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What Is A Keto Diet? Complete Beginner’s Guide to This Popular Diet

by Prity Kumari
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Without a doubt, the Keto diet is to date the most popular and highly researched eating plan. It may seem new to most people, but it has been around since the 1920s. This high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet has established itself and gained popularity when it proved to reduce seizures in children suffering from epilepsy. While it is still prescribed by dieticians for that purpose, presently, the diet is considered as the best and most effective weight loss diet for slimming the body. [2,3]

What Exactly Is A Keto Diet?

The Keto diet, a short form of the Ketogenic Diet, is an eating plan for keto diet guide that includes foods rich in healthy fats and proteins and reduced amounts of carbohydrates. Its goal is to provide more calories as a form of energy from fats and protein-rich foods while minimizing the energy derived from carbohydrates.

Everyone is unique and their needs are slightly different. Typically, the daily breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in a ketogenic diet looks like this:

  • 5 to 10 percent of calories from foods low in carbohydrates such as small amounts of green leafy and non-starchy vegetables like kale and spinach. This means eating not more than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day.
  • 15 to 30 percent of calories from protein-rich foods such as eggs, cheese, and meat
  • 60 to 75 percent of calories from fatty or oily foods such as unprocessed nuts, oils, avocado and butter. [2, 3, 5]

Different Types of Keto Diet

The ketogenic diet is not a one-size-fits-all eating plan. It is of various versions, each providing different benefits, depending on the nutrition goals of the individual. The four common types of Keto Diet include:

  1. Standard Keto Diet (SKD): It usually comprises 20% protein, 70-75% fat, and 5-10% carbs. It is mostly researched for its ability to control blood sugar in diabetic people and reduce the weight of obese or overweight individuals.
  2. Targeted Keto Diet (TKD): This diet follows the standard keto diet with only one exception the person is allowed to add carbohydrates to his/her diet before intense workouts. The targeted keto dieters can eat 20-50 grams of carbohydrates about 30-60 minutes before a workout, hence helping them feel more capable and stronger during their vigorous exercises. TKD temporarily (for a few hours) shifts the body out of ketosis and additional carbohydrates are immediately burned out without any chance of them being stored as body fat.
  3. Cyclical Keto Diet (CKD): It is similar to the standard ketogenic diet with only one variation that it involves the periods of refeeds of higher carbohydrates such as having 5 days with a ketogenic diet followed by 2 days where high carbohydrates (about 140-160 grams) are taken in diet. This type of eating plan is followed by bodybuilders or athletes to enable them to replenish the storage of glycogens in their muscles.
  4. High Protein Keto Diet: This type of diet is similar to the standard ketogenic diet but includes more proteins. Often, the ratio is 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbohydrates. [2, 4]

How does a Keto Diet Work?

After intake of fewer carbohydrates (20-50 grams) a day, eventually, the body runs out of fuel (the blood sugars or glucose reserves) very quickly and becomes less energetic. Typically, this occurs in just 3 to 4 days. When there is a lack of carbohydrates in our body, the energy is naturally yielded by the body by breaking down the fat and proteins. The fats are converted into ketone bodies in the liver. This process or metabolic state of the body where carbohydrate fuel is replaced with fats is known as ketosis. It can make you lose weight as the stored fats are the culprits of increased body weight. [1, 6]

What Foods are Allowed and What Is Not On A Keto Diet?

Keto Diet Foods:
Generally, the base of the majority of meals must be around these foods:

  • Oily fish: salmon, tuna, trout, and mackerel
  • Butter and cream
  • Healthy oils: avocado oil and extra virgin olive oil
  • Condiments: spices and herbs, salt, pepper
  • High Fat Meat: sausage, chicken, ham, bacon, red meat, turkey, and steak
  • Pastured or omega-3 whole eggs
  • Seeds and nuts: walnuts, almonds, chia seeds, flax seeds, and pumpkin seeds
  • High-fat dairy: Unprocessed Cheeses
  • Non-starchy or Fewer carb vegetables: green veggies, tomato, onion, etc.

Foods To Avoid:
A ketogenic diet limits any food that is rich in carbohydrates. These includes:

  • Fruits except for strawberries
  • Sugary foods: smoothies, fruit juice, ice cream, candy, etc.
  • Starchy or grain-based foods: cereal, rice, wheat-based products, pasta, etc.
  • Unhealthy fats: mayonnaise, processed vegetable oils, etc.
  • Alcohol
  • Some sauces or condiments: ketchup, honey mustard, barbecue sauce, etc.
  • Legumes or beans
  • Tubers and root vegetables: potatoes, carrots, etc.
  • Sugar-free diet foods: puddings, desserts, syrups, sugar-free candies, sweeteners, etc. [1,4]

Why It’s Good To Have A Keto Diet?

A ketogenic diet has a lot many benefits. Following are the benefits of keto diet:

  1. Promotes Weight Loss: A ketogenic diet supports weight loss in various ways including reducing appetite and boosting body metabolism. The reduced appetite is because of fewer hunger-stimulating hormones from the foods of the Keto diet. In the initial 3 to 6 months of following this diet, weight loss is comparatively more seen than in other diets as it takes more calories to get energy from fats than from carbs.
  2. Reduces Seizures: As per research and reviews of epilepsy patients, there have been fewer seizures seen in people who have ketogenic diets.
  3. Improves Cardiac Health: The risk of heart disease is less because of a significant drop in total cholesterol, bad cholesterol, Low-density lipoprotein and triglycerides, and an increase in good cholesterol or High-density lipoprotein.
  4. Improves PCOS Symptoms: Researchers believe that many markers of Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome can be improved, including weight loss, levels of fasting insulin, hormone balance, and ratios of FSH and LH.
  5. Lowers the Risk of Certain Cancers: Ketogenic diets can quickly lower insulin levels which let the body use or store sugars as fuel. This, in turn, may protect the body against some kinds of cancers.
  6. Improve Acne: Acne breakouts can be linked to carbohydrates or more insulin. A ketogenic diet can cut on both of these triggers.
  7. Protect Brain Function: Some studies suggest that ketones produced by a keto diet can protect and strengthen the brain and nerve cells.
  8. Help Endurance Athletes: When cyclists or runners get training, they can get peak performance when they are on targeted or cyclic ketogenic diets. [5,6]


  1. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/what-ketogenic-diet
  2. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/a19434332/what-is-the-keto-diet/
  3. https://www.nm.org/healthbeat/healthy-tips/nutrition/pros-and-cons-of-ketogenic-diet
  4. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ketogenic-diet-101#diet-types
  5. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319196#4-may-improve-heart-health
  6. https://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-ketogenic-diet

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