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The ketogenic diet is growing in popularity, and for good reason: it's simple and produces significant results. Whether you want to lose fat, increase energy, improve brain health, improve blood sugar levels, or improve overall health, the keto diet may be the diet you're looking for.

However, before learning how to start a diet, we need to develop a deeper understanding of what it is and why it is so effective. Knowing the what and why of this way of eating plays a huge role in the success of the keto diet and knowing how to get started.

What Is the Keto Diet?

There ketogenic diet it can be described in many different ways, but the most common definition is that it is a high-fat, low-carb, low-protein diet. However, if you don't know what phrases like "high fat" and "low carb" mean, it's hard to understand what it means to eat keto. The simplest way I've found to conceptualize the keto diet is this: If you restrict carbs to the point where you enter and maintain ketosis, you're on keto. 

There ketosis it is a metabolic state in which the body is constantly using and burning a highly efficient alternative fuel called ketones. To produce ketones and enter ketosis, we must continually trigger a process in the liver called ketogenesis. The healthiest way to do this is to limit your intake of carbohydrates, i.e. follow a ketogenic diet.

That's why this version of the low-carb diet is called the "ketogenic diet" - Its primary goal is to limit carbohydrates to the point of stimulating ketogenesis and entering nutritional ketosis. If you are not promoting ketone production and maintaining ketosis, you are technically not following the ketogenic diet. However, this begs the question: Is it worth going on a ketogenic diet so drastic that you may be possessing ketosis?

Ketogenic diet: what to eat

The keto diet is simple but can be difficult to adjust to at first. To go from eating all the high-carb foods you crave to stocking up on fat for fuel requires a huge change in your physiology and lifestyle.

Are the results of this keto journey worth the effort? The answer varies from person to person.

For many people, the answer is a clear and definitive "yes." High-quality studies of the keto diet have found that it consistently leads to the same amount or slightly more weight loss than many other popular diets. Additionally, current research also indicates that keto may help with many of the common conditions people struggle with today, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease.

There are two primary mechanisms behind these incredible results:

  1. Naturally reduces calorie intake. The keto diet encourages the consumption of highly palatable whole foods and the restriction of processed foods that stimulate the appetite. For this reason, many keto diets feel full throughout the day without needing to eat as many calories as before. This spontaneous reduction in calorie consumption typically leads to weight loss and improvements in various biomarkers related to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  2.  Increase your use of ketones. Ketones are our most efficient source of energy in many ways, but they aren't produced unless there is a lack of sugar needed to support brain function. When we burn ketones for fuel, they have many positive effects throughout our bodies, including optimizing brain health, boosting energy levels, and reducing appetite.

This powerful combination of sustainable calorie reduction and ketone production is what makes the ketogenic diet unique and beneficial in ways other diets can't emulate. Plus, you can follow her for as long as you like (more on that later in this article).

To reach your health and body composition goals, however, you have to get through the hardest part of most diet plans – getting started. Luckily, switching to keto isn't difficult when we filter out all the unnecessary information and break it down into three easy steps.

How to set up a ketogenic diet

Now that you know the what and why behind the ketogenic diet, let's learn how to set up a ketogenic diet. While there are many different approaches to keto that you can try, most of your results will come from these steps:

  1. Eat the right foods.
  2. Eat the right amount of these foods.
  3. Prepare for the keto flu.

Step 1: What to eat and what to avoid to follow the keto diet 

Just by following this step alone, many people are able to lose weight and improve their health significantly. By replacing carbohydrate-heavy foods with foods that contain no carbohydrates, you will naturally eat fewer calories than you used to, resulting in weight loss and improving many aspects of your health.

Let's start Phase 1 with a basic list of keto foods:

Do not eat

  • Cereals – wheat, corn, rice, cereals, etc.
  • Sugar – honey, agave, maple syrup, etc.
  • Fruits – apples, bananas, oranges, etc.
  • Tubers – Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, etc.


  • Meats – fish, beef, lamb, poultry, eggs, etc.
  • Low-carb vegetables – spinach, kale, broccoli, and other low-carb vegetables 
  • Full-fat dairy products – hard cheeses, high-fat cream, butter, etc.
  • Nuts and seeds – macadamias, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
  • Avocado and berries – raspberries, blackberries and other low glycemic impact berries
  • Sweeteners – stevia, erythritol, monk fruit and other low-carb sweeteners 
  • Other fats – coconut oil, high fat salad dressing, saturated fat, etc.

Examples of keto meal plans and ketogenic recipes

Here's what a sample week of ketogenic recipes using the allowed foods list on a keto diet looks like:


  • Breakfast: 1 serving of Muffin Omelette with bacon and bacon crust
  • Lunch: 1 serving of Keto Spinach and Watercress Salad
  • Dinner: 1 serving of Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole
  • Side dish: 1 portion of Creamy Cauliflower Purée Easy Cream of Potatoes
  • Dessert (optional): Eat as many coconut peanut butter balls as needed to satisfy your needs

Total Calories: 1,393 (without dessert)


  • Breakfast: 2 servings of Hunger Buster Low Carb Bacon Frittatas
  • Lunch: 1 serving of bacon salad and cheeseburger
  • Dinner: 1 portion of salmon meatballs with herbs
  • Side: 1 serving of roasted lemon spiced broccoli with lemon
  • Dessert (optional): Satiety Coconut Peanut Butter Balls

Total Calories: 1,312 (without dessert)


  • Breakfast: 1 serving of Muffin Omelette with bacon and bacon crust
  • Lunch: 1 serving of Keto Spinach and Watercress Salad
  • Dinner: 1 serving of Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole
  • Side dish: 1 portion of Creamy Cauliflower Purée Easy Cream of Potatoes
  • Dessert (optional): Satiety Coconut Peanut Butter Balls 

Total Calories: 1,393 (without dessert)


  • Breakfast: 1 serving of Low Carb Hunger Buster Low Carb Bacon Frittatas
  • Lunch: 1 serving of bacon salad and cheeseburger
  • Dinner: 1 portion of salmon meatballs with herbs
  • Side: 1 serving of roasted lemon spiced broccoli with lemon
  • Dessert: 1 cup of Churro

Total Calories: 1,510 (with dessert)


  • Breakfast: 1 serving of Muffin Omelette with bacon and bacon crust
  • Lunch: 1 serving of Keto Spinach and Watercress Salad
  • Dinner: 1 serving of Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole
  • Side dish: 1 portion of Creamy Cauliflower Purée Easy Cream of Potatoes
  • Dessert (optional): Satiety Coconut Peanut Butter Balls. 

Total Calories: 1,393 (without dessert)


  • Breakfast: 2 servings of Hunger Buster Low Carb Bacon Frittatas
  • Lunch: 1 serving of bacon salad and cheeseburger
  • Dinner: 1 portion of salmon meatballs with herbs
  • Side: 1 serving of roasted lemon spiced broccoli with lemon
  • Dessert (optional): satiated coconut peanut butter balls. 

Total Calories: 1,312 (without dessert)


  • Breakfast: 1 serving of Muffin Omelette with bacon and bacon crust
  • Lunch: 1 serving of Keto Spinach and Watercress Salad
  • Dinner: 1 serving of Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole
  • Side: 1 serving of roasted lemon spiced broccoli with lemon
  • Dessert (optional): Satiety Coconut Peanut Butter Balls. 

Total Calories: 1,287 (without dessert)

You can also create your own keto meal plan by mixing these ketogenic recipes, changing the days, etc. 

Troubleshooting for Phase 1: Hidden Carbs and Keto Friendly Substitutions 

When you start restricting carbohydrates, the first thing you notice is that many of your favorite foods come with added sugars and carbohydrates. These foods can quickly kick you out of ketosis and turn your ketogenic diet into a low-carb diet.

To make sure you keep your carbs as low as possible, use these strategies:

Read the labels carefully. Anything packaged (this includes all calorie-containing drinks and common medications like cough syrup) can be filled with hidden carbs. Make sure the ingredients label does not contain ingredients such as maltodextrin, dextrose, sugar, cane syrup, starch, etc. because these ingredients can raise blood sugar levels and impair ketone production.

Use keto friendly sweeteners and flours. Sugar and flour are difficult to eliminate completely for the diet, but it is possible if you know what to replace them with. For more information on keto-friendly sweeteners you can use, check out our guide to sweeteners. 

Eat keto versions of your favorite carb-heavy foods. Just because you're on a ketogenic diet, doesn't mean you need to cut out the pizza, pasta, desserts and sweets. All you have to do is make sure they are prepared with ketogenic recipes, i.e. versions that are high in fat and low in carbohydrates and proteins. 

By following step 1 of starting a keto diet (that is, eating exclusively keto foods), you'll be able to experience many of the benefits of the ketogenic diet even if you don't track calories or net carbs. However, to increase your chances of getting the desired results, it is better to follow step 2 as well.

Step 2: Eat the Right Amount of Keto-Friendly Foods

If eating keto foods (that is, following step 1) doesn't get you any closer to the results you want, you may need to more accurately track how much you eat. To illustrate the importance of calories, here are some dietary tenets that have held up after an enormous amount of scrutiny:

  • When we eat fewer calories than we expend during the day (that is, we are in a calorie deficit), we lose weight.
  • When we eat more calories than we use during the day (that is, we are in a calorie excess), we gain weight.
  • And the previous two statements hold true regardless of the fat and carbohydrate content of your diet (with the same calorie consumption).

If we follow the data further, we find:

  • Drastically restricting calories (for example, prolonged fasts and very low-calorie diets) will cause dramatic weight loss that increases the likelihood of hormonal issues and future weight gain.
  • Being in a calorie excess will cause an increase in fat mass and health problems like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Overall, we can conclude that – if you want to gain or lose weight in the healthiest way possible – the race is won slowly and consistently. In fact, research indicates that losing weight at a rate of 0.5 - 2 pounds per week is best.

How to set up a ketogenic diet: Understand how much you should eat on the keto diet

There are two main methods you can use to figure out how much to eat for best results (and both require some experimentation):

  • Check results and adjust food intake. This method requires you to measure your results every 3-5 weeks and adjust the amount of fat eaten based on what you find. Losing weight too fast and feeling tired all the time? Eat a little more fat with your meals or add a keto snack to your day. Are you losing a little weight? Reduce the fat content of your meals. Once you've made the appropriate adjustments to your ketogenic diet, check your results after another 3-5 weeks to see if you're reaching your goals at a healthy pace. For more in-depth information on how to use this method, read the "How to Find Out How Much Fat You Need to Eat on Keto" section of this article.
  • Track your calorie consumption. If you prefer to be more precise in your food intake, the advice is to use a calculator to establish a starting point for your consumption of calories, fat, carbohydrates and proteins. Once you know how much you need to eat, try using a calorie tracking app like MyFitnessPal or Stopwatch. Both the calculator and tracking app will help you figure out exactly how much you need to eat each day to reach your goals. 

Fat, protein and carbohydrates: how much of each macronutrient should you eat on a ketogenic diet?

While calorie consumption is one of the most critical variables in determining whether you lose or gain weight, you also need to keep track of how much fat and protein you eat if you want to decrease your body fat percentage and maintain (or build) as much muscle mass as possible.

Let's take a quick look at the importance of each macronutrient and how to find the ideal intake for each one:

Carbohydrates. Without limiting your carbohydrate intake, you cannot enter ketosis. For most people, we recommend eating fewer than 35 grams of carbohydrates per day. Don't worry, carbohydrates aren't technically essential, so most of us can get away with limiting them as much as we like. 

The fats. On the keto diet, fat will be your primary source of calories, so it's essential that you eat enough to get the results you want. To help you figure out your ideal fat intake, use our keto calculator. 

Protein. Proteins are an essential part of any diet. If you don't eat enough, you will increase the likelihood of losing muscle mass and your health and well-being will suffer. On the other hand, eating too much protein can decrease ketone production. For this reason it is essential to eat the right amount of protein while on a keto diet – not too much, not too little. The easiest way to find your ideal protein intake is to use our keto calculator.

Key findings for phase 2 of initiating the ketogenic diet

The most effective way to lose (or gain) weight is to eat the right amount of calories. Since fat will be your main source of calories while on the keto diet, you will need to adjust your fat intake based on the results you are getting and the results you want to achieve.

The basic principles you can use to help you figure out how much you should eat are as follows:

  • Eating fewer calories than you need to maintain weight will lead to weight loss.
  • Eating more calories than you need to maintain weight will lead to weight gain.
  • It's healthier to lose weight at 1 to 2 pounds a week.
  • While on keto, it's important to eat the right amount of each macronutrient.

Follow these three keto principles to help you:

  • Keeping carbohydrates to less than 35 grams per day will help you stay in ketosis.
  • By adjusting your daily intake of fat (your main source of calories), you can increase/decrease weight loss or increase/decrease weight gain.
  • Eating the right amount of protein will help you preserve muscle mass as you lose weight.

By following steps 1 and 2, you will greatly increase your chances of getting the results you want. However, you will only see progress if you stick to the diet, which may be harder than you think. Even the strongest of us can give up if we don't pay attention to step 3: prepare for the worst.

Step 3: Prepare for the Worst - The Keto Flu and How to Fix It

If you've tried the ketogenic diet before, you probably already know how to burn calories and more importantly cut carbs, and you're already aware of things like designing ketogenic recipes and dealing with any ailments.

If, on the other hand, you are new, then know that the keto diet, especially in the initial stages when the body is adapting, could bring you some ailments, in particular "keto fever": a period in which you can experience some symptoms - diarrhea or constipation , nausea, sleep disturbances, fatigue etc – related to carbohydrate reduction.

How to fix? It's easy: increase your water consumption, and possibly take potassium and magnesium supplements or foods rich in these minerals.

How to set up a ketogenic diet: how long can you follow the keto diet? 

There is not enough evidence to definitively conclude whether the ketogenic diet can be healthy when followed for longer than one year. However, based on the current research literature and anecdotes of keto diets, the keto diet appears to be safe and healthy for extended periods of time under these conditions:

  • The person is able to achieve a healthy weight and healthy body composition with diet.
  • The person is "healthy" while following the diet, as indicated by relevant laboratory tests and by their overall sense of happiness and well-being.
  • The person can maintain his keto lifestyle without it decreasing the quality of his life.

These three conditions serve as useful indicators of how safe and healthy the keto diet is. When all three conditions are met, keep doing what you're doing (unless, of course, your doctor strongly advises against it).

However, if you find the keto diet difficult to stick to long-term (for whatever reason), you can also use it as a short-term tool to help you lose some extra weight and/or improve various health conditions.

How to know if the keto diet is working for you 

While the research and success stories for the keto diet are definitely promising, they don't apply to everyone. Just because someone thinks the ketogenic diet is best for them doesn't mean it's ideal for you.

For this reason we recommend that you monitor your results to see if your dietary changes are healthy and effective for you. When following a keto diet, we recommend monitoring these four variables:

  • How do you feel. Once you've followed the three steps to starting the keto diet, pay attention to how you feel. Are you feeling better than your previous lifestyle? Or, do you feel dejected and drained most of the time? If after 1-2 months you are really struggling with keto, then consider adjusting the way you eat so that it better fits your lifestyle and eating habits and increases your sense of well-being.
  • Body composition. In most cases, people use the keto diet to lose fat. One of the easiest ways to track fat loss is to use a scale and measure your waist circumference. If both the number on the scale and your waist circumference are going down, then you're on the right track. If not, we recommend using one of the strategies from our article on weight loss plateaus. However, don't make any changes to your diet until you've been following it for at least 3-5 weeks. 

Waist circumference and weight naturally vary from day to day. Monitoring these values every 3-5 weeks will give you a much more accurate representation of how well your diet is working for you. In other words, if you aren't losing weight or inches after a week, don't panic. Stick to your diet plan for at least 3 weeks before checking your progress and adjusting your diet (if needed) from there.

  • Blood biomarkers. Sometimes, the way you feel and the amount of weight you lose don't reflect what's going on inside your body. For this reason, we advise you to consult your doctor before and after making this dietary change. Pay close attention to how your blood changes after you've been on keto for at least a month. Track what happens to blood sugar, cholesterol, A1C and triglycerides. While research suggests keto can help improve each of these biomarkers, some people may experience the opposite. For those of you who find that keto is driving your biomarkers to unhealthy levels, you may want to decrease your fat intake and increase your carbohydrate intake from whole foods to see if that helps improve your blood work and health. general.
  • Ketosis. To find out if you're reaping the full benefits of ketosis, you'll want to make sure you're in ketosis. You can do this by checking for signs of ketosis or investing in ketone tracking tools. If you are having trouble getting into ketosis, you may need to decrease your carbohydrate intake and check your medications and packaged foods for hidden carbohydrates, eat less protein (but only if your protein intake is high), or use a blood ketone meter to get a more reliable measurement.

Three key steps to starting the keto diet 

While you can find a seemingly endless stream of information on how to maximize your keto diet, most of your results will come from these three steps:

  • Eat keto-friendly foods and avoid foods that contain carbohydrates.
  • Eat the right amount of calories, fat, carbohydrates and protein to meet your goals.
  • Get ready for the keto flu.

To find out if the keto diet is safe and effective for you, be sure to track these variables in some way:

  • How do you feel
  • Changes in body composition
  • Relevant biomarkers
  • Ketosis

By tracking these four variables throughout your keto journey, you'll gain nearly all the information you need to answer three crucial keto questions:

  • Is keto safe and healthy for me?
  • Is keto giving me the results I want?
  • Am I following keto correctly?