fbpx

Keto Diet For Beginners: The Ultimate Guide

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more info.

The Ketogenic diet, also known as the keto diet, is a low-carb, high-fat diet which puts your body into a metabolic state known as ketosis. It has been around since the early 1900’s, so it is not just some celebrity fad diet.

When your body is in a state of ketosis, the liver starts to produce an energy source known as “ketones”. These ketones are used to fuel your body and help provide a consistent source of energy, unlike glucose (carbs).

To put it simply: Keto turns your body into an efficient fat-burning machine — Burning fats instead of carbs to fuel your body. Its whole premise is based on the idea that your body runs more efficiently as a fat burner than a sugar burner.

Becoming A Fat Burner

Most Americans eat a diet that is high in carbs. When you eat something high in carbs your body will simply convert it into glucose and insulin.

  • Glucose is what your body creates when you eat carbs, and it becomes your main energy source. When you are feeling cravings for some high-carb snack like a cupcake or cookie it’s not because you are actually hungry, it is because your body wants an easy energy source.
  • Insulin is produced to process glucose in your bloodstream, so that it can be transported around your body.

When you read that you probably thought that being a sugar burner is the way to go, right? Your body gets an efficient source of energy and you get to eat whatever you want.

The problem with this way of eating is that when glucose is used as your primary energy source, your body has no need for fats. It doesn’t get rid of them (don’t we all want less fat?), instead it just stores them. Waiting until they can be used at a later time.

Another issue is that when your body has extra glucose it doesn’t keep it around for when you need a burst of energy. Instead, it converts it into fat and stores it alongside your other fats. Now you are stuck with all kinds of fat just sitting around waiting to be burned.

Since you are a sugar burner your body will never try to burn these excess fat stores. It will always just crave more glucose and continue to store extra fat.

Now you can see how you may have grown those extra love handles that you never wanted.

Wouldn’t it be nice if your body decided to burn all of those extra fat stores, instead of craving donuts and all kinds of high-carb junk throughout the day?

That is why the ketogenic diet is so successful.

Your body stops being a sugar burner and becomes a fat burner.

Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet

Every day you hear new people telling stories about keto changing their lives. While weight loss is often the most obvious benefit of the ketogenic diet, it is just the tip of the iceberg.

I like to say that the easy weight loss brings people into the diet, but the other benefits make it your lifestyle.

Weight Loss

This is the most obvious benefit that people receive while eating a ketogenic diet.

Since keto is meant to burn your fat for energy, it makes sense that the pounds will easily shed off. You become a truly efficient fat burning machine.

People say that you should expect to lose 10-21 lbs in the first 30 days. After that, the weight loss will continue at a consistent pace. There are many examples of people having amazing transformations using the keto diet. In fact, I myself lost 50 lbs in the first 5 months after I switched to a full keto lifestyle. (I will create a post about this soon!)

Control Blood Sugar

Many people around the world suffer from Diabetes, which is caused by your body’s inability to handle insulin.

Studies have shown that keto can have huge benefits for people who are pre-diabetic or have Type II diabetes.

SInce keto naturally lowers your blood sugar levels, your body produces less insulin. This helps you maintain your blood sugar levels and keep them more consistent, giving you more control of your everyday life.

Mental Focus

This may be hard to believe, but many people use the ketogenic diet specifically for the increased mental performance.

Apparently, carbs can really make your brain feel real “foggy”. For many people this is just a normal part to their day and they don’t think it can be fixed.

However, after switching to the ketogenic diet you will notice a huge boost in mental clarity. The foggy brain-block magically disappears. It’s like you are given whole new brain that has improved focus and concentration.

Increase in Energy

Do you ever feel groggy in the middle of the day? Do you take naps, only to wake up feeling worse?

That is due to how your body gets its energy. Your body can only store so much glucose. This means that when you burn through your supply, you are left feeling drained and tired.

Thanks to ketosis, your body can create its own consistent, never-ending source of energy. Allowing you to stay energetic, and productive all day long.

Better Appetite Control

Most diets tell you to eat bland, disgusting food that leaves you hungry minutes after finishing your meal. Wouldn’t you rather eat tasty food that you enjoy, and be full all day long?

Because that is what happens on keto.

When your diet is filled with carbs your brain will often tell you that you are hungry, when really it is your body craving more glucose.

When you are consuming lots of healthy fats, your body is satisfied and you feel full all the way up until your next meal.

Which one sounds better to you?

Cholesterol and Blood Pressure

Studies have shown that eating a ketogenic diet can help improve both triglyceride and cholesterol levels.

What does that even mean?

It means that there will be less toxic buildup in the arteries which allows blood to flow more freely throughout your body. Just as it is meant to.

Low-carb, high-fat diets show a dramatic rise in HDL (this is the good cholesterol) and a fall in LDL (this is the bad cholesterol).

All of this helps you get improved blood pressure.

Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance can lead to type II diabetes if left unmanaged.

Since the ketogenic diet helps to lower insulin levels to healthy ranges, many people find they are no longer on the edge of becoming diabetic.

Acne

Many people find themselves getting improvements in their skin after they switch to a ketogenic diet.

Keto helps you balance all hormone levels in your body, which are the cause for many skin issues. This means you end up with better looking skin without the use of any additional creams or medications.

Epilepsy

The ketogenic diet has been used since the early 1900’s to treat epilepsy successfully. It is still one of the most widely used therapies for children who have uncontrolled epilepsy today.

Keto is great for epilepsy because it allows you to reduce the amount of medication sufferers need to take.

What do I eat on a keto diet?

Many people struggle on the keto diet at first, mostly because it is the complete opposite of how they are used to eating. You are going from eating pizza and pasta every day, to meat and vegetables.

Remember, that the goal of the diet is to get your body into a state of ketosis and to do that you need to reduce your carb intake.

If you don’t know what to eat you can find a ton of keto recipes online, but before you just go following random recipes you should learn that there are limits to what you can eat.

It’s important to understand that carbohydrates are not only in the junk foods that you love, but also some of the healthier foods that you enjoy.

Think about some of the “healthy” foods that you eat daily: bread, pasta, rice, cereal, potatoes, beans, fruits, juices. All of these things have an extremely high amount of carbohydrates.

Foods to Avoid on Keto

  • Grains: wheat, corn, bread, pasta, rice, cereal
  • Sugar: honey, agave, maple syrup
  • Fruits: apples, bananas, oranges
  • Tubers: potato, yams
  • Legumes

Foods To Eat on Keto

  • Meats: beef, chicken, lamb, fish, eggs, etc.
  • Leafy Greens: spinach, kale, etc.
  • Above ground vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, etc.
  • Nuts and seeds: macadamias, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc
  • Avocado and berries: raspberries, blackberries, and other low glycemic impact berries
  • Sweeteners: stevia, erythritol, monk fruit, etc.
  • Other fats: coconut oil, MCT oil, high-fat salad dressing, etc.

As you can see, you aren’t very limited on amazing food options. You can use these ingredients to make plenty of delicious keto meals, and even have a good amount of keto snacks to choose from.

If you are looking for a more in-depth guide on keto friendly foods, check out our keto shopping list which will help you decide what you want to get at the grocery store.

Now that you understand what foods you can eat does this mean you get to eat all of the food that you want? Unfortunately, no.

You are going to need to figure out your macros and use those as a guide. What in the world are macros? Let’s find out!

Macros and the Ketogenic Diet

Weight loss is pretty simple. You must consume fewer calories than your body burns throughout the day.

To figure out how many calories you need, you must first figure out your macros.

What are macros?

Macros are your main source of calories. The macros you will need to keep an eye on to be successful on the ketogenic diet are:

  • Fats
  • Protein
  • Carbs

Remember that the ketogenic diet is high in fat, moderate in protein, and very low in carbs.

The recommended nutrient intake is around 70% fats, 25% fats, and 5% carbs.

These numbers will vary depending on your body weight, height and such.

The only hard rule is to keep your carbs under 30g daily if you want your body to stay in ketosis. If you let your carb intake get too high your body will start to crave glucose again.

And I should clarify: when I say carbs, I mean NET carbs.

Total Carbs vs Net Carbs

It’s important to understand that not all carbs are created equal.

Some carbs are derived from fiber, which doesn’t present any harm to your body.

Because of this we can subtract the total amount of fiber from the total carb count to get the net carbs.

On a nutrition label you’ll see Total Carbohydrates and two things listed underneath: Fiber and Sugars.

To calculate your net carbs you simply use the equation:

Total Carbohydrates – FIber = Net Carbs

That is all. It is super simple.

The carb count is something you should always look at before consuming food items. Sometimes items have more carbs than you would expect.

This is why so many people get tripped up while eating vegetables on the ketogenic diet. They are not sweet so they must be low in carbs, right?

Keto Vegetables

Just like macros, not all vegetables are created equal. On the keto diet you will mostly be looking for dark green, leafy vegetables. Most others will sneak in more carbs than you can handle.

Here is a list of some of the safer, keto-friendly vegetables.

VegetableAmountNet Carbs
Spinach (Raw)½ Cup0.1 g
Bok Choi½ Cup0.2 g
Lettuce (Romaine)½ Cup0.2 g
Cauliflower (Steamed)½ Cup0.9 g
Cabbage (Green Raw)½ Cup1.1 g
Cauliflower (Raw)½ Cup1.4
Broccoli Florets½ Cup2
Collard Greens½ Cup2
Kale (Steamed)½ Cup2.1
Green Beans (Steamed)½ Cup2.9

If you’re looking for a more details on keto-friendly vegetables, then check out our post on keto-friendly vegetables.

Getting Started With Keto

If you made it this far I bet you are excited to give the keto diet a shot. I can’t blame you, it sounds awesome.

But first you must be aware that you shouldn’t just dive in head first without doing some planning. Even though keto is an extremely easy diet to do, many people fail because they aren’t prepared

If you’re interested in jump-starting your keto journey, then check out the 28-Day Keto Challenge. In this guide we teach you how to turn your body into a complete fat-burning machine in just one weekend, and help you lose 10-21 lbs in just 28 days.

However, if you want to figure this thing out yourself then here is what you need to do:

  • Calculate your daily macro goals
  • Understand meal planning, and plan your first week of meals to avoid mistakes
  • Drink enough water, and get enough electrolytes
  • Get the proper amount of sleep

How to Reach Ketosis

While you don’t need to reach ketosis as fast as possible, the sooner your body becomes a fat-burning machine, the sooner you’ll be losing weight.

If you don’t mind taking things slow, here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Restrict your carbohydrates: While you are already restricting carbs on keto, you can push it even more by consuming 5g or less of carbs a day until you are in ketosis.
  2. Restrict your protein: Protein is a sneaky one. If you consume too much of it in a short period of time your body will convert it to glucose, which will keep you out of ketosis.
  3. Stop worrying about fats: This is keto! To lose weight you are going to need to consume fats. This goes against what many of you will believe is “healthy” but it is a requirement.
  4. Drink plenty of water: Water is a huge deal on keto. You need to consume it. Lots of it. You should try to stay hydrated all throughout the day. If you get tired of plain water I suggest electrolyte drink mixes that can be found on Amazon.
  5. Be careful with snacking: Snacking is what gets most people in trouble when it comes to losing weight. A little bit here and there adds up pretty quickly. If you must snack make sure you stick to the right kind of keto-friendly snacks to keep you in ketosis.
  6. Consider fasting: Many keto professionals recommend intermittent fasting because it forces your body to rely on fats as its energy source. This also has side benefits like giving you extra free time during the day.
  7. Consider using supplements: There are a number of keto supplements out there that can help you reach ketosis quicker. These aren’t REQUIRED, but they could definitely help you reach your goals quicker.

How to Know if You’re in Ketosis

There is no point in trying to get into ketosis if you can’t tell when you’re in ketosis so let’s talk about the different ways you can tell if you’re in ketosis.

The most common way is by using ketone test strips but these aren’t exactly meant to determine if your body is in ketosis. They just let you know the level of ketones in your body.

Another method would be using a blood glucose monitor. The issue with this is that they can get fairly expensive over time. Many people think it is better to just pay attention to changes in your body which show if you are in ketosis.

Some symptoms of being in ketosis:

  • Increased Urination: Keto is a natural diuretic, so you’ll find yourself going to the bathroom more than usual. Especially with how much water you should be consuming.
  • Dry mouth: The increased urination leads to dry mouth and increased thirst. Make sure that you’re drinking plenty of water and replenishing your electrolytes (check out Ultima Hydrating Electrolyte Powder on Amazon).
  • Bad Breath: Acetone is a ketone body that partially excretes in our breath. It doesn’t smell great and is noticeable in the early stages of ketosis. Luckily this bad breath disappears over time.
  • Reduced hunger and increased energy: This is the main sign that many people use to know they hit ketosis. You will wake up with more energy, and go from meal to meal without being hungry.

The last thing you want to do is drive yourself crazy measuring and testing your ketone levels. Once you get a handle on things, you’ll learn to see the signs that your body is giving you. Just eat what you should be eating and everything else will fall into place.

Keto Flu: What Is It? And How to Prevent It

The keto flu is a very common experience for people new to keto, but please know that it only lasts a few days when dealt with properly.

When you first transition to ketosis you may feel a slight discomfort including fatigue, headaches, nausea, dizziness, cramps, etc. This may sound scary but it’s important to understand why this is happening.

  • Keto is a diuretic. Every time you urinate you’re losing electrolytes and water. To combat this you can make sure you drink plenty of water, and supplement your electrolytes by drinking electrolyte sports drinks.

After increasing water intake and supplementing some electrolytes, your body will start feeling better. If you do this from day one you may avoid the keto flu all together.

Eating Keto on a Budget

Some people believe that eating keto is more expensive but this isn’t true. Initially, you might find yourself needing to restock the pantry with keto-friendly items but beyond that, eating keto isn’t more expensive than eating normally.

You’ll find that you can buy meat in bulk and you can store the unused portion in the freezer. I am always putting my vacuum sealer to work.

Because you’re on keto, you’ll find that you are cooking more for yourself instead of going out. This shows significant savings along with helping you build your budget. Restaurants always have a markup on simple items like burgers. If you are cooking it yourself you will be saving money every day.

Cooking on Keto also doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Check out favorite keto crockpot recipes that you can make while you’re not even in the kitchen!

Enjoyed this post? You should Pin it!

Follow this keto diet beginners guide to start your weight loss journey off right! Figure out how you can easily lose 10+ pounds in your first month with keto. Keto Diet | Keto For Beginners | Keto Weight Loss

You May Also Like