If you are new to this way of eating, in this beginners guide you will learn everything about the keto diet, how to start a low carb diet, how to create your keto diet plan based on eating real, nutritious foods and how to maximize the results.
But first, a few words about the history of the keto diet!
The keto diet has been practiced since 1920, and it is backed up by strong nutrition science and studies. Millions of people all over the world experience the benefits of following a very low-carb diet.
- What is a Keto Diet?
- What is ketosis?
10 Potential Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet
- 1. Weight Loss with Less Effort
- 2. Stabilized Blood Sugar
- 3. Mental Clarity
- 4. Regulate and Lower Appetite Levels
- 5. Control Seizures in Childhood Epilepsy
- 6. Improved Cholesterol Levels & Lowered Blood Pressure
- 7. Insulin Resistance
- 8. Reduced Acne & Improved Skin Conditions
- 9. Better Fertility & Increased Sex Drive
- 10. Decrease in Inflammation
- What can I Eat on a Keto Diet?
- Macros & Keto Calculator
- Vegetables and the ketogenic diet
- What fruits can I eat?
- Get Started with the keto diet now!
- Effective Tips to Reach Ketosis
- How do I know I am in ketosis?
- What are keto macros?
- Different types of Keto Diets
- Exercise on a Ketogenic Diet
- Dangers of the Keto Diet
- What Happens To The Body
- Keto Flu
- Common Side Effects on a Keto Diet
- Other Less Common Side Effects on a Keto Diet
- Keto on a Budget
- Frequently Asked Questions
- What carbs are not allowed in keto?
- How can I track my macros?
- I cheated and binged on carbs. What can I do?
- I am vegan/vegetarian, can I still do a ketogenic diet?
- I am allergic to eggs/ avocado/ dairy, etc., can I follow a keto diet?
- Do I need to work out to lose weight?
- Help! I’ve hit a weight stall. What Can I do?
- What is a keto diet & Potential Benefits
- What can I Eat?
- Macros and Keto Macro Calculator
- How do I know I am in ketosis?
- What are macros?
- What happens to the body
- Keto Flu
- Side Effects
- Other Less Common Side Effects
- Keto on a budget
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Keto Diet?
The ketogenic diet – better known as a keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat, and moderate protein diet. Also known as an LCHF (low carb high fat), it is a modified version of the Atkins diet.
This short description, probably makes everything confusing, but in this full keto guide, you will learn all about this lifestyle and how to get started. And then, you can make all these delicious keto diet recipes!
You will switch from using glucose as the primary source of fuel to running on ketones and burn fat.
- Glucose is a type of sugar you get from the foods ingested, and your body uses it for quick energy.
- Insulin is the hormone made by the pancreas that transports the glucose from your blood into the cells for energy.
Because glucose is the most accessible molecule for the body to convert into energy, the fats are not correctly used.
This means that having a high intake of both carbohydrates and fat, you will gain weight. By just eating low-carb, the body is getting in a metabolic state known as ketosis.
What is ketosis?
Ketosis is an excellent way to lose body fat and improve your health.
Ketosis happens when the food intake is very low (fasting), or when the carbohydrate intake is limited.
When it doesn’t have enough carbohydrates available (glucose), your body uses its own fat stores for energy.
During this period, ketones are produced by the breakdown of fats in the liver.
The benefits are endless, it can reverse type 2 diabetes, improve blood pressure, Alzheimer disease, Cholesterol Levels, PCOS symptoms, mental focus and more.
Carbohydrate restriction lowers insulin levels and blood glucose, increasing fat burn to allow the production of ketones and use them as fuel.
What you need to remember is that eating fat doesn’t make you fat. We were convinced for decades that higher amounts of dietary fat lead to weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol.
Keto diet is a well balanced whole foods diet that means cutting on the unhealthy high intake of sugar and starches and eat nutrient-dense foods such as meats, healthy fats, and vegetables
LowCarbSpark gives you all the information and the best keto recipes you need to succeed with a ketogenic diet.
10 Potential Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet
The benefits are endless: it can reverse type 2 diabetes, improve blood pressure, Alzheimer disease, Cholesterol Levels, PCOS symptoms, mental focus and more. Below you can read a few of the benefits that come with adopting a healthy diet.
1. Weight Loss with Less Effort
The most common advice I hear when it comes to weight loss is “Eat less, move more!”. While eating less and moving more could work for some people, weight loss is more elaborate.
The fat-storing hormone (insulin) levels drop leading to a more accelerated fat burn. You can enjoy the benefit of losing weight without hunger.
Studies show that in the long term the ketogenic diet is very powerful for weight loss, compared to a low-carb, low-calorie diet. People lost two times more weight on a high-fat diet than those following a classing low-fat diet.
The keto diet promotes healthy fat loss, especially the abdominal fat, proven to be a disaster for metabolic health.
To increase the ketone production, you can slowly incorporate MCT oil or coconut oil into the diet, by drinking a drink called butter-coffee (bulletproof coffee) or use the suggested fats for cooking.
2. Stabilized Blood Sugar
Eating foods that are low in carbs naturally control blood sugar levels and it’s an astounding way to reverse type 2 diabetes.
Studies prove that it may reverse existing type 2 diabetes, a disease considered for many years a chronic and progressive disease.
Consider embarking a high-fat way of life, if you are pre-diabetic or already have type 2 diabetes. Many people in the keto community have had great success in managing the disease.
To increase the ketone levels to therapeutic levels, some people add MCT oil with their daily meals to also speed the fat loss. To best way to incorporate the oil is by drinking a “bulletproof” Keto Butter Coffee.
3. Mental Clarity
One thing I noticed when I started to get fat-adapted was increased mental performance. All the brain-fog is gone, and I can easily concentrate on my tasks all day long.
Even though we know that our brain needs carbs to function well, in fact, the brain loves being fuelled all day long by ketones. Ketones are a more reliable energy source than carbs.
By eating low carb foods, you avoid the spikes in blood sugar, meaning the cognitive functions are improved. The human brain works most efficiently and effectively in a state of ketosis.
Fuelling the body with a reliable and constant energy source, you will have energy all day long.
When the body breaks down fat for energy, most of the fat gets converted into ATP energy (the form of energy cells use).
The important thing is that the cells in the brain and some of the body’s organs (heart, kidney), prefer being fueled by ketones to glucose for energy.
4. Regulate and Lower Appetite Levels
Studies show people that are following a ketogenic diet without restricting calories and eat to satiety experience less hunger and therefore eat fewer calories.
Ghrelin is called the “hunger hormone” and is released when the hunger occurs. Ketosis prevents it from rising. You will feel less hungry and have no desire to eat.
Giving your body a solid fuel, you will have constant energy during the day. Our brain and tissues prefer to use ketones for energy instead of glucose.
5. Control Seizures in Childhood Epilepsy
The ketogenic diet was introduced in the 1920s for the treatment of epilepsy. Nutritional ketosis is used since then to control seizures in childhood epilepsy efficiently.
This variation of the keto diet uses a 4:1 ratio of fat to protein and carbs.
After ninety years of experience and various clinical trials, doctors show that the ketogenic diet is beneficial for treating children with drug-related epilepsy.
In 1924, Dr. Peterman from the Mayo Clinic reported that the vast majority of children started on the ketogenic diet, 83%, were significantly better, with 60% completely seizure-free.
More recent studies show that nutritional ketosis can help some adults with epilepsy.
6. Improved Cholesterol Levels & Lowered Blood Pressure
A well-formulated ketogenic diet reduces triglycerides levels while increasing the good cholesterol (HDL).
Researchers show that the good cholesterol (HDL) dramatically rises in most people who are restricting carbohydrates and increase the healthy fats in their diets.
This is one of the main reasons why the ketogenic diet doesn’t increase the risk of heart diseases.
A high blood pressure (hypertension) is linked to excess weight; this diet is the perfect weapon against some of these issues since it leads to more easy weight loss.
7. Insulin Resistance
Insulin Resistance can cause serious health problems like inflammation, high triglyceride levels, fat gain, type 2 diabetes, etc.
Studies show that following a low carb diet helps people lower insulin levels to normal ranges, making one less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
People with insulin resistance have excess body fat because the insulin levels are always high and the fat isn’t available for immediate energy production. The body relays only on glucose, and this is clearly not a healthy metabolic state.
If you have any degree of insulin resistance and want to maintain ketosis, you should consume less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day.
The takeaway message is this: being on a low carb, high-fat diet improves the insulin sensitivity rather than inducing insulin resistance.
8. Reduced Acne & Improved Skin Conditions
People following a diet notice reduced acne breakouts and, improve other skin conditions.
In 2012, some Italian researchers showed the potential benefits of ketogenic diets for treating acne. By reducing the inflammation in the body and lowering the insulin levels, the acne eruption reduced.
To improve some skin conditions, you need to make a few changes in your diet: eat fatty fish, low carb vegetables, limit dairy intake, drink green tea, avoid chocolate products.
9. Better Fertility & Increased Sex Drive
PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) is a hormonal disorder that often occurs in young women and is the primary cause of infertility.
Women with PCOS see improvements in the hormonal measurements while some of them even became pregnant while following it despite having infertility problems.
10. Decrease in Inflammation
Inflammation is the principal cause of many chronic diseases such as arthritis, and autoimmune conditions, such as Lupus, inflammatory bowel disease and Crohn’s disease, asthma.
One of the main benefits is that it can be anti-inflammatory (if you eat the right foods) and many people love being in ketosis to manage and reduce the symptoms of inflammation.
What can I Eat on a Keto Diet?
The purpose of the ketogenic diet is to force your body to burn fat instead of glucose. You will have to eat high amounts of healthy fat, a moderate amount of protein, and very low levels of carbohydrates.
It may sound strange that eating fat can make lose fat, but being in ketosis usually cures the cravings for unhealthy carbs and food. Every meal you used to eat before can be cooked to be compliant to the diet. You can find tons of keto recipes online, that are super delicious and easy to make.
Make sure you understand what the keto allowed foods are and what are the foods you need to avoid entirely.
On my keto journey, I discovered that lots of products labeled as healthy or low carb contain added sugar and different kinds of starches, making them entirely unhealthy.
Sticking to 20g of carbs or less each day will help you reach ketosis faster and enjoy all the benefits.
Your carbs should come mostly from non-starchy vegetables, some nuts, and dairy products.
Avoid foods full of sugar and starch, including bread, pasta, rice, soda, potatoes, pastry.
Foods to avoid completely:
- Grains – Wheat, corn, rice, cereal
- Sugar – honey, agave, maple syrup, coconut sugar
- Fruit – apples, bananas, oranges, pears, pineapple
- Tubers – potato, yams
- Legumes – chickpeas, lentils, peas, beans, soybeans
Foods to eat:
- Meats – pork, poultry, fish, beef, lamb.
- Eggs – Eat the whole egg!
- Leafy Greens – Spinach, kale, etc.
- Vegetables that grow above – broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mushrooms
- High-fat dairy – butter, hard cheeses, high fat cream
- Nuts and seeds – macadamias, almonds, pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds
- Berries- raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc.
- Sweeteners – stevia, allulose, erythritol, monk fruit, tagatose, inulin
- Other fats – coconut oil, high-fat salad dressing, saturated fats, etc.
If you want to get a complete list of all the foods allowed on a ketogenic diet, check out our printable keto shopping list.
What can I drink?
Now that you know what you can eat, the next question is What can I drink on a keto diet?
The answer is water, unsweetened coffee, tea, infused vegetable water.
If you are not a huge fan of plain water but still want to drink water. My trick is to infuse the water with cucumber, lemon slices, and fresh mint leaves. I add all the ingredients in a huge bottle and let them sit in the fridge overnight.
Add some cream to your coffee to make it delicious.
Drinking a glass of wine now and then, after you are keto-adapted is fine.
Macros & Keto Calculator
Keto is a diet that is very high in fat, moderate in protein and low in carbs.
Getting to understand what are the macros according to your goals is essential to have great success on a keto diet. You can use our precise keto calculator to determine the exact macros you need to reach daily according to tour goals.
Protein is an essential macro that should you should always reach. Eating too little protein leads to muscle loss and overeating protein can kick you out of ketosis.
The fat intake depends on your goals. Not everyone is on the keto diet for weight loss. Some people are following it as a treatment/ control for different diseases.
To find out the NET carbs, subtract the fiber and sugar alcohols (if in the product) from the TOTAL Carbs.
Counting your macros may become overwhelming especially if you are a beginner, but knowing your macros may help lose weight or break through a plateau. You should take some time to understand what are your macros. If you want expert guidance, meal plans, shopping lists, and much more join my unique keto program here.
When it comes to snacking during the day, you can choose from soaked nuts, seeds, fat bombs to curb your appetite. I’d recommend sticking to one snack a day since snacking can affect the weight loss rate.
Eating out might seem challenging, but there are plenty of food options to help you stick to a low carb diet.
Vegetables and the ketogenic diet
It’s better to choose the dark leafy greens and vegetables that grow above the ground (they are lower in carbs). Usually, you will serve the vegetables as a side for protein.
My favorite keto vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, avocado, kale, spinach, cauliflower.
Adding some healthy fats while cooking vegetables is always a great idea. Some vegetables are higher in carbs than others.
Whether you chose to count total carbs or net carb, here’s a list of the vegetables that have the lowest carb count.
|Vegetable||Serving Size||Net Carbs|
|Lettuce||1 cup (36g)||0.5|
|Spinach||1 cup (30g)||0.3|
|Cauliflower (cooked)||1 cup (62g)||1.1|
|Cabbage (raw, shredded )||1 cup (72g)||2.2|
|Broccoli (fresh)||1 cup (91g)||3.6|
|Kale (raw)||1 cup(16g)||0.8|
|Green Beans(Boiled)||1 cup (125g)||5.85|
|Zucchini (Cooked)||1 cup (180g)||3|
|Eggplant (cooked)||1 cup (99g)||6.1|
Let’s see how you can count the newt carbs in a specific vegetable. For example, let’s suppose you want to eat some cucumber slices, definitely one of the vegetables I love the most.
- The total carb in 1 cup (104g) of spinach is 4g carbohydrates.
- The fiber count for cucumber is 1g for the same amount.
- Subtract from the 4g(total carbs) 1g (dietary fiber).
- The result is the net carbs of 3g.
What fruits can I eat?
Most fruits are high in natural sugars (fructose), and it would be best to eat in moderation.
As a general rule stick to berries and limit the serving size to 30g or less. Focus on getting your nutrients from vegetables and eat fruit as a treat.
Always choose fresh fruits because the canned ones contain high amounts of added sugars.
|#||Fruit||Net Carbs||Serving Size|
|1||Avocado||1.8||1/2 half of an avocado|
|2||Tomato||2.7||One small tomato|
|7||Lemon||3.5||one medium lemon|
Get Started with the keto diet now!
There’s no easy way to start: Just do it!
Check out some of the tools I recommend having on hand before starting the keto journey.
If you want to stay connected to all the free recipes, meal plans and tips&tricks join other fellow ketogenic dieters around the world. When you join my free support group, you get access to the latest news and get daily inspiration to keep going with this lifestyle change.
Effective Tips to Reach Ketosis
Getting into this state may seem pretty difficult too, especially with all the confusing information you find all over the internet. I will share with you the tips that to me are the most important in reaching it as quick as possible.
- Restrict the carbohydrate intake to less than 20g net grams per day or less and stay below 35g total carbs. Don’t restrict the fiber intake because it is beneficial. Sometimes, this may be the only step you have to follow.
- Limit the protein. When you are following this diet, you should eat the protein based on your needs. Overeating protein (eating more than your body needs) can kick you out.
It is recommended to consume bellow 1g of protein each day, per kilo of bodyweight – 80 grams of protein per day if your weight is 80 kilograms. If you want to read more about how much protein to consume, read our detailed guide to protein.
- Eat as much fat as you can. Forget the conventional dieting rules and start to incorporate as many healthy fats in your diet. Fat will be the primary source of energy, so make sure you are eating enough fat to feel satisfied and not hungry. Add more fats to your meal like more grass-fed butter, more ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, etc.
- Avoid snacking. To reach ketosis faster and lose weight, we need to avoid insulin spikes, therefore, stop snacking, especially when not hungry. Although having snacks on hand will minimize the risk of overindulging in foods high in carbs.
- Consider intermittent fasting. Fasting is a great way to increase ketone levels and may help with weight loss. It comes with many other health benefits, and there are some different ways, you can do it. By just skipping breakfast and eating in an 8 hours ‘window’, means you are doing a-16 hours fast.
- Add some psychical activity. Any exercise is highly recommended because it’s a great way to increase ketone production. Exercising at least 30 minutes every day is known to be very healthy, speeds up the metabolism, weight loss and may reverse type 2 diabetes.
- Stress Less. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands and helps the body to manage stress. The stress hormone can interfere with the hunger hormones: Ghrelin and Leptin.
If you want to read a more detailed article, check out the reasons you are not losing weight.
- Sleep enough. I recommend a healthy 8-hour sleep if you want to have the best results. Poor sleep is a significant stressor and can stall your weight loss.
- Use supplements. Sometimes we don’t get our daily requirements only from foods. While not necessary, supplements can help you reach ketosis faster, relieve the symptoms of flu and improve the overall results.
- Drink enough water. If you want to stay hydrated, drink one gallon of water every day. During the first days of being giving up carbs, you will notice constant urination. To make sure you are adequately hydrated keep your liquid intake high.
A quick tip: Pay attention to the ingredients of store-bought products to make sure they don’t contain hidden carbs. Check out the list of the most common foods that contain hidden sugar.
How do I know I am in ketosis?
You are wondering how you are supposed to find out if you are finally in ketosis or not. There different ways of measuring ketones.
There are three primary forms of ketones in your body:
The traditional way of measuring their presence is by using ketone test strips. If you are just starting your journey, using the strips can be a great motivator. The strips change the color from beige (no ketones) to pink (some ketones) or purple (high level of ketones).
A better and more accurate method is to use a blood ketone meter. The only problem with this method is even though the monitors alone are cheap, the strips they require are pretty expensive.
Why spending lots of money when your body can tell if you are on the right track.
Here are some symptoms of being in ketosis:
- Frequent urination. Since you are not eating a high amount of carbohydrates, the inulin levels are lowered. This way your body won’t retain salt and water. The kidneys begin to excrete any excess fluid in the body. That’s why you need to visit the bathroom often.
- Stinky Breath. Acetone, the primary ketone body in the breath is eliminated during adaptation. The bad breath is temporary, and it will go away after you become adapted to use ketones as the primary fuel.
- Lower Hunger & Increased Energy. When you are in ketosis and ‘survived’ the keto flu, your body runs on both body fat and dietary fat. You will notice you can resist much longer without being hungry.
- Dry Mouth. Excreting so much excess water from the body leads to a dry mouth and a need to drink more water. Drink enough water and keep electrolytes (Sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium) levels under control.
Don’t get crazy about measuring and testing for ketosis. You will only lose energy and lots of money. Focus on eating the right foods, and with the time you’ll see incredible results.
What are keto macros?
The three main “macros” (macronutrients) are carbohydrates (carbs), protein, and fats.
Use an online keto calculator to check what are the optimal macros according to your specific goals, current weight, age, gender, level of activity, etc. Learn all about macros reading a more detailed post.
- Calories from Carbs: 5-10%
- Calories from Protein: 20-25%
- Calories from Fat: 70-80%
Different types of Keto Diets
What’s the best type for you? There’s no direct answer to which of these types will give you the fastest results. If you know your limits and work out intently most days of the week, then a TKD or CKD may be right for you.
The glycogen (a molecule that our bodies use as energy) stores need to be refilled on a ketogenic diet too.
Is your final goal to build muscle mass? You will need to increase your protein intake up to 1.0-1.2g. per kilo of body weight.
- Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD): This is the most common diet type. It’s the best approach if fat loss is your goal. The vast majority of people follow the standard ketogenic diet. Stick with less than 20g net carbs per day, moderate protein intake and up the fat intake.
- Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD): The TKD is best for people who need more energy around workouts time. An individual following the TKD approach increases the carbs before a workout.
- Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD): The CKD means restricting carbs to a minimum for several days followed by a day or two of eating high carb. This is called “carb-loading”. This variation of the keto diet is best for bodybuilders or athletes to help with weight loss building lean mass.
Exercise on a Ketogenic Diet
At the beginning of the ketogenic diet, you will notice that your energy is lower than usual. That’s because you transition to a new fuel (ketones). All you need to do is to drink enough water, replenish electrolytes, and eat sufficient fat.
Exercise is a wellbeing tool before being a weight-loss tool. Physical activity makes most people feel better by only getting a moderate amount of training.
Reasons to exercise:
- Lose weight (body fat)
- Get in shape
- Stay healthy
- Look good and feel good
- Improve strength and flexibility
- Build muscle
A 2014 study tested off-road cyclists to determine the long-term effects of the ketogenic diet on performance and exercise metabolism. They noticed favorable changes in body mass and body composition.
Numerous studies have shown that keto-adapted athletes performed better on a low carb diet and lost a significant amount of body fat.
Several recent studies have shown that CrossFit athletes can still perform well on a low carb diet while improving the body composition.
One study found that after six weeks on a ketogenic diet, men and woman athletes significantly decreased body fat mass (-6.2 pounds), maintained muscle mass, and improved overall performance.
Dangers of the Keto Diet
Common misinformation about ketosis is that people confuse it with ketoacidosis.
Ketoacidosis is a rare medical condition that mostly happens to people with type 1 diabetes.
What you need to know is that ketosis and ketoacidosis are not the same things.
Does eating a low carb diet cause ketoacidosis?
In fact, ketoacidosis is a life-threatening malfunction of the body, when ketone production is imbalanced and excessive. It is caused when very high blood sugar and very high levels of ketones happen simultaneously.
The graph below shows the significant difference in the number of ketones in the blood between nutritional ketosis and ketoacidosis.
What’s important to remember is that ketoacidosis is not usually seen in healthy individuals going on a ketogenic diet or even supplementing with exogenous ketones.
What Happens To The Body
Your body is used to burn glucose for energy. When you drastically cut the carbohydrate intake, your body is confused and has to learn how to use fatty acids for energy.
When your body has to deal with the empty glucose stores, it has to create a new pack of enzymes. Adapting to the low carb lifestyle and switching from running on carbohydrates to using fat as the new fuel can take a few weeks.
Have patience to truly keto-adapt and remember all the health benefits you will experience. Once a person is adapted to this lifestlyle, the body tends to balance out and regulate all the biological processes.
Have you ever tried a low carb diet and felt sick in the first days? A part of the transitioning to relying on fat includes some symptoms like headaches, dizziness, nausea and feeling light-headed.
Most of the time all these symptoms suggest a lack of electrolytes, due to the diuretic effect. Along with the increased excretion of water, you also lose minerals faster. Stay hydrated and keep an eye on the sodium intake.
Salt – is the answer to beating the “keto-flu”. Use sodium as much as possible as it will help with water retention and with the keeping the electrolytes at a healthy level.
Keto flu, also called ‘induction flu’ is the most common side effect for beginners- it makes people feel sick after 3-4 days after starting the diet. Transitioning can make you tired, dizzy, exhausted, etc.
The main reasons for the keto flu:
- Withdrawal from Carbs. Some studies show that sugars (carbohydrates) are as addictive as cocaine and heroin. Your body is not used to process a higher intake of fat and needs to create enzymes to be able to do this. In the withdrawal period, many people (including myself) report headaches, irritability and increased cravings for carbs. To make the transition easier, you can start by slowly reducing the carb intake. Give your body time to get used to the new fuel.
- Electrolyte imbalance. As I mentioned before, keto has a diuretic effect. Every time you go to the bathroom, along with the liquids, you lots of electrolytes (sodium, magnesium, potassium). The fact is that once you reduce the carb intake, your kidneys switch from retaining salt to rapidly excreting it along with a significant amount of water. What you can do to feel better is trying to drink bouillon for extra salt, and drink my electrolyte drink during the day.
How long does the keto flu last?
Drinking sufficient water (bone broth) and replenishing electrolytes, while eating more fat can realize most of the symptoms of the keto flu in less than a week. The process can take more or less depending on each person.
Bone broth also helps with maintaining a normal electrolyte level. Eating 1-2 cups of bone broth every day is essential if you want to feel energized while following a ketogenic diet.
This soup made out of bones has impressive health benefits: it reduces joint pain, helps with muscle repairs, fights colds, great for adrenal fatigue, reduces inflammation, etc.
Don’t worry if you don’t have enough energy to perform well in the gym as you did before starting. It is only temporary, and once you become adapted, your body will know how to use fat as the primary source of energy,
If you still find yourself in the position of not handling well the initial carb-restriction symptoms, read my keto flu guide and learn how to instantly relief them.
Common Side Effects on a Keto Diet
Transitioning to a strict carb diet often comes with a few side effects that are only temporary. Some of them I experienced my self too when I first started the, five years ago. Drinking enough water and including high in micronutrient foods are a great way to make the adapting to a high-fat diet easier.
Read below some of the most common side effects and let me know if you struggled with any of it and what cure you used to beat them.
1. Muscle Cramps
Muscle cramps, usually leg cramps are pretty common in the begging of a strict ketogenic diet. It is a side effect of the diet being diuretic and increased urination. To me, it usually occurs by night time, but others get cramps in the morning. What you have to do is to drink more water, salt everything and take a magnesium supplement.
Being new to this diet can cause constipation, as your digestive system needs time to adapt to this lifestyle change.
Here’s what you can do if you have this possible side effect.
- Drink enough water and increase the salt intake. Usually, the most common cause of constipation is dehydration. One quick and easy solution is to make sure you are drinking water and salt everything you eat.
- Increase the quantity of vegetables you are eating. Make sure you are getting enough vegetables to get high-quality fiber.
- Include Psyllium Seeds Husks in your diet. A trick I use and does miracles is to have one tablespoon psyllium seeds husks with a large glass of water in the evening.
3. Heart Palpitations
If you experience an elevated heart rate in the first few weeks of the keto diet, it’s nothing to worry. Dehydration and a lack of salt can cause an elevated heart rate.
If the problem persists, you may need to add a potassium supplement to your diet.
4. Reduced Physical Performance
Since your body still tries to adapt to entirely working on a completely new fuel source, you may feel weak in the first few days. Lots of studies have shown that keto diets are effective for endurance in athletes.
Just be patient, stick to eating 20-50 grams of carbs, increase the fat intake until you get your strength and energy back.
Other Less Common Side Effects on a Keto Diet
Some people experience less common symptoms on the keto diet. Most of them are related to being hydrated and having a balanced electrolytes intake. Make sure you are getting enough water and micronutrients.
Keto rash is a symptom I have experienced my self. It appeared all over my chest after three or four weeks after starting.
From what I have read, there’s no exact cause for prurigo pigmentosa (the scientific name of keto rash). The rash was itchy, red to brown eczema almost painful when touched.
The exact cause of the keto rash is not yet confirmed, but there are a few explanations.
Some of them include weight loss, sweating, candida die off, food allergy, etc.
In my opinion, the keto rash is the effect of the toxins that are released from fat cells during deep ketosis.
The best thing you can do, if you are affected by the keto rash is to wear clothes that absorb sweat and shower every time after physical activity.
Try increasing the carb intake enough to get you out of ketosis to see if the keto rash disappears. You can read more about keto rash here.
In our Facebook Group “keto pregnancy – keto mommy” are a lot of women that have great success with keto and breastfeeding. Some of them got pregnant and managed to keep the pregnancy after being diagnosed with PCOS. As a breastfeeding mom, you can inspire from 12k+ keto mothers that are making the group a source of daily motivation.
The classic effect of a ketogenic diet on cholesterol is a slightly increased, mostly due to an elevation of the good cholesterol (HDL), lowering risk of heart disease.
The increased triglyceride numbers are typical of people losing weight. As you get to a steady weight, the increases in the triglycerides will stop.
The cholesterol profile improves in two more ways: lower triglycerides and larger, fluffier LDL particles.
Experiencing hair loss whiting going on a new diet is a common issue, and it’s only temporary.
Make sure you are not restricting your calories and eat as much fat as you need to feel good and satisfied. Eat nutrient-dense, delicious foods to avoid any nutrient deficiencies.
I suggest trying to reduce the stress, sleep at least 8 hours and take a high-quality multivitamin.
When transitioning, you may experience indigestion, stomach pain, heartburn. It might be frustrating having these issues since you are making healthier choices than before. Try to increase the fat intake slowly, make sure you are well hydrated.
Reduced tolerance to alcohol
There is no apparent reason for this, but you’ll likely tolerate less alcohol. Drinking alcohol will also slow down the weight loss process, as the body burns the alcohol before anything else.
Drinking alcohol also slows the ketone production.
Keto on a Budget
Cleaning your pantry and making space for new keto staples may seem expensive, especially in the beginning. In fact, in the long term, it’s way cheaper than you may think. I will share with you a few tips that helped me shop smart and save money while cooking low carb meals.
- Plan your meals and make shopping lists. There’s no better way to buy only the things you need than making a keto meal plan ahead. Take a look at the ingredients you already have in your kitchen, go online and find keto recipes that you will love eating the next week. Make a shopping list with all the ingredients you need, purchase them and cook.
- Buy bargains. Buying in bulk often comes with extra discounts. Finding a local butcher can also reduce costs. Buy cheaper cuts of meat, the ones higher in fat are usually less expensive than the lean meats. Meal prep your meals and use leftovers efficiently. This way you will spend less time in the kitchen and save some money.
- Eat homemade meals. Eating out can get very expensive. When cooking at home, it’s easier to eat healthier, and you will most likely use higher-quality ingredients. Keep your meals super simple. Include protein, vegetables cooked in lots of healthy fats to keep you full for longer.
Frequently Asked Questions
What carbs are not allowed in keto?
- All grains (wheat, oats, rice, etc.)
- Most fruits
- Processed foods
- Sweetened and Sugary Drinks
- “Low-fat” labeled products
- Sweet Alcoholic drinks (beers, cocktails, flavored liquors)
- Starchy vegetables
- Legumes (beans, chickpeas, etc.)
- Pastry Products
How can I track my macros?
Many people use an online app. I love using MyFitenssPal to track my carb intake. It helps you to keep track of all the macros to make sure you are eating enough to reach your goals. If you aren’t used to tracking everything you eat, it may take a little to configure the app and understand how to use it.
I cheated and binged on carbs. What can I do?
Go straight back on track, eat low in carbs foods and don’t weigh your self. The temporary weight gain is because when you are eating more carbs, your body retains more water.
Try finding out what caused you to give up the diet and make some fat bombs to control your cravings. If you have trouble sticking to it alone, consider joining my Keto for Accelerated Fat Loss Community.
I am vegan/vegetarian, can I still do a ketogenic diet?
It’s absolutely possible to follow a ketogenic diet as a vegetarian or vegan, but it inevitably requires more specialized attention than a standard diet that includes animal products. A vegan diet needs for sure specific support with supplements.
I am allergic to eggs/ avocado/ dairy, etc., can I follow a keto diet?
Yes, you can follow the diet without any of the foods you are allergic to, or you just don’t like. Many people go dairy-free for health reasons. There are no exact rules, and you can create your meal plan based on your current health. As long as you are keeping the carbs at the minimum, moderate the protein, and up the fat intake, you will be in ketosis.
Do I need to work out to lose weight?
While some people have great success in losing weight without working out, including some physical activity can be beneficial for your health. Moving your body will increase your body’s metabolism, and along with a nutrient-dense keto diet, you’ll see excellent results and keep the weight off for good.
Help! I’ve hit a weight stall. What Can I do?
A chaotic lifestyle with a lot of stress, poor sleep, lack of exercise can slow down the weight loss process.
Keep in mind that weight loss is not a linear protocol and the scale isn’t always the best measure of progress. You may not see any results on the scale, but if your clothes are looser than before, you’re on the right track.
All you have to do is to keep going and don’t give up. Make sure your macros are calculated according to your current status and watch out for any hidden carbs you may be eating.
You can also read a more detailed list of why you are not losing weight on a keto diet on my blog.
Download the Complete Keto Diet Beginner Guide – Everything you need to know about the ketogenic diet for further use.
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