Our Ultimate Guide To The Keto Diet

New diet plans and eating regimens seem to hit the market on a daily basis. And with the health and fitness industry growing at a rapid speed, this is no surprise.

Many diets claim to have all the answers and quick-fix solutions for weight-loss. But as we all know, the fads tend to outweigh the effective eating plans we have come to know.

One diet that is gaining popularity in the weight-loss community is the Keto Diet.

What Is The Keto Diet?

The Keto Diet is a super low carb eating regime that places the focus on consuming high quantities of fat.

It requires the replacement of carbohydrates with fat. The body can run on two different energy sources, carbohydrates and fat. Due to the low intake of carbs, the body uses fat as an alternative fuel reservoir.

Those who favor this diet plan, see it as more of a long-term lifestyle and not a temporary fix. With benefits exceeding weight-loss and extending into wellness.

This diet's popularity has also resulted in the development of ketogenic diet pills that could fast-track the state of ketosis.

Bottom Line:
The Keto Diet is a super low carb diet that replaces carbohydrates with fat as an energy source.

The History Of Keto

The term 'ketogenic diet' was first coined by the American doctor, Russell M. Wilder (practicing at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota).

Originally used to treat epilepsy in children during the 1920s and 30s, Keto posed as an alternative to non-mainstream fasting. Fasting is known to aid with controlling seizures and has been in use for centuries.

Unfortunately, the results were temporary. With patients experiencing symptoms as soon as they returned to their normal eating regimes.

Fast forward a few decades, to 1971. Peter Huttenlocher (a pediatric neurologist and neuroscientist ) developed a ketogenic diet where the majority of calories came from medium chain triglycerides oil (MCT).

In the 90s a well-known Hollywood director took his son, who was suffering from seizures, for ketogenic treatment. Following the success that they had, their story became widespread. With Keto widely accepted by the early 2000s.

Bottom Line:
Originally used as a treatment for epilepsy, Keto has changed throughout the decades from a medical therapy to a popular and mainstream diet plan.

How Does The Keto Diet Work?

person eating fish meat

When you eat a carb-dense meal, your body converts the carbohydrates into glucose for energy. Your system then produces insulin that helps the glucose enter the bloodstream.

However, when you follow the Keto Diet, things work a little differently. Because there are very few carbohydrates included in this eating regimen, your body needs to get its fuel from an alternative source.

Enter fat. When the body does not have any carbs to use for energy, the liver will convert fat (fatty acids) into ketones. This process is called ketosis, which refers to the production of ketones.

When the body breaks down fatty acids, three water-soluble molecules are produced, known as ketones, or ketone bodies.

  • Acetoacetate

Acetoacetate is the most important and first ketone your body produces. Your body uses acetoacetate as fuel and converts it into another energy efficient ketone known as beta-hydroxybutyric acid.

  • Beta-Hydroxybutyric Acid

As the most abundant ketone in your body, beta-hydroxybutyric acid makes up approximately 78% of all ketone bodies found in your bloodstream. This ketone also helps to charge your metabolism and boost energy levels.

The breakdown of acetoacetate creates the smallest ketone found in the body, known as acetone. This ketone does not contribute to energy production.

Bottom Line:
This diet puts your body into a state called ketosis. Where fat is burned up for energy instead of carbohydrates and sugar. When your system breaks down fatty acids, three water-soluble ketone bodies are produced, namely acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyric acid, and acetone.

Different Keto Diets

Within the guidelines of keto, there are four different diet ketogenic plans.

Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD)

This is the most common version of the keto diet and is easy for beginners to start on. Generally, the goal with SKD would be weight-loss.

SKD Macros

  • 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body mass
  • 20–50 grams of net carbs
  • 75% of total calories from fat

High Protein Ketogenic Diet (HPKD)

This is similar to SKD but includes much more protein, as the HPKD's goal with this diet is to build muscle.

HPKD Macros

  • 60% of calories from fat
  • 35% of calories from protein
  • 5% of calories come carbs

Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD)

This form of the Keto Diet switches between two stages, where the individual eats low carb for a week and then increases their carbohydrate intake for two days following that. This diet consists of the standard keto diet (5 days) phase and the carbo-loading (2 days)

Standard Phase

  • 75% calories from fat
  • 25% calories from protein
  • 5% calories from carbohydrates

Carb Phase

  • 70% calories from carbs
  • 25% calories from protein
  • 5% calories from fat

Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)

This diet has been specifically designed for those who exercise a lot, maintaining your muscles' fuel level with glucose during a workout. TKD is a mix between the SKD and the CKD, the Targeted Ketogenic Diet allows you to train in a more intensive way.

  • 25–50 grams of net carbs (an hour before exercise) - this is your daily carb allowance for the day.
Bottom Line:
There are four different types of dietary approaches to Keto, these include the Standard Ketogenic Diet, High Protein Ketogenic Diet, Cyclical Ketogenic Diet, and Targeted Ketogenic Diet.

Keto Supplements And Diet Pills

Photo of Different Keto Pills

Apart from adopting a ketogenic way of eating, many individuals have chosen to incorporate keto plus diet pills and ketogenic supplements into their diet plans.

These supplements consist of ketones and mineral ketone salts that assist in speeding up the process of ketosis.

Bottom Line:
Keto supplements may help to speed up ketosis, which can fast-track weight loss efforts.

What You Can Eat

If you are thinking about trying Keto, you should know that this diet plan only permits 20-50 grams of carbohydrates per day. However, there are still plenty of nutritious foods that you are still allowed to eat.

These include:

  • Seafood (salmon, shrimp, crab)
  • Non-Starchy Vegetables (Brussel sprouts, broccoli, spinach)
  • Cheese (mozzarella, ricotta, cottage cheese)
  • Avocado
  • Meat (lamb, beef, pork)
  • Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck)
  • Eggs
  • Nuts (almond, macadamia, Brazil, cashew)
  • Berries (blackberry, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry)
  • Dairy (butter, cream, yogurt)

Supplements To Take

Due to the fact that a keto diet eliminates certain types of foods from your day-to-day eating regime, it is advised that you should supplement your diet with particular nutrients.

  • Magnesium: An energy boosting mineral that helps to manage blood sugar and maintains immune system function.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Fatty acids that decrease inflammation, reduces the risk of heart disease and promotes brain functionality.
  • Vitamin D: This vitamin helps with the absorption of calcium, regulates cell growth and boosts the immune system.

What Foods To Avoid

As with any diet plan, there is a list of foods that would slow down your weight-loss and health goals. Therefore, the following foods are not allowed on the Keto Diet:

Photo of Fresh Potatoes
  • Alcohol
  • Sugar
  • Potatoes
  • Processed Meats
  • Fast Foods
  • Grains
  • Juice/Soda
  • Chocolate
  • Rice
  • Fruit
Bottom Line:
While you are no longer allowed to eat certain types of food, there are many healthier options you are permitted to eat. You should also supplement your diet by including key minerals and vitamins into your daily routine.

Mistakes To Avoid

It is easy to fall into bad habits, and apply Keto to your lifestyle in a completely incorrect way. When it is properly carried out, you will be able to sustain this diet in the long-term.

Be Aware Of Macros

Counting your calories is an important part of any weight-loss effort, even for a low-carb diet like Keto. Consuming food that is low in carbohydrates, high in fat and moderate in protein, your body will feel fuller for longer.

But simply following a low-carb regimen won't definitely make you lose weight. You need to be aware of the specific and sufficient amount of macronutrients you need to consume on this eating plan.

  • 5% Carbs
  • 20% Protein
  • 75% Fat

Eat Enough Protein

If you are trying to shed some pounds, eating the right amount of protein will help you to with satiety. Your body releases a hormone called glucagon when it takes in protein. Glucagon regulates the sugar level in your blood, making you feel fuller for longer.

The Importance Of Sleep

woman sleeping on blue throw pillow

Getting enough sleep is crucial for anyone that is trying to lose weight. When you have less energy, it tends to be more difficult to get rid of excess body mass. If you don't get the required amount of rest per night, your body produces fewer key-hormones that will leave you feeling hungrier and slow down your metabolism.

  • 7 - 9 hours sleep
  • Eat dinner earlier
  • Don't exercise right before bed
  • Avoid using electronics for an hour before bedtime
Bottom Line:
If you don't take care of yourself and follow the specific instructions of the Keto way of eating, your efforts may be futile and results of the opposite nature may occur.

Benefits Of A Keto Diet

While there are weight-loss benefits to going Keto, this way of eating also has other health advantages.

Weight Loss

The principle of Keto is that this diet puts your system into a state of ketosis, which helps your body to burn fat for energy. Apart from improving overall health, this diet is said to be an effective weight-loss technique.

Decreased Appetite

When you no longer consume many carbohydrates, your body does not feel hungry all the time. Curbing cravings and preventing overeating. This makes the Keto lifestyle a great choice for those who practice fasting.

Improved Focus

When your body uses carbohydrates as a source of energy, your blood sugar levels are volatile. When you consume more consistent energy releasing foods such as fat and protein, it becomes a lot easier to stay focused for long periods of time.

Bottom Line:
There are more benefits to the Keto Diet than weight-loss alone, it can regulate your appetite, and improve your mental focus as well.

Negative Effects

Keto makes critical changes in the body, and therefore it can have both positive and negative effects. Varying from person to person and depending on a long list of factors, such as current health, genes, level of activity and medication - you could be at risk of experiencing some of the side effects while on this eating plan.

Keto Flu

Woman With Keto Flu Covering Her Nose

When the body transitions from using sugar, to using fat for energy, you will likely go through a period known as Keto Flu. With symptoms including fatigue, headaches, irritability, lack of focus, dizziness, nausea, and cravings.

This is a temporary state that will pass when the body is accustomed to its new fuel source. You can also help to diminish the symptoms by eating adequate amounts of the recommended food groups and increasing your water intake.


A common side effect of changing your eating habits is that of constipation and diarrhea. An increase in vegetables and fat could lead to diarrhea, while the increase of protein in a diet may cause the dieter to experience constipation.

Kidney/Heart Damage

This eating plan may lead to the loss of electrolytes such as potassium magnesium and sodium. In turn, this lack of minerals might lead to an increased risk of kidney damage.

A lack in electrolytes could also result in an irregular heartbeat, or cardiac arrhythmia, which is a very serious condition.

Bottom Line:
As with any new meal plan, your body will take a while to get used to all the changes. This could result in a number of side effects and some risks.

Should You Try Keto?

With the risks and benefits of going ketogenic, it should be noted that there are some individuals that should not try this diet.

These include:

  • Diabetics
  • Individuals with heart disease
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • Individuals who have had their gallbladder removed

If you are interested in trying the Keto Diet to lose some weight, you should be aware that this eating plan will require you to completely change the way you eat. However, the benefits of this eating plan may be worthwhile.

Before starting a new diet it is always advisable to consult your doctor about the safety aspects and whether it is the right choice for you and your body.

Researched and written by experts, brought to you by our team at Mommy Authority.

Amy Roberts studied psychology and has been working with kids for over 10 Years. She has 3 adorable kids of her own and has a passion for writing and horseback riding. Amy is a contributing writer for MommyAuthority and also writes for her local neighborhood paper in Wisconsin.