You may have heard of the ketogenic diet plan, but have no idea what it means. Or you are looking for a new diet low in carbs that will actually give you results. Here is our all-inclusive guide to this low-carb dietary lifestyle.
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The ketogenic diet meal plan is a low-carb, high-fat diet that aims to alter your metabolism so that your body relies primarily on fat for an energy source instead of quick-burning carbs.
The idea behind the ketogenic diet is to change your body’s main fuel source from carbohydrates to ketones, which are the products of fat metabolism.
Switching from your current diet to a ketogenic diet transitions your body into a state of ketosis, which just means your body is deriving the majority of your energy from ketones instead of from glucose (sugar). Your body is then forced to run off (and burn) fat, this metabolic transition is to thank for the ketogenic diet weight loss many people experience.
Ketogenic Diet Plan Review
How does one go about transitioning to a fat-burning, ketogenic state? In a sense, you have to completely retrain your body with your diet. The standard American diet consists of fast-burning simple carbohydrates.
We eat a healthy breakfast of oatmeal and blueberries and by mid-morning, we’re starving and having a horrendous energy slump. This is due to blood sugars spiking then plummeting.
If instead, you reach for half an avocado and a large handful of nuts, you’ll find your energy levels stay relatively balanced and you’re not about to eat that entire box of donuts in the conference room. Fat takes awhile to break down and turn into energy, which means it stays in your system longer and gives you a steady stream of power.
Another potential positive aspect of the ketogenic diet meal plan is the ability to go longer between meals. Unlike relying on a steady intake of carbs to fuel you throughout the day, your body can tap into those glorious stores of fat you’ve been trying to get rid of all these years. The fat cells of an average size person store over 70,000 calories of fat, which means if you can train your body to burn fat, you have a ton of energy at hand. It’s not uncommon for followers of the ketogenic diet plan to be able to go four to six hours, or longer, between meals before hunger pangs kick in.
How do you know if you’re in a state of ketosis? Aside from judging by how you feel (i.e. no plummeting energy levels), you can keep tabs on your ketone levels by checking the levels in your blood or urine with ketone testers, available at many pharmacies.
When discussing the ketogenic diet plan, it is important to distinguish ketosis from ketoacidosis, as the two are identical in origin but not the same physical state. Both involve higher levels of ketones in the body and fat metabolism. However, unlike ketosis, ketoacidosis is a life threatening medical condition often observed in diabetic patients that occurs when ketone levels in the body become poisonous.
A ketogenic diet plan will not result in ketoacidosis as long as your insulin levels are normal. The reason those with diabetes experience ketoacidosis is because they do not produce enough insulin to communicate to fat cells to keep their fatty acids. They are, therefore, released into the body and larger than safe amounts of ketones result. So as long as you are not diabetic, you are safe.
Ketogenic Diet Plan Basics and Rules
The ketogenic diet plan is more like a shift in the primary nutrients you consume rather than a complete diet overhaul. The biggest difference is cutting out processed foods, carbohydrates, and foods high in sugar, which is a lot easier than it seems once you learn how to replace foods high in sugar with foods high in protein and fat.
A diet low in carbohydrates and high in fat will lead you to eat foods high in protein and fat and very few carbs per serving, which means you will be eating plenty of meat, full-fat dairy and vegetables. You will consume very little fruit, if any at all, and no grains whatsoever. Let’s start by breaking down your protein intake while on the ketogenic diet meal plan.
How to get more protein on the ketogenic diet
You can use this calculator to enter your information and find out how many carbs and how much protein and fat you should try to consume on the ketogenic diet. It all depends on your lifestyle (how active you are) as well as age, gender, etc. It is likely you will be consuming more protein than you are used to, which is not a bad thing – your dietary choices may just need some adjustments.
Try combining different protein sources with other food groups, such as a spinach based salad with a hard cooked egg, grilled chicken and a light oil based dressing to introduce your body to a wider variety of nutrients in one sitting.
How to eat more vegetables on the ketogenic diet meal plan
Veggies are low in carbs, which means you can eat half a plate full of them, literally, and still, consume fewer calories than a single serving of other types of foods. Vegetables are high in fiber, which is not only great for helping to control your appetite but is also great for your digestive system and overall health.
If you aren’t accustomed to eating multiple servings of vegetables every day (because let’s be honest: many of us are not), it isn’t so hard to make this kind of positive change as part of a new diet. Nerd Fitness has a detailed guide to help you ease your way into eating more vegetables, even if you think you do not like them.
Saturated and unsaturated fats
Don’t let these big words confuse you. While the science is a bit complicated, to put things simply, different kinds of fat behave differently in our bodies, which really does mean not all fat is bad for us. (This page explains the very basics of the differences.)
Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature (butter) while unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature (olive oil). Saturated fats are found in animal products, such as meat, dairy, and eggs, while unsaturated fats are derived from plant sources, such as nuts and seeds as well as some fruits (avocados and olives).
On the ketogenic diet plan you will consume a certain amount of fat grams per day based on your specific parameters and diet goal, so do your best to consume equal amounts of saturated and unsaturated fats for best results.
Things you cannot eat on the ketogenic diet
- Grains, including whole grains (pizza, pasta, bread, cookies, crackers)
- Artificial sweeteners or foods containing artificial sweeteners
- Most processed foods
- Low fat and low carb “diet” products, which are either high in carbohydrates or contain large amounts of artificial ingredients
- Most fruit (it is recommended to eat foods like berries rarely, in small amounts)
Things to keep in mind before starting a ketogenic diet
- Be aware of the side effects associated with low-carb diets, especially early on as you are still getting used to the metabolic shift. It is not uncommon to feel tired and lethargic for the first seven to ten days after cutting your carb consumption.
- As with any other diet, start slow and ease your way in. Gradually reduce and cut out certain foods instead of trying to stop eating them all at once, which does not usually work very well.
- It is in your best interest to see a professional (doctor and/or dietitian) before going on this diet to (a) get your blood tested to make sure you don’t have any underlying conditions and (b) make sure you are able to make healthy choices instead of just cutting out food and eating too little.
Ketogenic Diet Plan Menu and Meal Planning
Starting a new way of eating such as the ketogenic diet meal plan can be overwhelming, especially when you are used to eating a lot of carbs and processed foods high in added sugars (it’s okay, we’re all guilty!). Here is a sample menu outlining what one day of eating on the ketogenic diet might look like, including suggestions for snacks.
- Cheese, onion and pepper omelet (2 eggs)
- Full-fat cream cheese pancakes (no flour!)
- Butter-sauteed mushrooms
- Seasoned green beans with bacon
- Barbecue pulled pork (no bun) with melted full-fat mozzarella
Grocery Shopping List
Here is a list of food items you can add to your shopping cart to help you prepare meals high in fat and protein.
- Grass-fed beef, lamb, pork
- Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck)
- Olive oil, vegetable oil, salad dressings
- Fish and seafood
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole eggs (whites and yolks)
- Nut butter (except peanut)
- Full-fat dairy products (cheeses, creams, yogurt)
Does the Ketogenic Diet Work?
- Because you will be eating foods higher in protein and fiber (the fiber comes from the vegetables), you won’t be so hungry so often. You will be much less likely to overeat.
- Eliminating processed foods means dumping fewer added sugars and other potentially harmful ingredients into our bodies, which helps us feel better in the short term and helps us maintain our health in the long term.
- Diets lower in carbs (without trying to eliminate them completely) have been shown to promote healthy weight loss because of fewer sugars and higher amounts of protein, fatty foods and veggies.
- A ketogenic diet can help reduce blood pressure and regulate your blood sugar levels over time.
Reviews and Weight Loss Results
Ketogenic diet weight loss does exist, just ask these lovely ladies. In addition to fat loss, the ketogenic diet meal plan has also proven to be successful for other non-weight loss side effects, including clearer thinking, clearer skin and no more sugar crashes.
“I have been on keto for a little over a week and received phenomenal results! I have lost 12lbs in one week following the ketogenic diet. I haven’t measured myself but I can tell you that I am down at least one pant size. It’s incredible! I have so much more energy on this diet. It may sound strange, but by having a high-fat diet but I feel like I’m on top of the world. Another incredible change that I’ve noticed is that I have always had a really hard time focusing and never did great in school, but I recently tried an online course and I read a lecture. I almost cried because I didn’t have to re-read it. I understood it the first time. That has never happened to me before. My body and brain are adapting very well to this diet. My brain feels so at ease… Like it took a breath of fresh air. I know I sound crazy but it’s the truth.
The most difficult part of the diet was that I faced the “keto flu”. It lasted a couple days and I was miserable but I knew I had to push through it and I’m glad I did. The outcome so far has been fantastic. The easy part is being able to enjoy food and not be bored with a typical salad and veggies all the time like you see in other diets.
If you want to give keto a try, don’t give up! You may face some challenges as I did but push through and you won’t be disappointed.”
“I have been on the Keto diet now since January of 2015. I have experienced weight loss, with my highest weight being 162 and my lowest being 128lbs. I have also seen changes in my energy levels, I used to crash after about 3 hours without a snack. I would get shaky and cranky and feel like I could faint. Now, if I am being true to this diet, I do not have these crashes and I can go 5, even 7 hours during the day without really needing to eat. I also see that my skin is clearer and brighter, and my nails are stronger. Cutting sugar out is a lifestyle choice for me, and I plan to maintain it.
The most difficult thing about the diet was the adjustment in the beginning. Cutting out all of the delicious bread and ice cream 🙂 After really cutting the sweet flavor, I no longer had cravings for it at all and was not tempted by those types of foods. After maintaining this diet for a year and a half now, I have (unfortunately) introduced some sugar substitutes into my diet… and it has been hard for me as my cravings for sweet has returned. The easiest part of the diet is finding delicious meal options and not feeling like I am starving myself. This isn’t a diet for me, it has just become a lifestyle. My friends, coworkers, and family are all on board and very supportive.
If you are at all interested in this diet, give it at least a month! And, do your best to cut out the sweet flavor entirely for a while. I lost the bulk of my weight when I had zero artificial sweeteners in my diet. Also, do your reading! It makes it easier to explain to friends and family, and having that support is so important.”
“I have been following the Keto Diet since April of 2015. I’ve lost 46lbs and about 20 inches overall. In addition to the inches and weight loss, my overall well-being has improved. I wake up with more energy, my acne on my face and back has cleared up enormously. I use to have cystic acne on my back from the age of 13-31 and now I don’t even get blemishes. My hunger levels are more in control and I never get “hangry”.
The easiest thing about the diet is that you can find food at almost every restaurant. It isn’t a hard diet to follow because, for the most part, you can eat as much protein and fat as you want, and just cut out carbohydrates. It would be hard to find a restaurant that doesn’t have a burger that you can ask for without the bun. The most difficult thing about any diet is overcoming your previous mentality when it comes to food. Sticking to any way of eating or exercise plan is more of a mental game than a physical one.
If you’re thinking of trying the keto diet, I would suggest you do your own research. Read up on a Ketogenic way of life and see if it will fit your needs. I’ve introduced about 4 others to this way of eating since I started and point them in the direction of some good resources to get them started.”
Before and After Success Stories
These woman have had amazing success with the ketogenic diet, see for yourself!
“I’ve been following a ketogenic diet for 2 years and have lost 198 pounds – over 100 inches (since I started keeping track), 10 dress sizes, and 1 shoe size!
The most difficult part of transitioning to a keto lifestyle is the mindset – realizing that I had an addiction to carbs and sugar and that moderation wasn’t an option. I choose to eat clean and I choose to stick to my plan.
The easiest part is that because Keto is high fat, I’m not constantly hungry – so food doesn’t rule my thoughts or my life. It’s incredibly liberating.
My advice to anyone interested in trying keto: You have to commit to this – it’s not a diet – it’s a lifestyle change. You won’t see the results you want if you treat it like a diet. The health benefits are enormous- weight loss is the bonus.”
“I started the Keto diet last October after having ACL surgery. So far, I have lost 90 pounds.
The hardest part of making the move to keto for me was learning that eating fat was okay and that veggies have carbs in them. I was so used to low-fat diets where you can have an unlimited amount of vegetables that I was shocked to learn everything I thought was wrong.
Easiest part is eating bacon. Seriously, I eat all the bacon and then some.
The keto lifestyle doesn’t take a ton of effort, I started this diet while on bed rest. I was in a wheelchair for weeks after that and without really moving around I was able to eat cheese, butter, bacon, and other fats while losing weight. If you’re looking for a little keto inspiration, you can find a ton on my website, Love at First Spice!”
How can you tell if you are in ketosis?
When you are in ketosis, your body produces ketones. In people without diabetes, ketones are produced when the body begins to burn fat to use as fuel. This process can begin as early as 3 to 4 days after cutting your carb and/or calorie intake. For people with diabetes, ketones are the result of consistently high blood sugar, and are a sign you are insulin deficient.
There are several ways to test your ketone levels at home. The easiest and most straightforward are by testing your urine or your blood. You can purchase a device that will test your blood and provide a ketone reading, or you can purchase urine strips and test your urine that way. Urine tests are available at most drugstores without a prescription.
You ideally want your ketone levels between 1.5 and 3.0 mmol/L.
Is a keto diet helpful for people suffering from psoriasis?
This is one of those cases in which some people may benefit from changing their diet, and some may not. Some people find that certain foods trigger psoriasis symptoms, and sometimes those foods happen to be high in carbohydrates. If someone with psoriasis goes on a ketogenic diet, and their condition improves, there’s no telling exactly which foods may have been causing flare-ups. Many doctors recommend supervised elimination diets to help psoriasis patients figure out which foods cause flare-ups and which don’t. In the end, if high-carb foods turn out to be problematic for you, you might benefit from a lower-carb diet.
Always remember that you won’t know what works for you personally until you test the results for yourself. Changing your diet may improve your symptoms — and it might not. Unfortunately, at this point, evidence is strictly testimonial. There is no scientific research that can provide a yes or no answer to this question. However, changing your diet, and avoiding the foods that trigger flare-ups in your psoriasis, may prove effective.
When should one do a keto diet?
There are a few reasons, medical and non-medical, a person might start a ketogenic diet. Medically, a doctor will sometimes prescribe a ketogenic diet for a child with epilepsy. It’s much more common for adults with diabetes to follow a ketogenic diet to control their carb intake and maintain normal blood sugar levels.
However, many people also prefer following a ketogenic diet for weight management purposes. Reducing the amount of sugar (carbs) in your diet can certainly help you lose weight if you’re eating the right foods. Just be aware that you’re going to be eating a lot of fat — this isn’t a bad thing, but don’t be surprised if you notice your percentage of calories from fat is higher than normal.
Why am I gaining fat on the ketogenic diet?
The simplest answer to this question would be that you’re following a high-fat diet. A ketogenic diet is designed to provide very low amounts of carbs and protein, and, therefore, very high amounts of fat. You’re eating more fat to compensate for fewer grams of carbs and protein.
The science of fat is much more complex than this, of course. However, you may want to consider evaluating the types of fat you are consuming. How much of your fat intake is saturated versus unsaturated? You want to try to eat as much healthy (unsaturated) fat as possible throughout your day.
Also consider your calorie intake. If you are trying to lose weight, you still need to consume an average of 500 calories fewer than your recommended daily energy intake. If you are consuming a large number of high-calorie foods, that could also explain why you might be gaining fat. You can still gain weight from excess calories, regardless of where they are coming from.
What amount of fat per meal is recommended on a ketogenic diet?
How much fat you eat on the ketogenic diet depends on a few specific things — mainly, your gender, age, weight, height, activity level, and the like. It also depends on your purpose. Are you trying to maintain your current weight, or lose it?
In general though, you should prepare to consume anywhere from 60 to 80 percent of your daily calories from fat. You can portion that out for each meal as well — at the most, 80 percent of your breakfast should come from fat, 15 percent from protein, and 5 percent from carbs. Keep in mind that you should be eating as many healthy fats as possible as part of this percentage.
Always remember, before beginning any diet, that healthy eating does not always mean instant results. Be patient. Go slowly and don’t forget to enjoy your food!