Keto Diet 101: Everything You Need to Know About This Popular Fat-Loss Plan

You've probably heard all about the keto diet: the popular way of eating that has helped people lose weight and transform their lives. If you're considering embarking on the keto diet or just curious about what it entails, we have all the basics you need to know before starting. From which foods to stock up on to how many grams of carbs you should be eating in a day, we've got you covered.

Curious to give the keto diet a try? Be sure to visit with your doctor or registered dietitian before making any major dietary changes; a well-formulated keto diet should be done under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

Your Macro Breakdown
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Your Macro Breakdown

On the keto diet, the macronutrient profile should be close to 70 to 80 percent fat, 15 to 20 percent protein, and five to 10 percent carbs, according to Catherine Metzgar, PhD, RD, and a clinical team member at Virta Health.

It Can Be Beneficial For Type 2 Diabetics
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It Can Be Beneficial For Type 2 Diabetics

Since the keto diet is so low in carbohydrates and therefore low in sugar, it may be effective in regulating blood sugar and treating type 2 diabetes when done carefully under medical supervision.

Steve Phinney, MD, PhD, chief medical officer at Virta Health, told POPSUGAR that the keto diet could help regulate blood sugar. "Type 2 diabetes is a disease characterized by high blood sugar, meaning it can also be thought of as a disease of carbohydrate intolerance," he said. "By cutting out most dietary carbohydrates and replacing them with a well-formulated ketogenic diet, people living with type 2 diabetes are able to reduce and maintain their blood sugar closer to or actually in the normal range."

Just make sure you speak with your doctor before trying the keto diet, especially if you are diabetic.

You Could Get Dehydrated
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You Could Get Dehydrated

"While a ketogenic diet has been shown to decrease appetite while burning fat and maintaining muscle, it is not without risk," said Holly Pudwill, president and clinical dietitian at Balanced Nutrition of Jacksonville. "Ketones are a byproduct of ketosis. If those build up, a condition called ketoacidosis can result." When this happens, ketones build up in the blood, making it too acidic and causing dehydration. In very extreme cases, this dehydration can lead to coma or death. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water on the keto diet.

You May Get Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
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You May Get Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies

Since the keto diet is so low in carbs, that means cutting out whole grains and fruit. Even though fruit has sugar in it, it's still an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. And if you're more focused on eating fats and protein, you may neglect to eat the daily recommended amount of veggies and skip out on those important nutrients.

"You may end up with a diet that's deficient in some vitamins and minerals," Katherine Brooking, MS, RD, cofounder of Appetite For Health, told POPSUGAR. Be sure to talk to a doctor to see if you're eating enough of a variety of foods and if you need to supplement with a multivitamin. Dr. Phinney recommends these four supplements on the keto diet.

The Best Fats and Oils on the Keto Diet
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The Best Fats and Oils on the Keto Diet

When it comes to fat on the keto diet, you want to make sure you're eating quality fats. Anna Barnwell, MPH, MSW, a member of the Virta Health team, explained in a blog post that a majority of your dietary fat should come from monounsaturated and saturated fats. You should be cautious of polyunsaturated fats like corn, sunflower, and peanut oils since your body cannot tolerate them well in large amounts.

Monounsaturated Fats

  • Olive oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Canola oil
  • High-oleic safflower oil
  • Macadamia nut oil
  • Lard
  • Bacon
  • Sausage
  • Animal fats

Saturated Fats

  • Butter
  • Cream
  • Cheese
  • Beef (suet)
  • Lamb
  • Coconut oil
  • Palm oil

Polyunsaturated Fats

  • Omega-3
  • Omega-6
  • Flaxseed oil (an alternative for vegetarians and vegans)
Proteins You Can Have on the Keto Diet
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Proteins You Can Have on the Keto Diet

A common misconception about the keto diet is that you can consume all the protein you want. Eating too much protein can prevent you from reaching nutritional ketosis. Here are the protein sources you can consume on the keto diet.

  • Steak
  • Ground beef
  • Ground turkey
  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Pork sausage
  • Ham
  • Bacon
  • Prosciutto
  • Lox
  • Deli meat
  • Salami
  • Eggs
  • Shrimp
  • Salmon
  • Crab
  • Lobster
  • Tuna
  • Canned tuna
Vegetables You Can Have on the Keto Diet
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Vegetables You Can Have on the Keto Diet

In order to reach nutritional ketosis, you'll need to eat more than just protein and fats. Here are some great veggie options to include in your diet.

  • Romaine
  • Kale
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Green beans
  • Spinach
  • Celery
  • Artichoke
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Cucumbers
  • Radishes
  • Lettuce
  • Asparagus
  • Onions
  • Zucchini
  • Bell peppers
  • Celery
  • Eggplant
  • Jicama
  • Mushrooms
The Dairy You Can Have on Keto
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The Dairy You Can Have on Keto

Unlike most diets, dairy is actually approved on the keto diet. Here are some items to toss in your cart the next time you're shopping.

  • Hard cheeses (parmesan, swiss, feta, and cheddar)
  • Soft cheeses (brie, mozzarella, Monterey Jack, and blue cheese)
  • Cream cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Full-fat yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Heavy cream
  • Butter
  • Cheese sticks
  • Alfredo sauce
  • Mayonnaise
  • Coconut milk
Fruits You Can Have on the Keto Diet
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Fruits You Can Have on the Keto Diet

Some fruits are high in sugar, but there's no need to cut out all fruits on the keto diet. You've just got to make sure you're eating the right fruits. Stock up on these fruits during your next grocery store run.

  • Blackberries
  • Avocados
  • Grapefruits
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Raspberries
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Peaches
  • Cherries
  • Kiwis

Although these fruits are keto-approved, it's important you track your total carbs to make sure you're in a state of ketosis.

Expert Tips
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Expert Tips

If you want to successfully follow the keto diet, experts say to do the following.