Food & Drink

The Keto Diet: A Beginner’s Guide

The keto or ketogenic diet is a high fat, low carb diet that offers numerous health benefits. Studies reveal that this diet can help with weight loss and improve overall health. Here's a comprehensive guide on the ketogenic diet to help you get started.

How does the keto diet work?

The keto diet significantly lowers your body's carbohydrate intake and substitutes it with fat. Your body enters a metabolic condition known as ketosis as a result of this carbohydrate restriction.

When in ketosis, your body becomes highly effective at burning fat for energy.  Additionally, it causes the liver to produce ketones from stored fat, which the brain can use as fuel.

Different types of keto diets

There are different types of keto diets including:

1. The cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD)

The cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD) alternates periods of lower carb intake, such as five days of ketosis followed by two days of high carbs.

2. The standard ketogenic diet (SKD)

The standard ketogenic diet (SKD) consists of high fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrate. Usually, it has only 10% carbohydrates, 20% protein, and 70% fat.

3. High protein ketogenic diet

A ketogenic diet with high protein content is similar to the standard diet. The only difference is that the protein ratio is comparatively higher than in the standard one. The breakdown is 5% carbohydrates, 35% protein, and 60% fat.

4. The targeted ketogenic diet (TKD)

The targeted ketogenic diet (TKD) permits the addition of carbs just before or after exercise.

a person standing on a weighing scale

Benefits of keto diet

1. Can help lose weight

Want to shed those extra pounds? A keto diet can be an effective way to lose weight and minimize the health risks associated with obesity. Additionally, the diet is so fulfilling that you can lose weight without keeping track of your food consumption or calculating calories.

2. Can help with diabetes

The ketogenic diet is known to have helped people with type 2 diabetes.  It enables the body to keep blood sugar levels low but healthy. The requirement for insulin is significantly reduced by consuming fewer carbs, which is one of the leading causes of increasing blood sugar levels. 

3. Can lower the risk of heart diseases 

The keto diet can keep your blood sugar, blood pressure, good cholesterol levels (HDL) and body fat under control, thus minimizing the risk of heart diseases.

4. Can prevent cancer cells from spreading

Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the US, with more than 600,000 deaths reported in 2020. There are various cancer treatments such as radiation, chemotherapy, surgery etc.

However, one way to prevent cancerous cells from proliferating currently under study is with the help of a ketogenic diet. A ketogenic diet can help lower blood sugar levels, which slows the growth of tumors and potentially deprives tumor cells of energy.

vegetables in a bowl

Foods to eat when on keto diet

Animal proteins

  • Seafood including shellfish, salmons, mackerel, sardines, salmon, and other fatty fish
  • Eggs
  • Poultry and meat

Dairy and dairy alternatives

  • Cheese: Keto cheese list includes Swiss cheese, String cheese, Romano, Provolone, Pepper jack, Parmesan, Muenster, Mozzarella, Mascarpone, Manchego, Limburger, Havarti, Cheddar, and Blue Cheese
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Cream
  • Unsweetened plant-based milk


  • Salad greens: frisee, escarole, arugula, baby spinach and lettuce.
  • Cooking greens: cabbage, Swiss chard, spinach, kale, mustard greens, collard greens, and bok choy.
  • Herbs: lemongrass, rosemary, basil, cilantro, parsley, dill, oregano, mint, sage, and thyme.
  • Peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Mushrooms
  • Cucumber
  • Green beans
  • Eggplant
  • Tomatoes
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Jicama
  • Radishes
  • Turnips
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Celery
  • Okra

Nuts and seeds

  • Almonds
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Pecans
  • Walnuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Flaxseeds


  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
a woman working out

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Image credit: Total Shape

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