The ketogenic diet (KETO): a comprehensive review. Disadvantages and advantages

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This is a popular diet that requires foods to be low in carbohydrates and very high in fat, causing a change in the main source of energy and metabolic status.

The goal is to create a fasting-like ketosis situation that can be achieved by reducing food intake or reducing carbohydrates. The last situation is the one that is the ketogenic diet (KETO diet).

The body, in the absence of sufficient carbohydrates for fuel (glucose), depletes glycogen stores and the burning of fat in the liver will become the main source of energy.

As a result, you will receive so-called ketone bodies (ketones), which you will distribute as a nutrient to the brain, muscles and other organs.

Ketogenic diet menu

When compiling a keto menu, your food should contain: carbohydrates (5-10%), fat (60%), and protein (30-35%).

Taking into account that in a normal diet almost half are carbohydrates, then that change in diet is important.

You should avoid bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, and fruits as much as possible.

What should you know about the ketogenic diet?

  • Increase the percentage of calories from healthy fats (omega-3 monounsaturated fatty acids);
  • Limit your intake of fruits, which are high in carbohydrates. Switch to low-carb fruits and berries;
  • Always eat only when you are hungry. Even if it's just one meal a day. Don't let others dictate what to eat or when. You should not deliberately cut down on food, but you should stop eating when you are not hungry, even if the plate is not empty yet, save the food for later;
  • Don't count calories. Listen to your body. Ketogenic or low-carbohydrate diets alone restore healthy hunger and satiety;
  • Increase your water consumption to 2-3 liters per day;
  • Learn to eat natural foods like eggs, meat, and non-starchy vegetables (anything that grows above the ground);
  • If you need a snack, use healthy snacks. Snacks like nuts, avocados, or berries are great for this.
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Approved Products

The foods allowed on a ketogenic or ketogenic diet will be primarily fat and protein. The list will be as follows:

  • Low carbohydrate vegetables: spinach and other green leafy vegetables, avocados, cucumber, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, tomato, onion;
  • Avocados and berries: raspberries, blackberries and other berries;
  • Fish rich in polyunsaturated fats: salmon, sardines, mackerel, trout, tuna, swordfish;
  • Meat and sausages: chicken and turkey, but you can also eat meat with fat;
  • Eggs;
  • Fatty dairy products such as cream, butter, goat cheese, cheddar, mozzarella, or unsweetened yogurt;
  • Nuts and seeds: walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds;
  • Olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil;
  • Salt, pepper, spices, mustard.

Use unsaturated fatty acids for salad dressings, such as olive oil, nut butters, sesame oil, flaxseed oil, or avocado oil.

Some of these can also be used for cooking. Avoid processed vegetable oils like margarine, soybean oil, corn germ oil, and grapeseed oil.

If you eat walnuts, it is better to soak and dry them.
Eat only whole natural dairy products (or skip dairy altogether if you are allergic to them).

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If you eat dairy products, choose high-fat options. However, avoid milk (it is rich in carbohydrates). If you want milk, opt for a small amount of pasteurized whole milk (minimum 3. 5% fat).

On a ketogenic diet, it's not so much about total calories consumed as it is about the type of food consumed. It is mainly fat and some proteins. You can follow the 30 or 50 day ketogenic diets examples, however they are quite harsh and difficult to follow. You can combine these foods to your liking, preparing different foods from the list of allowed foods. A sample menu will be a clue to a varied diet for several days or weeks.

Prohibited Products

The following carbohydrate-rich foods should be limited on the ketogenic diet:

  • Fruit: they contain sugar, in the form of fructose, which is a carbohydrate;
  • Foods to avoid the most: dates, figs, grapes, mango, cherries, banana, mandarin and apple;
  • Those fruits that should be avoided the least and that can be eaten from time to time (from less carbohydrates to more): lemon, blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, watermelon, grapefruit and melon;
  • Bread, pasta, flour, rice;
  • Cereals: those containing more carbohydrates are: wheat, muesli, wheat bran, rice flakes, wheat and barley flakes, corn flakes and oat flakes;
  • Potatoes;
  • Legumes: lentils, chickpeas, beans, peas, asparagus;
  • Sweets and cakes, cakes;
  • Carbonated and sugary drinks and juices;
  • Processed foods and cooked meals (often high in fat and unhealthy carbohydrates).

The ketogenic diet and alcohol?

Can I drink alcohol while on a ketogenic diet?

And if so, which alcohol has the least carbohydrates?

These are typical questions asked by people who want to lose weight but don't want to skip family events and parties.

One thing is clear: If you really want to lose weight quickly, you must give up alcohol completely, because alcohol stops fat burning.

However, if during a ketogenic diet you find yourself in a situation where you must choose the type of alcohol with the least amount of carbohydrates, follow these rules.

High Carb Alcohol:

  • Beer;
  • Liquor;
  • Cocktails;
  • Wine (sweet, semi-sweet).

Although the fermentation process produces sugar from cereals, potatoes, natural sugar, and fruits, sugar is largely converted to ethyl alcohol.

Therefore, the carbohydrate content of spirits is low compared to beer, cocktails, wine and spirits.

Low Carb Alcohol:

  • Vodka;
  • Jin;
  • Ron;
  • Whiskey;
  • Tequila.

The ketogenic diet: what vitamins and minerals do I also need?

During a ketogenic diet, it is important not only to consider your intake of fat, protein and carbohydrates. Trace elements play an important role in well-being during the ketogenic diet.

Potassium, sodium, and magnesiumare important micronutrients that should be the focus of attention during a ketogenic diet. If you do not consume a sufficient amount during your diet, supplements are recommended.


Sodium is found in salt. So don't be afraid to salt, preferably with Himalayan salt, or use bone broth as a seasoning. However, salt retains water in the body, which can contribute to bloating. So everything needs a measure.


Extremely low carbohydrate diets often suffer from insufficient magnesium. Eat more almonds and other nuts or take magnesium only as a supplement.


Potassium is abundant in fatty fish such as salmon, mushrooms and avocados. If you are adding foods that contain potassium, remember that your intake should not exceed 4, 700 mg.

How to incorporate a ketogenic diet into your daily life?

The biggest issue when implementing your software plans is often logistics and food preparation. We know that each of us has a stressful daily life. Be it a busy business woman or mother who often travels on business trips or business dinners.

Often times our daily life sabotages our eating plans and we are not always in a position to carry out all of our plans.

It is for these problems that there are helpful solutions and tips on how you can stay on your diet despite your busy daily life.

What are the benefits of a ketogenic diet?

Regarding the results of the ketogenic diet, it should be noted:

lose weight

  • It is not necessary to count calories, and it is much more effective to lose weight on a diet so low in carbohydrates than with a diet low in fat;
  • Many people who follow this type of weight loss diet lose more than twice as many pounds as those who only follow a low calorie diet. And this allows them to eat without starving and maintain a healthy weight;
  • is ​​faster to lose weight than other diets based on the consumption of foods high in protein and low in fat.

With diabetes

The ketogenic diet benefits diabetics because:

  • lowers blood sugar;
  • reduces weight and body fat;
  • improves insulin sensitivity.

Overweight and obesity in type 2 diabetes, in addition to discomfort, are often the cause.

And the blood glucose is high because the cells can't use it, because they have insulin resistance, resistance.

With cancer

Several studies have sought to evaluate whether reducing sugar in the diet can have a positive effect on cancer control.


  • tumor cells multiply at a faster rate;
  • your energy metabolism speeds up;
  • glucose (carbohydrate) intake is also higher;
  • Cells
  • use fat or protein to provide the energy they need to grow.

Proper ketogenic diet:

  • is ​​a supportive measure;
  • will never be a substitute for treatment because cancer cells can adapt to adverse metabolic conditions better than normal cells.

No research suggests that this diet can prevent cancer.

For epilepsy

Only in some cases of childhood epilepsy, in which antiepileptic drugs have not been effective, the ketogenic diet can reduce the incidence of seizures and will be suitable for add-on therapy.

It was observed that when a child diagnosed with epilepsy received a dietary meal plan, the seizures lessened or disappeared.

The exact mechanism by which the ketogenic diet reduces seizures in epilepsy is unknown. However, this appears to be a consequence of the metabolic and energy changes that occur in the brain by ketone bodies that stabilize their electrical activity.

For Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer's disease, some heart conditions, acne, and other disorders can be alleviated with low-carb diets like the ketogenic diet.

Disadvantages of the ketogenic diet

  • No specific side effects have been reported with this type of diet. Some uncomfortable symptoms can appear in the first few days, although they usually disappear quickly.
  • To reduce them, start the diet slowly, gradually incorporating more fat into your keto recipes while reducing carbohydrates.
  • This diet should not be strictly followed indefinitely.
  • In some cases, people with high cholesterol levels may increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, as the KETO diet involves eating foods high in fat. However, blood sugar levels lower and HDL cholesterol levels improve, and the diet itself involves weight loss, and this will certainly have a positive effect on blood pressure.
  • Also, those with high levels of uric acid in their blood should remember that these diets can increase the risk of gout.
  • A common downside to all weight loss diets is the "fixation" effect when the diet ends. Eating habits can take over and the lost pounds can return again.
  • It is best for proper nutrition to plan your diet changes from the beginning to medium and long term. You need to supplement your eating habits with regular exercise to reap the benefits for your health.

So it's not about the dangers of a ketogenic diet, but about the downsides, usually mild or precautionary.

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Introduction to a ketogenic diet in your daily life

  • If possible, remove from your home anything that does not conform to this form of nutrition. It's easy to get off track when you know you have what you want to eat at home.
  • Always create a list of the foods you want to cook next week. Best of all right away for the next 2 weeks.
  • Always have hard-boiled eggs and chicken fillets at home, this can be used as a snack.
  • Cheese makes a great snack too, and you can always keep a bag of almonds in your purse for a quick snack on the go.
  • If you're traveling, you can bring your own platter of dried chicken and a bag of mini tomatoes, peppers, or hard-boiled eggs without having to resort to dry buns or other junk food.
  • When you meet friends or go shopping, you will surely find food somewhere with healthy and necessary food for you.
  • In case you have a sweet tooth, drinking a glass of water with a drop of lemon juice or green tea or coffee with cream added helps a lot.
  • Get into the habit of drinking 2 liters of water a day. This habit will be useful to you in the future, when the diet ends.

Phases of the ketogenic diet

Initially, when the body enters ketosis, some mild symptoms may occur, although they disappear quickly:

  • indigestion;
  • constipation;
  • tiredness;
  • difficulty concentrating;
  • headache;
  • insomnia.

The mouth smells of acetone. This smell is common in ketosis and ketogenic diets.

How can I measure ketosis?

Ketosis can be found in blood, urine, and even air.
The cheapest and easiest way is with urine and several special test strips, which are sold in pharmacies.

However, the concentration of ketone bodies tends to decrease throughout the day. Your body uses them best as a source of energy.

Therefore, a blood test is the most accurate method. Test strips are also sold to detect ketones in the blood, similar to those used by diabetics.

To avoid the loss of muscle mass that can result from weight loss, following a diet to lose weight requires that your protein intake remains close to 35% and that you exercise. Thus, you will maintain your lean body mass and can even increase it, unlike other diets.

From time to time, at intervals, preferably agreed with a specialist (doctor or nutritionist), the amount of carbohydrate foods should be increased, but since the first two or three months, the diet should be more strict.

Also, it should be remembered that severe dietary restrictions can reduce the quality of life and such diets should not be long-term, for a very long period of time, as the side effects of a ketogenic diet apply for a long timetime are unknown.

Recipes for the KETO diet:

Omelette with green asparagus

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  • Green asparagus 0, 5 kg.
  • Eggs 4
  • Whipped cream 100 gr.
  • Parmesan 50 gr.
  • Nutmeg
  • Pepper
  • Salt


  • Cut the asparagus stalks in half;
  • Blanch in salted water for about 5 minutes;
  • Remove from the water and dry;
  • Spread asparagus on parchment paper lined baking sheet;
  • Beat the eggs with cream, salt, pepper and season with nutmeg;
  • Pour over asparagus and spread Parmesan cheese on top;

In an oven preheated to 180 ° C, cook for 25-30 minutes until golden brown;
Serve sliced.

Tomato and avocado salad


  • Small red onion 1
  • Tomatoes 2
  • Avocado 2
  • Lima 1
  • ground cumin
  • ground coriander
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  • Peel and finely chop the onion;
  • Finely chop the tomatoes;
  • Remove the core, peel and dice the avocado;
  • Rinse the lime hot, dry with a cloth and finely grate a little rind;
  • Squeeze out the lemon juice.

Lime juice, zest, diced onion, 1 pinch of cumin, 1 pinch of coriander, salt and pepper, mix with the peel. Mix in the avocados and tomatoes 5 minutes later and let the salad rest for about 10 minutes.

Turkey in lettuce

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  • Large lettuce leaves (eg romaine salad) 8 pcs.
  • Radish 1 bunch
  • Bow (1 pack)
  • Cottage cheese (6 tablespoons) 120 gr.
  • Thin slices of turkey ham (8 thin slices of turkey ham or smoked turkey)
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  • Wash and dry the lettuce leaves;
  • Peel, wash and dice the radish;
  • Wash, dry and finely chop the onion;
  • Mix the radish with the cottage cheese and onion and season with salt and pepper.

Place 2 lettuce leaves, slightly overlapping each other, and 2 slices of ham on top;
Spread the curd mixture thinly over the lettuce leaves, leaving some distance to the edges.

Wrap the lettuce leaves inward and wrap relatively tightly with a tape measure in parchment wrap and chill for 2 hours in the refrigerator until ready to eat. Enjoy your meal!

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the KETO diet affect my muscles?

Losing muscle mass can occur with any diet. Due to the relatively low protein content in the ketogenic diet, muscle loss is certainly possible, but this is minimized, and with the help of sports, additional muscle can even be added. This may be a bit more difficult than on a high carb diet, but it is possible.

Should I Cut Carbs For Good?

No. However, for the first two to three months, you should abstain, after which it may even be beneficial to consume more calories and more carbohydrates from time to time. This keeps your metabolism in good shape.

Is my body getting enough protein?

On a ketogenic diet, there is a sufficient percentage of protein present to counteract the loss of muscle mass. An adequate amount of protein should be consumed, approximately 35 percent of the energy required. Strength training also helps build muscle. Carbohydrates must be consumed from time to time to stimulate metabolism. Eating even more protein can lead to increased insulin levels and the shutdown of ketone body formation.