What is the Keto Diet?



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What is the Keto Diet?

Keto Foods

What Is Keto? – Using Fat for Energy

A ketogenic diet (or “keto” for short) is one that causes the body to use ketones for your body’s regular energy source. It’s a completely efficient and powerful way to lose visceral fat (further under the skin, wrapped around major organs) and subcutaneous fat (the fat under your skin that you can see). Those on a high fat low carb diet have also reported: the reversal of Metabolic Syndrome, higher athletic performance (stamina), and overall better well being and brain function.

Normally, when you eat carbohydrates (and high levels of protein), your liver will turn all of that food in to glucose while the pancreas is busy making the insulin. Glucose for those NOT on a high fat diet is where you get your energy. Insulin helps manage your glucose usage. Pretty simple, right? Carbs turn to sugar and you either power your body with it or you store it (as fat) on your body for later. On a high fat diet your liver takes a different course (the creation of Ketones as a power source) and the need for insulin is dramatically decreased. This is a big deal for type 2 diabetics and everyone else on a Standard American Diet (SAD)!

By decreasing your carbohydrates, your body goes into “ketosis” and uses ketones for energy and also starts utilizing your fat stores for energy. This is naturally how your body wants to function, less stress and more efficiency.

How Does Ketosis Work?

During ketosis, fat cells are broken down in the liver, producing ketones. Because your body no longer has carbs to metabolize, your metabolism shifts to burning fat, which also improves your physical ability, brain function, mental well-being and overall fat burning capacity. And we’re not just talking about belly fat here.

Like I mentioned earlier, you’re also reducing the visceral fat… if you want to be healthy REDUCE YOUR VISCERAL FAT!

Your body’s glucose production is lowered.

Your body’s ability to regulate insulin is enhanced.

Your body uses fat for energy (that you eat and that you’ve stored).

Keto Studies (a body of evidence)

Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients

Date: Fall of 2004

The weight and body mass index of the patients decreased significantly (P<0.0001). The level of total cholesterol decreased from week 1 to week 24. HDL cholesterol levels significantly increased, whereas LDL cholesterol levels significantly decreased after treatment. The level of triglycerides decreased significantly following 24 weeks of treatment. The level of blood glucose significantly decreased. The changes in the level of urea and creatinine were not statistically significant.

View the Study

Induced and controlled dietary ketosis as a regulator of obesity and metabolic syndrome pathologies.

Date: November 2017

A group of 30 adults, previously diagnosed with MetS by their primary care physician, were randomly prescribed to one of three groups: a sustained ketogenic diet with no exercise, standard American diet (SAD) with no exercise or SAD with 3-5 days per week of exercise (30 min.). The results demonstrated that the change over time from week 0 to week 10 was significant (p=0.001) in the ketogenic group for weight, body fat percentage, BMI, HgA1c and ketones. All variables for the ketogenic group out-performed those of the exercise and non-exercise groups, with five of the seven demonstrating statistical significance.

View the Study

Associations of fats and carbohydrate intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality in 18 countries from five continents (PURE): a prospective cohort study

Date: August 2017

High carbohydrate intake was associated with higher risk of total mortality, whereas total fat and individual types of fat were related to lower total mortality. Total fat and types of fat were not associated with cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction, or cardiovascular disease mortality, whereas saturated fat had an inverse association with stroke.

View the Study

Effects of Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat DietsA Randomized Trial

Date: September 2014

Sixty participants (82%) in the low-fat group and 59 (79%) in the low-carbohydrate group completed the intervention. At 12 months, participants on the low-carbohydrate diet had greater decreases in weight (mean difference in change, −3.5 kg [95% CI, −5.6 to −1.4 kg]; P = 0.002), fat mass (mean difference in change, −1.5% [CI, −2.6% to −0.4%]; P = 0.011), ratio of total–high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (mean difference in change, −0.44 [CI, −0.71 to −0.16]; P = 0.002), and triglyceride level (mean difference in change, −0.16 mmol/L [−14.1 mg/dL] [CI, −0.31 to −0.01 mmol/L {−27.4 to −0.8 mg/dL}]; P = 0.038) and greater increases in HDL cholesterol level

View the Study

A Ketogenic Diet Extends Longevity and Healthspan in Adult Mice

Date: September 2017

The ketogenic diet (KD) significantly increased median lifespan and survival compared to controls. In aged mice, only those consuming a KD displayed preservation of physiological function. The KD increased protein acetylation levels and regulated mTORC1 signaling in a tissue-dependent manner. This study demonstrates that a KD extends longevity and healthspan in mice.

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Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets

Date: May 2013

Recent work over the last decade or so has provided evidence of the therapeutic potential of ketogenic diets in many pathological conditions, such as diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, acne, neurological diseases, cancer and the amelioration of respiratory and cardiovascular disease risk factors. The possibility that modifying food intake can be useful for reducing or eliminating pharmaceutical methods of treatment, which are often lifelong with significant side effects, calls for serious investigation. This review revisits the meaning of physiological ketosis in the light of this evidence and considers possible mechanisms for the therapeutic actions of the ketogenic diet on different diseases.

View the Study

Bioenergetic state regulates innate inflammatory responses through the transcriptional co-repressor CtBP

Date: July 2017

Here, we show that glucose metabolism regulates pro-inflammatory NF-κB transcriptional activity through effects on the cytosolic NADH:NAD+ratio and the NAD(H) sensitive transcriptional co-repressor CtBP. Reduced glucose availability reduces the NADH:NAD+ ratio, NF-κB transcriptional activity, and pro-inflammatory gene expression in macrophages and microglia. These effects are inhibited by forced elevation of NADH, reduced expression of CtBP, or transfection with an NAD(H) insensitive CtBP, and are replicated by a synthetic peptide that inhibits CtBP dimerization.

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Ketogenic diets and physical performance

Date: August 2004

Lessons from traditional Inuit culture indicate that time for adaptation, optimized sodium and potassium nutriture, and constraint of protein to 15–25 % of daily energy expenditure allow unimpaired endurance performance despite nutritional ketosis.

View the Study

The Inuit Paradox

Date: 2004 / 1928

“Our meat was seal and walrus, marine mammals that live in cold water and have lots of fat. We used seal oil for our cooking and as a dipping sauce for food. We had moose, caribou, and reindeer. We hunted ducks, geese, and little land birds like quail, called ptarmigan. We caught crab and lots of fish—salmon, whitefish, tomcod, pike, and char. Our fish were cooked, dried, smoked, or frozen. We ate frozen raw whitefish, sliced thin.”

View the 1928 Study

View an Article

Ketosis Reduces Fat

If you have a big belly, you have visceral fat. ALSO: You don’t have to “look fat” to have a visceral fat problem it’s not just those with a large waistline.

Ketosis is using the fat you consume and the fat in your body to run the system (your active body). This means that Ketosis helps to reduce your fat.

Individuals on a Keto diet aren’t starving themselves or having to reduce their caloric intake; they’re simply changing how their body processes what they eat, by taking away carbohydrates. Greater effectiveness comes with intermittent fasting (regardless of nutritional Ketosis or not).

When your body has a chance to take a break from working so hard to regulate the sugar intake, good things happen.

Visceral fat is linked to:

  1. Coronary heart disease
  2. Cancer
  3. Stroke
  4. Dementia
  5. Diabetes
  6. Depression
  7. Arthritis
  8. Obesity
  9. Sexual dysfunction
  10. Sleep disorders.

 Interesting Facts

By feeding the brain Ketones you avoid the breakdown of skeletal muscles (the need for the body to use proteins for preservation). You’re mobilizing fat stores when in Ketosis. Ketone bodies provide high octane fuel for the brain.

Importance of Intermittent Fasting

Your body runs more efficiently when you give it a regular break from calories. For optimal health you should take at least 14 hours off per every 24 hour cycle. This means you won’t consume calories for at least a straight 14 hours. Many people report best results when they eat food over a 6-9 hour eating cycle. This means these individuals are getting maximum performance when they only allow themselves to eat for 6-9 hours every day and then they do not consume a calorie for 15-18 hours straight.

Regardless of you deciding to get in Ketosis or not, IF is a really great blueprint to good health. It shouldn’t be an option, everyone everywhere can benefit from intermittent fasting. If you want to be healthier and without even changing your diet, the first thing you should do is STOP eating all the time. Only allow 10 hours at the most EVERY DAY for consumption of calories.

IF is the Key

In 2016, the Noble Prize in Physiology / Medicine was given to Yoshinori Ohsumi for discovering some of the mechanisms of autophagy – the orderly degradation and recycling of cellular components.  

When your body is in this state you are slowing the aging process, reversing disease, and helping to prevent cancer.

Fasting, protein restriction, and carbohydrate restriction are the three main ways to initiate the autophagic processes. This clearly shows why the Ketogenic diet has so many positive effects and how vitally important intermittent fasting is.

Autophagy Benefits

Damaged proteins: removed / recycled

Invading microorganisms: removed

Toxic compounds: removed.

What foods can I eat to stay in Ketosis?

You’re going to consume mostly fat. Understand that fat calories are treated differently than protein and carbohydrates. In fact, 1 gram of fat has a higher calorie count than a gram of protein or a carb. There are many foods that you can eat while in Ketosis but be aware: until you hit pro level, you’re going to need to track exactly what you eat and then test. If you don’t do this it’s almost a sure thing, your body isn’t going to transition, you’ll feel ill and it’ll all be a waste.

Tracking Food Macros

Tracking your macros is important while trying to remain in Ketosis. Get an app and get ready to pay close attention to exactly what you’re consuming. Once you get a rhythm down, you’ll know exactly what to eat. In fact, you’ll feel it, your body will tell you (and this comes from experience).


Fat: 70-80%

One Gram = 9 Calories


Protein: 15-25%

One Gram = 4 Calories


Carbs: 5%

One Gram = 4 Calories

Reading Labels

if you have 8 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber and 3 grams of *Erythritol, your net carb count would be 2.

(8 – 3 – 3 = 2)

Lily's Chocolate Nutritional Facts

*Erythritol has undesirable gastrointestinal side effects for most people (even in small doses). However, it doesn’t absorb, it basically adds sweetness and then you pass it through your urine. This means you can take it out of your carb count (reduce the amount of grams from the total carb count).

Success Tips

  • To get perfect results, count all carbs (don’t exclude fiber and sugar alcohols). It’s okay to reduce when your body has learned and adapted. But if you’ve got serious health concerns and you’re using Keto to resolve those, stick to counting ALL carbs.
  • If you hit a road block: try first to eliminate dairy and all nuts, nut flours and seeds. You can introduce these foods back after you start seeing the results you are working toward. Introduce slowly and be smart.

Eating Whole Foods

I see this diet as an advancement in our Paleo lifestyle. Yes, there’s more dairy than we typically consumed and we’re not eating mass amounts of carbs (like sweet potatoes). But at the heart, you’re still consuming grass fed meats and loads of healthy greens. Think of Paleo as the best practices guideline for healthy, whole foods and Keto as the specific directive for mental and physical performance (and naturally, fat loss). In short, no processed garbage.

All Fats

Fat: 70-80%

  • Animal Fat (red meat, etc)
  • Avocados
  • MCT Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Macadamia Oil
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Butter
  • Ghee
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Hazelnut Oil
  • Lard
  • Tallow
  • Chicken Fat
  • Duck Fat
  • Goose Fat
  • Mayo
  • Pecans
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Heavy Whipping Cream
  • Sour Cream
  • Cream Cheese
  • Several Cheeses
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Brazil Nuts

Animal & Protein

Protein: 15-25%

  • Bone Broth
  • Organ Meats
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Wild Caught Fish
  • Lamb
  • Goat
  • Venison
  • Game Meats
  • Seafood
  • Eggs
  • Pork Rinds
  • Gelatin

Veggies & Fruit

Carbs: 5%

  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Herbs and Spices
  • Asparagus
  • Cabbage
  • Bok Choy 
  • Spinnach
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Arugula
  • Zucchini
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Kelp
  • Onions
  • Seaweed
  • Watercress
  • Peppers
  • Swiss Chard
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Kale 
  • Chives
  • Kohlrabi
  • Radishes
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Bamboo Shoots
  • Collard Greens
  • Nightshades (that are low in carbs)
  • Monk Fruit Sweetner
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Strawberries
  • Cranberries
  • Mulberries
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Tomatoes
  • Pickles

What Foods do You Eliminate on a Keto Diet?

On a Ketogenic diet you purposefully reduce your body’s intake of carbohydrates. That’s why it’s important to become aware of which foods contain high carbs, even if they’re still considered to be “healthy.”


  • Wheat
  • Rye
  • Oats
  • Corn
  • Barley
  • Millet
  • Bulgur
  • Sorghum
  • Rice
  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Sprouted Grains
  • Quinoa
  • White Potatoes
  • Pasta
  • Bread
  • Pizza
  • Cookies
  • Crackers

Processed Foods

  • Pasta
  • Pizza
  • Bread
  • Cookies
  • Atkins Products
  • Diet Soda
  • Basically everything in a box at the grocery store.

Everything Else

  • Sugar
  • Corn Syrup
  • Factory Farmed Pork & Fish
  • Ice Cream
  • Cake
  • Sweet Puddings
  • Soft Drinks
  • Splenda
  • Equal
  • Apertame
  • Acesulfame
  • Sucralose
  • Saccharin
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Safflower Oil
  • Cottonseed
  • Canola
  • Soybean Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Margarine
  • Atkins Products
  • Milk
  • Beer
  • Cocktails
  • Sweet Wine
  • Pineapple
  • Mango
  • Banana
  • Papaya
  • Tangerine
  • Grapes
  • Fruit Juice
  • Soy Products

Are There Different Types of Keto Diets?

– A look at athletics. 

There are three major types of Ketogenic diets that people tend to follow: the Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD,) Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD,) and Cyclic Ketogenic Diet (CKD.) The type you choose depends on your personal needs, preferences, and lifestyle goals. And really, they all kind of come down to “athletic performance”.

Standard Ketogenic Diet

SKD — For most people, the SKD approach works best. It’s low in carbs, moderate in protein and high in fat. A general rule for SKD is to stick to around 30 grams of net carbs per day. This is the basis method for me when it comes to getting started. It’s an attempt to get 80% of my caloric intake from fats, 15% from protein and 5% from carbs. I see a boost in anaerobic performance when consistently in Ketosis. When in Ketosis I feel like I have a fully charged motor and my breath recovery (regaining my regular breathing) is very quick (much quicker when in Ketosis). Oxygen in the blood is much different when in Ketosis.

Targeted Ketogenic Diet

TKD — Targeted Ketogenic dieting incorporates carb intake, when followed by an hour of exercise. Even then, healthy and easily digested carbs are preferred, instead of supplements made with high fructose. The physical activity right after carb intake allows your body to burn them, without interrupting the overall Ketosis state you’ve been working to achieve. You’re still eating the same number of net carbs per day, but it’s right before a workout. The TKD also recommends avoiding high fat intake right after exercising; opt for protein as a post-gym snack instead. If you’re just starting an exercise program you may want to opt for TKD.

Cyclic Ketogenic Diet

CKD — For athletes, the CKD alternates days of SKD with days of heavy carb-loading, around planned high intensity workouts. Professional athletes, bodybuilders, and endurance athletes may consume upwards to 600 grams of carbohydrates during their “loading” process. A CKD isn’t for individuals who only routinely stick to a minimum to moderate exercise routine. This loading process is 1 or 2 days of high carbs and then on to 5-6 days of very low carbs. You’ll need to completely deplete glycogen stores during your Ketosis days in order to have success. If you’re a pro and you have this method down to a specific science, it’s great.

Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet

With the combination of being in Ketosis and managing your eating patterns via intermittent fasting you will see a huge, positive shift in your overall health profile. Everything you’ve been told in relation to consuming fat was very wrong.

Reduce Your Appetite (don’t need to always eat)

When you cut out carb intake you often end up eating fewer calories (you don’t want to overeat). Your body is also naturally satiated.

Increased Weight Loss

By decreasing your carbohydrates, your body adapts and uses ketones for energy. Your body is now utilizing your fat stores for energy. This is naturally how your body wants to function, less stress and more efficiency.

Triglycerides Go Down

High Triglycerides are a proven health factor that contributes to poor heart health and metabolic syndrome. These fat molecules in the blood are reduced when on a Keto diet.

HDL (Good Cholesterol) Goes Up

HDL carries cholesterol away from the body and to the liver to be excreted. When you have high HDL your risk of heart disease is decreased. Having low HDL is a risk factor for metabolic syndrome.

Reduce Blood Sugar Spikes

Your body, while in Ketosis isn’t utilizing glucose like it was before. You’re not consuming foods that spike your blood sugar. High blood sugar is toxic to your body, Ketosis eliminates the spikes.

Better Insulin Management

If your pancreas has been working overtime to help regulate all the blood sugar spikes you’ve had throughout your life, it’s time to give it a rest. Cut the carbs and your need for insulin is reduced significantly.

Better Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can be dangerous. When in Ketosis you’ve naturally reduced the carb intake while also reducing the risk of heart disease (blood pressure is lowered).

Fight Off Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is dangerous but with Ketosis you can reduce the danger or reverse metabolic syndrome completely. If you have 3 of the following you have metabolic syndrome:

  • If you’re a woman and your waistline is greater than 35 inches or a man with a waistline greater than 40 inches.
  • Triglycerides level: 150 milligrams per deciliter,(mg/dL), or 1.7 millimoles per liter (mmol/L), or higher of this type of fat found in blood.
  • HDL Cholesterol is too low: Less than 40 mg/dL (1.04 mmol/L) in men or less than 50 mg/dL (1.3 mmol/L) in women of this “good” cholesterol.
  • High blood pressure: 130/85 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or higher.
  • Fasting blood sugar is too high: 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L) or higher.

Reduction of Acne

Carb intake is the main dietary culprit in acne due to the negative effects on hormonal regulation. Reduction in insulin levels, anti-inflammatory, decrease in IGF-1.

Inflammation Reduction

Overall reduction in inflammation – when inflammation is reduced you see the reduction in chronic disease. Excess sugar cause: high insulin needs, raises inflammation markers, makes free radicals (inflames blood vessels), triggers chronic disease.

Increased Athletic Performance

Less likely to “hit a wall” due to preserved glycogen stores. When we secrete insulin and leptin we secrete less growth hormone. Ketosis reduces the secretion of insulin and leptin. Study.

Fighting Off Cancer

Cancer cells are unable to effectively use ketone bodies for energy. Ketones inhibit the proliferation and viability of cultured tumor cells. Study.

Better Sleep and Energy

You’re stabilizing your insulin levels and your body is better regulation (in relation to energy).

Less Likely to have Cataracts

High blood sugar is known to cause a detrimental effect on eyesight and leads to an increase in a risk for cataracts. Keeping low blood sugar levels improves eye health.

Better Well Being

Ketosis offers a clearer mind and a better performing body. You don’t fall in to slumps of energy loss or feel brain fog. You’re sleeping better and you’re more alert when powered on Ketones. Overall, you have a better sense of what you’re capable of.

Do You Have to Take Supplements on a Keto Diet?

If you’re not sure about every nuance of Ketosis, supplements are going to make a world of difference in how you feel and for how long you can remain true to your diet expectations. Below is a list of which supplements you should add when on a Keto Diet.

Ketone Salts

Calcium + Magnesium + Sodium + Potassium + Beta-Hydroxybutyrate

Being in Ketosis has a natural diuretic effect. Because of this your body has an added need of calcium, sodium, magnesium, and potassium. Many Ketone Salt products offer the Beta-Hydroxybutyrate as well. Beta-Hydroxybutyrate is also known as exogenous ketones (these exogenous ketones are a way to boost your ketone levels in the blood immediately).

You want to stay electrolyte balanced in the absence of carbohydrates. Insulin signals the kidneys to retain important electrolytes and with a lowered need for insulin on Keto, your body will need to shift how it produces adequate electrolytes. These minerals help to maintain better balance without having to worry too much about consuming enough via food sources.

Shop Ketone Salts What We Buy

MCT / Coconut Oil

In Ketosis you’re burning a lot of fatty acids as fuel and the medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s) will help you keep your energy levels high. Remember, on Ketosis you’re consuming 80% of your calories from fat sources, MCT oil is a great way to get the fat you need.

Shop MCT Oil

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You’re not totally depleting Magnesium on a Keto Diet… however, if you ever experience leg cramping, you’re lacking adequate Magnesium. Most people (regardless of diet) aren’t getting enough Magnesium. Your body needs adequate Magnesium.

Shop Magnesium

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How do I get in Ketosis?

We have an extensive post on How to Get in Ketosis, check it out.

How to Get in Ketosis Fast



The Easiest Way to Jumpstart Your Metabolism & Kill Cravings

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Last Updated 04/24/2020

One Response to “What is the Keto Diet?”

  1. This is such a comprehensive guide. So many things to learn!


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