When you’re planning to start or are already in the first few days of following keto, you’d appreciate a list of keto diet frequently asked questions and practical answers. 

To keep you from getting overwhelmed, we’ve rounded up important FAQs. These will hopefully allow you to get a good grasp of the diet. You’ll also find links to longer guides that explain a topic in-depth. 

Got specific questions that are not on the list below? Feel free to comment and we’ll do our best to add them to the list.

Before you start the diet, make sure that you understand basic concepts like how it works, its benefits, the recommended macronutrient ratio, what foods to eat and avoid, common side effects to expect, and how to use the diet to your advantage. 

Most importantly, schedule an appointment with your doctor before starting a ketogenic diet. Because you may have a condition that makes the diet unsuitable for you. 

If you’re about to get started, you need to know all the basics of keto. Check out this beginner-friendly guide. 

 

Diarrhea is actually one of the common reactions of eating a ketogenic diet. That is because your body isn’t yet used to more dietary fat. Think about it this way: Whenever you change your eating habits, your digestive system reacts to those habits. Some fats are also less tolerated by your digestive system, such as omega-6 from vegetable and seed oils.

Read more about other common side effects of starting a keto diet in this guide.

Enjoying alcoholic drinks on a keto diet is possible, but tricky. The reason is that many of these beverages contain a high amount of sugar and carbohydrates. Also, drinking alcohol might compel you to crave non-keto-friendly desserts.

The key is to know what beverages you can actually drink.

Bottom line? You can still drink alcohol on keto moderately, and with the right options. Find out how in this guide.

Nowadays, many people use ketogenic diets for overcoming obesity and achieving weight loss. You may not know this, but the keto diet was already used in the 1920s to reduce seizures in patients with epilepsy.

More and more studies also show other health benefits of keto, such as clearer skin, improved hormonal health, and protection for the brain.

We’ve put together a guide on the best health benefits of going keto.

No. You enter a starvation mode when you reduce your calories, making you feel constantly hungry and tired.

Ketosis, when approached the right way, does not cause starvation. You reduce your carbohydrates, keep your protein intake moderate, and eat more fat. You eat according to your appetite and not stress too much about your calorie intake.

Find out whether entering ketosis is safe and healthy for your body in this article.

There are different ways to make sure that you get enough electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and magnesium.

Increase your water intake. Add salt to your diet. Eat keto-friendly foods that contain these electrolytes such as meat and above-ground vegetables. Take electrolyte supplements (while making sure that they contain no sugar).

You can choose between a refreshing electrolyte drink or capsules for convenience.

No. Ketosis is beneficial for your body. It’s a normal metabolic process that your body undergoes when your glucose levels decrease. The goal of ketosis is to produce an alternative fuel source called ketones.

Gain a deeper understanding of the impact of ketosis on your body in this guide.

A lot of things can put you out of ketosis if you’re not careful. The most common factor is eating too much carbs or going beyond the 20-50g carb limit daily. Another is eating more protein than your body needs. Protein can be turned into glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis.

Stress is also something that can put you off ketosis. Being stressed for a very long time (chronic stress) raises your blood sugar and insulin levels.

If you’ve been kicked out of ketosis, you’d want to know how to get back into it quickly. Here are helpful strategies to do that.

No. A low-carb, high-fat keto diet will not cause diabetes and will, in fact, help people with Type 2 Diabetes or Prediabetes manage it better.

That’s because nutritional ketosis brings down the individual’s blood glucose, improves their cholesterol (by decreasing triglycerides and increasing HDL), and increases their energy levels.

We recommend that you read Virta Health’s 2-year non-randomized clinical trial on nutritional ketosis for Type 2 Diabetes. 

Some people are wondering whether it’s okay to eat fermented foods on keto. And the answer is a huge YES. Fermented foods are good for your gut health. They improve your digestion and also boost your immune system.

The key is to avoid fermented foods that are high in sugar and stick to options that are low-carb. Examples of keto-friendly fermented foods include kombucha, water kefir, sauerkraut, hard cheeses, and yogurt.

Need more keto-friendly food options to add to your list? Check out this guide.

Not really. Processed meat such as bacon contains nitrates which can be carcinogenic, according to some studies. People who are doing “dirty keto” are concerned if eating processed meats harms their health. Keep in mind that a clean keto diet is the best. Your focus should be on nutrient-dense, whole foods that do not contain additives and preservatives.

But if you like to eat bacon on keto, we recommend that you cure bacon yourself (by using only a small amount of sodium nitrate) and also make sure that you source bacon from pasture-raised pork.

You could also be making other mistakes that prevent you from getting the most out of a keto diet. Discover what these top mistakes are in this guide.

Keep in mind that ketosis breath is different from typical bad breath. Ketosis breath is fruity smelling, like nail polish remover. This is because of acetone, a ketone that exits your breath when you are in a state of ketosis.

The good news is, ketosis breath is easy to treat. Follow these simple strategies in this guide.

First, you should know that ketones are not present in foods. Rather, they are produced as fat breaks down in your body. There are foods that promote ketosis and these are often low in carbs and high in fat. Examples are coconut oil, butter, fatty fish, avocados, and vegetables that grow above the ground.

We’ve also prepared a list of the top foods that help you stay in ketosis. Find out more in this article.

As the term implies, “impact carbs” are carb-containing foods that significantly impact your blood sugar. These are simple, high glycemic index carbs that make your blood sugar levels rise instantly.

On the other hand, non-impact carbs are low glycemic index carbs and they do not spike your glucose and insulin levels. Therefore, you’re less likely to experience energy crashes.

You might also be wondering, “How many carbs should I consume on a keto diet?” We answer this in detail in this guide.

Pay attention to common signs and symptoms that you are in ketosis. These include weight loss, short-term fatigue and decrease in performance, ketosis breath, suppressed appetite, and a boost in focus.

But the best way to determine ketosis is to test your actual ketone levels using a breath/blood ketone meter and ketone urine test strips.

In this guide, we reveal the common signs and symptoms of ketosis. Watch out for them in addition to testing your ketones.

Here’s the difference: Total carbs account for all the carbs in your food, including dietary fiber, sugars, and starches.

Meanwhile, net carbs are the total grams of your carbs minus the grams of fiber and sugar alcohols (like xylitol and erythritol). Take note that fiber and sugar alcohols do not have any impact on your blood sugar.

We agree that carbohydrates can be a tricky aspect on keto. It’s easy to go overboard without realizing it! Read this complete guide on carbs and ketosis.

There are many ways to beat carb and sugar cravings. One important strategy is to cut carbs from your diet gradually – not drastically.

It’s also essential to get most of your calories from natural, whole foods since these foods contain nutrients that your body needs to stay satiated.

If you’re really hungry, eat a keto-friendly snack! Hard-boiled eggs, avocados, bone broth, mixed nuts, and pork rinds are some good options.

Lastly, drink more water. Keep a water bottle with you at all times to stay hydrated. Water helps curb your appetite and hunger pangs.

Here’s how to maximize your experience on keto and minimize its side effects in this guide.

Yes, it is! You might want to gain weight safely on keto (without getting fat) if you’re underweight. If this is your goal, then you need to eat more calories than you burn.

However, the keto diet can also lead to weight gain or a weight loss stall (despite the fact that you want to lose weight) for various reasons. It’s possible that you’re eating too many carbs or consuming too many calories.

And if you’re doing everything right but are still not losing weight, consult your doctor to rule out an underlying medical issue.

 

Certainly. You should know that nutritional ketosis is not for everyone. Women who breastfeed and follow a low-carbohydrate diet can be at risk for ketoacidosis. People with a history of chronic low blood glucose levels and those with Type 1 Diabetes can also be at risk for ketoacidosis if they try a keto diet unsupervised and do not manage their condition properly.

Yes. In fact, several studies have shown that a low-carbohydrate diet like keto can improve your LDL to HDL ratio. The keto diet raises HDL “good” cholesterol while it lowers triglycerides and LDL “bad” cholesterol levels.

One of the benefits of the keto diet is that it protects you against fatty liver disease. This is because restricting carbohydrates in your diet means that you won’t have enough sugar to turn into fat. Restricting carbs also reduces insulin resistance, which is a common finding in those with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Fat bombs are treats made of low-carb, high-fat ketogenic ingredients. Two common ingredients that are found in fat bombs are coconut oil, which contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), and high-fat dairy. Fat bombs are so flavorful and easy to make. You can eat them during a fat fast and before or after a workout.

Good question. Yes, the keto diet is a diet that’s rich in anti-inflammatory foods. Examples of these keto-friendly foods that fight inflammation are eggs, salmon, healthy fats like MCT oil and olive oil, green leafy vegetables, and nuts.

Also, when your body starts to burn fat instead of glucose, it produces ketones. The main ketone called beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) inhibits inflammatory pathways and activates anti-inflammatory pathways in your body.

The keto flu is a collection of symptoms that people experience when they transition into ketosis. Such symptoms include low energy levels, brain fog, dizziness, irritability, headache, vomiting, sugar cravings, muscle cramps, and diarrhea/constipation.

Keto flu happens as a result of the body’s reaction to the reduction of carbohydrates. Eventually, the body gets used to burning fat for fuel and keto flu symptoms will pass.

Here’s everything you need to know about keto flu and getting rid of it.

While working out is not the only way to lose weight, it can surely boost your results on a keto diet. In fact, working out helps deplete your glycogen stores and increases fat burning. When glycogen stores fall to low levels, your body starts to enter a state of ketosis.

You might be wondering whether you need calories on a keto diet. The quick answer to that is yes. While calories in versus calories out is not the be-all end-all of weight loss (because you also need to consider food quality), calories will still matter.

If you eat more calories than your body needs, and you don’t burn them, they get stored as glycogen and fat.

There are plenty of keto-friendly options:

  • Water – the best!
  • Tea without sugar
  • Coffee without sugar
  • Sparkling water
  • Diet soda
  • Low-carbohydrate protein shake
  • Bone broth
  • Unsweetened almond milk
  • Unsweetened soy milk
  • Whole milk
  • Pure spirits – whiskey, brandy, gin scotch, rum
  • Sugar-free energy drinks – Zevia, for example

Be sure to check the label for carbohydrates and sugars. You’ll want to go for zero-sugar options or those that are sweetened with stevia and erythritol.

Many people who start a low-carb keto diet are worried that they might develop kidney problems. Here’s what you should know: A keto diet should not harm the kidneys of individuals with normal kidney function.

As a matter of fact, keto can help one manage, control, and prevent Type 2 Diabetes and Hypertension — two conditions that contribute to the development of kidney disease.

However, people who have advanced kidney disease may not benefit from a low-carb keto diet. This is because dietary protein restriction is recommended to avoid stressing the already-damaged kidneys.

During nutritional ketosis, your ketone level should range from 0.5 mmol/L to 3.0 mmol/L. This is the normal range. However, take note that you can also reach a level of up to 5 mmol/L after exercising. This is called post-exercise ketosis.

Yes. But here’s what you should remember – Technically speaking, cheat days do not help you lose weight. But at the same time, having cheat days can help you stay motivated and not feel restricted on keto.

If your cheat day involves eating more carbs than usual, you will go out of ketosis. Your cravings will increase as well. We recommend that you cheat “smartly” by eating keto-friendly comfort foods or baking keto-friendly versions of your favorite desserts.

The keto diet does not directly cause hair loss. However, those on a keto diet may experience hair loss if they do not consume enough vitamins and minerals (micronutrients). Eating too little protein can also lead to hair loss. The solution? Follow a well-formulated keto diet. Know and follow your recommended macros. Make sure that you avoid micronutrient deficiencies.

The keto diet can be extreme for women who are pregnant and breastfeeding. Although nutritional ketosis has many benefits, a lot of changes happen in a woman’s body during this stage in her life. Extra carbohydrates are needed to ensure that a mother and her fetus won’t starve.

Note: If your goal for trying out a keto diet is to lose weight, pregnancy is definitely not the best time to do it.

Be sure to check out this detailed guide for women to make keto work to your advantage.

To achieve nutritional ketosis, you need to eat a moderate amount of protein daily. A well-formulated keto diet recommends 1.2 g/kg to 2.0 g/kg per day

You can test your ketone levels at any time of the day. But if you need advice on the best times, here’s what we recommend:

  • Early in the morning, before you eat anything
  • Right before lunch and dinner
  • 1 to 3 hours after a meal to detect your body’s reaction to certain foods

Tip: It will be easier to monitor your progress on keto if you test at the same time each day.

When it comes to testing tools, use ketone test strips as a non-invasive and convenient testing method. If you would like the best (most accurate) method which directly measures your blood BHB levels, use a blood ketone meter.

Carb withdrawal describes unpleasant symptoms experienced by someone who reduces carbs in their diet, whether or not they follow the keto diet. Carb withdrawal symptoms are similar to the keto flu: Low energy, headache, brain fog, and increased cravings.

Women should not go any lower than 10 to 13 percent body fat, while men should not go any lower than 2 to 5 percent body fat. Furthermore, the American Council on Exercise states that a fat loss of 1% per month is generally safe and doable.

Fiber supplements can be very beneficial for those who experience constipation as a result of eliminating grains and fruit from their diet.

Actually, you do not need to take fiber supplements as long as you eat a well-rounded keto diet that includes high-fiber, low-carb foods like cruciferous vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, and seeds.

But if you would like a fiber supplement, psyllium husk powder and ground flaxseed can be helpful. Just make sure to pick a supplement that has no unnecessary fillers.

No. Raspberry ketones are not necessary because they do not trigger ketosis  — although its name can be misleading due to the word “ketones.” A popular health claim is that raspberry ketones help with weight loss. But keep in mind that it has nothing to do with increasing ketone levels.

Yes. One of the major benefits of going low-carb is that it burns stored body fat, reducing fat accumulation. While you’re implementing a keto diet, other strategies that help get rid of cellulite include intermittent fasting and HIIT exercise.

You might think that a keto diet is an expensive way of dieting, but the truth is, it can be done healthily on a budget. Here are some tips to remember:

  • Skip packaged “keto-compliant” foods as they tend to be really costly.
  • When it comes to meat, chicken thighs, flat iron beef cut, and pork shoulder roast are affordable options. Be sure to compare prices at the grocery.
  • Shop at a bargain grocery store!
  • Need cheap but healthy fats? Opt for eggs.
  • Plan your meals to reduce food waste.
  • Buy in bulk but plan it ahead so you don’t waste anything.

Reduce unnecessary snacking and eating out as well. Stick with whole, home-prepared keto foods.

You should be concerned about avoiding foods that easily kick you out of ketosis. These include grains, high-carb fruits and vegetables (that grow below the ground), sugar-sweetened drinks, and high-carb alcohol.

A common misconception is that we need dietary carbohydrates to thrive. Evidence shows that the brain functions well on ketones. Also, your body is fully capable of creating glucose from gluconeogenic precursors such as dietary protein, acetone, and amino acids.

Note: It’s also important to remember that a ketogenic diet is a low-carb diet, not a no-carb diet.

Nuts are loaded with healthy fats as well as protein. They also contain essential vitamins and minerals. But while nuts are allowed on keto, make sure that you choose the right kind of nuts. If not, you could end up having more servings of varieties that are higher in carbs.

The best keto-friendly nuts include macadamia nuts, pecans, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, almonds, and walnuts.

When you are in ketosis, your body burns its own stored fat. The result of fat breakdown is an increase in ketone levels. Instead of glucose, ketones become your main source of energy.

At first, you experience keto flu symptoms as your body tries to adapt to its new fuel source. But over time, you feel the positive effects of ketosis which include mental clarity, increased energy, balanced blood glucose, and continuous fat loss.

A lot of things could prevent you from reaching or maintaining ketosis. It’s possible that you’re eating more carbs than you need. Remember that hidden carbs are present in many “healthy” packaged foods. Other culprits include stress and poor quality sleep. These things can increase your blood glucose levels.

Here’s what you can do: You might need to track your carbs. Use a keto calculator to first determine how much you need depending on your activity level. It also helps to track your actual ketone levels using a blood ketone meter. Most importantly, manage your stress effectively.

You don’t have to stress yourself on how much and how often you should be eating on keto. Eat whenever you feel hungry but always choose foods that are keto-approved. At the same time, know your exact nutrition needs by using a keto calculator.

Since acetone, a ketone, exits via urine, you can expect your urine to have a stronger smell. You’ll be able to confirm the presence of ketones by using a urine test strip. But as your body adjusts over time, it metabolizes ketones more effectively. This means fewer ketones appearing in your urine.

Yes. Drinks that don’t contain sugar are allowed on keto. This includes plain, unsweetened coffee and black tea.

When it comes to chocolate, dark chocolate contains at least 3 grams of net carbs per ounce. Stick within your carb limit and always check the label first so you don’t accidentally go overboard.

Here’s a list of common keto abbreviations:

  • LCHF – Low-carbohydrate, high-fat
  • AcAc – Acetoacetate
  • BHB – Beta-Hydroxybutyrate
  • Ace – Acetone
  • SKD – Standard ketogenic diet
  • CKD – Cyclical ketogenic diet
  • VLCKD – Very low carbohydrate ketogenic diet
  • WFKD – Well-formulated ketogenic diet
  • TKD – Targeted ketogenic diet
  • MCT – Medium chain triglycerides
  • HDL – High-density lipoprotein
  • LDL – Low-density lipoprotein
  • RBC – Red blood cells
  • IR – Insulin resistance

Got specific questions that are not in the list above?

Feel free to comment and we’ll do our best to add them to the list.

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