Introduction to Ketogenic Diet

Introduction to Ketogenic Diet

A ketogenic diet is known for being a high-fat low-carb diet, where ketone bodies are produced in the liver and used as a fuel source.

It has many different names such as the keto diet, ketogenic diet, ketone diet, ketosis diet, low carb diet, low carb high fat (LCHF), etc.

Consuming a meal high in carbohydrates will cause your body to produce glucose and insulin.

During high carb dieting, the body can expect endless amounts energy to keep entering the body. But in the state of ketosis, mobilizing fats as a fuel source becomes the bodies new role.

Learn more of the basics with an introduction to a ketogenic diet.

Low Carb Diet VS Ketogenic Diet

Keto and low carb diets are comparable in numerous ways. On a ketogenic diet, your body shifts into a state of ketosis and the brain are essentially fueled by ketones. These are created in the liver when carbohydrate consumption is very low.

Low carb diets can involve different things for different people. Of all diets ‘low carb’ is simply reducing your total carbohydrate consumption.

With regular low-carb dieting, the brains preference still is mostly dependent on glucose though it may burn higher ketones than on a normal diet.(1) To achieve this, you would have to be following a low carb, low calorie and have an active lifestyle.

Quantities of carbohydrates you eat are your choice depending on the type of diet you are on. Low carb at the end of the day is your carb intake reduced.

Amounts can vary enormously with the number of total carbs eaten per day. Ranging from 0 to 100 grams of net carbs, people have different opinions and follow various guidelines.

Although, a ketogenic diet has low carbohydrates it also has significantly lower protein levels. Altogether blood levels of ketones are notable increased overall.

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Introduction to the Ketogenic Diet for Burning Fat

People have all types of reasons to lose weight, and when their mind is made up, a low carb or keto diet is typically preferred. Weight loss success stories published and general word of mouth make these the preferred type of diet.

Does increasing your fat intake result in more fat loss? Does low carb diets burn fat or just water weight? Although similar, low carb and keto diets react very differently in the body.

When someone says, they want to lose weight they often mean the fat from their midsection.

Using abdominal muscle toners will help give you stronger abs and are great in conjunction with regular exercise. If you are overweight, then your extra weight is situated around your whole body.

When we lose weight, it certainly won’t come from your abdominals first. Your body will look to pull weight from other areas of your body including muscle and water before burning fat stores.

It’s pretty easy gaining weight, but the human body will fight as hard it can to keep your fat stores high.

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Primary Source of Energy

Glucose is the simplest molecule for your body to convert and use as energy. Hence, it will be the preferred source of energy above anything else.

Some people believe that an abundance of carbohydrates is essential for brain function. Only when ketones are not available does this become true.

Insulin is produced to process the glucose in your bloodstream, which takes it around your body.

Your body will not use any fats since glucose is the primary energy source.

Fats take longer to be tapped into since your body must first use glucose for energy.

On a typical, higher carbohydrate diet, the body will use glucose as a primary form of energy. It doesn’t matter if you eat simple sugars or a complex carbohydrate. Both types of carbs will turn into blood sugar in the body preventing fat burning.

What can I eat on a Ketogenic Diet Infographic


Low Carb Food List. Intro to a Ketogenic Diet, What Keto Foods can I eat #lowcarb #keto #LCHF #lowcarbalpha
What can I eat on a Ketogenic Diet? Intro to Keto Dieting

What exactly is Ketosis?

If you reduce the consumption of carbohydrates over a period, the body will begin to break down body fat for energy for everyday duties.

This is a natural process called ketosis which the body undertakes to help us survive when food intake is low. During this state, we produce ketones made from the breakdown of fats in the liver.(2)

Ketones are a byproduct of fatty acids when they convert into fuel. Ketone bodies in the blood have substantially increased to higher than average amounts.

Ketones are used by the brain, muscle and by all tissue which contains mitochondria. Over time you soon learn how to recognize the symptoms of ketosis.

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The purpose of an adequately controlled ketogenic diet is to push your body into the metabolic state to burn fats as energy. Not through depriving your body of calories, but through avoiding carbohydrates.

Our bodies are remarkably adaptive to what you put into it.

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When there is an overload of fats, and the carbohydrates removed, it will begin to burn ketones as the primary energy source.

Who shouldn’t do a Ketogenic Diet?

A ketogenic diet is safe for the majority of people, but people with type 1 diabetes should be extra prepared.

Strict low carb, low protein diets result in ketosis, a normal physiological state.

For healthy people, this is no problem, but in type 1 diabetes this means you’re close to ketoacidosis.

It’s possible to get great results with lower carb high-fat or a Paleo diet for people with type 1 diabetes.

Consuming a moderate amount of carbs as a starting point would be good. As with individuals with type 1 diabetes and everyone with a medical condition then get advice from your doctor.

The Benefits of Ketosis?

Utilizing fats for energy is one the main benefits of a ketogenic diet. Your body becomes efficient at mobilizing fats as energy.

Appetite suppression is a big factor as feeling full more often than not will limit overindulgence in food.

You don’t need to feel hunger pangs on reduced calorie diets.

High carbohydrate diets as we should know by now, increases hunger levels and inhibits fat burning. You can eat a bowl of cereal or slices of toast, and you are guaranteed to be hungry in a few hours.

Ketogenic diets improve insulin sensitivity and fasting glucose which decreases the aging process. High insulin levels hinder the use of fatty acids for energy stop fat loss and cause weight gain.(3)(4)

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Carb Cycling and Working Out

If you compete in sports or have an exercise regime on keto, you may find you have less energy to complete your workouts. A couple of ways to remedy this is to try variations of a keto diet.

On a targeted ketogenic diet you would consume carbs before and straight after your workouts to give yourself that extra push. If involved in high-intensity interval training this would be a great help.

A cyclical keto diet is also a popular variation for those who exercise intensely. You would eat your normal amount of carbohydrates per day for 5 days, around 50 grams or under for example.

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On the weekend or days of your choosing, you would then do a large carb loading phase. Plenty of carbohydrates is eaten to refill your muscle glycogen reserves; you can then use this to fuel your fat burning workouts during the week.

For the carb loading phase, you want to be consuming protein and carbohydrates only.

Cut virtually all the fat out and save that for your 5 days when you are eating low carb high fat.

Check out our sample bodybuilding meal plan for an idea what to eat.

Obviously, try and stick to whole foods and consume the healthiest carbohydrates possible. If you decide to go out drinking alcohol on keto, eat fast food, candy and so on you’ve pretty much wasted your week of hard work.

For an example of sugar content per cup of veggies see the low carb vegetable guide below.

Low carb and keto veggies food list chart by sugars
Ketogenic Vegetables list sorted by grams of sugar

Sodium Intake on Keto

Your sodium intake is one of the most important things to maintain while on a keto diet. Low sodium can leave you feeling unwell with reduced energy levels; you could end up blaming the lack of carbs and glucose if you don’t realize.

When you eat keto foods, you will no longer be eating processed foods. It’s very easy to forget to add enough salt to your diet when consuming whole foods.

If you sweat a lot and participate in any exercise or sports, you’re also going to need to increase your salt intake. You can easily counteract these effects of keto flu by replenishing electrolytes.

Eating on a Ketogenic Diet

Consuming high amounts of dietary fat, low dietary carbohydrate and moderate proteins are key characteristics of a ketogenic diet.

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The exact proportions of carbs, fats, and protein vary from person to person. An optimal keto diet will generally be around 75% fat, 20% proteins, and 5% net carbs.

It’s not possible to completely avoid carbs since it’s basically in every vegetable, and they are a must for any diet.

Something else you may wish to consider is fermented foods. Cultured foods such as water and milk kefir have high amounts of probiotics and are great for the health of your gut.

Be sure to check out over 370 keto recipes ketosis cookbook.

To stay in a fat burning mode ketosis consume additional carbohydrates based on your activity levels. Up to 100 grams of carbs a day is possible and still achieve ketosis.

For most people, though a maximum of 50 grams of carbs a day will work. For more help on what to eat on keto check out our ketogenic diet food list.

High protein intakes and ketogenic dieting simply does not mix since too much dietary protein can inhibit ketosis.

Every gym you go to you see someone drinking a protein shake, protein bars, or eating protein snacks.

You’ll turn a lot of heads if you whip out your avocado or coconut oil as your post-workout snack.

It’s here where keto dieting can fail, as it’s drilled into everyone’s head that extra protein is needed for muscle building and burning fat.

Switching from high carb to high-fat dieting may not be straightforward and won’t be for everybody.


Always consult your doctor, dietitian or healthcare professional first to check if it’s a suitable for you. If so, and you have extra weight to lose, then I encourage you to start a ketogenic diet for fat loss.

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It’s a great diet for improving your health and wellbeing. Whatever diet you choose make sure increase your exercise, and eat plenty of nutritious vegetables for best results.

So there you have a simple introduction to keto. With a bit a tweaking to your diet you can achieve improved body composition, better health, and turn yourself into a fat-burning machine.

If you’re looking to begin a ketogenic diet or have any questions about eating a low carb or high-fat diet, then please leave your questions, comments, and feedback below.

Please also share this blog post to help increase keto awareness.

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86 thoughts on “Introduction to Ketogenic Diet

  1. Can I feed on avocado pear, egg, beef, pork, fish and green tea. (garden egg leaf, if it’s available) Am out of town and these will be within my reach till I get home.
    Will my body get into ketosis with the above mentioned things and how many days will it take to get into it.

    1. Avocados are the perfect keto food since they have roughly 85% calories from fat. Egg-leaf is good and the fattier cuts of meat and fish. To get into ketosis with the above will probably take at least a week depending on activity levels.

  2. I suffer from high bp after having my baby 17 months ago….will this diet help with my bp going down or not? Also I’m still nursing my baby…is it safe for that?

    1. Reduction of excessive carbohydrate intake, especially refined carbs, and sugars will help to lower blood pressure for sure. I wouldn’t personally recommend a full keto diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding but would certainly increase healthy fats and eliminate all processed carbs.

    2. Breastfeeding

      Breastfeeding women should avoid a ketogenic diet throughout the child’s breastfeeding phase. That’s because women need oxaloacetate, a compound essential for creating lactose for breastmilk, which is essential for their baby’s growth.

  3. I cant give up my Splenda!! I only use 2 – 4 packets a day in my coffee, just wondering if that much will effect my going into ketosis? I also use about 3 tablespoons of heavy cream per day.

  4. Nice article but I did want to inform you that Ketosis and Ketoacidosis are not remotley close to each other. A type 1 diabetic is fine to do Keto. Ketoacidosis occurs when blood sugars are extremely high and there is a lack of insulin. The body then produces ketones (different from the ketones ketosis produces.) In the presence of sugar with no insulin to push the fuel sources into cells, the blood becomes acidic. As long as a a type 1 diabetic is getting the needed amount of insulin manually, there is no problem with them entering into ketosis. Even then – the high fat from the diet reduces blood sugar spikes drastically, and creates a huge reduction in insulin needs. It’s highly unlikely 20g of carbs will send you into Ketoacidosis without insulin.

  5. Ive read about “Keto flu” but I didn’t experience it too badly when I started two weeks ago. I had a cheat day this past weekend and I’m concerned that I’m going to get hard. Is there anything that can be done to lessen those side effects?

    1. Many foods can irritate ulcers, try to eat a balanced diet consisting of as much whole natural foods as possible. So mainly vegetables, fruits, and small portions of meat. If you’re aiming for weight loss increase your veg intake further. Avoid spicy foods and seasonings. Drink plenty of water and avoid acidic, caffeinated beverages. It may help to reduce meal frequency from 4-6 meals to say 2-3 meals a day to produce less stomach acid.

  6. I understand these are the foods to eat but I’m a little confused about how much to eat of these groups at each meal. I don’t want to go over. I’m very new to this diet.

    1. A general rule for keto is 75% fat, 20% proteins, and 5% carbs. Meaning out of an average 500 calorie meal 375 calories must come from fats, 100 calories from protein and 25 calories from carbs.

      Another way of roughly looking at this is 375 calories is 42g of fat, 100 calories are 25g of protein, and 25 calories are 6g of carbs.

      Just need to read the food labels and track macros

  7. I’m just starting, but one thing I really need is my tea throughout the day. At least until I’m well on my way to losing. I have a sensitive stomach, so I put milk in it. Is there something else I can use instead of milk?

    1. I know how you feel. I rarely drink it now but remember many years ago I loved black tea with milk and coffee with milk. There are many substitutes; I replaced milk in black tea with a dash of heavy cream, unsweetened almond or coconut milk.

  8. I really enjoyed reading this article, as I have been following a ketogenic diet for the past 3 weeks. I am having GI issues and thought removing carbs might be beneficial. Feeling great I must add. I am 53 and a competitive body builder, so my goal is to lean out while continuing to build. I am curious as to why it is recommended to avoid hemp oil, flaxseed oil and grape seed oil and to limit pistachio nuts, peanuts, cashew nuts and chestnuts. Also, I did not see walnut oil listed any where. Thanks in advance for the reply.

    1. Thanks, Cindy. Keto can be useful for gastrointestinal issues, you could try it coupled with intermittent fasting to get lean, and it may help with GI issues. It takes a lot of trial and error with different foods.

      Nuts are generally OK in moderation on keto. The problem is it contains phytates and phytic acid which can prevent mineral absorption. It’s also easy to overeat, and you want to be getting calories from other natural foods such as meat, fruits, and veggies.

      Walnut oil contains high amounts of Omega 6 so it’s best to limit or avoid. Oils such as hemp oil and flaxseed oil are also OK in moderation but contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which the body has trouble converting to EPA and DHA. Therefore, oils from animal sources are generally best to eat for maximum omega 3 fatty acids.

      First and foremost always aim to get the majority of your calories from whole natural foods then add a sprinkle of oil if absolutely necessary.

  9. Hi!! I’m into this diet for 12weeks now and lost about 7kg weight… Where asdomr friends of mine have already lost more than 10kg in 4 weeks time. I’m also having hair fall problems… My current weight is 63kg and I’m 155cm… I wanted to reach 55-57kg target!!! I used to work out in the gym for more than 4yrs… Took a break n started back with cardio for 30-45min per day. please guide if I need to do anything more to reduce.

    1. You’re doing absolutely great and just need to keep it up Since you’re losing weight really well you could probably increase your food intake to get more nutrients which may help with hair problems. Try and lose the remaining weight slowly, maybe 0.5kg a week (or less) so as not to regain the extra weight when you hit your target.

  10. New to ketogenic, I had a gastric bypass/RNY in 2015. We were taught that in order to stay healthy our number one priority is Protein, Protein and more Protein . Any suggestions on how I can implement this lifestyle to lose weight and keep it off without losing muscle and my hair??

    1. Losing weight with a ketogenic lifestyle will simply come naturally as increasing fat intake along with your current protein intake will keep you feeling satiated. Eating whole natural foods whenever possible is best for promoting good health, skin and hair conditions.

  11. I’m 58 and 5′ and 143lbs. Started Atkins Diet, almost all protein, 2 weeks ago. I’m fairly active but not a gym goer. I’ve only lost 3 lbs. Will adding vegetables help me lose weight faster?

  12. I often post this list in lchf/keto a person was questioning why butter was listed in fats column and in occasionally column.I was wondering if you could explain so she’d climb off her

    1. Yes, this question has come up a lot. Butter, especially grass fed is of course a good fat to consume but the majority of food should come from whole natural sources such as fatty meats, fish, fruit and vegetables.

      You don’t want to be eating sticks of butter unless you’re burning thousands of calories daily.

      So in that sense butter is fine to eat but also in moderation.

  13. New to keto. I’m having a hard time finding out what my fat, protein and card intake should be per day as well as how much water I should be drinking. I’m a 37 year old female, 5′ 3″, 127lbs. Old like to drop to 115, build muscle and get back to doing Brazilian Jiujitsu. Can you help w these questions?

    1. Awesome, keep up the ketogenic dieting lifestyle! Your fat, proteins, and carbs should be roughly 75%, 20% and 5% respectively.

      Water intake is dependent on activity levels. Usually, at least 8 glasses a day so need to increase accordingly.

      Do you wish to lose weight first then begin Brazilian jujitsu or lose while exercising?

      Either way, set yourself a date you wish to lose your weight by, say the start of next year. So around 1-2 pounds to lose a week.

      Monitor your progress and adjust your macros weekly depending on the amount of weight lost.

  14. I am thinking of trying this diet change but I have very weak bones and my doctor wants me to eat calcium rich foods. Is it possible to do this diet and increase my calcium at the same time?

    1. Absolutely! Following a keto diet plan by including green leafy vegetables and fatty fish such as salmon and sardines you will easily get all the calcium you need.

      If possible, incorporate some light strength training to help strengthen muscles and bones.

  15. I just started this diet & I am really excited bout doing this. I am struggling with constpation!! What can I eat to keep the fiber in check! So I can avoid this problem!

    1. Best thing to do is increase your water intake as the body won’t retain as much water. Also, adding an extra portion of green veggies such as broccoli, spinach to your main meals will help with constipation.

    1. Quinoa although very nutritious, has big amounts of carbs per serving. If you can fit in your macros, then it will leave almost no room for extra carbs for your day.

      Best to avoid altogether or maybe have it in a cheat meal or carb up day.

  16. I weigh about 209lbs, 5″11 & I do about 3 protein shakes a day rocky road MP. For breakfast I ate 2 large eggs with shreaded cheese taco shells that I fry with coconut oil.. With tomatoes and onions and whole avocado, about an hour later i take protein. Snack, 4 tsp of full fat greek yogurt and about 19 blueberries/rasberries. Lunch two pieces of chicken about 6oz each 3 pieces of asparagus and kale or broccoli.. I come home do T25 for 25 minutes do creatine and protein shake, and 45 minutes later I eat another piece of chicken/venision..with about half cup of Spinach or so… What im wondering is that too much for my weigh to go into ketosis. Its been about a week.

    1. The amount of food seems fine, but it sounds like a bit too many calories coming from protein thus making it more or an Atkins type diet. Too much protein is only going to convert to glucose, so you probably won’t be able to hit ketosis.

      I would recommend to cut down on the protein shakes to maybe one after working out or half your protein powder portions and replace with a tablespoon of coconut oil to increase your fat intake. Either way, your diet is a very healthy selection of food.

      You could use some ketone strips to check and monitor your ketone levels to see if you’re in ketosis.

  17. I am totally new to the keto diet but excited about what I have read. I am a 42 year old male, about 5’5 height and 190 lbs. I use to run and workout regularly but work has become priority for about 3 years now. I would like to lose about 10-20 lbs; burn fat but not the muscle that I have.

    I am happy to see that coffee is ok. I drink a lot all day long. I have purchased some ingredients but curious about a meal plan….

    If I follow the keto diet, how long do you think it would take my body to reach ketosis and see the results? My problem is my ridiculous work schedule but I am ready to make the change.

    Thank you.

    1. Starting a new diet can indeed be very exciting. I know work can be an obstacle and can prevent us from achieving our maximum potential, but we can always do the best we can with our diet.

      We will be doing more meal plans in the future so stay tuned for that.

      With your work schedule, you should give yourself a long term target for fat loss, say the start of next year you want to hit 180lbs.

      You can reach ketosis after around a week or so. Losing 1lb a week is certainly achievable depending on how many changes you’re ready to make. Once you begin seeing changes in your body, it will spur you on to keep going to hit your target weight.

  18. Never heard of the keto diet before so reading this was really interesting, it seems like more and different ways of eating are popping up these days- it’s hard to keep up sometimes!


  19. Hi there, I am two weeks in to the keto diet and I have only lost 2lbs and that was in the beginning. I find myself not eating a lot due to not being hungry which I like but get sad when I don’t see the scale moving. I’m 31, 5’9, 181lbs would like to loose 25-30lbs. Please help!

    1. Hi Ashley, don’t be discouraged. Losing 2lbs in two weeks is great! You want to lose an average of a pound a week for successful long-term weight loss so your spot on there.

      Weigh yourself a maximum of once a week and note your results. Don’t worry too much about what the scales say as you can lose body fat but maintain the same weight.

      When adapting to keto, you’ll eat less which you already are doing, be more energetic and lose weight naturally over time.

      Keep up the hard work.

  20. Unfortunetely, I dislike avocados, but love avocado oil. I noticed that avocado oil is not on the allowed list. What are you thoughts on using avocado oil?

  21. heyy!! i am 24 years old and weigh 72 kgs and my height is 5 feet. can one have pulses as protein source?
    i wanted to know if one should focus more on cardio exercises or weight training? also what should be the total calorie intake? and how much weight loss should i expect per week approximately?

    1. Pulses are best avoided on keto. There’s no right answer but for the best weight loss gains combine both cardio exercises and weight training if you have the time.

      Your total calorie intake depends on your daily activity levels. If you eat around 2000 calories and exercise moderately you can expect to lose roughly 0.5 kg a week.

    1. I’ve never tried it but yes mustard oil is fine. Pulses are best avoided completely on keto.

      Total calorie intake varies enormously. It depends on your age, sex, height, weight, activity levels and your goal.

  22. I just started keto diet. I am female 250 pounds and 5 6’ in height. I try to work out 2 days a weeks. How many calories should I be eating. I am a little confused please help

    1. It depends on what your goal is – weight loss or maintenance. Plus how quick you want to reach your goal such as in 3 or 6 months. Your age and workout intensity will also vary the required calorie intake.

  23. Ok, so I’m wanting to start the keto diet but reading comments I’m not sure how it really works….ive always tried to cut out so much fat in my diet and with keto, I see you eat a lit of fat…im also take g a fluid pill, not because of high blood pressure but I just retain fluid so adding salt for me doesn’t seem to be an option…can you help me to understand how adding so much fat to my diet can help loose weight…im totally confused!

    1. Low carb and keto diets lower the levels of insulin in your body (the fat storage hormone).

      Increasing fat intake while eliminating carbs forces your body to use ketones as energy.

      Please search within our website for more info on ketogenic dieting.

  24. Hello! Love all your information. I’ve been following the Keto plan for 6 months. Over that time I have learned IF at 18:6 & eat < 10g carb. I’ve also lowered my protein since I used to eat a low carb high protein diet. I continue to eat high fat. Still my weight continues to go up!!! And more in my stomach … I’m not bloated!!
    Also, can you tell me what your 7 day Meal Plan breaks out to % of carbs, fats & protein? Would it work for < 10g carbs?

    1. Hi Lori, thanks for your comments. There could be many reasons for continuing to gain weight, but you are possibly eating too many calories or insufficient exercise.

      You may have hit a plateau and need to change one or a few things up.

      I would try cutting you’re eating window down to maybe 1 meal a day for 2 days a week. Also, doing additional exercise during the week, say an extra 15-30 minutes of walking a day (or similar activity).

      You’re doing everything right and an amazing job. Don’t be distracted by what the scales say as long as you are feeling good.

  25. I just want to say that this was a very informative blog and I appreciate all the effort you put into educating us on this new way of living. I have put a lot of time looking at this way of eating and I am looking forward to starting this year…a new year, a new way of life. Thanks again!

  26. Hi
    I’m 134 lbs and 5 foot female looking to loose weight. I just had a baby but not breastfeeding, i am weight training. How many grams of protein, carbs, and fat should i be eating?


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