Ketogenic Diet aka The Keto Diet has gained a lot of popularity lately, it is
essentially an extremely low carbohydrate, moderate protein and high-fat diet. Its
proponents believe it to be an advance dieting protocol for skyrocketing fat loss. But
Ketogenic diets are nothing new in the health and fitness industry, in fact, they were first
introduced during the early 1900s for the treatment of epilepsy (for which it successfully
worked). Later on “Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution” which sold millions of copies in the early
1970’s generated the largest increase in public awareness of the ketogenic diet as a fat
loss diet. But during the 90s as dietary fats began to gain a bad reputation for causing
heart attacks, a diet high in carbohydrates and low in fat diet became the general norm
for health. And the Keto diet fell in obscurity. But it has made a stellar return in recent
times. So, does the Keto diet really live up to its hype?
In this article, we will be scientifically breaking down everything you need to know about
the ketogenic diet.
What is Keto Diet?
What is Ketosis & how it works?
Is it superior to other diets? (Advantages of Keto Diets)
Who should do it?
Who should not do it?
How to design your own Keto Diet?
Which supplements to take?
What is a Ketogenic Diet?
There are four macronutrients the human body can get energy from carbohydrates,
proteins, fats and alcohol (yes, it is). For a healthy and well-functioning body it is better
you get most of your energy from the initial three sources i.e. carbohydrates, proteins,
and fats. Calories are the amount of energy your body can derive from these
macronutrients. Caloric content of all four macronutrients is mentioned below.
Macronutrient Calories per gram
Normally a person consumes a mix of carbohydrates, protein and fats. A Keto diet
eliminates all the sources of carbohydrates and primarily consists of high fat and protein
foods. Typically a person on keto would be consuming carbohydrates ranging from 80g
/ day to as low as 30g / day. Fats and Protein need to be adjusted as per the rate of
intended fat loss and body mass respectively. (more on it in the last section)
What is Ketosis & how it works?
If you have ever tried to research about the Keto diet, you’d have most probably come
across the term ‘Ketosis’ which is the main mechanism of this diet. Before we
understand what is it and how it works. It is important to understand how the human
physiology works itself. The macronutrients we consume are broken down into certain
substrates which the body then utilizes for various purposes. Thus, it is not
carbohydrates which provide you with energy, it is its substrate i.e. Glucose which does.
The substrates of all 4 macronutrients and their primary role are mentioned below.
Macronutrient Substrate Primary Role
Carbohydrates Glucose Energy Supply
Protein Amino Acids Tissue repair & building/re-building
Fats Free Fatty Acids (FFA) Reserved Energy Stores
(extremely inefficient & complex mechanism)
*These macronutrients & substrates have more roles to play in the human body but
discussing all of them is beyond the scope of this article.
In normal circumstances, the body mainly relies on glucose for the majority of its energy
requirements. The heart is an exception which functions on a mix of glucose, FFA and
ketones. In case of a Keto diet as we cut the supply of carbohydrates, initially the body
utilizes all of its reserved glucose stores in muscle tissues and liver. Next, the body
starts looking for fuel alternatives.
The first option is to convert the stored protein in muscles into glucose (via
gluconeogenesis) and use it. But solely relying on this mechanism will cause redundant
muscle tissue losses in vital organs such as the heart, and eventually causing death.
The second option is to oxidize Free Fatty Acids (FFA) in the bloodstream and stored
body fat, for energy requirements. Most of the tissues in the body can use FFA for fuel.
However, the brain cannot function on FFA. The body then begins to oxidize fat for the
production of Ketones. Ketone bodies are the byproduct of the incomplete metabolism
of FFA in the liver. And brain can derive up to 75% of energy from Ketone bodies.
Chiefly a Ketones are a fat-derived fuel alternative for the body.
The human body is always producing ketones in some amounts but under normal
dietary conditions, they play an insignificant role in energy production. In a ketogenic
diet, ketones play a significant role in energy production, especially in the brain. When
ketones are produced at accelerated rates, they accumulate in the bloodstream,
causing a metabolic state called ketosis. This shifts the body’s metabolism from glucose
utilization to fat utilization, which is the fundamental principle of a keto diet.
Is it superior to other diets?
The primary goal of any diet should be to maximize true fat loss (not just weight loss)
and minimize muscle loss. The proponents of Keto diet often claim it to be a superior
diet for fat loss by stating:
“because your body is oxidizing fat for energy processes, your body turns into a fat
I am sure you must have heard that from a pro-keto. Although your body is actually
oxidizing fat for energy production, all of it is not body fat (which you want to lose) and
at the same diet you are also consuming a lot of dietary fats, ranging anywhere from
150-250g per day. Thus, when caloric intakes are matched the amount of fat loss on a
conventional balanced diet and a ketogenic diet is about the same. Therefore, total
caloric intake is the key driver of fat loss. And if you overeat calories on a Ketogenic
diet, you will still gain fat.
CALORIES IN < CALORIES OUT = FAT LOSS
Another popular belief is that a Ketogenic or any other low carb diet produces fat loss at
an accelerated rate. Individuals on a keto diet will observe a weight drop of 500g-1kg
within one day. However, this is mainly due to water loss from the body and not a true
fat loss. Cutting carbohydrate intake affects water levels in the body. Every gram of
carbohydrate stores 3 grams of water in the body, this can account for a lot of weight for
larger individuals. Additionally, ketones themselves have a diuretic effect causing the
excretion of water and electrolytes, including the excretion of sodium, which itself
causes water retention. Therefore, a lot of weight drop which occurs initially on a keto
diet is water weight. Once water loss has been taken into account, the rate of weight
loss seen, as well as the total fat loss is generally the same for ketogenic versus non-
Hence, ketogenic diets do not appear to be superior to a conventional balanced diet in
the scientific literature. Nevertheless, we should not forget that diets are followed
outside the four walls of a laboratory and a Keto diet can offer certain advantages to a
Supposedly Less Muscle Loss
As we mentioned earlier apart from generating a maximum fat loss, a diet should also
ensure minimum muscle loss. When calories are cut to create a caloric deficit in the
body (which includes reducing carb/fat intake).
The body experiences a scarcity of glucose and in order to make up for it, it starts to
break down protein for glucose production. This protein breakdown is what causes
muscle losses. Since the body relies on fat oxidation for energy on a ketogenic diet, its
glucose requirement goes down, consequently, the breakdown of protein for glucose
production also goes down. Hence, a Ketogenic diet can have a more muscle
preserving effect than other diets, especially on very low calories.
It is not unusual for dieters to experience hunger pangs throughout the day during a fat
loss phase, as you are eating less than your body needs. This makes adherence
difficult especially if the diet is very low on calories and has lower satiety level. A Keto
diet has a relatively higher fat content than conventional diets and fat tends to digest
slower, which means food stays in the stomach for a longer period, creating a sense of
fullness and satiation. This can make adherence to the diet easier for some individuals.
As mentioned earlier a ketogenic diet can produce rapid weight drop in a short span due
to fluid losses from the body. Although, it does not make much of a difference from a
true fat loss perspective it can boost motivation significantly which will make an
individual stick to the diet and eventually lose more fat.
Who should do it?
Individuals wanting to drop a lot of fat in a short period.
As we discussed in the above section the key driver for fat loss is the number of total
calories you consume. Dropping a lot of fat in a short period requires cutting calories
drastically. Since a keto diet offers more satiety, it is suitable for this purpose.
Anecdotally, individuals for a given amount of calories feel more full and satisfied on a
keto diet compared to a conventional diet.
Physique athletes during the last stage of cut
Going below essential levels of body fat (sub 11% BF) requires severe caloric cutting,
especially during the final weeks of cut. The hunger blunting, higher satiety and fullness
effects of a ketogenic diet make it an ideal choice for the last stage of cut wherein a
balanced diet would fail.
Getting photoshoot ready
It is a well-known fact that celebrities and athletes consume very low carbohydrate diet
for few days before their photoshoots. The diuretic effect of Ketogenic diet reduces the
water level in the body, making muscles appear sharper and more prominent.
Note: This will only work if you are already pretty lean i.e. below 14% body fat or men
and below 25% for women.
High Blood Pressure & Type II Diabetes Patients
Individuals suffering from high blood pressure can benefit from Keto Diet as it produces
drop in blood pressure. Additionally, Type II diabetes patients can also benefit as Keto
diet normalizes blood glucose and enhances insulin sensitivity. Still, it is highly
recommended that you consult your physician before starting any unconventional diet.
Who Should Not Do It?
Individuals aiming for bulking or injury recovery
Insulin-like growth factor- 1 (IGF-1) is a potent and vital hormone for building new
muscle tissues and other anabolic processes in the body. The liver produces IGF-1 but
only in the presence of insulin. Since Keto diet restricts carbohydrate intake
consequently suppressing insulin levels. Therefore, the keto diet is not ideal for a
situation requiring tissue regeneration, like bulking or injury recovery.
High-Intensity Sport Athletes
Carbohydrates are the preferred and more efficient fuel source for the body. Therefore,
athletes involved in high-intensity sports such as weight lifting, football, sprinting etc. are
better off a keto diet.
Type I Diabetes Patients
Type I Diabetic Patients have a complete inability in their pancreas to produce insulin
which can lead to a pathological condition called Diabetic Ketoacidosis. A healthy
person on a Keto diet will have blood ketone levels of 5-6 mmol/dl. A person with
Diabetic Ketoacidosis might have blood ketone levels up to 25+ mmol/dl. Such, high
levels of ketone bodies in the blood can be detrimental to health and even cause death.
How To Design Your Own Keto Diet?
Now, that we have gathered all the necessary information, let’s discuss how to design
your own Keto Diet. It is fairly a simple task, ensure adequate protein intake and get
most of your calories from dietary fat.
STEP 1: Fix Calories
We need to fixate on the number of calories you will be consuming (because it is all
about calories in vs calories out). But first, let’s figure out your maintenance calories*
*Maintenance Calories: The number of calories your body needs to maintain your current
How to Calculate it?
Take your body weight in pounds and multiply it by 9-14. The no. you
multiply it by depends on your activity levels.
If you’re a sedentary female (think office job) who trains anywhere from 3-5x
per week: go with the lower end (9-10).
If you’re a female who works a fairly active job or any job that has you on your
feet quite a bit and you’re training 3-5x per week: go with the mid-range (10-
If you’re a sedentary male (office job) who trains 3-5x per week: go with the
low to mid-range (10-12).
If you’re a male who works a fairly active job, and you’re training 3-5x per
week: go with the higher end (12-14)
For instance, you are an 85 Kg (~190 lbs) man with a desk job, who trains 3-5
times/week. Your estimated maintenance calories will be 190×12 i.e. around
2300 Kcal/day. For creating a decent caloric deficit let’s reduce 300 calories.
Therefore, your daily caloric intake will be around 2000 calories.
STEP 2: Adjust Macronutrients
After fixing the caloric intake, now let’s break down those calories into macronutrients.
Protein intake for most individuals will be 1g / pound of body weight. For an 85 Kg
individual, this equates to 85 x 2.2 i.e ~190g protein per day. 190 g of protein will
provide 760 calories to the body (1g protein = 4 Calories), meaning now we are left with
2000 – 760 i.e 1240 Calories.
Note: In order to lessen muscle loss from the body a minimum of 150g protein/day is
necessary on a keto diet. Thus, even a 60 Kg individual needs to consume at least 150g
protein a day.
These, 1240 calories need to be allocated to carbs and fats. The lower the carb intake
the faster and deeper body will be in Ketosis. Let’s keep 50g carbs for a day, which will
provide us additional 200 calories (1g carbohydrate = 4 Calories). The last 1240 – 200
i.e. 1040 calories will come from fats, this equals to 1040 / 9 i.e. 115 g fats (1g fat = 9
Sample Indian Ketogenic Diet
Protein: 160 g
Carbs: 60 g
Fats: 90 g
Upon waking up don’t drink or eat anything, after bathroom rituals record your weight.
Whey Protein 1 scoop
Bread 2 Slices
Cheese Slice 1 Slices
Add spinach or mushrooms 5
Fruit One Serving ~ Nothing more than 100g
*Fibrous Vegetables As much as you like
Whole Chicken 200g
*Fibrous Vegetables As much as you like
Asparagus, Brussel sprouts, Green beans, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Lettuce,
Spinach, Cucumber, Eggplant, Mushroom, Green pepper, Red pepper, Zucchini,
*Fibrous Vegetables As much as you like
1 Tablespoon Isabgol
Oil for Cooking: 20 g (corn oil, olive oil)
Which supplements to take for Keto Diet?
Since a keto diet requires restricting carb intake which is a major nutrient. Consuming
essential supplements will help in optimizing body processes and performance in the
gym. For quality assured authentic supplements you can check out our
Supplement Dosage Timing
Multivitamin 1 serving fulfilling daily RDA Breakfast
Vitamin D 2000-5000 IU Breakfast
Fish Oil 1000 mg Breakfast
Electrolyte ½ Serving Intra Workout
Creatine 5g Post Workout
Calcium 1000 mg Breakfast