If you’re looking to get a jump start on your health and fitness goals this year, you may be thinking about trying the ketogenic diet. Maybe you’ve heard the phrase before — it’s a huge diet buzzword — but aren’t sure what it means. Here’s a primer: The ketogenic diet is an eating plan that drives your body into ketosis, a state where the body uses fat as a primary fuel source (instead of carbohydrates), says Stacey Mattinson, RDN, who is based in Austin, Texas. 

If you’re not sure after your initial test, explore other healthy diets such as clean eating and always have in mind that your number 1 goal should be to avoid overly processed foods (keeping this definition fairly broad of course, as we live in the 21st century and have to adapt to modern age as well, where hardly any of us have time to spend 12 hours a day evolving around food production, gathering and cooking).

This low-carb chicken pad thai is one of the best keto recipes for replacing Asian takeout. It’s got all of the flavors that come with normal pad thai, like ginger, crushed peanuts, tamari and chicken, but all served up on spiralized zucchini instead of carb-heavy noodles. Best of all, you’ll have this keto chicken recipe on the table in just 30 minutes.
Reduced hunger. Many people experience a marked reduction in hunger on a keto diet. This may be caused by an increased ability of the body to be fueled by its fat stores. Many people feel great when they eat just once or twice a day, and may automatically end up doing a form of intermittent fasting. This saves time and money, while also speeding up weight loss.
I know it may be challenging to follow a healthy low-carb diet, especially if you are new to it. I hope this comprehensive list of keto-friendly foods will help you make the right choices, whether your goal is to lose weight or manage a health condition such as type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy and even cancer.
While I see your point with regards to animal suffering (which is an ongoing issue), this doesn't have to be the case and on the contrary, people are more and more interested in meat from ethical sources. Watching a TED talk may be an eye opener but we should all do some research on human evolution. Your comment is biased because it only looks at one side of the argument (not to mention that some points are totally wrong, such as comparing human digestion to elephants??)
You’ll quickly find that eggs are a staple for breakfast in low carb diets. Eggies are a simple solution for days of healthy breakfasts. Simply beat 8 eggs in a bowl, add in cheese and vegetables, and pour into muffin tins that have been lined with a strip of bacon. Cook at 350 for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean. Store in baggies for breakfast for up to 5 days.
Yes your are totally right, I meant to take off 500 calories a day to lose 1 pound a week (7 days/week x 500 calories/day = 3500 calories/week = 1 pound of fat/week) or take off 1000 calories to lose 2 pounds a week (7 days/week x 1000 calories/day = 7000 calories/week = 2 pounds of fat/week). Thanks to you, I fixed this little typo 🙂 Thanks a lot!

Hi Gigi, Low carb and keto is about the balance of macronutrients eaten (fat, protein and carbs), not specifically meat or lack thereof. Most people on keto do eat meat, though some people do vegetarian keto. Fat is actually necessary for many body processes. There is no issue for the kidneys with a high fat diet, but if you eat too much protein that isn’t great for the kidneys. It’s a common misconception that keto is high protein (it isn’t). Keto is great for diabetics as it naturally helps stabilize insulin. All of this being said, please know I’m not a doctor and you should consult your doctor on any medical questions or before starting any diet. If you have more questions that aren’t medical questions, I recommend our low carb & keto support group here.


Mainly for health reasons, avoid soy products apart from a few non-GMO fermented products which are known for their health benefits. Also avoid wheat gluten which may be used in low-carb foods. When you give up bread, you shouldn't eat any part of it. Beware of BPA-lined cans. If possible, use naturally BPA-free packaging like glass jars or make your own ingredients such as ghee, ketchup, coconut milk or mayonnaise. BPA has been linked to many negative health effects such as impaired thyroid function and cancer. Other additives to avoid: carrageenan (e.g. almond milk products), MSG (e.g. in some whey protein products) and sulfites (e.g. in dried fruits, gelatin). 

A ketogenic diet helps control blood sugar levels. It is excellent for managing type 2 diabetes, sometimes even leading to complete reversal of the disease. This has been proven in studies. It makes perfect sense since keto lowers blood-sugar levels, reduces the need of medications and reduces the potentially negative impact of high insulin levels.
Hi Mel, Assuming that your ranch dressing doesn’t have sugar added, you don’t need to worry too much about limiting it, but within reason. This is my homemade ranch dressing recipe, which has 0.9g net carbs per 2-tbsp serving. It would be hard to find a store bought one with much less than that, even though some round anything less than 1g down to 0g, which isn’t truly accurate. Also, keep in mind that if weight loss is your goal, some people find that too much dairy can cause a stall. Finally, make sure you aren’t using all your “available” carbs on ranch dressing – have it with some low carb veggies!
Because people with type 2 diabetes are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, there’s a specific concern that the saturated fat in the diet may drive up LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol levels, and further increase the odds of heart problems. If you have type 2 diabetes, talk to your doctor before attempting a ketogenic diet. They may recommend a different weight-loss diet for you, like a reduced-calorie diet, to manage diabetes. Those with epilepsy should also consult their doctor before using this as part of their treatment plan.
If you are looking for a healthy cooking oil, extra virgin olive oil should be your staple. A recent study found this to be the healthiest oil for baking, cooking, and deep frying at high temperatures. This is because extra virgin olive oil contains a high-quantity of stable fats and antioxidants that protect the oil from breaking down into toxic chemicals.
I eat relatively healthy and fairly low carb (I am already gluten free). I am interested in getting into Ketosis for the the health benefits, but am quite thin for a guy and don’t want to lose any weight. I look at the sample diet above and am pretty sure I would drop weight quickly (I consume about 2,500+ calories daily now). I eat 3 meals plus 2-3 snacks (snacks mostly of nuts (with raisins that would have to go), greek yogurt (would switch to plain), peanut butter, cheese and fruit (would need to reduce qty)). Would eating straight up butter be ok for additional calories also once I am in Ketosis?
As for branched-chain amino acids, you'll find smart people who swear that they're keto-friendly, and others who don't. One of the BCAAs, valine, can be glucogenic, meaning that it can lead to glucose production and potentially contribute to leaving ketosis behind.[1] But does that mean it will happen? Not necessarily, particularly if you're just an occasional supplement user. 

Con: Results can vary depending on how much fluid you drink. By drinking more water, you dilute the concentration of ketones in the urine and thus a lower level of ketones will be detected on the strips. The strips don’t show a precise ketone level. Finally, and most importantly, as you become increasingly keto-adapted and your body reabsorbs ketones from the urine, urine strips may become unreliable, even if you’re in ketosis.
Carrie, I highly recommend a support group. I personally know a woman “Amanda Rose” who recently lost half her body weight through the Keto Diet and intermittent fasting. You should totally join her Facebook Group. It’s called “Eat Like a Bear” and you can find it by entering the group’s name in the Facebook search bar. She is so amazing and so supportive for people struggling to lose the weight.
I eat relatively healthy and fairly low carb (I am already gluten free). I am interested in getting into Ketosis for the the health benefits, but am quite thin for a guy and don’t want to lose any weight. I look at the sample diet above and am pretty sure I would drop weight quickly (I consume about 2,500+ calories daily now). I eat 3 meals plus 2-3 snacks (snacks mostly of nuts (with raisins that would have to go), greek yogurt (would switch to plain), peanut butter, cheese and fruit (would need to reduce qty)). Would eating straight up butter be ok for additional calories also once I am in Ketosis?
However, it is important to know that these aren’t the only health-promoting keto foods. There are plenty of other keto-friendly ingredients that can take your keto diet results to the next level. In my diet, for example, I’ve been experimenting a lot more with shirataki noodles and avocado lately. They have been providing a much-needed change of pace for my palate and my health.
"Plenty of people jump right in, thinking all they have to do is cut carbs and increase fat. All of a sudden, they hit a wall and get 'keto flu.' They feel tired, lethargic, and experience headaches," Wittrock says. "The primary reason they get these symptoms is lack of the three primary electrolytes: sodium, potassium, and magnesium. If you're deficient in any of these, you'll suffer mentally and physically. This is the single biggest reason people fail on the keto diet."
This is the only way my kids will eat Brussels sprouts! It’s actually great for me because this dish is fast, easy and healthy, and it makes a lovely side. Quick-cooking Brussels sprout halves are available in the prepackaged salad aisle at the grocery store. They’re a timesaver if you can find them, but you can always just buy whole ones and slice them in half. —Teri Rasey, Cadillac, Michigan
Meat – Unprocessed meats are low carb and keto-friendly, and organic and grass-fed meat might be even healthier. But remember that keto is a high-fat diet, not high protein, so you don’t need huge amounts of meat. Excess protein (more than your body needs) is converted to glucose, making it harder to get into ketosis. A normal amount of meat is enough.
Since this is my full-time job, donations really help me keep afloat and allow me to post as much to the website as I do. While I do really appreciate any donation you want to give, you can enter $0 in the amount given to download it for free! I’ve added in $5 as the suggested price. I think that’s a very fair price considering other websites are charging in the hundreds of dollars and I’ve seen what they are like on the inside.

Natural fat, high-fat sauces – Most of the calories on a keto diet should come from fat. You’ll likely get much of it from natural sources like meat, fish, eggs etc. But also use fat in cooking, like butter or coconut fat, and add plenty of olive oil to salads etc. You can also eat delicious high-fat sauces including Bearnaise sauce etc., or garlic butter (recipes).
In terms of weight loss, you may be interested in trying the ketogenic diet because you’ve heard that it can make a big impact right away. And that’s true. “Ketogenic diets will cause you to lose weight within the first week,” says Mattinson. She explains that your body will first use up all of its glycogen stores (the storage form of carbohydrate). With depleted glycogen, you’ll drop water weight. While it can be motivating to see the number on the scale go down (often dramatically), do keep in mind that most of this is water loss initially.
The meal plan is designed to ensure you get three balanced, healthy meals a day that address fiber, satiation, and adequate protein intake. The greatest part of a ketogenic diet is the fact that it spares muscle loss, where a carb-based diet doesn’t. Weight lost in a high carb, calorie-restricted diet will often come both from muscle and fat, whereas with keto, you can burn fat without sacrificing muscle. This is referred to often as “body recomposition” and leaves you with a much more preferred physique after weight loss.
Hi Sam, it won’t work. You will be incredibly hungry and you won’t have any energy. The idea of the keto diet is to get your body used to use fat to burn energy not carbs. Since you won’t be eating carbs energy has to come from “something” and it can’t be protein. I can’t recall what happens when you have too much protein when doing Keto but it was something scary. In general, I do not recommend the Keto diet without some sort of supervision by your doctor or nutritionist that can watch your process and progress.
You can usually use a mix of multiple flours to get a realistic texture in baking recipes. Combining flours and experimenting with your baking can lead to much lower net carb counts in recipes. We think these lemon poppyseed muffins (a mix of almond flour and flaxseed meal) make a great texture when combined with the fats from the heavy cream and butter.
Leftovers will be another thing we will take into consideration. Not only is it easier on you, but why put yourself through the hassle to cook the same food more than once? Breakfast is something I normally do leftover style, where I don’t have to worry about it in the morning and I certainly don’t have to stress about it. Grab some food out the fridge, pre-made for me, and head out the door. It doesn’t get much easier than that, does it?
Before starting, ask yourself what is really realistic for you, Mattinson suggests. Then get your doctor’s okay. You may also work with a local registered dietitian nutritionist to limit potential nutrient deficiencies and talk about vitamin supplementation, as you won’t be eating whole grains, dairy, or fruit, and will eliminate many veggies. “A diet that eliminates entire food groups is a red flag to me. This isn’t something to take lightly or dive into headfirst with no medical supervision,” she says.
Hi Cyn, The numbers are general guidelines but will vary depending on many factors, such as activity level, insulin resistance, weight and more. There is no single magic number, just conventional recommendations that are a good starting point. I will have a macro calculator coming soon that will help determine what is best for each person, but even then it’s an approximation. The only way to know for sure is to test. If keto is your goal, it’s usually best to start lower and then see if you can stay in ketosis when increasing.
Very happy to have stumbled across your blog site (during a recipe search)  only to realise that I have recently purchased 2 of your books (I'm in Australia). Both of which I like.  I have been doing this way of eating since February, switched from WW which was progressing slowly and I was often hungry. I am never hungry on this plan and I am finding it so much easier. And I am losing weight twice as fast. After about 2 1/2 months doing Keto I realised that the lists I was using for a resource for net carbs in foods was completely wrong. It said mushrooms was 0.3 net carb per 100g and I was happily having 200g thinking it was 0.6g and it wasn't. I ended up checking some lists against the USA Agriculture list and found all were wrong.  So I started to make my own list using that website. This was a bit of a pain but at least I knew it was accurate. Anyway,  I found your site and could stop doing my list. YAY!  🙏 Thank you so much for providing accurate information that you have referenced and for all the other guides and recipes you have shared.  I really wish these guides were in my books though (I have your latest book), so can you please consider for the next book 😁. I had to print them after saving it to MS word for a friend (that has also bought a book)  and it's pages of poorly edited A4 paper.  Many thanks again 🙏
Now is the time to forget the 1980s strategy of low-fat/reduced-fat/fat-free. When you're assembling your keto diet food stash, go full-fat. And don't stress over the dietary cholesterol content, a factor of how much animal protein you eat, suggests a study published in The Journal of Nutrition. For the healthiest blood cholesterol levels, instead focus on consuming a higher ratio of unsaturated fats (flaxseed, olive oil, nuts) to saturated fats (lard, red meat, palm oil, butter).
This is where we have to depart! Sorry to say but you’re on your own. You should have plenty of leftovers that are frozen, ready, and waiting! I know a lot of you out there have trouble with timing and are busy people – so making sure that some nights you make extras to freeze is important. All those leftovers you have in the freezer? Use them up! Create your own meal plan, at first using this as a guide, and then completely doing it yourself. Once you get the hang of it, it’ll be a sinch – I promise you 🙂
Kristin Parker is an American temporarily living in South Korea. Her role with Team Diet Doctor is customer service. If you have a question or a comment on our social media platforms, website or our Facebook group, she will likely be the one to answer you back! Kristin cooks for a family of four, including two hungry teenage sons. Her keto meal plan yields generous servings of substantial, hearty meals that they all like.

Milk (only small amounts of raw, full-fat milk is allowed). Milk is not recommended for several reasons. Firstly, all the dairy products, milk is difficult to digest, as it lacks the "good" bacteria (eliminated through pasteurization) and may even contain hormones. Secondly, it is quite high in carbs (4-5 grams of carbs per 100 ml). For coffee and tea, replace milk with cream in reasonable amounts. You may have a small amount of raw milk but be aware of the extra carbs. Lastly, farmers in the United States use genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rBGH). rBGH is injected to dairy cows to increase milk production. Opt for full-fat dairy labeled “NO rBGH”.


Hi Cyn, The numbers are general guidelines but will vary depending on many factors, such as activity level, insulin resistance, weight and more. There is no single magic number, just conventional recommendations that are a good starting point. I will have a macro calculator coming soon that will help determine what is best for each person, but even then it’s an approximation. The only way to know for sure is to test. If keto is your goal, it’s usually best to start lower and then see if you can stay in ketosis when increasing.

Thanks for the great article and helpful information about the Ketogenic diet .Since the last 4 years I’m on a keto diet I’m very happy,feeling a lot more healthy and I have lost a lot of weight.During that time I did quite few mistakes mainly due to misinformation so I highly recommend everyone who is really interested in keto diet to read this first
It is very interesting to read about the keto/low card diet.I love to change my lifestyle as I an TYPE 2 Diabetic.I subscribed for a free printable low carb meal .The initial email stated that that I will receive an email for instructions to access the members area .Your free download will be there.However it is very deceiving ,I never got the 2nd email with instructions which is frustrating and not good .Hopefully this is not a way to get us to pay to get the printable version.

The benefits above are the most common ones. But there are others that are potentially even more surprising and – at least for some people – life changing. Did you know that a keto diet can help treat high blood pressure, may result in less acne, may help control migraine, might help with certain mental health issues and could have a few other potential benefits?


Hi Barb, That can definitely be it. Losing when you are close to goal can be more difficult. It could also be that your body’s healthy weight is a little higher than what you’d like – which doesn’t mean you can’t lose, but makes it more difficult. If just eating Keto foods isn’t working, double check the macros for your weight and see if the amount you’re eating needs to be adjusted. You’ll find more help and support in our support group here.
Hi Barb, That can definitely be it. Losing when you are close to goal can be more difficult. It could also be that your body’s healthy weight is a little higher than what you’d like – which doesn’t mean you can’t lose, but makes it more difficult. If just eating Keto foods isn’t working, double check the macros for your weight and see if the amount you’re eating needs to be adjusted. You’ll find more help and support in our support group here.
Hi Sam, it won’t work. You will be incredibly hungry and you won’t have any energy. The idea of the keto diet is to get your body used to use fat to burn energy not carbs. Since you won’t be eating carbs energy has to come from “something” and it can’t be protein. I can’t recall what happens when you have too much protein when doing Keto but it was something scary. In general, I do not recommend the Keto diet without some sort of supervision by your doctor or nutritionist that can watch your process and progress.
Now is the time to forget the 1980s strategy of low-fat/reduced-fat/fat-free. When you're assembling your keto diet food stash, go full-fat. And don't stress over the dietary cholesterol content, a factor of how much animal protein you eat, suggests a study published in The Journal of Nutrition. For the healthiest blood cholesterol levels, instead focus on consuming a higher ratio of unsaturated fats (flaxseed, olive oil, nuts) to saturated fats (lard, red meat, palm oil, butter).
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