The ketogenic, or “keto,” diet gets a lot of attention in the health and fitness space.

Primarily because some believe it’s the answer to rapid weight loss and improved health. 

However, many people have questions about this high-fat, low-carb diet. 

In this article, you’ll learn science-based answers to the top 10 questions I get about the keto diet.

(Or if you’d prefer to skip all of the scientific mumbo jumbo and just want to know if you should follow the keto diet to reach your health and fitness goals, take the Legion Diet Quiz! In less than a minute, you’ll know exactly what diet is right for you. Click here to check it out.)

 

1. What can I drink on a keto diet?

Water is always the best choice since it contains no carbs and effectively quenches your thirst.

If you’re looking for more flavorful alternatives to water, consider these keto-friendly options:

  • Sparkling water
  • Water with lemon
  • Black, green, or herbal tea
  • Black coffee or coffee with unsweetened heavy cream
  • Bone broth
  • Nut milks (e.g., almond and coconut milk) without added sugar
  • White and red wine (drier varieties tend to be better)
  • Diet soda (though these contain artificial sweeteners, which some folks may want to avoid)

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2. Why am I not losing weight on the keto diet?

Contrary to what some diet “gurus” say, transitioning to a keto diet doesn’t guarantee weight loss.

The key to weight loss is a calorie deficit. This is true regardless of how you organize your macronutrient intake or how much you slash your carb consumption.

Thus, if you’re not losing weight on a keto diet, it’s because you’re eating too many calories. 

To rectify this, follow the diet advice in my fitness books for men and women, Bigger Leaner Stronger or Thinner Leaner Stronger, or check out this article:

The Definitive Guide to the Ketogenic Diet

3. What is the keto flu?

As your body (especially your brain) transitions from getting most of its energy from fat instead of carbs, it’s common to experience flu-like symptoms, often called “keto flu.”

The most common symptoms of keto flu include fatigue, dizziness, headaches, and irritability.

You can manage most symptoms by increasing fluid intake and ensuring a balanced intake of minerals, particularly sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

4. What is “lazy keto?”

“Lazy keto” is a less strict version of the traditional keto diet.

On lazy keto, the primary focus is keeping your carb intake below 10% of your daily calories. Unlike with traditional keto dieting, however, you don’t have to track your fat and protein intake. 

Lazy keto is a simpler, more accessible approach to keto dieting, though it might not yield the same effects as the regular version.

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5. What is “dirty keto?”

The “dirty keto” diet follows the same macronutrient breakdown as a “clean” keto diet but without prioritizing the quality of your food.

For example, someone on a dirty keto diet might eat fast food, provided it fits their macronutrient needs. 

However, it’s essential to remember that a diet rich in processed foods can be detrimental to overall health, despite being “keto-friendly.”

6. Do keto gummies work?

Probably not.

Exogenous ketone supplements, which sometimes come in the form of “ketone gummies,” are a dietary supplement designed to induce ketosis, the state in which your body uses fat for energy.

Despite many supplement companies’ claims, there’s no reputable evidence they increase fat burning. 

The only way they may aid weight loss is by suppressing your appetite.

One small study showed that people felt ~50% less hungry for 1.5-to-4 hours after they consumed an exogenous ketones drink. The researchers believed this was most likely because exogenous ketones increase blood ketone levels and lower ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates your appetite. 

If the researchers are correct, however, exogenous ketones are unlikely to abate hunger if you’ve recently consumed food containing carbs since eating carb-rich food prevents exogenous ketones from markedly raising blood ketone levels.

Claims that exogenous ketones enhance athletic performance also lack credible evidence

7. Is popcorn keto-friendly?

Popcorn’s keto-friendliness depends on your daily carb limit. 

A standard 3-cup serving has 14 grams of net carbs (total carbs minus fiber). If you limit your daily carbohydrate intake to 50 grams, you can enjoy popcorn, but remember it takes up a substantial part of your allowance.

8. How many carbs on keto is normal?

On a typical keto diet, you should get roughly 5-to-10% of your daily calories from carbs, 70-to-75% from fat, and 20-to-30% from protein.

This typically translates to about 20-to-50 grams of carbs daily, but individual requirements may differ.

As an aside, some people think getting 30% of their calories from protein is “eating too much protein” while on keto, but this isn’t necessarily true. 

Research shows that eating this amount helps you maintain muscle, which is important for optimizing your health, and stay satiated, which may make losing weight on the keto diet more straightforward.

Some folks also say that excess protein is converted into sugar in the body, but this is also untrue. Research shows you can still stay in ketosis while eating large amounts of protein.

9. Is the keto diet good for diabetics?

While some short-term studies show that the keto diet can help manage type 2 diabetes by improving blood sugar control and aiding weight loss, other research shows it’s less effective over the long term.

Studies also show it’s no more effective than other weight-loss diets for managing type 2 diabetes, and sticking to it can be challenging due to its restrictiveness.

For instance, a 2022 study conducted by scientists at Stanford University found no major difference in long-term blood sugar control between people following the keto and Mediterranean diets.

In other words, while it may not be a “miracle cure,” it could still help you manage type 2 diabetes by enhancing weight loss, improving insulin sensitivity and cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, and potentially reducing medication needs.

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10. What should I eat on the keto diet?

The main focus of the keto diet is eating fewer than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day, getting 20-to-30% of your daily calories from protein and the remainder from healthy fats. 

Here are some good foods to include in your keto diet:

  • Fat: Avocado, butter, mayonnaise, olives and olive oil, coconut meat and coconut oil, nuts and nut butters, most seed and nut oils, and whole-fat diary.
  • Protein: Red and white meats, fish, shellfish, seafood, eggs, and protein powders.
  • Vegetables: Asparagus, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, garlic, leafy greens, mushrooms, onions, scallions, shallots, and turnip.

If reading this has got you thinking keto dieting isn’t right for your circumstances and goals, then take the Legion Diet Quiz! In less than a minute, you’ll know exactly what diet is right for you. Click here to check it out.

+ Scientific References