If you are looking to start the Ketogenic Diet, but have no idea where or how to start, this simple guide will answer all the questions you may have!
Starting a new diet regimen can be overwhelming, especially when it is something as controversial as the Ketogenic diet.
In the past year, Keto has blown up, and by now you have probably heard of it unless you live under a rock.
If you are like any normal human, you have probably asked Dr. Google about all things Keto. However, google has so much conflicting information about how to follow this diet properly.
Luckily for you, I have been experimenting with Keto since 2015 before most people even knew what it was and you can think of me as the guiena pig.
The best way to learn about anything is through trial and error, and trust me, after three years of trial and error I’m pretty sure I have this Keto thing figured out.
Don’t believe me?
Pictures are worth a thousand words, so check out mine. I discovered Keto after having my first child and used it to lose my baby weight from my first and second pregnancy.
If you want to read the full story of my journey, you can click HERE, but for now, those pictures should prove to you that I’m not some random person talking out of their butt.
Not to mention, I do have a Bachelor’s in Nutrition and Dietetics so I know a bit about the science behind this way of eating.
Ok, now that you know you can trust me, let’s get into the “meat and cauliflower” of this guide. (you’ll soon learn that Cauliflower is an excellent substitute for potatoes.)
What is Keto?
What a loaded question!
Keto is short for Ketogenic which is a diet that is low in carbohydrates, moderate in protein and high in fat.
(Not to be mistaken by blah blah blah, high fat) Keto is not eating bacon and butter all day. Quite the opposite. Fat should be a source to keep you full not as a specific goal you need to meet each day.
Decreasing your carb intake causes the body to start burning fat instead of glucose. Your body produces Ketones and uses them as fuel; also known as being in “Ketosis.” Your body essentially becomes a “fat-burning machine.”
Sounds cool, doesn’t it?
Being in Ketosis and following the Ketogenic Diet isn’t the same thing.
You have to find your carb intake threshold by experimenting on yourself and measuring your ketones (more on that later).
Every person is different, but the baseline number is usually under 20 grams of NET carbs per day. Net carbs are total grams of carbs in the food minus the grams of fiber
Some people can eat up to 50 grams and still be in Ketosis.
How does Keto work in the body?
When carbohydrates get depleted in the body, the liver produces ketones and uses them as energy.
This is what the term “Nutritional Ketosis” means. Usually, our bodies use glucose aka sugar for fuel. Once they are depleted, it turns to use fat.
That is why you will hear the term “fat burning machine” or “fat burner” used a lot when talking about Ketosis.
Right now, if you are following the SAD (standard American diet), you are a sugar burner which means that your body burns sugar first.
After about a week or so (how long it takes for an average person to get into Ketosis) your body will switch to burning its fat for fuel instead of sugar which is the point of the Ketogenic Diet.
What are the benefits of the Ketogenic Diet?
The Ketogenic diet has many benefits besides weight loss. Here is a list of some of the benefits you may experience
- Reduced inflammation
- Increased Energy
- Increased mental clarity and focus
- Reduced Cravings
- Consistent moods
- Decreased appetite
- Improved fitness ability
- Better skin
- Stronger nails
- Controlled and stable blood sugar
- No afternoon slump or crash
- Improved blood markers
- Reversed PCOS
- Normalized Menstrual Cycle
- Anti-aging affects
These are just a few. The list can go on and on.
The main thing to note is once you experience being in Ketosis you will feel so amazing; you won’t want to lose that feeling.
How do I get started on Keto?
The best advice I can give how to get started is to dive in, full throttle.
First, you should consult with your medical professional. I am not licensed to provide any medical advice.
The Ketogenic Diet doesn’t work the way most diets do. You have to go all in or nothing.
Slowly decreasing carb and sugar intake are great but if you are trying to get into nutritional ketosis and experience all the benefits above you have to cut out the following foods:
- Starchy Vegetables
- Fruit with high sugar content (bananas, pineapple)
So what does that look like, in every day life?
I am glad you asked this question.
Lucky for you, I post “Keto Full Day’s of Eating” every week on my Instagram page @eatbefitexplore.
Let me show you some examples so you can get an idea of what a day of eating Keto really looks like
If someone I knew asked me, to tell them, in a nutshell, what to eat to get into Ketosis I would say the following:
- Any protein/ eggs that you want
- All veggies grown above grown
- Good quality fats (butter, coconut, avocado, nuts, olive, etc.)
- Berries in small amounts
- Diary in limited quantities
That, in a nutshell, is eating Keto, my friend. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
Yes, you can get fancy and make Keto Pizza and Keto Enchiladas and Keto Cake, but when you are starting, it’s best to keep it simple.
Are you still confused?
Don’t worry, I understand entirely. It took me a while to figure this whole Keto thing out.
I can help you. First off, why don’t you start with my Free 3-day Keto Meal Plan?
See if you like it. It’s Clean Keto, which means it doesn’t contain any dairy or sweeteners or processed ingredients (which is how I think Keto should be.)
After you have tried the 3 day plan, if you liked it, I encourage you to consider doing the Clean Keto Reset.
It’s a meal plan I created this past month after hitting a weight loss stall on Keto. After one month of eating this EXACT plan, I lost 15lbs.
If you are a beginner and everything is overwhelming to you, and you want someone to guide you on what you should be eating, what your “macros” should be, how much you should be eating and how to make the food then this meal plan will be PERFECT for you.
In it, I include everything you would need to start Keto and do it the right way. (yes, I believe there is a wrong way to do keto, I have learned that myself).
You can get all of the details about the Clean Keto Reset here, but for now, let me touch on a few more things.
Mistakes to avoid
As I have mentioned before, I have been doing this Keto thing for over three years now, so I have made ALL of the mistakes.
Although I have a whole post dedicated to these mistakes where I go into detail about each one, I want to repeat them to you because they are that important, in my opinion:
Top Keto Mistakes to Avoid-
- Not getting enough electrolytes-
When I first started, I had little knowledge about electrolytes and experienced the Keto Flu every time re-started Keto after a cheat. I would get horrible headaches and felt tired and weak.
Once I started adding more salt to my food or water, taking magnesium and incorporating potassium via greens the headaches went away.
Most of the time when you feel bad on Keto it has to do with an Electrolyte deficiency. A few recommendations for electrolytes I use below
- OVEREATING CHEESE AND NUTS
Cheese is fantastic and very keto friendly. However, overeating will stall your weight loss and bloat you. Same goes with Nuts.
They are healthy, yes, but it is effortless to eat too many.
I would sit there and eat handfuls of nuts at a time and eat cheese in every meal or make cheese plates all the time when I started. My weight loss stalled and I felt bloated again. (which is also why Clean Keto works so well)
- NOT TRACKING MY FOOD
Here is the bottom line, you will never know how many carbs you are eating unless you track everything.
You don’t have to track your food for the rest of your life if you chose the Ketogenic Lifestyle.
I would recommend monitoring for at least a few months until you get used to how many carbs are in certain foods and how many calories you are consuming.
I use My Fitness Pal to track my food because it has the most extensive food database and is easy to use.
- NOT MEASURING KETONES
You will not know for sure if you are following the Ketogenic Diet correctly unless you measure.
Yes, there are other signs you can look out for, however, if you are new and have never experienced what it feels like to be in Ketosis how you are supposed to know?
I started out using the urine strips, and they are excellent in the beginning. Eventually, they stop working because your body stops releasing ketones into the urine. That is why you should invest in a meter.
I use a Keto Mojo, and you can get 15% off by clicking the link. (discount applied at checkout).
Testing your blood is the only way to know if you are in Ketosis (any number above .5 is nutritional ketosis).
- CHEATING AND EXPECTING KETO TO WORK
Each time you cheat on keto, you immediately gain water weight.
For me, the average is 5 lbs. It would set me back about a week and then I would follow Keto 3 more weeks and cheat again. You get the point.
Think of Keto like a marriage. You can’t cheat on it and expect it to work. You commit and stick to it.
However, you will probably cheat at some point, and that is ok. I wrote an entire post about “How to get back into Ketosis fast after a cheat day” and it can help you get back in after you have indulged. You’ll want to Pin or bookmark that post, just in case;).
- NOT REALIZING THAT KETO DESSERTS ARE STILL DESSERTS WITH FEWER SIDE EFFECTS.
Yes, Keto desserts are much better for you than the processed, high sugar high carb desserts, but they are still desserts.
Also, sweeteners may trigger the brain that you are consuming sugar and can cause cravings. Be careful with your intake of Keto treats.
- BEING AFRAID TO EAT FAT.
I was so afraid that if I ate more fat that I would get fat. While this is true on a SAD (standard American Diet) which is high in fat and carbohydrates, keto works the opposite.
I started getting hungry because I wasn’t eating enough fat.
This is the exact reason my past diets failed. I would get so hungry I would binge.
Once I started eating more fat I was full for longer, my hunger went away, and my appetite decreased drastically.
So now, you can go forth and start this amazing journey of fat burning
Now that you have an idea of what the Ketogenic diet is, how it works, what to eat and what mistakes you should avoid you should dive on in, the water’s warm!!
No matter how you approach your journey, just now that I am here to help you and everyone starts somewhere.
Don’t get discouraged that you don’t understand everything at first or that you aren’t losing weight as fast as you had hoped. The results will come if you stay consistent.
Welcome to the Keto Family!