What is a keto diet and what you need to know before you try it. What's the harm?

As interest in the keto diet grows and research continues - a lot of information emerges on this topic - it’s all a bit confusing. Let’s try to figure out how this energy system works and why we know so little about it.

What is a keto diet?

A ketogenic diet or a ketogenic diet is a low carb, high fat diet. Simply put, there are very few carbohydrates in such a diet - 2-4%, not much protein - 6-8%, and most fats - 85-90%. All sweets, cereals, fruits, legumes are excluded from the diet and only healthy fats remain - meat, fish, eggs, nuts. This ratio of nutrients is not standard for the body as it usually extracts energy from carbohydrates.

Foods for the ketogenic diet

When the body loses its main source of food, the liver begins to break down fats, including fatty deposits, and convert them into ketone bodies (ketones) —acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyric acid, and acetone. Some of this is spent on the necessary energy of the cells and others accumulate in the blood. This process is called ketosis - a condition in which the body uses fat as an alternative energy source. As a result, you start to lose weight fast, but you get a lot of "side effects. "

Why was the keto diet invented?

Nutritional principles of the keto diet BC. They come from 460. Then there was only food of animal origin in the human diet, while there was almost no carbohydrate. But initially, the keto diet was developed and used to treat patients with epilepsy and diabetes.

It all started with William Bunting publishing the first book on the carb-free diet in 1864. On the advice of doctor William Harvey, he gave up carbohydrates (beer, sweets, potatoes) in favor of proteins and fats and lost 21 kg. Back then it was ordinary propaganda and nothing more - scientific evidence of this only appeared in 1921 when Dr. Wilder published his first work on the ketogenic diet. In it, he described the effectiveness of such a diet in patients with epilepsy. Then other doctors started studying the diet and found other benefits in it. For example, in addition to treating various diseases, diet helps to lose weight fast.

The result of weight loss is a girl who has lost weight with a keto diet

So the keto diet has gone beyond medical goals and has become popular - of course, who wouldn’t want to lose weight with a healthy diet? Interest in the keto diet is still going on, research is ongoing, but we know little about the benefits of avoiding carbohydrates for a healthy person. So it is not safe to start such a diet on your own because the health consequences can be unpredictable.

What keto diets exist?

  1. Classic:70% fat, 20% protein and 10% carbohydrates.
  2. Cyclic:5 days - strict keto diet, 2 days - allowed carbohydrates. Bodybuilders use this technique to quickly gain lean muscle mass.
  3. Target:Carbohydrates are allowed with this diet on training days, but only during high-intensity workouts - in which case the carbohydrates are burned before they have time to interrupt the ketosis process.
  4. High protein:60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbs.

In fact, there are many more types of ketogenic diets than on this list - including, for example, vegan, lazy, limited. But most of all, only these 4 types have been studied - 2 of them (cyclical and target) were not made for a long time and are mainly used by professional athletes.

His dish of beef, eggs and tomatoes on the ketogenic diet menu

Who is contraindicated in the keto diet and what are the advantages and disadvantages?


  • appetite control, and with it weight loss - fatty and protein foods are very satisfying - certainly not a threat to overeating here. In addition, lack of sugar "jumps" without fast carbs, reducing hunger;
  • energy increase - mitochondria work better on the keto diet - supply energy to the cells. The fact that ketone bodies are more difficult to metabolize than carbohydrates therefore provides more energy;
  • prevention of cardiovascular disease - ketosis regulates blood pressure and triglyceride levels - fats that are closely linked to "bad" cholesterol levels. As long as it limits itself to carbohydrates, triglycerides are translated into energy, not accumulating in fat cells;
  • blood glucose control - studies have shown that a keto diet increases insulin sensitivity by 75% (provided there are no trans fats in the diet) - this is due to the elimination of simple carbohydrates (sweets, fruits). Such a diet also reduces the level of glycated hemoglobin in the blood - it helps to monitor the development of diabetes;
  • treatment of neurological diseases (such as epilepsy) - ketones supply more energy to brain cells, which further strengthens neural connections. Research has also shown that ketones suppress the work of glutamate, an amino acid that stimulates the nervous system.


  • The risk of developing ketoacidosis in diabetes is a life-threatening condition associated with impaired carbohydrate metabolism. The consequences can be the worst (coma, death) - the body will only resort to such measures if too many ketone bodies get into the bloodstream.
  • dehydration - without a major energy source, the body begins to break down muscle glycogen - and that’s 75% water. Fluid supplies were depleted at this moment;
  • vitamin deficiency leading to fruit rejection;
  • unbalanced diet and at the same time constipation and bloating: excess fatty and protein foods for the digestive system - stress;
  • there is no guarantee that you will lose weight - the weight loss process does not work without sports, and the keto diet, like any other diet, does not provide long-term results. And not everyone manages to limit carbs for long periods of time - as soon as you eat something sweet, the process of ketosis stops immediately.
Ketogenic diet for weight loss

Ideally, before starting a keto diet, consult your doctor and take the necessary tests - after all, in some cases, a ketogenic diet is contraindicated:

  • pregnancy and feeding;
  • gout and joint diseases;
  • cholelithiasis;
  • disorders of the thyroid gland;
  • diabetes;
  • cirrhosis;
  • Gilbert's syndrome;
  • low pressure;
  • weight loss.

It is not recommended to sit on a keto diet for a long time - there is a risk of health problems:

  • low levels of protein in the blood (can lead to liver, kidney, intestinal diseases);
  • accumulation of fat in liver tissue;
  • stones in the kidneys;
  • lack of vitamins and minerals;
  • constant hunger;
  • sleep problems;
  • nausea, lethargy and dizziness;
  • abdominal pain and headache.

What and what not to do during the keto diet

This is prohibited:

  • sugary foods: soda, juice, smoothies, ice cream, chocolate, candies;
  • cereals: rice, pasta;
  • fruits: almost all fruits except avocado, lime, lemon, asparagus, celery;
  • legumes: peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas;
  • root crops and tubers: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips;
  • dietary foods: low-fat mayonnaise, salad dressings;
  • some spices and sauces: barbecue sauce, honey mustard, teriyaki sauce, ketchup;
  • unhealthy fats: refined oils, mayonnaise, fast food;
  • sweet alcohol: beer, sweet wine, liqueur, cocktails;
  • sugar-free diet foods: sugar-free sweets, syrups, puddings, sweeteners, desserts.


  • meat: beef, ham, bacon, chicken, turkey;
  • oily fish: salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel;
  • seafood: shrimp, mussels, squid;
  • eggs: farm, quail;
  • butter and cream: butter and ghee, heavy cream;
  • cheese: creamy, mozzarella, gouda, brie, parmesan;
  • nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, flax and pumpkin seeds, chia seeds;
  • healthy oils: olive, coconut, sesame, avocado oil;
  • some fruits: avocado, lime and lemon;
  • low carb vegetables: cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli, onions, peppers;
  • greens: arugula, spinach, parsley, basil;
  • berries: raspberries, gooseberries, black currants;
  • spices: salt, pepper and other spices;
  • drinks: water, tea, coffee, carbonated drinks without sugar;
  • alcohol: dry white and red wine, whiskey.
Salmon with low carb vegetables in the keto diet

Weekly keto diet menu (this is just an example)

  1. Monday
    • breakfast: scrambled eggs, salad, avocado;
    • snack: sunflower seeds;
    • lunch: spinach salad with grilled salmon;
    • snack: celery and pepper strips with guacamole sauce;
    • dinner: pork chop with cauliflower puree.
  2. Tuesday
    • breakfast: coffee without sugar, hard boiled eggs;
    • snack: macadamia nuts;
    • lunch: tuna salad with tomatoes;
    • snack: sugar-free cake with almond flour (a few pieces);
    • dinner: zucchini pasta with meatballs in cream sauce.
  3. Wednesday
    • breakfast: scrambled eggs with salsa sauce (optional) and pieces of cheese;
    • Snack: Full-fat Greek yogurt with pecans
    • lunch: miso soup or broccoli puree soup;
    • snack: almond milk and butter cocktail, raspberries;
    • dinner: stewed chicken with asparagus and mushrooms.
  4. Thursday
    • breakfast: keto pancakes (60 g almond flour, 4 eggs, 120 g cottage cheese);
    • snack: two boiled eggs;
    • lunch: chicken slices in almond breadcrumbs (flour), herbs, cucumber, a slice of goat cheese;
    • snack: a few slices of cheese and peppers;
    • dinner: grilled shrimp with lemon sauce and asparagus.
  5. Friday
    • breakfast: scrambled eggs with bacon and herbs;
    • snack: a handful of nuts and berries;
    • lunch: roast beef;
    • snack: celery in almond sauce;
    • dinner: fried tofu with cauliflower, broccoli, pepper and peanut sauce.
  6. Saturday
    • breakfast: fried avocado with eggs;
    • snack: cabbage chips;
    • lunch: rolls with salmon and avocado, wrapped in seaweed (without rice);
    • snack: meat sticks, olives;
    • dinner: grilled beef with kebab pepper and broccoli.
  7. Sunday
    • breakfast: scrambled eggs with bacon and avocado;
    • snack: dried algae, a piece of cheese;
    • lunch: avocado stuffed with sardines;
    • snack: dried turkey (without added sugar);
    • dinner: fried trout.
Compiling a diet based on the principles of the keto diet

But:almost any diet from the internet is unsafe and does not guarantee results - only a good professional or doctor can create a competent diet plan. Here are some more tips:

  • Start with a low carb diet- in the case of a keto diet, the amount of carbohydrates is reduced to 50 g per day. Consuming moderate amounts of carbohydrates is a good start for the body. This way you can still understand that this type of food is right for you.
  • Combine the products- add non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, asparagus, cucumber) to your diet - a sharp change in your usual diet can cause constipation - your intestines need time to get used to fatty foods.
  • Drink more water(preferably ½ a teaspoon of salt) - as the energy reserves are depleted, the water-salt balance is disturbed.
  • Do not limit yourself to doses (within reasonable limits, of course)- Avoiding carbohydrates and reducing the amount of protein in the case of calorie deficiency can lead to hormonal disorders.

Do you have any questions? Here are the answers to the most popular.

  1. Is it possible to return to carbs after a while?

    Yes, you can add some carbs 2-3 months after you start, but not often.

  2. In the case of carbohydrates, everything is clear now - they need to be reduced to the maximum. What about proteins?

    The amount of protein should not exceed 35% of the total diet. More is possible, but then the ketosis will stop and you have to start over.

  3. Do muscles disappear with weight?

    With any diet, there is a risk that the muscles will "blow out". But proteins and fats can slow down this process a bit in parallel with physical activity.

  4. Avocado and egg toast are hearty snacks in the ketogenic diet
  5. Can you increase muscle with a keto diet?

    Yes, but it will be harder than a balanced diet.

  6. Wouldn't so much fat cause disease?

    It depends on what kind of fat you eat. If these are trans fats - fast food, sausage, potatoes - then yes, there will be more harm than good. These should be excluded from the diet.