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A Comprehensive Guide to the Keto Diet

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By Derek Ciocca December 20, 2018

When it comes to maintaining a fit body, working out along with an ideal diet is key to the best results. One of the latest diets that you may have heard of is the keto diet. Is it for you? Well, nutrition is extremely individual so what works for one person may not work for the next. The keto diet is legit and works BUT keep this very key factor in mind when considering the keto diet – you can NEVER have carbs ever again. The keto diet should really be called a lifestyle rather than a diet because you can’t do keto for a period of time to lose weight then switch back to regular eating habits that include carbohydrates. You will rebound quickly and likely gain all of the weight back that you just lost.  

Here is a comprehensive guide to the keto diet that allows you to make an educated decision on whether it is right for you.

What is the Keto Diet?

Also known as the ketogenic diet, this is a diet that is low in carbs and high in fat - similar to other low-carb diets like the Atkins Diet.

The difference with the keto diet is the level of it. This diet is more extreme in nature and works to put your body in a state of metabolic ketosis. The combination of low carbs and high fats lowers the insulin and blood sugar levels to shift the body's metabolism towards ketones and fat and away from carbohydrates.

Once this happens, the body starts to become quite efficient at turning fat into energy. However, there is an added benefit where the fat in the liver is turned into ketones which supplies energy to the brain.

The Different Keto Diets

Instead of one keto diet, there are varieties of the diet and how they are implemented.

Standard Keto Diet (SKD)

This form of the keto diet is pretty straightforward. It implements a low carb diet (5 percent carbs) with high fat (75 percent fat), and moderate protein (20 percent).

Cyclical Keto Diet (CKD)

This version of the keto diet has a different approach with periods of higher carbohydrate re-feeds. A good example is two days of high carbs with five days of the ketogenic version.

Targeted Keto Diet (TKD)

In this version of the ketogenic diet, you are allowed to add carbs that center around your workout.

High Protein Keto Diet

This one is almost exactly like the (SKD) standard keto diet but with one difference - you are allowed more protein. The formula for this one is 60 percent fat, 35 percent protein, and 5 percent carbohydrates.

Typically, the targeted keto diet and the cyclical keto diet are those used by athletes and bodybuilders. The other two (standard and high-protein ketogenic diets) have been studied more exclusively.

Basically, while there are four versions of the keto diet, the one that has the most research so far is the standard version.

What Foods to Eat

There are plenty of foods rich the fats that this diet implements.

Types of Meat

Most meats seem to be okay to eat with examples including ham, red meat, turkey, chicken, bacon and sausage.

Fish High in Fats

Fish is another food that is perfect on this diet and those that are high in fats include tuna, salmon, trout, and mackerel.


Eggs claiming omega-3 or pastured eggs are ideal.

Butter and cream

If possible, grass fed butters and creams are ideal.


The best cheeses are those that are unprocessed. Look for cheeses like cream cheese, blue cheese, cheddar cheese, goat cheese, and mozzarella.


Fresh guacamole and whole avocados are an excellent form of fats for the keto diet.

Nuts and Seeds

There are a lot of choices in nuts and seeds including chia seeds, almonds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, and more.

Low Carb Vegetables

Some of the low carbohydrate vegetables include tomatoes, peppers, onions, and most of your green vegetables.

Healthy Oils

Instead of vegetable oil, choose coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, and avocado oils.


You may not think of condiments on this diet but for the best ones to choose, think of healthy spices, herbs, salt, and pepper.

What Foods to Avoid

As with any diet, there are foods to avoid and the keto diet is no exception. Here are some of the foods to stay away from to do this diet successfully.


Sugary foods are typically bad in any diet so try to avoid cake, candy, soda, ice cream, fruit drinks, and smoothies. If it has a lot of sugar - it's a definite no.


Adult beverages are another no-no and this includes most of them. The reason is the carbohydrates, which takes the body out of ketosis but many also contain sugars and starches.

Starches and Grains

Stay away from things that are grain or wheat based like cereal, pasta, and rice. Potatoes are to be avoided as well.

Unhealthy Fats

Processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, and unhealthy fats are to be limited or avoided.


You might think fruit would be good for you but they are high in natural sugars. All fruits should be avoided in order to achieve ketosis.

Sugar-Free and Diet Foods

This is another type of food that many people eat while on a diet but it is to be skipped while taking part in the keto diet. This is because they are sometimes high in sugar alcohols and sometimes, this affects ketone levels.

Low Fat and Diet Foods

Just like the sugar-free and diet foods mentioned above, these low fat food items are typically highly processed and can have a high amount of carbohydrates, which is avoided on the keto diet.

Beans and Legumes

These things may seem healthy for other diets but they are not to be eaten on the keto diet and this includes chickpeas, peas, lentils, kidney beans, and more.

Root Vegetables

As mentioned above about potatoes, root vegetables are not helpful to the keto diet. This includes things like carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, and the aforementioned potatoes.

Condiments and Sauces

Not all condiments are bad but look out for those and sauces that contain unhealthy fat or sugars. Think about your favorite barbecue sauce - it most likely has plenty of unwanted sugar, unfortunately.

Keto Snacks You'll Love

Many people love to snack. Take that away and they are less likely to stick with a diet plan. The keto diet does allow for snacking, you simply have to choose the right snacks.

There are plenty of keto snack recipes but here are some of the foods you can eat that are considered healthy snacks.

  • 90 percent dark chocolate
  • Cheese
  • Nuts
  • A low-carb milkshake with almond milk, cocoa powder and nut butter
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Full-fat yogurt mixed with nut butter and cocoa powder or even your favorite low carb protein powder
  • Celery and salsa or guacamole

What About Eating Out?

Eating out isn't always the easiest no matter what kind of diet you are on. However, you can typically find meals that will work on the keto diet. For instance, choose a protein, instead of fries choose vegetables, make your burger bunless, eat lots of cheese, order the fish, choose desserts with berries and cream, or try a cheese platter.

Bodybuilding Supplements for the Keto Diet

While bodybuilding supplements are not required typically on this diet, there are quite a few that do help with your fitness program and are pretty essential when you combine the keto diet with bodybuilding.


If you plan to combine your keto diet with a workout plan, this is an excellent supplement that because Creatine helps your muscles produce energy during heavy lifting or high-intensity exercise. Creatine is one of the top 10 bodybuilding supplements.


For more protein if you are not getting enough on the keto diet, add whey into your favorite drink, smoothie (which are often to be avoided), or yogurt.


Whether it's salt or other minerals, these work well to level out shifts in your mineral balance as well as water shifts.


Otherwise known as medium-chain triglycerides, MCT is a popular supplement for bodybuilders and athletes because they can be used as an instant energy source or turned into ketones.

Exogenous Ketones

The keto diet is all about ketones and this supplement may help elevate ketone levels in the body.

Health Benefits of the Keto Diet

This kind of diet works well for those who are looking to stave off diabetes and prediabetes. There are studies showing that insulin sensitivity is improved as well as losing weight helps curb type 2 diabetes.

That is not all the keto diet has been show to help. Here are some other areas where the keto diet has successfully helped or at the very least, been shown to have benefits.

Heart Disease

With positive changes to specific risk factors such as blood sugar levels, body fat, blood pressure, and HDL cholesterol levels - the keto diet may help prevent heart disease.


The keto diet was originally created to help those with epilepsy. Research has indicated that it helps reduce seizures at a high level of success.


There are numerous studies on how the keto diet may slow tumor growth and treats several types of cancer.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

With a reduction in insulin levels, this diet may help with polycystic ovary syndrome since insulin levels play a part in this condition.

Along with these areas, the ketogenic diet is also used to treat acne, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and faster recovery for brain injuries.

While the research may not be complete on every condition and the success of the keto diet when used, research has been done in many areas and has shown what this diet can do for your health.

The Keto Diet and Bodybuilding

The keto diet is ideal for different types of needs. For those who wish to lose weight, help prevent diabetes or prediabetes, and those looking to assist their metabolism - it is an excellent plan.

With athletes and bodybuilders, it may or may not be the perfect diet. For instance, if you are looking to add weight or a large amount of muscle, this may not be for you. But, there is always a caveat.

If the keto diet is implemented correctly, the results can be amazing and that includes those who are bodybuilders. It helps melt fat, it adds other health benefits, increases mental alertness, and gives you energy. It is simply important to keep a few things in mind.

Get Enough Fat

Yes, this is a diet low in carbohydrates. But on the flip side, it is also a diet high in fats. At least 75 percent of your calories need to come from fat, and that is from things like butter, eggs, sausage, etc. Most healthy people are not used to this type of change in mindset.

Eat the Right Amount of Protein

Eating too much protein will ensure that your body does not stay in ketosis, a process known as gluconeogenesis. The rule to remember is high fat, low protein foods. This means instead of the usual tuna or chicken you are used to - you're looking at whole ground beef, fatty bacon, and things like that which aren't usually eaten on any other type of diet.

Hidden Carbs Defeat the Purpose

Since the keto diet requires just 5 percent in carbs, there is a very small margin of error. A lot of processed foods have hidden carbs so it is important to avoid processed foods when possible but if you cannot, read the labels carefully. This includes looking for other names of sugars such as fructose, corn syrup, sucrose, and more.

Electrolytes are Key

While electrolytes are essential with any diet, with the keto diet they are even more crucial. Magnesium, sodium, and potassium are all elements that you need to avoid what is known as the keto flu, which causes fatigue, headaches, and other unpleasant side effects.

In summary, yes you can make this diet work while bodybuilding. It has to be done right and you must be aware of the challenges. It is not going to be for everyone but the body has an amazing way to adapt to changes, especially positive ones which means that you do not necessarily have to have a lot of carbs to ensure bodybuilding success. Do take your supplements, stick with the diet, and see if it is right for you after giving it a fair chance.

There is a risk of losing some muscle on any diet. However, the high protein intake and high ketone levels may help minimize muscle loss, especially if you lift weights.



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