5 Things To Know Before You Start A Keto Diet

Time to read 6 min

In general settings, the body uses the simplest form of glucose, called glycogen, to utilize energy. Since time immemorial, we have heard about the role of carbohydrates in our diet as providers of energy. Well, a ketogenic diet spins this concept on its head! In a keto diet, the foods we eat prompt the liver to generate ketone bodies, which will then be used in place of glycogen as energy sources. 

The benefits need a bit of a roundabout to explain. The glucose in the body is processed by insulin and converted into energy, and the fats we eat are thus stored for the future. In a keto diet, we eat very little carbs, thus pushing the body into a state of ketosis- where it needs to look at other forms of compounds to break down. The body thus turns to fats and proteins to get its energy from. Since fats are structurally very different from carbohydrates, they cannot be broken down into glycogen and instead get converted to ketones. 

Why is a keto diet undertaken? As we’ve discussed earlier, a keto diet prompts the body to use up fats instead of carbohydrates. Weight loss is thus an obvious consequence. Also, some studies state that the oxidative breakdown of glycogen for energy is responsible for inflammation in the body. Inflammation in turn results in chronic illnesses, free radical damage, ageing and even death. By using ketone bodies to produce energy, the body is saved from this oxidative stress. 

However, we need to remember that a keto diet is not a plan that you can, or should, follow for the rest of your life. It needs to be followed intermittently, and under the close supervision of a doctor who understands your health very well. Historically, the keto diet was designed to reduce epilepsy in children by preventing the use of glucose in the brain. Since a keto diet is very much a medical intervention, adequate care must be taken by those willing to switch to it. 

Think you’re ready to switch to a Keto diet? Here are five things you need to ask yourself. Discuss these questions with your fitness counsellor, your nutritionist and your doctor. 

  1. Do I need to get on a Keto diet? There is no diet in the world that can work for every person. So, you’ll have to try it to figure out if it is working for you. A Keto diet has some very specific benefits- losing weight, controlling blood sugar, improving your energy, reducing cholesterol in the body and also making acne better. If you have been struggling with any of these aspects for a long time, and you have no health condition that prevents you from following this diet, go ahead by all means!

    People who follow this diet begin to report changes in a few days, right from losing weight to an overall improvement in mood and performance. Experts on the Keto diet claim that fats which we have adapted to process over time, such as fish oil, olive oil and coconut oil are actually great for the body and metabolism.
  2. Is my physical fitness directly related to a Keto diet? Yes, a Keto diet in general uses means of energy other than carbs, which means that less and less fat is stored in the body as more of it begins to be converted into energy. The fats are healthy fats, in that they help you build physical and mental stamina, thus aiding in fitness. Specifically, endurance athletes and those in jobs that entail a high level of stress can benefit from a Keto diet, because it improves focus and cognition. 

    One circumstance under which such a diet doesn’t work for fitness is when you give up on it too early for you to see results. Cutting down carbs doesn’t mean you have to load up on proteins to be fit instead. Just remember not to be too scared of fats (the healthy ones at least!) and you’ll be fine. Also, follow the plan for as long as it is recommended in order to truly see results on the fitness front.
  3. What impact will a Keto diet have on my general health? In a healthy individual, a ketogenic diet is not expected to cause any harm. Overall, it helps in reducing inflammation which many nutrition experts believe to be the leading cause of cancer. In a state of ketosis, which in many ways is the pinnacle of the Keto diet, you will be making more frequent trips to the loo, and have a dry mouth. Some people also report developing a bad breath because the by-product of ketone metabolism, acetone, is a volatile compound.

    While unlikely, those who follow a strict Keto diet are prone to a condition called ketoacidosis which is when insulin levels fall too low and lead to a state of shock. In most cases, people report headaches, lethargy, fatigue, etc. in the first few days of following this diet. Make sure you stay adequately hydrated and have a good electrolyte balance in the body.
  4. Is a Keto diet going to fit with my lifestyle? This is a very important question to ask yourself. All the recipes you know and all the food you now eat will go out the window to be replaced by new foods that you have never tried before. Fats like coconut oil and fish oil have a very specific aftertaste that some people don’t enjoy.

    Also, when you switch to a whole host of foods that you aren’t used to, nutritional deficiencies can crop in. Make sure you are getting all the micronutrients you need, and in adequate quantities. If you eat your food from a subscription service, you may have to begin making time to cook for yourself as Keto diet boxes are still very rare in the market. Also, this is not a diet that you can cheat on once in a while, have to follow it to its logical end.
  5. Do I have a health issue that prevents me from following a Keto diet? People with type -1 diabetes should never get on a Keto diet. Period. In people with this condition, insulin production is already hampered severely. A keto diet further reduces the level of insulin in the body, because there are no carbs for it to process.

    A condition called ketoacidosis can also occur in people who take the diet too far. You still need to eat some carbs, just that their proportion is going to be very less. There aren’t enough studies or professional opinions on how a Keto diet impacts breastfeeding. Considering that breastfeeding is a calorie intensive activity, it may be best to avoid such a diet.

    Do consider the impact such a diet will have on your liver and gall bladder. In a regular diet, the liver is not involved in energy release, only in cleansing the digested food of toxins. By producing ketones, we are adding to the roster of work the liver needs to do. Some people who have had a gall bladder surgery find that they are unable to adapt to a Keto diet because they don’t have enough stores of bile to digest all the excess fat that is being added to the body. 

If you want to start following the diet, keep a handy checklist of what you can and cannot eat in a place where you can see it every day. If you love eating fruits, they’re pretty much out of the picture!  

What To Eat In A Keto Diet- We Can have this as a printable checklist, 

What to Eat

What to Avoid

Coconut oil, lard, butter, ghee and duck fat

All refined plant oils such as soy, canola, corn and sunflower

Olives, macadamia nuts, almonds, avocados

Margarine, Vanaspati ghee

Organic fish and seafood

Spreads and mayonnaise

Organic meat from grass-fed animals

Factory farmed animal meat

Dark leafy greens, low carb vegetables- zucchini, gourds, cucumber, celery, brassica vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower) , all nightshades (tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant),

potatoes, peas, corn, yucca, parsnips, beans, yams

Yogurt, cheese, cream cheese


All nuts except those listed on the right

Cashews, pistachios, and chestnuts


All fruits in general

Water, black coffee, herbal tea, unsweetened nut milks, wine, light beer, and liquor

Soft drinks, fruit juices, craft beers, homemade wine

Stevia, inulin, erythrol and xylitol based sweeteners

Sugar, honey, agave syrup

* Medical Disclaimer - The following information is for educational purposes only. No information provided on this website, including text, graphic, and images, are intended as substitutes for professional medical advice. Please consult with your doctor about specific medical advice pertaining to your condition(s). 

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