A keto diet for beginners

A keto or ketogenic diet is a very low-carb diet, which turns the body into a fat-burning machine. It has many proven benefits for weight loss, health and performance, as millions of people have experienced already.1  

Here you’ll learn how to eat a keto diet based on real foods. You’ll find visual guides, recipes, meal plans and a simple 2-week get started program, all you need to succeed on keto.

Get even more, custom meal plans, ask the experts and low-carb TV, with a free trial.



1. Introduction: What is keto?

14,999 viewsMake it simple to understand keto and do it right, using our new video course above.

The entire course with all parts is available here. Alternatively, just keep reading below.


What “keto” means


The “keto” in a ketogenic diet comes from the fact that it makes the body produce small fuel molecules called “ketones”.2 This is an alternative fuel for the body, used when blood sugar (glucose) is in short supply.

Ketones are produced if you eat very few carbs (that are quickly broken down into blood sugar) and only moderate amounts of protein (excess protein can also be converted to blood sugar).

Ketones are produced in the liver, from fat. They are then used as fuel throughout the body, including the brain. The brain is a hungry organ that consumes lots of energy every day,3 and it can’t run on fat directly. It can only run on glucose… or ketones.

On a ketogenic diet, your entire body switches its fuel supply to run almost entirely on fat. Insulin levels become very low, and fat burning increases dramatically. It becomes easy to access your fat stores to burn them off. This is obviously great if you’re trying to lose weight, but there are also other less obvious benefits, such as less hunger and a steady supply of energy.

When the body produces ketones, it’s said to be in ketosis. The fastest way to get there is by fasting – not eating anything – but nobody can fast forever.

A keto diet, on the other hand, can be eaten indefinitely and also results in ketosis. It has many of the benefits of fasting – including weight loss – without having to fast.

Learn more about ketosis


ChecklistWho should NOT do a ketogenic diet?

A keto diet is safe for most people, but in the following situations you may need extra support:

Are you a doctor or do you need your doctor to help you with medications on keto? Check out our keto for doctors guide.


2. What to eat on a keto diet

Here are typical foods to enjoy on a ketogenic diet. The numbers are net carbs per 100 grams.4 To remain in ketosis, lower is generally better:

Keto diet foods: Natural fats (butter, olive oil); Meat; Fish and seafood; Eggs; Cheese; Vegetables that grow above ground

The most important thing for reaching ketosis is to avoid eating too many carbohydrates. You’ll probably need to keep carb intake under 50 grams per day of net carbs, ideally below 20 grams. The fewer carbs, the more effective.

Counting carbs can be helpful at first, but if you follow our guides and recipes you can stay keto even without counting.

Detailed list of what to eat on keto


Try to avoid

Here’s what you should not eat on a keto diet – foods full of sugar and starch, including starchy foods like bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. As you can see, these foods are much higher in carbs.

Foods to avoid on low carb: bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, fruit, beer, soda, juice, candy

The numbers are grams of net carbs per 100 grams, unless otherwise noted.5

This means that on keto you’ll need to completely avoid sweet sugary foods, plus starchy foods like bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. Just follow our keto diet advice, and remember that the food should be high in fat, not high in protein.

A rough guideline is below 10% energy from carbohydrates (the fewer carbs, the more effective), 15-25% from protein (the lower end is more effective), and 70% or more from fat.

More specific advice on what to eat – and what not to eat

What to drink

Low-carb drinks

So what do you drink on a keto diet? Water is perfect, and so are coffee or tea. Ideally, use no sweeteners. A modest amount of milk or cream is OK (but beware of caffe latte!). The occasional glass of wine is fine too.

Check out our full guides to keto drinks and keto alcohol.


Visual keto guides

For more on specific areas – like what fruits or nuts to eat on a ketogenic diet – check out our visual guides:



Check out our hundreds of keto recipes, or a few popular examples below:



Diet plans

Here are two weeks worth of recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner on a ketogenic diet:

14-day keto diet plan

Get lots of weekly keto meal plans, complete with shopping lists and everything, with our premium meal planner tool (free trial):

  • Keto Brussels sprouts and hamburger gratinMon
  • Keto no-noodle chicken soupTue
  • Keto sesame salmon with Thai curry cabbageWed
  • Keto pork skewers with mash and salsa verdeThu
  • Sullivan's KeDough pizzaFri
  • Low-carb "Gumbalaya"Sat
  • Keto blue cheese casseroleSun


How low carb is keto?

The fewer carbohydrates you eat, the bigger the effects on weight and blood sugar will be. A keto diet is a very strict low-carb diet, and thus highly effective.

Here are three examples of what a low-carb meal can look like, depending on how many carbs you eat per day. Note that only the left plate is reliably ketogenic:

We recommend following the dietary advice as strictly as you can. When you’re happy with your weight and health, you may carefully try eating more liberally (if you want to). Learn more


Get started

For everything you need to get started – meal plans, shopping lists, daily tips and troubleshooting – just sign up for our free 2-week keto low-carb challenge.



Keto advice in 40 languages

We have written keto diet advice in 40 languages. This includes our full Diet Doctor sites in Spanish or Swedish. Press this small grey note symbol for more languages:6



3. Why eat keto – the benefits

The benefits of a keto diet are similar to those of other low-carb diets, but it’s more powerful than liberal low-carb diets. Think of keto as a super-charged low-carb diet, maximizing the benefits.


Keto and weight lossLose weight

Turning your body into a fat-burning machine has obvious benefits for weight loss. Fat burning is vastly increased, while insulin – the fat-storing hormone – levels drop greatly. This creates ideal circumstances in which fat loss can occur, without hunger.

More than 20 high-quality scientific studies7 show that, compared to other diets, low-carb and keto diets result in more effective weight loss.

Keto and appetite controlAppetite control

On keto you’ll gain a new control over your appetite. When your body burns fat 24-7, it has constant access to weeks or months of stored energy, dramatically reducing feelings of hunger. It’s a very common experience, and studies prove it.8

This makes it easy to eat less and lose excess weight – just don’t eat until you’re hungry. This makes intermittent fasting easy, super-charging efforts to reverse type 2 diabetes and speeding up weight loss. Plus, you’ll save tons of time and money by not having to snack all the time. Many people only feel the need to eat twice a day (often skipping breakfast), and some just once a day.

Not having to fight feelings of hunger can also potentially help with problems like sugar or food addiction, and possibly some eating disorders, like bulimia, as well. At least feeling satisfied can be part of the solution. Food can stop being an enemy and become your friend – or simply fuel, whatever you prefer.

Keto and constant energy and brain performanceConstant energy and mental performance

Ketosis results in a steady flow of fuel (ketones) to the brain, and you avoid big blood sugar swings. This often results in the experience of improved focus and concentration. Any brain fog will be long gone!

A lot of people use keto diets specifically for increased mental performance. Also, many people experience an increase in energy when in ketosis.

On keto, the brain doesn’t need carbs. It’s fueled 24-7 by ketones, a perfect brain fuel for focus and energy.

Low carb and diabetes reversalControl blood sugar and reverse type 2 diabetes

A keto diet controls blood sugar levels, and is excellent for reversing type 2 diabetes. This has been proven in studies.9 It makes perfect sense since keto lowers blood-sugar levels and reduces the negative impact of high insulin levels.

As a keto diet may even reverse existing type 2 diabetes, it’s likely to be even more effective at preventing it, or reversing pre-diabetes.

150+ success stories

How to reverse type 2 diabetes – the quick start guide

Low carb and diabetes reversalImproved health markers

There are many studies showing that low-carb diets improve important health markers, including the cholesterol profile (HDL, triglycerides), blood sugar levels, insulin levels and blood pressure.10

These commonly improved markers are connected to something called “metabolic syndrome”, and improvements in weight, waist circumference, diabetes type 2 reversal etc.

My health markers after 10 years on a keto diet

happystomach-800-roundedA calmer stomach

Keto can result in a calmer stomach, less (or no) gas, less cramps and pains, etc.

For quite a few people this is the top benefit, and it usually only takes a day or two to experience it. Learn more

Low carb and weight lossIncreased physical endurance

Keto diets can vastly increase your physical endurance by giving you constant access to all the energy of your fat stores.

The body’s supply of stored carbohydrates (glycogen) only lasts for a couple of hours of intense exercise, or less. But your fat stores carry enough energy to easily last for weeks or even months.

How to maximize endurance on a keto diet

Keto and epilepsyEpilepsy

The keto diet is a proven and effective medical therapy for epilepsy that has been used since the 1920s. Traditionally it was used primarily for children, but recently adults have benefited from it as well.

Using a ketogenic diet in epilepsy can allow people to take less or no anti-epileptic drugs, while still remaining seizure-free. This reduces drug side effects and thus increases mental performance. More


More possible benefits

The benefits above are the most common ones. But there are others that are potentially even more surprising and – at least for some people – life changing. Did you know that low carb often normalizes blood pressure, results in less acne, controls migraine and helps with a lot more?

Follow the links below for more knowledge, stories and science:

Other potential benefits

There’s even science-based speculation that a keto diet could increase longevity and help treat or reduce the risk of cancer.11 It’s also being used as an experimental treatment for some people with Parkinson’s disease12 and Alzheimer’s.13


Success stories

We have received hundreds, if not thousands, of low-carb success stories, and we get more every day. Here are a few, and links to all of them are sorted by categories:

  • Reversing type 2 diabetes in only 2.5 months with keto and fasting
  • How Melissa lost 100 pounds with a keto diet, and kept it off for 15 years
  • Keto and intermittent fasting: "I am completely blown away by the changes"
  • The keto diet: "It's unbelievable that it could be this easy"




Top success story videos

  • Living low carb with Caroline Smale
  • Living low carb with Chris Hannaway




4. How to get into ketosis


20 grams of carbs in two waysThere are many things that increase your level of ketosis. Here they are, from most to least important:

  1. Restrict carbohydrates to 20 digestible grams per day or less – a strict low-carb diet. Fiber does not have to be restricted, it might even be beneficial.14  
    How much is 20 grams of carbs? Use our visual guide to find out. Or simply use our keto recipes and meal plans, they are designed to keep you under 20 grams with no counting required.
    Note that quite often, just restricting carbs to very low levels results in ketosis. So this may be all you need to do. But the rest of the list below will help make sure that you’re successful.
  2. Restrict protein to moderate levels. On a keto diet you should eat the protein you need, but not much more. This is because excess protein is converted to glucose in the body, reducing ketosis.
    If possible, stay at or below 1 gram of protein per day, per kg of body weight – about 70 grams of protein per day if you weigh 70 kilos (154 pounds).15  
    The most common mistake that stops people from getting into ketosis is too much protein. Our keto recipes are designed with the right amount of protein.
  3. Eat enough fat to feel satisfied.16 This is the big difference between a keto diet and starvation, that also results in ketosis. A keto diet is sustainable, whereas starvation is not.
    When starving you’re likely to feel tired and hungry and give up, but a keto diet is sustainable and can make you feel great. So eat enough to feel satisfied, and if you’re hungry all the time, you should probably add more fat to your meals (like more butter, more olive oil, etc.). Our keto recipes have the needed fat included.
  4. Avoid snacking when not hungry. Eating more often than you need, just eating for fun and because there’s food around, reduces ketosis and slows down weight loss.
 Though using keto snacks will minimize the damage, and is fine when you’re hungry.
  5. If necessary, add intermittent fasting. For example, skip breakfast and only eat during 8 hours of the day, fasting for 16 hours (i.e. 16:8 fasting) . This is very effective at boosting ketone levels, as well as accelerating weight loss and type 2 diabetes reversal. It’s also usually easy to do on keto.
  6. Add exercise – adding any kind of physical activity while on low carb can increase ketone levels moderately. It can also help speed up weight loss and diabetes type 2 reversal slightly. Exercise is not necessary to get into ketosis, but it may be helpful.
  7. Sleep enough – for most people at least seven hours per night on average – and keep stress under control. Sleep deprivation and stress hormones raise blood sugar levels, slowing ketosis and weight loss a bit. Plus they make much it harder to stick to your chosen diet, and resist temptations. So while handling sleep and stress will not get you into ketosis on it’s own, it’s still worth thinking about.
Bottom line: To get into ketosis, restrict carbs to very low levels, preferably below 20 net carbs per day. This is by far the most important thing for ketosis to occur.

Should you need to increase the effect, implement more steps from the list above, starting from the top.


No products required

Note what’s not on the list above: you likely do not need fancy expensive supplements, like MCT oil or ketone supplements. These supplements will in all likelihood not help you lose weight or reverse disease, there’s no evidence for that.


Ketone supplements for example, do not lower insulin or blood sugar, and they do not increase fat burning. Thus they hardly help with weight loss or type 2 diabetes reversal.

So people saying that – despite the lack of scientific support – likely have a financial reason to say it. Some of these products are sold under something like a multi-level marketing arrangement, so sales people are entirely paid based on commission.17 Thus they’ll likely tell you that their product is fantastic and has changed their lives and makes you lose weight etc., just like any other miracle supplement in the world. But that’s hardly true. Take all such stories with a grain of salt.

All these ketone supplements might do is possibly improve mental and physical performance for a short time. They do raise blood levels of ketones, an effect that can last for one up to a few hours.

So… I’m not saying don’t buy these supplements, perhaps you do want to try them for yourself, see how they make you feel. But you don’t need them to be successful on keto. And they are probably, for most people, a waste of money.


5. How to know you’re in ketosis

How do you know if you’re in ketosis? It’s possible to measure it by testing urine, blood or breath samples. But there are also telltale symptoms, that require no testing:

Symptoms of ketosis: dry mouth, thirst, frequent urination

  • Dry mouth and increased thirst. Unless you drink enough and get enough electrolytes, like salt, you may feel a dry mouth. Try a cup of bouillon or two daily, plus as much water as you need. You may also feel a metallic taste in your mouth.
  • Increased urination. A ketone body, acetoacetate, may end up in the urine. This makes it possible to test for ketosis using urine strips. It also – at least when starting out – can result in having to go to the bathroom more often. This is the main cause of the increased thirst (above).
  • Keto breath. This is due to a ketone body called acetone escaping via our breath.18 It can make a person’s breath smell “fruity”, or similar to nail polish remover. This smell can sometimes also be felt from sweat, when working out. It’s often temporary. Learn more

Other, less specific but more positive signs include:

  • Reduced hunger. Many people experience a marked reduction in hunger.19 This may be caused by an increased ability of the body to be fueled by its fat stores. Many people feel great when they eat just once or twice a day, automatically ending up doing a form of intermittent fasting. This saves both time and money, while also speeding up weight loss.
  • Increased energy. After a few days of feeling tired (the “keto flu“) many people experience a clear increase in energy levels. This can also be experienced as clear thinking, a lack of “brain fog” or even a sense of euphoria.


Measuring ketosis

ketone meters
There are three ways to measure for ketones, which all come with pros and cons:


1. Urine stripsketostix

Urine strips are the simplest and cheapest way to measure ketosis. It is the first option for most beginners.

Dip the strip in your urine, and 15 seconds later the color change will show you the presence of ketones.20 If you get a high reading (a dark purple color), you’ll know that you’re in ketosis.

Pro: Ketone strips are available in regular pharmacies or via Amazon, and they’re very cheap. A strongly positive test reliably proves that you’re in ketosis.

Con: Results can vary depending on how much fluid you drink.21 The strips don’t show a precise ketone level. Finally, and most importantly, as you become increasingly keto-adapted and your body reabsorbs ketones from the urine, urine strips may become unreliable, even if you’re in ketosis.22 Thus, the test may sometimes stop working – always showing a negative result – when you’ve been in ketosis for several weeks.

Order urine strips at Amazon


2. Breath-ketone analyzers

ketonixBreath-ketone analyzers are a simple way to measure ketones23 in your breath. At $169 and up they are more expensive than urine strips. But they are cheaper than blood-ketone meters in the long run, as they are reusable any number of times.

These analyzers do not give you a precise ketone level when used on their own, but provide a color code for the general level.24 You can also hook it up to a computer or mobile phone (newer models) and get an exact ketone number via the app. Research shows that the device gives a decent correlation with blood ketones in most situations.

Pro: Reusable, simple test.

Con: Does not always correlate well with blood ketones. Not always accurate, and can in some situations show entirely misleading values.25 More expensive than urine strips, and higher cost upfront than a blood meter.

Order Ketonix

Video: Using breath-ketone analyzers


3. Blood-ketone metersBlood ketone meters: Precision extra and Keto-Mojo

Blood-ketone meters show an exact and current level of ketones in your blood.26 They are the gold standard and the most exact way to measure your ketosis level. The major disadvantage, however, is that they are quite expensive, formerly at least $2 per test.27

Now a new startup, called Keto-Mojo, is offering blood ketone testing for as little as $1 per test. Early reviews are positive, and if you’re concerned about the price of testing, we recommend using the Keto-Mojo meter.

GOOD: Exact, reliable.

BAD: Still expensive (at least $1 per test). Requires pricking your finger for a drop of blood.

Order the Keto-Mojo meter

Order the blood-ketone meter Precision Xtra with everything included, at Amazon


How to reach optimal ketosis

Getting into ketosis is not a black or white thing. It’s not like you’re either in ketosis, or out of ketosis. Instead, you can be in different degrees of ketosis, as this chart demonstrates.28 The numbers below refer to values when testing blood ketone levels.

The Ketone Zone

  • Below 0.5 mmol/l is not considered “ketosis”, although a value of, say, 0.2 demonstrates that you’re getting close. At this level, you’re still far away from maximum fat-burning.
  • Between 0.5 – 1.5 mmol/l is light nutritional ketosis. You’ll be getting a good effect on your weight, but perhaps not optimal.
  • Around 1.5 – 3 mmol/l is called optimal ketosis and is recommended for maximum mental and physical performance gains. It also maximizes fat burning, which can increase weight loss.
  • Over 3 mmol/l is higher than necessary. It will achieve neither better nor worse results than being at the 1.5–3 level. Higher numbers can also sometimes mean that you’re not getting enough food (“starvation ketosis”). For type 1 diabetics, it can be caused by a severe lack of insulin that requires urgent attention.29
  • Over 8–10 mmol/l: It’s normally impossible to get to this level just by eating a keto diet. It means that something is wrong. The most common cause by far is type 1 diabetes, with severe lack of insulin.30 Symptoms include feeling very sick with nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and confusion. The possible end result, ketoacidosis, may be fatal and requires immediate medical care. Learn more


Optimal ketosis experimentStories about achieving long-term ketosis

Here are the three reports from a 2-month experiment in reaching optimal ketosis:

  1. Experiment: Optimal ketosis for weight loss and increased performance
  2. Four weeks of strict LCHF and ketone monitoring
  3. Final report: Two months of strict LCHF and ketone monitoring

Do I have to reach optimal ketosis to experience the benefits?

In short, no. Many of the benefits, such as weight loss, are experienced at lower levels of ketosis (above 0.5).

However, you might need to reach higher levels of ketosis for high-level physical performance. There’s also a time element involved, it takes weeks or even a few months for the body to adapt completely.31

Learn keto from the experts

  • Keto-Adaptation and Performance
  • Low-carb living





6. Keto tips and guides

To make keto truly simple and enjoyable requires a few new skills. For example, how do you cook keto breakfasts that you love? How do you eat more fat? And what’s important to think about when dining out?

Here are all the guides you need.


Breakfast is a great time to eat keto. Who doesn’t love bacon and eggs? If you don’t, there are great keto options with no eggs at all.

Another strong option is to just have a cup of coffee, as many people get less hungry on a keto diet and don’t really need breakfast. There are many other options – both delicious and fast


So, what’s for lunch and dinner? You could for example have meat, fish or chicken dishes with vegetables and a rich full-fat sauce. There are a million alternatives.

Check out this guide to learn to cook amazing keto meals

cheap-800-rounded-1How to make keto cheap

A keto diet doesn’t have to be expensive. In this guide, you’ll learn how to make it super cheap

fat-rounded800How to eat more fat

Fat is filling and an amazing flavor enhancer. But how do you get enough of it in your diet? And how much fat should you really eat? Hint: enough to feel satisfied and not hungry.

Here’s how to do it


Do you have a hard time living without bread?

There are good and bad keto options. Spoiler: you’ll probably want to stay away from “low­-carb” bread from the grocery store! Here’s why, and what to do instead

dining-out-800-rounded-ffDining out

How do you eat keto at buffets, at a friend’s house or at fast­-food restaurants? Avoid the starchy foods (like bread or pasta) and ask for additional natural fat, like butter or olive oil, if you need it. Learn more

keto cheatingKeto cheating

To cheat or not to cheat? This guide will help you decide, and if you do decide to cheat, it will help you do it smarter

cheap-800-rounded-1Avoiding special products

Another common mistake on a keto diet is being fooled by the creative marketing of special “low-carb” products. Remember: An effective keto diet for weight loss should be based on real food.

Low-carb products like chocolate, candy, pasta and bread often use all kinds of deceptive marketing, while being just junk food – including carbs – in disguise. Learn more


More guides

Do you want more keto guides? We have more keto guides!



7. Potential side effects of ketosis

If you stop eating sugar and starch cold turkey (recommended) you may experience some side effects as your body adjusts. For most people these side effects tend to be mild and last a just few days. There are also ways to minimize them.

Another option is to decrease the intake of carbohydrates slowly, over a few weeks, to minimize side effects. But the “Nike way” (just do it) is probably the best choice for most people. Removing most sugar and starch often results in several pounds lost on the scale within a few days. This may be mostly fluids, but it’s great for motivation.

Here are side effects that may occur when you suddenly start a strict keto diet.


cheap-800-rounded-1Keto flu

By far the most common side effect is called the keto flu, or induction flu. It’s what makes some people feel really bad 2-3 days after starting keto.

The most common symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Light nausea
  • Irritability

These side effects rapidly subside as your body adapts and your fat burning increases. Within a week, they are usually gone.

The reason for this is that carbohydrate-rich foods may increase water retention in your body. When you stop eating high-carb foods, you’ll lose excess water and salt through your kidneys, peeing more than usual. This can result in dehydration and a lack of salt during the first week, before the body has adapted, resulting in the above symptoms.

You can minimize the keto flu by drinking more fluids and by temporarily increasing your salt intake. A good option is to drink a cup of bouillon/broth 1-2 times a day. This will usually keep the keto flu minor or even non-existent.

Alternatively, drink a few extra glasses of water and put more salt on your food.

Learn more about keto flu and how to treat it

Other common issues on keto

Beyond the keto flu, there are five more relatively common side effects. Many of them can also be mostly avoided by getting enough fluid and salt.32

There are also more things you can do to minimize any problems, click to read more if you’ve experienced one of these issues:

Less common issues

These are less commonly noticed issues that generally affect only a minority of people:

Keto myths

Beyond the usually minor and transient side effects that may occur (see above) there are tons of myths and fears that simply don’t hold up to closer scrutiny. For example, your brain is supposed to stop working unless you eat carbs. We’ll, that’s simply wrong.

Another common mistake is mixing up normal ketosis – resulting from a keto diet – with the dangerous medical emergency ketoacidosis. They are two very different things. Ketoacidosis does not happen just from eating a keto diet.33

There are many more unfounded fears about keto, that are mostly based on myths and misunderstandings. Will it kill your kidneys or destroy your bones? Will it stop your thyroid from working? Read all about them on our low-carb and keto myths page


8. Keto Q&A, troubleshooting and resources

Keto questions and answersThere are many common questions about keto, and we do our best to answer them all. Feel free to check out our full keto FAQ, or choose one of the questions below:


Resources to learn more

Get free video courses, keto recipes and news updates like over 500,000 people:


Top keto presentations

  • How to achieve a healthy low-carb lifestyle
  • How to formulate a low-carb keto diet


Keto interviews

  • How to make keto sustainable
  • Coming soon: Cooking keto with Kristie


Keto and LCHF basics

Here are a few of our hundreds of keto TV videos, these ones are focussed on keto basics:

  • Keto for beginners: Introduction
  • How to eat LCHF


Low-carb eventsUpcoming keto events

Do you want to meet other low-carb and keto fans and experts? Here’s an updated list of upcoming low-carb and keto events around the world


For more low-carb and keto sites, check out our recommended sites.


The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Performance by Stephen Phinney and Jeff Volek.


Excellent two-part podcast where the top ketogenic diet researcher Dominic D’Agostino is interviewed by Tim Ferriss: part 1 / part 2 (D’Agostino is also active on Twitter).


Keto diet food list – what to eat
14-day keto diet plan



Do you have any suggestions on how to improve this page about keto diets? Anything that is unclear or wrong? Any important information missing? Please let us know in the comments below.

  1. Scientific studies now prove that compared to other diets, low carb or keto is more effective.

    Here are two of the top studies showing more weight loss and improvements in health markers on low carb or keto:

    Similar results have been found in meta-analyses of all studies, for example this recent analysis:

    PLOS ONE 2015: Dietary Intervention for Overweight and Obese Adults: Comparison of Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat Diets. A Meta-Analysis

    Here are many more studies on the topic:

    The science of low carb

    Hundreds of success stories that people have sent us: low-carb success stories

    It’s safe to say that millions have experienced the potential benefits, as strict low-carb diets have been popular all over the world for decades, if not more.

  2. There are three different ketones, or “ketone bodies” used as fuel by the body. They are:

    1. Acetone
    2. Acetoacetate
    3. Beta-hydroxybutyrate


    Learn far more than you’ll ever need about ketones here:

    Dr. Peter Attia: Ketosis – advantaged or misunderstood state? (Part I)

  3. The brain consumes about 20% of the body’s required energy every day, despite only representing 2% of the body’s mass.

    A good bonus for weight loss, if you can get your hungry brain to burn fat for you, 24-7.

  4. Net carbs per 100 grams, i.e. what percentage of that food that is made up of digestible carbs.

    100 grams = 3.5 ounces.

    Net carbs (or “digestible carbs”) are total carbs minus fiber. Fiber is OK to eat since it doesn’t affect blood sugar levels.

  5. Net carbs per 100 grams, i.e. what percentage of that food that is made up of digestible carbs.

    100 grams = 3.5 ounces.

    Net carbs (or “digestible carbs”) are total carbs minus fiber. Fiber is OK to eat since it doesn’t affect blood sugar levels.

  6. Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Bulgarian, (different version), Chinese, Chinese (Taiwan), Croatian, Czech Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Ruthenian, Serbian, Slovak, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian and Uzbek.

    Do you have another translation or a significant improvement of one of the earlier ones? E-mail us (more info).

  7. Randomized controlled trials, the gold standard of scientific research on diet and health.

    For example Shai 2008 or Bazzano 2014.

    Full list of studies with the most important findings explained

  8. Obesity reviews 2014: Do ketogenic diets really suppress appetite? A systematic review and meta-analysis

    Obesity 2007: The effects of a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet and a low-fat diet on mood, hunger, and other self-reported symptoms.

  9. The superiority of a low-carb diet has for example been shown in these 3 studies: Daly 2005, Westman 2008 and Tay 2014.

    Full list of low-carb studies

  10. This has been shown in many studies. Here are two examples:

    Learn more

  11. Here are a couple of pilot studies where a ketogenic diet was used in cancer patients. The conclusions are that an insulin-inhibiting diet is safe and feasible in selected patients with advanced cancer.

    In brain cancer in particular the ketogenic diet looks like a promising addition to other treatments:

    NOTE: This is only an experimental additional treatment of selected cancers, with highly limited evidence. Many conventional cancer treatments (surgery, chemo etc.) are highly effective and they often offer excellent chances of a cure when used in early stages of the disease. To turn down such treatment would be a mistake that could easily be fatal.

  12. A small pilot study of five people with Parkinson’s disease showed clear improvement of symptoms on a ketogenic diet. There was no control group, so a placebo effect can’t be ruled out.
    Vanitallie, TB et al. Treatment of Parkinson disease with diet-induced hyperketonemia: a feasibility study. Neurology, 2005.

  13. One small study has found improvement in memory in people with mild cognitive impairment, using a ketogenic diet:

    There are studies linking high, or even “normal”, non-diabetic blood sugar levels to dementia and Alzheimer’s. Since a ketogenic diet lowers blood glucose it could conceivably cut the risk of developing these diseases. Take a look at this study for instance:

    Crane, Paul K. et al. Glucose Levels and Risk of Dementia. The New England Journal of Medicine, 2013.

  14. Fiber is digested by bacteria in the colon, and some of it is transformed into a fat called medium-chain triglycerides. This fat can be absorbed by the body and is very effective at turning into ketones. Thus eating more fiber (but still very low carb) could result in higher ketone levels in the blood.

  15. It might be beneficial to lower protein intake even more, especially when overweight, and then aim for 1 gram of protein per kg of desired weight.

  16. Here are two guides that may be helpful to you:

    Top 10 ways to eat more fat

    Keto fats and sauces – the best and the worst

  17. For example, the company Prüvit sells drinkable ketones, called KETO//OS with a multi-level marketing structure.


  18. This can sometimes be measured as early as during the first day on a ketogenic diet:

    AJCN: Breath acetone is a reliable indicator of ketosis in adults consuming ketogenic meals. (2002)

  19. This has been clearly demonstrated in several scientific studies:

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

  20. The strips measure for the ketone type acetoacetate. The presence of this in your urine indicates that you’re been in ketosis during the hours before testing.

  21. By drinking more water, you dilute the concentration of ketones in the urine and thus a lower level of ketones will be detected on the strips.

  22. This happens when the body becomes more adapted to using ketones, meaning that they increasingly stay in the blood to be used as energy instead of being lost through the urine.

    After 3 weeks the kidneys have been found to excrete ketones at one third the rate than after just 4 days despite having the same blood ketone levels:

    Diabetes 1985: Ketone Body Production and Disposal in Diabetic Ketosis: A Comparison with Fasting Ketosis

  23. Breath analyzers measure the ketone acetone.

  24. For example, the Ketonix meter reflects the following levels of acetone:

    • Blue – negative
    • Green – mild ketosis
    • Yellow – moderate ketosis
    • Red – deep ketosis

  25. For example, if you recently ate a lot of carbs e.g. a pizza, this can result in misleading high values on the Ketonix.

  26. Blood-ketone meters measure the ketone beta-hydroxybyturate (BHB).

  27. A meter with 10 ketone-test strips and 30 needles included, used to cost about $110 and then an additional $2 per test after that.

  28. The chart is from the excellent book The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Performance by Professor Stephen Phinney and Jeff Volek. Highly recommended.


  29. Take insulin, eat carbs (if your blood glucose isn’t already high), and contact medical services immediately.

  30. Other possibilities include doing a strict keto diet while breastfeeding or on a class of diabetes medications called SGLT-2 inhibitors (e.g. Farxiga, Jardiance, Invokana).

  31. For more on this, here’s an interesting article from two of the top keto researchers in the world, Stephen Phinney and Jeff Volek:

    Virta Health: Keto-Adaptation – Some Clues to Its Complexity

  32. E.g. one or two cups of bouillon per day.

  33. By far the most common cause is having type 1 diabetes and taking too little insulin.

    In rare cases ketoacidosis may also happen on a keto diet, but normally only when combined with other predisposing factors:

    • Breastfeeding on a keto diet (don’t do a strict keto diet when breastfeeding)
    • Medication with SGLT-2 inhibitors for type 2 diabetes

    Learn more

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  1. Annastacia Steele
    I started this diet November 30th 2016, i did 2.5 months very strict keto diet. Now I'm moderator with just the addition of sweet potatoes-which i eat everyday. Some strawberries, pawpaw, and dark chocolate with stevia occasionally. 1 was 230lbs when i started now I'm 172lbs and counting without exercise. This diet is the only one that works for me.
    Reply: #137
  2. Ketoooo
    Just by being pregnant you shouldn't do any diet without permission from a doctor. Not including that being 80 pounds throughout a pregnancy is EXTREMELY unhealthy. You need to have this conversation with your doctor instead of a forum.
  3. 2 comments removed
  4. Meagan
    Can someone explain how to count the carbs to make sure you are staying under 20/day?


  5. Sherry
    Thanks for sharing Carolyn. I just received my free meter and realized I wasn't nearly as close to Optimal Ketosis as I thought I was. Morning fasting rate of .5 after 11 days of strict lchf. The meter will definitely help me get into the optimal state.

    February 9
    I am in America and I just ordered a free meter from Nova Max (with purchase of two boxes of strips) as Abbott did not have any available free meters according to their website. Go to novacares.com or google "Nova Biomedical meter offer." As others have said in the comments they make their money off the strips- a box of fifty was 19.99 making them .39 per strip. That was listed as a "special" price, and I purchased two boxes to get the meter so my total was 39.98, with free shipping. I have alcohol pads at home and the meter comes with the lancing device and lancets. Also it says there is a savings card that allows cash purchases of the boxes to be $20 at the pharmacy.
    Reply: #106

  6. Christina
    Question pls. I need help. I have been on keto at least since jan 17 and I did extremely well in my book. Lost over 40 lbs, got off of bp meds and statins. My kidney and liver function is just beautiful. Problem is is that after the keto flu and all that stuff I feel super great just like everybody says. Then about 3 weeks in I start feeling weird. I can't sleep, I feel super anxietious . Sometimes I get the shakes as if my blood sugar were too low. And I have absolutely no energy at all. Totally sluggish. I don't know what to do. I am in ketosis and take electrolyte drops cause I tend to get dizzy and that is going well. Does anybody have an answer to this pls. Is this normal? and if so how long does this take? I am thinking it has to do with fat adaptation but not sure....ugh oh and I also stall completely.
    Reply: #124
  7. Linda
    How many carbs per day for a moderate low carb diet?
    Reply: #109
  8. Peter Biörck Team Diet Doctor
    Hi Linda!

    Have a look here:

    How many carbs per day for a moderate low carb diet?

  9. 1 comment removed
  10. Misi
    I am going thru a yoyo stage on my Keto diet and I don't know what to do. I'm fairly new in that I've been doing Keto since Nov '16 and have lost 32 lbs, from 315 lbs. I need help to determine how much fat, protien, and carb intake should be on a daily basis. I feel like I'm in a state of maintenance. I don't exercise and I'm sure that would help with weight loss, but I would right now, I would like to get to a comfortable place before doing so, like 270 lb. Please help. Thank you!
    Reply: #112
  11. Peter Biörck Team Diet Doctor
    Hi Misi!

    We try to avoid exact figures..here are our rough guidelines:

    Strict low carb, ketogenic <20 gram carbs per day.
    Protein, approx 1 gram per kg target weight.
    Fat, until satiety, but not more.

    Best of luck! :)

    I am going thru a yoyo stage on my Keto diet and I don't know what to do. I'm fairly new in that I've been doing Keto since Nov '16 and have lost 32 lbs, from 315 lbs. I need help to determine how much fat, protien, and carb intake should be on a daily basis. I feel like I'm in a state of maintenance. I don't exercise and I'm sure that would help with weight loss, but I would right now, I would like to get to a comfortable place before doing so, like 270 lb. Please help. Thank you!

  12. Kristy
    I'm sorry to say, that while forcing your body to produce ketone bodies IS an effective weight loss strategy, it's also incredibly bad for your body. Ketone bodies are only produced when your brain is so deprived of sugar that it risks not functioning properly. Your body creates ketone bodies because they can pass energy through the blood-brain barrier while fat molecules cannot. The fruity acetone breath is because the breakdown of ketones is extremely acidic, and to prevent your blood ph from fatally changing your body gets rid of it any way it can. You can buy test strips and do a variety of ketone tests because doctors do NOT want your body to be in ketosis. Ketoacidosis can happen. You can actually die from it. Don't go on this diet. Yes you can try and monitor ketone bodies and stop its progression before it's too late -- but why would you harm your body just because it can recover? How foolish. It's irresponsible to tell people that this is a safe diet.
    Replies: #126, #133, #134
  13. Margaret
    This is not a diet if you have gastritis or pancreas issues. This diet could even bring on those problems!
  14. Elizabeth
    Does anyone know if this diet is safe for a Type 1 diabetic?
    Reply: #121
  15. Betty anne
    Being in ketosis - is that same as having acidic body? We hear that for cancer to grow it needs acid and should make body alkaline - so am wondering how this affects cancer growth. Thanks in advance
  16. 1 comment removed
  17. There's a better way
    This sounds completely unsafe and ridiculous. You need sugars and protein for muscle mass and energy AND to burn fat. Any of you that are experiencing really low energy levels... well.. yeah?
  18. Micci
    Hello, I have Lipoedema and I'm a newbie to the Keto diet.
    - Is this diet it ok for someone trying to get pregnant and during a pregnancy?
    - I know intermittent fasting isn't for anyone who's pregnant but what if you're trying to get pregnant?
    - What are your thoughts on seeds, are they ok, and if so what about buckwheat crackers?
    - Am I right in thinking beans and lentils are out as they're a carbohydrate?
    Thank you.
  19. john gilletti
    The people who post here are in no way; experts.
    Only the people that have lost weight are the experts. They followed an eating regimen, stuck to it with will power, focus, and determination.
    The contrarians write negative posts because they are still brainwashed by outdated information that was originally put forth by coporate giants in order to increase profits.
    If you do not like the information in these posts, just go troll somewhere else. People are losing weight here by using a safe an effective way of ridding their bodies of unhealthy amounts of fat.
    Reply: #136
  20. Peter Biörck Team Diet Doctor
    Hi Elizabeth!

    You can find more reading here:

    Does anyone know if this diet is safe for a Type 1 diabetic?

  21. 1 comment removed
  22. Blanky White
    I'm 46 years old and started gaining weight, how Keto help me please I need to lose some weight!!!
  23. cameron roy
    This is normal. It is your body's way of balancing out. You might experience a euphoric feeling from time to time as well. This is similar to fasting. When you are feeling like this just eat something with a little more carbs or sugar. I like vit.c. or a banana. Another thing you can try is being active when you are feeling anxious. Your body may be telling you to move around a bit, as it is full of excess energy now. Try doing some light cardiovascular workout and see how you feel. Message back of you have any questions.
  24. Anonymous
    Will this definitely work ?
  25. Jono
    Obesity and diabetes are way worse and much more of a problem. It's not for everyone but no diet is.
  26. Lisa
    If you're in Canada you can get a free "FeeStyle Presicision Neo" glucose/ketone meter if you buy 100 glucose test strips. If you don't want to buy glucose strips the meter is only 39.99 at the pharmacy. 10 ketone strips are 26.00 at the pharmacy. No tax.


  27. Lisa
    Wow I'm glad I checked around. Walmart in Canada sells this same meter for 8.99 so I went right over to grab it. This has to be an error because 39.99 seemed to be the standard pricing. What a score!
  28. Jimmy
    Good score Lisa! I gotta look at our walmart here in Montana
  29. Lisa
    Hope you find a good deal too Jimmy.
  30. Nicole Gonzales
    Do you have a plan for pescaratians?
  31. Sara
    Hi everyone iv been trying this heathly eating plan x iv lost a little but still tryin everyday my goal to gave lean body x look good for me, iv been a wee bit spooked with some if the comments above which I hope arest not fact x just speculation
  32. Jeanmarie
    Ketosis is not the same as ketoacidosis, which is highly unlikely to occur unless you're a Type 1 diabetic who didn't take her insulin.
  33. dontbdumb
    because doctors do NOT want your body to be in ketosis.

    Hate to tell you, but doctors would rather you take a pill than put your body through normal wear and tear because many get paid money to push drugs instead of opting for any sort of a dietary meal plan with exercise.
    While it is good to be skeptical, you aren't being skeptical enough and trusting in the wrong people. I'm not saying doctors are right, but if they are saying not eating carbs is a bad thing, you may want to question it. Remember, it wasn't too long ago that bread was a 3-5 a day recommended portion on the food pyramid while vegetables were only a 2-3.

  34. Patrick Sweeney
    If you are interested in a beginners guide to Keto check out my interview with Run on Fat producer Donal O'Neil. http://www.pjsweeney.com/resources/how-to-adopt-high-fat-low-carb-hfl...

    You can also see a day in my diet in the October 2016 issue of Outside Magazine. Sign up to my monthly newsletter if this is the kind of stuff you're interested in! I hope it helps you out.

  35. Rose
    I fully agree with u.. well said Bye trolls
  36. Lekeicha Douglas
    I need help...the concept is understood but the foods that are right and I also heard that fasting is involved...can you share your tips please
  37. Diane
    I'd like to try this but what does everyone do when there are birthdays and anniversaries coming up? It's my anniversary so I want to celebrate it😉
    Reply: #157
  38. Nagarjuna.P
    Sir please translation in Telugu language
  39. Nagarjuna.P
    What is the ketogenic diet in future problam my life.
  40. Scott Deuty
    Here is my response to the benefits of this diet.
    I have two stories of weight loss using the Ketogenic Diet:
    - Female Author Fay Lynn Day lost 132 lbs in 19 months, and
    - Male author Scott Deuty lost 59 pounds in eight months and has kept it off for 3 ½ years
    Each of these amazing accomplishments were based on the methods outlined in the book titled, “Secrets of an Over 50 Former Fat Man” https://weight-loss-over-50.com/ and written by Scott Deuty himself.
    This diet worked for us without side effects and hunger. Ms. Day lost her weight with the addition of walking to burn calories AND she quit smoking in the process. Most people gain weight when they quit smoking mostly because eating satisfies the cravings once based on the desire for nicotine.
    The weight loss can be accelerated with increased levels of exercise. Mr. Deuty lost his weight with the addition of aerobic exercise and high repetition, low weight dumb bell exercises starting out with 5 lb. dumb bells. He has since moved up to 45 lb. dumb bells and put some weight back on as muscle. The weight loss acceleration can be as easy or as rigorous as one chooses. Mr. Deuty was not without hindrances as he is partially paralyzed and has had a heart attack. If these two can lose weight with their restrictions, anyone can!
    The key to the diet is the main reason for weight loss without hunger. Ingesting low amounts of carbohydrates does work as the body turns to stored fat for energy. As a result, the fat is burned and the weight comes off. It also significantly reduces your desire to eat and you tend to feel full on a diet of protein and fat.
    A friend of Mr. Deuty recently had a heart attack and changed his diet to low fat at the advice of his doctor. He stated that he feels like “he is always hungry”. Mr. Deuty on the other hand feels he has added ten years to his life even though a hereditary condition often yields cholesterol levels of 450-570. Although one can’t argue with medical advice neither can one ignore the results of success. Mr. Deuty took his doctor’s advice of ingesting lower amounts of fat while still losing weight and reducing cholesterol by ingesting a diet based mainly on protein.
    One more theory on the Ketogenic Diet is that the reduction in wheat and carbonation reduces bloating thus allowing the body to “slim down”. Mr. Deuty went from a XL shirts to a size Small while reducing his waist size from 38 inches to 30 inches. The results are obvious in his photographs at https://weight-loss-over-50.com/.
    Both authors are available for further comment via email, phone, text, or Skype. Please consider our stories for your article.
    Scott Deuty, author
    “Secrets of an Over 50 Former Fat Man” https://weight-loss-over-50.com/
  41. sandra nan
    need help, i am 66 and 180 lbs trying to heal my liver from fat. i am a diabete. and doing this on my own.i have a fatty liver and trying to get rid of some of the fat. wake up with bad taste in my mouth. Am i getting there, been on it 2 months. I also keep a food dairy of everything i eat for the doctor and i take my sugar 3 times a day so far been under 200. Right now around 170 and down as low as 75. How much sweet potatoes a day?
    Reply: #144
  42. Chizzy
    Pls my question is could it be gud for a pregnant woman to take all dis diet just to loss weight?
  43. Peter Biörck Team Diet Doctor
    Hi Sandra!

    Sweet potatoes is not a part of a ketogenic diet.

    need help, i am 66 and 180 lbs trying to heal my liver from fat. i am a diabete. and doing this on my own.i have a fatty liver and trying to get rid of some of the fat. wake up with bad taste in my mouth. Am i getting there, been on it 2 months. I also keep a food dairy of everything i eat for the doctor and i take my sugar 3 times a day so far been under 200. Right now around 170 and down as low as 75. How much sweet potatoes a day?

  44. 2 comments removed
  45. Filip
    best Article I've ever read about ketosis!
  46. Diane williams
    I've been on the keto plan for 2 weeks. I'm not hungry and I believe doing fine, but I've only lost 4 lbs. I feel that I should have lost more. Perhaps I am not eating enough fat. Would that affect my weight loss?
  47. Eric Quinn
    I'm curious, whether or not this diet distinguishes between simple and complex carbohydrates?
  48. ShirleyBoggs
    I've been trying to do keto since May15th. Carbs below 20, water good, exercise 3xs a week.
    No loss of weight or inches. Been thru the keto flu. Fasted once 36 hours. What am I doing wrong ???? So frustrated, please help !!!
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