Is Keto Safe?
People who succeed at implementing a ketogenic diet into their lifestyle and losing fat do two things well:
1 – They give their bodies an average of 2-4 weeks to adjust to the low carbohydrates intake.
2 – They follow a keto meal plan.
That’s it! Simple, right?
Yet many people still fail at incorporating ketogenic diets into their lifestyles. Impatience and lack of self-discipline are your enemies. But, you’re probably wondering:
“What is a keto diet? And how do I go into ketosis?”
Well today I am going to answer all your questions about the ketogenic diet and help you get started. Let’s start.
Chapter 1 – What is Keto?
Before we can apply a dieting technique we must first identify what it is. So, what is a ketogenic diet?
A ketogenic diet (or, keto diet) is any diet that severely limits your carbohydrates intake. As a result, you end up consuming the bulk of your calories from protein and dietary fat. So, by default, a ketogenic diet is high in dietary fat, moderate to in protein, and low in carbohydrates.
So, you basically end up eating the following foods:
- Healthy oils such as olive, macadamia, nuts, and flax seed oils
- Healthy nuts such as almonds, pistachios, cashews, Brazilian nuts, peanuts, and seeds.
- Vegetables and some fruits.
- Healthy protein sources such as chicken, beef, bison, and fish. Especially salmon.
- Milk and dairy products that are low in carbs.
The truth is our ancestors followed a “ketogenic diet” for long periods. I mean, think about it.
During times of famine when food wasn’t so abundant, our ancestors had to primarily rely on their stored fat. If they could find something to eat, they would eat it. But due to lack of agriculture and weather-related reasons, carbs specifically were scarce. This automatically put their bodies into a state of ketosis.
Implementation of fasting and other dietary strategies to treat epilepsy and other disorders dates back to 500 BC! Researchers caught attention of this information in the past century and introduced the ketogenic diet to the world.
It all started when some doctors in Minnesota noticed that patients who low blood sugar levels (caused by fasting) had significantly fewer seizures. he researchers’ rationale was that ketogenic diets (KD) could mimic the effects of fasting on our metabolism. Therefore, patients would be able to enjoy food normally while treating epilepsy. To be more specific, this approach was primarily used to treat epilepsy in children.
Ketogenic diet therapy was widely used between 1920 and 1945 then its use declined rapidly.
The rise of antiepileptic drugs caused medical practitioners and hospitals to resort to them first. Due to antiepileptic drugs’ effectiveness, ketogenic diets therapies went downhill and were only available at a handful of children’s hospitals. Moreover, since it’s harder to control adults’ diets (carbs, anyone?), therapies are almost always exclusive for children.
What is Ketosis?
We all know that the body’s main source of energy is glucose. The body converts consumed carbohydrates into glucose to be used for energy. But what happens when you fast or limit carbs intake to less than about 20 grams for a couple of days?
Muscle and liver glycogen storages get depleted which leads to the body running out of glucose reserves and entering a state of ketosis. During this state, the body starts making ketone bodies to use for energy. Although carbohydrates are a non-essential macronutrient, our brains need glucose. Ketone bodies are then used as the body’s main energy source in place of the missing glucose.
Oddly enough, ketones seem to have an “anti-electric” effect in the brain. Hence why keto diets result in fewer seizures.
What are ketones?
As stated above, ketones, or “ketone bodies”, are produced when the body breaks down fat for energy when carbohydrate intake is low.
There are 3 types of ketones:
- Acetoacetate (AcAc)
- Beta-hydroxybutyric acid (BHB)
The first type of ketones is the main type that is produced during lipolysis (fat breakdown). The other 2 ketone bodies are merely by-products of the process. Well, not exactly. BHB ketone bodies are produced from Acetoacetates while Acetones are merely a by-product of fat breakdown.
Enough with the technical stuff. Most people just want to lose fat and look good, hence why new diets emerge almost every year.
As with anything in life, there is the good and the bad. And despite what some fitness experts may tell you, not all diets are meant to be used by everyone.
We will start with the good.
Less carbohydrates cravings
Surprise? Not really!
In fact, it’s perfectly logical. If your body notices that carbs have gone scarce, why would it make you crave it? In other words, why would your body make you crave something you can’t “find”?
Since the human body is super smart, it senses this decrease in carbohydrate’s availability and decreases its cravings. It even eliminates carb cravings in some individuals.
With that said, there is a catch.
What happened when you go keto?
You decrease your intake of carbs and drastically increase your intake of dietary fat, right?
Well, your body senses that too and makes you crave dietary fat more than pre-keto days. Sorry, buddy 🙂
But, that’s not necessarily a bad thing if you like fats. Enjoy.
This is the primary reason why most people hop on the ketogenic diet wave nowadays. But, what is the relationship between ketogenic diets and weight loss?
Frankly, there is no special relationship between ketogenic diets and weight loss! Don’t anyone fool you into thinking that. Now, I am not saying a ketogenic diet can’t help you lose weight. It could. What I am saying is that following a ketogenic diet will not automatically make you shed the extra pounds.
That’s because calories are everything. No matter what diet you follow you must be in a caloric deficit to burn stored fat. So, if a ketogenic diet fits into your lifestyles, suits your food preferences, and helps put you in a caloric deficit, you WILL lose weight/fat. If you go keto and consume more calories than you burn, guess what?
You will gain weight! That’s because calories are still the primary factor of weight loss.
Improves women’s health
Due to their unique biological make up, women need more dietary fat than men. Not coincidentally, women’s bodies crave and process dietary fat better than met. Since ketogenic diets are high in fat, they seem more appealing and better suited for women.
The body of scientific literature has shown improvement in hormonal levels and bio-markers of health in women who follow a ketogenic diet.
This is not to say that going keto is the only way to improve one’s health, but it could be an effective way to do so. Whether those hormonal improvements are merely the result of eating high quality food and less processed food is unknown.
In 2013, Kulak et al. investigated the effects of a ketogenic diet on women’s fertility. Unsurprisingly, the researchers found that ketogenic diets can improve women’s fertility.
In addition to improving fertility, ketogenic diets can also help treat ketogenic diets can improve women’s fertility.
Improves energy levels
When a person starts a ketogenic diet and goes fully ketotic (in a state of ketosis) they often notice an increase in energy levels. You may feel like crap for the first few days, but within 2-3 weeks your body should’ve fully adapted to the new energy source: fat.
Because when you deprive yourself from carbs your insulin levels become more stable. Drastic increases in insulin levels are almost non-existent. This stabilization of insulin levels helps stabilize your energy levels throughout the day.
Controls insulin levels
This is especially helpful for people with diabetes. Due to the restriction of carbohydrates, insulin levels become more stable. Ketogenic diets have proven to be effective for people with type I and type II diabetes.
Decreases inflammation levels
In my opinion, this is the #1 benefit of ketogenic diets. Ketogenic diets are known for their powerful anti-inflammatory effects. This is mediated by 4 main mechanisms:
- Elimination of processed carbs.
- Elimination of hydrogenated vegetable oils.
- High dietary fat intake (and omega-3).
- BHB ketone bodies.
1- Elimination of refined carbs. Refined carbohydrates are inherently pro-inflammatory. In addition to increasing inflammation levels, they have a whole host of other issues. By committing to a ketogenic diet, you tend to automatically eliminate all refined carbs from your diet.
I mean, you can only consume a maximum of 20-30 grams of carbs. An average candy bar has approximately 200 calories and 30 grams of carbs. So, you would consume your daily allowance of carbs in 2 minutes in the form of a candy bar as opposed to vegetables.
2- Elimination of hydrogenated vegetable oils. Same as the previous point. A ketogenic diet limits you to certain food sources. Most of your fat intake will come from eggs, milk, cheese, avocados, nuts, healthy oils, and meat. Once again, by default, you will eliminate all hydrogenated oils from your diet. This is especially true since you eliminated refined carbs as well.
3- High dietary fat intake. Dietary fat, the right kinds, have potent anti-inflammatory effects. Things like olive oil, Brazilian nuts, walnuts, omega-3 rich eggs, and fatty fish have tons of healthy omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats. Result? Less inflammation.
4- BHB ketone bodies. Remember Beta-hydroxybutyric acid (BHB) ketone bodies that we mentioned above? Here they are. Turns out they’re not useless after all. Researchers found that BHB ketone bodies have strong anti-inflammatory effects. BHB ketones seem to inhibit a NLRP3 inflammasome.
What does less inflammation mean?
Improved skin, heart health, cellular function, immune system, IBS, arthritis, eczema, and acne.
Decreasing inflammation improves your overall health which means more gains.
Sounds good so far? Well, let’s move on to the risks of ketogenic diets.
Chapter 3 – Keto Risks
As mentioned earlier, nothing in life is perfect. Although keto diets have many benefits, they come with their fair share of risks as well.
Okay, this isn’t really a “risk” per say. Well it depends on how you look at it.
“The best diet is the one that you can adhere to.”
It’s cliché but it’s true. What’s the point of hopping on a diet if you cannot sustain it? This goes for all diets. The truth is all diets can work if you adhere to them. It comes down to personal preference.
What concerns me the most is the yo-yo effect.
The yo-yo effect is one jumps from one diet to another every other week. The person doesn’t even follow that diet to see if he/she can stick to it or not. Instead, there’s always a better diet on the horizon. If a ketogenic diet helps you change your eating habits and, most importantly, your lifestyle overall then go for it. If you think it’s some type of quick fix for your bad eating habits, then reconsider your decision.
The yo-yo effect results in an individual trying out different dietary protocols endlessly without achieving the results they desire long term.
They may lose a few pounds in the short term, but best believe if they go back to their old eating habits, the pounds will come back with a vengeance.
That person will end up gaining even more weight than before simply because of a slower metabolism (metabolic adaptation) that was induced by dieting. In addition to the unfavorable metabolic adaptation, the body is completely primed for fat gain during that period. Add this to bad eating habits and you have a disaster.
Not only could this cause obvious physical problems, but it could also cause psychological issues. Being in a caloric deficit sucks. We can all agree on that. If a person goes on a diet for however many weeks, loses some pounds then gains them back and some more, their mental state will go down the drain. Physical image disorders, eating disorders, depression, and anxiety do not seem so distant anymore.
Incorporate a ketogenic diet into your lifestyle if it helps you change your eating habits to the better.
Hard to follow
We live in times of hyper-palatable foods. Fast food, junk food, candy, 2-minute pizza, “the heart attack sandwich”, and many more. There is an odd inverse relationship between our current level of fitness knowledge and application.
We now know about body composition, hormones, proper eating habits, and exercising more than any other time in the history of mankind.
Yet obesity rates are increasing rapidly, obesity induced diseases are on the rise, and calorie-dense food is literally everywhere! I bet you have more than one gym in your neighborhood!
One of the downfalls of the ketogenic diet is that it’s relatively hard to follow. With so much good food around us, who wants to just eat eggs and avocados?
This is especially true if you’re going out with family or friends. You always have control over what to eat. So, you can still go out and enjoy keto-friendly food but, being around carbs is sure to make you feel a bit left out.
Things get worse if your family or friends don’t follow keto themselves and eat whatever they want. Just being there could make you feel left out and focused on what you can’t eat as opposed to enjoying the time with your loved ones.
Peer pressure is another issue. You may not care about eating that delicious pizza slice or hot molten lava cake (really?) but, what if someone offers you a non-so-keto-friendly food option? Are you going to politely reject it? Perhaps. But you may cave in under pressure. Ultimately, this could affect your social life and make it harder for you to change your lifestyle and eating habits.
Ketones sound like kidneys, right? In a way, at least.
One of the top risks of ketogenic diets is susceptibility to kidney stones. If you suffer from preexisting kidney problems, I highly suggest you stay away from keto because your issues will you make you even more susceptible to developing kidney stones.
The reason why ketogenic diets increase the risk of developing kidney stones is because keto diets can cause hypercalciuria. Hypercalciuria is the processing of excreting too much calcium in one’s urine. In fact, hypercalciuria is the primary factor of kidney stone development.
Why does hypercalciuria occur?
Because keto diets induce a state of chronic metabolic acidosis, also known as “ketosis”. Being in a permanent acidic state inhibits calcium re-absorption and increases bone de-mineralization because bone phosphate acts as an acid buffer.
In addition to inducing hypercalciuria, keto diets can also induce hypercalciuria and permanent low urinary pH. All 3 conditions facilitate the formation of stones. Now, just add dehydration and you have a calculus formation formula.
That’s easy. Just stay hydrated, right?
You’re right but wrong at the same time. You can and should increase your water intake when following a ketogenic diet but, unfortunately, keto diets have been shown to bone phosphate acts as an acid buffer
So, if you have preexisting kidney issues, please avoid keto diets. If you don’t have any kidney issues, take your precautions and stay hydrated.
Bone mineral density
Due to the same factors contributing to kidney stone formation, keto dieters are at a higher risk of having low bone mineral density. As mentioned above “Because keto diets induce a state of chronic metabolic acidosis, also known as “ketosis”. Being in a permanent acidic state inhibits calcium reabsorption and increases bone demineralization because bone phosphate acts as an acid buffer.”
Dehydration and gastrointestinal distress
In case you didn’t know, transitioning into keto will make you feel like crap for some time. This will happen while your body shifts its mechanisms to your new eating habits. One of the undesirable people experience on ketogenic diets is stomach discomfort. In fact, most people following a keto lifestyle will experience stomach discomfort occasionally.
Yes, that happens to people who have been ketotic for a while too!
The reason why this happens is simply because of dehydration. As stated above, ketogenic diets have been proven to alter thirst perception mechanisms which usually leads people to drink less water intuitively. In addition, the absence of carbs doesn’t really help either. Since carbs attract massive amounts of water, dropping carbs means dropping water weight. Dropping water weight means less hydration.
Another factor that affects dehydration is low insulin levels. High insulin levels and high carb diets go hand-in-hand. Insulin inhibits sodium excretion. Since the ketogenic diet is a super low carb diet, insulin levels decrease and stabilizes, which in turn triggers sodium excretion. As you know already, sodium attracts water.
Dehydration. Dehydration causes gastrointestinal discomfort.
A Slower Thyroid
This is another big one. I highly suggest you read this article where I go in-depth on why low carbs can worsen your thyroid gland’s health.
The issue with ketogenic diets and thyroid is a complicated one. Why can a ketogenic diet impact your thyroid health?
- Low iodine intake
- Low carbs intake
Since most people get their iodine from carbs (fortified flour and bread) then keto dieters will, by default, consume less iodine than carbohydrates consumers. However, this could be easily corrected by increasing your intake of keto-friendly iodine-rich food and using iodized salt.
The second reason is a bit more complex.
The ketogenic diet will inevitably cause a decrease in T3 and T4 levels. Moreover, your TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) will significantly increase.
Counterargument: Some may argue that keto diets cause those unfavorable changes in thyroid function due to being in a caloric deficit unknowingly.
People on keto diets tend to feel more sate on less calories compared to people who consume carbohydrates.
Thus, most keto dieters are in a caloric deficit most of the time without knowing. And since caloric restriction causes the same unfavorable changes in thyroid function, those changes could be attributed to being in a caloric deficit rather than restriction of carbohydrates.
That is a valid argument. However, carbohydrates play a critical role in thyroid health. More specifically, glucose helps the thyroid gland uptake essential nutrients like iodine, L-Tyrosine, and selenium to manufacture T3 and T4. Thus, lack of glucose interferes with the uptake of those nutrients.
These 3 studies found that re-feeding with carbohydrates after periods of caloric restriction restored normal thyroid hormone levels. Levels remained suppressed when re-feeds were done with protein or dietary fat [1, 2, 3].
Same calories, different macros
In this study, two groups were put on isocaloric diets (equal calories). One group consumed high carbohydrates and the second group was put on a low-carbs high-fat diet. Researchers observed significant decreases in thyroid hormone levels in the low-carbs group but not the high-carbs group.
French researchers investigated the effects of 4 isocaloric diets on thyroid levels. All subjects consumed 2800 calories, which is more than most people’s daily caloric needs. Each diet lasted 1 week.
Two of those diets were moderate in carbs (250 grams). One diet was low in carbs (71 grams). And the last diet was high in carbs (533 grams). T3 levels didn’t change when subjects consumed either moderate or high carbs. Their T3 levels were normal and ranged from 163.3 to 169.5 ng/100 mL.
But when subjects were put on the low carbs diet, things changed. Their T3 levels fell to an average of148.6 ng/ mL. Keep in mind that subjects were NOT in a caloric deficit. Additionally, that unfavorable change occurred in merely one week! I am sure if things would’ve become worse had they stayed on the low carbs diet for an extra week or two.
Increased Cortisol = Decreased testosterone
Ketogenic diets are known to decrease insulin levels. I mean, why would your body secrete that much insulin if you’re not consuming any carbs?
Low insulin levels sound nice and all. However, there is a catch. Insulin is the most powerful anabolic hormone in the human body! Contrary to popular belief, you need insulin to build muscle.
Insulin levels decrease with caloric restriction. This leads to a catabolic environment that promotes weight loss. If you exercise properly, most of that weight loss will come from stored fat. But caloric restriction also decreases other anabolic hormones like testosterone. When your body is in a catabolic state, your cortisol levels increase.
Cortisol and testosterone have an inverse relationship: when one goes up, the other goes down. That’s why caloric restriction decreases testosterone levels.
So, can ketogenic diets decrease testosterone levels?
Anderson et al. (1987) investigated the effects of isocaloric diets (equal calories) of different macronutrients on cortisol and testosterone levels. Subjects were put on either high carbs and moderate protein or high-fat and moderate protein diets.
The researchers found that cortisol levels increased, and testosterone levels decreased in subjects on low carbs. Inversely, subjects that on high carbs had significantly better testosterone levels and decreased cortisol levels.
Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
Due to the restriction of a whole macronutrient (carbohydrates), keto diets tend to cause a few vitamin and mineral deficiencies. The most common deficiencies are sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and iodine.
Let’s see why each deficiency happens and how to correct it.
One of the most common dietary fallacies is that sodium causes cardiovascular disease. This couldn’t further from the truth. In fact, sodium helps regulate blood pressure.
Sodium is an essential mineral/electrolyte that helps regulate normal water weight in the body. In addition to regulating water and cellular hydration, sodium helps micronutrients absorption.
Sodium deficiencies occur on ketogenic diets due to their diuretic effect. As I mentioned earlier, when you restrict your carbohydrates intake your body starts shedding a lot of water. In addition, low stable insulin levels magnify the issue by increasing sodium excretion. This combination leads to having little sodium in the body and thus significantly less water.
To correct this deficiency, simply add iodized salt to your food. That should be more than enough. If you still feel like you need some extra sodium, you can always take a sodium supplement. You only need about 3,000 to 5,000 mg of sodium per day. Seafood and bone broth contain good amounts of sodium as well.
Sodium and potassium have an older-brother-younger-brother relationship. Wherever sodium goes potassium follows. When the body excretes sodium, it also excretes potassium. Potassium deficiency could cause constipation, moodiness, irregular heartbeat, and muscle weakness.
Fortunately, correcting potassium deficiencies is easy. You simply need to increase your intake of:
That should supply you with 4,500 mg of potassium, the recommended daily intake on a ketogenic diet.
Magnesium is an essential mineral and electrolyte. It’s responsible for more than 300 functions in the body, especially in lean tissue (organs and muscle mass).
You should aim for 500-750 mg a day. Magnesium deficiencies on keto occur because of the same issue sodium and potassium deficiencies occur: dehydration.
Increase your intake of the following foods:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Leafy green vegetables (lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, kale, and cilantro).
The cause of calcium deficiencies on keto diets is explained thoroughly above. Just read the kidney stones section. The keyword is hypercalciuria. Long story short, the body starts excreting calcium excessively when going keto. This deficiency happens as a domino-effect not because of lack of calcium-rich food in the diet itself.
Fortunately, the ketogenic diet is full of calcium-rich food. Make sure you increase your intake of calcium during the transition phase.
Eat more of these foods:
According to the World Health Organization, “iodine deficiency is the world’s most prevalent, yet easily preventable, cause of brain damage.” In addition to brain damage, iodine deficiencies are known to cause thyroid dysfunction and goiters.
When thyroid disorders spread across the world in the last century, countries began to fortify common food with iodine. That’s why bread, salt, and flour are almost always iodine-fortified. Unsurprisingly, thyroid disorders caused by iodine deficiencies are not common anymore.
Iodine deficiencies could cause hypothyroidism which leads to skin disorders, lack of energy, muscle weakness, low body temperature, slow metabolism, and weight gain.
Aim for 150 mcg of iodine daily. To prevent or correct an iodine deficiency simply increase your intake of:
- Sea “vegetables” like seaweed (kelp)
- Fish. Especially cod, tuna, and shrimp
- Iodized salt
Since you made it thus far, let me show you how to go into ketosis in one day.
But first, can you use fasting to get into ketosis? Absolutely!
How long does it take to get into ketosis?
Now, I don’t recommend trying to go into ketosis within a day or two. You should minimize your carbohydrates intake gradually over a week or two to avoid many of the side effects that come with transitioning to keto. However, if you absolutely must go into ketosis ASAP then I recommend fasting.
But not just fasting!
Here is the plan:
Start fasting. If you cannot fast for whatever reason or prefer not to then do a protein sparing modified fast (PSMF). Protein sparing modified fast is when you basically consume very few calories mainly coming from lean protein and vegetables. Shoot for a maximum of 10-20 grams of carbs per day.
Deplete all stored glycogen.
How do you deplete stored glycogen?
By doing high rep training and cardio.
On whatever day you start your ketosis journey, go to the gym and perform a high-volume high-reps workout. Add 2 sets to each exercise. That’s 2 more sets than you usually do. Aim for as many reps with a moderately heavy weight as possible.
After your strength training session, go do some cardio. I recommend the stationary bike. Don’t use the treadmill that day because you will get dizzy. Thus, it’s safer to use a stationary bike.
Increase the resistance and go hard for a minute or two till you can’t go anymore. Rest for 30-60 seconds and perform as many sets as you can possible do. Basically, you want to deplete all the glycogen in your legs.
After you’re done with the stationary bike, it’s time for the arm bike! Repeat the same process as the stationary bike. Since the arms are smaller than legs, it won’t take you long before your arms tap out.
Just so you know, you will feel like crap!
Go home and eat only protein, fat, and vegetables. Make sure you don’t exceed your 10-20 grams of carbs threshold for that day. Also, make sure you are in caloric deficit. Don’t go into a surplus that day.
The next day you should be in a state of ketosis. To confirm that, simply use a urine strip.
But what if you want smooth yourself into ketosis?
Simply reduce your carbohydrates intake by 25% every day and increase your fat intake by the same number of calories. Your body should go into ketosis within 7-10 days. That’s it!
“You can’t consume carbohydrates on a ketogenic diet.”
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
You have a threshold of anywhere between 20-50 grams of carbs per day when following a ketogenic diet. The upper limit is for young, lean, and active individuals. The lower limit is for sedentary people
Either way, you still need some carbs in the form off vegetables. More specifically, non-starchy vegetables.
- Ketogenic diets are low in carbohydrates, but you still need some in the form of vegetables and some low-carb fruits. This is because vegetables and fruits have many essential micronutrients that you cannot get from protein and fat sources. Or you can but you’ll end up consuming too many calories.
- You also need fiber. Most of our fiber intake comes from vegetables. Fiber is essential for overall optimal health.
Contrary to popular belief, ketogenic diets do not suppress your appetite by much. In fact, the results of many studies on this subject have been inconsistent. Some studies show a tiny effect on appetite suppression (like this systematic review) and some show the opposite like this systematic review.
The right answer is it varies. Some people will notice a decrease in appetite and some won’t notice much if any. What you will notice is less carbs cravings.
The brain doesn’t need carbs
This is true and false at the same time. Glucose is essential for optimal brain function. However, when your body full transitions to ketones as its main source of fuel, the brain adapts as well. There is still a tiny bit of glucose needed by the brain, but that bit could be easily supplied to the brain through gluconeogenesis and the 20 grams of carbs you consume every day.
Keto transition time
Most people will take between 2-4 weeks to fully adapt to the drastic dietary change. However, some people need a bit more time. 6-8 weeks to fully transition to ketones are not uncommon.
Not really. People on the ketogenic diet often report better sleep. However, it’s merely their perception of improved sleep.
Let me explain.
The ketogenic diet has been proven to decrease REM sleep stages (deepest stage) and increase low-frequency sleep stages. Thus, people’s perception of better sleep improves while the objective quality of sleep itself does not improve. In fact, it technically gets worse due to less time spent in the REM stage.
Oh, carbohydrates help you sleep better as well!
Keto diets are uncommon
Most people don’t follow a ketogenic diet. With that said, more people than are starting to ride the wave of the ketogenic diet. Many popular figures come to mind:
- Gennaro Ferra – A good friend of mine and former Mr. Australian is an advocate of the ketogenic diet and low-carb diets in general. He follows a low-carb diet to stay ultra-lean year-round. However, he usually increases his carbohydrates intake when bulking up and trying to put on some muscle mass.
- Brandon Carter – A public fitness figure who has one of the best physiques in fitness circles. Brandon swears by ketogenic diets.
Eliminate all fruits
This is partially true. Generally, fruits have enough carbohydrates to kick you out of ketosis. Since you have a threshold of 20-50 grams of carbs per day, you can still enjoy some fruits occasionally such as:
Be mindful of the quantities you consume, and you will do just fine.
This is NOT the only meal plan you should. This is merely an example of a properly set up keto diet plan to get you started. Feel free to adjust things to your own caloric needs and food preferences. Also, feel free to change things according to your caloric goals, lifestyle, and meal preferences.
If your goal is to bulk up, add more calories. If you want to lose fat, subtract calories.
This meal plan is based on an average of 2,000 calories a day divided across 4 meals.
Total kcal per day = 2015 kcal.
Total carbohydrates intake per day ~ 20-25 grams per day.
3 omega-3 rich eggs. Boiled or omelet. Use oil spray sparingly. = 240 calories.
Add diced tomatoes, peppers, or mushrooms = approximately 20 calories.
50 grams of avocado = 85 calories.
Cup of coffee (decaffeinated is fine too) = 5 calories.
Total = 350 kcal
200 grams grilled salmon = 350 calories.
100 grams steamed broccoli + 30 grams cheddar cheese = 150 kcal.
1 tbsp. olive oil (on salmon) = 130 kcal.
1 large tomato (about 200 grams) = 35 kcal.
Total = 565 kcal
Could be anything you want to eat for the day. This snack/meal should NOT exceed 10 grams of carbs. Aim for 500 kcal for this meal.
Some good options are Brazilian nuts, dark chocolate, chicken breast, and a cup or two of spinach with how sauce.
Total = 500 kcal
Cesar salad with 200 grams grilled chicken, 2 tbsp. olive oil, and 2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese = 515 kcal
100 grams strawberries = 30 kcal
10 grams cashews = 55 kcal
Total = 600 kcal
– Are raspberry ketones related to body ketones? And do they work?
- NO! If I could pull all my hair out right now, I would. Despite what Dr.Oz might have said on TV; raspberry ketones will only do one thing: empty your wallet.
– OMG, I lost 10 lbs. on keto during my first week. Is that even possible?
- NO! Those 10 lbs. are simply water weight. The body drops massive amounts of water weight in the absence of carbohydrates and glycogen.
– Can a ketogenic diet help me build muscle?
- Yes. Any diet can help you build muscle and lose fat. That’s if you combine it with an intelligent training program of course.
– Are ketogenic diets better for fat loss?
- No! Caloric restriction is what’s needed for fat loss. I go in depth about this here.
– How many grams of carbs can I consume on a ketogenic diet?
- You have a maximum ceiling of 20-30 grams of carbs per day before you leave ketosis. Those 30 grams should come from vegetables. If you are young and very active, you can have up to 50 grams of carbs per day. Experiment and see what works for you.
– How do you know when your body is in ketosis?
- When someone goes into ketosis they usually notice things like slightly decreased appetite, less carb cravings, increased energy levels, increased thirst, dry mouth, and “keto breath”. You can also measure your ketosis level by using urine strips.
– What can I drink on keto?
- Water, coffee, tea, zero-calorie beverages, and diet soda.
– How long does it take to go into ketosis?
- Usually people go into ketosis within 1-2 days. However, some people may take up to 2 weeks. Those people are rare to find though.
– How long can I be in ketosis?
- As long as you want.
– Why am I not in ketosis?
- Because you are either consuming too many carbohydrates, too much protein, or both. Yes, high protein will cause insulin spikes too. Read more about gluconeogenesis here.
– What can I eat on keto?
- Anything that’s high in fat and low in carbs. Carb-free options should be considered as well. Don’t consume too much protein either.
– Is a keto diet safe?
- It depends. See chapters 3 and 4 above.
– Do you burn more fat on ketogenic diets?
- Yes and no. You burn more dietary fat but not stored fat. Burning more stored fat comes down to your caloric deficit.
– How can I speed up ketosis?
- Fasting and a BHB ketone supplement are your best bets.
If you enjoyed this keto guide, please share it with your friends.