What is keto diet?

The Keto or ketogenic diet is composed by a very low-carb, high-fat diet that is quite similar with the Atkins and low-carb diets.

To follow properly this type of diet its necessary to drastically reduce carbohydrate intake and replacing it with high quality healthy fat. This reduction in carbs turns your body into a metabolic state called ketosis.
When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy for the brain.

Keto diets can cause massive reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels. This, along with the increased ketones, has numerous health benefits

How to start keto diet?

To make the keto diet, one should eliminate all carbohydrate-rich foods like bread and rice, and increase mainly the consumption of foods rich in fats, while also keeping a good amount of protein in the diet. This diet uses the fat itself as a source of energy rather than the carbohydrate that comes from the diet.
This type of feeding is indicated mainly to control and prevent seizures in epilepsy, but it has also been used to accelerate weight loss and, in some cases, for the treatment of cancer because the cancer cells mainly feed of carbohydrate, which is the nutrient withdrawn from the keto diet.

How keto diet works in our body?

The keto diet consists of a drastic reduction of carbohydrates in the diet, which will only participate in 10 to 15% of the daily calories. To compensate for this reduction, there must be a large increase in fat consumption, represented by foods such as avocado, coconut oil, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, butter, olive oil, peanuts, nuts and almonds.

In addition, the amount of protein should also increase until it is about 30% of the food, and it is necessary to eat meat, chicken or fish at lunch and dinner, and include eggs and cheeses in snacks.
Another diet very similar to ketogenic is the low carb diet, and the main difference is that the keto diet makes a much greater use of fats to compensate for the lack of carbohydrates.

How to make a keto diet plan:

If you are motivated to try the keto diet, you will want to stick to the parameters of the eating plan. Roughly 60 to 80 percent of your calories will come from good quality fats. That means you’ll eat meats, fats, and oils, and a very limited amount of non-starchy vegetables ( the best would be 0% carbs on the keto diet.)

The remaining calories in the keto diet come from protein — about 1 gram (g) per kilogram of body weight, so a 140-pound woman would need about 64 g of protein total. As for carbs most people maintain ketosis with between 20 and 50 g of net carbs per day.

If you eat something as small as a serving of blueberries, your body could revert to burning carbohydrates for fuel rather than fat.

What to eat on the keto diet menu?


Frequently: (keto diet is not high in protein, the main focus is on fat, so protein should be consumed in moderation.): Grass-fed beef, Fish, especially fatty fish, like salmon, dark meat chicken
Occasionally: Bacon, Low-fat proteins, like skinless chicken breast and shrimp. These are great to include , in your keto diet, but add a sauce on top for some fat rather than eating plain.
Avoid: Cold cuts with added sugar, Meat that has been marinated in sugary sauces, Fish or chicken nuggets.

Oil and Fat

Frequently: Avocado oil; Olive oil; Coconut oil; Butter; Heavy cream
Occasionally:, (Limit your consumption of packaged foods, which these are often found in.); Sunflower oil; Safflower oil; Corn oil
Avoid: Margarine; Artificial trans fats

Fruits and Veggies

Frequently: Avocado; Leafy greens, like spinach and arugula; Celery; Asparagus
Occasionally: (These are still great choices, but you’ll also need to count these carbs.) Leeks; Spaghetti squash; Eggplant
Avoid: Potatoes; Corn; Raisins

Nuts and Seeds

Frequently: Walnuts; Almonds; Flaxseed and chia seeds
Occasionally: Unsweetened nut butters (almond or peanut butter); Cashews; Pistachios
Avoid: Trail mixes with dried fruit; Sweetened nut or seed butters; Chocolate-covered nuts

Dairy Products

Frequently: Cheddar cheese; Blue cheese; Feta cheese
Occasionally: Full-fat cottage cheese; Full-fat plain Greek yogurt; Full-fat ricotta cheese
Avoid: Milk; Sweetened non-fat yogurt, Ice cream


Frequently: Practice moderation with sweeteners.
Occasionally: Stevia; Erythritol; Xylitol
Avoid: Agave; Honey; Maple syrup; White and brown sugars

Condiments and Sauces

Frequently: Guacamole; Lemon butter sauce; Mayonnaise.
Occasionally: Raw garlic; Tomato sauce; Balsamic vinegar
Avoid: Barbecue sauce; Ketchup; Honey mustard


Frequently: Water; Almond milk; Bone broth; Plain tea
Occasionally: Black coffee (watch caffeine consumption); Unsweetened carbonated water (limit only if bubbles make you bloated); Zero-calorie drinks
Avoid: Soda; Fruit juice; Lemonade

Herbs and Spices,

Frequently: (all herbs and spices fit in a keto diet); Salt (salty foods); Pepper; Thyme, oregano, paprika, and cayenne
Occasionally (contain some carbs.); Ground ginger; Garlic powder; Onion powder
Avoid: Herbs and spices are generally okay to use in small amounts to add flavor to foods.
Consider taking extra Fiber and Multivitamins, to prevent constipation and lack of vitamins from low intake of fruits.

Foods allowed and forbidden in keto diet menu

The following table shows which list of foods that are allowed and forbidden in Keto diet:


Meat, fish, eggs
Preserved meats,ham, sausage and bacon

Olive Oil, Oils, Butter, Margarine

Cheese, sour cream and yogurts without sugar
Peanut, walnut, hazelnut, cast
Seeds like flaxseed, chia, sunflower
Sauces like mayonnaise and mustard


Rice, noodles, corn
Beans, soybeans, peas, chickpeas
Wheat flour, oat
Bread, toast
Cakes, sweets, biscuits, chocolate
Powdered milk powder
Pizza, lasagne, yogurt with added sugar

It is important to remember that in this diet one should consume fruits and vegetables in the same way as in a normal diet without increasing the amount. Thus, 3 to 4 units of fruit per day and vegetables should be eaten at lunch and dinner times.

Example of Keto Diet plan for 3 days

Day 1
1cup of green tea+ 2 fry egg in butter +

Day 2
+ 1 slice of cheese curd+omelet of 3 eggs made of vegetables

Day 3
1 cup of green juice+1 glass of avocado whipped with yogurt and chia

Moorning snack
Day 1
10 cashew nuts2 slices papaya

Day 2
10 strawberries + 2 tablespoons sour cream

Day 3

1 spoon of peanut butter

Lunch /Dinner

Day 1
200g de carne + salada verde + 3 col de sopa de abacate + azeite

Day 2
200 g chicken with skin + 20 cashew nuts + vegetable salad with olive oil and sesame

Day 3

2 roasted fish with vegetables and olive oil + 4 cheese

Afternoon snack
Day 1
1 glass of avocado beaten coconut milk or almonds + 1 col de flax flour

Day 2
2 fried eggs in butter + 1 slice of cheese curd

Day 3

2 scrambled eggs with mushrooms and chia + 1 cup of green tea

It is very important to remember that the keto diet must be prescribed by a licensed nutritionist, is necessary to prevent problems such as lowering blood glucose and increasing cholesterol.

Know the different types of keto dietsThere are different types of the keto diet, to adapt to each person health states and lifestyles:

1-Standard ketogenic diet: very low-carb, moderate-protein and high-fat diet. It typically contains 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbs (1).
2-Cyclical ketogenic diet: have periods of higher-carb refeeds, such as 5 keto days followed by 2 high-carb days.
3-Targeted ketogenic diet: allows you to add carbs around workouts.
4-High-protein ketogenic diet: This is similar to a standard ketogenic diet, but includes more protein. The ratio is often 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbs.
The Cyclical or Targeted keto diets are more advanced methods and commonly used by bodybuilders or athletes.

Cyclical keto diet

The cyclical keto diet helps maintain good diet and good weight loss, helping to provide energy for physical exercise. One must follow the menu of the keto diet for 5 consecutive days, which are followed by 2 days in which it is allowed to consume foods with carbohydrates, such as bread, rice and pasta. However, foods like sweets, ice creams, cakes and other sugar-rich products should continue off the menu.

Contraindications of keto diet

The keto diet is contraindicated for people over 65 years of age or with a history of problems such as liver or kidney failure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and patients on cortisone-based medications. In these cases, the keto diet must be authorized by the physician and followed by a licensed nutritionist.

Side effects of keto diet

Excess dietary fat causes the child or adult patient to feel less hunger and loose apetite, requiring more effort during meals to force themselves to eat. In addition, during the adaptation phase, there may be intestinal problems such as constipation, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
It is also common to not gain weight in children in the first year of the diet, but its growth and development should remain normal and should be accompanied by the pediatrician. Symptoms such as lethargy, irritability, and refusal to eat can also arise due to high fat foods intake.

What science says about the keto diet results- Scientific evidences

There are at the present several scientific studies about Keto diet or Low carb diets. Below you can read some of the most important studies done until now. The Keto or Ketogenic diet has proved to have health benefits results for several health problems.

The ketogenic diet: one decade later.

The ketogenic diet, a high fat, adequate protein, low carbohydrate diet, has, during the past decade, had a resurgence of interest for the treatment of difficult-to-control seizures in children. This review traces its history, reviews its uses and side effects, and discusses possible alternatives and the diet's possible mechanisms of action. Finally, this review looks toward possible future uses of the ketogenic diet for conditions other than epilepsy.

A Randomized Trial of a Low-Carbohydrate Diet for Obesity

Despite the popularity of the low-carbohydrate, high-protein, high-fat (Atkins) diet, no randomized, controlled trials have evaluated its efficacy.
We conducted a one-year, multicenter, controlled trial involving 63 obese men and women who were randomly assigned to either a low-carbohydrate, high-protein, high-fat diet or a low-calorie, high-carbohydrate, low-fat (conventional) diet. Professional contact was minimal to replicate the approach used by most dieters.

The low-carbohydrate diet produced a greater weight loss (absolute difference, approximately 4 percent) than did the conventional diet for the first six months, but the differences were not significant at one year. The low-carbohydrate diet was associated with a greater improvement in some risk factors for coronary heart disease.


A Low-Carbohydrate as Compared with a Low-Fat Diet in Severe Obesity

The effects of a carbohydrate-restricted diet on weight loss and risk factors for atherosclerosis have been incompletely assessed. We randomly assigned 132 severely obese subjects (including 77 blacks and 23 women) with a mean body-mass index of 43 and a high prevalence of diabetes (39 percent) or the metabolic syndrome (43 percent) to a carbohydrate-restricted (low-carbohydrate) diet or a calorie- and fat-restricted (low-fat) diet.
Severely obese subjects with a high prevalence of diabetes or the metabolic syndrome lost more weight during six months on a carbohydrate-restricted diet than on a calorie- and fat-restricted diet, with a relative improvement in insulin sensitivity and triglyceride levels, even after adjustment for the amount of weight lost.

Effects of a low-carbohydrate diet on weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor in overweight adolescents

The low carbohydrate diet appears to be an effective method for short-term weight loss in overweight adolescents and does not harm the lipid profile

A randomized trial comparing a very low carbohydrate diet and a calorie-restricted low fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy women.

Untested alternative weight loss diets, such as very low carbohydrate diets, have unsubstantiated efficacy and the potential to adversely affect cardiovascular risk factors. Therefore, we designed a randomized, controlled trial to determine the effects of a very low carbohydrate diet on body composition and cardiovascular risk factors. Based on these data, a very low carbohydrate diet is more effective than a low fat diet for short-term weight loss and, over 6 months, is not associated with deleterious effects on important cardiovascular risk factors in healthy women.

A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-fat diet to treat obesity and hyperlipidemia: a randomized, controlled trial.

Low-carbohydrate diets remain popular despite a paucity of scientific evidence on their effectiveness.To compare the effects of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet program with those of a low-fat, low-cholesterol, reduced-calorie diet.
Compared with a low-fat diet, a low-carbohydrate diet program had better participant retention and greater weight loss. During active weight loss, serum triglyceride levels decreased more and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level increased more with the low-carbohydrate diet than with the low-fat diet.

The effects of a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet and a low-fat diet on mood, hunger, and other self-reported symptoms.

To investigate the effects of weight loss diets on mood, food cravings, and other self-reported symptoms.
Regardless of diet, participants experienced significant improvement in a broad range of symptoms. Symptoms of negative affect and hunger improved to a greater degree in patients following an LCKD compared with those following an LFD. Whether these symptom changes explain the greater short-term weight loss generally experienced by LCKD followers deserves further research

The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus

Dietary carbohydrate is the major determinant of postpran

Posted by Dr. João Carrilho

Dr. João Carrilho
Doctor in Traditional Chinese Medicine by Southwest Medical University, China.
Licensed Acupuncturist (N.0500096) and Phytotherapist (N.0400028) by the Portuguese Health Ministry.
Post-Graduated in Health Sciences at Oporto University, Portugal

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