Friday, June 16, 2017

Ketogenic Diet Guide For Beginners

The ultimate goal of following a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet is to improve your heath by making your body burn ketones rather than glucose for energy. Within this book you will learn what the ketogenic diet is and how it works, things you should know and do before starting this diet plan, and how to make it work for you.

Ketogenic Diet Guide For Beginners

What is a Ketogenic Diet?

Quite literally, the ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that was originally used to treat epilepsy in children who did not respond well to the medicines available at that time.

This diet forces the body to burn fats for energy rather than carbohydrates. The body converts the carbohydrates in our food into glucose which is then sent throughout the body to be used as energy. Unfortunately, if you take in more carbohydrates than you need for the amount of energy you use during a day the excess glucose is converted to fat and stored rather than being eliminated. However, if you restrict the amount of carbohydrates ingested, the liver will begin converting fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. Once ketones in the blood outnumber the molecules of glucose, the cells of your body will begin using those ketones as their source of energy.

How Does a Ketogenic Diet Work?

The ketogenic diet shifts the body's metabolism from utilizing glucose as energy to ketones. While it doesn't guarantee instant weight loss, it is an effective tool to help you reach your goals of living healthier.

First, you are going to be eating very satisfying and nutritious foods that will make you experience fewer cravings and be hungry less often. Today's nutritionists won't tell you that good fats cause satiation, not fruits and veggies. It has been determined through medical studies that protein and fats are the most satisfying of the three macronutrients you will be concerned with when following this new lifestyle.

Second, eating fats actually helps your body burn the fat you already have stored so that you can lose weight a bit more easily. Carbohydrates cause the body to produce insulin to move glucose molecules into the cells to be used for energy. Unfortunately, nearly everyone who is overweight for a long period of time will experience some form of insulin-resistance even if they have not been diagnosed as diabetic. This means that you will experience both high and low blood sugar levels as well as more cravings.

And third, you will be able to achieve greater weight loss due to the metabolic advantage the low-carbohydrate diet supports. When your liver break fats down there are always more ketones than your body can actually use so the excess is excreted through urination. However, that loss of potential energy is not too great so you won't even miss it.

How Does a Ketogenic Diet Compare to 'Traditional' Diets?

You may have tried one or two – or many – of the more traditional diets and had a couple weeks to a few months worth of weight loss but found it very easy to … let's say, fudge your diet? And I mean that literally – fudge can be a big downfall. Am I right?

Compare the following two lists and see how the ketogenic diet can help you achieve your weight-loss goals.

Traditional Diet

•       Restricts fat intake
•       Allows for moderate protein intake
•       Increases fruit and vegetable intake
•       Follows Food Pyramid guidelines
•       Restricts caloric intake
•       Doesn't allow adjustments to reduce excess hunger
•       Doesn't alleviate cravings
•       May require purchasing specially packaged meals depending on what diet is being followed

Ketogenic Diet

•       Restricts carbohydrate intake
•       Allows for moderate protein intake
•       Increases beneficial fat intake
•       Flips the Food Pyramid guidelines on its head
•       Restricting caloric intake is not absolutely necessary
•       Allows adjustment to reduce excess hunger
•       Alleviates most, if not all, cravings
•       Doesn't require specially purchased foods unless you choose to do so

As you can see, the ketogenic diet is the total opposite of any traditional diet you may have tried. Maybe that's why it works so well.

Is the Ketogenic Diet Dangerous?

You may have heard that the ketogenic diet is dangerous to your health. Even doctors have been known to say this same thing. However, these 'dangers' are merely myths passed on by people who have a limited understanding of low carb diets and how they work.

One of the main criticisms is that because it's a high fat diet that it will cause you to have a higher chance of heart related problems. The message that fat is what makes you fat has been drummed into the collective consciousness of Americans for the last 30 years or more. This message has Is the Ketogenic Diet Dangerous?
You may have heard that the ketogenic diet is dangerous to your health. Even doctors have been known to say this same thing. However, these 'dangers' are merely myths passed on by people who have a limited understanding of low carb diets and how they work.

One of the main criticisms is that because it's a high fat diet that it will cause you to have a higher chance of heart related problems. The message that fat is what makes you fat has been drummed into the collective consciousness of Americans for the last 30 years or more. This message has been repeated over and over again but it is a lie. It's very difficult to unlearn a lie that you've been taught for most, if not all, of your life. The reality is that a high carb diet drives up your blood sugar and insulin levels.

Sugar and insulin causes inflammation in your body. The fats allowed on the ketogenic diet are saturated fats and while saturated fats are healthy for you, when combined in the standard American diet it gets the blame for causing heart disease. This is because it was studied in combination with a high carbohydrate diet. The ketogenic diet, which is high in saturated fat and very low in carbohydrates, will actually reduce inflammation because of the reduction of glucose and insulin in your body.

Another criticism is that high intake of saturated fats and cholesterol causes heart disease. This is another lie that has been perpetuated for multiple decades. A study from Johns Hopkins Medical School says that the ketogenic diet is healthier because of the higher saturated fat intake. Higher saturated fat intake increases HDL (good) cholesterol. At the same time, the lower carbohydrate intake decreases triglyceride levels. These are the two factors that are the markers for heart disease; the closer your triglyceride and HDL levels are to 1, the healthier your heart. It is known that heart disease is caused by consuming a high level of carbohydrates on a daily basis rather than a high saturated fat consumption.

A third criticism is that people don't do well in ketosis. This isn't entirely true. As will be discussed later in this book, you should consult with your physician before starting a ketogenic diet plan and if you have certain pre-existing medical conditions then you should either avoid the lifestyle or be strictly supervised my your medical care provider. However, it has been found that our caveman ancestors survived in a state of constant ketosis because grains were very difficult to gather in large quantities and the grains they did gather were not as highly processed as the carbohydrates consumed today.

Yet another criticism, potentially the most damning but least likely to occur, is that there is the danger of a person following the ketogenic diet to fall into ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis is a life-threatening condition but simply being in ketosis is not enough to cause you to develop this condition. Ketoacidosis occurs when there is an abnormally high level of ketones in the blood brought on by an unregulated biochemical reaction. This generally occurs in people diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes who cannot produce insulin on their own. Nutritional ketosis is a regulated process that allows enough insulin to remain in the blood to counteract the level of ketones which will prevent a nominally healthy individual from developing ketoacidosis. The only ways for someone following the ketogenic diet to develop ketoacidosis are:

  1. If they are in starvation mode for several months. This will not occur with a properly formulated meal plan.
  2. If they perform prolonged periods of extremely high intensity exercise.
  3. If they are chronic alcoholics who indulge in extreme binges.

As you can see, nutritional ketosis is not dangerous when a properly formulated and followed ketogenic meal plan is in place. It is a natural metabolic process that is perfectly safe for anyone who is not a diabetic who lacks insulin or a severe alcoholic.

Who Should Not Follow a Ketogenic Diet?

While the ketogenic diet has been shown to be safe for nearly everyone to follow, there are still certain people who should not follow this lifestyle. The first list is rather technical but it will help your physician determine if this lifestyle is healthy and safe for you.

People with Metabolic Conditions

  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Primary Carnitine Deficiency
  • Carnitine palmitoyltransferase (CPT) Type 1 or 2 deficiency
  • Carnitine translocase deficiency
  • Beta-oxidation defects
  • Mitochondrial 3-hydroxy 3-methylglutaryl CoA synthase (mHMGS) deficiency
  • Long-, Medium-, & short-chain acyl dehydrogenase deficiency (LCAD), (MCAD), & (SCAD)
  • Long- & Medium-chain 3 hydroxyacyl-CoA deficiency
  • Pyruvate caboxylase deficiency
  • Porphyria

People with certain Medical Conditions

  • Pancreatitis
  • Gall Bladder disease
  • Impaired liver function
  • Malnutrition
  • Gastric bypass surgery
  • Abdominal tumors
  • Impaired gastric motility (this can be due to cancer treatment and medications)
  • Kidney failure
  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Pros & Cons of the Ketogenic Diet

Changing your eating habits to the ketogenic diet is not easy at first. However, once you are adapted to this new lifestyle you will find yourself feeling much better and healthier as a result.

Remember that these side effects are only temporary and will last from a few days up to about a month. If you understand your physical reactions you will be able to find a way to minimize them which will keep you from some of the misery caused by carbohydrate withdrawal.

Let's get the bad news over with before we go on to the benefits of following the ketogenic diet.

Side Effects

•       Frequent urination

  • As you begin to burn up the stored glycogen in your body, your kidneys will begin getting rid of excess water. For every gram of glycogen stored in your muscles, 3-4 grams of water is also stored. That's a lot of water to get rid of.

•       Fatigue, Dizziness, Muscle Cramps & Headache

  • As you begin to excrete excess water it is a given that you will lose electrolytes as well; sodium, potassium and magnesium.
  • Fatigue and dizziness are more common of the side effects but can be avoided by getting enough replacement electrolytes.
  • Using sea salt to season your food along with a lite salt that is potassium based will help you to replace those minerals you are losing.
  • 400mg Magnesium citrate supplements every night before bed will keep you from developing muscle cramps.

•       Hypoglycemia

  • Also known as low blood sugar.
  • If you've been eating a high carbohydrate diet your body is used to a certain amount of insulin floating around in your bloodstream. When you reduce your carbohydrate intake you may experience a few episodes of low blood sugar before your body adapts to the new lifestyle.

•       Constipation

◦       Constipation is another of the more common side effects of the ketogenic diet. It is usually due to dehydration and salt loss though it can also be due to eating too many nuts or a magnesium imbalance.
◦       This can be alleviated by balancing your calcium intake, drinking more water and cutting back on the amount of nuts you consume.

•       Sugar Cravings

  • There is a 2 day to a 3 week transition period where you may find yourself experiencing intense sugar cravings. How long this side effect will last is dependent upon how long and how much carbohydrate you consumed.
  • You can ease these cravings by doing one of the following things:
▪ Eat 4 ounces of protein.
▪ Take a walk.
▪ Take a B Complex vitamin.
▪  Distract yourself. Sugar cravings last about an hour so if you can take your mind off it, you will be able to outlast the craving.

•       Diarrhea

  • This side effect is not unusual and will resolve itself after a few days.
  • Take an anti-diarrheal or use a teaspoon of sugar-free Metamucil just before your meals until the loose stools stop occurring.

•       Sleep Changes

  • This side effect varies from person to person.
  • It may be an indication that you are experiencing reduced insulin or serotonin levels. It can also be an indication of a histamine intolerance.
  • If you find yourself not able to stay asleep, you can try eating a snack just before bed containing protein with a little carbohydrate in it.
  • You can also try taking a melatonin supplement to help you fall and stay asleep.

•       Kidney Stones

  • Kidney stones are very rare in people following a ketogenic diet. However, it is necessary to mention it just in case you are one of the rare folks who experience this side effect.
  • Be sure to speak to your doctor before taking any potassium citrate supplement if you have kidney or blood pressure problems.

•       Low T3 Thyroid Hormone levels

  • This isn't actually a bad side effect. It's more a mention of a natural consequence of getting into ketosis. It happens with the more traditional diets as well.
  • Your body will become more sensitive to the T3 hormone levels so you don't need as much.

•       Heart palpitations

  • There are several reasons why you might experience this side effect.

▪ You may have a normally low blood pressure.
▪ You may need a multivitamin with selenium and zinc as well as a magnesium supplement.
▪ It may be due to transient hypoglycemia.
▪ You may have an electrolyte imbalance or be dehydrated.
▪ You may be consuming too much MCT oil such as coconut oil. You should include butter, olive oil and animal fats as well.
▪ You may need a higher protein intake. Try adding an additional 5-10 grams to your diet.

•       Hair loss

  • This side effect isn't related just to the ketogenic diet. It is possible with any major change in your diet.
  • Once your insulin levels normalize the hair loss will stop and you should begin to find your hair to be thicker and fuller as it becomes healthier.
Benefits of Going Keto

•       Lack of hunger

  • Ketones decrease your appetite.
  • Beneficial fats are very satisfying.

•       Lower blood pressure

  • Be sure to consult with your doctor if you are taking any blood pressure medications since you may feel dizzy from too much medicine while on the ketogenic diet.

•       Lower cholesterol levels

  • Cholesterol is made from excess glucose so when you eat fewer carbohydrates your cholesterol levels will drop.
  • Increased HDL levels also occur because you will be eating more saturated fats, which is a good thing.
  • Decreased triglycerides will occur because they are closely tied to the amount of carbohydrates you consume.

•       Lower blood sugar and insulin levels

  • With less sugar coming in, less insulin will be floating in your bloodstream.
  • HbA1c will also decrease which indicates you are at less of a risk for heart disease.

•       Increased energy

  • Even if you experience fatigue as a side effect, once you adapt to the ketogenic diet you will find the chronic fatigue symptoms abating.

•       Less stiffness and joint pain

  • This is one of the best side effects you will experience by following the ketogenic diet.
  • It is known that grain-based food increases inflammation and causes many chronic illnesses that overweight people suffer from.

•       Reduced 'fogginess'

  • Since the brain is at least 50% fat by weight, it makes sense that the more fat you eat the better your brain can maintain itself.

•       Stabilized sleep patterns

  • Sleep apnea has been linked to grain consumption as well as the heartburn that can be caused by a high carbohydrate diet.
  • You will no longer feel the need for those late afternoon naps that can mess up your circadian rhythm.

•       Weight loss

  • This is the most common side effects of following a ketogenic diet.
  • As your metabolism repairs itself you will find yourself dropping pounds and inches as you get healthier in the process.
  • After the initial rapid weight loss you may find yourself at a plateau. This lifestyle will allow you to adjust your meals to continue losing weight.
  • Coupled with a reasonable exercise routine you will be able to lose more weight while building and toning muscle and still not feel hungry.

•       Relief from gastric symptoms

  • High carbohydrate diets are often the culprits if you suffer from heartburn, indigestion and GERD.
  • Symptoms will lessen or disappear altogether when following the ketogenic diet. If you still experience heartburn and reflux, eliminate tomatoes and speak with your physician to determine that your gall bladder is functioning properly.
  • You will find a reduction in gas and bloating as the lower consumption of grains and sugars eliminates the fermentation that occurs in your small intestines.

•       Oral health improvements

  • Sugar is known to change the pH of your mouth and causes tooth decay. After a few months following the ketogenic diet you will find that any gingivitis you might be experiencing will decrease or disappear. Check with your dentist for any damage that may remain.

•       Increased serotonin and dopamine levels

  • Ketone bodies are known to stabilize your body's neurotransmitters. This will result in fewer mood swings allowing you to feel better about yourself and your life in general.
  • It is unknown at this time whether people taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) will need to continue taking those medications or if they will be able to remove that medicine from their daily routine.

As the lists above show, the unpleasant side effects are temporary and the benefits you will experience by switching to the ketogenic lifestyle are definitely worth the effort.

What Foods Can You Eat?


  • Avocado Oil
  • Almond Oil
  • Beef Tallow; should be from grass fed cattle
  • Butter; organic if possible
  • Chicken Fat
  • Duck Fat
  • Ghee; goat butter with the milk solids removed
  • Lard; NOT hydrogenated, organic if possible
  • Macadamia Oil
  • Mayonnaise; read the label to be sure it has no carbs in it
  • Olive Oil
  • Sesame Oil
  • Flaxseed Oil
  • Hemp Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Coconut Butter
  • Coconut Cream; concentrated, organic


Keto Beef

  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Veal
  • Goat
  • Wild game
  • Pork; read the label of ham, sausage and bacon to avoid added sugar
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Duck
  • Goose
  • Game birds
  • Anchovies
  • Calamari
  • Catfish
  • Cod
  • Flounder
  • Halibut
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Mahi-mahi
  • Salmon; canned is allowed, read the label for added sugar or carb-fillers
  • Sardines
  • Scrod
  • Sole
  • Snapper
  • Trout
  • Tuna; canned is allowed, read the label for added sugar or carb-fillers
  • Clams
  • Crab
  • Lobster
  • Scallops
  • Shrimp
  • Squid
  • Mussels
  • Oysters
  • Whole eggs; cooked in a variety of ways
  • Peanut Butter; read the label for carbohydrates, natural is best
  • Tempeh;  read the label for carbohydrates
  • Tofu;  read the label for carbohydrates
  • Edamame;  read the label for carbohydrates
  • Whey protein powders; be very careful about the contents of the product, determine the amount of added sugars and fillers that may be included


Keto Salad

  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Asparagus
  • Avocado; Hass is best for eating
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Bean sprouts
  • Beet greens
  • Bell peppers *
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots *
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Celery root
  • Chard
  • Chives
  • Collard greens
  • Cucumbers
  • Dandelion greens
  • Pickles; dill
  • Garlic
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Arugula
  • Boston butter lettuce
  • Chicory
  • Endive
  • Escarole
  • Fennel
  • Radicchio
  • Romaine
  • Mushrooms
  • Olives
  • Onions *
  • Radishes
  • Sauerkraut; be careful of added sugar unless making it yourself
  • Scallions
  • Shallots
  • Snow peas
  • Spinach
  • Summer squash *
  • Tomatoes *
  • Turnips
  • Zucchini
  • Water chestnuts

* These vegetables are higher in carbohydrates so intake should be limited.

Dairy Products

  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Sour cream; full fat, read labels for additives and fillers
  • Cottage cheese; full fat
  • Cheddar
  • Swiss
  • Colby
  • Monterey Jack
  • Provolone
  • Munster
  • Gouda
  • Farmer cheese
  • Blue cheese
  • Cream cheese
  • Marscapone
  • Yogurt; unsweetened, full fat, Greek, limit how much you eat due to the higher carb content

Nuts & Seeds

It is best to soak and/or roast nuts and seeds to get rid of any possible anti-nutrients they may contain. Since they are very high in carbs you will need to limit your intake. Too many nuts and seeds can cause increased inflammation so you should not depend upon them for all of your protein needs. Nuts and seeds can also cause a disruption in you moods.

  • Macadamias
  • Pecans
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Cashews
  • Pistachios
  • Chestnuts
  • Almond flour
  • Peanuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Chia seeds


All beverages should be unsweetened. Use artificial sweeteners sparingly. Be certain that all beverages are decaffeinated since caffeine can increase blood sugar.

  • Bone broth
  • Decaffeinated coffee
  • Decaffeinated tea
  • Herbal tea
  • Water
  • Flavored seltzer water
  • Lemon juice
  • Lime juice
  • Almond milk
  • Hazelnut milk
  • Cashew milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Soy milk
  • Hemp milk

RELATED: 22 Skinny Juices Recipes for Weight Loss Cleanse

Fruits, Spices & Miscellaneous

Most fruits should be avoided since they are high in carbohydrates in the form of fructose. However, there are some berries that can be enjoyed in small amounts once in a while.

  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Cranberries
  • Blackberries

Any spice that you do not grind yourself will contain carbohydrates. Commercially made spice mixes usually contain added sugar. For salting dishes, you should use sea salt rather than regular iodized salt which is often combined with powdered dextrose to prevent clumping. However, there are some spices that have negligible amounts of carbs added that you will find in many ketogenic recipes. Despite those carbs being negligible doesn't mean you shouldn't count them. There are websites that allow you to put in your complete recipe, including spices, and the site will calculate all of your macros as well as calories which will help you include those 'negligible' carbs.

  • Black pepper
  • Basil
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Cilantro
  • Cinnamon
  • Cumin
  • Ginger
  • Cardamom
  • Bay leaves
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Turmeric

Other items you can enjoy in limited amounts are Japanese Shirataki noodles, pork rinds and 85-90% chocolate. Pork rinds are a good substitute for bread crumbs but they are high in protein so you should limit your use of them.

Some ketogenic recipes, especially desserts, require some form of sweetening and you really should be careful about how much artificial sweetener you use since you are trying to get a more natural diet going. That being said, the best sweeteners to use are natural like honey or agave. You just need to be very careful about how much you use and follow the recipe exactly so that you are not adding too many carbohydrates to your daily allotment.

Foods You Should Absolutely Avoid

Sugars & Sweeteners

  • Maple syrup
  • Malt syrup
  • Treacle
  • Carob syrup
  • Brown sugar
  • Turbinado sugar
  • White sugar
  • Confectioner's or powdered sugar
  • Beet sugar
  • Cane juice
  • Cane syrup
  • Caramel
  • Panela
  • Panocha
  • Coconut sugar
  • Date sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Sorghum
  • Molasses
  • Rice syrup
  • Maltose
  • Barley malt
  • Maltodextrin
  • Fruit syrups
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Tapioca syrup
  • And any food or food additive that ends in -ose.

Grains & Grain Products

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Oats
  • Rye
  • Sorghum
  • Tricale
  • Spelt
  • Rice
  • Bread
  • Muffins
  • Rolls
  • Bread crumbs
  • Waffles
  • Pancakes
  • Pasta
  • Any commercial cereals; hot and cold
  • Tortillas
  • Crackers
  • Cookies
  • Tarts
  • Cakes
  • Pies
  • Pretzels
  • Oatmeal
  • Cous Cous
  • Cream of wheat
  • Quinoa
  • Kashi
  • Cornbread
  • Tamale wrappers
  • Corn chips
  • Grits
  • Polenta
  • Popcorn
  • Cornmeal

Fruits, Vegetables & Legumes

Keto Fruits

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Plantains
  • Pears
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruits
  • Peaches
  • Apricots
  • Currents
  • Cantaloupe
  • Watermelon
  • Cherries
  • Dates
  • Figs
  • Gooseberries
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Guava
  • Mango
  • Nectarines
  • Kiwi
  • Papaya
  • Plums
  • Pineapple
  • Pumpkin
  • Pomegranates
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Hash browns
  • Potato chips
  • Tater tots
  • French fries
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Corn
  • Lima beans
  • Peas
  • Okra
  • Artichokes
  • Kidney beans
  • Black beans
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Great northern beans
  • Vegetable juice concentrate
  • Lentils

Other Foods You Should Avoid

  • Canned soups
  • Canned stews
  • Processed, boxed 'convenience' foods
  • Foods listed as 'low-fat', 'low-carb', 'sugar-free', etc. This includes prepared foods and snack bars produced for known HFLC diets like Atkins and South Beach. The reason is that the preservatives tend to be carbohydrate based which can mitigate the benefits of going low-carb.
  • Beer
  • Hard liquor
  • Sweet or dessert wines; dry wines are allowed in limited amounts
  • Carbonated beverages (aka Soda-pop); both diet and non-diet
  • Milk; liquid milk contains lactose. Cheese and yogurt allowed since the fermentation process reduces the amount of lactose in the milk solids.

RELATED: 10 Slimming Nordic Vegetarian Diet Recipes

Remember that the keto diet allows you to find things that satisfy you so feel free to change up the kinds of foods you eat.
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