If you’re keen to try the Keto diet, it’s important to get the low-down on how it works – and how to make it work for you.

Keto is a diet that has been attracting a lot of hype because there’s evidence that it is very effective in achieving rapid weight loss compared to traditional low-fat diets. This article breaks down the Keto diet for beginners.


How to start Keto

Essentially, Keto is a very low-carb diet designed to encourage the body to get its energy from burning body fat – a process called Ketosis. To learn more about this process, click here 

Going into Ketosis doesn’t happen right away. The transition from using glucose for fuel to breaking down stored fat will usually take place over two to four days, depending on the individual.

The effectiveness of the Keto diet depends on you being consistent and sticking with it, so make sure you get educated about the foods you can eat and which you’ll need to avoid. You can read more about that here

One of the challenges of Keto is getting enough fat without having too much protein, so planning your meals in advance so that you hit your quota of each macronutrient is a great way to succeed with Keto.


Types of Keto diets

The exact quota of carbohydrate, protein and fat you consume depends on the type of Keto diet you’re on and how intensively you exercise.

  • Standard Keto diet (SKD) – This amounts to around 75 per cent fat, 20 per cent protein and 5 per cent carbs as a breakdown of your daily intake of food
  • Cyclical Keto diet (CKD) – This switches up the amount of carbohydrate intake depending on the day, for example five days on the Keto diet then two high-carb days, which is designed for people who need extra fuel
  • Targeted Keto diet (TKD) – This is designed for athletes or people who work out a lot and allows carbohydrate intake to be increased around workouts
  • High-protein Keto diet – This includes more protein than the SKD, amounting to around 60 per cent fat, 35 per cent protein and 5 per cent carbohydrates.


Keto side effects

The initial few weeks on the Keto diet, a period known as Keto-adaptation, can come with some flu-like side effects – known as the Keto flu. It can include:

  • Brain fog
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Heart palpitations
  • Food cravings

These symptoms will disappear over time, and you can ease them by drinking plenty of water and adding salt to your food.

Other side effects can include constipation, leg cramps, bad breath, irritability and cramping.


Is it right for you?

It’s important to see your doctor or an accredited practising dietitian before starting any new diet, including Keto. And if any of the following circumstances apply, you may need specific medical guidance before embarking on the Keto diet:

  • You have type 1 diabetes
  • You take medication for type 2 diabetes
  • You take medication for high blood pressure
  • You are breastfeeding
  • You have kidney, liver or heart disease
  • You’ve had a gastric bypass.