Understanding Ketogenic Diet: The Nutritionally Correct Way

Aditi Shenai

November 6, 2023

The ketogenic diet or keto diet is the talk of the town, followed by celebrities, social media influencers, and the health-conscious worldwide. The common perception is that it’s a diet for weight loss. Contrary to popular belief, the keto diet originated to cure neurological diseases. However, following this diet with a proper schedule and plan can also lead to weight loss.

A ketogenic diet includes adding foods rich in healthy fats and protein and eliminating carbohydrates from your diet. Therefore, the carbohydrate content in this diet is minimal (and in some cases nearly negligible). This article will explore the ketogenic diet, its types, clinical significance, advantages, disadvantages, how to follow a keto diet, whether it is fit for you or not, and much more.  

Types of Ketogenic Diet

A scientist named Russell Wilder in 1921 coined the term ketogenic diet. People who have epilepsy were made to follow this diet. He noticed a significant reduction in the frequency and intensity of seizures among people following the keto diet. After the introduction of anti-epileptic drugs, the ketogenic diet was losing its name until recently, when it became famous as a weight loss diet plan.

A standard ketogenic diet consists of a low carbohydrate intake, a high fat intake, and a moderate protein intake. The percentage of fat in the diet is 50-60%, protein is 30-35%, and the rest is carbohydrates which comes to 5-10% only. As carbohydrate consumption gets reduced significantly, the body starts to utilise fat as its primary fuel source due to the lack of glucose from carbohydrates. By following this diet, the body transitions into ketosis. The goal of a keto diet in today’s time is to decrease overall body fat and improve metabolism. 

Clinically speaking, there are four different kinds of ketogenic diets one can follow. Given below are the different types of ketogenic diet:

LCT Ketogenic Diet

LCT stands for long chain triglycerides. These are the types and sources of fat allowed in this diet. Also, this is the most traditional type of ketogenic diet. It is usually used in a clinical setting and follows rigorous calorie counting. Eating out is not allowed in this type of diet. Rich sources of fat like butter, cream, cheese, fish, meat, etc, are the main food groups with minimal carbohydrates, just 20-30 grams per day. 

MCT Ketogenic Diet

MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides. These types of fats do not require bile and digestive enzymes for digestion and absorption in the body. Coconut is the only food source of medium-chain triglycerides. The difference between this type of diet and the traditional one is that the type of fat used in this diet is from coconuts and from nowhere else. If this type of fat is not accessible, then the supplement is given according to the person’s needs. The carbohydrate content in this diet is more generous than the LCT diet.

MAD Ketogenic Diet

MAD stands for modified Atkins diet. This diet is less restrictive, and food measures are with household measurements of spoons and cups. This diet has little room for error in measurement as household measurements may not always be very accurate. This type of diet allows the person to eat out at restaurants. 

Low GI Ketogenic Diet

This diet is primarily for people who are prediabetic or who have diabetes. As the name indicates, the carbohydrate sources allowed in this diet are low in glycemic index. However, the carbohydrate content is also very low. 


A typical ketogenic diet calls for moderate protein intake, large fat consumption, and minimal carbohydrate intake. Dietary fat makes up 50–60% of the total, protein makes up 30–35%, and carbs make up the remaining 5–10%. There are four types of ketogenic diets that one can follow clinically. The most common kind of ketogenic diet is the LCT keto diet, which involves strict calorie counting. The addition of coconut oil is the main focus of the MCT diet. The modified Atkins diet, or MAD for short, is less rigorous and uses spoons and cups, which are standard household sizes for measuring food. People with diabetes or prediabetes are the primary beneficiaries of the low-GI ketogenic diet.

Clinically Proven Advantages of a Ketogenic Diet 

One should not follow a restrictive diet without consulting a qualified nutritionist. However, below are scientifically proven facts about ketogenic diets: 

Manage Diabetes

The ketogenic diet is effective in controlling diabetes and keeping blood sugar levels in check. The blood sugar levels reduce significantly with HBa1c (glycosylated haemoglobin test done every three months) reduced to 20%. 

Cardiovascular Diseases

A ketogenic diet reduces the risk of heart disease by lowering markers of inflammation. Also, this, in turn, is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. A low-carbohydrate, high-fat ketogenic diet helps in lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is the bad cholesterol. Lowered LDL and inflammation lead to a healthier heart. 

Manage Obesity

A low carbohydrate diet, as in the Ketogenic diet, can reduce the weight of obese people when compared with a low-fat diet. Following a ketogenic diet, people who were suffering from obesity and diabetes benefitted doubly. It controls blood sugar levels, and weight loss is a by-product of blood sugar regulation. Hence, the keto diet has positive effects on weight management, insulin resistance, and overall weight loss. 

Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease 

The ketogenic diet helps by improving gut health, which increases folate production and reduces inflammation and oxidative stress. 


Polycystic ovarian syndrome is due to insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, dyslipidemia, obesity, and hyperandrogenism. A ketogenic diet increases insulin sensitivity and weight loss, which helps in controlling PCOS. 

Neurodegenerative Disorders 

The ketogenic diet helps reduce the intensity of seizures in epilepsy. This diet controls Alzheimer’s disease by increasing mitochondrial function and reducing oxidative stress. Following a ketogenic diet for someone with Parkinson’s disease helps reduce non-motor symptoms and improve motor skills. 


Due to the lack of glucose supply in the ketogenic diet, the cancer-causing tumours do not get enough glucose, as a result of which following a ketogenic diet results in reduced tumour size. Also, this suppressed tumour growth due to the ketogenic diet improves survival rates and enhances the efficiency of chemotherapy. 


A ketogenic diet offers benefits for various conditions, including improving PCOS, reducing epilepsy seizures, regulating blood glucose, lowering cardiovascular disease risk, and aiding in weight management. This high-fat, low-carb diet can also reduce bad cholesterol (LDL), supporting heart health, and hinder tumor growth by limiting glucose supply to cancer cells. However, it’s not recommended as a long-term solution, and consulting a nutritionist is crucial before starting.

Clinically Proven Adverse Effects of a Ketogenic Diet 

A ketogenic diet also has some adverse effects, which one must consider carefully before embarking on the journey. 

Keto Flu

Keto flu is a type of fever one experiences initially while following a ketogenic diet. The symptoms include vomiting, fever, tiredness, headaches, etc.

Kidney Stones

Diets low in carbohydrates and high-fat diets can increase the risk of developing kidney stones. Guidance from a qualified professional is necessary while following this type of diet. 

Muscle Loss

Rapid weight loss while following a ketogenic diet can lead to loss of muscle mass and a decrease in performance. 

Cognitive Decline

Since the brain uses only glucose, a sudden lack of glucose sources in the brain can cause confusion and irritation while trying to adapt to the ketogenic diet. 

Nutrient Deficiencies

Since fruits and vegetables are almost absent in this kind of diet, a lack of essential vitamins and minerals can lead to nutrient deficiencies. 

In summary, the ketogenic diet can be a beneficial tool for improving various health conditions, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Consultation with a healthcare professional or nutritionist is vital to ensure that it aligns with your individual needs, goals, and medical conditions.


There are some possible side effects of following a ketogenic diet. Kidney stones, Keto fever, cognitive decline, muscle loss, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies are common side effects. The primary fuel used by the brain is glucose. Hence, a sudden shortage of glucose sources within the brain can lead to cognitive decline. The fever that one gets when they first start a ketogenic diet is called the “keto flu.” A ketogenic diet that causes rapid weight loss may also cause muscular mass loss. 

Foods to Include and Avoid

Following is a list of foods one can include while following a ketogenic diet. 

  • Eggs and meat 
  • Low carbohydrate vegetables 
  • Cream and cheese 
  • Nuts and oilseeds 
  • Seafoods 

Following is a list of foods to avoid while following a ketogenic diet. 

  • Fruits 
  • Refined cereals 
  • Fruit juices and carbonated drinks 
  • Icecreams and sweetened yoghourts 
  • Starchy vegetables 
  • Pulses and legumes 


Select low-carb, keto-friendly foods such as shellfish, meat, fish, cheese, and veggies with real butter. Steer clear of carbohydrate-rich items such as bread, potatoes, rice, and sweets. Consuming refined carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, white bread, and pastries may inhibit the formation of ketosis. 

Sample Ketogenic Diet Plan 


For anyone thinking about how vegans or vegetarians follow a keto diet, look no further. Here’s a sample of a ketogenic diet plan. 

8 AMKeto burritos
1 PMCauliflower rice with marinated tofu
5 PMAvocado salad
8 PMKeto buddha bowl


A sample one-day ketogenic diet plan for non-vegetarians is as follows:

8 AMCheese omelette on a bed of delicious greens
1 PMRoasted chicken with coconut cream
5 PMBroccoli lemon parmesan soup
8 PMCauliflower rice with steamed fish

The diet plans given above are generalised. One should consult a nutritionist to get a customised diet plan according to one’s needs. 

HealthifyMe Suggestion

A ketogenic diet cuts out nearly all your carbohydrate intake so if you are considering opting for this diet and are currently on a carb-rich diet, you need to consult your nutritionist or health practitioner immediately. They can help you start to control your carb intake slowly so that you can gradually move in to following the keto diet without experiencing abnormal hunger pangs and carbohydrate withdrawal.


In conclusion, the ketogenic diet, initially designed for the treatment of neurological diseases, has gained widespread popularity as a weight loss regimen. While it offers several clinical advantages, including the management of diabetes, reduction in the risk of cardiovascular diseases, and aiding in conditions like obesity, PCOS, and neurodegenerative disorders, it also comes with some potential adverse effects such as the keto flu, kidney stones, muscle loss, cognitive decline, and nutrient deficiencies.

There are various types of ketogenic diets, each catering to different needs, and it’s crucial to consult a qualified nutritionist for a personalised plan. Whether you’re following a vegetarian or non-vegetarian keto diet, it’s essential to maintain a balance of foods to meet your nutritional requirements.

Incorporating foods like eggs, meat, low-carb vegetables, cream, cheese, nuts, and seafood while avoiding fruits, refined cereals, sugary beverages, and starchy vegetables is essential. Remember that exercise and proper hydration are integral to the success of your ketogenic journey, especially if your goal is weight loss.

Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is just to disperse knowledge and raise awareness. It does not intend to replace medical advice from professionals. For further information, please contact our certified nutritionists Here.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What is the ketogenic diet?

A. A ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate protein, and low-carbohydrate diet. The percentage of fat in the diet is 50-60%, for protein, it is 30-35%, and the rest is carbohydrates which comes to 5-10% only.  

Q. How does the ketogenic diet work for weight loss and fat burning?

A. Ketogenic diet works well for weight loss and fat burning. The diet results in reduced weight due to a low carbohydrate, high fat, and moderate protein diet plan. Also, this even reduces blood sugar levels, inflammation, and oxidative stress. 

Q. What is the nutritional breakdown of a typical keto diet?

A. Nutritional breakdown of a typical keto diet looks high fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrate diet. The percentage of fat in the diet is 50-60%, for protein, it is 30-35%, and the rest is low GI carbohydrates, which comes to 5-10% only.  

Q. Can the ketogenic diet help manage blood sugar levels and diabetes?

A. Ketogenic diet is effective in controlling diabetes and keeping blood sugar levels in check. The blood sugar levels reduce significantly with HBa1c (glycosylated haemoglobin test done every three months) reduced to 20%. 

Q. Are there different variations of the ketogenic diet?

A. Yes, there are four different types of ketogenic diets. Namely, LCT ketogenic Diet [LCT stands for long-chain triglycerides], MCT ketogenic diet [MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides] MAD ketogenic Diet [MAD stands for modified Atkins diet] and Low Glycemic Index ketogenic diet. 

Q. What is the role of ketosis in the ketogenic diet?

A. ketosis occurs as carbohydrate consumption reduces significantly, and the body starts to utilise fat as its primary fuel source due to the lack of glucose from carbohydrates. By following this ketogenic diet, the body transitions into ketosis. The goal of a ketogenic diet is to decrease overall body fat and improve metabolism. 

Q. Can the ketogenic diet be effective for epilepsy management?

A. Yes, a ketogenic diet came into being to control epilepsy in children. It is even effective in the case of adults. It can reduce the intensity and duration of seizures. 

Q. How does the ketogenic diet affect energy levels and mental clarity?

A. Initially, one experiences keto flu symptoms, which are confusion, headache, vomiting, low energy, etc. While the body is entering into ketosis, one may experience low energy levels and confusion. After 2-3 days, this problem usually disappears. 

Q. Are there specific foods that are emphasised or restricted on the keto diet?

A. Yes, rich protein and fat sources are emphasised, like meat, eggs, mayo, cheese, cream, etc. At the same time, restricted foods in the keto diet are fruits, cereals, sugary drinks, etc. 

Q. What are the potential side effects or risks associated with the ketogenic diet?

A. Kidney stones, heart diseases, nutrient deficiencies, muscle loss, and cognitive decline are the potential side effects of a ketogenic diet. 

Q. Is exercise a part of the ketogenic lifestyle, and how does it impact the diet?

A. Yes, exercise is an integral part of a ketogenic lifestyle. It helps in further fat loss and achieving the goal of the diet.

Q. How long should someone follow the ketogenic diet for maximum benefits?

A. Following a ketogenic diet for 1.5 to 2 months will be enough to reap its benefits. Proper guidance is necessary while following this type of diet. 

Q. Can vegetarians or vegans follow a ketogenic diet?

A. Yes, vegetarians or vegans can follow a ketogenic diet as there are abundant plant sources of protein and healthy sources of fat available. 

Q. What is the impact of the ketogenic diet on heart health and cholesterol levels?

A. When followed under proper guidance, it has a positive effect on heart health. It lowers low-density lipoprotein, which is bad cholesterol, and protects the heart. 

Q. Are there any common misconceptions or myths about the ketogenic diet?

A. Yes, one is that people can follow this diet indefinitely. That’s not the case, and one should follow it for a maximum of 6-8 months. Proper guidance is necessary while following this kind of restrictive diet.

Research Sources

Effect of a ketogenic diet versus Mediterranean diet on glycated haemoglobin in individuals with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes mellitus: The interventional Keto-Med randomised crossover trial

Favourable metabolic effects of a Eucaloric lower-carbohydrate diet in women with PCOS

The ketogenic diet for human diseases: the underlying mechanisms and potential for clinical implementations

Very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet v. low-fat diet for long-term weight loss: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

The Ketogenic Diet and Cardiovascular Diseases

Neurodegenerative disorders and the Ketogenic diet

About the Author

M.Sc in: Dietetics and Applied Nutrition from Manipal University. Worked: All over India and have been involved in helping set up nutrition departments in start ups. Interested in lifestyle based nutrition. Mantra: A healthy lifestyle isn't a choice to be made or discarded, it's a way of life!

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