The beginners guide to the ketogenic diet

You might have heard of the keto diet recently, or you might even know someone who has drastically lost some weight through the diet, or by “keto-ing” as it is also known.
If you are wanting to know what all of this means, read on.  A ketogenic diet is a low-carb diet which turns the body into a fat-burning machine. The word “keto” is short for “ketogenic diet”, which is a style of eating where you eat only very little carbohydrates, eating more of fats and a little protein.  This means like carb-heavy foods such as rice, bread, yam, pasta/spaghetti, cassava, plantains etc will have to go. However, this is not all bad news, as this is not a diet where you have to “only eat a little”. In this diet, you can eat as much as you want – as long as you eat the right things.
It may sound strange to hear that eating fat could help you lose weight, so before we go into the diet, let us discuss how this can be possible. Also, it also helps to understand not just how eating fat works to help you lose weight, but also the benefits of the diet, possible risks you might encounter, as well as  the best foods to eat and foods to avoid.
I will cover all of these things in this guide, as well as providing you with sample keto meal plans, snack ideas, and guidance on where to find the best online keto resources.

How does the keto diet help you lose weight?

To understand how the keto diet works, we must first what happens when we eat carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates come in two forms – simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. When you eat simple carbohydrates, (e.g sugar, sweets, soft drinks, cakes etc) your body does not need to do much work to break this down, so sugar is released straight into your bloodstream. When you eat complex carbohydrates (e.g rice, beans, oats, yams, potatoes etc) your body works a little harder to break them down. In this case, it takes longer for the body to break these down into sugar, which is released steadily into the bloodstream over a longer period of time.

When you eat a lot of carbs, your body breaks it down into glucose which it burns for energy. When you eat more carbs than you burn (i.e eating carbs for breakfast, lunch and dinner and doing no exercise), your liver converts the excess carbs into glycogen and/or fat.
When you reduce the amount of carbohydrates you eat, your body still needs  energy for basic tasks such as brain function. Because there are no carbs available to produce and burn glucose, your body relies on another source to get its energy. Your liver begins to turn fat into small fuel molecules called “ketones”, which it then burns to produce energy for you. This is where the word “ketogenic” comes from.

What are ketones?

The human body can use both glucose and ketones for fuel, and a ketogenic diet is one where you encourage your body to burn ketones for fuel, instead of glucose. Ketones are a type of molecule which your liver produces from fat when fasting, or when the body has no carbohydrates to burn. So a ketogenic diet is one which focuses on limiting your carbohydrate intake, in order to encourage the production of ketones.
If followed correctly, a ketogenic diet can be very beneficial in a range of various areas.
  • Helps you lose weight rapidly
  • Controls your blood sugar, if you have Type 2 Diabetes
  • Increases your mental focus
  • Increases your stamina and physical endurance. This is helpful if you have a physically demanding job.
  • Helps control epilepsy
  • Normalises your blood pressure
  • Reduces heartburn
  • Reverses polycystic ovaries symptoms
  • Might improve your fertility

How much carbohydrates should I eat to induce ketosis?

It is generally accepted that you need to eat no more that 50g of carbs each day to put your body into ketosis. More specifically, a daily carb intake of  between 20g – 50g  is widely accepted as a low carb/ketogenic diet. The key thing to note when  means that in this diet, you will need to count and restrict the amount of carbohydrates you eat each day, with the ultimate aim of ensuring that you stay under 50g.
As a rough idea, here is the ratio of macronutrients you should need to aim for daily on this diet:
Carbohydrate: 5-10%
Fat: 60-75%
Protein: 20-30%

How can I tell I’m in ketosis?

There are a number of signs to look out for, which suggest you might be in ketosis:
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Bad breath
  • Increased ketones in your urine (you can use a urine strip to measure this)
  • Reduced hunger
  • Increased focus and energy
  • Short-term fatigue in the first few days

What food can I eat on the ketogenic diet?

Healthy eating food low carb keto ketogenic diet meal plan protein fat

Even though you might not be able to eat a lot of the foods you are used to eating on the ketogenic diet, there are a lot of other foods which you can eat to replace them.

We have put together a list of suitable foods which you can eat on the ketogenic diet:

Dairy Foods

Milk contains too many sugars in the form of lactose, but aside from that most dairy foods are ideal.

  • Butter
  • Whipping cream/Whipped cream
  • Cheese
  • Ghee
  • Sour cream
  • Unsweetened yoghurt

Eggs, Meat, and Poultry

You can eat all meats and poultry on a keto diet. Here are specific examples of what you can have:

  • Beef
  • Goat meat
  • Chicken
  • Bacon
  • Ham
  • Lamb
  • Mutton
  • Turkey
  • Duck
  • Pork
  • Bush meat
  • Nkwobi
  • Isi-ewu
  • Suya

Fats and Oils

While you can eat fats on a ketogenic diet, it is better to avoid industrial vegetable oils such as canola oil. Here are some healthy fat sources you can include in your diet:

  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Ghee
  • Red palm oil
  • Butter
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Tallow (Oil from boiling meat/chicken)


There are countless edible fish and here are some of the commonly available ones.

  • Tilapia
  • Catfish
  • Sardine
  • Trout
  • Mackerel
  • Tuna
  • Cod
  • Cote

Low-sugar fruit

Because most fruit contains naturally-occuring sugars, you will need to be careful about the fruit you choose to eat on the ketogenic diet. Here is a list of a few:

  • Avocado
  • Blueberries
  • Coconut
  • Lemon
  • Olives
  • Strawberries
  • Lime
  • Tomatoes


You can eat most nuts on a ketogenic diet, but nuts like cashews and pistachios are too high in carbohydrates. As everything else though, they need to be eaten in moderation. Nuts are very energy-dense, so a handful should be enough (1 ounce/28grams)

Here are the best low-carb choices:

  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Peanuts
  • Walnuts


Seeds are also a reasonably nutritious option for keto diets. Agan, use these in moderation. A lot of these seeds are excellent additions to a breakfast smoothie

  • Chia seed
  • Hemp seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds

Shellfish and Seafood

  • Shrimps
  • Crabs
  • Clams
  • Oyster
  • Squid
  • Mussels
  • Eels
  • Scallops

Vegetables Suitable For Keto

Generally speaking, plants that grow above the ground tend to have a lower carb count than those that grow below the ground (which tend to store carbs underground). However, a small amount of below ground vegetables should be okay if you factor them into your total carb count.

  • Butternut squash
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Cabbage (all colours)
  • Bell peppers
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Green onions
  • Kale
  • Leek
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Seaweed
  • Tomato
  • Turnip
  • Zucchini

 Foods to avoid on the ketogenic diet

Because you need to keep your carbohydrate intake low on the ketogenic diet, you need to stay away from foods with hight carbohydrate content such as  grains, starches, sugars  and high-carb plant foods.

Here is a more specific list of foods you need to avoid in order to achieve ketosis:

  • Beer
  • Cakes and Cookies
  • Cereals
  • Dried fruit (a slight amount is OK, but best avoided)
  • Fruits high in fructose sugar (banana, mango, pawpaw, oranges, pineapple etc.)
  • Fruit juice
  • Grains (bread, oats, pasta, rice, etc.)
  • Legumes (beans)
  • Milk (a very small amount is OK)
  • Sugary foods in general
  • Sweet wines/sugary alcohol in general
  • Tubers such as yams, potatoes, cassava, and sweet potatoes

And these foods are technically ‘ketogenic,’ but it’s better to avoid them for health:

  • Low-carb processed foods: they may be low-carb, but they’re usually full of additives.
  • Margarine (use pure butter)
  • Vegetable oils (use coconut oil)

Keto-friendly alcohol

If going completely teetotal is hard for you, you are allowed to indulge in some leto-accepted alcohol from time to time.

You can have clear liquor at about 40% alcohol, as long as it is not sweet. Here are some examples:

  • Vodka
  • Tequila
  • Gin
  • Whiskey
  • Rum
  • Scotch
  • Brandy
  • Cognac

Hope this has been an enlightening read, and please feel free to comment with any questions you might have.

Comments (2)
  • Motivating and educating information, am making my fish moi moi today

    • Sounds delicious, Otega!

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