Last Updated on March 26, 2020

The Beginners Guide To The Ketogenic Diet

The Beginners Guide To The Ketogenic Diet

There has been a lot of hype about the ketogenic diet lately. Articles on top of articles, videos on social media of athletes swearing by this diet trend in a cult like fashion, and “professionally” mapped out diet plans made by all the different self-proclaimed experts on the internet.

We’re here to give you exactly what you need to know about the ketogenic diet, in the easiest to understand and most detailed way possible. By the end of this article, be prepared to understand what the ketogenic diet is, how to get started, what you can eat, and how well it actually works.

What Is Ketosis?

The ketogenic diet revolves around putting the body into a state known as ketosis, where we use organic compounds produced by the liver known as ketones for energy. This happens when we starve our body of carbohydrates, so it is forced to breakdown excess fat for energy. 

Ketosis is the natural process the body undergoes when there is not a surplus of food. Your body undergoes this process when you don’t provide it with the amount of carbs it is used to getting. After that, your body is forced to burn fat as its second favorite energy source. Getting your body undergoing this process is the main point of the ketogenic diet.

In order to understand just how this works, it is important to understand how your body chooses its energy sources. Your body’s first pick at an energy source, is glucose. Having a carbohydrate enriched diet means that your body will look towards the carbs first, so it can break them down and convert them into glucose. Afterwards, the insulin in your body transports the glucose throughout your bloodstream.

A ketogenic diet works to decrease the amount of carbs your body can use as fuel. This will force it into the state of ketosis which is how you kick start the fat burning results you are looking for. When your body is undergoing ketosis, the lack of carbs forces it to turn to fat instead. The liver is then able to convert the fatty acids into organic compounds known as ketone bodies, for energy. When the body begins converting fat into energy instead of carbs, it becomes keto-adaptive, which means it is able to burn fat in a much more efficient manner.

Is Ketosis A Viable Weight Loss Solution?

Ketosis makes sense in theory, starving your body of carbohydrates and forcing it to burn high levels of fat should make perfect sense. Low and no carb diets have been around for a very long time, and they have helped people burn fat and accomplish their short term goals.

The fitness industry has an on and off relationship with low and no carb diet trends. Throughout the past 50 years, people have changed their mind and flip flopped between the health benefits and repercussions of eliminating carbs in your diet.

While you can expect to see short term results from cutting out of carbs, the results may not be permanent or easy to maintain. It is important to remember that ketosis is a process that the body undergoes for SURVIVAL purposes. It actually puts a big stress on your metabolism that can lead to many negative side effects.

Viable and healthy weight loss solutions should be practical and maintainable for the rest of your life. Even if you do manage to lose a decent amount of weight from cutting carbs out of your diet and undergoing ketosis, you can quickly gain that weight back the moment your body reverts to eating carbs again. If you lose fat quickly from any diet, you can almost guarantee that it can be put back on just as quickly.

How Long Does It take To Get Into Ketosis?

Getting into ketosis can be very difficult because of a wide variety of reasons. First of all, cutting out carbs is HARD. This is your body’s primary energy source, so depriving it of the glucose it is constantly looking for will lead to a revolt. Fatigue, mood swings, and trouble sleeping are all reasons that people want to get off this diet as quickly as they can.

Now finally achieving ketosis actually only takes two days. If you limit your body to twenty carbs per day, then your body will go through its two-day storage of glycogen and begin ketosis. At this point your body will start burning fat for energy helping you lose weight quickly.

While it only takes two-days to start ketosis, you’ve got to keep these eating habits going in order to continue to see the benefits of ketosis.

How Does The Ketogenic Diet Work?

The ketogenic diet works by forcing your body in a position where it no longer has access to the glucose found in carbs. After two days of a very limited carb intake, your body burns through the glycogen in your body and turns to the process known as ketosis. Ketosis starts burning fat for energy, helping you lose weight quickly, even though you are still eating high fat content foods. This diet only works when you limit carbs to 50 per day and eat a moderate amount of protein. 

List of Foods You Can Eat On The Ketogenic Diet

The main thing you need to remember about the ketogenic diet is the fact that you have to limit your carbs to 50 grams a day at the most. After that you just need to make sure your protein intake is not super high. The amount of fat you are eating is not a big deal, since ketosis puts you on a fast track to burning fat for energy.

What You Can Eat:

  • Grass Fed Meats: Beef, lamb, goat, venison, wild caught fish, seafood, pork, poultry, eggs, gelatin, ghee, butter, liver, heart, kidneys, and other organ meats.
  • Fats: Lard, Chicken Fat, Duck Fat, Clarified Butter, Goose Fat, Avocado, Macadamia, Olive Oil, Polyunsaturated Omega 3’s
  • Non-Starchy Vegetables: Leafy greens, Cruciferous Vegetables, Kohlrabi, Radishes, Celery Stalk, Asparagus, Cucumber, Summer Squash, Bamboo Shoots.
  • Fruits: Avocado
  • Beverages: Pesto, Mustard, Mayonnaise, Bone Broth, Pickles, Fermented Foods, Kimchi, Kombucha, Sauerkraut, Any spices and herbs, Whey Protein.

What You Can Eat In Moderation:

  • Cruciferous Vegetables: White and Green Cabbage, Red Cabbage, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Fennel, Turnips, Rutabaga / Swede.
  • Nightshades: Eggplants, Tomatoes, Peppers
  • Sea Vegetables: Nori, Kombu, Okra, Bean Sprouts, Sugar Snap Peas, Wax Beans, Globe Or French Artichokes, Water Chestnuts.
  • Root Vegetables: Parsley, Spring Onion, Leek, Onion, Garlic, Mushrooms, Winter Squash, Pumpkin.
  • Berries: Blackberries, Blueberries, Strawberries, Raspberries, Cranberries, Mulberries
  • Coconut, Rhubarb, Olives.
  • Dairy Products, Bacon, Macadamia Nuts, Pecans, Almonds, Walnuts, Hazelnuts, Pine Nuts, Flaxseed, Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Hemp Seeds, Brazil Nuts
  • Fermented Soy Products: Nattoh, Tamari, Tempeh, Edamame, Black Soybeans
  • Condiments: Zero carb sweeteners, Thickeners, Sugar-Free Tomato Products, Cocoa And Carob Powder, Extra Dark chocolate, Cocoa Powder, Beware Of Sugar-Free Chewing Gums
  • Alcohol: Dry Red Wine, Dry White Wine, Unsweetened Spirits

What You Should Avoid:

  • All grains, Factory Farmed Pork and Fish, Processed Foods, Aritifical Sweeteners, Refined Fats/Oils, Milk, Alcoholic and Sweet drinks, Soy products.

The Side Effects Of Ketosis

There are many negative side effects of starting the ketogenic diet that have derailed people’s efforts. These are some of the negative side effects people experience:

  • Keto Flu
  • Diarrhea
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Frequent Urination
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Sugar Cravings
  • Reduced Strength And Physical Performance
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Keto Breath
  • Electrolyte Imbalance
  • Sleep Problems
  • Body Odor

The side effects are often a major reason why people decide not to continue the keto diet. People complain about the sleepiness, weakness, fatigue, atrocious B.O, and bad breath that your body responds with as a reaction to the lack of carbs.

All of these side effects are a response to the fact that this is a last ditch survival effort that you are putting your body through. Ketosis occurs when your body cannot turn to its primary source of energy and is forced to burn fats instead of breaking down carbs for glucose.

Our Conclusion On Ketosis

Ketosis requires an extremely disciplined person that is willing to deal with all the negative side effects that come with depriving your body of carbohydrates. Even then, while the results may be quick, they are not meant to last.

Putting your body in a survival state where it is forced to burn fat instead of carbohydrates causes an overwhelming amount of stress on your metabolism, and also makes it difficult to keep the weight off. The second you get back on carbohydrates; you will quickly gain all the fat back that you burned.

Overall, the amount of work that goes into a keto diet is not worth the few benefits. Going through the extreme side effects can feel way too much like suffering when there are easier ways to lose weight just as quickly. Combining fat burning supplements with less intense diet and exercise plans can put you on the fast track to a fit physique and healthy lifestyle.

Check out our favorite fat burners on the market here.

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Joe Costello
Nutrition & Wellness Consultant
Joe Costello is a Nutrition & Wellness Consultant, certified by the American Fitness Professionals & Associates (AFPA), author, and internet blogger. Joe has more than 9 years of experience in the sports nutrition industry and over 3 years of experience as a supplement and nutrition blogger. As a certified NWC who specializes in dietary supplements, Joe strives to deliver accurate, comprehensive, and research-backed information to his readers. You can find more of Joe’s work including his E-Books about fitness and nutrition at his official website, or connect with him on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo, or YouTube. Joe Costello is one of the founders of and years after the creation of the site, partnered with TEK Naturals, a nutritional supplement company.