Chances are you found BioKeto because you’ve been hearing all the hype about the keto diet. We know it can be super overwhelming to take in all the information on this site; naturally, we want to make the process of understanding the keto diet as simple as possible for you – which is why we made this handy, comprehensive Keto FAQ page!
This guide will go into detail about the many frequently asked questions readers have about the keto diet. If we missed any keto FAQ you may have, please drop us a comment and we will add it to this guide!
Q: What is the ketogenic (keto) diet?
A: The keto diet is an eating regimen that contains minimal carbohydrates. Since carb intake is typically less than 30 grams per day on the keto diet, you will be consuming high amounts of heart-healthy fats and modest amounts of quality protein sources.
If you like bacon, steak, eggs, avocado, and cheese – among many other foods – then the keto diet is for you! (Read the next question for a better understanding of “what” the keto diet actually does physiologically.)
Q: What does the ketogenic diet do?
A: The term ‘ketogenic’ refers to the process of your body (liver) producing organic substances known as ketones.
When you greatly limit your carb intake, your body needs to get its energy from another fuel source; in the case of the keto diet, your body starts to utilize fats for energy since glucose is limited.
As a result, your body becomes “fat-adapted” and relies primarily on a metabolic process called lipolysis for deriving energy from fats. When your body carries out lipolysis, ketones are made by your liver (as a byproduct). Once ketones are made in high enough amounts, your body enters a state called nutritional ketosis.
Being in ketosis has a multitude of benefits for humans, especially for helping burn stored body fat for energy. This makes the keto diet ideal for those trying to lose weight (and keep it off).
Q: Is the keto diet just another fad diet?
A: Not at all! The ketogenic diet is actually quite different from other “low-carb” diets and not meant to be a short-term fix. The keto diet is for people who want to change their lifestyle and stick to it for the long haul.
This isn’t to say the ketogenic diet isn’t useful in short-term applications, but the most benefit comes from sustained adherence.
Q: What are the health benefits of the ketogenic diet?
A: Where do we begin? The health benefits of the keto diet are so vast it’s hard to condense it all into just a few paragraphs. Regardless, here’s a quick overview for you:
- Enhanced cardiovascular function
- Reduced risk of many diseases
- Improved cognitive function
- Support for weight loss
- Decreased inflammation and oxidative stress
- Healthier blood sugar and blood lipid balance
Cutting out carbs is shown in a large body of evidence to decrease the risk of numerous conditions. In fact, the keto diet is used in clinical settings to treat serious health issues, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and even cancer.
Moreover, by going low-carb, your body will have more stable blood sugar levels throughout the day and your cravings for sugary food will decrease significantly.
In turn, many people notice quicker, more sustainable weight loss while following the ketogenic diet. (It goes without saying that the health benefits of staying in a healthy weight range are innumerable.)
Q: What food am I allowed to eat on the ketogenic diet?
A: Here’s an abridged overview of what the best keto diet foods are:
- All non-starchy, low-carb vegetables (see: Keto-Friendly Vegetable List)
- Whole nuts and seeds (and their related products: almond butter, peanut butter, etc.)
- Fibrous fruits in small amounts (e.g. berries, kiwi, grapefruit)
- Butter, ghee, heavy cream, select salad dressings
- Whole eggs
- Healthy food oils (olive oil, peanut oil, macadamia nut oil, etc.)
- Freshwater fish
- Condiments and sauces (as long as they contain minimal carbs)
- Herbs and spices
- Animal meats: Turkey, chicken, beef, pork, organ meat, exotic game meats
- Water, club soda, calorie-free sparkling water, unsweetened tea/coffee
- Full-fat, unprocessed cheeses (mozzarella, cheddar, gouda, bleu cheese, etc.)
- Supplemental protein powders
Q: What carbs sources are not permitted on the keto diet?
A: In general, you should not consume any of the following carb sources on the keto diet:
- flour (See: Low Carb Flour Substitutes – Keto-Friendly Alternatives to Flour)
- products made with flour and or sugar
- grains (wheat, rice, oats, barley, etc.)
- most fruit
- soft drinks/fruit juices ( See: What you should drink while on keto)
- added/refined sugars (See: Low Carb Sugar Substitutes: Sweet Alternatives to Sugar)
- starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes, corn, etc.)
Q: How many carbs should I eat on the ketogenic diet?
A: This answer is highly individualistic. Some people may be able to eat upwards of 80 grams of carbs daily and stay in nutritional ketosis; others will need to limit their intake to 30 grams or less to maintain ketosis.
In general, if you’re active and carry a decent amount of lean tissue (muscle mass), you will be able to eat slightly more carbs without decreasing ketone production. The inverse applies to those who are more sedentary and on the smaller side.
Q: Do I have to count calories or track macronutrient intake on the keto diet?
A: The short answer: No…but it does behoove you to have a general sense of how much energy you consume each day (particularly how many grams of carbs).
Remember, the keto diet is very low in carbohydrates, so you will need to keep in tune with your daily carb intake.
Remember, though, that you will not lose weight if you’re consuming too many calories (or not keeping active enough).
Losing weight is all about burning more calories than you take in, so if you see the scale moving upwards in value it’s in your best interest to track calorie intake and use a macronutrient calculator to figure out your daily intake.
Q: What supplements should I use on the keto diet?
A: In truth, supplements are not required for the keto diet. However, there a select few supplements that can enhance a proper ketogenic plan.
For starters, medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are a handy fat/energy source, especially for athletes and active people. You can find MCT oil just about anywhere these days, and it has a pretty neutral taste for mixing into foods and beverages.
We also recommend an exogenous ketone supplement to support ketosis. The best exogenous ketone supplements will help you reach ketosis almost instantly and provide you with lasting energy (as well as regulate your appetite for better weight loss).
Q: I don’t understand how cutting out carbs can be healthy for me? Aren’t carbohydrates necessary for my body?
A: Physiologically speaking, your body can survive (and thrive) without consuming any dietary carbohydrates. However, both proteins and fats are essential macronutrients (meaning you must eat them to survive).
How can this be, you ask? In short, your body can create glucose from other substrates through a pathway called gluconeogenesis. Moreover, your body utilizes fats as a direct energy source, especially when glucose isn’t readily available.
There is vast research showing the effectiveness and health-promoting qualities of restricting carbohydrate intake. What’s even more compelling is that these studies compare diets that are equal in calorie intake (only carb and fat intakes differ).
Remember, the keto diet is low in carbs, but you also eat more healthy fat and high-quality protein (which are essential).
Q: How will my body (and brain) be able to function without carbs?
A: Along with the previous response, your body does indeed use glucose/sugar for energy, but you don’t need to consume carbs to fuel your body.
In fact, fat is a more valuable (long-term) source of energy for your body. Research shows that fat also has more protective and restorative qualities in the body, especially throughout the brain.
On the contrary, diets that contain large amounts of carbohydrates actually seem to increase inflammation and even accelerate the aging process. Not to mention that carbohydrates more or less can cause type-2 diabetes (whereas the keto diet can prevent/reverse insulin resistance).
Q: I’ve heard that ketosis is actually a dangerous condition for the body to be in. Is this true?
A: It’s possible that you were hearing about a condition known as ketoacidosis (which generally only happens in type-1/insulin-dependent diabetics). Nutritional ketosis is a much different physiological state and not potentially lethal like ketoacidosis can be.
Q: Are there any side effects of cutting out carbs?
A: During the initial weeks of cutting out carbs, you may experience what’s colloquially known as the ‘keto flu‘. This is a completely normal side effect of your body adapting to fat as its primary energy source.
Symptoms of cutting out carbs typically include short-term lethargy, irritability, frequent urination, dehydration, and others.
The good news is that there are simple remedies to tame the symptoms of the ‘keto flu’, which typically only lasts a week or two (while your body adapts to fat and ketones as energy sources).
Q: I’ve had friends tell me that cutting out carbs gives them persistent headaches. Is this true?
A: This is a rather common side effect of adopting a keto diet, as your body is lacking glycogen – which normally helps your body retain fluid. As a result, you excrete more fluid and electrolytes, which can create headaches. Some people refer to this phenomenon as the ‘keto headache‘.
It’s only natural that your salt intake will decrease significantly once you cut out carbs since you might have been consuming large amounts of processed carbs before.
This experience isn’t necessarily a bad thing; rather, it signifies that you need to consume more liquid and high-quality salt/electrolytes. Be careful, though: Many electrolyte drinks you find at a grocery store or gas station are loaded with sugar and artificial sweeteners.
The best option is to make bone broth and drink it throughout the day with meals. Drinking water is equally as imperative as increasing your salt intake. Fresh vegetables and meats generally also have essential minerals that your body needs as well, so be sure to emphasize those in your keto diet.
Q: What if I feel tired and weak on the keto diet?
A: This isn’t so much an issue of not having carbs in your system so much as it’s an issue of not eating enough fat. Remember, you can’t skimp on your fat intake on the keto diet because it’s your body’s primary source of energy in lieu of glucose. One way to quickly enhance your wakefulness and energy is to supplement with MCT oil and exogenous ketones.
Q: I like to have a couple of alcoholic drinks to unwind and relax. Will I have to give up alcohol on the keto diet?
A: Nope! While your efforts to restrict carb intake will certainly be hampered by drinking a six-pack of beer, there are keto-friendly alcoholic beverages.
Stick with pure spirits, such as vodka, whiskey, and select wines, all of which have minimal carbs. Be careful, though! Obviously, you shouldn’t be mixing your alcohol with things like margarita mixers or fruit juices, which can pack one heck of a carb punch in just a few ounces. It goes without saying that bottomless mimosas are not keto-friendly.
Also, keep in mind that alcohol is generally not ideal for losing weight. If your goal is to lose weight with the keto diet, try and limit your alcohol consumption to one or two glasses per week. You should definitely not be getting inebriated regularly while trying to shed some flab.
Q: Is the keto diet safe for me if I have chronic insulin resistance (type-2 diabetes)?
A: While nothing on this site is intended as medical advice, there is research showing that the keto diet is an effective protocol for people with insulin resistance.
Reducing your carb intake (significantly) can enhance your body’s ability to metabolize insulin, which in turn makes you better at keeping blood glucose levels stable. Nevertheless, you should be sure to keep your physician apprised of any major diet changes if you’re a type-2 diabetic.
Q: Is it true that I shouldn’t eat whole eggs because they have a lot of cholesterol?
A: As someone who formerly feared egg yolks (for no reason other than conjecture), it’s safe to say there is no conclusive evidence that whole eggs increase LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol.
In fact, there’s research that points to the contrary: Eating whole eggs can actually increase your HDL (‘good’) cholesterol. (Not to mention that the yolk of the egg contains tons of micronutrients, whereas the white is essentially just protein.)
Q: Since the keto diet is high in fat, won’t that cause intake cause high cholesterol?
A: Research actually suggests the opposite is true. By cutting out carbs and emphasizing high-fat intake (as opposed to increasing carbs and decreasing fat), your cholesterol and blood lipid profiles can improve.
In fact, we have an article that goes in-depth on the benefits low-carb dieting can have on blood lipid and cholesterol profiles: Does the Keto Diet Affect Cholesterol?
It’s important to remember that the fat/cholesterol you consume doesn’t intrinsically increase your plasma triglycerides or lipoproteins.
For example, medium-chain triglycerides (like the fats found in coconut), are digested and utilized for energy rapidly, unlike long-chain triglycerides. Much of the fat you consume on the keto diet will be used for energetic purposes (i.e. maintaining healthy cellular function).
Q: Are artificial sweeteners allowed?
A: Artificial sweeteners can disrupt the ketogenic process, so we recommend you avoid them altogether. But don’t worry; we have an article that details the best sugar alternatives for the keto diet!
Q: Will I lose muscle mass if I cut out carbs?
A: As long as you consume sufficient protein and calories, your muscle tissue will not go anywhere just because you reduce carb intake.
Q: I’m trying to build muscle and increase athletic ability, is the keto diet good for this?
A: This is a bit of a loaded question since there are many variables to consider when it comes to dietary needs. The general answer is that the keto diet can be useful for athletes and gym-goers alike.
There is no extant literature that examines the muscle-building effects of the keto diet, but, the keto diet does emphasize eating higher amounts of protein (which is indubitably necessary for building muscle mass).
Also, consider that endurance athletes would find the keto diet quite beneficial since fat is a long-term source of energy and great for aerobic/cardiovascular stamina.
Q: Will eating a low-carb diet really make my urine smell fruity?
A: Yes, this is the natural scent of ketones that are excreted in your urine. It’s not anything to be concerned about and totally normal.
Q: If I follow the keto diet, does that mean I can never eat carbs or sugar treats again?
A: Surprisingly, no! Only during the initial few weeks of beginning the keto diet should you be very strict about limiting your carb intake (to ensure you enter ketosis).
However, as you adapt to the keto diet, there are variations you can implement that will have intermittent periods of carb consumption. We have written two guides that walk you through these keto diet variations:
Each of these diet variations will allow to methodically eat carbs without ruining your efforts to reap the benefits of ketosis.
Q: What should I do if I am craving my old sugary favorites on the keto diet?
A: It’s only natural that you will miss some of those tasty cookies and pastries that you used to enjoy. (You’re human, after all.) However, once the initial weeks of “going carb-free” pass by, you will actually find that your cravings for sugar/sweets fade away quickly.
In fact, you’ll more likely be craving fatty foods, like nuts, cheese, and meat, all of which are a-ok for the keto diet.
And like we addressed in the previous question, you don’t have to give up carbs forever just to be on the keto diet. An occasional meal with carbs (aka CKD or TKD) is still workable for most people on the keto diet.
Q: Are there any simple and tasty recipes for the keto diet?
A: Of course! We are in the process of crafting an eBook that details tons of keto recipes to help you flourish in your carb-less life. In the meantime, you can check out:
Q: Is the keto diet good for everyone?
A: No diet is ideal for everyone; nutrition is not a black-and-white subject. You should be circumspect of any health ‘expert’ or dietitian that tells you a certain diet is the best way to eat for all people.
The keto diet is generally better for people who want to lose weight, improve cognitive function, reduce the risk of certain diseases, improve blood glucose balance (and insulin sensitivity), endurance athletes, and others.
Ultimately, the best way to find out if low carb dieting is good for you is to try it! To get started, head over to our Complete Guide to the Keto Diet.
Leave a Comment if We Missed Your Keto FAQ!
If we missed any keto FAQ you may have, please drop us a comment as we will be updating this guide constantly to keep you up to speed on all things keto!