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What Is a Ketogenic Diet? | The Ultimate Guide To Keto

What is a ketogenic diet? What to eat on keto diet? If you want to go keto but don’t know where to start, you’re in the right place. Everything you need to know about the ketogenic diet, one of the most trending diets recently, is in this article!

What Is a Ketogenic Diet?

The ketogenic diet, in short, is a low-carb and high-fat diet. The keto diet has become very popular in recent years. Keto is not actually a new diet at all. This diet has already been used for the treatment of various diseases for several centuries.

The ketogenic diet was used to treat diabetes in the 1800s. It began to be used in 1920s as a treatment for epilepsy in children. It is also used for cancer patients, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and Alzheimer‘s patients.

The reason why keto has become so popular now is; in addition to treating diseases by leading the body to switch from carbohydrate to fat metabolism, it also causes a rapid weight loss as a side effect.

What is the difference between the ketogenic diet and others?

The Atkins diet became popular in the 1970s. Low-carb diets like Atkins began to be used for weight loss purposes. Of course in this period, obesity has become an epidemic. So losing weight takes our standard of living and our health to the next level. However, the ketogenic diet has an important difference from others.
Diets such as Atkins, Paleo, Dukan are all low-carb but high-protein and moderate-fat diets. Among low-carb diets, only the ketogenic diet has a high fat content of 70-80%.
Keto diet; is a high fat, moderate protein, also a very low carbohydrate diet.



On the ketogenic diet, we should get 70-80% of our daily calories from fats, 5-10% from carbohydrates and 10-20% from proteins.

What is a Ketogenic Diet : What Is Ketosis?

As you know, our body prefers glucose as its main energy source. When we consume foods rich in carbohydrates, our body converts them into blood sugar. Because glucose is the simplest type of energy the body can use. After we burn the food, we use the glucose we need. Then we convert the excess into fat and store it in various regions. In other words, our body prefers to store the bread we eat in breakfast. Not the butter.

What is a ketogenic diet? This diet is based on the principle of finishing carbohydrates in the body. Before we get to ketosis and ketone bodies, let’s briefly get to know carbohydrates.

What foods contain carbohydrates?

We simply divide carbohydrates into two due to their structure. Complex and simple carbohydrates.


Complex carbohydrates consist of long chains of sugar molecules. So it takes us a while to digest them. Thus, there is a slower and more continuous release of glucose into the bloodstream. Cereals, legumes, vegetables and fruits fall into this category.


Simple carbohydrates consist of one or two sugar molecules. It is easily digested and rapidly released into the bloodstream as glucose. In other words, it raises blood sugar quickly. Table sugar (white or brown), confectionery, processed foods, and sugary drinks fall into this category. They are generally empty calorie foods with no nutritional properties.

What happens if we don’t consume any carbohydrates?


Glucose is the main energy source for all cells in our body. If we do not get enough glucose, our body produces an alternative fuel called ketones from stored fats to obtain energy. This is where the term keto-genic comes from. Ketosis is when the body uses ketones as an energy source instead of glucose.
The brain cannot store glucose. But it requires a steady supply of glucose of approximately 120 grams per day.

Let’s say we are fasting or have eaten very few carbohydrates that day. Our body first withdraws stored glucose from the liver. Then it breaks down the glycogen stored in the muscles and tries to obtain glucose. If this situation continues for 3-4 days, the stored glucose will be completely depleted. Therefore, the level of the hormone called insulin decreases in the blood.

Our body then begins to use fat, not sugar, as its primary fuel. The liver produces fat-derived ketone bodies that can be used in the absence of glucose. When ketones begin to circulate in the blood, we enter ketosis.

In fact, healthy individuals enter ketosis while fasting, sleeping at night, or after intense exercise. How long after starting a ketogenic diet to enter ketosis varies from person to person. If we follow the diet correctly, there is no danger of ketoacidosis.

To see the foods you can eat on the ketogenic diet, see “Keto Friendly Foods“. There is a sample diet list, too.

How Do You Know You’re in Ketosis?

You can find out if you are in ketosis by doing a urine strip test. If we start using ketones as energy while on a ketogenic diet, we excrete ketones in the urine. Especially at the beginning of the diet. You can buy ketone measuring strips online or at the pharmacy.

Strip testing is easy, but it cannot be said to be a 100% reliable method. If you go keto for a long time, your body gets used to it. And it begins to produce ketones as much as it needs. Since it doesn’t produce much ketone, it does not excrete ketones in the urine even though it is in ketosis. This makes us think we are out of ketosis. However, this is not the case. You may even be in deep ketosis.

Apart from the strip test, there are also blood-based ketone meters. Such as glucose meters, that are more reliable. The only downside is that they are expensive.

In my opinion, you can understand whether you are in ketosis without doing these tests. When we enter ketosis, we experience very distinct symptoms. The symptoms I will write about are more evident. Especially in those who are new to the ketogenic diet.

What are the symptoms of ketosis?

  • Losing weight fast
  • Dry mouth
  • Bad smelling breath (keto breath)
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle spasms or cramping
  • Decreased appetite
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Decrease in exercise performance

What is a Ketogenic Diet? : What is Ketoacidosis? (DKA)

When the amount of ketone bodies increases excessively during ketosis, they produce toxic levels of acid in the blood. Ketoacidosis is a condition in which ketones increase too much in the blood. If acid in the blood gets too high, it can poison the body. This is a very dangerous situation.

During ketoacidosis, the kidneys begin to excrete ketones along with water through urine. This causes fluid loss. The most obvious symptoms of ketoacidosis are extreme dry mouth, frequent urination, high ketones and high blood sugar levels.

Ketoacidosis is mostly encountered in individuals with type 1 diabetes. It’s because the hormone insulin, which prevents the excessive production of ketones, cannot be produced. It is rare in type-2 diabetics and non-diabetics. However, in a few rare cases, ketoacidosis has been reported to occur in individuals who follows a very low-carb diet for long periods of time.

If diabetics want to try a low-carb diet, they should measure their sugar levels frequently. They should get the doctor’s permission first.

Many people associate high ketones with the diabetic medical emergency known as ketoacidosis. But nutritional ketosis and diabetic ketoacidosis associated with a ketogenic diet are very different conditions.

What Happens If We Eat Too Much Protein?

What is a ketogenic diet? In a ketogenic diet, we should meet 10-20% of our daily energy needs from proteins. But it is really easy to exceed this rate. We can easily get out of ketosis by taking in more protein.

When we switch to a ketogenic diet and reduce carbs, we feel as if only proteins are left to fill our stomachs. This is quite normal. There is no bread for breakfast, let me break one more egg. Thoughts such as “There is no rice for dinner, I should eat more chicken, otherwise I won’t be full” wander in our minds.


However, this is perhaps the most important point of this keto diet. Adjusting the amount of protein well.

The amount of protein in the ketogenic diet should be moderate compared to other low-carb diets. Consuming too much protein throws us out of ketosis. Because the amino acids in proteins can be converted into glucose in the liver. The moment it gets such an opportunity, the body starts using glucose again. For this reason, in keto, we consume enough protein to maintain lean body mass. If we do not consume excessively, we do not get out of ketosis easily.

In order to follow a ketogenic diet properly, you need to count everything you eat. One by one. No cheating allowed. Click here for a sample diet list.

Can Everyone Do The Keto Diet?

Ketogenic diet is suitable for almost everyone who is in good general health and does not have a history of major illnesses. Almost. Some groups should follow the diet carefully. For some it is not recommended at all. If we look at these groups;

Can heart patients follow a ketogenic diet?

Heart patients with a history, ketogenic, paleo, carnivore, atkins diet etc. They should definitely get approval from their doctor before trying very low-carb diets such as.

Since the ketogenic diet mechanism is focused on fat metabolism, it is possible to see short-term increases in blood fats. Especially in certain groups, there are increases in LDL. LDL is defined as bad cholesterol but is now controversial. There are some studies claiming that there is a growth in LDL particles and a lightening of the molecule. If that is, it’s a change for the better.


Doctors calculate the risk factors of heart patients with a history of cardiac arrest or surgery. They make recommendations accordingly. Diet means changing the eating pattern. Changing the diet causes other parameters to change as well. Be sure to start such diets with your doctor’s approval.

Can kidney patients follow a ketogenic diet?


If you have any kidney disease, low-carb diets are most likely not suitable for you.

When we enter ketosis on a ketogenic diet, our body excretes excess ketones through urine until it gets used to fat and ketone metabolism. An increase in urine output means an increase in water loss. This is the reason for excessive thirst and dry mouth in ketosis. As a result, the ketogenic diet causes water loss. It poses a risk factor for the healthy functioning of the kidneys.

Since there is a carbohydrate restriction in the ketogenic diet, fruit and vegetable consumption is significantly reduced. Fruits and vegetables play many roles in body. They prevent the formation of kidney stones by making the urine alkaline. Completely eliminating or restricting fruits from the diet paves the way for kidney stone formation.

Can high blood pressure patients follow a ketogenic diet?

Blood pressure patients who use medication can also follow a keto diet. But here’s the thing. This diet may be very good for your blood pressure. So your blood pressure may drop. In fact, blood pressure normalizes and the dose of your medicine begins to become excessive.

This blood pressure-lowering effect of the ketogenic diet can be seen in the first few days or months. That’s why it’s best to be careful.

If you experience symptoms of low blood pressure, such as weakness, fatigue, dizziness, etc.
Measure your blood pressure and tell your doctor if it is below 120/80. Maybe he/she may need to lower his/her medication dosage.

Another warning needs to be made for high blood pressure patients. When starting low-carb diets such as keto, extra fluid and salt use is necessary for the first 2-3 weeks. In this type of diet, at first, unwanted side effects such as headache due to water and electrolyte loss occur, even if only for a short time. To minimize these side effects, we increase salt and water. Blood pressure may increase during this period. If there is a blood pressure problem, we will not use extra salt, there is no need to take such a risk.
The side effects I mentioned sometimes do not occur at all, and even if they do, they last a few days and disappear within 1-2 weeks at most.

Can diabetic patients follow a ketogenic diet?

If you are a diabetic using medication, there is no harm in following a ketogenic diet. In fact, patients with type-2 diabetes may experience improvement even to the point of discontinuing medications.


However, if you start a very low carbohydrate (20gr) ketogenic diet, your medications or insulin dosage may need to be adjusted or even reduced. When you do not consume carbohydrates, which cause your blood sugar to rise, your need for medication will decrease.
While on the keto diet, if you take the same dose of medication as before, this time hypoglycemia occurs. To prevent this situation, it is best to measure your blood sugar frequently. During this period, you should be in contact with your doctor because your medications need to be regulated.

If you have diabetes but do not use medication, you can start keto directly. Your probability of experiencing low blood sugar, that is, hypoglycemia, is very low.

If you use insulin, the dose should be reduced as I just mentioned. Be sure to reduce the dose by consulting your doctor.

Individuals who follow a low-carb diet and make it a lifestyle can continue without needing injections or medication after a while. Of course, this does not apply to type 1 diabetics.

It is important to remember that eating less than 50 grams of carbohydrates every day puts us in ketosis. Ketosis is a very normal physiological state that occurs when the body uses fats to obtain energy. However, ketosis should not be confused with ketoacidosis.

Can breastfeeding mothers follow a ketogenic diet?

The ketogenic diet is a very good way for mothers who breastfeed their babies to both provide the baby with enough nutritious food and lose excess weight.
However, although very rare, if you are on an extremely restricted diet, that is, if you consume less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day, you run the risk of going into ketoacidosis. This is also a dangerous situation.
If breastfeeding mothers want to follow a ketogenic diet, they can follow a diet containing 50-100 grams of carbohydrates per day. I’m not suggesting they go lower.


A healthy individual can easily go into ketosis by consuming less carbohydrates. Ketosis is a healthy mechanism in our body. When the body begins to use fats, not sugar, as the main fuel to provide energy, we enter ketosis.

When breastfeeding, our body needs different requirements for milk production. This poses the risk of ketoacidosis.
In fact, there are not many explanatory studies on this subject. Ketoacidosis is common in lactating cows. But although rare, it has also been seen in humans. As far as we know, the number of cases reported so far is less than 10. So the risk seems low. But we still don’t recommend it. Because it is very important for breastfeeding mothers to get enough nutritious foods. Excessive restrictions also put the mother at risk, which we do not want.

If you really want, you can follow a diet with at least 50-100g of carbohydrates, while also meeting your general calorie needs.
To make sure you get enough carbohydrates, you can add 3 servings of fruit or root vegetables to your daily diet. I recommend that you leave this to the expert.

How Long Should You Do Keto?

Following the ketogenic diet for at least 3 months seems ideal for the treatment of various diseases (such as PCOS) and optimal health. A 3-month commitment to the diet is the ideal amount of time to allow your body to fully acclimate to its new fat-based fuel source. This period allows time for the body to “adapt to fats” by using dietary fat efficiently and effectively.


However, there are also different applications. You can follow the ketogenic diet in different forms according to your needs. There are no long-term studies yet that can say that this is the best. However, if it does not cause any health problems and you do not feel vitamin or mineral deficiencies, there is no harm in continuing the diet.

If you want, you can remind your body of the keto diet every few months with a logic such as a 21-day detox program. In a study, individuals with type-2 diabetes were put on a 3-week restricted ketogenic diet. And there is improvement in all values (HBA1C). When followed, it was observed that this ketogenic effect lasted for up to 1 year. So we can say that reminder doses are good in keto.

“What is Keto Flu? Keto Flu Symptoms” If you are curious, you can read the relevant article.

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