The ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate diet that replaces carbohydrates with fat. This helps your body burn more calories. You can lose weight and lower your risk of certain diseases.
The ketogenic diet, also known as the keto diet, is a low-carb, high-fat diet. Many studies have shown that it can help with weight loss and other health issues.
The keto diet is particularly useful in losing excess body fat and improving metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes.
You can cut back on carbs (also known as carbohydrates) to burn fat for fuel.
This guide will teach you everything you need to know about ketogenic eating, and how to start to get the best results.
In This Article
What is a ketogenic diet?
Basics of Keto
The ketogenic diet, which is very low in carbohydrates and high in fat, shares many similarities to the Atkins or low-carb diets.
This involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. Your body will go into a metabolic state known as ketosis.
This makes your body very efficient in burning fat to generate energy. It can also convert fat into ketones within the liver, which can provide energy for the brain ( 6).
Ketogenic diets may result in significant drops in blood sugar and insulin. This, in combination with increased ketones, can have some health benefits ( 6,7, 8).
The keto diet is low in carbs and high in fat. It lowers blood sugar levels and insulin and shifts the body’s metabolism towards fats and ketones.
Different ketogenic diets
There are many versions of the ketogenic diet.
- The Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD): This diet is very low in carbs, high in protein, and high in fat. It usually contains 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbs ( 9).
- The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD: This diet includes periods of higher carb intakes such as 5 ketogenic days followed by 2 high carb days.
- Targeted ketogenic Diet (TKD: This diet allows for carbs to be added around your workouts.
- High-protein ketogenic diet: This diet is very similar to the standard ketogenic diet but contains more protein. This ratio often includes 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbohydrates.
The standard and high-protein ketogenic diets are the most studied. The more sophisticated targeted or cyclical ketogenic diets, which are primarily used by athletes and bodybuilders, are more popular.
Although the majority of this article is for the standard ketogenic diet (SKD), many of the same principles can also be applied to other versions.
There are many versions of the keto diet. The most popular and recommended version of the keto diet is the standard (SKD).
What is ketosis?
Ketosis refers to a metabolic state where your body burns fat instead of using carbs.
This happens when your body reduces your intake of carbohydrates.
The best way to get into ketosis is to follow a ketogenic diet. This means limiting carb intake to 20 to 50 grams daily and consuming more fats such as meat, eggs, fish, and other healthy oils ( 6).
You should also limit your intake of protein. High levels of protein can cause glucose conversion, which can slow down your progress to ketosis ( 10).
You can also enter ketosis quicker by practicing intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting can take many forms, but the most popular is limiting your food intake to 8 hours per day and fasting the 16 remaining hours ( 11).
You can get blood, urine, or breath test to determine if you are in ketosis. This allows you to measure the number of ketones your body produces.
Some symptoms could also be a sign that you have entered ketosis ( 12).
Ketosis refers to a metabolic state where your body uses fat instead of carbs for fuel. You can enter ketosis quicker by changing your diet and engaging in intermittent fasting. You can also determine if you are in ketosis by looking for certain symptoms and tests.
Ketogenic diets are a great way to lose weight
The ketogenic diet is a great way to lose weight, and reduce your risk of developing disease (1Trusted Source 2, 2Trusted Source 3, 3Trusted Source 4, 4Trusted Source 5, 5Trusted Source).
Research shows that the ketogenic diet is as effective in weight loss as a low-fat diet ( 13, 14, 15).
The diet is so filling, you can lose weight without having to count calories or track your food intake ( 16).
A review of 13 studies showed that a ketogenic diet had a slightly higher success rate for long-term weight loss than a low-fat diet. The average weight loss for people who followed the keto diet was 2 pounds (0.9kg) less than those who followed a low-fat diet ( 13).
It also resulted in a reduction of diastolic blood pressure as well as Triglyceride Levels ( 13).
A study of 34 older adults revealed that people who followed a ketogenic diet for eight weeks lost almost five times more total body fat than those who followed low-fat diets ( 17).
A key role may be played by the increased ketones, lower blood sugar levels, and improved insulin sensitivity ( 18, 19).
The ketogenic diet is able to help you lose weight slightly faster than low-fat diets. This can often happen with less hunger.
Diabetes and prediabetes can be controlled with ketogenic diets
Diabetes is characterized by changes in metabolism, high blood glucose, and impaired Insul function ( 20).
The ketogenic diet is a way to lose excess fat. This can be closely linked with type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and metabolic syndrome (21, 22, 23, 24).
A previous study showed that ketogenic diets increased insulin sensitivity by 75% ( 25).
A study of type 2 diabetic women found that a ketogenic diet for 90 days resulted in a significant reduction of hemoglobin A1C ( 26).
A study of 349 patients with type 2 diabetes revealed that people who adopted a ketogenic diet lost on average 26.2 pounds (or 11.9 kg) over a two-year period. This is a significant benefit in light of the link between type 2 diabetes and weight (24, 27).
They also had better blood sugar management and used fewer blood sugar medications over the course of the study ( 27).
People with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes may benefit from the ketogenic diet. It can increase insulin sensitivity and cause weight loss.
Keto also has other health benefits
The ketogenic diet was originally developed to treat neurological diseases like epilepsy.
Numerous health conditions can be helped by a healthy diet, according to studies.
- Heart disease.
- Cancer. A diet that slows tumor growth is being investigated. (4, 30, 31).
- Alzheimer’s disease. The ketogenic diet may reduce the symptoms and speed up its progression. (5, 32, 33).
- Epilepsy. Research shows that the ketogenic diet may reduce seizures in epileptic children ( 3).
- Parkinson’s Disease. More research is needed. One study showed that a diet could help improve Parkinson’s symptoms ( 34Trusted source ).
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. The ketogenic diet can lower insulin levels. ( 35, 36).
- Brain injuries. Some studies suggest that a healthy diet can improve the outcome of traumatic brain injury ( 37).
Keep in mind, however, that research into many areas of this nature is not conclusive.
The ketogenic diet can provide many health benefits, particularly for those with insulin-related, metabolic, neurological, or insulin-related diseases.
Avoid these foods
Limit the consumption of high-carbohydrate foods.
Here is a list of foods you should reduce or eliminate from a ketogenic diet.
Here is a list of foods you should reduce or eliminate from a ketogenic diet.
- Sugary Foods: sodas, fruit juices, smoothies and cake, ice cream, candy, chocolate, etc.
- starches or grains: wheat-based foods, rice, pasta, and cereals, etc.
- fruit: all fruits, except for small amounts of strawberries
- legumes, or beans: peas and kidney beans, lentils (chickpeas), chickpeas, lentils, and so on.
- root vegetable and tubers: sweet potatoes, carrots, or parsnips.
- Low Fat or Diet Products: Low Fat mayonnaise, salad dressings, and condiments
- some condiments or sauces: barbecue sauce, honey mustard, teriyaki sauce, ketchup, etc.
- unhealthy fats: processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.
- Alcohol: Beer, wine, liquor, mixed beverages
- sugar-free diet foods: sugar-free candies, syrups, puddings, sweeteners, desserts, etc.
Avoid carb-based foods such as grains, sugars and legumes, potatoes, rice, sweets, juices, and most fruits.
Foods to eat
These foods should be the basis of most of your meals.
- meat: steak, ham, and sausage.
- Fatty fish: salmon and trout, tuna and mackerel
- eggs: pastured, or omega-3 whole eggs
- Butter and Cream: grass-fed butter and heavy cream
- cheese: unprocessed cheeses like cheddar, goat, cream, blue, or mozzarella
- nuts & seeds: almonds and walnuts, flaxseeds pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.
- Healthy oils: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and Avocado Oil
- avocados: whole avocados or freshly made guacamole
- low carb veggies: green veggies, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.
- condiments salt and pepper, herbs, spices, and other ingredients
Your diet should be based primarily on whole, single-ingredient food.
Your diet should include meat, fish, eggs, and butter as well as nuts, healthy oils, avocados, and plenty of low-carb veggies.
Here is a sample keto meal plan that you can use for one week
Here’s a sample ketogenic meal plan to get you started.
- Breakfast: Vegetable and Egg Muffins with Tomatoes
- Lunch: Chicken Salad with Olive Oil, Feta Cheese, Olives, and Side Salad
- dinner: salmon and asparagus with butter
- Breakfast: Egg, tomato, basil, and spinach omelet
- Lunch: peanut butter, chocolate, spinach, cocoa, and stevia milkshake. Served with sliced strawberries
- dinner: Cheese-shell tacos and salsa
- Breakfast: Nut milk Chia pudding topped off with coconut and blackberries
- lunch: avocado shrimp salad
- Dinner: Pork chops with Parmesan cheese and broccoli.
- Breakfast: Omelet with Avocado, Salsa, Peppers, Onion, and Spices
- Lunch: A handful of nuts, celery sticks and salsa with guacamole.
- Dinner: Chicken stuffed with pesto, cream cheese and a side dish of grilled zucchini
- Breakfast: whole milk yogurt with peanut butter and whole milk yogurt with berries
- Lunch: ground Beef lettuce wrap Tacos with Sliced Bell Peppers
- dinner: loaded with cauliflower, and mixed vegetables
- Breakfast: Cream Cheese Pancakes with Blueberries and a Side of Grilled Mushrooms
- Lunch: Zucchini, beet “noodles” salad
- Dinner: White fish with olive oil and kale, with toasted pine nuts
- Breakfast: Fried eggs with mushrooms
- Lunch: Low Carb Sesame Chicken and Broccoli
- dinner: spaghetti squash Bolognese
Rotating vegetables and meats over the long term is a good idea, as each type of food has different nutrients and health benefits.
A ketogenic diet allows you to eat many delicious and nutritious meals. You don’t have to eat only meat or fats. Vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet.
Here are some keto-approved healthy snacks to help you eat between meals.
- Fatty meats and fish
- A few seeds or nuts
- Keto Sushi Bits
- One or two deviled eggs
- Keto-friendly Snack Bars
- 90% dark chocolate
- Full-fat Greek yogurt with nut butter, cocoa powder, and nut butter
- Bell peppers and guacamole
- Plain cottage cheese and strawberries
- Celery with salsa and Guacamole
- beef jerky
- Remainders in smaller portions
- fat bombs
A keto diet calls for snacks that include meat, cheese, and olives.
Tips and tricks for Keto
Even though it can be difficult to get started with the ketogenic diet, there are many tips and tricks you can use.
- To determine how your favorite foods fit in your diet, you should first familiarize yourself with food labels.
- It is also a good idea to plan your meals ahead of time. This will help you save even more time during the week.
- Many websites, blogs, apps, and cookbooks offer keto-friendly recipes that you can use to create your own menu.
- Some meal delivery companies also offer keto-friendly options, making it easy to get keto meals at your home.
- When you are short on time, a healthy frozen keto meal might be a good option.
- You might also consider bringing your own food to social events or visits to family and friends. This will make it easier to control cravings and keep to your meal plan.
It is easier to adhere to the ketogenic diet by reading food labels and planning ahead.
Tips for eating out while on a ketogenic diet
Many restaurants can be made keto-friendly.
Many restaurants offer a variety of fish- or meat-based dishes. This will replace high-carb food with additional vegetables.
You can also make egg-based meals, like an omelet or eggs with bacon.
Another favorite is bunless burgers. You can also substitute the fries with vegetables. Add extra avocado, cheese, bacon, or eggs.
Mexican restaurants offer a variety of meats with salsa, cheese, guacamole, and sour cream.
Ask for dessert with a mix of a cheese board or berries and cream.
Choose a meat- or fish-based dish when dining out. For dessert, order extra vegetables instead of starches or carbs and cheese.
How to reduce side effects
The ketogenic diet is generally safe for most people. However, you may experience some side effects as your body adjusts.
These effects are often called the ketoflu ( 38). There is some evidence to support this claim. According to some reports, the symptoms usually disappear within a few days.
Symptoms of keto flu include vomiting, diarrhea, constipation and nausea ( 39). Other less common symptoms include:
- Poor energy and mental function
- Increased hunger
- Sleep problems
- digestive discomfort
- Performance has been reduced
For the first few weeks, you may want to stick to a low-carb diet. This could help your body burn more fat than if you eliminate all carbs.
The ketogenic diet can also alter the water and mineral balance of your bodies. This is why you might consider adding salt to your meals, or taking mineral supplements. Discuss your nutritional requirements with your doctor.
It’s important that you eat until your stomach is full, and not restrict calories. A ketogenic diet is a good option for weight loss, even if you don’t intend to restrict calories.
The side effects of a ketogenic diet are often minimal. You can ease into the diet by taking mineral supplements.
Keto Diet: Risks
The keto diet can have some adverse effects over the long-term.: There are also risks associated with the following:
- Low levels of protein in the blood
- Extra fat in the liver
- Kidney stones
- micronutrient deficiencies
One type of medication known as sodium-glucose transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors can increase your risk for diabetic ketoacidosis. This is a serious condition that causes high blood acidity and increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This medication should be avoided by anyone taking it ( 40, 41).
To determine if the keto diet is safe long-term, more research is needed. To help you make informed choices, keep your doctor updated about your eating habits.
If you are considering a long-term stay on the keto diet, you should talk to your doctor about side effects.
Supplements to a ketogenic diet
While supplements are not required, they can be very useful.
- MCT oil. MCT oil can be added to yogurt or drinks. It provides energy and increases ketone levels. (42, 43).
- Minerals. Add salt to your water supply and mineral balance. (44).
- Caffeine. Caffeine has benefits for energy, fat loss and performance ( 45).
- Exogenous ketones. This supplement can help increase the body’s ketone level ( 46).
- Creatine. Creatine has many benefits for your health and performance. If you combine a ketogenic diet and exercise ( 47), this can be a great option.
- Whey. Half a scoop whey proteins can be added to yogurt or shakes to increase your daily protein intake ( 48, 49).
Some supplements may be helpful when you are on a ketogenic diet. Exogenous ketones, MCT oils, and minerals are some examples.
20 Foods You Can Eat on the Keto Diet
A Keto diet is based on eating high-fat, low-carb foods. This diet allows you to eat a variety of animal protein, dairy, vegetables, fats, oils, and other plant-based food.
The popularity of the ketogenic diet is due in large part to its potential benefits for weight reduction and blood sugar control ( 50, 51, 52).
Early evidence suggests that the keto diet, which is low in carbs and high in fat, may be effective in treating certain cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, or other conditions. However, more quality research is needed to confirm the keto diet’s safety and effectiveness over time (53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58).
The keto diet restricts carb intake to between 20 and 50 grams per day.
Some people who are on keto count total carbs, while others count net carbs. Net carbs are total carbs less fiber. Because fiber is indigestible, it cannot be broken down or absorbed by the body.
Although this diet can seem difficult, it allows you to eat healthy foods.
Here are 20 healthy keto foods.
1-3. Animal proteins
Shellfish and fish are keto-friendly. Salmon and other fish are almost carb-free and rich in selenium, B vitamins, and potassium ( 59).
The carb count of shellfish can vary depending on the type. Octopus and oysters have no carbs while shrimp and most crabs do not contain any. These foods can be eaten on the keto diet. However, it is important to monitor your carbohydrate intake ( 60, 61,62, 63).
Additionally, salmon and other fatty fish have a high level of omega-3 fats. These fats have been shown to be associated with decreased insulin levels and increased insulin sensitivities in obese people ( 64).
Regular fish consumption is linked to better brain health and a lower risk of developing diseases ( 65, 66).
The American Heart Association recommends that adults aged 18 and older eat 8-10 ounces of seafood per week ( 67).
2. Meat and poultry
The keto diet includes meat and poultry as staple foods.
Fresh meats and poultry are low in carbs, and high in vitamins and minerals. They are also an excellent source of high-quality protein which can help maintain muscle mass when eating a low-carb diet ( 68, 69, 70).
A small study of older women showed that a diet high-fat, high-carbohydrate diet led to 8% more HDL (good cholesterol) than a low-fat, high-carb diet ( 71).
It is possible to choose grass-fed meat if you can, as it contains more omega-3 fats, conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), and higher quality than meat from grains-fed animals ( 72, 73).
Eggs provide a very healthy source of protein.
Large eggs are ideal for keto because they contain less than one gram of carbs per egg and more than six grams of protein.
Additionally, eggs can increase the feeling of fullness by stimulating hormones ( 74).
Whole eggs are better than egg whites. The yolk contains the majority of an egg’s nutrients. This includes the antioxidants lutein and Zeaxanthin which help protect your eyes ( 75).
While egg yolks have a high level of cholesterol, they don’t seem to increase your risk for heart disease ( 76).
The keto diet is suitable for most animal proteins, including eggs, seafood, beef, pork, chicken, and poultry.
4–7. Dairy and dairy alternatives
There are many types of Cheese. Most of them are low in carbs but high in fat. This makes them great for the keto diet.
Only 1 ounce (28g) of cheddar cheese contains 1 gram of carbs, 6 g of protein, and a good amount of calcium ( 77).
Saturated fat is high in cheese, but this has not been proven to increase your risk for heart disease. Some studies have shown that cheese may actually help prevent this condition ( 78, 79).
CLA has also been found in cheese ( 80).
Consuming cheese on a regular basis may also help to reduce muscle loss and strength associated with aging.
An older adult study that lasted 12 weeks found that people who consumed 7 ounces (210g) of ricotta daily experienced less muscle loss and strength ( 81).
These cheeses are low in carbs and suitable for keto.
Keto cheese list
- blue cheese
- Colby Jack
- cottage cheese
- cream cheese
- goat cheese
- Pepper Jack
- string cheese
- Swiss cheese
5. Cottage cheese and plain Greek yogurt
Plain Greek yogurt and cottage Cheese are high-protein, nutritious foods. They can be eaten in moderation if you are on keto.
Both yogurts, as well as cottage cheese, have been shown in studies to reduce appetite and promote fullness ( 82, 83).
You can make either one a delicious snack or combine them with cinnamon, chopped nuts, or other spices for a quick keto treat.
6. Cream and half-and-half
The cream is made up of the fat portion of fresh milk, which has been separated during milk processing. Half-and-half is 50% cream and 50% whole milk.
These dairy products are low in carbs, high in fat, and ideal for keto ( 84, 85).
Butter and cream, like other fatty dairy products, are high in CLA. This may help promote fat loss ( 86 ).
It is better to have cream and half-and-half in moderation, however.
According to the American Heart Association 2021 diet guidance, people should avoid foods high in saturated fat. Lower stroke and cardiovascular disease risk can be reduced by replacing animal fat with plant-based fats or polyunsaturated oils ( 87).
Studies have shown that high-fat dairy products are not as closely associated with heart disease. Some studies suggest that moderate consumption of high-fat dairy products may help reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack. However, the evidence remains inconclusive (88, 89).
This area is still under discussion and can be affected by many factors such as the processing level of food ( 90, 91).
Half-and-half and cream are great choices for adding to your coffee or as keto alternatives to milk in small quantities.
7. Unsweetened plant-based milk
Many plant-based milks are keto-friendly. These include soy, almond, and coconut ( 92, 93, 94).
Unsweetened options are best. Sweetened products are too sugary to be suitable for keto.
You should also avoid Oat Milk because even unsweetened, oat milk is too high in carbs for keto-friendly ( 95).
Many types of dairy are available as dairy options and keto-friendly, including cream, cottage cheese, and plain yogurt.
8. Vegetables with green leaves
These green leafy vegetables are very low in carbs and therefore excellent for keto. They are also rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants ( 96).
Particularly dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale and collard greens are rich in vitamin K and iron ( 97).
Greens can add bulk to your meals, without increasing the carb count. You can also add flavor to your meals with herbs like rosemary and oregano, which have almost no carbs.
These are keto-friendly leafy leaves:
- Salad greens Baby spinach, lettuce, arugula and escarole.
- Cooking Greens: Bok Choy, Collared Greens and Mustard Greens. Kale, spinach, Swiss Chard, and Cabbage.
- Herbs Thyme, mint, oregano and dill. Also, parsley, and cilantro. Basil, rosemary, lemongrass.
There are many varieties of peppers, and all of them are suitable for the keto diet. Although technically they are fruits, they can be used in cooking as vegetables.
Smaller hot peppers can add flavor to recipes. jalapenos make great keto-friendly appetizers. Larger, milder peppers like bell peppers or poblanos can be used in many dishes. You can also stuff them to make low-carb main dishes.
Peppers are also rich in vitamin C. One bell pepper contains 107% of the daily vitamin C value (DV) (98).
10. Summer squash
The versatility and low carbohydrate content of summer squashes like yellow squash and zucchini is what makes them so versatile.
Zucchini is a very popular keto food. You can make zucchini noodles with a spiralizer. These noodles are a great alternative to pasta or noodles.
To make a substitute for rice, or to add to baked goods, you can grate zucchini. To make a cold salad, you can slice it using a mandoline.
11. Vegetables high in fat
Olives are technically fruits but they are different from other vegetables in that they have high fat content. They are also high in fiber and low in net carbs ( 99, 100).
Oleuropein is the main antioxidant found in olives and can protect your cells against damage ( 101).
A study also found that those who consumed one avocado per day had lower levels of LDL cholesterol (102).
12. Other non-starchy vegetables
Many other non-starchy vegetables are low in calories and high in carbs, but full of nutrients.
Low-carb vegetables can be substituted for high-carb foods.
You can make low-carb cauliflower rice or mashed cauliflower. Spaghetti squash is a great alternative to spaghetti. Low-carb root vegetables like jicama or turnips are excellent substitutes for roasted potatoes and french fries.
These are just a few other keto-friendly veggies.
List of Keto vegetables
- green beans
- spaghetti squash
- Brussels sprouts
Avoid vegetables when you are following the keto.
Remember that not all vegetables have low carbohydrate content. Avoid these vegetables if you are following the keto.
- Sweet potatoes and potatoes
- Large quantities of onions
- Certain winter squashes such as butternut squash and acorn squash are available in limited quantities.
On keto, you should consume plenty of non-starchy vegetables, including green leafy greens and summer squash, as well as avocados, olives, and peppers.
13-18. Other plant-based foods
13. Nuts and seeds
Seeds are high in fat and healthy.
Reduced risk of certain cancers, heart disease, depression and other chronic diseases is associated with frequent nut consumption ( 103, 104).
Additionally, nuts and seeds are rich in fiber which can help you feel fuller and naturally reduce your calories ( 105).
While most seeds and nuts are low in net carbs overall, it varies by type. These are the lowest carb sources (and therefore best for keto): 54Trusted source, 55Trusted source, 56Trusted source, 57Trustedsource, 56Trusted source, 57TrustedSource, 57TrustedSource, 57TrustedSource, 57TrustedSource, 58TrustedSource, 59TrustedSource
- macadamia nuts
- chia seeds
Most fruits have too many carbs to be able to eat on a keto diet. However, berries are an exception.
Berries, especially raspberries, are low in carbs, and high in fiber. Although blackberries and blueberries have lower carbs than other fruits, they might not be suitable for strict keto diets (106).
These small fruits are rich in antioxidants which may help reduce inflammation and protect against diseases ( 107, 108).
15. Shirataki noodles
Shirataki noodles make a great addition to the keto diet. Because they are mostly water ( 109), they have less than one gram of net carbs and only fifteen calories per serving.
These noodles are made of a viscous fiber called glucomannan. This has many health benefits ( 110, 111).
Viscous fiber forms gel which slows down food movement in your digestive tract. This can reduce hunger and blood sugar spikes and may help with weight loss and diabetes management ( 112, 113, 114).
Shirataki noodles are available in many shapes and sizes, including rice, pasta, and fettuccine. They can be substituted for regular noodles in nearly all recipes.
16. Dark chocolate and cocoa powder
Delicious sources of antioxidants include dark chocolate and cocoa.
Flavanols in dark chocolate may lower your risk of developing heart disease.
You can eat chocolate while on keto, which is surprising. It is important to choose dark cocoa with at least 70% cocoa solids, preferably more, and to eat it in moderation.
Other keto-friendly plant foods include dark chocolate, berries, shirataki noodles and nuts.
Oils and fats
17. Olive oil
Olive Oil has many benefits for your heart.
It is high in oleic acids, a monounsaturated oil that has been shown to lower heart disease risk factors ( 115, 116).
Extra-virgin oil also contains high levels of polyphenol antioxidants, plant compounds that help protect the heart by decreasing inflammation and improving artery function ( 117, 118).
Olive oil is a fat-rich source and contains no carbs. It makes a great base for salad dressings and healthy mayonnaise.
Olive oil is less stable at high temperatures than saturated fats, so it is best to use it for low-heat cooking.
Coconut oil and avocado oil are two other excellent plant-based oils that you can use for keto.
18. Butter and ghee
Butter and ghee can be good fats for the keto diet. Butter has very little carbohydrates and ghee is completely carb-free ( 119).
Ghee, clarified butter, is made by heating butter and then removing any milk solids. Ghee is a concentrated buttery flavor and is often used in Indian cooking.
As with other full-fat dairy products, butter, and Ghee are not as dangerous to your health ( 120).
Olive oil, butter, and ghee are the best oils and fats for keto baking and cooking. Coconut and avocado oils are also good options.
19. Unsweetened tea and coffee
Tea and coffee are healthy, low-carb beverages.
They contain caffeine which may increase your metabolism and improve your mood ( 121, 122, 123).
A significant reduction in diabetes risk has been found to be associated with tea and coffee drinkers. Although a cause-and-effect relationship between coffee and diabetes has yet to be established ( 124), it is clear that those who consume the most coffee have the lowest risk.
You can add heavy cream to your coffee or tea, but it’s best to avoid tea lattes and “light” coffee while you are on keto. They’re usually made with high-carb flavorings and nonfat milk.
20. Sparkling water unsweetened
Unsweetened sparkling Water is an excellent choice if you are looking for a keto-friendly substitute for soda.
These drinks are refreshingly fizzy, and can be flavored, but they are generally without sugar or sweeteners. They are low in calories and carbs ( 125).
Some varieties may be flavored with fruit juice and contain carbs. Make sure you read the label. Extra carbs can quickly add up ( 126).
While you are doing keto, unsweetened tea, coffee, and sparkling water can be a good choice.
Is keto the right choice for you?
Many people continue to enjoy the low-carb, high-fat keto diet. It may not suit everyone.
Keto is very restrictive in comparison to other diets. This can cause stress for some people.
The keto diet can also cause side effects, particularly when you are just starting. Side effects include ( 127)
- digestive changes
- Increasing cholesterol
Questions frequently asked
These are some common questions regarding the ketogenic diet.
1. Can I ever eat carbs again?
Yes. It’s important to reduce your carb intake first. You can still eat carbs for special occasions after the initial 2 to 3-month period. Just make sure to return to your diet immediately.
2. What happens if I lose muscle?
Any diet can lead to some muscle loss. High ketone and protein intake may reduce muscle loss, particularly if you lift weights ( 128, 129).
3. Can I build muscle using a ketogenic diet
It may work, but not as well as a moderate-carb diet ( 130, 131). This article provides more information about low-carb or keto diets as well as exercise performance.
4. How much protein can you eat?
Moderate intake of protein is recommended as high levels can cause insulin to spike and lower ketones. The upper limit is likely to be around 35% of total calories.
5. What if I feel constantly tired, weak or fatigued?
It is possible that you are not in ketosis, or may not be using fats and ketones as efficiently. You can counter this by reducing your carb intake. Supplements like MCT oil and ketones could also be helpful ( 132, 133).
6. My urine smells fruity. Is this normal?
Do not be alarmed. This is due to the excreting of ketosis by-products ( 134).
7. My breath is stale. What can I do to stop it?
This is a common side effect. You can try drinking naturally flavored water, or chewing sugar-free gum.
8. I was told ketosis could be very dangerous. Is it true?
Many people mistakenly confuse ketosis and ketoacidosis. Although ketoacidosis can be dangerous, the ketosis of a ketogenic diet can be fine for healthy people. Before you start any new diet, consult your doctor.
9. I have diarrhea and digestive problems. What can I do to help?
This side effect is usually gone within 3-4 weeks. You can try increasing your intake of high-fiber vegetables ( 135, 136).
The bottom line
The keto diet can help you lose weight, control your blood sugar, and achieve other health goals. Its low-carb and high-fat approach can seem restrictive at first.
This eating style allows you to eat a variety of healthy, delicious, and versatile meals that will not exceed your daily carbohydrate intake.
People who are:
- are overweight
- Have diabetes
- They are interested in improving their metabolic health
It might not be suitable for elite athletes, or people who wish to gain large amounts of muscle and weight.
Some people may not find it sustainable due to their lifestyles or preferences. Talk to your doctor about your goals and eating habits in order to determine if keto is right for you.