and can adapt to almost any situations. We can do much more than we give ourselves credit for.
Just for a second, imagine our paleolithic ancestors. Think of those living in remote cold areas like Siberia, Alaska, etc. Do you think they could find all year around fruits and vegetables? Sure not, with those super cold temperatures! Their diet consisted (and still do for some indigenous populations nowadays) of mainly fat and proteins and yet they survived till these days!
Energy From Fat?!
So, if they are not using carbohydrates for energy, how are they getting energy from fat?
How is that possible?
What you were told as a kid was right, your brain runs on glucose (the simplest form of sugar).
So where do you get glucose from if you are eating a ketogenic diet where you just get a little bit of it?
What you were NOT told as a kid was that the brain can run on something else too. These are the ketone bodies.
Let’s look at this new concept and understand it properly.
Ketone Bodies: Brain Energy From Fat
When you are not eating carbohydrates (later on you will find a list with the foods to avoid on a ketogenic diet), your body starts doing something very interesting.
Your brain needs energy to function and keep you up and running and yet glucose (carbohydrate) is not present or very limited in a ketogenic diet.
What happens is that your body starts converting the fat (both from your body and from fat you eat) in molecules called ketone bodies.
These molecules are: acetone, acetoacetate, and beta-hydroxybutirate.
- The ketone bodies can actually be used by your brain as a source of energy as well as glucose does.
The awesome news is that you actually burned your own fat to get energy!
When you don’t eat carbohydrates for a certain amount of time, your body becomes keto-adapted. This means that your body stops running on glucose and starts using your own fat to make energy.
Your fat is literally taken and burned to make ketone bodies. Ketone bodies are your new source of energy!
It will take you around 24 hours to enter ketosis (if eating 20g of net carbs only) and around 3-4 weeks to be fully keto adapted which means that your body will fully run on ketones.
Does The Keto Diet Work?
The ketogenic diet is one of the most effective diets to lose weight to date. It’s not uncommon to lose 50-100 lbs on this diet and you can see plenty of before and after pictures online and read testimonials of people losing an incredible amount of weight on this diet. Check some of the ketogenic diet results and get inspired!
There are also many celebrities who are currently or have done a ketogenic diet to lose weight. Noteworthy examples of celebrities on keto are: Joe Rogan, LeBron James, Alec Baldwin, Megan Fox, Kim Kardashian (she did actually Atkins which is very similar to keto), Brendan Schaub, Ottavia Busia (Anthony Bourdain's wife), Brian Cushing, Miesha Tate, Gwyneth Paltrow, Conor McGregor.
Why Does The Keto Diet Work?
Many features of this diet contribute to its widespread success.
Let’s see the main ones:
- YOU CAN EAT DELICIOUS FOOD. Imagine a diet where you can eat a lot of greasy food: bacon, coconut ice cream, salmon, ribs, meatballs, etc… you get the gist of it.
- YOU ARE NEVER HUNGRY. By eating mostly fat and protein you will feel more satiated. Contrary to carbohydrates, in fact, fat and proteins score higher on the satiety index making you feel fuller with less calories. Forget those diets when you are always hungry and craving foods!
- YOUR BRAIN ON STEROIDS. Get ready to experience increased energy levels and mental clarity. The ketogenic diet is, in fact, also used to increase mental performance. Most people are carbohydrate intolerant without knowing it and get sluggish and tired after eating a carbohydrate-rich meal. Furthermore, most carbohydrate rich foods are processed and contains a lot of nasty chemicals and simple sugars. By removing processed food from your diet, you will automatically eat more nutritious food full of vitamins and minerals. Forget those after lunch crashes and get ready to find renewed levels of energy you couldn’t even imagine you had!
Won’t I Get Even Fatter By Eating Fat?
Most people freak out when they see a typical keto meal plan. And I understand that.
We have been brainwashed with the idea that fat makes you fat.
Eating too much is what makes you fat. And this is very easy on a traditional carbohydrate rich diet. Especially if rich in simple sugars and processed foods that give almost no satiety while providing a ton of calories.
Eating a fat-based diet will make you feel more satiated which will, in turn, make you eat less.
The key to weight loss is eating in a caloric deficit. This means that the only way to lose weight is to eat less than you need.
This automatically happens on a ketogenic diet because it’s very difficult to overeat fatty meals. Your body will automatically turn on the switch of “I’m full, that’s it for this meal” on a keto meal!
Furthermore, you switch your metabolism to a fat-burning mode. In this way it will be easier for your body to burn your own fat to produce energy.
So, yes, it is possible to lose fat while eating a fat based diet (and you won’t have to compromise too!).
WARNING: You can get fat on a ketogenic diet too. This is not a magic pill. If you overeat on a ketogenic diet, you will be in a caloric surplus and gain fat. Listen to your body and eat only when hungry and until you feel full. If there’s food left on the plate when you feel satiated, it’s ok, you can store the leftovers for another meal.
Ketogenic Diet Side Effects: Is A Keto Diet Safe?
You might have heard of the phenomenon called ketoacidosis. This is a serious condition which can affect people with undiagnosed type I diabetes.
Ketoacidosis is the overproduction of ketone bodies that will lower the pH of the blood causing eventually coma and even death.
Ketoacidosis can happen ONLY in people with type I diabetes because they do not secrete insulin.
Rarely ketoacidosis can happen for people with type II diabetes with high insulin resistance.
Insulin is the master regulator of ketone bodies production.
If you don’t have type I diabetes you don’t have to worry in going to ketoacidosis on a ketogenic diet because your body will automatically regulate the amount of ketone bodies produced.
If you have type I diabetes and want to try the ketogenic diet, this is still possible (and highly encouraged), so please keep reading as there is a section specifically for you.
Another concern is due to the high amount of fat in this diet. You might in fact be thinking: “what are the dangers of a ketogenic diet?”.
Years and years of media campaigns on the dangers of saturated fat, cholesterol, strokes, etc. have been poisoning our brains.
This is another myth that scientists have debunked in the recent years: saturated fat will not give you a heart attack nor will kill you.
Saturated fat is what you find in many meats but also in coconut and palm kern oil. It has been for many years pointed out as the culprit to many death for cardiovascular diseases. The picture is more complex than that and inflammation seems to be the main responsible for those diseases and deaths.
Saturated fat has a neutral effect on your health, while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat will protect you from the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
So, as you can see, a fat-based diet, such as the ketogenic diet, has actually benefits on your heart (among others, as we will see later on).
Eating too much fat has no negative effects on your health, but are there any side effects of a ketogenic diet?
Ketogenic Diet and Cholesterol
While a ketogenic diet will improve your general health, a very limited amount of people (1-2%) will experience an increase in cholesterol levels above what is considered healthy. This is due to genetic factors and you might want to consult your physician should you experience a rise in cholesterol levels while on a ketogenic diet.
Many people starting a ketogenic diet often do the same mistake: forget the veggies.
It might be indeed tempting to go on a bacon-galore and try all those succulent keto recipes out there but then a side effect of the keto diet arises: keto constipation.
The ketogenic diet is not a fat and protein only diet. Fibers play a fundamental role in this diet.
Benefits of Fibers On A Ketogenic Diet
- Provide vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients fundamental for keeping you healthy and strong
- Increase intestine mobility which will keep you regular
- Keep your gut microbiome healthy which in turn will make you healthier by boosting your immune system (among other things)
- Reduce absorption of cholesterol.
Therefore, don’t forget to have a generous serving of vegetables for each meal!
If you can’t eat enough fibers in your diet, you can try to supplement with Psyllium husk. This is a natural soluble fiber which has a wide range of health benefits, besides relieving constipation.
Switching from a traditional carbohydrates-rich diet to a ketogenic diet requires a complete rewiring of your metabolism. New enzymes have to be made, old ones have to be dismissed and new pathways have to be established in your cells. During this transition time, while your body gets ready to handle a ketogenic diet, you won’t be operating at 100%. Your body is expecting sugars for energy and you are providing it with fat. Even though it is adapting to receive fat and use it as energy, it is not quite ready yet.
Keto Flu Symptoms
During this adaptation period, you might encounter something called “keto flu” aka “induction flu”. This is similar to having a flu but it is caused by your metabolism adapting to the keto diet.
Here is a list of the keto flu symptoms you might experience:
- Mood swings
- Light headedness/headaches (so called “low carb headache”)
- Feeling weak and tired and lacking motivation (aka “ketogenic diet depression”)
- Brain fog
- Leg gramps
- Heart palpitations
The keto flu is completely normal and it might last between 1-4 weeks (on average, for most people the keto flu lasts 2 weeks).
Be aware that some people don’t even experience it so this is very personal.
Also, the degree at which the symptoms of the keto flu are experienced varies among different people.
Low Electrolytes Symptoms
Some of these symptoms are also caused by the fact that reducing the intake of carbohydrates will cause your body to release more water. It is not uncommon to increase the frequency of peeing during the first weeks on keto.
Carbohydrates hold water and when you stop eating them, well, the water gets out.
When you start peeing a lot not only you will lose water but also important electrolytes (i.e. sodium, potassium, magnesium).
Electrolytes are necessary to maintain a healthy equilibrium in the cells of your body so that they can work as they are supposed to.
Keto Flu and Low Electrolytes Symptoms Solutions
The quickest fix for the keto flu is to fight dehydration.
Drink plenty of water and add 1-2 grams of salt (half a teaspoon) to a big glass of water to reduce the peeing episodes. You can also sprinkle all your keto meals with some pink Himalayan salt.
For a more tasty alternative, try a cup or two of bouillon or chicken broth per day.
Consider supplementing with magnesium citrate and potassium chloride, should the symptoms as heart palpitations and leg cramps not go away within a few days.
But in general, the best way to fight the keto flu is to just hang in there. Don’t get discouraged and keep eating very low carb. Once the keto flu is passed you’ll reap the amazing benefits of a ketogenic diet as with the best mental clarity of your life!
CAUTION: Eating carbs to “fight off” the keto flu will just set you back and you will have to go through it for even longer. Patience is the key.
Who Should Not Follow A Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet is not for everyone. People with some health conditions and diseases should refrain to embark on the keto journey.
If you have any of these conditions, you should NOT follow a ketogenic diet:
- Carnitine deficiency (primary)
- Carnitine palmitoyltransferase (CPT) I or II deficiency
- Carnitine translocase deficiency
- Beta-oxidation defects
- Mitochondrial 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA synthase (mHMGS) deficiency
- Medium-chain acyl dehydrogenase deficiency (MCAD)
- Long-chain acyl dehydrogenase deficiency (LCAD)
- Short-chain acyl dehydrogenase deficiency (SCAD)
- Long-chain 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA deficiency
- Medium-chain 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA deficiency
- Pyruvate carboxylase deficiency
You can follow a ketogenic diet only after consulting your physician for any of these conditions:
- History of pancreatitis
- Active gall bladder disease
- Impaired liver function
- Impaired fat digestion
- Poor nutritional status
- Gastric bypass surgery
- Abdominal tumors
- Decreased gastrointestinal motility (due to chemotherapy)
- History of kidney failure
- Pregnancy and lactation
If you have type 1 diabetes you will need to regularly check your glycemia and lower your insulin intake by 30-50%. This is highly individual so you need to experiment. You should consult your physician before switching to a ketogenic diet.
If you are on medications for low blood pressure, you might experience low blood pressure on a ketogenic diet. Consult your physician to either lower the dosage of medication or remove it all together.
Ketogenic Diet Benefits
The ketogenic diet not only is one of the most effective diets to lose weight, it is a diet that can be used for a plethora of health benefits even from people that don’t want to lose weight and that are already lean.
For instance, if you are looking to increase your mental performance or decrease inflammation (joint pain anyone?) or live longer, this diet might be the right one for you.
In the recent years, a conspicuous amount of research has been done on this diet, pointing out several of its benefits.
Let’s look at them in this list starting from the most obvious first.
Ketogenic Diet For Weight Loss
It should be clear by now that the ketogenic diet is ideal if you want to lose weight.
Whether you are overweight or you are a bodybuilder wanting to get in contest shape, this diet is the most healthy way to lose weight.
Not only you won’t be feeling hungry given the high satiety of the ketogenic diet meals, but you also will keep eating a healthy amount of fat and cholesterol which will keep your hormone levels in check.
Given the high amount of fat on a ketogenic diet, you will keep producing testosterone (if you are a man) or estrogen (if you are a woman).
If you have ever been on a very restrictive diet before (especially a low-fat one), you know the effects related to reduced sex hormones: low libido, low energy, higher risk of injuries, bad mood/depression, loss of menstrual cycle for women.
Furthermore, by drastically minimizing the amount of carbohydrates in your diet, you will also reduce the inflammation levels in your body, making it easier to lose weight and getting healthier.
Inflammation is the culprit of many diseases ranging from metabolic syndrome to diabetes to obesity to arthritis. The ketogenic diet will favour weight loss which is accompanied by a reduction of inflammation which might make you gain back your health. You can find plenty of case studies of people with chronic diseases and pain almost reborn after switching to a ketogenic lifestyle.
Get a ketogenic diet meal plan that takes the burden of deciding what to cook out of the equation and makes you focus only on your weight loss. Check it here.
Ketogenic Diet For Epilepsy And Seizures
Few people know that originally, the ketogenic diet was developed in 1921 to help epileptic children reducing seizures when common medication wouldn’t work. The mechanisms are not very clear but it seems that epileptic children on a ketogenic diet can drastically reduce seizures and live a better and more normal life.
Books on the Ketogenic Diet for Epilepsy
Ketogenic Diet for ADHD
It’s very common that people with epilepsy also show tracts of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder aka ADHD. It has been shown anecdotally that the ketogenic diet can reduce the levels of ADHD symptoms. Though these findings have so far only been rigorously studied in rats.
Ketogenic Diet for Neurological Diseases
Several studies have shown how a ketogenic diet can be protective for neurons.
A ketogenic diet seems to be able to cause this by:
- Increasing energy production in the brain by increasing levels of mitochondria
- Increasing antioxidant levels
- Lowering inflammation by reducing the expression of proinflammatory cytokines
For instance, administration of MCT oil to Alzheimer’s patients has been shown to improve cognitive functions and memory. Also, increasing the levels of essential fatty acids might lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Books on the Ketogenic Diet and Alzheimer's Disease
Ketogenic Diet for Cognitive Performance
It has not been scientifically tested yet that a ketogenic diet might boost mental performance in healthy humans. Though several anecdotal reports suggest that the ketogenic diet might help increase your cognitive functions thanks to the increased mental clarity experienced when the brain runs on ketones.
HOW DOES IT WORK? (my hypothesis)
In my opinion, the fact that blood sugars levels are steadier on a carbohydrate restricted diet, might contribute to the increased attention span and focus experienced on the ketogenic diet.
This means that since your brain stops relying on glucose for its functioning, your mental performance is not bound anymore to the swings of glucose in the bloodstream. And since ketones are produced steadily at all times, you will experience increased mental energy, attention and focus at all the times.
Ketogenic Diet for Cancer
In the very recent years, this has been a big new topic of research as witnessed by several scientific publications on the topic of ketogenic diet and cancer (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).
It seems that the ketogenic diet might be used as a preventive tool for cancer or to help fight it off. This seems to be especially true for certain types of cancer such as brain cancer.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The mechanism seems to be the following: normal healthy cells can use ketone bodies for energy while cancerous cells can only use glucose (carbohydrates). Therefore by not ingesting carbohydrates (or just a very minimal amount), cancerous cells will be weakened since they won’t have energy to survive and reproduce.
Be aware that the ketogenic diet is an accompanying tool to traditional medical approaches such as radio- and chemotherapy. The ketogenic diet might indeed make traditional methods more effective by weakening the cancer cells.
Books on the Ketogenic Diet for Cancer
For more information on the topic of keto diet and cancer, check out these books:
Ketogenic Diet for Diabetes
A common problem faced by people with diabetes are the big swings in glucose levels in the bloodstream. Hyperglycemia after meals, followed by hypoglycemia after a big dose of insulin. This is not healthy at all. Yet, the American Diabetes Association recommends an insanely high amount of carbohydrates intake to a person with type I diabetes. Some speculate that this is to avoid potential law suits caused by family of people dying because of hypoglycemia.
On a ketogenic diet, since blood glucose levels will be low, a diabetic person will not incur in the usual sugar levels rollercoaster and will also reduce the levels of insulin needed.
This will accomplish:
- Lower glucose levels in the blood which will avoid the serious complications of high blood glucose levels such as peripheral nerve pain, kidney damage, and blindness (among others).
- Lower insulin load which will reduce inflammatory damage to the vascular system.
The ketogenic diet can be also effective to reverse type 2 diabetes since it will lower insulin loads and make the cells sensitive again to its action.
Ketogenic Diet for PCOS
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is very common among women (almost 4% of the female population is affected). This condition is associated with amenhorrea, obesity, hyperinsulinemia, diabetes, excessive body hair and dyslipidemia.
Currently there are no treatment for PCOS though it has been shown that medications used for diabetes seem to work by lowering insulin resistance, testosterone and cholesterol.
A pilot study from 2005 put eleven women on a ketogenic diet with 20 grams of carbs/day for 23 weeks.
The results were pretty astonishing since 5 women lost 12% body weight, decreased insulin by 54% and two women even got pregnant despite being previously infertile.
As a note of warning, this study didn't have a control group (for instance another group of women eating a regular diet with the same amount of calories) so it might be that just the reduction of calories was necessary to overcome the symptoms of PCOS.
Nevertheless, if you are a woman with PCOS, give the ketogenic diet a shot and see for yourself how does it work for you.
SUMMARY OF KETOGENIC DIET BENEFITS
- STABLE SUGAR LEVELS. People with diabetes need less insulin and have reduced risk of hypoglycemia.
- INCREASED MENTAL ENERGY. Less dependence on glucose for mental function hence more mental acuity, focus, and concentration.
- REDUCED INFLAMMATION. Limiting carbs reduces the pro-inflammatory effect of high glucose in your bloodstream. Consequently less risk of developing metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes and potentially neurodegenerative disorders. Also, joint pains might lessen.
- WEIGHT LOSS. The ketogenic diet makes feel you fuller and you will automatically eat less. A reduced inflammation will also accelerate fat loss.
Ketogenic Diet Foods: What To Eat On A Keto Diet?
The food choices on a ketogenic diet might be a little be daunting for a person used to eat a traditional Western diet rich in carbs and processed foods. If you have been following the Paleo or the Aktin diet in the past, this might look not that difficult after all.
“What should I eat on a keto diet?” - most likely is what you are asking yourself right now.
Creating the perfect keto meal is very simple:
- Choose a source of protein (preferably a fatty one)
- Add a generous portion of veggies
- Include extra fat for extra flavour
In the table below you will find a selection of the best keto foods you can choose to make your ketogenic diet meals.
- Meat (PROTEIN)
- seafood&fish (protein)
- Ground beef
- Ribs (Pork or Beef)
- Roasts (Pork or Beef)
- Pork Loin, Chops, or Steaks
- Chicken (breasts, thighs, wings)
- Deli cold cuts
- Cheese (any kind)
- Heavy cream
- Sour cream
- Cream cheese
- Crème Fraîche
- Bell peppers
- Romaine lettuce
- Artichoke hearts
- Bok Choy
- Soy sauce
- Hot sauce
- Walden Farms sauces
- Lemon juice
- Lime juice
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
- Unsweetened almond milk
- Almond Butter
- Peanut Butter
- Hazelnut Butter
- Cashew Butter
- Flax Seed Meal
- Almond Meal/Almond Flour
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Pork rinds
- Beef jerky (unsweetened version)
list adapted from http://greekbodycodex.com/ketogenic-diet-grocery-list/
*Orange (in bold) indicates foods with some carbohydrates – eat in moderation! (2-4 servings max per day recommended for keto dieters)
*Red (in bold) indicates foods moderate to high in carbohydrates – eat sparingly! (1-2 servings max per day recommended for keto dieters)
As you can see we have high fat foods on a keto foods selection and very low carb veggies and fruits. The keto fruits are selected to have the lowest amount of carbs while providing the highest amount of tastiness.
Remember that you must include veggies since they are foods with electrolytes, minerals, and vitamins to keep you healthy and strong.
Foods To Avoid On A Ketogenic Diet
As you can imagine, the list of foods to avoid on a ketogenic diet is almost the opposite of the one above.
- You want to avoid high-carbs foods and processed foods.
- Even though they are not to avoid, try not to choose lean cuts of meats or lean fishes. These provide too much protein without providing too much fat and this might kick you out of ketosis (more on this later).
- PROCESSED FOODS
- HIGH CARB Vegetables
- HIGH CARB FRUITS
- Fake low-carb products
- Grains (rice, wheat, spelt, rye, corn)
- Legumes (lentils, beans, chickpeas, peas, quinoa)
Keto Diet Example with Recipes to Get You Started
After all this explanation, you might want to know how an actual keto menu might look like.
Many on a ketogenic diet experience the problem of being stuck eating eggs and bacon all the time. It doesn’t have to be this way and there are plenty of delicious ketogenic recipes you can try for yourself.
Here you will find an example of keto diet meal plan, starting from a keto breakfast going to a keto lunch, keto snacks, keto dinner and even keto desserts! At the end, you will find a keto grocery list to make it easier for you to know what to buy at the supermarket without second guessing.
Keto Breakfast Ideas and Recipes
Keto Coffee Recipe
I’m sure you’ve heard of the Bulletproof coffee. This is a (very expensive) coffee supplemented with butter and MCT oil.
Here a quick recipe to make homemade Keto Bulletproof Coffee (2 servings):
- Brew 2 cups of coffee
- Mix in 2 tbsp of grass fed unsalted butter (regular butter will do too)
- Add 2 tbsp of Coconut oil or MCT oil
- Add 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- (optional) Add 1 tbsp of heavy cream
- Mix with an immersion blender
While this coffee is delicious and will keep in you in ketosis due to the absence of carbs and the high fat content, consider that 2 serving of this keto coffee will add almost 510 kcal to your caloric balance. If you are trying to lose weight, you are better off with just regular black coffee or, at best, drink just 1 serving.
Gluten Free Coconut Flour Pancakes Recipe
- ¼ cup butter, melted
- ¼ cup heavy cream (sour cream works too)
- 1 packet stevia
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup coconut flour (about 25g)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- Mix stevia, salt, baking powder and coconut flour.
- In another bowl, mix the wet ingredients together (butter, cream, eggs, vanilla extract).
- Combine the two bowls together and mix the ingredients.
- Add a tiny amount of oil of choice (I recommend Coconut oil) to a fry-pan and heat over medium eat.
- Add batter to the pan as to make medium size pancakes.
- Cook until done.
- Serve with topping of 0-calories Walden Farms pancake syrup.
Quick Keto Breakfast on the Go: Coconut Macadamia Bars Recipe
- 60 grams macadamia nuts
- 1/2 cup almond butter
- 1/4 cup Coconut oil
- 6 tbsp shredded coconut
- 20 drops liquid stevia
- Reduce the macadamia nuts into pieces by hand or by using a food processor.
- Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
- Pour in a container with parchment paper and refrigerate overnight. (store in the freezer for extra crunchiness)
- Slice and enjoy your keto breakfast on the go!
Keto Lunch Ideas and Recipes
Broccoli Cheese Soup Recipe
- 4 cups chopped broccoli
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 3 1/2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- Saute garlic over medium heat in a large pot until golden
- Add chicken broth, cream and broccoli
- Increase the heat to bring to a boil
- Lower the heat and let it simmer until the broccoli are tender (15-20 minutes)
- Remove from the heat and mix in the cheddar cheese until melted
5 Minute Keto Pizza Recipe
- 2 large Eggs
- 2 tbsp Parmesan Cheese
- 1 tbsp Psyllium Husk Powder
- 1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning
- Salt to taste
- 2 tsp Frying Oil
- 1.5 oz Mozzarella Cheese
- 3 tbsp Rao’s Tomato Sauce
- 1 tbsp freshly chopped Basil
- Mix in a bowl psyllium husk, seasoning, parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt
- Add the eggs and mix with an immersion blender for around 30 seconds
- In a frying pan heat the oil over medium heat
- Add the batter and cook it until brown from both sides
- Add the low carb tomato sauce
- Put the pan in the oven where you set the broiler to high
- Add some shredded mozzarella cheese on top
- When the mozzarella bubbles remove from the oven
- Add some fresh chopped basil
Keto Chili Recipe
- 8 Thick cut bacon
- 2 lbs Ground Pork
- 1 medium Yellow Onion
- 3 small Green Pepper
- 6 oz Tomato Paste
- 1 can Diced Tomatoes, drained
- 1 pack McCormick Original Chili Seasoning
- Salt, pepper and garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper
- Place in the crockpot chopped onions and green peppers
- Over medium heat, cook the pork, add salt and pepper, drain, cool and put in crockpot
- Make small pieces of the bacon and cook it in the pan. Drain it and, when cold, put in crockpot
- Add to the crockpot the drained diced tomatoesAdd the tomato paste
- Add seasoning packet to chili
- Cook for 6 hours on low
Keto Snacks Ideas and Recipes
Low Carb Pizza Bites Recipe
- 300g mozzarella, grated
- 12 tsp of homemade marinara sauce: passata, 1 garlic clove, salt, pepper, Italian herbs
- Few slices of salami and/or parma ham, cut into small pieces
- Handful of basil leaves
- Set the grill to a medium heat.
- Mix your marinara: 1 can of tomatoes or passata, 1 garlic clove, salt, pepper and some Italian herbs such as oregano or basil. Blend until combined.
- Place small handfuls of the mozzarella on a baking tray, leaving some space around the edges so the cheese can spread when it melts. Keep an eye on it and remove from the oven once the tops are browned.
- In a pan, brown the diced salami/ham.
- Once the mozzarella pizza bases have cooled a little, which makes them harden, remove from the tray.
- Add a teaspoon or marinara on every pizza and decorate with salami and ham pieces.
- Scatter over the basil leaves and serve.
Fathead Crackers Recipe
- 170g / 6 oz / 1¾ cups (approx) shredded/grated cheese (mozzarella is the best or Edam/mild cheese)
- 85g / 3 oz / ¾ cup almond flour/meal
- 2 tbs cream cheese
- 1 egg+/- salt to taste
- ½ tsp flavoring of choice (optional)
- Mix the shredded/grated cheese and almond flour/meal in a microwaveable bowl. Add the cream cheese. Microwave for 1 minute at the highest power.
- Stir then microwave for another 30 seconds.
- Add the egg, salt, and flavourings, mix gently.
- Place in between 2 baking sheets and roll thinly. Remove the top baking sheet. If the mixture hardens and becomes difficult to work with, pop it back in the microwave for 10-20 seconds to soften again but not too long or you will cook the egg.
- Cut the dough into small bite size pieces. Place each one on a lined baking tray as shown.
- Bake at 425 °F (220 °C) for 5 minutes on each side, or until browned on both side and crisp.
- Cool on a wire rack and keep in an airtight container in the fridge. If the weather is cool, you may store the container on your pantry for up to 3 days.
Low Carb Macadamia Nut Butter Cookies Recipe
- 350gram macadamia butter
- 75gram Almond Meal/Flour
- 2 Eggs
- 70g Xylitol
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 tbsp Cinnamon
- Preheat a ventilated oven to 320F/160C.
- Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until consistent.
- Roll into teaspoon sized balls and press onto lined baking tray. The cookies will need to be pressed into their desired shape as they have minimal spreading. They can be placed quite close together.
- Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for 12 minutes or until golden brown, with the edges starting to harden. The cookies will continue to harden as they cool.
Keto Snacks Grocery List
BONUS: 50 Quick&Easy Keto Snacks List
Keto Dinner Ideas and Recipes
Cheeseburger Keto Meatloaf Recipe
- 2 lbs raw ground beef
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 small diced onion
- 2 tsp salt1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 cup diced cheddar cheese
- Mix all of the ingredients except the cheddar cheese until the ingredients are well distributed together.
- Add in the cheese cubes.
- Place the mixture into a lightly sprayed large oven safe dish. Form into a meatloaf shape.
- Bake at 350 °F (180 °C) for 1 hour, until cooked through and browned on top.
- Optional: garnish with sugar free ketchup.
Low Carb Parmesan Herb Pork Schnitzels Recipe
- 4 oz Pork Top Round, cut into 4 thin steaks
- 1 Egg
- 1 tbsp Heavy Cream
- 1 tbsp Water
- 3/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
- 1 tbsp Italian Herb & Spice Blend
- 1/2 tsp PepperOil for deep frying (olive oil/coconut/lard)
- Preheat your deep fryer to 355 °F (180 °C).
- Reduce the pork steaks to a thickness of 1/4in/0.5cm using a meat mallet or a meat tenderizer.
- Whisk in a bowl the egg, cream and water.
- Sprinkle parmesan, Italian Herb & Spice Blend and pepper on a small baking tray. Give a light stir to mix.
- Dip each pork steak into the egg mixture and then coat in the parmesan mixture pressing the parmesan into the steak.
- Gently place the schnitzels into the deep fryer and fry until golden brown and cooked through (5 to 7 minutes).
- Remove the schnitzels from the oil and allow to drain before serving.
Chicken Thighs with Creamy Bacon Mushroom Thyme Sauce Recipe
- 4 chicken thighs
- 1 tbsp olive oilsalt and pepper
- 1 tsp Italian herb seasoning (dried thyme, oregano)
- 6 oz white mushrooms
- 5 slices bacon, cooked, chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 5 sprigs snipped fresh thyme
- Preheat oven to 350 °F (180 °C).
- Season both sides of chicken thighs with salt and pepper and Italian herb seasoning mix (usually a combination of dried thyme, oregano and other herbs).
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil and add chicken thighs skin-side down cooking for about 5 minutes, on the skin side until nicely browned.
- Transfer the chicken thighs, skin side up, to the foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 350 °F (180 °C) for about 20 minutes or until chicken thighs are completely cooked through and no longer pink in the center.
- Meanwhile, make the mushrooms sauce: heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add sliced mushrooms (without salting) and cook on medium heat for about 3 minutes flipping once.
- Add chopped cooked bacon to the skillet.
- Add heavy cream, salt and snipped fresh thyme, bring to boil, stir, immediately reduce to simmer and simmer for about 2 minutes on very low heat for flavors to blend and sauce to reduce a bit. Taste and add more salt if needed.
- When chicken is done, add it to the skillet and spoon the sauce and the mushrooms on top of chicken thighs.
Keto Desserts and Recipes
Keto Cinnamon Butter Cookies Recipe
- 2 cups Almond Meal/Flour
- 1/2 cup salted butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp stevia
- Preheat oven to 300 °F (150 °C).
- In a bowl mix all the ingredients until well combined.
- Roll into 15 balls and place on a greased cookie sheet or Sil-Eco Mat.
- Place in the oven and bake for 5 minutes.
- Remove and press dough down with a fork.
- Return to oven and cook for 18-20 minutes.
- Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Keto Chocolate Cake in a Mug Recipe
- 1 Large Egg
- 2 Tbsp Salted Butter
- 2 Tbsp Almond Flour
- 2 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Erythritol or Splenda
- 2 ts. Coconut Flour
- 1/4 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
- Add the butter in the mug and melt it in the microwave (approximately 30 seconds).
- Add all the ingredients and mix until no lumps are present.
- Microwave for 60-75 seconds.
- (optional) Whip some cream in a bowl and use it to top the cake when cold.
Sugar Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Freezer Fudge Recipe
- 100g grass-fed unsalted butter
- 200g peanut butter
- 100g dark chocolate
- 2 tbsp powdered erythritol
- (optional) 1 tsp vanilla essence
- Melt the butter and chocolate in a pan. You should choose chocolate with at least 85% cocoa solids to minimise the sugar content.
- Stir in the peanut butter and add the sweetener to taste.
- Pour into a small container lined with parchment paper.
- Place in the freezer for ca 30 minutes until set.
- Cut into 30 squares.
- Store in either fridge or freezer.
Ketogenic Diet Meal Plan
The recipes above might be too fancy for you and you want some simple ketogenic meals to bootstrap your ketogenic diet.
Here you will find a very simple and easy ketogenic diet meal plan for 7 days with 3 meals per day (keto breakfast, keto lunch, and keto dinner) and optional keto snack and keto dessert.
Fried eggs with butter, salt, and pepper.
Slice of roast beef, tomato, lettuce, melted provolone, and mayo wrapped into the shape of a taquito.
1-2 oz of your favorite cheese, with pickles and olives if you like.
Italian pork sausages with broccoli.
Frozen berries with whipped heavy cream.
Coffee with heavy whipping cream and no-carb sweeteners.
Keto sandwich: Take a few slices of a leafy green lettuce head and wrap a sandwich into it. Safe options include most meats, mayo, salt, pepper, cheese, and small amounts of tomato or onions.
Chicken broiled after seasoning with salt, pepper, or most chicken rubs (check the label for potential carbs, nothing sweet).
Small piece of 85% dark chocolate.
Smoked salmon and cream cheese.
Sauteed chicken or fish over mixed green salad with side of creamy dressing.
Asian stir-fry with beef, pork, or chicken and non-starchy vegetables (with shirataki noodles, if you like).
Whipping cream blended with peanut butter and cocoa powder.
Bacon and cheese omelette.
Taco salad: Crunchy lettuce, green peppers, avocado, salsa, sour cream, and choice of meat (add spice if you like, don't use taco seasoning packets!).
Macadamias, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts.
Keto bolognese sauce.
Sugar free jello with whipped cream.
Breakfast burger; cook eggs and bacon, roll into a beef patty with cheese, then cook until yummy.
BLT salad (bacon, grated cheese, spring onion, a couple of cherry tomatoes, lettuce and guacamole).
Keto zucchini chips.
Keto gelatin pudding.
Scrambled eggs with spinach (and meat) - throw some fat in a pan, (heat or fry meat), sauté fresh spinach, add eggs.
Keto Italian stuffed zucchini.
Hard boiled eggs.
Mint chocolate chip ice-cream.
Lengthwise halved cucumber filled with cream cheese and topped with ham, salami, smoked salmon or similar.
Vegetables, avocado, and fish wrapped in Nori sheets.
Keto lemon curd.
What Are Fat Bombs
Fat bombs are to keto what energy bars are for other diets but they are high in fat and low in protein and carbs. They provide you with a quick fix of energy for when you need it the most.
Fat bombs are usually made of Coconut oil, butter, cream cheese, or heavy cream and can have nuts, seeds, and chocolate while stevia provides the sweet taste. They truly are a treat!
There are also some fat bombs that are savory and if you scroll a little bit further, you will find a couple of recipes of savory fat bombs.
When to Eat Fat Bombs
Fat bombs are used for these situations:
- You need a quick energy fix.
- You have troubles hitting your target caloric intake from food. This is a convenient and easy way to add healthy fats to your diet.
Typically they are eaten as a keto snack between breakfast and lunch or between lunch and dinner. They replace an energy bar or the typical "apple" or fruit midday.
Do You Need Fat Bombs?
If you are trying to lose weight, snacking is not a good idea. You need to burn your own fat for energy and not relying primarily on food for energy.
If you are lean and exercise and have trouble eating enough, go ahead and try some delicious fat bombs recipes!
Fat Bombs Recipes
Sweet Fat Bombs Recipes
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Fat Bombs
- Vanilla Cheesecake Fat Bombs
- Strawberry Cheesecake Fat Bombs
- Keto Macaroon Fat Bombs
- Easy Lemon Fat Bombs
Savory Fat Bombs Recipes
- Bacon & Egg Fat Bombs
- Bacon & Guacamole Fat Bombs
- Baked Brie and Pecan Prosciutto Savory Fat Bombs
- Savory Pizza Fat Bombs
- Cheesy Jalapeño Fat Bombs
- Savory Salmon Fat Bombs
Fat Bombs Cookbooks
Ketogenic Diet Substitutions (For The Diehard Carbs Lover)
Switching all of a sudden to a diet with severely restricted carbs can be pretty daunting. If your eating habits always entailed having some protein/fat with some carbs such as pasta, rice, potato, bread making the bulk of the calories, having to remove them from your diet can make you feel pretty lost.
Change Your Mindset First
As far as disappointing this might sound, you have to realize that if you try to still cling on your old eating patterns, the transition to a ketogenic diet is going to be just hard.
You have to imagine that you ended up on a new planet where complex bulky carbs do not exist. The earlier you accept this reality, the easier and happier you will be on a ketogenic diet.
With that being said, let's see how can we make the transition easier.
Keto Replacements and Substitutions List
Let's check together how can you replace calories, texture, and flavors of carbohydrate staples with a ketogenic friendly version.
Here some products to get you started to make these replacements easier:
Keto Bread Replacements
- La Tortilla Factory Low Carb Tortillas (50 Calories | 3g net carbs)
- Mama Lupe Low Carb Tortillas (60 calories | 3g net carbs)
- Julian's Bakery GF Paleo Coconut Wraps (70 calories | 4g net carbs)
- Mission Carb Balance Tortillas (80 Calories | 3g net carbs)
- Flatout Light Wraps
- LC Foods White Bread Mix
- Ole Low Carb Tortillas
- Sprouts Mahler's Bakery Low Carb Breads (Flax Soy Bread, Cinnamon Flax Walnut Bread)
- Joseph's Middle East Bakery Reduced Carb/Flax, Oat Bran & Whole Wheat Tortillas (5g net carbs) and Pita Bread (4g net carbs)
Keto Pasta/Noodles Replacement
Keto Flour Replacement
Keto Sugar Replacement
Keto Bread Replacements/Substitutes
Keto Faux-Bread Recipes (Keto Bread Replacement Recipes)
Keto Grocery List
There are some items that should never be lacking in your keto pantry.
These are the staples of a ketogenic diet and you can never go wrong with them:
- Butter/Lard/Coconut oil/Olive oil
- Cream/Cream cheese/Cheese
- Ground beef/pork
- Chicken thighs/wings
- Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovy, sardines, herrings, tuna, heel)
- Seafood (oysters, caviar, shrimps, mussels, crabs, lobster)
- Coconut/Almond flour
- Vegetables (broccoli, kale, chards, lettuce, avocado, celery, eggplant, spinach, cabbage, cucumber, asparagus, zucchini, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, olives, peppers, sauerkrauts)
- Berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries)
- Nuts (pecan, macadamia, brazil nuts)
- Spices and Herbs
Staples for Baking on Keto
Flours and Thickeners
Since you cannot use regular flour on a ketogenic diet, you need a low carb and high fat alternative. Almond flour is the perfect substitutions for regular flour to bake your keto cakes, keto cookies, keto muffin, and whatever you need flour for. The most used almond flour by keto adepts worldwide is the Honeyville almond flour because of its fresh taste and texture. Read more...
In a ketogenic diet, everything coconut can be used. Coconut flour turns out to be also amazing to bake. Usually used in combination with almond flour, coconut flour can be used also standalone. It can also be used as a thickener. The favorite of the keto community is from Bob's Red Mill due to its very high quality and yet affordable price. Read more...
Nowadays there is anything I don't cook without adding Pyllium husk. This incredible ingredient adds not only the texture but also the flavor that will remind you incredibly of wheat so that you will be wondering if you didn't actually baked with regular flour. On top of that, Pysllium husk will add good fibers to your diet (and we all know that ketoers usually struggle including enough fibers to their diets). Read more...
This powder is almost magic. This is a thickener greatly used by the most expert master chefs. Almost a staple of molecular cuisine, it is used a great deal also by the keto community. This is because this thickener has 0 net carbs and it's used only in tiny amounts such as ¼ teaspoon or less. It can be used to make coconut ice cream, thicken your stews, bring your vegetables to life, the applications are infinite. Read more...
Egg White Protein
The ketogenic diet is a low/moderate protein diet therefore you surely won't need to use a lot of this item. It add a certain texture, consistency and flavor that some recipes account for such as some keto cakes, keto muffins, and keto breads. Since you are going to use a little of it, an entire bag will last you even more than 6 months. Read more...
Sweeteners and Sugar Substitutes
Stevia is a natural sweetener extracted from the leaves of the plant species Stevia rebaudiana. This is an all natural sweetener which has been proved to not only not rise your blood sugar levels but also, to possess anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties conferring protection to kidneys, pancreas, liver, and brain. Read more...
Erythritol is another sugar substitute that is widely used in the keto community. It's less sweet than stevia and, even if on the label you read a high carbs amount be aware that erythritol cannot be digested by the enzymes in our body. Therefore it will just pass through the intestine without being absorbed. Read more...
White Sugar Substitute
This sugar substitute is made combining erythritol and stevia to make it extremely practical to use in your recipes. Treat it exactly as you would treat sugar and make delicious keto treats with this all natural 0 carbs sugar substitute. Read more...
Brown Sugar Substitute
As you cannot use white sugar on a keto diet, brown sugar follows. But there is an alternative for the brown sugar lovers! This brown sugar substitute by Sukrin Gold combines stevia, erythritol, other 0 carbs sugars. The brown color is obtained by malt extract which is gluten free and carbs free. Read more...
Fats for Baking
From the moment you start the ketogenic diet you become engaged with coconut oil. This is a true staple of a ketogenic diet and not only because it provides a good source of fat and it's incredible for cooking and baking (from cakes, to steaks, from stews to ice-creams). It also has great health benefits. Since you are going to use it a LOT, you might as well choose a great one that is of high quality while being affordable. This one from Carrington Farms is the most used and I use it myself as well. Read more...
One of the best things of being on keto is this. You can eat butter freely and not feel guilty. From your coffee to your muffins, butter is a true staple of the ketogenic diet. The most widely used is the Kerrygold's from grass-fed cows. Read more...
Ghee (Clarified Butter)
Should you be lactose intolerant, ghee or clarified butter is what you can use. Used by traditional Indian cuisine, ghee is a butter where protein and lactose are removed therefore this fat source has also less protein than traditional butter and can be used by people in which butter causes diarrhea or GI distress. Read more...
Unfortunately in a ketogenic diet you cannot use too much fruit because of the carbs that add up. Sure you can use sparingly berries and melons but the amount recommended don't allow you to experience the full flavor experience you want from eating a piece of fruit cake or blueberry muffin. With these fruit flavorings you can have exactly the same fruity tastes you are missing on keto. Read more...
Especially if you have to lose a lot of weight, even on a ketogenic diet, you will have to watch out for calories. And nuts can add a lot of them. When you want some nutty flavors, without the calories, these nuts extracts are exactly what you are looking for. Read more...
What sweet treat would it be without the vanilla flavor? Usually though, the vanilla extract you buy at the supermarket have that weird artificial chemical taste. With this extract you will experience the real deal. Read more...
Nuts and Seeds
At the highest amount of fat among the nuts, these are a real treat for your snacks or your baking. Sprinkle them on your chocolate fudge or on your frosting. Even in ice-cream, they make for a delicious crunchiness. Read more...
Great sweat and salty taste, pecan nuts can be the staple of your keto breakfast. Especially delicious with maple flavors, sprinkle them on your keto pancakes or waffles with your 0 calories maple syrup for an incredible keto breakfast. Read more...
If you find macadamia nuts too expensive but you still want a crunchiness factor in your meal, consider walnuts. Furthermore they have incredible benefits for your brain so you can't go wrong with walnuts. Read more...
Great taste, crunchiness and rich in magnesium and vitamin E, almonds are a great addition to your "nuts repertoire". You can eat them as a snack or sprinkle them in salads or on a keto desser. Read more...
Flaxseed is another big one in the ketogenic diet staples. Rich in fibers (that you really need in a keto diet), flaxseed has a earthy flavor that goes great in recipes that require a "whole grain flavor". Feel free to use it together with almond flour or even in substitution of it to make delicious flaxseed bread or muffins. Read more...
Chia seeds might look like a hard version of caviar. But as soon as you put them in a liquid, they soak it and their texture changed dramatically. They become gooey and soft. Ideal to make a pudding, cookies, muffins and brownies, you can use them also as covering for your fat bombs for extra crunchiness. Read more...
A downloadable and printable keto grocery shopping list is available on ketosizeme.com.
Keto on a Budget
Given the high amount of meat, fish and veggies on the ketogenic diet, you might be tempted to discard it due to economic reasons.
Grains and processed foods are much cheaper, yet they pose a threat to your health and you might be spending those money later on if you get sick.
Eating keto without spending a fortune is possible! Check the awesome Batch Cooking on a Budget to get a keto meal plan with recipes that don't break your bank!
How to Start the Ketogenic Diet?
Starting a ketogenic diet is very easy. By now you should be aware of how it works, what foods to eat and even have some recipes to start with. First of all you have to determine which kind of ketogenic diet is more suitable for you.
If you want a 30-day meal plan to kickstart your healthy keto lifestyle, check this one here.
Types Of Ketogenic Diet
There are four types of ketogenic diet and each one has its place and function according to your goal.
Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD)
This is the traditional ketogenic diet which entails high fat, moderate protein and very low carbohydrates.
CARBOHYDRATES: max 50g/day (for weight loss max 20g/day)
PROTEIN: 0.69 to 1.2 grams per pound lean body mass. (1.5 to 2.64 grams per kg lean body mass.).
Higher protein intakes are for people doing resistance training or intense endurance training.
FAT: to satiety.
Eating more protein than necessary might kick you out of ketosis. Some amino acids can be converted to glucose in a process called gluconeogenesis.
REMEMBER: the ketogenic diet is high in fat while moderate in protein.
Who is it for?
- Weight loss
- Anyone who wants to start the ketogenic diet
Who is NOT for?
There is no contraindication for this type of ketogenic diet
Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD)
In this form of ketogenic diet you follow a strict keto diet for 5 days and have two days when you have a “carbs refeed”.
This is used for athletes that want to replenish their glycogen stores.
NOTE: On this diet you get in and out of ketosis throughout the week.
Who is it for?
- Bodybuilders, powerlifters, Olympic weightlifters
- Runners and sprinters
Who is NOT for?
- People looking to lose weight
Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)
This is a form of cyclical ketogenic diet in which carbs are supplemented only around workouts to promote a higher work output through replenishment of glycogen stores.
The types of carbs consumed are ones at high glycemic index to favour a fast absorption.
NOTE: Despite many people have success with this form of the ketogenic diet, be aware that your ketosis levels are not going to be optimal, especially if you train every day. Therefore you might be better off with a standard low carb diet.
Who is it for?
- Bodybuilders, powerlifters, Olympic weightlifters
- Runners and sprinters
Who is NOT for?
- People looking to lose weight
Modified Atkin Diet (MAD)
This is based on the template of the SKD. The only difference is that a higher amount of protein is used and slightly lower amount of fat.
About 35% of caloric intake comes from protein on this diet.
This is ideal for people who want to put on some muscle mass.
Who is it for?
- Bodybuilders, powerlifters, Olympic weightlifters
- Runners and sprinters
Who is NOT for?
- Sedentary or inactive people.
Tips for Eating Out On A Keto Diet
Especially in the beginning of a ketogenic diet you might think that your social life is over. Everywhere you look, carbs are served. What to do?
How to eat out while on a ketogenic diet?
It’s easier than you think if you follow the guidelines here.
Look for simple dishes, ones with few ingredients and try to stick to the basics: eggs, steak, chicken, fish, cheese, avocados, cream.
Ask for the dressing and sauces on the side. Most dressing and sauces are loaded with sugar.
Ask to replace fries, pasta, rice, bread, potatoes with veggies (and again with dressing on the side).
If possible ask for the dressing to be replaced with olive oil (without balsamic vinegar!) or butter or cream.
- STICK TO THE BASICS. Eggs, steak, burger, chicken, fish, cheese, avocados, cream, and veggies.
- REPLACEMENTS. Replace carb loaded main dishes for veggies on the side.
- DRESSING. Ask for dressing on the side or to be replaced with olive oil.
Fast Food Chains (McDonalds's, KFC, Burger King, Chipotle, etc.)
This is very easy! Just order a burger but don’t eat the bun. In some chains you can just ask for the filling wrapped in lettuce (even better you can try to have it in bacon!).
These days is very easy to find low carbs options already on the menu. In case this is not possible, check with the company how the “diabetic option” looks like.
Sometimes, asking for a diabetic meal might be working but some other times they might put a lot of carbs in the meal, following the American Diabetes Association idiotic guidelines to avoid hypoglycemia.
Be sure to check first by calling the company what kind of meal do they usually serve as diabetic option.
Should they have no option, consider packing some hard-boiled eggs and bacon or homemade sugar-free beef jerky for an emergency meal. Nuts and avocados are very portable keto-friendly snacks too.
How To Measure Ketosis
You are in ketosis when your body is producing ketone bodies (acetone, acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutryate). This happens when you have restricted your carbohydrate intake and your body switches to use ketone bodies as a source of energy.
Ketone Bodies Levels
You are in nutritional ketosis when your blood levels of ketones are between 0.5 and 3 mmol/L.
- 0.5–1.5 mmol/L. You are in light nutritional ketosis. You start reaping the benefits of the ketogenic diet but this is not optimal yet.
- 1.5–3 mmol/L. Optimal ketosis is reached when your ketones levels are between 1.5 and 3 mmol/L. This is the "sweet spot" in which you will reap the most benefits of the ketogenic diet in terms of weight loss, mental performance, and general health.
- 3–8 mmol/L. Values of ketone bodies between 3 and 8 mmol/L do not confer any additional advantage and might be a sign that you are undereating (aka "starvation ketosis"). If you are a type I diabetic patient, seek immediate medical attention should you measure these values.
- >8 mmol/L. Values above 8 mmol/L are impossible to reach for a healthy person. People with type I diabetes measuring these values should immediately seek medical attention to avoid ketoacidosis.
Tools to Measure Ketosis
BLOOD KETONE METERS
Blood ketone meters are the most accurate way to date to measure ketone levels in your blood. They measure levels of beta-hydroxybutyrate in your blood at a given time. You will have to prick your finger and put a drop of blood of a single use strip which will be read by the reader. Despite being very accurate, this system to detect ketone levels can be expensive due to the high cost of the ketone blood strips.
- Gold standard to measure ketone levels
- Very accurate
- You need to prick your finger to get a blood drop
BREATH KETONE ANALYZERS (KETONIX)
Ketonix can measure levels of acetone in your breath. It doesn't give a number but rather a color code that tells you in which range of ketone bodies you are. This is not accurate although research shows a correlation between levels of acetone in your breath with the ones in the blood.
Ketonix can be expensive upfront but in the long run cheaper than blood ketone meters since it is reusable without limits.
- Easy and straightforward to use
- Expensive upfront
- Not accurate
- Not portable: requires computer to read
URINE KETONE STRIPS
Urine strips such as Ketostix are the cheapest and fastest way to detect whether you are in ketosis or not. This is the keto beginner's favorite way to detect ketosis.
You just need to dip one strip in your urine and 15 seconds later you will know, by a color code if you are in ketosis or not. A dark purple color indicates that you are in ketosis.
They measure the levels of acetoacetate in your urine. These levels are influenced by the amount of water you drink and by your level of adaptation to ketones metabolism.
If you drink too much, acetoacetate will get diluted and the test might report that you are not in ketosis while you actually are.
When you get increasingly more keto-adapted, your body retains more ketone bodies instead of dispersing them in the urine. This is because the body uses them for energy and it would be a waste to lose them in the urine. When you are keto-adapted, then, this test might report that you are not in ketosis because less acetoacetate is present in the urine.
- Very cheap
- Very easy to use
- Not precise
- Not accurate
Ketogenic Diet Getting Started Checklist
- Determine which type of ketogenic diet you are going to follow.
In case of doubts, opt for the standard ketogenic diet.
This means that you are going to eat a maximum of 50 grams of net carbohydrates per day (20 g/day for weight loss).
Remember that fibers do not count towards carbohydrate intake.
Check the label and subtract the amount of fibers from total carbohydrates reported.
In some country outside the United States (such as Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and the United Kingdom) the labels might already show net carbs.
- When in doubt about the carbohydrate content of your food, check the vast database at http://nutritiondata.self.com/
- To make a meal, combine a protein source, 1⁄2 to 1 cup of low carb vegetables. If the protein source you chose is "lean," add some fat as olive oil, butter, dressing, cheese, cream, or avocado.
- Avoid margarine as it contains trans fat that are unhealthy and cause cardiovascular diseases. Avoid vegetable oils except olive oil and Coconut oil.
- You can cook your meals in Coconut oil, lard, butter, olive oil. Finishing with extra-virgin olive oil is a nice touch.
- Any cooking method is allowed.
- Do not eat low fat. This is a high fat diet. This means also not removing the skin and fat from meat and fish you prepare.
- Avoid starchy carbs such as potatoes, rice, pasta, grains (beans, lentils, peas, barley, corn), wheat based products, sugar, honey, fruit juices, ketchup.
- Avoid processed food.
- Eat only when hungry and until you feel full. You don’t have to snack if you are not hungry.
- Drink plenty of water. Coffee and tea are fine too but keep them of course in moderation (max 3 cups of coffee per day, max 6 cups of tea per day).
- You can use sweeteners (although in moderation) except ones containing sorbitol, maltitol and maltodextrins. Stevia, Splenda, Erythritol are the most common ones.
- If feeling fatigued or with headaches, add salt to each meal and consider supplementing with potassium chloride and magnesium citrate.
- Enjoy losing weight and feeling fantastic!
Ketogenic Diet Supplements
On a ketogenic diet properly done (by following the guidelines in this post) you don’t really need to supplement. The only exception is electrolytes should you feel the symptoms of the keto flu.Athletes might consider using MCT oil and exogenous ketones to boost their performance.
Electrolytes for Ketogenic Diet
Especially when starting a ketogenic diet, lots of fluids will be lost through your urines. Together with fluids you will also lose important electrolytes such as magnesium citrate and potassium. This is one of the causes of the symptoms of the keto flu.
Beside adding table salt to each of your meals, and drink 1-2 cups of bouillon per day, you might want to supplement with sodium, potassium and magnesium according to these guidelines:
- 1-2 g of sodium (table salt). Try this pink Himalayan salt.
- 1000 mg of potassium, in the form of potassium chloride or potassium sulfate. Don't take in amounts bigger than 250mg at once to avoid adverse effects. Spread this amount over the day (e.g. 200 mg every 4 hours).
- 300 mg of magnesium in the form of magnesium citrate. Try to avoid magnesium oxide or magnesium chloride since they can cause bloating and/or diarrhea.
MCT Oil for Ketosis
MCT (Medium Chain Triglycerides) Oil is a particular form of fat (coconut oil is rich of it) that is not stored but oxidized immediately from the body as energy. Whether you need a quick burst of energy or you want to accelerate entering in ketosis you can consider using 1 tbsp of MCT oil.
Be careful since in some people it can cause a nasty side effect: diarrhea.
Recommended MCT Oil
Some people just are impatient. They don’t want to wait for the time it takes to the body to start reaping the benefits of having ketone bodies circulating in their blood stream. Some just don’t want to do a ketogenic diet and still reap the benefits of being in ketosis (i.e. neuroprotection, cognitive improvement, anti-inflammation, longevity and more mental clarity).
For these reasons exogenous ketones have been developed in the recent years.There are two major forms of exogenous ketones: ketone salts and ketoesters.
Ketone salts are usually composed of beta-hydroxybutirate mixed with sodium and potassium. This is for instance the product KetoForce which comes as a liquid. The evolution of KetoForce is KetoCaNa which is beta-hydroxybutyrate mixed with calcium and sodium and it is in powdered form (so easier to transport).
A limitation of ketone salts is that a sizeable amount of salts (sodium/potassium for KetoForce, sodium/calcium for KetoCaNa) are co-ingested with the ketones and this might be undesirable for some people such as the ones suffering of kidney problems or hypertension.
These compounds are currently only available to scientists and used in scientific studies. Some of them are 1,3-butanediol monoester of β-hydroxybutyrate, glyceryl-tris-3-hydroxybutyrate, 1,3 butanediol acetoacetate diester. They are converted in the body in ketone bodies and don’t require ingestion of high amount of salts as in the case of ketone salts. They seem to be superior to ketone salts and are going to be released on the market as soon as all the safety studies are completed in humans.
People who tried them say that they taste more or less like jet fuel.
Do You Need Exogenous Ketones?
If you are trying to lose weight than supplementing with exogenous ketones is a bad idea.
You would feed extra energy to your system instead of burning your own fat to generate energy.
They might be useful in the induction phase of a ketogenic diet to speed up the process though these potential benefits are only anecdotal and not scientifically tested.
Furthermore, excess of ketones in the bloodstream will activate the release of insulin (your body wants to prevent you to go in ketoacidosis) which will pause your fat burning since insulin is the fat storing hormone.
If you are an endurance athlete, there are several advantages to use exogenous ketones:
- Sparing muscle glycogen which results in better muscular performance
- Lower oxygen consumption
- Increased energy output. It is worth noticing that the increased output in the study was just 2%. While this might seem like nothing, consider that at very high elite levels, a 2% increase is the difference between first and second place in a competition.
Another benefit of using exogenous ketones can be experienced by bodybuilders getting in contest shape, especially during the last weeks of contest prep. During this phase, glycogen levels are very low and the athlete might experience brain fog, dizziness, and low mental clarity. Anecdotally, it is reported that using exogenous ketones during this phase can give back mental clarity and speed to the bodybuilder.
In conclusion, exogenous ketones are not really necessary for the average Joe. Though, if you want to experiment or if you have money to spare, go ahead and try KetoCaNa.
Keto Pre Workout
Homemade Keto Pre Workout
Following what we have been discussing so far, if you are on a ketogenic diet, you can assemble your keto pre workout like this:
- 1 cup of coffee
- 1-2 tbsp of Coconut oil or MCT oil
- (optional) 1 serving of KetoCaNa
- (optional) 2 g of taurine
- (optional) 3 g of citrulline malate
Coffee will make you feel energetic and powerful.
Coconut oil or MCT oil will be converted pretty quickly to beta-hydroxybutyrate. You could accelerate this by using KetoCaNa in the mixture.
Taurine and citrulline malate will increase the blood flow and reduce the fatigue of your workout.
Resources on the Ketogenic Diet
Best Ketogenic Diet Cookbook
Books On The Ketogenic Diet
People/Blogs/Associations to Follow
- Dr. Dominic D'Agostino
- Dr. Peter Attia
- Ketogenic Diet Resource
- The Charlie Foundation
- /r/ketorecipes (and /r/gifrecipesketo)
BONUS: Download a printable PDF with a checklist to get started with the ketogenic diet. (Click here to download)