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?


15,393 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

Ketosis

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:

 

Recipes

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 chicken and Feta cheese plateMon
  • Keto tuna plateTue
  • Keto salami and Brie cheese plateWed
  • Keto burger and cabbage plateThu
  • Keto turkey plateFri
  • Keto ground beef plateSat
  • Keto chicken and green beans plateSun

 

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.

 

countries3

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:

  • 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"
  • Reversing type 2 diabetes in only 2.5 months with keto and fasting
  • The keto diet: "It's unbelievable that it could be this easy"

 

Categories

 

Top success story videos

  • A ketogenic diet and fewer vegetables
  • Living low carb with Chris Hannaway

More

 


 

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.

KetoSupplements

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

More

 

 

 
 

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-800-roundedBreakfast

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

meals-800-roundedMeals

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

bread-800-roundedBread

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
  • Keto-Adaptation and Performance

More

Keto interviews

  • A ketogenic diet and fewer vegetables
  • Challenging The Dogma

More

Keto and LCHF basics

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

  • How to eat LCHF
  • The 5 common mistakes on LCHF

More

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

Websites

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

Books

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

Podcasts

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).

More

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

 

Comments

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

    Ketones

    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.
     

    Pruvitnow.com

  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.

    perf

  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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176 Comments

  1. Jean
    I have same problem as Shirley Boggs. I lost 8 lbs first month and now the whole second month nothing. No weight loss or inches. I'm preparing the keto meals only and nothing is happening. Everyone says just hang in there because your body doesn't know to eat the stored fat. How long before this happens? Frustrated as well. thanks
  2. Lindsay
    Hi everyone. My husband and I have been eating low carb but not on the 2-week keto challenge (because I messed up and thought I could just pick and choose among the recipes etc - d'oh) for about two weeks. I have gained a couple of pounds - which is really disappointing - so I bought some urine ketone sticks to get an idea of where I was in this strange and wonderful journey. I am definitely in ketosis. But I'm gaining weight!! Am I eating too much protein and too much dairy? But how on earth do you consume enough fat without eggs and cream sauces - I'd throw up if I had to drink coffee with butter in it. Any ideas? Thank you!
  3. Crystal Sbonek
    This diet has really worked for me. My doctor suggested it and I'm down 22.5 in 5 weeks. At first it was kinda rough getting used to, but after the first week, it just became my daily routine. Get up to drink my coffee and water at work. Eat around 10:30-11(brunch), drink plenty throughout the day and eat around 5:30. Nothing after 6pm until 10:30-11 am next day. Yes, that means fasting for 17 hours but it really works. When nothing else did. But, as always directed, ask your doctor before you start any new diet to see if it's right for you.
  4. Crystal Sbonek
    And as far as sugar and protein, you get it in this diet. Your sugars are from fruits, veggies,etc. I never feel deprived and my blood work is great now. I also have more energy and I am able to focus more.
  5. David
    As high fat intake might be a little pushy for the Liver in the beginning. Is it possible to use a Liver purifier while in Keto? Or is it contradictory for adaptation?
  6. chippi
    I am gaining lot of weight.how do I start reducing my weight with keto diet.can you please help me out?can you suggest some diet plan so that I can continue it as im not able to exercise due to my daily routine.
  7. Ilja
    Hi Diane,
    Do just as Dr. Fung advises: You celebrate these special occasions! Then compensate by intermittent fasting the next Day or longer to get rid of the extra pounds and the cravings that return.
    Last week we celebrated my daughters hen- night with a high tea and I thouroughly enjoyed all tastes. No nagging about my diet, wonderful!
    As a bonus I even lost an extra kilogram this week :-)
    So happy anniversary to you! Enjoy and best wishes to you.

    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😉

  8. Cynthia
    I do not necessarily want to loose weight , I just need my tummy fat gone. How can I achieve this usingthe ketogenuc diet
  9. Jennifer
    I just started the low carb diet yesterday. Wny does my belly look more fatter than i was but my scale said i lost weight?
  10. 1 comment removed
  11. Mike
    Been on the Keto diet for 8 weeks now. My A1C went from 9.6 to 6.8 which is great.
    Not so great is my cholesterol. Went from 234 to 260, HDL 41 to 48, LDA 120 to 167, Triglycerides 367 to 226.

    Maybe I need to give it longer. Just hope I don't keel over in the meantime.

    I just read the cholesterol can go up with the Keto diet, but I wonder for how long. Does it stay up forever?

    Reply: #163
  12. 1 comment removed
  13. Not so great is my cholesterol. Went from 234 to 260, HDL 41 to 48, LDA 120 to 167, Triglycerides 367 to 226

    Looks like a neutral or positive change. HDL and trigs are both way improved.

  14. Samantha Bulot
    Hello, I'm considering purchasing your 30 day meal plan. I can't afford the whole thing tho. Isn there a promo code to lower the price. I really need to loose 40 lbs. I'm having to much health problems. Alot of risks arising.
    Reply: #165
  15. Peter Biörck Team Diet Doctor
    Hi Samantha!

    First month of membership is free and you can cancel your membership whenever you want.
    So you can actually have 30 days for free. :)

    Reply: #171
  16. Tonya
    Hi,

    Is there an alternative oil comparable to coconut oil because I cannot take coconut oil and I see that coconut oil is suggested to be used on this diet

  17. shanif
    Thanks a lot for providing such a great article on a ketogenic diet. looking out to know everything about ketogenic diet and this article is as per expectation.
  18. Jane
    Any useful books about Keto diet?
    Reply: #169
  19. Emily
    One of the best book about ketogenic diet, as for me https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074M5YKMQ
    Reply: #170
  20. Emily
    "Ketogenic Diet Guide For Beginners: Effective Weight Loss Ketogenic Diet Plan With Best Low Carb Keto Recipes" by Linda Croll
  21. sharp sand
    If one month subscription is free why do you need our credit card number?
    If you have an aim of helping people and ask for credit card no. etc. what kind of a humanity you want to work for?
    There are millions of people on the world especially at third world countries that don't have a credit card.
    İf you work for Western countries say so.
    If you have a humanitarian aim, why don't you give one month subscription as pro-bono?
    You say this diet is a revolution for humanity.
    No this is a revolution for your wallet.
    Be honest....
    Reply: #172
  22. Peter Biörck Team Diet Doctor
    Hi Sharp Sand!

    Is Diet Doctor a free website? Yes and no. Everything that’s needed to revolutionize your health and weight is free forever. And we’re adding more free stuff every single day.
    Here are just a few examples of things that are free forever:

    * Daily low-carb news
    * The best info online on LCHF / How to lose weight / Normalizing blood sugar / Normalizing blood pressure etc.
    * Recipes
    * Lots of success stories
    *Lots of videos – interviews, presentations etc.

    However, we also need to pay fair salaries to our twelve employees and many freelancers. And fuel our rapid growth, to get closer to our long-term purpose of empowering people everywhere to revolutionize their health.

    https://www.dietdoctor.com/about/is-diet-doctor-free

  23. 1 comment removed
  24. Brandie Vizzier
    One tiny problem. Alot of the items you list as vegetables are actually fruits. A vegetable is a stem, stalk, leaf, or root. If it is not one of those things it is not a vegetable.
  25. Alexander Keto
    Hi,

    I would love to get in contact with the owners of this website. My name is Alexander Keto, and I live the Keto Way..Literally as it's my last name.

    Is it plausible to reach out to me to see how i could help promote the Keto Way and Diet.

    Thank you,
    Alexander Keto

  26. Ros
    How do you sustain the Keto diet long term? My will power is pretty good but it seems like it would get boring real fast.
  27. 3 comments removed
  28. Lukas
    Really great article! Thanks for sharing this. Make sure to join the group KETOpedia (https://www.facebook.com/groups/ketopedia) on Facebook, where you can find everything you need to know about keto: guidance, what to expect and tips & tricks from real people who are willing to share details about their own keto journeys.
  29. Kristin
    Can I pick and choose what recipes for the free 2 week challenge? Or do I have to stick to the recipes provided whether I like the food or not? I want to like this diet and force feeding food I dislike most likely won't work as I won't stick with it. I am hoping for a big yes to swapping recipes.
    Reply: #182
  30. Peter Biörck Team Diet Doctor
    Hi Kristin!

    If you swap to other recipes provided on this site it should not be a problem.

    Good luck! :)

  31. Michael
    This is by far the best resource I've found on the subject. I am truly grateful for the time and effort put into this sight.

    Michael

  32. 1 comment removed
  33. Frances
    This is my 5th week of being on a Keto diet. Today i find out i have fibriods as per the reason i have been in so much pain. Will a Keto diet help. i hope so. i have lost some weight. does anyone have more advice
  34. emma Graci
    Hi Frances - Fibroids love animal and dairy fats.
  35. Judy
    Do you have an app that helps with carb counting or can you recommend a good one out of the many available?
  36. Cali
    Hey Judy I like using My Fitness Pal to count my macro's and see my ratio of protein, fats, and carbs.
  37. 1 comment removed
  38. Lukas
    Hi Keto movement, there is a group on Facebook for all beginners (https://www.facebook.com/groups/ketopedia/) where experienced people share their stories and answer questions. Feel free to share your own personal successes on KETOpedia, or even bumps in the road, because as you know a keto (life) is a journey, not a destination, and sometimes those bumps need others to help overcome. Cheers.
  39. 1 comment removed
  40. John Minarcik
    thank you so much for this informative articles it really helped me getting my shape again and I'm planning to go on this diet all my life really.
    they are mistakes you should avoid such as eating too much protein 20 % is enough because of protein when it's too much it will convert to glycogen and stored in your body. focus on potassium, sodium, and magnesium they are your friend in this type of diet if you don't want to feel dizzy and get the keto flu. and what I suggest to you guys is to keep intensity in your training so you can adapt really fast and your body uses fat as a primary energy. they are really good cookbooks that can make things enjoyable and fun. I know eating the same things can make things harder but you can use cookbooks out there just type in google "keto diet cookbooks" or use this one I test it myself is great bit.ly/2lv0qA7
    one more thing is flexibility cause they are events that you can't avoid eating manage a day in the week and eat carbs if you like but never exceed 300 carbs.
  41. Royce Bailey
    Can you have mushrooms on a Keto diet?
  42. Gavin
    Thank you for the article. Really handy single read to get the low down on this diet. I've been looking to start for a while but been looking around for information on it. Come across lots and lots of recipe information, etc. Oddly, the best I've found was on a Dukan Diet website???? http://www.dukantoucan.com/category/keto-recipes They seem to be posting lots daily. Anyway, thanks again, really great advice.
  43. Alexis
    Quick question: Why is brewed herbal tea 0 carbs, yet iced tea(which is also brewed, though usually different types of tea) is 32 on your drink guide? I'm not understanding the difference. Thanks.
  44. 1 comment removed
  45. Nicki
    Is this safe for someone with hypothyroidism?
    Reply: #198
  46. Peter Biörck Team Diet Doctor
    Hi Nicki!

    You can find some interesting reading here:
    https://www.dietdoctor.com/possible-recover-hypothyroidism

    Is this safe for someone with hypothyroidism?

  47. missy meakin
    i just have a smart phone, no home computer. is it possible for you to develope an app?
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