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Keto Diet 101

Updated: Dec 6, 2020

What is it?

The keto diet is a nutrition plan comprised of 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbs. The body switches from using carbohydrates to burning fat for energy and the liver produces molecules called ketones in the process. Ketones are what the body uses for fuel instead of glucose broken down from carbohydrates.

What foods are included?

  • Natural fats: butter, olive oil, coconut oil

  • Meat: Chicken, turkey, beef, lamb

  • Seafood: salmon, shrimp, crab, sardines, mackerel

  • Eggs

  • Cheese, plain greek yogurt (no flavouring), cottage cheese

  • Nuts & seeds: Brazil, macadamia, pecans, chia, flax

  • Vegetables grown above ground: Spinach, cooked brussels, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, spaghetti squash, avocados

  • Small portions of berries, lemon or lime

What foods are avoided?

  • High starchy vegetables: potatoes, yams, beets

  • Grains: oats, amaranth, rice, pasta

  • Beans & lentils

  • Deep fried foods & trans fats

  • Added sugars/ sweeteners

  • Alcohol: beer, wine

  • High sugar fruits (Mango, bananas, pineapple)

  • High omega 6:3 ratio foods (safflower, corn, and sunflower oils)

The missing nutrients:

Due to the restrictive nature of the keto diet, it can be lacking the following nutrients:

  • Sodium

  • Magnesium

  • Potassium

Ketosis vs. ketoacidosis

Ketosis is a state where the body has low levels of ketones (acetoacetate, beta- hydroxybutyric acid, and acetone) in the blood. Ketosis is a normal physiological process of the body which occurs during an overnight fast.

In contrast, ketoacidosis is a large amount of ketones in the blood which is extremely dangerous, requires immediate medical attention, and may occur in unmanaged diabetes.

Keto Cons

The keto flu:

Getting into ketosis can take 2-3 weeks. In the transition period common symptoms include muscle cramping & soreness, heart palpitations, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, depression, trouble sleeping, and moodiness

Microbiome dysbiosis:

Microbial diversity is reduced as only certain bacteria survive in high fat/ bile salt environments. Diets high in protein also decrease butyrate producing bacteria leading to a gut predisposed to less types of bacteria.

Poor meal planning may cause constipation and excessive loss of potassium/sodium


  • Intolerance to eating a high fat & protein diet e.g. malabsorption

  • Kidney disease

  • Predisposed to gout

  • Gall stones

  • Pregnancy

Keto Pros

  • Less sugar cravings

  • Decreased afternoon fatigue

  • Stabilizes mood

  • Reduces brain fog

  • Weight loss & leaner body shape

  • Used in brain disorders: epilepsy, autism, Alzheimer's disease, depression, brain trauma (How? ketones may modulate nerve firing)

  • Used in some cancers and diabetes management

  • Possible 2.5% increase in grip strength & beneficial performance in aerobic/endurance athletes

Knowledge is power,



Bueno, N. B., de Melo, I. S. V., de Oliveira, S. L., & da Rocha Ataide, T. (2013). Very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet v. low-fat diet for long-term weight loss: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. British Journal of Nutrition, 110(7), 1178-1187.

Gasior, M., Rogawski, M. A., & Hartman, A. L. (2006). Neuroprotective and disease-modifying effects of the ketogenic diet. Behavioural pharmacology, 17(5-6), 431.

King, D. E., Mainous III, A. G., & Lambourne, C. A. (2012). Trends in dietary fiber intake in the United States, 1999-2008. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 112(5), 642-648.

McSwiney, F. T., Wardrop, B., Hyde, P. N., Lafountain, R. A., Volek, J. S., & Doyle, L. (2018). Keto-adaptation enhances exercise performance and body composition responses to training in endurance athletes. Metabolism, 81, 25-34.

Neal, E. G., Chaffe, H., Schwartz, R. H., Lawson, M. S., Edwards, N., Fitzsimmons, G., ... & Cross, J. H. (2008). The ketogenic diet for the treatment of childhood epilepsy: a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Neurology, 7(6), 500-506.

Ruskin, D. N., Svedova, J., Cote, J. L., Sandau, U., Rho, J. M., Kawamura Jr, M., ... & Masino, S. A. (2013). Ketogenic diet improves core symptoms of autism in BTBR mice. PLoS One, 8(6), e65021.

Rho, J. M., & Stafstrom, C. E. (2012). The ketogenic diet as a treatment paradigm for diverse neurological disorders. Frontiers in pharmacology, 3, 59.

Seyfried, T. N., Kiebish, M., Mukherjee, P., & Marsh, J. (2008). Targeting energy metabolism in brain cancer with calorically restricted ketogenic diets. Epilepsia, 49, 114-116.

Urbain, P., Strom, L., Morawski, L., Wehrle, A., Deibert, P., & Bertz, H. (2017). Impact of a 6-week non-energy-restricted ketogenic diet on physical fitness, body composition and biochemical parameters in healthy adults. Nutrition & metabolism, 14(1), 17.

Note: keto diets should only be used under professional & experienced supervision. If you are considering undertaking a ketogenic diet please consult a dietician or naturopathic doctor.

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