Keto Basics FAQs

Basic information about the Ketogenic Diet & Lifestyle

We recommend you also peruse the many helpful articles on this website for more in-depth explorations of the ketogenic diet and lifestyle!

What is keto?

“Keto” means a ketogenic way of eating (WOE) or way of living (WOL), in which you consume a very low-carb diet, which lowers blood glucose levels to that point where the body begins to turn fat into ketone bodies (ketones) and metabolize them for energy instead of glucose. The metabolic state in which your body burns ketones for energy is called ketosis.

Is keto safe?

Keto is a natural state.  All humans are born in a state of ketosis. There are entire aboriginal communities, such as Inuits, who have lived for centuries eating meats and fats.  Although each person has a unique biochemistry, ketosis is a naturally occurring metabolic state, and we encourage anyone and everyone to give it a fair try.

What about ketoacidosis?

Ketosis and ketoacidosis are not the same thing.

Ketosis is a naturally occurring metabolic state in which your body burns ketones for energy. 

Ketoacidosis is a dangerous life-threatening condition that can be experience by Type 1 diabetics and some Type 2 diabetics. Ketoacidosis occurs when your body has elevated levels of both glucose and ketone bodies. Type 1 diabetics lack the insulin needed to clear out the glucose from their system, and some type 2 diabetics are so insulin resistant that their insulin is not efficient enough. If you are not diabetic, there is no danger of ketoacidosis, since your insulin is functioning properly and will not allow your body’s glucose levels get that high.

What can I eat on keto?

We encourage you to sign up for our free newsletter. You will receive a link to our Keto Foods list via email. Please be sure to check your spam inbox just in case.

Is there a keto plan I can download?

There are two month-long meal plans you can try at, but we don't provide an exact outline of everything you need to do to maximize the effects of keto. And there's a good reason for that.

We believe that everyone has their own unique biochemistry, which means that the diet plan that works for me might not work for you, and an activity level that works for me might not work for you.

We encourage you to refer to the Keto Foods list (free to our newsletter subscribers) and visit our kitchen page ( often for recipes and ideas. Try them, see how your body reacts, and ultimately personalize your own keto WOE (way of eating).    

What about cheat days?

You will experience up to 7 days of inflammation as the consequences a single cheat day, which can lead to weight gain and unnecessary stress.

We don’t recommend cheating, and we do not permit members of our groups to post about their cheat experiences.

What about exogenous ketones?

Ketone drinks and powders claim to put your body into ketosis in 45 minutes. We do not promote or recommend them. Many folks who use these products do so in the context of a higher-carb diet, meaning that their body is burning glucose for energy, and any ketones consumed will be escorted out forthwith via the urinary tract, with only trace amounts actually being used for energy. Please save your money, and use it to buy real food. When you eat a well-formulated ketogenic diet, your body will make its own ketones for free.   

What are total carbs and net carbs? Which one should I count?

Carbohydrates come in 4 basic packages: (1) sugars, (2) starches, (3) fibers and (4) polyols (aka sugar alcohols).  The first two types (sugars & starches) are digestible, and have a direct effect on blood sugar.  The other two types (fibers & polyols) are mostly indigestible, and so are generally subtracted from the total carb count, to arrive at net carbs.

For example, if an avocado has 9g of total carbs, 7g of which is fiber, then the net carb count is 2g.

Regarding which one you should count, each person is different.  Some people with metabolic damage can get sugar spikes from fibers and polyols, and so they must count total carbs.  Others do well counting only net carbs.  You need to find out what works best for your body.

How much protein does my body require?

Each body is different. The average woman requires 50g-75g of protein per day, and the average man requires 80g-120g per day.

Protein requirements increase with physical activity, so athletes require more protein than non-athletes, due to muscles in constant need of tissue repair.

A good starting point is 0.5-1.0g of protein per pound of lean body mass. The lower end is for diabetics and people with more metabolic damage. The higher end would be for people without insulin resistance and are more physically active. Most people end up in the middle somewhere.

Once you know your body’s protein requirement, be sure to keep your fat grams equal to or greater than, up to twice that amount.

What should my fat-to-protein (FTP) ratio be?

In a ketogenic way of eating, when counting grams of fat and grams of protein, the acceptable ratio ranges from 2:1 to 1:1. In other words, if you eat 100g of fat, your protein should be anywhere from 50g to 100g.  If you eat 150g of fat, your protein should be anywhere from 75g to 150g.

What are macros?

“Macro” is short of “macronutrients,” which provide energy to your body.

Measured in calories:

  • Lipids (fats): 9 calories per gram
  • Proteins: 4 calories per gram 
  • Carbohydrates: 4 calories per gram

Lipids are the most calorically-dense macro, meaning it will probably take a lesser quantity before you reach satiety (fullness).

What about calories?

Calories ultimately should not be considered. They are useful, but are often a distraction. Humans lived and thrived for several thousand years before calories were discovered. We ultimately need to listen to, get sensitive to, and heed our body’s hormonal signals for hunger (ghrelin hormones) and fullness (leptin hormones). Eat when hungry; stop when full. If you continue to eat when full, you’re overeating, regardless of caloric intake.

What is CICO?

“CICO” stands for “Calories In, Calories Out.” It assumes that in order to lose weight, your caloric intake must be less than your body’s caloric expenditure.

It’s not true, and it's not healthy. It’s been disproven by several dozens of recent scientific studies.

We do not promote this, and we strongly discourage this. We do not tolerate posts that promote, suggest, or condone CICO in our group discussions.

What is IIFYM?

“IIFYM” stands for “If It Fits Your Macros.” As a principle of dieting, it encourages people to eat anything and everything within a given threshold (usually 20g net carbs), even if the food promotes inflammation or blood sugar spikes.

For example, this mindset claims that if I eat zero carbs for breakfast and lunch, I can eat a tablespoon of granulated sugar with my dinner.

We do not promote this, and we strongly discourage this. We do not tolerate posts that promote, suggest, or condone IIFYM in our group discussions.

What is cyclical ketosis?

Cyclical ketosis, also known as CKD (cyclical ketogenic diet) or carb cycling, involves an occasional “carb up” period, which takes the body out of and back into ketosis. This is a fancy term concocted to make a cheat meal or cheat day feel like part of a healthy eating plan.

We do not promote this, and we strongly discourage this. High carb intake, even for one meal, is associated with high blood glucose levels and high inflammation (auto-immune responses), and an inflammatory response in your body can last for a week before healing can take place. Your body does not require glucose in order to perform intense physical effort for extended periods. Ketones provide more than enough energy for high-intensity training, so “carbing up” is never a necessity.   

What is targeted ketosis?

Targeted ketosis, also known as TKD (targeted ketogenic diet), involves a “carb up” period during days of intense physical effort. This takes the body out of and back into ketosis.

We do not promote this, and we strongly discourage this. High carb intake, even for one meal, can cause an inflammatory response in your body that can last for a week before healing can take place. Your body does not require glucose in order to perform intense physical effort for extended periods. Ketones provide more than enough energy for high-intensity training, so “carbing up” is never a necessity. 

What is the difference between LCHF and keto?

“LCHF” stands for “Low Carb High Fat” (or sometimes “Low Carb Healthy Fat”).  Keto is a type of LCHF, but it is considered stricter than most other types of LCHF.

Some forms of LCHF, for example, allow up to 100g of carbs per day, which is lower than the carbs allowed in a Standard Western Diet, but still far too many carbs than will allow most people to stay in ketosis.

Most people stay in ketosis when their net carb consumption is 20g or less per day.

What is the difference between Atkins and keto?

Atkins is low-carb with high protein and moderate fat.

Keto is low-carb with high fat and moderate protein. Keto also promotes real food over processed food, whereas Atkins sells heavily processed protein bars, shakes and other boxed items with extended shelf life.   

Why are some low-carb foods not recommended for keto?

Not all low-carb foods are recommended for keto, as they either promote inflammation or blood sugar spikes. Inflammation raises cortisol levels (the stress hormone), which triggers insulin and inhibits ketosis. Blood sugar also triggers insulin and interferes with ketosis.   

Common examples include, but are not limited to: margarine, most seed oils, most soy products, and grains (wheat, rice, oats, barley).

We recommend you join our newsletter to receive a free list of the foods you can eat on keto, and focus on enjoying those!

What is 75g of protein in ounces of meat?

Meats are a combination of fats and proteins. No meat is all protein, so you cannot consider the weight of a meat or other protein source, such as cheeses, eggs, nuts and seeds.  Pay close attention to the nutrition label, or refer to the USDA Nutrition Data to find out how many grams of protein there are in a given food.

Does excess protein turn into glucose? I was told that was a myth.

The key word is excess. Your body cannot store excess protein. If you eat more protein than your body requires, then your body will convert that excess protein into glucose, via gluconeogenesis (GNG). 

Personal protein requirements vary from person to person (see B.18); if you exceed your personal protein requirement, that extra protein will convert to glucose.

If you are physically active, and not diabetic, the excess glucose will likely be metabolized as energy. If you are diabetic, the excess glucose will likely spike your blood sugar.

Will a high fat diet increase my cholesterol?

A low-carb ketogenic diet is clinically shown to increase HDL (high-density lipoproteins), also called “good cholesterol”.

Conversely, keto is also clinically shown to decrease triglycerides (very bad cholesterol). For LDL, keto may increase or decrease the quantity. However, for LDL, quantity is irrelevant; particle size (LDL-P) is what matters. Only small, dense LDL particles are dangerous, as they can penetrate arterial walls and cause damage. Large, fluffy LDL particles are not dangerous in any quantity.

If you are concerned about your LDL count, please ask your doctor to check LDL particle size. Otherwise, be encouraged that most ketogenic dieters experience greatly improved HDL-to-triglyceride ratios. Many modern studies point to the HDL:Trig ratio as being the most accurate indicator of cardiovascular health.

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