Posted on 10 December, 2018

How Does the Keto Diet Work?

By Jacob Andreae in Change, Health, Nutrition How Does the Keto Diet Work?

I’ve introduced you to the Keto Diet over the past few articles. I’ve described what it is, how it can benefit you and explained the different types. But how does it actually work? How do you work out 75% fat? How do you determine 1 gram of protein for every kilogram of bodyweight? How do you ensure you keep your carbs down to less than 50 grams when there are carbs in vegetables? Well, that’s what this article intends to clarify. Here, I’ll be showing you what a Keto Diet looks like day-to-day.

Now, I’ve been claiming that I eat a “loose” Keto Diet. What I mean by loose is that I eat all these foods in a similar ratio to how the Keto Diet works. But, my carbs would be higher than what the Keto Diet allows for. So by definition, I don’t follow a Keto Diet because those carbs wouldn’t be low enough for ketosis to kick in. However, the carbs I’m consuming are not breads, pastas and grains; those carbs are in the form of fruit (with my yoghurt), rice crackers (with my cheese) and rice (with my meat and veggies). The intake is still very low; just not low enough (on most days) for ketosis to occur.

Although it might seem like you can’t eat anything on the Keto Diet, or you can’t eat any of your favourite foods anymore, there are in fact, heaps of options.

The Keto Diet works by keeping carbohydrates extremely low. The proposed amount is less than 50 grams; however, for most people this needs to be less than 20-30 grams to see any real effect. So when you consider that fruit is high in simple carbohydrates and many vegetables are high in starchy carbohydrates, it makes it hard to keep our carbohydrate intake low when the regular eating guidelines recommend these foods.

Point in short, reduce your fruit intake to no more than one piece or serving per day, and choose green, leafy vegetables over starchy ones. Here’s what all that means on a day-to-day basis.

How Does the Keto Diet Work?

The first step is to clear your fridge and pantry of anything that won’t be included in your new lifestyle. That means getting rid of sugars, grains, starches and packaged or processed foods. It’s also worthwhile eliminating cow’s milk and hydrogenated fats such as canola oil and sunflower oil.

The next step is to start adding the foods into your fridge and pantry that you will be including in your new lifestyle. I’ve broken these down into the three macronutrients — fats, protein and carbohydrate, and listed them below for you.


  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Avocados
  • Wild-caught fish (salmon, sardines, anchovies and krill)
  • Grass-fed meats
  • Raw, grass-fed butter
  • Lard
  • Ghee
  • Raw nuts (macadamias, pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts and almonds)
  • Seeds (pumpkin, sesame and cumin)
  • Raw cacao butter
  • Organic pastured eggs


  • Grass-fed meats
  • Organic pastured poultry
  • Organic pastured eggs
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Beans

Regardless of which protein you choose, look for grass-fed and antibiotic-free as these sources are healthier and safer for your body. Plus, grass-fed beef has been found to be higher in omega-3 compared to grain-fed beef. If your protein comes from other sources (non-meat), look for organic and pesticide-free.


Yes, vegetables contain carbohydrate. And on this diet, the carbohydrate you receive from vegetables will be enough. In fact, some vegetables will actually be too high. So here is a list of the best vegetables to eat on the Keto Diet.

Green Leafy Vegetables

  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Rocket
  • Brussels sprouts

Other vegetables

  • Asparagus
  • White mushrooms
  • Cucumber
  • Tomatoes
  • Cauliflower
  • Eggplant

The benefit of these vegetables, particularly the green leafy vegetables, is that they are high in dietary fibre, nutrients and antioxidants.

Although fruit is healthy because different types contain a range of nutrients, they are also high in fructose (sugar). This will push your carbohydrate intake up too high. To begin with, get your body right on the Keto Diet and then add them back in gradually. In saying that, some fruits are low in sugar and their antioxidant properties make them valuable to eat in moderate amounts. These fruits include:

  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cranberries
  • Limes
  • Lemons

Herbs and Spices

I’ve written about herbs and spices and their benefits before. For a range of health benefits, include these herbs and spices in your Keto Diet:

  • Sage
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Parsley
  • Dill
  • Ginger
  • Thyme
  • Turmeric
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Paprika
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Cumin
  • Cinnamon
  • Peppermint
  • Spearmint
  • Cloves


Most drinks will be out for the Keto Diet as they contain high amounts of simple carbohydrates (sugars). This includes white tea and coffee for the milk additive. You could replace the cow’s milk with coconut milk or even almond milk, but it’s not recommended consuming other forms of milk such as soy milk while following the Keto Diet. Here’s what drinks are recommenced on the Keto Diet:

  • Water (and lots of it!)
  • Black coffee
  • Black herbal tea

Here’s what all that means in a typical day:

Start your day

500ml - 1L water


2-egg omelette with spinach, kale, mushrooms and tomato fried in coconut oil and spiced with paprika.


Strawberry and avocado smoothie with 1 cup water, plain Greek yoghurt and chia seeds.


Salad made up of lettuce, spinach, cucumber, walnuts, olive oil and wild-caught salmon.


Chicken with broccoli, brussel sprouts, asparagus, cauliflower and kale fried in olive oil.


If you feel hungry at all during the day, or you want something for morning or afternoon tea, choose from a range of high-fat nuts — macadamias, pecans, walnuts and Brazil nuts. If possible, prepare some foods from the lists above which require cooking so you have something to snack on when you’re hungry. For example, hard-boiled eggs. You could even make Keto-style curried eggs garnished with coriander.

Although it might seem like you can’t eat anything on the Keto Diet, or you can’t eat any of your favourite foods anymore, there are in fact, heaps of options. Plus, as your taste buds begin to change, which will take about 3 days, you’ll discover these foods are quite delicious. You don’t have to follow the Keto Diet forever. For most people, it’s a good way to hit the reset button on your health and introduce you to a new and healthy way of eating.

What parts of the Keto Diet do you think you might struggle with? And what parts are you looking forward to?

[Photo by Maksim Shutov on Unsplash]

About Jacob Andreae

About Jacob Andreae

I write and speak about Fitness, Nutrition and Mindset. 

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How Does the Keto Diet Work?A quick start guide to losing weight and staying on track. Learn the strategies I use to eat and move for optimal health. Includes worksheets to enhance your motivation, commitment and discipline, along with a sample eating plan and exercise program.