The Ketogenic Diet: A Complete Guide for Beginners

The keto diet is based on a low-carb, high-fat diet. It is believed that it not only helps in losing weight, but also significantly improves health. But is it really so, and what side effects can the ketogenic diet lead to? Let's figure it out together!

Bacon, eggs and avocado are allowed foods on the ketogenic diet

If you have only heard about the benefits of the ketogenic diet, but have never studied this issue in depth, this material will help you understand whether this nutritional principle is right for you. We've put together a comprehensive guide to the keto diet for beginners that gives you all the information you need.

Basics of the ketogenic diet

The keto diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet that shares many similarities with the Atkins diet and various low-carb diets.

The main principle of the ketogenic diet is to drastically reduce carbohydrate intake and replace it with fats. Against the background of carbohydrate starvation of the cells, a state of ketosis develops, when the body begins to break down fat for energy production - thanks to this, the kilograms melt away.

At the same time, during the ketogenic diet, glucose and insulin levels fall into the normal range, which has a good effect on general health.

Different types of ketogenic diets

There are many options for the keto diet:

  1. Standard ketogenic diet.This is a very low carb, moderate protein, high fat diet. In general, the diet is 70% fat, 20% protein and only 10% carbohydrates.
  2. Cyclic keto diet.This nutritional regimen involves 1-2 days of high carbohydrate intake, alternating with 5-6 days of a regular ketogenic diet.
  3. Targeted ketogenic diet.This diet allows you to add additional carbohydrates during periods of intense physical activity.
  4. High Protein Keto Diet.This meal plan is similar to a regular ketogenic diet, but with more protein—up to 35% of your daily diet.

At the same time, the standard and high-protein diets are the most common, but the cyclic and target versions are used most often by bodybuilders and professional athletes.

We'll focus mostly on the standard keto diet, but many of its principles apply to other variations as well.

What is ketosis

Ketosis is a metabolic state in which the body uses fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. This happens when you significantly reduce the intake of carbohydrates, thereby limiting the intake of glucose, which is the main source of energy for the cells of our body.

Following a ketogenic diet is the most effective way to achieve a state of ketosis. This typically requires consuming 20-25 grams of carbohydrates per day, as well as supplementing the fat percentage by adding meat, fish, nuts and healthy oils.

It is also important to reduce your protein intake. If you eat large amounts of protein-containing foods, they can be converted to glucose, which slows down the transition to a state of ketosis.

Practicing intermittent fasting also helps initiate the process of ketosis. The most common method is eating for 8 hours a day, of which the remaining 16 hours of the day are reserved for fasting.

Tests can help determine whether you have reached a state of ketosis: they visually show the amount of ketones your body is producing. Some symptoms may also indicate ketosis, including thirst, dry mouth, frequent urination, and decreased appetite.

How the ketogenic diet helps you lose weight

You can effectively lose weight by following the keto diet

The keto diet is not only an effective way to lose weight, but it also reduces the risk of many diseases. Several studies have shown that the ketogenic diet is just as effective for weight loss as a low-fat diet. In addition, the keto diet is so satisfying that you can lose weight without counting calories and following a strict diet.

One study found that those on a ketogenic diet lost more pounds per pound on average than those who reduced their fat intake. The reduction in blood pressure and triglyceride levels was also a bonus.

Ketogenic diets for diabetes and prediabetes

The keto diet helps you get rid of excess body fat, which is commonly associated with type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and metabolic syndrome. One study found that a ketogenic diet improved insulin sensitivity in respondents by up to 75%.

In another study, women with type 2 diabetes experienced a significant decrease in hemoglobin levels, an indicator of blood sugar control, after 90 days of a ketogenic diet.

In another type 2 diabetes trial, participants followed a ketogenic diet for two years and lost an average of 12 kilograms during that time. They also noted that blood sugar-lowering drugs are used less often because they are no longer needed.

Other Health Benefits of the Keto Diet

She noted the health benefits of the ketogenic diet

The ketogenic diet was originally created to treat a number of neurological conditions, including epilepsy. Research is now showing that the keto diet may be helpful for other health problems as well.

Heart diseases

A ketogenic diet can reduce heart disease risk factors by lowering body fat, cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar.


The keto diet is currently being researched as an adjunctive treatment for cancer. Some studies show that such a diet can slow the growth of tumors.

Alzheimer's disease

The keto diet may reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and slow its progression.

polycystic ovary syndrome

The ketogenic diet lowers insulin levels, and it is this excess hormone that leads to ovarian hyperstimulation and various disorders.


Studies have shown that the keto diet can significantly reduce seizures in children with epilepsy.

Parkinson's disease

One study showed that the diet helped reduce the symptoms of the disease.

Traumatic brain injury

Several studies have shown that the keto diet can reduce the effects of traumatic brain injuries.

However, it is important to understand that the tests carried out do not yet prove anything.

Foods to avoid on the keto diet

The basic principle of the ketogenic diet is to limit high-carbohydrate foods. Below is a list of foods that should be reduced or completely eliminated from the diet on a ketogenic diet:

  • soda, juices, cocktails, cakes, ice cream, sweets;
  • wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereals;
  • all fruits, small portions of berries are acceptable;
  • peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas;
  • potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips;
  • mayonnaise and salad dressings;
  • barbecue sauce, honey mustard, teriyaki sauce, ketchup, etc. ;
  • processed vegetable oils;
  • alcohol;
  • diet food without sugar.

Foods you can eat on a keto diet

If you follow a keto diet, your diet should consist mainly of the following foods:

  • red meat, sausage, ham, bacon, chicken, turkey;
  • salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel;
  • egg;
  • butter and cream;
  • raw cheeses: cheddar, mozzarella, cream, goat, blue cheese;
  • nuts and seeds;
  • healthy oils;
  • avocado or freshly made guacamole;
  • low-carb vegetables;
  • salt, pepper, herbs and spices.

Sample menu on a keto diet for one week

In addition to the keto diet, you can prepare delicious and varied meals for yourself.

To get you started right, here's a sample weekly menu to follow while on the ketogenic diet.


  • Breakfast:egg and vegetable muffins with tomatoes.
  • Dinner:chicken salad with feta cheese and olives drizzled with olive oil.
  • Dinner:salmon cooked in butter with asparagus.


  • Breakfast:omelette with tomatoes, basil and spinach.
  • Dinner:a cocktail of almond milk, peanut butter, spinach and cocoa powder with a portion of chopped strawberries.
  • Dinner:with cheese taco salsa.


  • Breakfast:nut milk pudding with chia seeds, coconut and blackberries.
  • Dinner:shrimp salad with avocado.
  • Dinner:pork chop with parmesan cheese, broccoli and salad.


  • Breakfast:omelette with avocado, pepper, onion and spices with salsa sauce.
  • Dinner:a handful of nuts, celery, guacamole and salsa.
  • Dinner:chicken stuffed with pesto and cream cheese, garnished with fried zucchini.


  • Breakfast:Greek yogurt without sugar, with cocoa powder and berries.
  • Dinner:ground beef with taco salad and chopped bell peppers.
  • Dinner:mixed vegetables with cauliflower.


  • Breakfast:pancakes with cream cheese and blueberries.
  • Dinner:zucchini and Asian pasta salad.
  • Dinner:white fish cooked in olive oil with cabbage and pine nuts.


  • Breakfast:fried egg with mushrooms.
  • Dinner:chicken with sesame seeds and broccoli.
  • Dinner:Spaghetti with Bolognese sauce.

Side effects of the ketogenic diet

During the first weeks of the ketogenic diet, the girl felt mildly unwell

Although the ketogenic diet is safe for most healthy people, some people may still experience a number of side effects during the initial transition to a new diet. Many people experience a number of symptoms that have been grouped under the unofficial name of keto flu. Usually, these symptoms disappear a few days after the start of the diet.

Symptoms of Keto Flu:

  • diarrhea, constipation, nausea, or vomiting;
  • decreased energy and mental performance;
  • sleep problems.

To minimize these symptoms, start with a regular low-carb diet and stick to it for a few weeks before switching to keto. This teaches your body to burn more fat before completely eliminating carbohydrates from your diet.

The keto diet can also affect the balance of water and minerals in the body. The solution is to talk to your doctor about the need to take certain vitamins and supplements.

At the beginning of the ketogenic diet, it is recommended to avoid excessive calorie restriction. In general, this nutritional principle leads to weight loss without intentionally reducing the calories consumed.

Risks of the Ketogenic Diet

Staying on a ketogenic diet for a long time threatens with many negative consequences. These include:

  • low level of protein in the blood;
  • excess fat in the liver;
  • stones in the kidneys;
  • micronutrient deficiency.

In addition, many drugs designed to treat type 2 diabetes, when combined with a keto diet, increase the risk of developing the dangerous condition of diabetic ketoacidosis. People with diabetes should always consult their doctor before starting a keto diet.