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What is The Ketogenic Diet or KETO Diet? FULL Guide

by Georgia Ede
Published: Last Updated on

The Keto or Ketogenic Diet allows you to burn more fat, what does it consist of?

The ketogenic diet,  also known as the Keto diet, is a new method to lose weight that is nothing like all the traditional methods already known from other famous diets. Basically, this diet consists of causing our body to go into a state of ketosis in which our body uses fat as the main source of energy and this allows us to burn more accumulated fat per day and gradually lose weight.

It is a diet in which one of the 3 macronutrients in food is restricted , in this case carbohydrates ( see here types of carbohydrates that exist ), in order to provoke in our body a metabolic process known as ketosis In this diet , carbohydrate intake is limited to a maximum of 50 grams per day ( this value does not refer to the weight of the food but to the effective amount of carbohydrates ), so the total calories ingested will come from 60% of fats (healthy), 30% protein and 10% carbohydrates.

In general, when we have to go on a diet with the aim of losing weight, having some basic notions of nutrition, we immediately understand that we must increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables, consume legumes, meat and fish, not abuse saturated fats and accompany The diet with exercise, as you can see, is not the case with this diet, because in nutrition not everything is the basic rules that everyone knows, when we study in depth the functioning of our body we discover certain processes that make us lose weight . One of them is the state of ketosis  on which this diet is based.

What is the ketosis process?

We must know that carbohydrates are today the main source of energy, when they are ingested they go from the stomach to the intestine to disintegrate and become glucose that will be our fuel . Apart from the glucose present in our bloodstream, it is also stored in the form of glycogen in:

  • In the muscles : Deposit of approximately 200 grams of glycogen, this storage capacity depends a lot on the muscle mass that the specific person has and is used locally by each energy-demanding muscle.
  • In the liver : Deposit of approximately 80 grams of glycogen, it is used as a second reserve after using the existing deposit in the muscles. It is also used at a general level for the proper functioning of the body.

When all glycogen reserves are depleted , our brain detects that there are no energy stocks left to perform the required physical activity and that is when the state of ketosis begins to occur , the so-called ketone bodies are released , these compounds cause the oxidation of the fats accumulated in our body to make use of them as a source of energy .

How long does it take to get into ketosis?

There is no specific period of time to know when we are in ketosis, that is, to know when our body is burning accumulated fat to transform it into energy, the number of days necessary to enter ketosis is calculated between 3 and 7 days but it will depend on various factors; such as the amount of glycogen that we have stored, the restriction of carbohydrates that we carry out or the amount of exercise that we carry out.

We continue to explain the diet …

For the reasons explained above, this diet attempts to  considerably reduce the intake of carbohydrates and sugars , which are the main source of energy, since otherwise it is not possible to enter a ketone state.

We will eat only 10% carbohydrates in the diet (when normally between 40% – 50% of the diet is recommended). Around 50 grams of carbohydrates will be consumed per day (which does not refer to the weight of the food, but to the amount of carbohydrates it has). We will not consume sugars, or processed or refined foods.

It is a diet with a medium protein consumption (not hyperproteic), high in healthy fats and low in carbohydrates . Although the consumption of carbohydrates is low, we must never eliminate them completely.

It is a diet that bears a certain similarity to what our ancestors ate in the Paleolithic Age, since at that time they ate meat and fish and did not eat too many carbohydrates such as pasta or cereals. ( See here the Paleolithic diet )

Why is it possible to lose weight on this Keto diet? 

Normally we ingest carbohydrates in our diet constantly and several times a day, the excess of carbohydrates and sugars in the diet causes an adaptation of the body to always use the glucose supplied as a source of energy and the fats continue to be stored and are not used.

With this diet, what is intended is to put to work the fats that we have accumulated as the main source of energy thanks to the ketosis process that we have just explained.

Studies show that fats are a slower but more efficient source of energy than carbohydrates. Each gram of carbohydrates is converted into 4 kilocalories of energy, while each gram of fat is converted into 9 kilocalories.

Video of Doctor Eric Crall explaining the diet

We recommend that you take a look at this video of Doctor Eric Crall, it is subtitled and it is quite interesting!

What foods NOT to eat?

Therefore, it seems that it has become clear that to follow a ketogenic diet you have to reduce your carbohydrate intake and the easiest way to start is by eliminating those foods that contain the most carbohydrates:

  • Pan.
  • Pastries.
  • Pasta.
  • Rice.
  • Cereals.
  • Flours.
  • Vegetables.
  • Potatoes or other tubers.
  • Sweets or saturated fat.
  • Sugar (Soft drinks, sugary juices).

What carbohydrates can you eat?

We have to eat some carbohydrates a day, we cannot make a total restriction, so we will try to choose and consume in moderation those that contain the lowest glycemic load, these are the following vegetables:

  • Spinach.
  • Screams.
  • Lettuce
  • Debts.
  • Broccoli.
  • Cauliflower.
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus.
  • Celery.
  • She.
  • Zucchini.
  • Carrot.
  • Onion.
  • Leek.
  • Tomatoes.
  • Peppers.
  • Fruits (it is preferable to consume acidic or citrus fruits and restrict sweet fruits such as banana, melon, papaya, custard apple, grape).

Foods to eat:

In this diet it is not about not eating, but rather you have to supplement the poor intake of carbohydrates with healthy fats and proteins, you have to provide enough calories to meet the needs of our body to be in shape and stay healthy and above all to lose fat but also to prevent the body from consuming muscle mass.

  • Meats: pork, beef, lamb, goat, chicken, duck, quail, goose, poultry.
  • White and blue type fish: Sea bass, sea bream, mackerel, sardine, rooster, sole, emperor, salmon, tuna, cod, grouper, trout, herring, etc.
  • Seafood and mollusks: squid, crab, oysters, mussels, shellfish, lobster, clams, etc.
  • Eggs.
  • Cheeses
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pumpkin, chia or flax seeds.
  • Healthy oils: Extra virgin olive, coconut, linseed or avocado oil.
  • Avocados
  • Salt, pepper, herbs and spices.
  • Almond milk.

Advantages of the diet

  • Weight loss . Studies show that people who follow a low-carbohydrate diet lose more weight than those who follow a low-fat diet.
  • Loss of volume . In the first days, glycogen stores are depleted (glycogen is made up of 1 molecule of glucose and 4 of water). If we have about 300 grams of glucose stored we will lose about 1,200 kilos of water. Fat loss will come later.
  • It does not produce hunger, it generates a high sensation of satiety due to the slower digestion of fats.
  • Reduces anxiety associated with other types of diets due to its high satiating power.
  • Less amount of loss of muscle mass compared to other diets due to its sufficient protein intake.
  • It is anti-inflammatory . Studies claim that pro-inflammatory cytokine levels are lowered when we enter ketosis. See publication
  • It is Anticancer . Tumor cells need to metabolize large amounts of glucose to live, they cannot survive with ketone bodies or fatty acids, and these are toxic to them. See publication
  • More fat is lost from where we have the most, generally from visible areas such as the abdomen, buttocks or thighs.
  • Lowers blood sugar levels with great improvements for people with type 2 diabetes.
  • Helps reduce bad LDL cholesterol by low carbohydrate intake.
  • Provides metabolic flexibility. Our body learns to use fat as a source of energy , it becomes more efficient and later when hydrates are reintroduced they are managed more effectively.
  • The ketogenic diet mimics the effects that occur in our body biochemically when we fast , but without the need to starve.

Dangers of the ketogenic diet or disadvantages of following it

  • It is a difficult diet to follow , since carbohydrates are very present in our daily lives and many people end up abandoning it or not doing it correctly.
  • Lower intake of vitamins and minerals , we can opt for supplementation to avoid such deficiencies.
  • Fiber deficiency that can cause constipation.
  • It causes bad breath ( halitosis ) caused by the ketone state.
  • Many people report states of tiredness , fatigue or muscle weakness.
  • It should not be done by people with liver problems since the liver must work twice as hard to get energy.
  • Certain studies reveal that a deficit in attention span is observed.

The phases of the ketogenic diet:

For this diet to function, it requires a metabolic change to occur, and therefore we must adapt the body to the new way of nourishing itself.

During the first week we will change our diet significantly, making it rich in fat and low in carbohydrates. During this week we can eat on demand. Weight loss during this week will not be significant, because at the beginning you will lose mostly fluids, but from the second week you will begin to lose significant weight, since we will begin to lose accumulated fat.

During the second week we will  eat on demand but with only two important meals a day, the rest will be small snacks. During this week, we will have to get used to not adding more fats to the food than our own. That is, we will not fry and consume food cooked on the grill or steam. Not adding more fat than you already have. Once adapted, the body will feel more energetic.

  •  The diet will be carried out for a maximum of one month, the duration should never be longer .

We can lose up to 12 kilos in a month , but then we must do a maintenance diet so as not to recover it suddenly, because sometimes it can happen. To do this, we must introduce carbohydrates gradually so that our body adapts little by little and does not notice any sudden changes.

Dissociated diets are often recommended for maintenance, as they are also high in protein and low in carbohydrates.

Ketogenic Diet MENU

Next we are going to present a 3-day menu, which can serve as a guide to start and get an idea of ​​what it would be like to carry out this type of diet:


Breakfast : Eggs with Bacon (2 eggs with 3 slices of bacon).

Lunch : 4 walnuts + 4 strawberries.

Lunch : Chicken salad (150 gr of lettuce + 150 gr of chicken breast + 20 gr of Parmesan cheese).

Snack : Celery crudités with guacamole sauce (100 gr of celery strips).

Dinner : Sea bass in salt with broccoli (150 gr of fish + 80 gr of broccoli).


Breakfast : Glass of almond milk + 6 or 7 hazelnuts.

Lunch : Watercress salad with tuna (100 gr of salad + 70 gr of tuna).

Lunch : Beef entrecote (180 gr of veal) + 2 baked peppers.

Snack : Carrot crudités with guacamole sauce (100 gr of carrot strips).

Dinner : Baked salmon with artichokes (150 gr of fish + 70 gr of artichokes).


Breakfast : 2 scrambled eggs with cheese and ham (30 gr cheese + 30 gr ham).

Lunch : 1 handful of olives + 4 walnuts.

Food : Turkey fillet (180 gr) + asparagus and artichokes / 100gr).

Snack : An orange + 6 cashews.

Dinner : Grilled squid and lamb’s lettuce salad (150 gr of fish + 100 gr of salad).

Approximate nutritional value of the menus:

Carbohydrates: 40 gr

Proteins: 150 gr

Fat: 105 gr

Calories: 1,800 kilocalories

The ketogenic diet against cancer

The potential benefits of the ketogenic diet are currently being studied on various fronts both in terms of prevention and treatment of cancer. Centers such as Albert Einstein in New York have already begun to compile studies given the references made by many patients.

The basis that contributes scientific rigor to this study is to achieve low glucose levels, since according to various studies tumor cells need to metabolize significant amounts of glucose to reproduce, so if we do not allow them to have those amounts of glucose, their development would slow down. , improving the treatment of the disease. In addition, its resistance to ketone bodies is very low , as well as to fatty acids, so if we follow the ketogenic diet we make it more difficult for the evolution of cancer.

The Cyclical Ketogenic diet is another option, do you know it?

Cyclical keto diet,  in English is another variant of the ketogenic diet. Do you want to know how to do it? Here we explain all the keys to correctly perform the cyclical ketogenic diet.

It is based on 5 or 6 days of low carbohydrate consumption and one or two days in which they increase the consumption of carbohydrates to replenish glycogen to the muscles. It is an alternative used by athletes, although we must know that healthy fats provide us with energy, so it should not be a problem for athletes.

The fact of cycling makes the diet more balanced and reduces the side effects of the low carbohydrate intake that is made in the ketogenic diet.

Do you want to know more about the ketogenic diet …?

The latest studies report an improvement in the symptoms of diseases such as epilepsy . Is that the ketogenic diet and its high consumption of healthy fats reduces the frequency and seizures, in addition the lower intake of carbohydrates also favors said improvement.

This has been proven by following a medical supervision with a ketogenic diet in which the diet must contain at least 80% healthy fats.

Is there a vegan ketogenic diet?

Of course, the options are different, but any diet can be adapted. The problem with this adaptation is to obtain the necessary macronutrients to respect the nutritional guidelines of the diet and not convert it into another type of diet, or reduce its effects. For this, in the vegan version we will choose to consume extra virgin olive oil, nuts, coconut oil , chia seeds and other vegetable fats to provide healthy fats.

On the other hand we will get proteins with proteins of vegetable origin in the link you can see the 15 best foods rich in vegetable proteins, among them we highlight nuts, legumes, soybeans and derivatives, seitan, vegetables high in protein such as cabbage kale, peas, broccoli, spinach …, chia seeds , or hemp, pure raw cocoa, pea protein, etc.

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