When you’re new to keto, it’s easy to experience information overload.
That’s why we’ve assembled this keto FAQ to address all of your burning questions about keto.
Here are some of the most common keto diet questions, answered.
Top 40 Frequently Asked Questions About the Keto Diet
What is a keto diet?
Keto is a low-carb, high-fat, moderate-protein diet that’s designed to bring your body into a metabolic state of ketosis. Learn more keto basics here.
Is keto a good way to lose weight?
What is ketosis?
Ketosis is a metabolic state where your body burns fat for its main fuel source instead of carbs. You can get into ketosis by fasting or severely restricting your carb intake with keto. Learn more about ketosis.
How long does it take to get into ketosis?
This varies from person-to-person depending on your health status. Some people may be able to enter ketosis after 2-3 days of restricting their carb intake, while others may take longer. Learn more here.
How can I tell if I’m in ketosis?
There are several ways to tell if you’re in ketosis. You can use urine ketone strips to check for ketones in your urine, or a blood testing device to check your blood ketones — which is the most reliable method.
You may also notice that your breath smells different. This is from ketones in your breath, which can be another indicator that you’re in ketosis.
What are the benefits of being in ketosis?
There are several potential benefits of ketosis:
- Reduced appetite
- Improved insulin resistance
- Weight loss
- Lower triglycerides
- Better brain health
- Maintenance of muscle mass
Learn more here about the benefits of ketosis.
How many carbs can I eat on keto?
Generally, you want to restrict your carbohydrate intake to 5 percent or less of your daily calorie intake. For many people, this works out to 25-50 grams of carbohydrate per day.
Do I need to track my macros or calories?
You don’t have to, but it’s a good idea to track macros and calories if you’re trying to lose weight. Here are some of our favorite tracking apps.
What are net carbs?
Net carbs are total carbs minus fiber and sugar alcohols, which aren’t absorbed by the body. Net carbs are a more accurate representation of carbs that will impact your blood sugar levels.
Should I count net carbs or total carbs?
There are arguments for both. If you are depending on a lot of processed keto-friendly foods (like keto-friendly breads, wraps, sweets, candies, etc), you’ll have an easier time meeting your goals by counting net carbs. If you are mostly cooking your meals from scratch or eating only meat and vegetables, you can stick with total carbs.
Generally, it’s recommended to count total carbs if you want to reach your weight or blood sugar goals faster.
Do I need any supplements on keto?
No, there are no supplements that are required for keto. Here are some supplements we recommend, though.
Does keto shrink belly fat?
It can, but it doesn’t necessarily target belly fat. Keto is great for fat loss because it makes it easier for your body to burn stored fat. Read more about keto and fat loss here.
What is the “keto flu?”
“Keto flu” is a collection of symptoms that many people experience when they first start a keto diet — including fatigue, headache, and muscle cramps. It’s thought to be caused by electrolyte imbalances. Here’s more information about electrolytes on keto and preventing the keto flu.
Do I have to fast on keto?
No, you don’t have to fast on keto. Still, many people do because keto helps them regulate their appetite so much that it’s not as difficult to do. Learn more here about keto and fasting.
Do I need to check my ketone levels?
No, checking your ketone levels isn’t a requirement for keto. It may be helpful if you want to confirm you’re in ketosis, or check how food choices affect your ketosis.
What’s the difference between low carb and keto?
Keto is a very low carb diet designed to shift you into ketosis. Low-carb diets, in general, are defined as any eating pattern that contains less than 130 grams of carbohydrate per day. For most people, 130 grams of carbs — although technically low carb — is far too many to promote ketosis (*). Learn more about the difference between keto and low carb.
Is keto safe?
For most people without any underlying health conditions, keto is safe. Still, if you have any medical conditions or are taking any prescription medications, it’s very important to speak with your healthcare provider before you start keto.
Can I eat fruit on keto?
Some fruits are keto-friendly in small quantities, like strawberries and raspberries. Still, you should be careful with portion sizes because the carbs in these fruits can add up quickly. Learn more about eating fruit on keto here.
Can I have dairy on keto?
Some low-carb dairy products are fine on keto, like cheese, heavy cream, cream cheese, and sour cream. However, milk and yogurt are higher in carbs and therefore not the best choices on keto. Read more here about dairy and keto.
Will keto increase my cholesterol?
Some people may see their low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol increase on keto. However, keto has also been shown to reduce triglycerides and increase high-density (HDL) cholesterol, both of which may have a favorable impact on heart health (* , *).
Still, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider before starting keto if you have any concerns about your cholesterol.
Is it safe to follow a keto diet if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?
Be sure to speak with your healthcare provider before you start keto if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
Can I drink alcohol on keto?
Yes, spirits (like vodka, whiskey, and tequila) are naturally carb-free. However, they may slow down your weight loss because your body will prioritize metabolizing alcohol over fat. Also, mixed drinks can be very high in sugar — so stick to simple drinks like vodka and diet soda or straight whiskey. Here’s more about what to drink on keto.
Is keto better for weight loss than other diets?
Ketosis offers many advantages for weight loss (*).
Still, keto can be difficult for many people to stick to long term. The best weight loss diet for you is going to be one that you’re able to consistently stick to, be it keto or another eating style.
What sweeteners should I use?
There are many sweetener options that are free of carbs and calories — including artificial sweeteners, naturally-sourced sweeteners, and sugar alcohols. Check out our sweetener guide to learn more.
What are the downsides of keto?
There are a few potential downsides to keto:
- It’s restrictive and may be difficult to stick to long-term
- Some people may experience “keto flu” symptoms when starting keto
- It may not be appropriate for all life stages or health conditions, for instance, pregnancy and breastfeeding
- Some people may find that keto increases their LDL cholesterol levels
How long can you stay on keto?
You can stay on keto indefinitely. The longer you stay on keto, you may find that it’s easier to get back into ketosis when you eat foods that are high in carbs. This is known as being fat adapted.
How much weight will you lose on keto?
This depends on how long you stay on keto, what kind of calorie deficit you are keeping (from restricting calories, exercising more, or both), and how much weight you need to lose to begin with. Check out our keto calculator to see how much and how fast you could lose.
What foods are not allowed on keto?
Any foods that are high in carbs are off-limits on keto, like bread, potatoes, sugary treats, pasta, and rice. For a more comprehensive list, check out this article.
What kind of bread is keto friendly?
Most breads aren’t keto-friendly, but there are some brands that make keto bread — like Hero Bread, Sola Bread, and ThinSlim Foods.
We also have several keto bread recipes in the recipe section of the Perfect Keto blog. Just type “bread” in the search bar.
Will I gain weight if I stop keto?
Not necessarily. You may gain a few pounds of water weight as your body replenishes its carb stores, but you won’t gain fat unless you start eating more calories than you are burning each day.
What does ketosis smell like?
Some people describe “ketone breath” as fruity, or similar to nail polish remover. It is due to the ketone acetone, and it’s temporary.
Does exercise speed up ketosis?
Physical activity can help you burn more fat, especially if you’re already in ketosis. Read more about exercising on keto here.
How do I start a keto diet for beginners?
To start keto, you need to eliminate most sources of carbs from your diet (except for non-starchy vegetables). Read our keto beginner’s guide here.
What should I do the first week of keto?
Stick to your carb limit, choose high fat foods to help you fight hunger while your body transitions into ketosis, and supplement with electrolytes to help prevent the “keto flu.” Check out our beginner keto plan and grocery list here.
What does a keto breakfast look like?
Here are some typical keto breakfast options:
- Fasting (many people fast through breakfast on keto, and have lunch as their first meal)
- Eggs and a non-starchy vegetable
- Bacon or sausage and eggs
- Bulletproof coffee (coffee with butter or medium-chain triglyceride oil, sweetener, and other optional ingredients like collagen peptides)
What is a typical keto dinner?
A typical keto dinner consists of a protein source, a fat source, and non-starchy vegetables. This can take many different forms. Some examples include:
- Salmon and asparagus roasted in avocado oil
- Taco bowl with shredded chicken, avocado, and salad greens
- Zucchini noodle “spaghetti” with meatballs made from ground pork and parmesan cheese
What everyday foods are keto?
Some everyday foods that are keto-friendly are:
- Nut butter
- Salad greens
What vegetables can I eat on keto?
Keto-friendly vegetables are non-starchy, and include:
- Salad greens
- Cooking greens
- Yellow squash
- Green beans
What are “clean” and “dirty” keto?
Clean keto is a keto diet that is composed of high-quality ingredients — like grass-fed meats, and organic produce. It’s also free of artificial sweeteners, seed oils, and processed keto-friendly foods.
On the other hand, dirty keto is an approach that’s based solely on sticking to your keto macros. It may include processed keto foods, artificial sweeteners, seed oils, and diet soda.
Hopefully, we’ve helped clarify a few things about keto with our keto FAQ.
More questions? Drop us a line in the comments below, or on social media, and we’ll make sure to get you an answer.
Tragni E et al. Reduction of Cardio-Metabolic Risk and Body Weight through a Multiphasic Very-Low Calorie Ketogenic Diet Program in Women with Overweight/Obesity: A Study in a Real-World Setting. 2021 May 26