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2019 Ultimate Guide to Ketogenic Diet

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Ketogenic Diet

A ketogenic diet (keto) was introduced almost 100 years ago and used extensively in epileptic children with great success. One side effect they found was a drastic reduction in weight. Keto Diet involves a radical restriction in daily carbs consumption. Most times, this is usually in combination with high fat or moderate protein regimen.

Normally the daily carbs content allowable in a ketogenic diet is 30-50 grams net carbs per day depending on your body weight. The 2019 Ultimate Guide to Ketogenic Diet includes the types, how to choose the best, the benefits and side effects of Keto Diet. There are many rumours out there that it is the best diet to lose weight fast but it comes at a price.

Types of Ketogenic Diet


Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD)

The SKD version is a very high-fat, moderate protein and very low carbohydrates. This version is 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbs of total calorie intake.

High Protein Ketogenic Diet

This is almost similar to SKD, only with higher protein intake. High protein version is mostly useful to people looking to build or preserve muscle mass while remaining in constant ketosis. It is 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbs

Cyclical Ketogenic Diet

This version suits to people unable to stick to SKD. In Cyclical diet, there re-feed days to load up the carbs after being in ketosis. You can choose re-feed every 7th day or every 4th days but to get the best results there should be consecutive ketogenic days.

Targeted Ketogenic Diet

This is great for people who are very active at the gym or serious about engaging in intense physical activity. By adding more carbs prior to workouts you will have more energy for workouts and able to put more efforts. This means careful selection of foods allowed in a ketogenic meal plan before a workout.

Intermittent Ketogenic Diet

This is eating the same ketogenic food within the 8-hour window during the day. The ratio of macros remains the same except that an overnight fast of 14-16 hours is necessary. This change in timing has the most profound effect on hormones and fat loss.

As in any diet, keto claims many health benefits for its practitioners. Among the many keto diet benefits is weight loss. This has made the keto diet plan one of the most sought after programs in recent history, and which attributes to its present popularity.

Keto diet benefits don’t come without its side effects. Side effects are a lookout for any program promising significant weight loss. And the keto diet plan promises weight loss to 100 lbs.

Food Choices

Ketogenic diet comes with its own list of foods to eat and foods to avoid. There are, however, plenty of resources in books and online on the keto diet, easy to make recipes. The food choices you have in a keto diet plan are mostly food you have also been enjoying in your regular meals. The only food to avoid in keto is food that has a high carbohydrate content, starchy foods, and sugar-laden desserts and drinks. These are the kinds of foods that do not help you achieve “ketosis” or throw you out of “ketosis”.

What is Ketosis?

Ketosis is a metabolic state when the body uses ketone bodies as the main source of fuel instead of glucose coming from carbs or glycogen store in muscles or liver. Most times we use Ketone bodies and Ketones interchangeably, though not all ketones are ketone bodies and vice versa.

We achieve ketosis when the body’s glycogen reserves deplete. This triggers the liver to break down fat for energy. It breaks fat down into ketone bodies or ketones. Ketones (fats) now become the new source of energy for your bodies various activities, instead of glucose (sugar). It carries them to the various tissues of your body including the brain to power their activities. Mitochondria cells in the liver make ketones bodies by breaking down the fats. 

There are 3 types of Ketone bodies produced by the liver:

  • Acetoacetate 
  • Acetone 
  • Beta Hydroxy Butyrate (BHB)

How do you know if you are in ketosis?

There are keto strips available online and in pharmacies that can test ketones in the urine or in the blood. The most common ketone tested in urine or blood is BHB. The best way to test Ketone bodies is a blood test measuring BHB levels. BHB levels below above 0.3 mmol/L indicate ketosis.

Signs and Symptoms that accompany ketosis.


1) Weight loss

One of the most first signs that you are in ketosis is weight loss. Many have experienced significant weight loss during the first month doing a keto diet. The reason for the huge amount of weight loss in the initial stage is because of the loss of water in the body.

Glycogen attaches to water molecules in the body in a ratio of 1 to 3, one molecule of glycogen attaches to 3 molecules of water. Depletion of glycogen levels during ketosis drains the excess holding water out leading to weight loss known as “water weight loss”. This happened initially within the first two weeks and a lot of the weight loss because of the burning of reserve fats come later.

2) Suppressed appetite

Another important sign that your body is in a state of ketosis is that you do not easily get hungry. You can go on without food intake for a longer time, compared to when your diet was carbohydrate-based. The reason for this is that when the body senses depletion of glucose in your system, it sends hunger signals to your brain. This is the reason you always feel hungry.

But if you follow a ketogenic diet plan and the high intake of fat keeps you full for a longer time and this stabilised the blood sugar causing brain-signalling system hunger signal to cease. Therefore, people on keto find it relatively easier to go fasting. Intermittent Fasting has become an effective partner of keto to improve health and longevity.

3) Mental clarity

Ketone bodies produced during keto diet enhance brain activity. They fuel the brain cells and reduce oxidative stress. The ketogenic diet is a preferred diet for children suffering from neurological disorders like autism and epilepsy with great success.

4) Keto breath

One drawback of the keto diet is “keto breath”. It is a bad breath caused by an acetone-like odour coming from ketones. However, some also observe it as fruity or sweet smell. You can chew sugar-free gum or breath fresheners to counteract this.

5) Muscle cramps

Another manifestation of this is night cramps where leg muscles experience painful cramps during sleep. This results from the depletion of electrolytes associated with the body’s loss of water. The resulting electrolyte imbalance causes poor circulation resulting in leg cramps. To fix this, you need to take supplements to correct the deficiency. One of these is Bone Broth. One other readily available home remedy for leg cramps is Himalayan pink salt taken orally. 1/4th teaspoon mixed in water helps counteract or prevent the symptoms associated with electrolyte deficiency.

6) Keto flu

This is not the flu. Its symptoms are not “flu-like” except for the headaches. The drastic nature of some changes the body has undergone in a short time and the electrolyte imbalance accompanying it often results in severe headaches. We can treat this with simple measures. Some people experience severe drowsiness and sleepiness as they adjust to keto. Others report what we call “brain fog” a vacuous sensation in the brain where the activity seems suspended and nothing seems to go on inside. Again, these we can fix by maintaining electrolyte balance and regular supplementation. Usually, these symptoms stay for a week and then dissipate themselves.


What are the benefits of the Ketogenic Diet?


1) Weight loss

It is one benefit that keto has become popular. If you are thinking of going on a ketogenic diet, just make sure you do it according to its standards. You will lose fat faster enough if you do it consistently.

I would say you see results with 2-3 months. It is not a surprise losing 3-4 kgs within a week or 10 days because the weight lost initially is mostly the water because of a decrease in carbs intake. [Study]

2) Heart health

One of the non-scale victories (NSV) of doing keto is your heart will become healthier. This is by lowering triglycerides, cholesterol, an improvement in your HDL to LDL ratio. You not only feel better, but markers for heart disease will also improve gradually. Another sign that the heart is getting healthier is the lowering of blood pressure.

However few studies done on rats denied the beneficial effects on markers of heart disease. The high fat and meat intake with lower soluble fibre increases the risk of heart-related conditions. The people in the middle age and with a history of heart disease should consult Nutritionist or Functional Medicine Practitioner before initiating Ketogenic diet.

3) Blood sugar control

One of the greatest benefits of keto is blood sugar and diabetes management. The main culprit for rising in blood sugar is the intake of carbs and sugar. Restriction of carb intake to only 50 gm per day and adding fats helps manage and stabilise blood sugar levels. This accounts for better management of type-2 diabetes (T2D).

The precaution is advised to patients who are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease. In various studies, the Ketogenic diet (high fat) results in unfavourable changes in lipid levels. A thorough assessment and history are important to decide whether to follow a Ketogenic diet or Low carbohydrate diet[Study] 

What are the Side effects of Keto Diet?


1) Cravings 

There aren’t many side effects of a ketogenic diet. It cut out almost all the carbs and sugars from the diet, including sodas, even if they are diet-sodas and alcohol. In the initial phase, you may crave for sugars but the only thing which can prevent you is the right amount of fats. What people do is they drastically cut down the calories also which is wrong. We need to understand that we don’t have to reduce the calories drastically rather just replace those with healthy fats.

2) Digestion

People with pancreatitis, liver or gallbladder disorders should stay away from Ketogenic Diet because of high-fat content. The issues with these either lower or obstruct enough release of bile production or lipase enzymes necessary for fat metabolism. A high-fat diet can also lead to constipation in many individuals. Use of magnesium salts, high water intake and enzyme supplements can resolve this issue.

3) Deficiencies

The restriction of carbs can lead to mineral and vitamin deficiency. Extra magnesium and other vitamins in the form of supplements help resolve this issue to a great extent. Good multivitamin formula and 400-600 mg of magnesium can resolve this issue.

4) Sleep

Another side effect of the Keto Diet is loss of sleep. Some people sleep better when they eat carbs at dinner like me. I would suggest having chamomile or ginseng tea in the evening. Supplements like L-theanine, Ashwagandha and Melatonin helps to induce restful sleep. You can try different and see what works for you.

What you cannot Eat?

  • All sugars and sugar-containing foods like soda, juice, candy, cakes and ice-cream
  • All Grains including wheat, millets and rice
  • Bread, pasta and cereals
  • Fruits except few
  • Starchy vegetables like potatoes, pumpkin and mushrooms
  • Beans and legumes
  • Unhealthy and refined fats/oils including mayonnaise
  • All spreads and sauces
  • Alcohol, wine and beer

What you can Eat?


  • Meats – All meats are good beef, pork, chicken (and eggs), turkey, lamb, goat, etc. (grass-fed is a better option)
  • Fish – All fish are good. The fattier the fish, the better like salmon, tuna, mackerel, cod and sardines
  • Dairy – Dairy creams, cooking and whipping creams, cheese. BUT not milk, because milk has lactose (sugar)
  • Oils – Extra virgin Olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, grass-fed or regular butter, ghee and MCT oil. AVOID hydrogenated oils and oils from seeds.

What you can Eat..Continued

  • Vegetables – Green leafy vegetables are the best. Nightshade vegetables (eggplant, tomatoes) are OK. AVOID starchy root crops and tubers (not necessarily vegetables) like carrots, squash, and potatoes.
  • Fruits – We recommend berries of all sorts. AVOID all other fruits because of fructose (sugar).
  • Beverages – Coffee, tea, unsweetened cocoa
  • All herbs and spices
  • Nuts, seeds and Nut butter – Peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame and flaxseeds

Sample Meal Plan


Breakfast: 2-4 whole Eggs, bacon, 1/2 avocado and 1 tomato

Lunch: Grilled chicken, green leafy salad with 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of mixed seeds and feat cheese

Evening: Chamomile and ginger tea or decaf coffee with 1 tbsp of MCT oil

Dinner: Grilled salmon, 1 cup of broccoli and 1 tbsp of almond butter


Sample Smoothie Recipe


200 ml of unsweetened Almond milk

1/2 cup of frozen blueberries

1 tsp of Vanilla extract

50 ml of coconut milk or cream

1tsp of MCT oil

Stevia to taste

Blend all with ice and ENJOY!

Keto Diet for Fat Loss

It is best to consider taking more active participation and give your health the boost it needs. Keto promises huge health benefits to obese people who have tried every diet but see nothing but failure.

The ketogenic is hope for people who are desperate to bring a change to their health for better. It is difficult or almost impossible for a vegan or vegetarian to follow the Keto Diet. Low-Carb Diet is hope for vegetarians or vegans for losing weight.


Various studies on ketogenic diet propose that it is difficult to adhere to carbohydrate restriction for long term. The long term use of Ketogenic diet changes the microbiome in the intestine due to a low amount of dietary fibre.

Dietary fibre especially soluble fibre is fermented in the gut by microbes. This fermentation leads to the production of short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, acetate and propionates. These SCFA’s play an important role in the immune system and indigenous production of essential vitamins. SCFA’s have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and disease-fighting properties.

People with Autoimmune diseases such as Diabetes Type 1 and multiple sclerosis are found to have low levels of SCFA especially butyrate.

Conclusively, Ketogenic diet is good at managing sugar levels and reducing Obesity to a great extent but this can be achieved by following Slow-carb or Low-carb diet without any side effects.

The Keto Diet is good to boost greater fat loss at a faster pace but it is advisable to shift to Low carb diet after a few weeks or months to prevent any side effects. Genetics, history and food preference should be taken into account to choose what kind of food to be consumed for optimal health and fat loss. It is always best to consult a Nutritionist or a Functional Medicine Practitioner before initiating this radical diet such as Keto.

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