How Does The Ketogenic Diet Work?

Salmon and vegetable meal

If you’re looking to see fast weight loss success, one diet plan you might be considering is the ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet is one that is growing rapidly in popularity as more and more people are adopting a low carb lifestyle.

If you’ve ever been on a low carb diet before, this diet plan is going to take things to the extreme. Almost all planned carbohydrate rich foods are going to be omitted from your menu with the exception of incidental carbs that come from the main sources of fat that you intended to eat.

This plan is great for those who do want a very strict low carb approach and for those who find carbohydrates set off a whirlwind of hunger that they can’t control.

Let’s take a closer look into the ketogenic diet plan so that you can learn what this is all about and whether it’s right for you.

What Is The Ketogenic Diet?

First things first, it’s important that you understand what the ketogenic diet is all about. This diet can be defined as being virtually carb-free as you’ll be using a macronutrient composition that consists of:

  1. 30% Protein
  2. 65% Fat
  3. Only 5% carbohydrates

Due to this very low allotment for carbs, you’ll find that you easily meet your daily requirements simply from the fiber and carbs found in nuts as well as any vegetables you consume on the diet plan. For this reason, there is no need to add any additional carbohydrate rich foods on the plan.

The ketogenic diet is often used as a cyclic ketogenic diet if you plan to also perform physical activity that is more intense in nature as this will require some carbs eaten at some point in time to replenish lost muscle glycogen stores.

When using this setup, you will follow the standard ketogenic diet procedure throughout the week and then on the weekends you will have a very high two day carb-up period where carbs are dramatically increased while fat is dramatically decreased. Since protein needs stay constant, you maintain the 30% total calorie allotment of your protein rich foods.

By using these high carb weekends, you can replenish the carb stores in the body that are then used to fuel any intense exercise you plan to complete.

If you aren’t going to be doing any exercise or only plan on completing lower intensity varieties such as walking or easy cycling, then you can omit these high carb periods if you wish.

Moving Into The State of Ketosis

After being on the ketogenic diet for a short period of time (typically two weeks while the body adapts to this style of eating), you’ll move into a state referred to as ketosis, where the body stops running off glucose as a fuel source and instead starts utilizing an alternate source of fuel called ketone bones as fuel instead.

This transition is important because the brain cannot use fat as a fuel source so as carbs drop lower and lower, this alternative fuel – the ketone bodies, must be produced.

It is important that you do maintain the specific macronutrient ratio laid out by the diet however as if you start eating too many carbs again (or even too much protein for that matter), you can move out of ketosis and then you’ll bring about feelings of being unwell and typically feel very listless and low on energy.

Some people do find that the initial two week transition period from running off glucose as a fuel source over onto ketone bodies is somewhat uncomfortable as energy does tend to be lower and a feeling of being ‘foggy brained’, as it’s so often called’, is sometimes experienced.

Not everyone will experience this however and if you do, if you can keep pushing onwards, it should clear up in a matter of days. This is simply the brain switching over to the ketones as a fuel source instead of glucose as mentioned above.

Benefits of The Ketogenic Diet

The first benefit comes from the fact that once you are into that state of ketosis, you’re going to notice that you have hardly any hunger at all. Most people report that hunger is entirely unnoticeable when on the ketogenic diet so if you find that you often move off your normal diet due to hunger, this could just be the plan for you.

Another clear benefit is that since all the high carb foods from your diet are removed, this can make it easier from an adherence point of view.

Most people love options and when plenty of food choice options are available, this can cause them to consume more total calories. While on the ketogenic diet, you’ll be limited to strictly carb-free protein sources as well as high fat foods along with veggies, so you may not have quite the desire to eat as you normal would.

This can really go a long way towards making it easier to maintain the reduced calorie intake for fat loss.

The Ketogenic Diet Can Help Stabilize Blood Sugar Levels

Another clear benefit of the ketogenic diet for some is the fact that it will work very well to control blood sugar levels.

If you often find that you suffer from wide blood sugar swings throughout the day after eating meals and this causes you to feel shaky, anxious, and light-headed (as you hit the blood sugar low), the ketogenic diet can resolve this for you.

Without the influx of carbs coming into the body, there is no need for insulin release as there will be very minimal impact on blood glucose levels.

Maintaining your levels on a steady keel like this makes you feel much better and keeps your energy levels stabilized.

Finally, the last nice benefit that the ketogenic diet has to offer is the fact that it allows you to eat foods that you may not typically eat on a standard diet plan being that it is so high fat in nature.

How often are you allowed to feast on cheese and nuts on a regular diet? Not very often because these foods are so high in calories and fat.

But on the ketogenic diet, they’re one of the key components that make up the plan. So if you’re someone who tends to crave fat rich foods over carb rich foods, chances are good that you’re really going to enjoy being on the ketogenic diet a lot more than a standard mixed diet plan.

It must be noted however that this doesn’t mean you should be feasting on high saturated fat containing foods such as bacon, butter, and sausage as despite the fact that from a macronutrient point of view these may fit in with your requirements, they are loaded with problems from a health point of view.

This is one drawback of the former ketogenic diet plans that many people used to use and one place where those using these diets now are starting to make some changes.

It’s still important that you’re choosing healthy foods the vast majority of the time while using the ketogenic diet, just as you would with any other diet.

How The Ketogenic Diet Helps You Lose Body Fat

Salmon is a great choice when on the ketogenic diet

Salmon is a great choice when on the ketogenic diet

As mentioned earlier, when you go onto the ketogenic diet, you’re going to move into a state called ketosis, which decreases hunger and keeps your blood sugar levels very stabilized.

This then makes it incredibly easy to control your calorie intake so that you can consume fewer calories than you burn each day, promoting the rates of fat loss that you’re looking for.

As the body moves into ketosis, it’s also going to be utilizing both dietary fat and body fat more quickly to supply energy to the working tissues, so this can help to move fat loss along faster.

Do note however though that total calorie intake is the primary determinant of whether or not you lose body fat though. Some people start to think that there’s something ‘magical’ about being in ketosis that is going to cause them to burn off body fat at a greatly accelerated pace.

This is not the case. Just as with any diet plan, it does come down to total calories expended versus total calories consumed so it’s important that you get things right in that area first and foremost.

The ketogenic diet simple makes it much easier for many people to arrive at the number they need to in order to see clear fat loss results taking place.

Foods You Can Eat On The Ketogenic Diet


Eggs are high on the list of foods to eat

Eggs are high on the list of foods to eat

So which foods should you be eating as you go about the ketogenic diet?

When on this diet plan, you’ll want to focus primarily on very low carb protein sources that are preferably lower in saturated fat as well along with healthy sources of low carb fats.

Ketogenic Protein Food Choices:

  • Cheese (hard and most soft varieties that contain few carbs)
  • Chicken breast
  • Cod, tilapia, and other white fish varieties
  • Eggs (both whites and whole)
  • Lean beef
  • Salmon and mackerel
  • Seafood
  • Turkey breast
  • Venison

Ketogenic Fat Choices:

  • Olive, safflower, and canola oils
  • Flaxseeds (in moderation as these will contain carbs)
  • Nuts (also in moderation as they contain carbs as well)
  • Coconut oils
  • Hard cheeses, as mentioned above (which will also count as a fat due to their higher fat content)

Then in addition to the main protein and fat choices, you also want to choose non-starchy vegetables to add into the plan.

Vegetables Allowed On The Ketogenic Diet:

  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Spinach

Note that vegetables such as carrots, corn, peas, potatoes, and possibly even cauliflower (due to its higher sugar content) are to be avoided. These will simply contribute too many carbs to be sustainable on this very low carb diet plan.

It’s important that you never avoid eating vegetables while using the ketogenic diet as these are going to provide key nutrients that the body requires for proper functioning and especially help to keep your potassium levels where they need to be, which can often fall due to the nature of this diet plan.

Foods To Avoid On The Ketogenic Diet

All fruits must be avoided when on the ketogenic diet plan

All fruits must be avoided when on the ketogenic diet plan

When using the ketogenic diet, there are some main foods that you will want to avoid.

The obvious choices are any high carb foods that will simply not work with the macronutrient set-up called for on this plan.

Avoid These Foods When On The Ketogenic Diet:

  • Baked goods
  • Barley
  • Breads
  • Cereals
  • Dairy products (in most cases)
  • Fruits
  • Oats
  • Pasta
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Snack foods
  • Sweet potatoes

In addition to this, as we touched upon earlier, you’ll also want to remember to avoid any high saturated fat containing foods, unless eaten in very small quantities.

This would include foods such as:

  • Bacon
  • Butter
  • Lard
  • Margarine
  • Sausage
  • Shortening, and cream

Weight Loss Tips When On The Ketogenic Diet

You must drink plenty of water when on the ketogenic diet

You must drink plenty of water when on the ketogenic diet

So if you’ve decided to give the ketogenic diet a try, there are a few things that you should note off the start to make it successful for you.

First, make sure to drink plenty of water, especially during the first two week period. Dehydration is quite likely when on this plan due to the very low carb intake and making sure you take in enough water will not only help to offset this, but also help to prevent a decrease in blood pressure as well.

Secondly, you may also want to consider supplementing with some potassium salt on your veggies as well. This diet does tend to be higher in sodium content with all the protein and higher fat rich food selections coming in, so to help offset this and keep your sodium and potassium levels balanced, potassium salt works perfectly.

This will also help to reduce some of the fatigue and light-headedness that can be experienced during that initial transition period.

Finally, make sure that you do keep intense activity to a minimum if not doing the carb up period. It’s important that you don’t attempt intense exercise while on this diet plan because doing so will without a doubt be uncomfortable and will just cause frustration.

So there you have the need to know facts about the ketogenic diet. Make sure that you follow the requirements set out by the diet and you should have no problem seeing the results that you’re looking for.

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