The Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet: A Comprehensive Guide

Following a ketogenic diet is the most effective way to get into ketosis. This usually involves limiting your carbohydrate intake to around 20 to 50 grams per day and consuming fats, such as meat, fish, eggs, nuts, and healthy oils. A ketogenic diet is an effective way to lose weight and reduce disease risk factors. In fact, research shows that the ketogenic diet can be as effective in losing weight as a low-fat diet.

A review of 13 studies found that after a very low-carb diet, the ketogenic diet was slightly more effective for long-term weight loss than a low-fat diet. People who followed the ketogenic diet lost an average of 2 pounds (0.9 kg) more than the group that followed a low-fat diet. Another study in 34 older adults found that those who followed a ketogenic diet for 8 weeks lost nearly five times more total body fat than those who followed a low-fat diet. The ketogenic diet can help you lose excess fat, which is closely related to type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and metabolic syndrome.

Another study of 349 people with type 2 diabetes found that people on a ketogenic diet lost an average of 26.2 pounds (11.9 kg) over a 2-year period. This is an important benefit when considering the relationship between weight and type 2 diabetes. There is some anecdotal evidence of these effects, often referred to as ketogenic flu. According to reports from some about the meal plan, it usually disappears within a few days.

However, it is important to significantly reduce carbohydrate intake initially. After the first 2 to 3 months, you can eat carbohydrates on special occasions, just return to the diet immediately after. Protein should be moderate, since a very high intake can increase insulin levels and lower ketones. About 35% of total calorie intake is probably the upper limit.

This common side effect usually goes away after 3 to 4 weeks. If it persists, try to eat more fiber-rich vegetables. In addition, salmon, sardines, mackerel and other oily fish are high in omega-3 fats, which have been associated with lower insulin levels and increased insulin sensitivity in people who are overweight or obese. Choose grass-fed meat, if possible, as it has more omega-3 fats and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than meat from cereal-fed animals.

The cheese also contains CLA, which has been linked to fat loss and improvements in body composition. A 12-week study in older adults found that those who ate 7 ounces (210 grams) of ricotta per day experienced less loss of muscle mass and muscle strength than those who didn't eat this amount of cheese. Both yogurt and cottage cheese have been shown to help reduce appetite and promote satiety. Both dairy products are very low in carbs and high in fat, making them ideal for keto.

Like other fatty dairy products, butter and cream are rich in CLA, which can promote fat loss. Some studies have suggested that high-fat dairy products may not be as closely related to heart disease. Others suggest that a moderate intake of high-fat dairy products may reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. However, the evidence remains inconclusive.

This is an area that is still under debate and can depend on many factors, such as the level of food processing you have gone through. Like other types of full-fat dairy products, butter and ghee don't seem to be as harmful to health as previously thought. A ketogenic diet can help you lose more weight in the first 3 to 6 months than other diets. This may be because more calories are needed to convert fat into energy than to convert carbohydrates into energy.

It's also possible that a diet rich in fat and protein will satisfy you more, so you eat less, but that hasn't been proven yet. The ketogenic diet is a diet high in fat, moderate in protein and very low in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the body's preferred source of energy, but on a strict ketogenic diet, less than 5 percent of energy intake comes from carbohydrates (learn more in our beginner's guide to the ketogenic diet). Reducing carbohydrates puts the body in a metabolic state called ketosis.

Ketosis occurs when the body begins to break down stored fat into molecules called ketone bodies to use as energy, in the absence of circulating blood sugar from food. Once the body reaches ketosis, most cells use ketone bodies to generate energy until you start eating carbohydrates again. Eggs are high in protein, B vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Two eggs contain zero carbohydrates and 12 grams of protein.

Eggs have been shown to activate hormones that increase satiety and keep blood sugar levels stable, and they also contain antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which help protect eye health. Dietitians Stone and Laura Dority explain that it's all about your total carbohydrate intake and how you choose to spend your carbs: In general, you should stay below 20-40 grams of carbohydrates per day; however, the exact amount needed to achieve ketosis may vary by individual with carbohydrate recipes ranging from 10 to 60 grams per day. Cereals, crackers, rice, pasta bread and beer are high in carbohydrates; even whole grain pasta and new bean-based pastas are high in carbohydrates; consider alternatives such as spiraling vegetables or shirataki noodles which are healthier low carb options; sugary breakfast cereals and healthy whole grains are also high in carbohydrates and should be avoided or minimized; a slice of bread has 11 grams of carbohydrates on average so technically you could eat one slice a day but that's spending all your carbs on.

Bruce Chen
Bruce Chen

Medical & health reporter. Award-winning internet evangelist. Embraced the low-carb keto diet and lost 9 pounds.