If fast weight loss while consuming nearly unlimited amounts of fat sounds too good to be true, “think again,” keto diet devotees say. Followers of the trendy high-fat, low-carb meal plan swear it clears the brain while lowering the number on the scale.

Although long-term health effects of the diet, which requires roughly 80% of your daily calories to come from fat, are still unknown for the average person, the Keto diet has long been used to treat children with epilepsy and people with diabetes.

But the biggest question of all is how does eating keto diet foods cause you to lose weight when you’re eating bacon, butter, and cheese? Keep reading for the details, plus learn which foods you can (and can’t!) eat on this diet.

Contents

Carbs (5-10% of calories)

Approximate grams of carbs per day based on a 2,000-calorie diet: 40

“Drastically limiting your intake of glucose, the usual energy source for your cells, reduces insulin secretions in your body. Since low levels of glucose are coming in, the body uses what is stored in the liver and then the muscles,” says Rania Batayneh, MPH, the author of The One One One Diet: The Simple 1:1:1 Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss. After about three or four days, all of the stored glucose is used up.

“For an alternative source of energy, your liver will start to convert fat into ketones, which will then be released into the bloodstream and be used by your cells for energy. Basically, your brain and muscles will be fueled by fat instead of carbohydrates,” says Michelle Hyman, MS, RD, CDN a registered dietitian at Simple Solutions Weight Loss.

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Nosh on noodles or other high-carb foods and you’ll send your body back into glucose-burning mode; eat too little and you’ll likely feel your energy dragging. Most keto dieters aim to eat between 20 to 50 grams of carbs per day to maintain that ketone-burning state called “ketosis.”

You should aim to score your carbs from high-fiber, water-rich fruits and vegetables to naturally boost hydration and keep your digestive system humming along. Unsure of whether a produce pick is low in carbs? Reach for options grown above the ground (leafy greens, peppers, and stalk-shaped vegetables), rather than below ground (root veggies like potatoes, carrots, and parsnips), as they typically offer fewer carbs.

Good examples of carb keto diet foods:

  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Spinach
  • Green Beans
  • Cucumber
  • Bell peppers
  • Kale
  • Zucchini
  • Celery
  • Brussels sprouts

Protein (10-20% of calories)

Approximate grams of carbs per day based on a 2,000-calorie diet: 70

Protein is essential to build muscle cells and burn calories. Eat too much or too little of it as part of your keto diet food plan and you’ll end up sabotaging your goals.

In the absence of carbs and protein, for instance, if you’re sticking to the very low-carb quota of keto and eating more fat and less protein than recommended, your body will turn to muscle tissue as fuel. This, in turn, will lower your overall muscle mass and the number of calories you burn at rest.

Overdose on protein (following this macronutrient breakdown, that would equate to anything above and beyond one six-ounce steak and one four-ounce chicken breast) and you’ll put undue strain on your kidneys. Plus, your body will convert the excess protein to carbohydrates for fuel. That’s the exact opposite goal of the keto diet.

Shoot for around 15% of calories from high-fat protein sources like those below. Some, such as Greek yogurt, eggs, and cheese, provide important vitamins to keep your hair, eyes, and immune system strong.

“While processed meats like sausage and bacon are technically permitted on the keto diet, I’d recommend to limiting them since they’re high in sodium,” Hyman says.

Good examples of protein keto diet foods:

  • Chicken, dark meat if possible
  • Turkey, dark meat if possible
  • Venison
  • Beef
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Tuna
  • Shrimp
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Eggs
  • Natural cheeses
  • Unsweetened, whole milk plain Greek yogurt
  • Whole milk ricotta cheese
  • Whole milk cottage cheese

*Opt for organic, pasture-raised, and grass-fed, if possible, for meat and poultry

Fat (70-80% of calories)

Approximate grams of carbs per day based on a 2,000-calorie diet: 165

Here’s where the bulk of your intake comes into play. Several studies have shown that a higher-fat diet can reduce cravings and levels of appetite-stimulating hormones ghrelin and insulin.

When you’re assembling your keto diet food stash, go full-fat. And don’t stress over the dietary cholesterol content, a factor of how much animal protein you eat, suggests a study published in The Journal of Nutrition. Instead, focus on consuming a higher ratio of unsaturated fats (flaxseed, olive oil, nuts) to saturated fats (lard, red meat, palm oil, butter).

Since you’re consuming a vast majority of calories from fat, it’s crucial to focus on fueling up with options that are less likely to clog your arteries and less likely to increase your cancer risk.

Good examples of fat keto diet foods:

  • Olive oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Olives
  • Avocados
  • Flaxseeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Hemp hearts
  • Coconuts
  • Nuts
  • Natural, no-sugar-added nut butters

What to Avoid

Make it easier to stay within the macronutrient framework of the keto diet by steering clear of these foods, Hyman says:

  • Beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts
  • Grains, such as rice, pasta, and oatmeal
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Added sugars and sweeteners
  • Sugary beverages, including juice and soda
  • Traditional snack foods, such as potato chips, pretzels, and crackers
  • Most fruits, except for lemons, limes, tomatoes, and small portions of berries
  • Starchy vegetables, including corn, potatoes, and peas
  • Trans fats, such as margarine or other hydrogentated fats
  • Most alcohols, including wine, beer, and sweetened cocktails

Possible Side Effects

There are a number of immediate side effects people transitioning over to a keto diet may experience. According to a New York Times article exploring the keto diet, some people will experience stomach issues and gastrointestinal distress due to such a drastic change in diet. There is also the “keto flu” — characterized by dizziness, fatigue, and poor sleep — that can come within the first few days if dieters aren’t careful about replenishing their fluids and sodium. Some people also experience a halitosis known as “keto breath,” which is attributed to an increased production of acetone — one of the ketone bodies.

Experts also stated that after 12 months of the diet, the weight loss advantage for keto followers compared to other dieters may plateau and disappear all together. Carol F. Kirkpatrick, director of Idaho State University’s Wellness Center, told The New York Times that keto should be seen as a “kick-start diet” to be used before switching over to a more sustainable carb intake.

Some health experts have also warned dieters about the possible longer-term cardiovascular side effects for people who follow the diet for several years. Currently there are no long-term studies on the keto diet to see what effects, positive or negative, the diet can have on the body over the course of several years, leaving some doctors worried about the negative outcome eating so much fat could have on the body’s bad cholesterol.

Karla Walsh Karla Walsh is a Des Moines, Iowa-based freelance writer and level one sommelier who balances her love of food and drink with her passion for fitness.

When followed well, a ketogenic diet is a very nutritious diet. It should be based around real foods with a strong vegetable intake, particularly leafy greens.

The aim of ketogenic diets is to allow ketosis to happen through the day. Ketosis is the process of burning body fat for energy and, for this to happen, insulin levels in the body need to be low.

So, by sticking to foods that won’t cause a surge of insulin, you give your body a chance to go into ketosis and burn body fat.

What does a ketogenic diet plan look like?

The content of the diet will vary, depending on an individual’s goals, personal health and financial situation. But, the focus should invariably be on eating nutritious minimally processed, real foods.

A ketogenic diet will usually be:

  • Low carbohydrate
  • Moderate protein
  • High fat

The challenge can sometimes be to get enough fat without having too much protein.

Energy balance

Whilst there are different ways to follow a ketogenic diet, the following is a good guide for people with diabetes, looking to control their sugar levels and lose weight.

This will determine the nutrient density of the ketogenic diet as well as how to follow it, as different foods will have different effects on insulin and blood sugar levels.

Carbohydrate

Carbohydrate intake should be low. Usually carbohydrate intake will be under 50g per day to maintain ketosis.

Some people may restrict themselves to under 30g of carbs per day to maximize the chance of maintaining in ketosis through the day.

Protein

Protein intake should be moderate at around 40 to 50g per day for women and around 50 to 60g of protein for men.

These are rough guidelines. If you are struggling to lose weight, despite having very little carbohydrate, the next step to look at is whether you are having too much protein. Note that foods such as cheese and nuts have significant protein in that some people may miss.

Fat

Fat is generally free to have on a ketogenic diet, within reason. You can afford to have a good amount of fat on a ketogenic diet, except it’s advisable not to snack between meals on a ketogenic diet.

Low-carb veggies

We’ll start with vegetables as research shows that all truly healthy diets share one thing in common, they have a good foundation of vegetables to provide a range of nutrients.

Aim to eat vegetables at every meal. Vegetables are also a great way to get more fat into the diet with, for example, high-fat salad dressings, avocado, nuts, olive oil or butter.

People following a stricter ketogenic diet can limit their vegetable intake to those containing less a very-low-carbohydrate content, such as leafy greens, tomatoes, asparagus and broccoli.

Watch out for starchy root vegetables such as any form of potato, parsnips and beetroot.

150g of boiled broccoli ( non-starchy vegetable ) contains about 5g of carbohydrate whereas 150g of boiled sweetcorn (starchy vegetable) contains 30g of carbs.

Meat and eggs

You’re good to have meat on a ketogenic diet and this includes fatty meat such as pork belly, lamb and poultry with the skin on. This is good news for the taste buds as fat helps to add a lot of flavour.

Eggs are a staple for most ketogenic dieters. They’re low in carbohydrate, filling, a good source of protein and very versatile.

Note that it is possible to come out of ketosis if you’re having a large amount of protein. This is because a high protein intake can cause the liver to convert the protein into glucose – a process known as gluconeogenesis.

For this reason, try to keep your intake of meat to a moderate level.

Fish

Fish provides a good source of protein and oily fish, such as mackerel, salmon, tuna, sardines, trout or herring, contains essential omega-3 fatty acids.

The consumption of significant amounts of fatty fish is widely advocated for heart health and longevity.

Dairy products

Dairy products are a strong source of fat so are another staple of ketogenic diets.

People going onto a ketogenic diet after coming from a low-fat diet will be pleased to know that cream and full fat dairy are back on the menu.

Avoid low-fat dairy as this is has no benefit for people on a ketogenic diet.

Note that some dairy, such as milk and yoghurt, will have some carbohydrate, in the form of lactose, and very-low-carb dairy such as cheese has a significant amount of protein.

Where possible pick butter that comes from grass fed cows. Grass-fed butter is higher than grain-fed butter in omega-3 fatty acids, CLA, beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin D, vitamin E than non-grass fed butter.

Grass-fed butter is also high in butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that can both prevent and decrease inflammation. It has also shown some benefits to protect against mental illness, improve body composition, increase metabolism , and improve gut health.

Avoid margarine as this is a form of processed food.

Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are high in fat, low in carbs and have moderate protein and so match the energy requirements of a ketogenic diet very well. Nuts and seeds are also a good source of dietary fibre and magnesium.

Whilst nuts are generally a good choice, it is possible to overeat nuts and seeds if you graze on them through the day. Choose unsalted nuts as salted nuts can become addictive and lead to overeating.

The nutrient content of nuts and seeds can vary. Whilst Brazil nuts, macadamias, flax seeds, walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts are low in carbohydrate, other nuts, such as cashews, have significantly higher carbohydrate content.

Should you try the keto diet?

It’s advertised as a weight-loss wonder, but this eating plan is actually a medical diet that comes with serious risks.

Updated: December 12, 2019Published: October, 2018


In the world of weight-loss diets, low-carbohydrate, high-protein eating plans often grab attention. The Paleo, South Beach, and Atkins diets all fit into that category. They are sometimes referred to as ketogenic or “keto” diets.

But a true ketogenic diet is different. Unlike other low-carb diets, which focus on protein, a keto plan centers on fat, which supplies as much as 90% of daily calories. And it’s not the type of diet to try as an experiment.

“The keto diet is primarily used to help reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures in children. While it also has been tried for weight loss, only short-term results have been studied, and the results have been mixed. We don’t know if it works in the long term, nor whether it’s safe,” warns registered dietitian Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

How does it work?

The keto diet aims to force your body into using a different type of fuel. Instead of relying on sugar (glucose) that comes from carbohydrates (such as grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits), the keto diet relies on ketone bodies, a type of fuel that the liver produces from stored fat.

Burning fat seems like an ideal way to lose pounds. But getting the liver to make ketone bodies is tricky:

  • It requires that you deprive yourself of carbohydrates, fewer than 20 to 50 grams of carbs per day (keep in mind that a medium-sized banana has about 27 grams of carbs).
  • It typically takes a few days to reach a state of ketosis.
  • Eating too much protein can interfere with ketosis.

What do you eat?

Because the keto diet has such a high fat requirement, followers must eat fat at each meal. In a daily 2,000-calorie diet, that might look like 165 grams of fat, 40 grams of carbs, and 75 grams of protein. However, the exact ratio depends on your particular needs.

Some healthy unsaturated fats are allowed on the keto diet — like nuts (almonds, walnuts), seeds, avocados, tofu, and olive oil. But saturated fats from oils (palm, coconut), lard, butter, and cocoa butter are encouraged in high amounts.

Protein is part of the keto diet, but it doesn’t typically discriminate between lean protein foods and protein sources high in saturated fat such as beef, pork, and bacon.

What about fruits and vegetables? All fruits are rich in carbs, but you can have certain fruits (usually berries) in small portions. Vegetables (also rich in carbs) are restricted to leafy greens (such as kale, Swiss chard, spinach), cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, bell peppers, onions, garlic, mushrooms, cucumber, celery, and summer squashes. A cup of chopped broccoli has about six carbs.

Keto risks

A ketogenic diet has numerous risks. Top of the list: it’s high in saturated fat. McManus recommends that you keep saturated fats to no more than 7% of your daily calories because of the link to heart disease. And indeed, the keto diet is associated with an increase in “bad” LDL cholesterol, which is also linked to heart disease.

Other potential keto risks include these:

Nutrient deficiency. “If you’re not eating a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, and grains, you may be at risk for deficiencies in micronutrients, including selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamins B and C,” McManus says.

Liver problems. With so much fat to metabolize, the diet could make any existing liver conditions worse.

Kidney problems. The kidneys help metabolize protein, and McManus says the keto diet may overload them. (The current recommended intake for protein averages 46 grams per day for women, and 56 grams for men).

Constipation. The keto diet is low in fibrous foods like grains and legumes.

Fuzzy thinking and mood swings. “The brain needs sugar from healthy carbohydrates to function. Low-carb diets may cause confusion and irritability,” McManus says.

Those risks add up — so make sure that you talk to a doctor and a registered dietitian before ever attempting a ketogenic diet.

What about the other diets?

The popular low-carb diets (such as Atkins or Paleo) modify a true keto diet. But they come with the same risks if you overdo it on fats and proteins and lay off the carbs. So why do people follow the diets? “They’re everywhere, and people hear anecdotally that they work,” McManus says. Theories about short-term low-carb diet success include lower appetite because fat burns slower than carbs. “But again, we don’t know about the long term,” she says. “And eating a restrictive diet, no matter what the plan, is difficult to sustain. Once you resume a normal diet, the weight will likely return.”

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As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

14-day ketogenic diet meal plan

  1. Do you worry about eating saturated fats or cholesterol? There’s no good reason to do so. While still a bit controversial, repeated modern systematic reviews find no benefit from avoiding saturated fats, or replacing them with unsaturated fats:

    • Open Heart 2016: Evidence from randomised controlled trials does not support current dietary fat guidelines: a systematic review and meta-analysis
    • Nutrition Journal 2017: The effect of replacing saturated fat with mostly n-6 polyunsaturated fat on coronary heart disease: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

    Here’s a study investigating if eating eggs for breakfast every day has any negative effects on cholesterol levels. They found none, but the egg-eating group reported greater satiety:

    American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2015: The effect of a high-egg diet on cardiovascular risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes: the Diabetes and Egg (DIABEGG) study-a 3-mo randomized controlled trial ↩

  2. It’s often claimed that eating breakfast is good for weight control. That appears to be false:

    British Medical Journal 2019: Effect of breakfast on weight and energy intake: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

    The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2009: The effectiveness of breakfast recommendations on weight loss: a randomized controlled trial

    Furthermore, reduced hunger is common on a keto diet, so many people find it easy to skip one meal:

    Obesity Reviews 2014: Do ketogenic diets really suppress appetite? A systematic review and meta-analysis ↩

  3. The “keto flu” is a set of common early side effects like headache, feeling tired, nausea, lack of concentration, brain fog etc. Learn more ↩

  4. This is mainly based on the consistent experience of experienced clinicians . But there’s also some support from this study that found only minor increases in side effects, while advising participants to drink bouillon:

    Nutrition & Metabolism 2008: The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus ↩

  5. The main fear about lower-carb and higher-fat diets have always been a concern about potential increase in the risk of heart disease. However, interventional studies so far indicate that if anything the risk appears to decrease:

    • British Journal of Nutrition 2016: Effects of low-carbohydrate diets v. low-fat diets on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.
    • PLOS ONE 2015: Dietary intervention for overweight and obese adults: comparison of low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets. A meta-analysis.
    • Obesity reviews 2012: Systematic review and meta‐analysis of clinical trials of the effects of low carbohydrate diets on cardiovascular risk factors
    • Circulation 2010: Dietary intervention to reverse carotid atherosclerosis

    For more health controversies regarding a keto diet, have a look at this page:

    Low-carb controversies ↩

  6. While calories count, you probably don’t have to count them for good results. Low-carb diets tend to result in more weight loss, even though most studies of it do not advocate counting calories:

    British Journal of Nutrition 2016: Effects of low-carbohydrate diets v. low-fat diets on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.

    New England Journal of Medicine 2008: Weight loss with a low-carbohydrate, mediterranean, or low-fat diet

    Learn more here: Should you count calories on a low-carb or keto diet? ↩

  7. Obesity Reviews 2014: Do ketogenic diets really suppress appetite? A systematic review and meta-analysis ↩

  8. Learn more about eating when hungry

    What is “real” keto foods? This is a fairly complicated question to answer. But basically, focus on eating good quality, minimally processed real food. Ideally the food you buy shouldn’t even have a list of ingredients (or it should be very short). And to be keto, it has to be very low in carbs:

    Keto foods guide ↩

  9. When eating very few carbohydrates, the body turns primarily to burning fat for energy – i.e. fewer carbs and more fat is burned for energy. But that’s not necessarily the whole reason. In fact, under some circumstances people tend to also burn more calories overall on a low-carb diet:

    British Medical Journal 2018: Effects of a low carbohydrate diet on energy expenditure during weight loss maintenance: randomized trial ↩

  10. Learn more in these guides:

    Healthy fats on a keto or low-carb diet

    Vegetable oils: What we know and what we don’t

    A user guide to saturated fat ↩

  11. Using exactly the level of 20 grams of net carbs is mainly based on convention, and that it’s often been used in scientific studies of strict low-carb diets (like this one).

    According to consistent experience this level tends to be quite effective for most people in getting them into ketosis. This is based on clinical experience of low-carb practitioners and was unanimously agreed upon by our low-carb expert panel. You can learn more about our panel here .

    One study compared a 20gm carb diet to a 50 and 100gram carb diet in healthy volunteers. The 50- and 20- gram subjects consistently stayed in ketosis. But it is not known if the same applies for those with insulin resistance or diabetes. Plus, there is not yet any RCT comparing longer term health benefits between two low-carb diets of varying strictness. But RCTs of strict low-carb diets appear to often show better results, compared to RCTs of more moderate or liberal low-carb diets:

    Obesity Reviews 2016: Impact of low‐carbohydrate diet on body composition: meta‐analysis of randomized controlled studies

    RCTs of low-carb interventions for weight loss ↩

  12. This is mainly based on clinical experience. ↩

2-Week Ketogenic Diet Plan for Beginners

Are you looking forward to reaping the benefits of ketosis, but you aren’t sure how to get there?

The ketogenic diet is the go-to diet for people who are looking to lose weight, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, help treat diabetes and even protect against neurological diseases (1, 2, 3, 4). But, if you are a beginner, the thought of completely turning your kitchen upside down and training your body to eat in a different way may seem overwhelming.

One of the most effective ways to ease into the ketogenic diet is by following a diet plan, which will provide you with a shopping list and basic recipes that give you clear guidelines on what you can and cannot eat on the ketogenic diet.

Do you want something you can easily refer to as you begin your journey? Make sure you download our 2-week ketogenic diet plan in PDF at the end of this article.

Review of the Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet

It’s time to get into the right mindset for making a big shift in your diet. If you’ve landed on this page, you are most likely aware of at least one benefit the ketogenic diet provides you – the one you are interested in taking advantage of.

Just in case you need some extra motivation, here is a list of potential benefits of the ketogenic diet:

  1. Promotes weight loss: The low-fat diet is often recommended for weight loss, but research shows that a high fat, moderate protein, and low-carbohydrate diet is much more effective at promoting weight loss, thanks to the beauty of ketone bodies (5).
  2. May lower risk factors for disease such as high blood sugar and insulin levels.(6).
  3. Protects from muscle loss: a very low carbohydrate diet with adequate amounts of protein may be protective against the loss of muscle mass (7).
  4. Helps reduce blood sugar for those with type 2 diabetes: Studies have shown that a ketogenic diet can be an effective way to reduce blood sugar in those with type 2 diabetes. It also can help promote weight loss and increased insulin sensitivity which is beneficial in the management of diabetes (3,8).
  5. May help slow tumor growth for certain types of cancer: Early research shows that a calorically-restricted ketogenic diet shows promise as an effective alternative therapy for malignant brain cancer. Because high levels of circulating glucose in the blood are needed for tumor growth, the glucose-reducing effects of the keto diet can help to slow tumor growth (9).
  6. Improves symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease: The ketogenic diet may help to reduce the symptoms and slow the progression of degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease (10, 11).
  7. Helps treat factors causing polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is the most common cause of infertility among women (12). One of the aggravating factors of PCOS is high levels of insulin. The ketogenic diet can help reduce insulin and glucose levels in the blood as a dietary therapy for PCOS (13).
  8. Boosts recovery from brain diseases: Initial animal studies show that the keto diet may boost recovery from traumatic brain injuries in younger subjects (14).

The reasons mentioned above are just the beginning! Scientists have only begun to delve into their interest in the ketogenic diet for a range of potential positive impacts on human health.

What You Can and Can’t Eat on a Ketogenic Diet

The biggest questions that come to mind for anyone who is beginning the ketogenic diet are:

What can I eat? What can’t I eat?

The stress that arises when you think of having to eliminate your precious powdered doughnuts or grape soda can be overwhelming at first. How will you ever feel satisfied?

While there will be a short adjustment period, research has found that reducing carbohydrate (especially sugar) intake and instead eating a fat-rich diet instead can actually increase satiety and therefore reduce food intake (15).

Here is a list of foods you can refer to anytime to check out what you can and can’t eat on the ketogenic diet to achieve nutritional ketosis.

What you can eat

Meats

If you don’t have any other dietary restrictions (like vegetarianism), then you have a wide variety of meats to choose from.

Beef

Chicken

Turkey

Duck

Veal

Wild Game

Rabbit

Pork

Lamb

Goat

Giblets

Liver and other organs

Fresh Ham

Bacon

Eggs

Seafood and Fish

Tuna

Salmon

Mackerel

Cod

Halibut

Mahimahi

Flounder

Catfish

Oysters

Shrimp

Lobster

Mussels

Clams

Crab

Squid

Octopus

Eels

Swordfish

Roe

Monkfish

Haddock

Tilapia

Pike

Fats and Oils

Saturated and monounsaturated fats are important to ensure a steady energy supply.

Butter

Ghee

Olive oil

Coconut oil

Avocado oil

Dairy fat

Lard

Duck fat

Avocado

MCT oil

On the keto diet, stick to non-starchy vegetables grown above ground. Vegetables that grow above ground are generally lower in carbs than below-ground vegetables.

Lettuce

Kale

Spinach

Olives

Tomato

Eggplant

Swiss chard

Bok choy

Celery

Asparagus

Cauliflower

Broccoli

Cabbage

Cucumber

Endives

Chives

Red and green peppers

Mushrooms

Zucchini

Brussels sprouts

Green beans

Stick to full-fat dairy for all of your keto-friendly meals since fat is fuel on the keto diet.

Hard Cheeses

Parmesan

Swiss

Cheddar

Colby

Colby-Jack

Gouda

Gruyère

Pecorino Romano

Manchego

Monterey Jack

Edam

Emmental

Provolone

Hard Mozzarella

Soft Cheeses

Brie

Fresh mozzarella

Feta

Goat cheese

Cream cheese

Munster

Ricotta cheese

Gorgonzola

Fontina

Fougerus

Buchette

Cottage Cheese

Others

Sour cream

Latin cream

No-sugar whipping cream

Full-fat yogurt

Heavy cream

Butter

Fruits

All of the fruits you eat on the keto diet should be lower in sugar and have a high fiber content to make overall net carbs low (<10 grams per serving).

Strawberries

Blueberries

Blackberries

Raspberries

Cranberries

Mulberries

Cherries

Coconut

Lime

Lemon

Rhubarb

Nuts and seeds

Most nuts and seeds are high in healthy fats and low in carbohydrates. Choose raw or roasted varieties, but make sure you aren’t eating varieties that contain sugar or processed seasoning.

Macadamia nuts

Pecans

Almonds

Pine nuts

Walnuts

Peanuts

Hazelnuts

Brazil nuts

No-sugar-added nut butter

Chia seeds

Flax seeds

Hemp seeds

Drinks

Keto-approved drinks are low in sugar and are extremely important to provide hydration, electrolytes, and other beneficial components like antioxidants.

Water

Lemon and lime juice with still or sparkling water

Teas, without sugar

Bone Broth

Coffee

Red wine (dry, in moderation)

Coconut water (natural, no sugar added)

Flours and others

When we talk about flours on keto, they are made from nuts and fiber instead of grains.

Almond flour

Coconut flour

Psyllium Husk

Coconut powder

Oat fiber

Spices like curcumin, garlic, ginger, basil, cilantro, and others

Supplements

Supplements can be a good way of making sure you have a good nutritional balance, especially if you have other dietary restrictions such as avoidance of dairy or meat.

Protein powders (from whey or hemp)

Electrolyte supplements

MCT oil

Exogenous ketones

If you can, make sure to consult with a registered dietitian before making any drastic change to your diet or before taking supplements.

What you can’t eat

After seeing what you can eat on the ketogenic diet (which is A LOT!), the list of foods you can’t eat will seem much less daunting.

Remember, the point of the ketogenic diet is to enter ketosis by limiting your carbohydrate intake to about 5% of your total calorie needs and consuming about 75% of your calories in the form of fats. Vegetables and fruits naturally contain carbohydrates, and the ones included in the list above are lower in carbohydrates without skimping on nutrients.

In short, we want to avoid any foods that are high in carbohydrates, foods that undergo processes where the fat is removed, and foods that are highly processed or contain lots of additives.

Below is a comprehensive list of foods to avoid:

High-carb foods and grains

This is the biggest food group to avoid. All of these foods are mostly carbohydrates, either in the form of grains or added sugar. If you eat these foods, your body will use them to make energy for its cells rather than using fats. This will prevent you from going into ketosis and reaping the benefits of the ketogenic diet.

Wheat

Bread of all forms

All grains

Bran

Breakfast cereals of any kind

Buckwheat

Cakes

Biscuits

Buns

Corn products

Couscous

Quinoa

Crackers

Millet

Pasta and rice

Rye cakes

Sorghum

Thickening agents (starch, instant powders)

Dairy and dairy-like products

The dairy and dairy-like products on this list are here because they have had all of the fatty goodness removed through processing, or because they have added sugar or other additives.

Fat-free or partially-skimmed dairy

Ice cream

Cheese spreads

Creamers

Rice milk

Soy milk

Pudding

Condensed milk

Starchy or higher-carb vegetables and legumes

Most starchy or higher-carb vegetables are either those that grow underground or those that fall into the legume category. While legumes have significant protein, they are also high in carbohydrates.

Beetroot

Beans and other legumes

Parsnips

Peas

Potatoes

Sweet potatoes and yams

Yucca

Carrots

Onions

Fats

The fats and oils to avoid are those that undergo significant processing and have the risk of containing trans fats, or that are derived from other foods on the do-not-eat list.

Seed oils
(sesame, soy)

Margarine

Vegetable oil

Corn oil

Shortening

This part probably doesn’t need much of an explanation since sweeteners are pure carbohydrates in the form of sugar. Artificial sweeteners can cause digestive issues in some people and may have some other unwanted side effects.

Agave

Artificial sweeteners

Cordials

Dried fruit

Fructose

Honey

Milk

Sugar (brown, white, powdered)

Candies and sweets

Syrups

We usually don’t think of drinks being the main problem when it comes to our sugar consumption. However, even seemingly “healthy” choices can contain just as much sugar as regular sodas. The drinks on the list below are packed with carbs and should be avoided.

All fruit juices

Sports drinks

Protein shakes

Vegetable juices

Aloe vera juice

Beer

Cider

Regular soda

Diet drinks (artificial sweeteners)

Did you know that many processed types of meat contain sugar as an additive? We need to make sure to avoid meats that have been seasoned, prepared, or combined with other foods on the do-not-eat list.

Meats cured with sugar

Vienna
sausages

Meats with
soy fillers or texturizers

Breaded meats

Over-processed meats
(e.g. deli meats)

General

This is a big category, but we need to make sure to avoid anything that has undergone multi-step processing or that contains significant additives.

Manny canned foods

Most bottled sauces

Ketchup

Most fast food

Most packaged snacks

Any food with added sugar

Many salad dressings

Shopping List for Our 2-Week Ketogenic Diet Plan

Below you will find shopping lists and diet plans for people on a standard keto diet, a lacto-ovo-vegetarian (eats eggs/dairy) keto diet, and a dairy-free keto diet. The first plan is the standard keto plan, and the next two are modifications of the standard diet plan to meet your specific needs.

These diet plans are meant to be general guidelines for people beginning the keto diet. Note that depending on your sex, weight, activity level and specific nutrient needs, the portions and servings could change significantly. For a keto diet that suits your specific nutritional needs, seek out a registered dietitian.

Below are some shopping list options for your diet plan, depending on your specific nutritional needs.

Standard keto diet plan shopping list

Meats and eggs

✔ Free-range eggs ✔ Fish (salmon is best due to fat content) ✔ Bacon ✔ Beef ✔ Salami/sausage ✔ Pork ✔ Chicken/poultry ✔ Wild game

Vegetables and fruits

✔ Green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, arugula, etc.) ✔ Mushrooms ✔ Blueberries ✔ Artichoke hearts ✔ Tomatoes ✔ Avocado ✔ Cucumber ✔ Zucchini ✔ Fresh spices ✔ Strawberries ✔ Blackberries ✔ Raspberries ✔ Bok Choy ✔ Cabbage ✔ Radishes ✔ Lemons ✔ Limes ✔ Asparagus

Fats and oils

✔ Olive oil ✔ Coconut oil ✔ Avocado oil ✔ Butter ✔ Canola oil

Cheese and Dairy

✔ Soft cheeses (Brie, Camembert, Parmesan, etc.) ✔ Hard cheeses (cheddar, Colby, Swiss, etc.) ✔ Cream cheese ✔ String (mozzarella) cheese ✔ 4% fat cottage cheese ✔ Whole milk yogurt ✔ Sour cream ✔ Goat cheese

Spices and condiments

✔ All plain spices ✔ Mayonnaise

Nuts

✔ Macadamia nuts ✔ Almonds ✔ Brazil Nuts ✔ Walnuts ✔ Pine nuts ✔ Peanuts ✔ Unsweetened nut butters

Other

✔ Coconut cream ✔ Coffee ✔ Keto-approved flour ✔ Oat fiber ✔ Unsweetened non-dairy milk (almond, coconut, etc.)

Vegetarian (lacto-ovo) keto diet plan shopping list

Protein sources

✔ Tofu ✔ Tempeh ✔ Other soy products ✔ Eggs

Vegetables and fruits

Green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, arugula, etc.) ✔ Mushrooms ✔ Blueberries ✔ Artichoke hearts ✔ Tomatoes ✔ Avocado ✔ Fresh spices ✔ Cucumber ✔ Zucchini ✔ Strawberries ✔ Blueberries ✔ Blackberries ✔ Raspberries ✔ Bok Choy ✔ Cabbage ✔ Radishes ✔ Lemons ✔ Limes ✔ Asparagus

Fats and oils

✔ Olive oil ✔ Coconut oil ✔ Avocado oil ✔ Butter

✔ Canola oil

Cheese and Dairy

✔ Soft cheeses (Brie, Camembert, Parmesan, etc.) ✔ Hard cheeses (cheddar, Colby, Swiss, etc.) ✔ Cream cheese ✔ String (mozzarella) cheese ✔ 4% fat cottage cheese ✔ Whole milk yogurt ✔ Sour cream ✔ Goat cheese

Spices and condiments

✔ All plain spices ✔ Mayonnaise

Nuts

✔ Macadamia nuts ✔ Almonds ✔ Brazil Nuts ✔ Walnuts ✔ Pine nuts ✔ Peanuts ✔ Unsweetened nut butters

Others

✔ Keto-approved flours ✔ Coconut cream ✔ Coffee ✔ Oat fiber ✔ Unsweetened non-dairy milk (almond, coconut, etc.)

Dairy-free keto diet plan shopping list

Meats and eggs

✔ Free-range eggs ✔ Fish (salmon is best for fat content) ✔ Bacon ✔ Beef ✔ Salami/sausage ✔ Pork ✔ Chicken/poultry ✔ Wild game

Vegetables and fruits

✔ Leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale, arugula, etc.) ✔ Mushrooms ✔ Blueberries ✔ Artichoke hearts ✔ Tomatoes ✔ Avocado ✔ Fresh spices ✔ Cucumber ✔ Zucchini ✔ Strawberries ✔ Blackberries ✔ Raspberries ✔ Bok Choy ✔ Cabbage ✔ Radishes ✔ Lemons ✔ Limes ✔ Asparagus

Fats and oils

✔ Olive oil ✔ Coconut oil ✔ Avocado oil ✔ Canola oil

Spices and condiments

✔All plain spices ✔Mayonnaise

Nuts

✔ Macadamia nuts ✔ Almonds ✔ Brazil Nuts ✔ Walnuts ✔ Pine nuts ✔ Peanuts ✔ Unsweetened nut butters

Others

✔Keto-approved flours ✔ Coconut cream ✔ Coffee ✔ Oat fiber ✔ Unsweetened non-dairy milks (almond, coconut, etc.)

Standard Keto Diet Plan

This what a 2-week diet plan might look like for someone who is following the standard keto diet with no other significant dietary restrictions.

Week 1

Breakfast: Two-egg omelet with spinach and mushrooms cooked in coconut oil
Snack: Handful of blueberries
Lunch: Chicken salad with artichoke hearts + tomatoes + mixed greens + boiled egg + olive oil
Dinner: Seared salmon and a mixed green salad with avocado and olive oil
Breakfast: Two fried eggs in olive oil and 1/2 of avocado with tomato and cilantro salsa
Snack: Soft cheese with cucumber slices
Lunch: Bacon-Lettuce and Tomato (BLT) on cloud bread
Dinner: Zoodles with ground beef and homemade tomato sauce
Breakfast: Bacon and eggs cooked in bacon fat
Snack: Handful of macadamia nuts
Lunch: Roast beef, brie, arugula, pesto, and olive plate
Dinner: Shrimp, tomato, and avocado salad with olive oil and lime
Breakfast: Frittata with broccoli
Snack: Celery and peanut butter
Lunch: Turkey slices + almonds + avocado + cucumber + blueberries
Dinner: Lamb chops with herb butter
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs in butter with tomato and cilantro
Snack: Green peppers with cream cheese
Lunch: Salami and mayo + string cheese + radishes + avocado and olive oil
Dinner: Chicken salad on lettuce with tomato
Breakfast: Boiled eggs with mayonnaise
Snack: Pork rinds
Lunch: Chicken salad in a jar with greens of your choice + olive oil
Dinner: Roasted chicken and cabbage with mayo
Breakfast: Eggplant hash (eggplant seared in olive oil) topped with fried eggs.
Snack: Homemade zucchini chips
Lunch: Salami + roasted pepper + mixed green salad
Dinner: Baked salmon with pesto and Brussels sprouts

Week 2

Breakfast: Huevos rancheros (fried egg with tomato salsa, avocado and sour cream on the side)
Snack: Handful of strawberries
Lunch: Pepperoni and cream cheese rolls + celery slices +cherry tomatoes + almonds
Dinner: Beef in cream sauce and steamed zucchini
Breakfast: Keto coconut porridge (coconut flour + egg + coconut oil + coconut cream mixed together over a saucepan – try this recipe) topped with raspberries
Snack: Cheese
Lunch: Bacon, avocado, and French onion dip sandwich on cloud bread with almonds and blueberries
Dinner: Pan-fried pork
Breakfast: Blackberry and strawberry smoothie with coconut milk and lemon juice
Snack: Fresh ham & cheese roll-ups
Lunch: 2 boiled eggs + string cheese + avocado slices + cucumber + cottage cheese for dipping
Dinner: Cooked chicken meatballs with zoodles and parmesan cheese
Breakfast: Two fried eggs over kale sautéed in olive oil
Snack: Butter melted into coffee
Lunch: Tuna salad with mixed greens dressed with olive oil + handful of raspberries
Dinner: Chicken stir-fry in canola oil with bok choy and cabbage
Breakfast: Low-carb blueberry pancakes (eggs + cream cheese + butter + almond flour + oat fiber + lemon zest + baking powder + blueberries – or try this recipe)
Snack: Celery and cream cheese
Lunch: Sautéed chicken and broccoli, two pieces of Babybel cheese, celery, and cream dipping sauce
Dinner: Bacon-wrapped asparagus and brie
Breakfast: Baked eggs with tomato and sausage
Snack: Cucumber and mayo
Lunch: Smoked salmon and avocado plate
Dinner: Scallop avocado salad
Breakfast: Green smoothie (avocado + MCT oil + cucumber + spinach + parsley + hemp seeds + turmeric + lemon)
Snack: Handful of Brazil nuts
Lunch: Chicken salad sandwich with cloud bread + macadamia nuts + blackberries
Dinner: Zucchini lasagna (ground beef + mozzarella + parmesan + zucchini slices)

Vegetarian Keto Diet Plan

Note that the Vegetarian Keto Diet plan assumes that dieters are lacto-ovo vegetarians meaning they consume eggs and dairy.

Note that in order to get enough protein, soy, tofu, and tempeh are included, but do try to choose less-processed options when possible.

Here is the above diet plan modified for a vegetarian keto diet plan.

Breakfast: Two-egg omelet with spinach and mushrooms cooked in coconut oil.
Snack: Handful of blueberries
Lunch: Eggplant salad with artichoke hearts + tomatoes + mixed greens + boiled egg + olive oil
Dinner: Seared tofu and a mixed green salad with avocado and olive oil
Breakfast: Two fried eggs in olive oil and 1/2 of avocado with tomato and cilantro salsa
Snack: Soft cheese with cucumber slices
Lunch: Fried tofu lettuce and tomato (TLT) on cloud bread
Dinner: Zoodles with mushrooms and homemade tomato sauce
Breakfast: Eggs cooked in coconut oil with asparagus and roasted peppers
Snack: Handful of macadamia nuts
Lunch: Tempeh, brie, arugula, pesto, and olive plate
Dinner: Goat cheese, tomato, and avocado salad with olive oil and lime
Breakfast: Frittata with broccoli
Snack: Celery and peanut butter
Lunch: Seared tofu + almonds + avocado + cucumber + blueberries
Dinner: Roasted portobello mushroom with herb butter and broccoli
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs in butter with tomato and cilantro
Snack: Green peppers with cream cheese
Lunch: Cauliflower hash and mayo + string cheese + radishes + avocado and olive oil
Dinner: Mixed green salad with tomato, mushrooms and eggplant cooked in olive oil
Breakfast: Boiled eggs with mayonnaise
Snack: Cucumber slices and avocado
Lunch: Sliced almond salad in a jar with greens of your choice + olive oil
Dinner: Grilled veggie plate with cheese
Breakfast: Eggplant hash (eggplant seared in olive oil) topped with fried eggs
Snack: Homemade zucchini chips
Lunch: Fried cheese + roasted pepper + mixed green salad
Dinner: Baked portobello with pesto and Brussels sprouts

Breakfast: Huevos rancheros (fried egg with tomato salsa, avocado and sour cream on the side)
Snack: Handful of strawberries
Lunch: Roasted zucchini slices and cream cheese rolls + celery slices and cherry tomatoes + almonds
Dinner: Tofu in cream sauce and steamed zucchini
Breakfast: Keto coconut porridge (coconut flour + egg + coconut oil + coconut cream mixed together over a saucepan) topped with raspberries
Snack: Slice of cheese
Lunch: Tomato, avocado, and French onion dip sandwich on cloud bread + almonds and blueberries
Dinner: Pan-fried tofu with steamed asparagus
Breakfast: Blackberry and strawberry smoothie with coconut milk and lemon juice
Snack: Coleslaw
Lunch: 2 boiled eggs + string cheese + avocado slices + cucumber + cottage cheese for dipping
Dinner: Tofu “meatballs” with zoodles and parmesan cheese (or try this keto meatless meatball recipe)
Breakfast: Two fried eggs over kale sautéed in olive oil
Snack: Butter melted into coffee
Lunch: Roasted mushroom with mixed greens dressed with olive oil + handful of raspberries + almonds
Dinner: Creamy lemon green beans and roasted cabbage
Breakfast: Low-carb blueberry pancakes (eggs + cream cheese + butter + almond flour + oat fiber + lemon zest + baking powder + blueberries) – try this recipe
Snack: Celery and cream cheese
Lunch: Sautéed broccoli and tempeh, two pieces of Babybel cheese, celery and cream dipping sauce
Dinner: Eggplant-wrapped asparagus and brie
Breakfast: Baked eggs with tomato and avocado
Snack: Cucumber and mayo
Lunch: Deviled eggs and avocado plate
Dinner: Butter-fried broccoli and avocado salad
Breakfast: Green smoothie (avocado + MCT oil + cucumber + spinach + parsley + hemp seeds + turmeric + lemon)
Snack: Handful of Brazil nuts
Lunch: Sautéed mushroom and pesto sandwich on cloud bread + macadamia nuts + blackberries
Dinner: Zucchini lasagna (mozzarella + parmesan + zucchini slices)

Dairy-Free Keto Diet Plan

Breakfast: Two-egg omelet with spinach and mushrooms cooked in coconut oil.
Snack: Handful of blueberries
Lunch: Chicken salad with artichoke hearts + tomatoes + mixed greens + boiled egg + olive oil
Dinner: Seared salmon and a mixed green salad with avocado and olive oil
Breakfast: Two fried eggs in olive oil and 1/2 of avocado with tomato and cilantro salsa
Snack: Celery and almond butter
Lunch: Bacon-Lettuce and Tomato (BLT) on cloud bread
Dinner: Zoodles with ground beef and homemade tomato sauce
Breakfast: Bacon and eggs cooked in bacon fat
Snack: Handful of macadamia nuts
Lunch: Roast beef, arugula, pesto, and olive plate
Dinner: Shrimp, tomato, and avocado salad with olive oil and lime
Breakfast: Frittata with broccoli
Snack: Celery and peanut butter
Lunch: Turkey slices + almonds + avocado + cucumber + blueberries
Dinner: Lamb chops with coconut oil
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs in MCT oil with tomato and cilantro
Snack: Green peppers with herb-infused olive oil for dipping
Lunch: Salami and mayo + macadamia nuts + radishes + avocado and olive oil
Dinner: Chicken salad on lettuce with tomato
Breakfast: Boiled eggs with mayonnaise
Snack: Pork rinds
Lunch: Chicken salad in a jar with greens of your choice + olive oil
Dinner: Roasted chicken and cabbage with mayo
Breakfast: Eggplant hash (eggplant seared in olive oil) topped with fried eggs.
Snack: Homemade zucchini chips
Lunch: Salami + roasted pepper + mixed green salad
Dinner: Baked salmon with pesto and Brussels sprouts

Breakfast: Huevos rancheros (fried egg with tomato salsa and guacamole)
Snack: Handful of strawberries
Lunch: Pepperoni + celery slices and cherry tomatoes + almonds + blueberries
Dinner: Beef in olive oil tomato sauce and zucchini sautéed in canola oil
Breakfast: Keto coconut porridge (coconut flour + egg + coconut oil + coconut cream mixed together over a saucepan) topped with raspberries
Snack: Seasoned tomatoes with olive oil
Lunch: Bacon, avocado, and avocado oil sandwich on cloud bread + almonds and blueberries
Dinner: Pan-fried pork and Brussels sprouts
Breakfast: Blackberry and strawberry smoothie with coconut milk and lemon juice
Snack: Fresh ham and zucchini roll-ups
Lunch: 2 boiled eggs + avocado slices + cucumber + spritz of lemon juice
Dinner: Cooked chicken meatballs with zoodles seasoned with olive oil and baked cherry tomatoes
Breakfast: Two fried eggs over kale sautéed in olive oil
Snack: Coconut oil melted into coffee + almonds
Lunch: Tuna salad with mixed greens dressed with olive oil + handful of raspberries
Dinner: Chicken stir-fry in canola oil with bok choy and cabbage
Breakfast: Low-carb blueberry pancakes (eggs + butter + almond flour + oat fiber + lemon zest + baking powder + blueberries)
Snack: Celery and peanut butter
Lunch: Sautéed chicken and broccoli/celery and herb-infused olive oil for dipping
Dinner: Bacon-wrapped asparagus
Breakfast: Baked eggs with tomato and sausage
Snack: Cucumber and mayo
Lunch: Smoked salmon and avocado plate
Dinner: Scallop avocado salad
Breakfast: Green smoothie (avocado + MCT oil + cucumber + spinach + parsley + hemp seeds + turmeric + lemon)
Snack: Handful of Brazil nuts
Lunch: Chicken salad sandwich with cloud bread + macadamia nuts + blackberries
Dinner: Zucchini and walnut salad

The ketogenic diet can come with many benefits. However, our society is usually not so keto-friendly. For this reason, it can be hard to make the shift into the keto lifestyle. Luckily, general guidelines and tools such as the basic meal plans Kiss My Keto provides can make the transition much easier.

  1. Sumithran P et al. Ketosis and appetite-mediating nutrients and hormones after weight loss. 2013 May 1 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23632752
  2. Hession M et al. Systematic review of randomized controlled trials of low-carbohydrate vs. low-fat/low-calorie diets in the management of obesity and its comorbidities. 2008 August… View all references

Download 2-Week Ketogenic

Diet Plan For Beginners pdf

Ketogenic Diet Plan and Detailed Guide for Beginners

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Turning to butter and bacon to lose weight and boost health might not scream “winning plan” to everyone. But it makes perfect sense to those on the ketogenic diet (or “keto diet”), the latest “it” regimen that backs high-fat, moderate-protein, and low-carbohydrate eating.

Of course, behind every popular diet there’s controversy. Among the criticisms of the keto diet, skeptics say the plan is too restrictive, lacks nutritional balance, and hasn’t been studied for long-term effects (the keto diet ranked 39th out of 40 for Best Diets Overall 2017 by a U.S. News report).

On the flip side, others—including some medical experts—believe a well-formulated keto diet is sustainable and meets essential nutrient needs; they also point to increasing research linking the diet to potential health benefits.

While it may be new to you, the keto diet has actually been around since the 1920’s, when the Mayo Clinic reported its effectiveness for helping epilepsy (that is still the case). Since then, there’s strong evidence that the keto diet helps with weight loss as well as type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and metabolic syndrome, says Jeff Volek, Ph.D., RD, professor in the department of Human Sciences at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio and co-author of The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living.

What Is a Ketogenic Diet?

On a ketogenic diet, you’re generally eating a diet that’s high in fat (roughly 70 percent of your total calories come from fat), moderate in protein (about 20 percent of your calories), and low in carbohydrate (about 5 percent of calories). By limiting carbohydrates (to usually less than 45 grams for the average person), your body lacks the glucose (from carbs) that it normally uses for energy, so it eventually switches over to burning fat as its primary fuel source instead; through a metabolic process called ketosis, the liver converts the fat into fragments of fatty acids called ketones, which power the brain and other organs and tissues.

Everyone has to find their nutritional sweet spot for producing enough ketones and staying in ketosis, but “the core principle of the diet is to keep carbohydrate intake low enough, so your body continues producing ketones at elevated levels,” says Volek. “Your body adapts to this alternative fuel and becomes very efficient at breaking down and burning fat.”

Different Types of Ketogenic Diets

  1. Standard: This version—the type we’re discussing in this article—is consistently low-carb, moderate protein and high-fat, and the one that has been the most widely studied and shown to be beneficial for therapeutic uses, such as diabetes.
  2. Cyclical: Also referred to as “carb-cycling,” this diet involves injecting short periods of high-carb consumption (called “carb refeeds”) into a regular keto diet to replenish glycogen stores for muscle growth. This version isn’t well-studied and is aimed more at serious athletes and bodybuilders.
  3. Targeted: On a targeted keto diet, you consume carbohydrates around your workouts to improve athletic performance without knocking yourself out of ketosis for too long. This version is also geared toward hardcore exercisers.

Who Should Not Be on the Keto Diet?

Blanket statement: It’s always best to check with your doctor before starting on this regimen. With that said, “the keto diet isn’t recommended for those with liver or kidney disease, or someone with a medical condition, such as a gastrointestinal issue, who can’t metabolize high amounts of dietary fat,” says Sarah Jadin, a Los-Angeles based registered dietitian and founder of Keto Consulting, LLC. If you’ve had your gallbladder removed, the keto diet may be a no-go. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and people with certain rare genetic disorders shouldn’t try this diet.

“If you’re using the keto diet for medical nutrition therapy, you definitely need medical oversight to be successful,” says Jadin. “Though anyone considering the keto diet would benefit from partnering with a medical professional, such as a dietitian, who is well-versed in this diet.”

Ketogenic Diet Benefits

Positive science on ketosis coupled with personal successes passed by word-of-mouth have driven more people to explore the ketogenic diet, says Volek. More recently, the keto diet hints at having a promising therapeutic role in cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Research is still early in many areas, but Volek suspects there will more definitive answers on the wider scope of the diet’s benefits within the next decade.

Benefit #1: Weight Loss

You may experience rapid weight loss in the first week due to fluid loss, but then after a few weeks, you’ll likely notice more pounds peeling away. Many reasons for this weight loss are being investigated, but the journal Obesity Reviews, reveals that ketosis suppresses your appetite, which squashes the desire to eat.

Benefit #2: Control Blood Sugar

Most carbs you consume are broken down into sugar that enters the bloodstream. When you rein in carbohydrates on the keto diet, you have lower levels of blood glucose (high blood glucose can lead to diabetes). A study in the journal Nutrition reveals that a ketogenic diet improves blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetics more significantly than a low-calorie diet and can also decrease the dosage of your diabetes meds.

Benefit #3: Improve Cholesterol and Blood Pressure

A review of multiple studies in the journal Nutrients found that ketogenic diets are connected to significant reductions in total cholesterol, increases in “good” HDL cholesterol levels, dips in triglycerides levels and decreases in “bad” LDL cholesterol; there are questions as to whether diets high in saturated fat negate these benefits. The same paper reports that a ketogenic may slightly reduce blood pressure, but science is still very scant on this point.

Benefit #4: Lower Inflammation

With inflammation driving most chronic diseases, the keto diet is anti-inflammatory and may help ease some inflammation-related pain conditions, according to researchers at Trinity College. One mechanism at play: The keto diet eliminates sugar and processed foods that can lead to oxidative stress in the body, a cause of chronic inflammation.

Benefit #5: Longer Life

This may be more of a maybe, but recent studies on mice fed a ketogenic diet lived longer, according to Cell Metabolism. “Not only did these mice live longer, they had expanded health in terms of physical and cognitive functioning,” says Volek. “Meaning, they lived happy, healthy lives.” Obviously, human studies need to be performed.

Common Side Effects of Keto Diet

You can have a completely smooth transition into ketosis, or…not. While your body is adapting to using ketones as your new fuel source, you may experience a range of uncomfortable short-term symptoms. These symptoms are referred to as “the keto flu.” Low-sodium levels are often to blame for symptoms keto flu, since the kidneys secrete more sodium when you’re in ketosis, says Volek. A few side effects:

Headache and Dizziness

Most people on the keto diet need to bump up their daily salt intake by an extra gram or two to avoid side effects like headaches, dizziness and even fainting, says Volek. To eliminate the symptoms caused by salt depletion, Volek suggests drinking broth made with a bouillon cube (which has slightly less than 1 gram of sodium), once or twice a day.

Constipation

When you eat a high-fat diet, you slow down your gastric emptying and your motility, which can set you up for constipation, says Jadin. Making sure you’re getting that extra bit of sodium, eating enough fiber-filled non-starchy vegetables and drinking plenty of fluids (since you urinate more on the keto diet) can move things along.

Heart Palpitations

When you’re lacking sodium, your kidney may wind up secreting potassium and you can end up with a mineral imbalance that leads to problems with your heart beat, explains Volek.

Optimal Ketosis and Macros

Achieving optimal ketosis hinges on finding the right balance of macronutrients (or “macros” in keto-speak); these are the elements in your diet that account for the majority of your calories, a.k.a. energy—namely, fat, protein, and carbohydrates. By the way, it’s often “net grams” of carbohydrates that are counted toward your daily intake; “net” deducts the amount of fiber in a food from its carbohydrate total.

To know you’re spot-on dietwise (since the macros mix that launch you into ketosis varies between individuals), you can measure ketones in your blood (with a finger prick kit) or more commonly, through your urine (cheaper, but not as accurate).

Subjectively, the way you feel can also serve as a guide to whether you’re in ketosis. Most people on ketosis are more mentally sharp and energized, and feel less hungry.

The amount you should eat is determined by many factors, such as your weight, gender, and activity levels. Online keto calculators can do the math for you.

Ketogenic Diet Food List

“The cleaner, the better when it comes to the keto diet,” says Jadin. Focus on “whole” and “unprocessed.” Also, strive for a mix of saturated and unsaturated fats for balance. Note: Tipping the scale toward too much protein is a common pitfall many people make on the keto diet. Mind your protein intake, since too much can kick you out of ketosis, says Jadin.

Foods to Eat

Consider this just a general snapshot of what’s allowed and what isn’t (and there are differences in opinion).

  • Meat: beef, chicken (skin-on is okay), turkey, lamb, pork (including bacon), sausage
  • Tofu
  • Fatty fish and shellfish: salmon, trout, mackerel, shrimp, scallops
  • Eggs: ideal when cooked in fat
  • Berries: strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries (in limited quantities)
  • Non-starchy vegetables: leafy greens, like spinach and kale, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, cucumber
  • Nuts and seeds: macadamias, walnuts, pecans, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts, flaxseeds, coconut, peanuts (a legume exception)
  • Nut and seed butters (with no added sugar): sun butter, almond butter, peanut butter
  • Full-fat dairy (in limited quantities): heavy whipping dairy, yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, cheese
  • Avocados
  • Fats and oils: butter, coconut oil, olive oil, hemp oil, flaxseed oil, almond oil, avocado oil, sesame oil, mayonnaise
  • Sugar substitutes: personal preference whether to include
  • Dark chocolate (limited quantities)

Foods to Avoid

  • Grains (white and whole): cereal, pasta, rice, bread (except keto-friendly homemade or packaged low-carb bread/wrap products)
  • Starchy vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn
  • Legumes: lentils, peas, beans, quinoa, chickpeas
  • Fruit: most types, because of natural sugar (bananas are especially high in sugar)
  • Traditional desserts: cakes, cookies, ice cream, candy
  • Milk and most low-fat dairy, including flavored yogurts
  • Added sugar, including agave and honey: especially in condiments, salad dressings, and prepackaged sauces and soups

What to Drink

  • Water or carbonated water
  • Calorie-free beverages (limit artificial sweeteners)
  • Unsweetened nut milk: almond, cashew
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol (one or two drinks max): wine (dry, not sweet), vodka

Supplements You Can Take

Take a multivitamin. “Because you are removing grains, the majority of fruit, some vegetables, and a significant amount of dairy from your menu, a multivitamin is good insurance against any micronutrient deficiencies,” says Jadin. Depending on what your individual overall diet looks like, Jadin says you might also need to add a calcium, vitamin D, and potassium supplement.

Some supplement their keto diets with MCT oil (MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides). Jadin’s opinion: It may help boost ketosis, but it’s not necessary and some people can’t tolerate the supplement.

Sample Ketogenic Menu

Adjust these meal ideas to meet your individual needs on the keto diet.

Monday

  1. Breakfast: spinach omelet with bacon
  2. Lunch: leafy green salad topped with salmon and oil-based dressing
  3. Dinner: lettuce-wrapped burger with spicy mayo

Tuesday

  1. Breakfast: flaxseed porridge with blueberries and cinnamon
  2. Lunch: egg salad stuffed avocado
  3. Dinner: baked turkey meatballs parmesan with zucchini noodles

Wednesday

  1. Breakfast: egg, cheddar, pepper “breakfast mini muffins”
  2. Lunch: grilled cheese on keto bread (homemade or keto-friendly store-bought bread) with salad
  3. Dinner: Tofu stir-fried in sesame oil with vegetables

Thursday

  1. Breakfast: keto smoothie (with an avocado base, and then a combo of greens, nuts, seeds, berries, and a little heavy cream)
  2. Lunch: tuna salad with celery stalks
  3. Dinner: sausage- and veggie-topped pizza on cauliflower pizza crust

Friday

  1. Breakfast: eggs scrambled with cheddar and tomatoes
  2. Lunch: chicken salad lettuce wrap
  3. Dinner: steak cooked in butter with asparagus

Saturday

  1. Breakfast: vanilla chia pudding
  2. Lunch: crust-less bacon, mushroom, swiss quiche
  3. Dinner: lamb chops with Brussels sprouts

Sunday

  1. Breakfast: fried eggs with bacon and avocado slices
  2. Lunch: roast chicken with roasted broccoli and cauliflower
  3. Dinner: taco salad with ground beef, guac, and sour cream (no shell)

Keto Induction Phase – Tips On Surviving It!

Table of Contents

Calorie restriction diets are one-trick ponies – they work by creating a calorie deficit which forces your body to burn stored fat for fuel. This type of diet limits the amount of food you eat. It’s simple mathematics – eat fewer calories to burn more fat.

Diets like this work in one of several ways including:

  • Smaller meal size
  • Less frequent meals
  • Less sugar or fat
  • Replacing high-calorie meals with low-calorie shakes, bars, or soups
  • Eliminating certain foods or food groups
  • A combination of the above

The keto diet is different. It changes the way your body makes and uses energy to maximize fat burning. There may still be a calorie deficit, but this secondary to altering how your body functions. In fact, a lot of people are surprised that, initially at least, they don’t even have to count calories to lose weight on the keto diet.

These changes take time, and the process of making them is often called keto induction. Keto induction is unavoidable and not always pleasant. However, once you have completed the induction phase of your keto diet, you’ll be all set for fast fat burning and easy weight loss.

In this guide, we reveal the causes and effects of descending into ketosis so that you know what to expect and can take steps to make entering ketosis as easy as possible.

What is keto induction?

Your body likes to use carbohydrates for energy. Carbs are broken down into glucose, and that glucose provides energy for your brain and for your muscles. Your body also uses fat for fuel, but it tends to prefer to use carbs and store fat for later use.

This is an evolutionary throwback to our hunter/gatherer days when food was often in short supply. Stored body fat could be the difference between life and death when there was no food to eat. The leaner you were, the more quickly you would have experienced starvation. Fat is like money – you can save it for the future. Your body is especially frugal with fat and really doesn’t like to spend it unless it absolutely has too.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and our bodies still like to store fat, even though food is abundant. High carb diets are particularly problematic as all those carbs mean your body seldom needs to burn fat for fuel. Even low calorie but high carb weight loss diets can be ineffective. Your body doesn’t know you are purposely eating less food. It still thinks you are in the throes of famine. Subsequently, it does all that it can to retain your body fat. Stupid body!

With the very low carb ketogenic or keto diet, you purposely reduce your carb intake to 50 grams or less per day. This forces your body to use fat for fuel. However, your brain and your muscles don’t run very well on fat. Instead, it converts fat into ketones – a substance your brain and muscles can use for energy.

This process is not very efficient, and it takes a lot of fat to make a relatively small number of ketones. This increases your calorie expenditure, leading to faster fat loss. This state is called ketosis. It’s a perfectly natural human condition and is another built-in survival mechanism for dealing with famine.

However, before your body can make the shift to using ketones for energy, it has to use all of the carbs stored in your body. Your body stores carbohydrate, in the form of glycogen, in your muscles and liver.

During the induction phase of the ketogenic diet, your body uses your onboard glycogen stores, but they aren’t replaced. This can lead to a range of symptoms that are collectively called the keto flu. The keto flu can last several days to a couple of weeks depending on how much glycogen you have in your body and how quickly it is depleted.

As your glycogen levels are depleted, your reliance on ketones increases. When your body finally makes the shift to exclusively using ketones for energy, your keto flu symptoms will vanish, and you’ll feel great. As well as feeling better, you’ll also start burning fat at an accelerated rate. Until that point, you may not feel so good.

Depleting your glycogen stores takes time, and it’s an unavoidable process. The good news is there are there several things you can do to make entering ketosis quicker and easier.

Timeline and what to expect

The duration of the keto induction phase varies from person to person. For some, it’s all over and done in five days or so. Other people are in the throes of keto induction for two weeks. Once you quit carbs, you’ll probably start noticing some signs and symptoms during the first 2-3 days, and then things may worsen after that until you make the switch to full ketosis.

For most people, days 4-7 tend to be the worst, but then things start to get easier thereafter. Other people sail through keto induction and end up wondering what the fuss was all about!

Why do some people enter ketosis faster and more efficiently than others? Good question! It all comes down to the size of your glycogen stores and how quickly you can deplete them.

The size of your glycogen stores is dependent on several things:

1) The more carbs you eat, the more glycogen you are likely to have. If like most Americans, you currently get most of your calories from carbs, you probably have pretty big glycogen stores.

2) Bigger muscles tend to have bigger glycogen stores. Glycogen is a large, bulky molecule and the more space you have, the more glycogen you’ll be able to store. Men typically have bigger muscles than women, and subsequently, have larger glycogen stores. This means men may experience a longer keto induction phase than women.

3) Athletes are better at storing glycogen than sedentary people. One of the reasons that athletes can keep exercising for long periods is that their bodies are particularly good at storing lots of glycogen. This is a by-product of regular exercise. If you exercise frequently, you have a greater ability to store glycogen.

Speed of glycogen depletion depends on several additional factors:

1) Glycogen is your muscle’s preferred source of energy during physical activity. The more active you are, the faster you will deplete your glycogen stores. In contrast, if you are mostly sedentary, your glycogen stores will last longer.

2) How strictly you adhere to your diet. The lower your carb intake is, the faster you will deplete your glycogen stores. If during the induction phase of your keto diet, you keep cheating and eating carbs, or you don’t reduce your carb intake to 50 grams or less per day, depletion will take longer.

All of this information means that keto induction time varies from person to person. Some factors are unmodifiable, but there are plenty of things that you can control so that you enter ketosis as quickly as possible.

The symptoms of the keto induction phase

What symptoms can you expect during your keto diet induction phase? The truth is that keto flu affects everyone differently. Where some people experience fatigue or headaches, others will not. You will definitely experience some symptoms, but your experiences may differ from someone else, even if they are following the same diet.

Common keto induction symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty focusing (“brain fog”)
  • Changes in taste and smell
  • Lack of motivation
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Sugar cravings
  • Nausea
  • Muscle cramps
  • Insomnia
  • Increased urination
  • Dehydration
  • Muscle cramps
  • Fruity breath
  • Strong-smelling urine

How to make keto induction faster and easier

Like any uncomfortable process, it makes sense to try and get through keto induction as fast as possible. After all, the sooner you get into ketosis, the sooner your keto flu symptoms will disappear, and the quicker you’ll turn into a fat burning, weight losing machine!

Here are four ways to get through your keto induction phase as fast as possible.

Taper your carb intake before you start your keto diet – because keto is a very low carbohydrate diet, a lot of people binge on carbs before they start. After all, they’ll have to give up bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, cake, cookies, crisps and soda once they start their diet. Why not enjoy these foods before they are off the menu?

Unfortunately, binging on carbs before you start your diet means your glycogen stores will be filled to the brim, and that means it will take longer to deplete them. This will prolong keto induction and the keto flu.

Instead, skip the carb binge and gradually start reducing your carb intake a week or so before you begin your diet. This means you’ll start your keto diet with depleted glycogen stores and will enter ketosis much sooner and more easily.

Stay active – muscle glycogen is your body’s preferred source of energy during physical activity. Each muscle is loaded with glycogen, and that glycogen is for the muscle in which it is stored. That means the glycogen in your legs is for your legs, and the glycogen in your arms is for your arms.

Deplete your glycogen stores faster by getting up, heading out, and doing some physical activity or exercise. Choose things that use large muscle groups working together. This is the fastest way to tap into your glycogen stores. Good options include exercises like burpees, power cleans, and thrusters, and activities like shoveling snow, chopping wood, washing your car by hand, or hiking with a heavy backpack.

The more active you are, the faster you will deplete your glycogen stores.

Use supplements – some supplements can help release glycogen from your muscles to make it easier for your body to use for energy. Because you aren’t eating many carbs, these stores will not be replaced, and that means you will enter ketosis faster. These types of supplements are called glucose dispersal agents. Some of the best options include:

  • Alpha lipoic acid (ALA)
  • Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
  • Cinnamon
  • Chromium
  • MCT (medium chain triglyceride) oil
  • Exogenous ketones
  • L-carnitine
  • L-glutamine
  • Magnesium

You don’t have to use all these supplements but choosing just a couple could help make keto induction more tolerable.

Try fasting – going without food for several hours will help you enter ketosis faster. When you don’t eat, your body starts preparing for famine by releasing liver glycogen and using it for energy. In fact, a lot of people go into ketosis between dinner and breakfast, i.e., overnight.

Speed up keto induction by skipping a few meals. For example, eat your evening meal at 8pm, and then do not eat again until the following lunchtime. Alternatively, skip breakfast and lunch and only eat 1-2 meals toward the end of your day. Skipping even a single meal will help speed up glycogen depletion and get you into ketosis sooner.

Eat more fat – healthy fats like coconut oil, avocado oil, and olive oil can help get you into ketosis sooner. Despite containing a lot of calories, in the absence of carbs, your body will quickly start using ketones for energy if you maintain a higher fat intake.

In studies, dieters who eat more fat achieve ketosis faster than those that eat less, even if their carb intake is the same. Make sure at least 60% of your calorie intake comes from fat, and during induction, consider upping that to 80% or even 90%. All-fat meals are called fat fasts and are an accepted way to get into ketosis faster.

How do you know you’re in ketosis?

Getting into ketosis is a process, but it’s inevitable if you eat less than 50 grams of carbs per day. You’ll need to exercise some willpower to ignore the inevitable carb cravings associated with keto induction but, if you tough it out, you’ll be rewarded with faster fat burning and easier weight loss.

Once your glycogen stores are depleted and you enter ketosis, you will notice several significant changes…

  • Your hunger disappears
  • Your energy levels return and even increase
  • You start losing weight
  • Your breath might smell a little fruity
  • Your concentration and memory improve
  • You continue losing weight quickly and easily

You can also confirm that you are in ketosis by using a ketone urine testing strip. These strips, which are cheap and readily available from pharmacies, detect ketones in your urine. Pass the test end of the small paper strip directly through your urine stream (alternatively, collect urine in a clean, dry container and dip the strip in afterward). Shake off any excess, then wait 15 seconds.

If you’re in ketosis, the strip will change color from its original beige to purple. Compare the color to the guide on the side of the bottle to find out how “deep” your level of ketosis is. Deeper purples generally indicate higher levels of ketones.

Conclusion

Keto induction is not something you want to have to keep going through over and over again. Once you make it into ketosis, it’s probably best to try and stay there. Even just one day off your keto diet will kick you out of ketosis and means you’ll have to go through at least a few keto flu symptoms before you make it back into your fat burning zone.

Knowing how hard keto induction can be, it makes sense to avoid having to get back into ketosis. Remember too that, if you aren’t in ketosis, you won’t be burning fat as fast as usual. Why delay weight loss if you don’t have to?

Keto induction can be tough for some people, but it’s over faster than a lousy vacation. Being overweight and addicted to carbs and sugar can take years off your life, and a couple of weeks of discomfort is a small price to pay for restoring your health and losing weight once and for all. Use the information in this article to make keto induction as quick and easy as possible.

Keto vs Atkins: Which One is Better?

If you ever googled “low-carb diets,” you probably noticed that keto and Atkins are at the top of search results. Maybe you even stumbled upon some keto vs Atkins discussions across forums. This isn’t at all surprising. Both are low-carb, high-fat diets people follow to lose weight and improve health. Which probably leaves you wondering:

Is the keto diet the same as Atkins?

In the world of low-carb diets, keto is at the very end of the spectrum. In other words, it’s the king of low-carb. Atkins takes a more moderate approach to carb restriction, although it may not seem that way in the beginning. These two diets are also made with different effects in mind and have completely different histories.

Want to learn more about both to see which one is best for you?

Here, we talk about the many differences between keto vs Atkins in great detail. We’ll go over the science behind each diet, take a look at their different benefits, and offer suggestions for which one might be best for you.

Let’s Start with Atkins

Is the Atkins diet a ketogenic diet? Or is it something else?

Formally known as the Atkins Nutritional Approach, medical experts classify this low-carb diet as a fad even though it’s been around for half a century and despite the fact it was developed by a physician, namely Dr. Robert Atkins.

Dr. Atkins, who was a cardiologist, began developing his namesake diet, mainly for weight loss, in the late 1960s. After careful research, he published Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution in 1972, a book that kicked off decades of debate within the medical community . There, Atkins explains what he knows about carbohydrates and sets the rules that shape the Atkins diet. Since the book’s publishing, hundreds of scientific publications have examined if low-carb diets can work for weight loss .

So, how does Atkins’ famous diet look like?

Like every low-carb diet, this one is based around eating fewer carbs and more fats and protein. Besides that, it involves several phases, beginning with a very-low-carbohydrate eating plan.

Here’s how it looks like in more detail:

Atkins: Principles & Types

Currently, there are two different Atkins plans available:

1. Atkins 20

This is the original Atkins diet and is best if you want to lose weight quickly or have a lot of weight to lose.

Atkins 20 has 4 phases:

• Induction Phase – Eat only 20 grams of net carbs a day or make carbs 10% of your daily calories. Low-carb vegetables like broccoli, cucumbers, celery, and green beans are best to keep carbs low. Make sure to include protein foods like fish, chicken, eggs, and tofu with every meal and eat as much fat as you can. Drink around 8 glasses of water and avoid alcohol.

Timing: Follow this phase for the first 1-2 weeks.

• Balancing Phase – Time to start introducing moderate-carb foods back into your diet. Berries, nuts, and seeds are great options. Continue eating mostly low-carb vegetables and avoid high-carb foods like cereals and legumes. The balancing phase is when you should start tracking your weight loss to see when it’s time to move on to the next phase.

Timing: Stay here until you’re about 10 pounds away from your goal weight.

• Pre-Maintenance Phase – You can now start reintroducing high-carb but nutritious foods like fruits, starchy vegetables, and whole grains. You’re allowed to eat an additional 10 grams of net carbs per week. But in case you notice you’re not losing weight, cut back on the carbs again.

Timing: Stay in this phase until you reach your goal weight or go back to the balancing phase if staling.

• Lifetime Maintenance – Once you’ve reached your goal weight, you can jump to this phase. As the name suggests, it should last a lifetime, that is if you want it to. To maintain weight, eating around 100 grams or less carbs is best for most people.

2. Atkins 40

Atkins 40 is the newer and simpler version of the classic Atkins diet. Its main principles are portion control and limiting net carbs to 40 grams daily. This one is best for people who need to lose only a little bit of weight. It’s also safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women because food choices are less restrictive.

Another great thing about Atkins 40 is that it does not come in separate phases, making it relatively easy to follow.

Feeling interested?

Start your diet with a limit of 40 grams daily net carbs. Then, add 10 net grams of carbs each week once you are 10 pounds away from your target weight (however, this is purely optional).

And as if that wasn’t enough, Atkins 40 allows for moderate alcohol intake (equivalent to one drink per day). Now you won’t have to skip Margarita Day.

3. Modified Atkins

Modified Atkins is very similar to keto. It’s called “modified” because it limits carb intake to a maximum of 20 grams per day, separating it from its classic cousin. And just like keto, you don’t need to watch your calories on this version.The only feature that sets it apart from the keto diet is that it allows for high amounts of protein.

What the Atkins Diet Looks Like

Your meals on the Atkins diet should consist of:

  • Meat: Any type of meat will do, but unprocessed fresh meat is best.
  • Fish: Fish and other seafood are good sources of protein and essential omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Vegetables: Low-carb vegetables like broccoli and spinach are important early in Atkins. Later, you can also add starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn, and parsnips.
  • Full-fat dairy: Butter, cream, aged cheese, and full-fat yogurt are high-fat staples in the Atkins diet.
  • Eggs: A great source of both fat and protein, eggs also provide the additional benefits associated with omega-3s.
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, and sunflower seeds are all great choices.
  • Healthy fats: Cold-pressed oils like olive oil and butter are preferred on Atkins.

Do not eat:

  • Sugars: All types of sugar are no-no on Atkins. This includes honey, agave nectar, and foods or beverages sweetened with sugar.
  • Refined oils: Avoid refined oils such as sunflower, soybean, and corn oil. These are high in omega-6 fatty acids (not to be confused with omega-3s), which are sometimes linked to inflammation, making weight loss difficult.
  • High-carb vegetables and fruits: Potatoes, carrots, turnips, bananas, apples, and mangoes are some examples. Once you reach the pre-maintenance phase, you can enjoy these in moderation.
  • Grains and legumes: Both are exceptionally high in carbs, so don’t even look at them.
  • Trans fats: Partially-hydrogenated oils and some margarines have unhealthy trans fats, which are linked to cardiovascular diseases. You definitely don’t want that.

Sample meal plan (after induction phase)

Breakfast: A bowl of steel-cut oatmeal made with full-fat milk, topped with fresh blueberries.

Lunch: Apple muffins made from almond flour and pecans, sweetened with stevia.

Dinner: Beef stroganoff over whole-wheat noodles with steamed broccoli on the side.

About the Keto Diet

A low-carb diet that’s been in the spotlight for a decade or so is keto, which is also a high-fat, adequate-protein diet.

However, it’s been around for much longer than that.

Researchers developed the ketogenic diet (aka keto) in the 1920s to manage severe epilepsy in children, after studies found that limiting carbs causes ketosis, a known cure for epilepsy. It’s only recently that keto became popular for weight loss and better health.

But now you’re probably wondering, what’s the difference between a low-carb diet and a keto diet?

The main difference is that it causes ketosis — a metabolic state of enhanced fat burning and elevated ketones. Ketones are a compound that can replace glucose in many chemical reactions in the body, like serving as fuel for energy. The keto diet, ketosis, and ketones help with weight loss but also things like better brain health and a lower risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes .

Other things keto can do for you include:

  • Enhance mental clarity
  • Improve energy levels
  • Better manage or even reverse type II diabetes
  • Prevent some types of cancer
  • Control your appetite; and
  • Increase longevity

Like Atkins, the main principle of keto is carb restriction followed by higher fat intake. But there are many, many more intricacies to this diet.

Keto Diet Principles & Types

Be warned that the keto diet is strict, especially when it comes to macronutrient ratios (macros).

Keto macros are based on research that shows your metabolism changes drastically when you eat less than 50 grams of carbs daily .

Here’s how they typically look like:

  • Carbs: 5-10% of calories
  • Protein: 20-30% of calories
  • Fat: 65-80% of calories

Eat this way and you’ll be in ketosis within a few weeks.

But how exactly does eating a certain way lead to ketosis?

Not enough carbs in your diet leads to drops in circulating insulin. In turn, decreased insulin brings about metabolic changes that discourage fat accumulation in the body. Besides that, after just a few days on keto, your glucose stores are too depleted to fuel the brain or other organs, so your body produces ketones as replacement fuel.

But ketosis is not the end goal of keto.

What you want to aim for is keto-adaptation, which is essentially your body becoming perfectly adapted to running on fat and ketones. What this gives you is consistent and long-lasting energy, an ability to maintain normal weight, and metabolic flexibility (which can make weight loss easier).

And now onto keto diet types:

  • Standard keto diet: This is the original version based around macros mentioned earlier. It provides health benefits such as weight loss, blood glucose control, and increased energy.
  • Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD): Developed for bodybuilders and athletes on high-intensity training regimens, cyclical keto involves periods of carb-loading “re-feeds” (50 gram of net carbs, 5 days a week) and carb-loading days (up to 600 grams of carbs, 2 days a week) in addition to following a standard keto diet.
  • Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD): Targeted keto is eating your daily carb allotment 30 minutes before or after workouts. This version is ideal for endurance athletes or people who work out at a moderate intensity on a daily basis.
  • High-protein ketogenic diet: High-protein keto allows for a slightly higher intake of protein (about 5% more than standard keto). However, the amount of protein you consume daily still needs to be low enough to keep you in ketosis.

What to Eat on Keto

Despite what you may have heard, there’s more to keto than eating bricks of butter with bacon on the side.

Here’s what delicious and nutritious food keto encourages:

  • Fatty cuts of meat: Beef brisket, beef ribs, T-bone steak, sandwich steaks, and ground beef (look for 75-80% lean or lower) are good options.
  • Fatty fish: Salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring can help boost your omega-3 fatty acid intake and protect your cardiovascular health and brain.
  • Full-fat dairy: Butter is a keto staple, but cream, cheese, and full-fat yogurt are also great.
  • Low-carb vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, cabbage, and asparagus are good examples. These will help you get essential vitamins and minerals as well as fiber.
  • Berries: Berries tend to be low in carbs, high in fiber, and high in antioxidants. Some keto favorites are blueberries, boysenberries, and raspberries.
  • Healthy fats: Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, butter, and lard are all great on a keto diet. Avoid sources of trans fats such as refined oils and margarine.
  • Substitutes: Almond flour, coconut flour, coconut milk, almond milk, and stevia can replace high-carb ingredients to bring versatility to your keto meals.

Sample meal

Breakfast: Mushroom and feta omelet with full-fat yogurt.

Lunch: Tuna salad served on keto bread with a side of fresh blackberries.

Dinner: Garlic butter chicken with asparagus on the side.

Keto vs Atkins

So, is it keto better than Atkins or vice versa?

Truth be told, both diets have their pros and cons, so it’s really not a question of which diet is better as much as which diet is better for YOU.

If you’re feeling ambivalent about these diets, here’s a comparison of the two.

Similarities & differences

Keto vs Atkins #1

The induction phase of the Atkins diet is almost the same as keto. Carbs are kept low, so you’ll likely enter ketosis. Whether or not the induction phase of Atkins will lead to ketosis depends on your protein intake.

Keto vs Atkins #2

Studies show that both of these diets cause weight loss . However, research tends to favor keto, concluding that it provides more effective weight loss compared to Atkins. Since Atkins allows higher carb intake during later phases, the long-term metabolic changes associated with keto are not present, so your body continues to burn carbs for fuel.

The keto diet, on the other hand, means sticking to 30 grams of net carbs per day, turning your metabolism into a strict fat burner long-term. On the other hand, the higher carb and protein intake in the later phases of Atkins makes it more sustainable than keto for some people.

Keto vs Atkins #3

Atkins is primarily a low-carb diet, while keto is more accurately a high-fat diet. There’s great emphasis on fat intake on keto — in fact, up to 80% of your calories should come from fat on a keto diet, compared to 20 to 30% on other diets . The Atkins diet is also higher in fat than your typical weight loss diet, but not as much as keto.

Keto vs Atkins #4

Both diets focus on unprocessed foods. This is both for practical and health reasons. When you eat real, whole foods, it is much easier to estimate your macro intake. Unprocessed foods are also higher in valuable nutrients that support your health and keep potential deficiencies at bay (unlike more restrictive diets).

Keto vs Atkins #5

You need to avoid sugar, honey, and nutritive sweeteners on both diets because they tend to affect blood glucose. Instead, stevia and erythritol are good sweetener options. Both are non-nutritive, meaning they don’t contain calories (or contain a negligible amount) or affect blood sugar.

The Final Verdict

As you can see, both diets have their benefits and setbacks.

Still, a lot of people wonder, do you lose more weight on keto or Atkins?

Where research is concerned, keto may have a slight edge when it comes to weight loss. Keto can help you boost cognitive functioning, control (and sometimes even reverse) diabetes, and even help to prevent or fight cancer . There are also more studies showing keto is safe long-term . Unfortunately, there aren’t near as much studies on Atkins, but this is because it’s not used in the clinical setting like keto.

Despite the lack of research on Atkins, what we do know is that it’s more sustainable for most people, while keto is notoriously difficult to follow.

Keto vs Atkins: it’s a difficult question to answer. Both diets have their pros and cons. Current research shows that keto tends to be more efficient than Atkins for weight loss, but keto is also difficult to stick to, so Atkins provides a sustainable alternative.

The efficiency of Atkins also depends on your metabolic flexibility and goals. If you are able to effectively switch between burning carbs and fat for fuel, then Atkins may be ideal for weight management in the long run. Atkins also allows for more carbs, so you’ll find eating at restaurants easier and have a wider range of food options to choose from.

In the end, whether you should opt for keto or Atkins depends on how willing you are to stick to low-carb eating, as well as your metabolic flexibility. Keto is great in terms of efficiency, but some people find that a life without carbs is unbearable. If you’re still undecided, we suggest switching between keto and Atkins and finding what works best for you.

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What is the difference between the keto diet and the Atkins diet?

Minimal carbs, moderate protein and a lot of fat are top priorities for both keto and Atkins dieters.

Elena Yeryomenko/500px/Getty Images This story is part of New Year, New You, everything you need to develop healthy habits that will last all the way through 2020 and beyond.

Fad diets certainly come and go. And 2019 was undeniably the year of the keto diet. But if you’ve ever attempted the Atkins diet, you might be thinking that keto and Atkins are a bit similar. So what is the difference between the two? Both star a low-carb diet geared to helping you lose weight, but that doesn’t mean they’re the same thing. Keep reading to find out the difference.

High protein, higher fat

Each is a high-protein diet, so people often focus on the fact that they include a lot of meat, but focusing on that is actually shortsighted, and even a major misconception.

Both the keto diet and the Atkins diet are actually centered on consuming fat. (Yes, really, fat, not simply tons of meat. More on that later.)

The two diets actually do have a lot in common and overlap in some stages, says dietitian Kristen Mancinelli, M.S., R.D.N., who specializes in low-carb diets.

Atkins

“The Atkins diet is not different from the ketogenic diet,” Mancinelli says. “The only difference is that Atkins starts you in a ketogenic diet and over time adds carbs back in. So when you are in the ‘induction’ phase of the Atkins diet, which is the beginning, you are absolutely on a ketogenic diet. No difference at all. Atkins says you should stay there for a couple of weeks but recommends you stay longer if you want more aggressive weight loss. It’s really left up to the dieter to decide how long they want to be in be induction phase before they move on.”

Keto

So what exactly does a ketogenic diet consist of? The keto diet is a very high-fat diet with moderate protein intake designed to put the body into a state of ketosis, says Amy Goodson, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., L.D., registered dietitian and consultant in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. “This means the body uses ketones as a source of energy instead of glucose or carbohydrate,” Goodson says.

Ketones are a result of the body breaking down fat for energy, which happens when carb intake is very limited; ketones can cross the blood-brain barrier in order to be used as fuel by your central nervous system cells, which otherwise would use glucose — or sugar — from carbs. The keto diet was actually developed in the 1920s as a natural treatment for epilepsy, and it may also help treat type 2 diabetes by improving your blood sugar levels and reducing a reliance on insulin to regulate blood glucose.

Read more: 17 low-carb keto Instant Pot recipes to try | The best keto snacks to buy online

To successfully put the body into a state of ketosis, you would have to consume 70 to 80% fat, 20 to 25% protein and 5 to 10% carbohydrates, Goodson says. The Atkins diet relies less on ratios, but the concept is similar: You can eat unlimited protein and fat, and in phase one, you only eat 20 grams of net carbs, ideally from low-carb vegetables, according to Goodson. It may seem counter-intuitive for dieters to intentionally eat more fat, but “The idea is that protein and fat make you feel more full and you will, by default, feel satiated and eat less,” she says.

A classic keto burger: plenty of cheese and bacon but no bun.

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The meat of the matter

Sorry to burst your bubble, carnivores, but neither diet is all-you-can-eat meat. “Many people mistakenly believed that the Atkins diet is a high protein diet, but that is just a misconception,” Mancinelli says. “If they read the instructions for following an Atkins diet they would see that it’s not so. You do eat meat, but most of your calories come from fat.”

In addition to protein sources like eggs, fish, poultry and meat, you’ll end up filling up on many healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, tree nuts and seeds and low-carb veggies like spinach and kale, if you’re trying to follow either eating plan closely.

Bottom line?

The Atkins diet is a branded ketogenic diet, with a slight twist. “Again, there is no difference and no choosing one over the other,” Mancinelli says. “The Atkins diet provides a plan for increasing carb intake over time, whereas a ketogenic diet is technically ‘all in,’ and once you start reintroducing carbs then you would say you’re no longer on a ketogenic diet… the main difference between the two is that one provides a stepwise process for going off the diet and the other does not.”

There is some concern that both can contribute to heart disease, as they are both high in saturated fat.

Whether you’re looking to meet long-term weight loss goals, alleviate symptoms of illness or just eat a little healthier, speak with your doctor or go see a registered dietitian to discuss the health benefits of each plan before deciding to try it out.

And if you’re wondering about paleo, it’s also similar in some respects — it’s not a low-fat diet, anyway — but there’s no counting levels of ketones or daily calories or tracking carbs; instead, the focus is on whole foods that our earliest ancestors would have eaten (lean meat, vegetables, fruits, etc.). There’s also intuitive eating to explore, among many other options.

Editor’s note: This story was written by Kelsey Butler and originally posted at Chowhound.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

Keto diet meals plan

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