The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. It lowers blood sugar and insulin levels, and shifts the body’s metabolism away from carbs and towards fat and ketones.
There are several versions of the keto diet. The standard (SKD) version is the most researched and most recommended.
A ketogenic diet can help you lose much more weight than a low-fat diet. This often happens without hunger.
Taking on the Keto diet
If you’re new to the keto diet or just still learning the ropes, your biggest questions probably revolve around figuring out just what high-fat low-carb foods you can eat on such a low-carb, ketogenic diet. Overall, remember that the bulk of calories on the keto diet are from foods that are high in natural fats along with a moderate amount of foods with protein. Those that are severely restricted are all foods that provide lots of carbs, even kinds that are normally thought of as “healthy,” like whole grains, for example.
Overview of the Keto Diet Plan:
The exact ratio of recommended macronutrients (or your “macros”) in your diet (grams of carbs vs. fat vs. protein) will differ depending on your specific goals and current state of health. Your age, gender, level of activity and current body composition can also play a role in determining your carb versus fat intake.
On the standard keto diet, fats typically provides about 70 percent to 80 percent of total daily calories, protein about 15 percent to 20 percent, and carbohydrates just around 5 percent. However, a more “moderate” approach to the keto diet is also a good option for many people that can allow for an easier transition into very low-carb eating and more flexibility.
Something that makes the keto diet different from other low-carb diets is that it does not “protein-load.” Protein is not as big a part of the diet as fat is. Reason being: In small amounts, the body can change protein to glucose, which means if you eat too much of it, especially while in the beginning stages of the keto diet, it will slow down your body’s transition into ketosis.
Protein intake should be between one and 1.5 grams per kilogram of your ideal body weight. To convert pounds to kilograms, divide your ideal weight by 2.2. For example, a woman who weighs 150 pounds (68 kilograms) should get about 68–102 grams of protein daily.
It’s important to also drink lots of water. Getting enough water helps keep you from feeling fatigued, is important for digestion and aids in hunger suppression. It’s also needed for detoxification. Aim to drink 10–12 eight-ounce glasses a day.
Best Keto Foods — Eat These High-Fat Low-Carb Foods Whenever:
MCT oil, cold-pressed coconut, olive oil, sesame oil, flaxseed oil, avocado, butter, ghee, lard, chicken fat or duck fat
Grass-fed fatty meat:beef, lamb, goat, veal, venison and other game, organ meats including liver
Poultry: turkey, chicken, quail, pheasant, hen, goose, duck, cage-free eggs and egg yolks,
Fish: tuna, trout, anchovies, bass, flounder, mackerel, salmon, sardines, etc.
All leafy greens, including dandelion or beet greens, collards, mustard, turnip, arugula, chicory, endive, escarole, fennel, radicchio, romaine, sorrel, spinach, kale, chard, etc.
Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower
Celery, cucumber, zucchini, chives and leeks,asparagus, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, bell pepper, sugar snap peas, water chestnuts, radishes, jicama, green beans, wax beans
Spices and herbs, Hot sauce (no sweetener), Apple cider vinegar, Unsweetened mustards
Unsweetened coffee (black) and tea; drink in moderation
Keto Foods to Limit — Eat Only Occasionally:
Dairy products should be limited to only “now and then” due to containing natural sugars. Higher fat, hard cheeses have the least carbs, while low-fat milk and soft cheeses have much more.
Full-fat cows and goat milk (ideally organic and raw)
Sweet peas, artichokes, okra, carrots, beets and parsnips
Yams and potatoes (white, red, sweet, etc.)
Legumes and Beans
Chickpeas, kidney, lima, black, brown, lentils, hummus, etc
Soy products, including tofu, edamame, tempeh
Nuts and Seeds
Almonds, walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pistachios, chestnuts, pumpkin seeds, etc. —
Nut butters and seed butters
Chia seeds and flaxseeds
Berries, including blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries
Protein smoothie (stirred into almond milk or water)
1 tablespoon nut butter or handful of nuts
Veggies with melted cheese
No sugar added ketchup or salsa
Mustard, hot sauces, Worcestershire sauce
Lemon/ lime juice
Salad dressing (ideal to make your own with vinegar, oil and spices)
Stevia (natural sweetener, zero calorie and no sugar(
Consume the unsweetened drinks below only moderately, having just 1–2 small servings per day.
Fresh vegetable and fruit juices — homemade is best to limit sugar; use little fruit to reduce sugar and aim for 8 ounces daily at most
Unsweetened coconut or almond milk (ideal to make your own)
Water with lemon and lime juice
Foods to Avoid When on a Keto Diet — NEVER Eat:
Any Type of Sugar: white, brown, cane, raw and confectioner’s sugar.
Syrups like maple, carob, corn, caramel and fruit
Honey and agave
Any food made with ingredients such as fructose, glucose, maltose, dextrose and lactose
Any and All Grains: Wheat, oats, all rice (white, brown, jasmine), quinoa, couscous, pilaf, etc.
Corn and all products containing corn, including popcorn, tortillas, grits, polenta and corn meal
All types of products made with flour, including bread, bagels, rolls, muffins, pasta, etc.
Nearly All Processed Foods
Crackers, chips, pretzels, etc.
All types of candy
All desserts like cookies, cakes, pies, ice cream
Pancakes, waffles and other baked breakfast items
Oatmeal and cereals
Granola bars, most protein bars or meal replacements, etc.
Canned soups, boxed foods, any prepackaged meal
Foods containing artificial ingredients like artificial sweeteners (sucralose, aspartame, etc.), dyes and flavors
Sweetened and Caloric Beverages
Alcohol (beer, wine, liquor, etc)
Sweetened teas or coffee drinks
Milk and dairy replacements (cow’s milk, soy, almond, coconut, lactaid, cream, half and half, etc.)
The Modified Keto Diet: Perhaps You’re Way to Transition to Keto?
Although a standard ketogenic diet is even more restrictive in terms of carb intake, a “moderate keto diet” (just as some folks have followed a modified Atkins diet) is another option that will very likely still be able to provide substantial weight loss results and other improvements in symptoms. Including slightly more carbs can be very useful for maintenance, allow for more flexibility, provide a higher fiber intake, and overall may feel more sustainable long term socially and psychologically.
In order to transition and remain in ketosis, aiming for about 30–50 net grams is typically the recommended amount of carbs to start with. This is considered a more moderate or flexible approach but can be less overwhelming to begin with.
Once you’re more accustomed to this way of eating, you can choose to lower carbs even more if you’d like (perhaps only from time to time), down to about 20 grams of net carbs daily. This is considered the standard, “strict” amount that many keto dieters aim to adhere to for best results, but remember that everyone is a bit different.
Because consuming even up to 30–50 grams of net carbs daily is still dramatically less than what most people eating a “standard Western diet” are used to, many will still experience weight loss eating slightly more carbs.
You can try reducing carbohydrates to just 15 percent to 25 percent of total calorie intake, while increasing fat and protein to around 40 percent to 60 percent and about 20 percent to 30 percent, respectively, in order to test your own individual response.
Ketogenic Diet Side Effects & Precautions
Be aware that it’s not uncommon to experience some negative reactions and side effects when transitioning into this way of eating. Although not everyone, some people will experience flu-like symptoms, often referred to as the keto flu, but which usually subside within a couple of weeks.
Possible Side Effects of the Keto Diet, Known as the Keto Flu:
Fatigue/lack of energy
Muscle weakness or pains
Constipation, nausea or upset stomach
How to Overcome the Keto Flu:
To help you overcome these keto flu symptoms, here are several steps to try taking:
Most importantly, to combat nausea, fatigue and constipation due to the low-carb keto diet, consume more alkaline foods (mostly vegetables and some fruit).
Add bone broth to your diet, which can help restore electrolytes that are lost during ketosis. When you follow a keto diet, even if you’re drinking a lot of water, you will lose a lot of water weight and also flush essential electrolytes out of our system, including magnesium, potassium or sodium. Adding bone broth is a great way to replenish these naturally, in addition to getting other nutrients and amino acids.
Foods to eat more of that can also help increase electrolyte intake are nuts, avocados, mushrooms, salmon and other fish, spinach, artichokes, and leafy greens.
Reduce your exercise load temporary.
Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and also consuming enough salt/sodium.
Consume even more fat if you’re hungry.
Avoid eating synthetic ingredients in processed foods. Also try to limit “low-carb foods” that are still unhealthy and difficult to digest, even those that many ketogenic diet programs might recommend or include. These include cold cuts, processed meats (especially pork) or cured meats, bacon, and processed cheeses.