Go Through This Detailed Guide on Ketogenic Diet for Beginners Before You Start
The ketogenic diet also called the keto diet, involves very low carbohydrates and high fat, which have many health benefits. However, it isn’t an ideal human diet nor something you do forever. In addition, when you follow a keto diet, your body is in a state of nutritional ketosis, which isn’t optimal. Moreover, human bodies are isn’t designed for running without carbohydrates.
Nonetheless, let’s clarify some basics of the ketogenic diet so that you can know on your own whether the ketogenic diet is something you should try or not.
What’s Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is where you consume a very low amount of carbohydrates, an adequate amount of protein, and a high amount of fat. Similarly, it has many similarities with other diet plans like low-carb diets and Atkins diets, but it’s different.
In other words, you suddenly reduce your carbohydrate intake and replace it with healthy fats. Thus, reduction in carbohydrates, your body gets into a metabolic state which is also called as ketosis. And because of being in a metabolic state, your body becomes a fat-burning machine, as your body starts using fat for energy. Furthermore, it also turns fat into ketones within the liver, providing energy to your brain.
Ketogenic Diet – What Are the Different Types?
There are many types of the ketogenic diet, and some of the main ones are as below:
- Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD)
- Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD)
- Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)
- High Protein Ketogenic Diet
Let’s understand each of them to know the ketogenic diet better, especially if you’re a beginner.
SKD (Standard Ketogenic Diet)
It’s a very low-carb, high-fat, and moderate-protein diet type. This standard keto diet usually contains 70% of fats, 10% of carbs, and 20% of protein.
CKD (Cyclical Ketogenic Diet)
With this type of ketogenic diet, there are certain periods of refeed days where carbohydrates are consumed on a higher ratio. So, for instance, if you’re following this cyclical ketogenic diet, you’ll go for normal ketogenic days for 5 days, and for 2 days, you’ll keep carbs high.
TKD (Targeted Ketogenic Diet)
In this ketogenic diet, you consume high carbs during your workout time. Here you compromise between a standard and cyclical ketogenic diet. It means you increase your net carbohydrate consumption to improve your workout performance, especially for high-intensity workouts. It’s the best keto diet for beginners or intermediate high-intensity sports athletes, strength trainers, or those who cannot keep up with the cyclical keto diet.
High Protein Ketogenic Diet
It’s similar to the standard type of ketogenic diet but includes a more protein ratio. For instance, in a high-protein ketogenic diet, you consume 35% protein, 5% carbs, and 60% fat.
Among these four ketogenic diets, high protein and standard ketogenic diets are the most studied. Similarly, another two Targeted and Cyclical ketogenic diets are the advanced ones that athletes and bodybuilders often use.
What Is Ketosis in Ketogenic Diet?
Ketosis is a metabolic state that happens once your body starts burning fat for energy rather than glucose. It happens as you significantly reduce your carbohydrate consumption, due to which glucose lessens in your body, which is the main energy source for your body cells.
Nonetheless, following a ketogenic diet called the keto diet is the key to getting into ketosis. Similarly, it involves lessening your carb consumption by around 20 – 50 grams in a day and filling that up with healthy fats like eggs, nuts, healthy oils, and fish.
Further, you also have to keep protein consumption within the limit as there’s a chance that it can get converted into glucose if taken in a higher amount, which will slow your body going into ketosis mode.
Where Does Keto Diet Come From?
Historically, the keto diet is one of the mainstream medical dietary therapies developed for treating epilepsy while removing the limitation of fasting. Though popular from 1920 to 1930, the ketogenic diet was abandoned to use other anticonvulsant drugs.
Does Ketogenic Diet Help in Losing Weight?
Yes, the ketogenic diet is one of the effective ways to lose weight while keeping the risks of disease low. Further, the keto diet is so filling that you can start to lose weight without keeping an eye on your calories or tracking your food intake.
For those wondering how the keto diet and weight loss work, keep reading further; the main idea behind doing a keto diet is to get your body in the “ketosis” phase. And, as discussed above, once your body goes into ketosis, it starts using fat for energy and stops using carbohydrates. Hence, once the body adapts to using fat for energy, it’ll also start using stored fat, which means, eventually, your body will start burning fat. And your body also starts producing and burning small organic compounds called as “ketones.”
Ketogenic Diet – Should You Be Following It?
A ketogenic diet gives health benefits, assuming you’re eating healthy keto-friendly food instead of turning it into a cheese-butter-bacon festival. Similarly, for fat loss ketogenic diet is helpful to many people, specifically those who have certain stress and aren’t into a job that requires physical effort.
There are better approaches than the ketogenic diet if your main goal is to gain muscle mass or get stronger. When you’re following a ketogenic diet, there are high chances that gaining muscle will slow down, and it might even become harder to recover from your heavy workout sessions. Similarly, it may affect negatively by reducing water retention.
Ketogenic Diet Isn’t a Lifestyle?
For those who’re metabolically healthy but haven’t followed the keto diet or, say, someone is beginning the keto diet for them, it’s recommended to do it for 4 weeks. And those who aren’t healthy metabolically might have to follow the keto diet for many years to get the full benefits of the ketogenic diet.
Nonetheless, a small portion of the population may indefinitely thrive on a ketogenic diet. For instance, people are recommended by doctors to use the keto diet as a therapeutic intervention for diseases like epilepsy, type-2 diabetes, autoimmune disease, or neurological diseases.
Here’s for Whom Ketogenic Diet Isn’t Recommendable
- Strength athlete who wants to increase their strength
- Bodybuilder or individual who’s looking to gain muscle mass
- Getting lean, it might help temporarily, but in the long run, it’s not necessary
Furthermore, it’s recommended if you’re looking to get super lean for your photo shoot, big event, or vacation, as it helps reduce the water retention that helps give an illusion of looking leaner.
Ketogenic Diet Benefits
Some expected benefits of the ketogenic diet you may get by following correctly are:
Lessens Anxiety & Better Mood
People often like this ketogenic diet because they feel mentally better, calmer, focused, and less anxious once they get into ketosis. Similarly, people also believe ketones give the brain unlimited energy. Further, there are also some positive impacts on your overall cognition like:
Increased GABAERGIC Activity, or GABA Level – GABA with serotonin, is among the neurotransmitters responsible for “neural inhibition.” It helps keep your nervous system calm whenever it gets excited or over-activated. For instance, you get anxious when your neurons are fired too fast or start overthinking something. Some other examples are like paranoia, or you get tensed by worrying too much about something.
People with lower levels of GABA or serotonin often have more difficulty calming their neurons. Hence, they get anxious and are often prone to panic attacks. So, an increased GABA level would be beneficial for your brain to deal with stressful events or situations.
Reduced Systemic Inflammation & Brain Inflammation –In theory called as CNS fatigue could be the symptom of your brain tissue inflammation. For instance, you’ll lose drive, discipline, mood, mental functions, or inner motivation.
Improves Insulin Sensitivity Within Your Brain – Your brain doesn’t have receptors for insulin. So, it’s evident that brain insulin resistance can become one of the causes of diseases like Alzheimer’s. And fixing the issue can significantly impact your brain functioning and mood.
Decreases Your Cravings
One of the main reasons that the ketogenic diet works are that it increases your satiety. In other words, it reduces your hunger pangs more efficiently than other dieting types. So, if you aren’t into calorie counting, you’ll likely eat a few calories during the keto diet. And this can be one of the potential reasons why the keto diet works for weight loss, as many times people consume fewer calories.
Nonetheless, whether you’re hungry or not or following the keto diet, it’s essential to follow a balanced diet, as it’s an important factor in losing fat. Similarly, other factors also play a role, like calories in vs. calories burned. Lastly, a benefit is having fewer cravings in your entire day and feeling satiated. And it even makes it easier to stick to your diet plan.
An increased AMPK and decreased mTor are often reported in those who follow a ketogenic diet. Hence, it leads to an increased lifespan of a person. The question remains whether their increased AMPK and decreased mTor are because of the certain macro breakdown, or you’ve to be the caloric restriction. But the answer is that it’s the combination of both.
Adequate Protein Intake
Though the keto diet isn’t high in protein, people are often low in carbohydrates. Still, they don’t get into ketosis because their protein ratio increases, which converts into glucose. Hence, done correctly, keto gives you enough protein to support your muscle growth while triggering your protein synthesis. And, it becomes more essential if you’re consuming in a caloric surplus.
Supports Your Hormones
A low-fat diet usually results in lower testosterone and estrogen levels. And with the keto diet, this issue gets resolved. In the keto diet, you’re consuming more fat which is beneficial for producing sex hormones. But that’s also true once your body gets sufficient fatty acids to support hormone production, then eating more fat won’t increase your testosterone.
Some Other Benefits
- The ketogenic diet helps treat neurological diseases like epilepsy. But, further studies have shown that the keto diet has various other types of benefits for overall health like:
- It helps improve good cholesterol levels (HDL), blood pressure, and blood sugar.
- It may help reduce Alzheimer’s disease symptoms while slowing down the progression.
- A ketogenic diet helps reduce seizures in children suffering from epileptic.
Keto Diet Drawbacks
Here are some of the drawbacks of the ketogenic diet that you may face:
Lowers IGF-1 Level
Insulin helps produce the IGF-1 through the liver, and for optimal level of IGF-1 production, your body needs growth hormone and insulin. In other words, IGF-1 is the most anabolic hormone in your body. And when you start the keto diet, insulin release gets low, which naturally leads to lower levels of IGF-1, which also triggers a decrease in protein synthesis.
Gaining Muscle Mass Gets Harder
The Keto diet isn’t a traditional bodybuilding diet. And as discussed above, the keto diet decreases your IGF-1 hormone and insulin levels, which is essential for your muscle growth. So, keto will reduce both IGF-1 and insulin.
Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean that muscle growth gets halted altogether. Still, it will become much more complex and get much slower compared to growing muscle while having carbohydrates, especially if you’re a natural lifter.
Reduces Your Performance
If you’re doing heavy workouts, then it can hamper your performance in the gym. For instance, if you do a high-volume workout and you’ve to do one set within 30 to 50 seconds, it will be negatively affected.
Nonetheless, your endurance level won’t be affected much after adapting to the keto diet. But you’ll see the impact on your overall strength. Further, heavy-weight lifting relies upon glucose for fuel. And keto diet is quite the opposite because you’re using fat as a fuel for energy sources, and they don’t work like glucose.
Flatter Muscles Instead of Full Muscles
You’ll feel like you’ve lost a lot of your muscle fullness. You may think you look smaller. Obviously, if you aren’t eating enough carbohydrates, your glycogen level will decrease drastically. Though by having a keto diet, your intramuscular fatty acid storage will increase, which is positive for muscle fullness, but it won’t be that visible due to glycogen depletion.
9 Mistakes to Avoid While Following Ketogenic Diet
Some of the commonly seen mistakes that you should avoid that are associated with the ketogenic diet are:
Prevent Eating Unhealthy Fats
For those who are on a keto diet, it doesn’t mean they got certified to eat whatever they want. Ensure not to go with unhealthy food like overeating bacon or deep-fried foods won’t do you good; at worst, it may even raise your blood pressure. But on the other hand, going with healthy fats like olive oil, salmon, fish, avocado, and nuts will prove helpful. And it can even help lower your blood pressure if it’s high.
Eating more than needed protein is one commonly seen mistake lifters make. But it’s best to avoid it because it won’t give you the benefit of the keto diet, and it’ll get harder for your body to adapt to keto. Put simply, eating more than the required protein turns into glucose. Hence, instead of using fat as an energy source, your body will start using glucose, which is turned on by protein.
Thinking Calorie Doesn’t Matter
Keto dieting will reduce your hunger pangs once your body adapts to it. But, it needs to be corrected to overeating of calories as it’ll only make you gain more weight. Though the keto diet has certain metabolic benefits and allows you to eat a little more calories without gaining fat, it doesn’t mean you turn into the full fest. Consuming more than the required calories during the keto diet without keeping proper measures will backfire, and you’ll start gaining fat.
Hopping Onto Keto Diet Instantly
Today you’re eating your favorite pasta, sandwiches, and cereal, and the next day you decide to do keto, and going for only 20 grams of carbohydrates is not recommended. Instead, start measuring your carbohydrate intake and gradually start reducing it. In other words, give your body time to adjust to low-carb diets instead of jumping into keto.
Not Drinking Enough Water
On the keto diet, the dehydration level increases rapidly. Hence, drinking enough water is recommended to maintain the shifts in your electrolyte balance due to the keto diet. In addition, carbohydrates get stored with water in your body; once you deplete your carb level, your water level won’t stay for long. Similarly, your body will start flushing the build-up ketones through urine, which also depletes the body’s water and sodium levels.
Quitting Due to Keto Flu
Once your body starts transmitting from using carbohydrates as an energy source to fat, you’ll experience flu-type symptoms like nausea, fatigue, and muscle cramps, also called “keto flu.” And someone who’s beginning the keto diet or a total beginner into it may think of quitting it or may quit it. But, on the contrary, you should stick with the keto diet and learn to manage it by staying prepared for it from the beginning. For instance, you should consume food rich in potassium, sodium, and magnesium, which will help keep your body hydrated and ease keto flu symptoms.
Not Eating Foods That Are Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Don’t stick to bacon and cheese when you’re following a keto diet. Instead, have a healthy diet balance by eating food with good omega-3s. For instance, look out for EPA & DHA levels that are often found in sea foods like salmon, sardines, herring, mussels, and herring. And, if you don’t like seafood, you can also go for cod liver oil, fish oil, or krill oil. Similarly, some other keto-friendly fats you should keep in stock are olive oil, avocado, and flaxseed or chia seeds.
Not Eating Veggies
Agreed, vegetables have carbohydrates, and you’ve to eat them carefully when following the keto diet, even if it’s lettuce. But you should also know that you shouldn’t eliminate it completely. For instance, if you overconsume vegetables, then you may come out of ketosis. But, on the other hand, if you eliminate it, then you’ll run into problems like constipation because you won’t get enough fiber into your body. Hence, it’s recommended that you eat enough vegetables and go for non-starchy food options like leafy green vegetables, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, asparagus, and tomato.
Confusing With Carb Cycling
People often confuse the ketogenic diet with carb cycling, especially those beginning with the keto diet. For instance, for 4 to 5 days a week, they’ll have their rules for the keto diet in check and will eat accordingly. And, on weekends, they’ll plunge into big carbohydrate foods, which will halt your body from getting into ketogenic mode.
When you’re on the keto diet, you’re expected not to have a cheat meal or go with a high-carb diet because, generally, your body takes a week to establish keto adaptation. And, if you go through a high-carb diet, it’ll get halted, and every week your body will try to adapt to the keto diet instead of adapting and getting further with it to give you the desired results.
When to Stop Ketogenic Diet?
The answer is challenging, as it’s different for everyone. Nonetheless, here below are some of the common signs by which you can say it’s time to stop following the ketogenic diet and reintroduce carbohydrates into your diet plan:
- Not feeling well anymore on keto.
- Results are halted, and you’re getting nothing out of it, no matter how hard you try.
- Started gaining fat and losing muscles.
- Developed a relationship with the food that isn’t healthy. For instance, you restrict yourself, or you end up eating more food.
- Can’t sleep properly.
- Aren’t feeling happy with the keto diet in general.
- Exercise performance isn’t as it used to be.
- End up overeating as you don’t feel satisfied after eating your keto meals.
- Have chronic watery stool or get constipation.
Here’s How to Reintroduce Carbs Into Your Diet
Once you decide you want to get off the keto diet, don’t jump right into your normal or hypertrophy diet. Instead, slowly start going back. For instance, slowly replace the calories of fat with carbs. For instance, increase it every week.
And, if you have questions about why you should take some time to go back to your regular diet plan, then keep reading.
Your body requires time to produce the correct amount of digestive enzymes to assimilate the changing micronutrients. Your body has different enzymes that are responsible for digesting carbs, fats, and proteins. And your body produces more or less of each enzyme depending on what you eat. Hence, by going slowly, you’ll prevent the gut issues that often come with drastic diet changes.
Allow your gut bacteria to adapt to the increased amount of fiber you consume with increased carbohydrates.
Allow yourself to see the difference in your body at different levels of carbs. And, if you get back to carbs fast, you won’t be able to find your unique carbohydrate threshold. Try configuring your macronutrient and change week by week. For instance, start with:
- Protein level – 40%
- Fat level – 40%
- Carb level – 20%
- Protein level – 40%
- Fat level – 35%
- Carb level – 25%
- Protein – 40%
- Fat level – 30%
- Carb level – 30%
- Protein – 40%
- Fat level – 25%
- Carb level – 35%
Keep altering it every week and see how it goes. Nonetheless, make sure you’re not going below 20% of fat in the total form of calories. This is because your body requires fat to produce hormones, cellular health, and brain & nervous system health.
6 Commonly Seen Misconceptions About Ketogenic Diets
There are some common misconceptions regarding the ketogenic diet that are often seen, and many times people even start believing it, especially if someone is beginning the keto diet for the first time and they’re:
- Your body gets into ketoacidosis, which is not true. Instead, your body goes into ketosis, using fat for fuel instead of glucose. And ketoacidosis is a life-threatening diabetes complication that happens when the body doesn’t get the required insulin and ketone levels are high.
- You can lose weight by going on and off on keto. But the reality is that you’ll gain your weight back if you keep going back and forth. Because before your body goes into ketosis mode and starts using fat as an energy source, you start eating carbs which backfire.
- Everyone requires the same level of carbohydrates on the ketogenic diet. But it depends from person to person. However, people are usually recommended to consume 20 to 50 grams of carbs daily. Similarly, depending on our physical activity, carb levels can differ.
- You’re allowed to have as much unhealthy food as possible like you can have a bacon and butter party every day. But, the ketogenic diet is all about prioritizing fat in your diet and should be healthy, like avocados, olive oil, and flaxseed, with some moderation in nuts.
- The ketogenic diet and high protein diet are the same. Not true. The ketogenic diet differs from a high protein or, say, a low carbohydrate diet. In the ketogenic diet, you prioritize fat, not protein or carbohydrates.
- You can eliminate vegetables and fruits when following a ketogenic diet as it’s high in carbohydrates. But the truth is you’ll need vegetables and fruits to prevent keto side effects like constipation.
Ketogenic Food List – What Food You Can Eat?
Here below is the list of ketogenic-friendly food that you’re allowed to eat:
- Fish, especially fish high in fat like salmon
- Grass-fed beef
Occasionally you can also eat bacon and low-fat proteins like shrimp & skinless chicken breast. Similarly, you can add sauce on top as a fat source to make it tasty.
Oil & Fat
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Heavy cream
- Avocado oil
Occasionally you can consume other oils like sunflower oil and corn oil.
Fruits & Vegetables
- Green leafy vegetables like spinach
Occasionally you can eat eggplant and spaghetti squash.
Nuts & Seeds
- Chia Seeds & Flaxseed
Occasionally you can go with unsweetened almond or peanut butter, pistachios, and cashews.
- Blue cheese
- Cheddar cheese
- Feta cheese
Occasionally you can eat full-fat plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or ricotta cheese.
Usually, it’s best to keep it as low as possible. And, occasionally, you can try erythritol, xylitol, or stevia.
Sauces & Condiments
- Lemon butter sauce
- Mayonnaise without sugar
And, occasionally, you try raw garlic, balsamic vinegar, and tomato sauce (without sugar).
- Bone broth
- Plain tea
- Almond milk
Occasionally, you can try zero-calorie drinks, diet soda, unsweetened carbonated water, and black coffee.
Herbs & Spices
- Salt according to taste
- Oregano, paprika, cayenne and thyme
Occasionally you can go with ground ginger, onion powder, and garlic powder.
Ketogenic Food List – The Foods You Should Avoid
Below are some of the food that you shouldn’t eat when you’re following the ketogenic diet:
- Cold cuts with added sugar
- Marinated meat with sugary sauces
- Chicken or fish nuggets
Fat & Oil
- Artificial trans fat
Fruits & Vegetables
Nuts & Seeds
- Seed butter & sweetened nut
- Chocolate covered nuts
- Trail mixed dried fruits
- Ice cream
- Sweetened non-fat yogurt
- Maple syrup
- White & Brown sugars
Sauces & Condiments
- Barbecue Sauce
- Honey mustard
- Fruit juice
Herbs & Spices
None are bad, but it’s recommended to use them in moderation according to flavor
The ketogenic diet is not a permanent solution like other fancy diet plans. It has its benefits and drawbacks too. Nonetheless, we hope this article may prove beneficial if you’re looking towards ketogenic diet planning. Here, we’ve covered all the information that anyone beginning the keto diet must know about before they start.
Below are the answers to some of the commonly asked questions regarding the ketogenic diet.
For Whom Ketogenic Diet Is Best Recommended for?
If you’re BMI (Body Mass Index) is above 40 or you’ve insulin resistance without Type 2 diabetes, then the keto diet will prove very beneficial for you if done for the short term.
For Whom Ketogenic Diet Is Not Recommended?
It’s not good to follow a ketogenic diet if you’ve any condition that involves the thyroid, gallbladder, liver, or pancreas.
Is Ketogenic Diet Good for Everyone?
No, the ketogenic diet isn’t for everyone. Further, if you’ve blood sugar issues or a heart disease history, you shouldn’t try the keto diet without the permission and supervision of the doctor. Nonetheless, you’re a healthy, normal person looking to lose weight; for them, it’s an excellent way to lose fat.
Do Bodybuilders Follows Keto Diet?
Some professional bodybuilders go for the keto diet to determine the success of their diet.
What Supplements to Take During Keto Diet?
Some supplements you can take during the keto diet are Magnesium, MCT Oil, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Vitamin D, Digestive Enzymes, Electrolyte supplements, or foods that are rich in minerals.
How to Build Muscles During Ketogenic Diet?
Muscle growth during the ketogenic diet is possible, but you’ve to be careful with your diet. Similarly, ensure you’re eating the right amount of protein, have reduced your carb intake, and regularly work out.
What’s the Difference Between Keto Diet & Low Carb Diet?
Though many times people confuse the keto diet with a low-carb diet but both are entirely different. Here in the keto diet, your fat intake is high, and your protein & carb intake is low. On the other hand, in a low-carb diet, you’re keeping only carb intake low while keeping fat and protein intake balanced. So lastly, all keto diets are low-carb diets, but all low-carb diets aren’t keto diets.
Which Bread Is Keto Diet Friendly?
Almost all bread, like regular white, wheat, rye, oat, or multigrain breads, is very high in carbohydrates. Hence, if you want to eat bread, you can make your own bread or purchase one that’s gluten-free.
For How Long Should You Be Following Keto Diet?
You should follow a ketogenic diet for three months. In the ketogenic diet, the first two to six weeks are in the adaptation phase, where your body goes into ketosis mode and starts using fat for energy instead of carbohydrates.
How to Keep Fat Off of Your Body After Completing Keto Diet?
Once you’re off the keto diet, ensure you aren’t jumping into a high-carb diet. Instead, as mentioned in the article, you need to start reintroducing carbs into your diet gradually.