The keto diet is one of those mysterious things that is laregely misunderstood! One of the worse things one can do is jump in without knowing all the keto FAQs and facts!

Below you will find the top Keto FAQs and get all your questions answered.

Whether you are a seasoned pro or a newbie – you are bound to find some good nuggets of information!

General Keto

What is the keto diet?

The ketogenic (keto) diet is a lifestyle that involves eating high fat, moderate protein and very low carbs.  This is unfortunately counterintuitive to what most of us have been taught our whole lives. 
The goal of the keto diet is to restore our bodies and reach a state of ketosis.  Along with this generally comes weight loss and many other health benefits!


I’ll let you in on a little secret.  Are you ready?  Healthy fats are not the enemy.  Sugar and processed foods are what you should be more concerned with than fat.

What are the health benefits of the keto diet?

There are SO many health benefits once you venture into a keto lifestyle.  Some of these include lower blood sugars and insulin levels, reduction in appetite, weight loss (especially in the abdomen), therapeutic for brain disorders, and more (12)!


What I can tell you from personal experience is the following:
lower blood sugars
lower insulin levels
increased energy
less bloating
less stomach pain

What are macros and how do I calculate them?

The term “macros” is short for macronutrients. Macronutrients are fat, carbohydrates (carbs) and protein. 

There are general macros guidelines and then specific ketogenic macros guidelines. According to generic keto guidelines, your macros will be somewhere around the 5% carbs, 20% protein, and 75% fat.

Macros are specific to each individual though.  To calculate your specific macros, I suggest using a reputable keto macros calculator to figure out your specific macros.  

What is the keto flu and how do I avoid it?

The Keto flu is a state most people transition through in order to reach ketosis.  It sounds worse than it is.  The keto flu happens to most people shortly after embarking on keto eating, but there are ways to mitigate it.  Let’s first talk about why the keto flu happens.
If you begin keto eating immediately after a lifestyle that included a lot of sugar and gluten, then there is a high likelihood that you are going to feel yucky the first week.  This is not the keto flu though.  This is the breaking of an addiction. 


Sugar and gluten are both incredibly addicting.  When you stop eating them, it is like quitting smoking, for example.  I think that is something we can all relate to even if we’ve never smoked.  Most of us have heard of how addicting cigarettes are and how difficult quitting is. 


Quitting sugar and gluten is difficult as well.  Your body is literally going through withdrawal.  It is not fun, but it can serve as a reminder of a place you never want to be again.


As for actual keto flu, that is due to something else entirely. 


The following are what contribute to the keto flu:
Dehydration – to be blunt, you are going to pee a whole lot more while enjoying the Ketogenic Lifestyle. I won’t go into the boring details of why it occurs, but just trust me that you will!


Electrolyte imbalance – given the diuretic effect of keto, what often happens is that an electrolyte imbalance occurs. There are 3 electrolytes that are of particular importance.  They are sodium, potassium and magnesium.  Some people add salts to their keto foods to combat the sodium piece (I do).  Some people also take magnesium supplements (I do).  As for potassium, it is generally not recommended to take as a supplement unless under close monitoring of your doctor, so I get this via food (avocados and nuts are good sources).  The magnesium helps with constipation that goes along with the loss of liquids!  Always speak with your doctor about supplements if you decide to go that route.  My naturopath helped with the right dose of magnesium and gave me a range to play around in.


Transition – here is one of the big reasons why we experience the keto flu. Our body is transitioning from burning glucose as its primary fuel to burning ketones.  This transition is a not an easy one, but a rather clunky one.  It is during this transition that we feel the worst.  Usually, it is the worst right at the beginning of the transition into ketosis.  Most people think that once they are in ketosis that there will be this wonderful switch and they will feel incredible immediately.  Sadly, this is not the case.  That incredible feeling comes a short while later once the body resigns itself to the fact that it is going to stay in ketosis.

What can you do?
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!


Make sure you are getting the right electrolytes. This might take some trial and error.

Stay the course. If you eat some carbs to “feel better” then you are just resetting the entire process.  Resist the temptation!

Can I drink alcohol on the keto diet?

Yes.  That comes with a caveat though.  Your liver is what metabolizes fat to produce ketones. 


Your liver ALSO metabolizes alcohol.  Did you know that alcohol is the 4th macronutrient?  It is not an essential one, though, and your body views it as toxic.  Sorry to burst your bubble.  Given that alcohol is toxic, your liver jumps to the task to metabolize it and get it out of your system.
Therefore, it puts a temporary hold on burning fat in order to metabolize the alcohol.  This can have an effect on your weight loss and fat burning efforts if you drink a lot.

Can I workout on the keto diet?

YES!  And I highly recommend that you do!  It doesn’t need to be an hour sweating lifting weights or running 5 miles.  It could be as simple as walking to the mailbox twice or around the block if you are sedentary.  It can all be based on your current lifestyle.  The important thing is to move your body!


For more info, be sure to check out Working Out on Keto!

What’s the difference between keto and low carb?

There is no definitive definition of low carb.  My own personal definition is under 100g of carbs per day.  Both keto and low carb diets are considered “low carb”.


The distinguishing factor, however, is that the goal of the keto diet is the metabolic state of ketosis whereas that is not the case with low carb.

Ketosis and Fat Adapted

What is ketosis?

Ketosis is a metabolic state where your body burns fat for energy. This happens when your glycogen reserves (from eating carbs) have been depleted and your body burns fat instead.  Ketones are a bi-product of this process.  A keto lifestyle, when done correctly, will result in a state of ketosis.  Fasting for extended periods of time can also result in ketosis.

Basically, our bodies can be sugar burning machines or fat burning machines.  We want them to be fat burning machines when eating keto, although they prefer to be sugar burning machines because it is easier to burn sugar.

According to DietDoctor.com, the many benefits of ketosis include:

  • Higher mental focus and clarity. Our brains rather enjoy ketones.
  • Reduction in hunger.
  • Reversal of Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Improvement in conditions such as acne and PCOS.

There are standard steps to follow to reach ketosis.  Remember that every body is different and you will need to calculate your exact macros as we’ve talked about:

  1. Stay below 20g of net carbs per day.
  2. Try to hit your protein goals each day.
  3. Don’t worry about fats too much as there is no need to hit your fat goals if you are at a minimum above 50g per day (or the appropriate level for your body).
  4. Drink enough water.
  5. Start intermittent fasting, if you choose, to jumpstart ketosis and help burn glycogen reserves.
  6. Always practice a regular exercise routine.

Remember to check the ingredients.  Carbs even hide in spices like you wouldn’t believe!

How long will it take to get into ketosis?

That all depends on the individual.  Some people will be in ketosis in a few days and other people it will take weeks. 

If I ever go out of ketosis for an extended period of time, I’ll be back in within 48 hours.  If I fast or do an egg fast, I’ll be back in with in 24 hours. 

What does fat adapted mean?

Being fat adapted is when your body is burning fat, you aren’t hungry all the time and you have loads of energy.  In other words, your body has adjusted and is not in the process of adjusting.

That is the most basic way to explain it.  Most of the time when not eating keto, our bodies need a constant supply of carbs, for example.  When fat adapted, it is efficient at using the large supply of fat in the body as fuel and you no longer suffer those hunger pains often.

You might be thinking that it sounds a lot like ketosis.  Let me explain a bit further.  The best way I can explain this is to say that being fat adapted is your body being efficient at being in ketosis.

When someone first transitions into ketosis, it is generally not a very fun process.  The keto flu really is no joke for some people.  You can be in ketosis and still suffering from the keto flu.  This means your body has transitioned to fat burning but it is still a bit clunky.  It is stumbling.

I like to think of this transition period from not being in ketosis to ketosis to fat adapted as the following example.  Imagine you just started the engine to an older car and it is trying to get back to the easy state of being OFF and you are pressing the gas pedal to give it gas and it resists until it finally starts.  When it finally starts and runs beautifully – that is fat adapted.  Ketosis can be both states.

Now, if you have been in ketosis for weeks and months and still find yourself not fat adapted, then you might be consuming too many carbs.  Recalculate your macros and start keeping track of everything you eat to make sure you are staying within your suggested macros.

How do I know if I’m in ketosis?

You can test for ketosis by using urine strips, breath strips or via a blood meter.  Both the urine and breath strips are generally unreliable and the blood meters are expensive,

If you are following your macros, feel great, are losing weight (if desired) then you are good.  Whether or not you are in ketosis doesn’t matter at this point.

Do I have to stay in ketosis for the rest of my life?

Certainly not!  I mean, it is up to you whether you do or not, but there is a middle of the road as well. 

I am in maintenance mode which basically means, I am in ketosis most of the time, but not always.  When I am not, I am basically eating Paleo with the addition of cheese.  I did not and will not go back to old eating habits and old food choices. 

When people say that you gain all your weight back when you come off the keto diet, it is because they go back to old eating patterns. 

Keto Macros and Calories

How many carbs can you eat on keto?

our specific macros will be unique to you.  The generally accepted value is around 20g of net carbs.  

What are macros and how do I calculate them?

The term “macros” is short for macronutrients. Macronutrients are fat, carbohydrates (carbs) and protein. 

There are general macros guidelines and then specific ketogenic macros guidelines. According to generic keto guidelines, your macros will be somewhere around the 5% carbs, 20% protein, and 75% fat.

Macros are specific to each individual though.  To calculate your specific macros, I suggest using a reputable keto macros calculator to figure out your specific macros.  

Do I have to count calories on the keto diet?

Yes and No.  

By definition, if you follow a set of macros, then your calories are predefined.  Meaning for every gram of fat, there are 9 calories and for every gram of carbs and protein, there are 4 calories.  

If you are not trying to lose weight, then there is no need to keep track of calories if you are following your macros.  

However, calories still matter:

To lose weight, you must be in a calorie deficit

To gain weight, you must be in a calorie surplus

To maintain weight, you must be about even.

Do I need to get all my fat in?

Nope!  This is another common misconception. 

You need a certain amount just for survival.  And on top of that, fat is meant to keep you feeling full for one thing.  You do not need to “get your fat in”.  It is there to help you out, but again, it all comes down to if you are trying to lose weight or not!

What if I go over on my protein?

Honestly, it is not a huge deal.  There is this worry about gluconeogenesis 

Gluconeogenesis is the process of creating glucose from protein.  I’m oversimplifying here, but you get the idea. 

The fear is that extra protein will turn into glucose.  Here’s the thing.  This process happens as needed all the time.  It is not like this new thing when you eat too much protein.  

It is best to try to get close to your protein goal.  If you go over a little or under a little, don’t stress about it. 

Should I count total carbs or net carbs on the keto diet?

This is a personal decision, but I feel it is best to count net carbs.  The reason is that fiber is so important for your body and if you count total carbs and STILL try to stay under 20g then you will miss out on a TON of fiber.  

For example, a medium avocado is 12g of carbs.  10 of those are from fiber, so it is only 2 net carbs.  If you are counting total carbs, there is a higher likelihood that you’ll never touch an avocado because “it is too high in carbs”.  And we don’t want that!

Keto Supplements

Do I need to take supplements?

You definitely do not need to take supplements.  There are some that I take that I can share with you, however.

I take magnesium citrate every night because I am one of those that suffers from constipation with the keto diet!  Many people do given that the body holds less water due to ketosis.  

This helps keep me regular. 

I also take my multivitamin, selenium, zinc, biotin and collagen.  All for various reasons!

Keto Food and Your Pantry

Is there a free keto meal plan?

There are plenty of keto plans out there and lots of free options.  Some better than others!

I have a 7 Day Meal plan that you are welcome to look into!

Free 7 Day Sample Keto Plan of Meals

What foods are keto friendly?

The keto diet consists mainly of healthy fats and oils, meats, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.  Contrary to popular believe, dairy is entirely optional (and so it meat)!

Download the Ultimate Printable Keto Shopping List and use it to find keto friendly foods, plan meals and shop!

Can I eat fruit on the keto diet?

I bet you didn’t know that sugar is 50% glucose and 50% fructose. Do you know that else contains fructose?  Fruit!   A little bit is fine, but gorging on what you might consider to be healthy fruits is not the best idea.

The above is not specific to keto.  If we add keto to the mix, the same holds true and we want to stick to the lower carb fruits such as berries. 

Where can I find keto recipes?

Well right here of course! And PINTEREST!

Recipe Blog: The Keto Option

Pinterest: The Keto Option

Can I eat gluten on the keto diet?

I don’t recommend it.  Ketosis is a metabolic state, not a food group though, so it is your choice. 

BUT, one of the goals of keto is to reduce inflammation and gluten is inflammatory.  So is dairy though, but that is another topic.  

Read more about weight loss and infammation and why it matters!

Can I eat dairy on the keto diet?

You sure can!

What basics should I stock my pantry with?

Here are the pantry basics

Almond Flour

Baking Soda

Baking Powder

Collagen

Coconut Flour

Flax

Hot Sauce

Lily’s Chocolate Chips

Mayonnaise

Pork Rinds

Psyllium Husk

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

Xanthan Gum

Fridge basics

Hot Sauce

Mayonnaise

Mustard

Low Carb Salsa

Tools

Blender

Cheese Shredder

Spiralizer

Is there a printable keto shopping list?

There sure is! Download the Ultimate Printable Keto Shopping List

now!

Keto Baking

What are the best keto sweeteners?

Stevia

People across the board agree that Stevia is the best sugar replacement out there.  It is an herb with a GI of 0. Stevia comes in both liquid and powder form.  As is the case with other sweeteners, it is best to use the liquid form vs the powder.  You are less likely to run into “fillers” that way.

Monkfruit

This is a crazy sounding one!  Monkfruit is extremely sweet and native to China.  It has a GI of 0, just like stevia.  The problem is that it is commonly mixed with other fillers and highly expensive in its raw/pure form.

Given the difficulty of finding this without fillers, I recommend passing on it unless you are certain you are buying pure monk fruit or you are familiar with the fillers (ex, erythritol).

Erythritol

Erythritol is found naturally in fruits and vegetables and has very few calories. It has a GI of 0 and it is generally agreed that erythritol does not affect blood sugar in otherwise healthy individuals.  Among sugar alcohols, this is my pick.

Stay away from:

Artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, aspartame, saccharin, etc…

What are the best keto flours?

My personal favorites are coconut flour and almond flour.  These are the most common keto and low carb flours in recipes.

Do I need to use xanthan gum with keto flours?

It is not necessary, but when you remove gluten that you are used to using in flours, you also remove the binder and thickener.  You cannot simply substitute almond flour for wheat flour, for example.

You may notice that in gluten free baking flours, it normally has xanthan gum already included for this very reason.

So while you don’t NEED to, I think you will end up WANTING to.

Can almond flour and coconut flour be substituted for each other?

Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no.

The difficulty is that coconut flour is more dense.  So you either need to use less or increase the liquids.  Both of which can negatively alter a recipe, so keep that in mind.

Keto and Weight Loss

I haven’t lost weight in 2 months. Am I doing something wrong?

This is SO common, you wouldn’t even believe it.  When it has been a few months without losing weight, it is often considered a weight loss stall.  There are many reasons why this occurs as well as ways to combat it!

Common Reasons:

  1. Taking exogenous ketones – simple!  If you are drinking ketones then your body is using those ketones for fuel instead of breaking down your own fat for ketones
  2. Stress – I know, I know, we hate to hear this.  But it is true.
  3. Improper food choices – calories matter, food matters, and carbs hide everywhere.  
  4. Not moving your body – yep, sitting still all day is not going to help accomplish your goal.  

What to do about it?

  1. Carb Cycle – I am a BIG proponent of carb cycling.  Check out the many Benefits of a Carb Up Day.
  2. Intermittent Fasting – this also helps cleanup crappy cells!
  3. Increase water
  4. Decrease stress.

To read in more detail, check out Top 4 Tips to Breakthrough the Weight Loss Stall

Why did I stop losing weight after my first week?

People will almost always lose weight their first week on the keto diet.  This is because if they are eating at the right carb level, the body will use up the glycogen stores (which hold water) in which case you release a reasonable amount of water weight.  

After this happens, the hard work begins!

For more information, please read Keto Weight Loss – What happens and when.

Can I do keto if I don’t want to lose weight?

You sure can!  I do!  You simply need to make sure your macros are set to maintain and that your calories support a maintenance level.

What happens once I meet my weight goal?

You can go into maintenance mode and adjust your calories and macros.  I eat a combination of keto, low carb and paleo with the heaviest focus on keto.

Keto Carb Cycling

What is keto carb cycling?

My favorite topic!  Carb cycling is basically when you introduce a higher carb day into your regular keto eating schedule.

For example, I have a higher carb day once a week. 

Make sure to check out Benefits of a Carb Up Day on Keto.

In short, it is helpful with hormones and metabolism, especially for women! 

Is carb cycling and a cheat day the same thing?

A higher carb day is not to be confused with a cheat day.  It is not meant to introduce inflammatory foods into your diet, but rather introduce healthier carbs such as root vegetables.

Make sure to check out Benefits of a Carb Up Day on Keto.

Keto and Your Health

Can I do keto if I am diabetic?

I cannot answer that question for you as that has to be an informed decision that you make yourself after consulting your doctor.

I can tell you, though, that there is a lot of confusion between ketosis and ketoacidosis.  These are two very different things and are often confused with one another.  

I am an adult onset type 1 diabetic with a Master’s certificate in Nutrition and eat I choose to eat keto to reduce insulin requirements and stabilize my blood sugars.  

There is no denying that keto is helpful for blood sugar control that can be helpful to both type 1 and type 2 diabetics.

In the end, though, only you can make the right choice for your health.

For more information, please check out Keto Diet and Insulin.

Does keto affect my period?

HA!  Well, I’ve heard people say pretty much everything.  “Keto makes my periods heavier”.  “Keto makes my periods lighter”.  “Keto makes me spot more”. etc…

The fact is that people don’t really know.  But one thought is that the effect on periods might be more related to the weight loss than the keto.

Just be prepared that there might be an effect on your period!

Can I eat keto with thyroid issues?

Again, that is only something you can answer with your doctor, but I can tell you a few things that I know.

The thyroid produces hormones that are responsible for quite a bit.  Things like digestion, metabolic rate, mood, breathing, menstrual cycles and more. [1].  Two hormones it produces are T3 and T4.  A delicate balance is required.

I’m going to share with you a quote from an interesting study.  All the studies are listed in the references section.

To evaluate the effect of caloric restriction and dietary composition on circulating T3 and rT3 obese subjects were studied after 7-18 days of total fasting and while on randomized hypocaloric diets (800 kcal) in which carbohydrate content was varied to provide from 0 to 100% calories. As anticipated, total fasting resulted in a 53% reduction in serum T3 in association with reciprocal 58% increase in rT3. Subjects receiving the no-carbohydrate hypocaloric diets for two weeks demonstrated a similar 47% decline in serum T3 but there was no significant change in rT3 with time. In contrast, the same subjects receiving isocaloric diets containing at least 50 g of carbohydrate showed no significant changes in either T3 or rT3 concentration. The decline in serum T3 during the no-carbohydrate diet correlated significantly with blood glucose and ketones but there was no correlation with insulin or glucagon. We conclude that dietary carbohydrate is an important regulatory factor in T3 production” [2].

So what that says is that the thyroid of people on the keto diet might suffer. 

I’ll speak for myself here now, but I have Hashimoto’s which is basically the autoimmune version of hypothyroidism.   So given that my thyroid is already LOW, keto has the potential to make it worse.

This is why I incorporate carb cycling into my own personal keto journey.

[1] https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/thyroid-nodules/thyroid-gland-controls-bodys-metabolism-how-it-works-symptoms-hyperthyroi

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1249190

Intermittent Fasting

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent Fasting refers to having a window of eating and window of fasting basically.  

Common types of Intermittent Fasting:

  1. Daily Eating Window (16:8) – This type of Intermittent Fasting involves having an eating window each day (or every other day or once a week or however often you like). Most commonly, this involves an 8-hour eating window and a 16 hour fast. For example, if you go to bed at 10 and get up at 6, then your eating window might be from 11am-7pm. This simply means you don’t eat breakfast before 11 and you don’t eat after 7pm at night. I practice this daily. I got to bed at 8pm and get up at 4am, so my eating window is 9am-5pm.
  2. 24 Hour Fast – This involves not eating for a 24-hour period. Commonly, one will eat dinner one night and then not eat again until dinner the next night. Some people mistakenly do a 36-40 hour fast when they were trying to do a 24 hour fast. Meaning, they will eat dinner and skip the entire next day of meals and not eat again until breakfast the following day. By doing this, you’ve greatly extended your fast unintentionally. A 24-hour fast is common to do when you are trying to get yourself into ketosis a bit faster, for those entering a Ketogenic Lifestyle. I have difficulty doing these types of fasts. My husband does them often.
  3. 24+ Hour Water Fast (usually several days) – I don’t really talk about this much because one must take a bit more care when doing this.
  4. 5:2 method – on 2 nonconsecutive days of the week, restrict calories (500-600 calories or whatever meets your unique needs) and eat normally the rest of the week. This can be simply eating less or it can be a 16:8 variety which general inherently restricts calories.

Do I need to do intermittent fasting?

The short answer is NO. The long answer is also NO.

Are we good? Kidding!!!

Ok, but seriously…. Intermittent Fasting is completely optional and not mandatory for health or weight loss in any way.

However, it can aid the restoration of the body and it can help with weight loss by burning fat and restricting calories.

Intermittent Fasting is a tool and something that our bodies gravitate towards for restoring itself anyway.

It does not have to be a strict schedule or something you dread. Do it when you fee like it. If you are exceptionally hungry at 10am and your eating window doesn’t start until noon, then eat at 10am. Simple, right?

Social and Family Considerations

What if my family is not keto?

It’s totally fine!  They don’t need to be!

If you are the cook for the family, you don’t even need to make two meals!  Most people are shocked by this because they’ve been making 2 complete meals for so long that they just assume they have to.

I have 5 kids and a hubby who are not keto and I only ever make one meal.

I make a base keto meal and then add on an additional side such as sweet potatoes or something like that for all the non keto folks!

Keto meals make a great base meal even for non keto folks.

Make sure to check out How to Eat Keto When Your Family Doesn’t.

What if I am invited to a party and there is no keto food?

This is not a complex one but it is one that people worry about.  Let me relieve your worry!

First of all, you can always mostly eat ahead of time.  There is usually something you can eat.  Maybe only one thing, but usually there is something.  

People will ask why you aren’t eating much and you can simply explain your eating choices and move on.  Change the topic.  Be firm and armed with information. 

You never have to explain yourself.  

Additionally, you can always offer to bring a casserole or something that you can eat so you always have something to fall back on.  

These are the things I do!

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