Keto Diet For Beginners: A Detailed Guide to Ketosis

detailed guide to the keto diet for beginners - foodhacksandmore

Welcome to this comprehensive guide to the keto diet for beginners – or Keto 101 as I’d like to refer to it.

If you’re new to the ketogenic diet (keto for short) or have questions about ketosis then this guide is your perfect resource to help you on your weight loss journey or a step towards improving your diet and lifestyle as a whole.

I’m not sure how many other keto articles you’ve read thus far but whether this is your first time or millionth time, it’s still great nonetheless.

Why?

Simply because every moment is another opportunity to learn something new and I’m certain you will (even if it’s just a refresher).

And secondly because I wrote this keto guide with a complete beginner’s approach – As in making it very easy for you to understand.

I’m going to make a quick remark here. It’s one that I’ve noticed many other blogs avoid mentioning.

I’ve done my best to gather as much information as possible but I won’t pretend that I can cover everything in depth about the Ketogenic diet in a single post.

There I said it and if that’s a deterrent, I understand.

The goal here is simply to get you from Point A to Point B.

Point A being completely new or maybe having some basic understanding and Point B being able to determine if the keto diet could possibly be a good fit for you.

Starting any new diet regimen can easily become overwhelming and the keto diet is by no means any exception despite its ever growing popularity.

So instead of adding extra stuff for the sake of complexity I want to make this post simple and easy to read and one you can walk away from with an ideal understanding of what the keto diet entails and the lifestyle changes you need to make.

That doesn’t mean I won’t include necessary information or skimp out on details but there’s no point making this any harder for you than it should be – at least not yet.

WORD OF CAUTION

I'm sure you're eager to learn about the keto diet and all its benefits but I also need to add this piece of advice.
As with any other new diet it's always worth seeking professional and/or medical advice before you get started especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions.
The information herein does not serve as a substitute.

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This post may include some Affiliate links. Please click here for my full Affiliate Disclosure.

Table of Contents

What is the Keto Diet?

Chances are you’ve already heard about the keto diet before.

It certainly isn’t something new and its rise in popularity is primarily due to the fact that it can help with weight loss.

That in itself is an excellent goal but definitely not the only benefit as you’ll soon see.

So what exactly is the keto diet?

Simply put it is a Low Carb, High Fat Diet (LCHF) with low to moderate amounts of protein.

You also hear it commonly referred to as a Low Carb Diet.

The idea was introduced decades ago but recent studies continue to show that burning fat for fuel in the body can really be a more efficient way for weight loss and sustained energy.

Traditional dieting tells us to stay away from fatty foods and most people trying to improve their diet will do anything they can to avoid all sources of fat.

The keto diet is the complete opposite.

It actually encourages you to remove much of the carbs in your diet and replace them with higher amounts of fat as a staple.

By doing this your body transitions into a state known as Ketosis where it burns fat instead of carbs.

Let’s get one thing clear – Not all fats are the same!

The fat from an avocado isn’t the same as that from the fries at a fast food restaurant.

If you read any food labels you’ll notice they mention the Total Fat which includes Saturated fat and/or Unsaturated fat (MonoUnsaturated, PolyUnsaturated or Trans fat).

I won’t go into all the specifics here because I’ve written about the different macronutrients in this post.

Long story short, the one thing you want to avoid is Trans fat  whether you’re on a keto diet or not.

So just because you’re encouraged to eat fatty foods it doesn’t mean you should go for the ultra-processed or unhealthy stuff.

keto diet for beginners

How Does the Keto Diet Work?

The keto diet works by promoting a unique state of fat oxidation.

Unique state of fat oxida-what?!

Okay scientific jargon aside, let me simplify how the process works.

Under normal circumstances Carbohydrates serve as the main source of energy for the body (glucose).

If you switch to a ketogenic diet you’re going to drastically reduce your carb intake and replace that with higher amounts of fat (and of course some protein but that’s an aside for now).

So you’ve reduced your carbs but your body still needs energy which means it has to use something else for fuel.

That something else happens to be fat.

Your body now starts burning the fat you eat and any other excess body fat (stored fat) as its energy source.

That transition from carb to fat burning is what is known as Ketosis (a.k.a fat oxidation).

During the time you’re in ketosis your body also begins to release chemicals known as Ketones.

how to start the keto diet for beginners

What are Ketones?

Ketones as I mentioned are the chemicals that your body creates when it begins to break down fat as a source of energy.

That (usually) is a good sign because it means your body is doing what you expect it to do on the Keto diet.

In this case the higher level of ketones is referred to as Nutritional Ketosis and shouldn’t be confused with Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) which is a bad thing.

Just keep the ketones in mind because they’ll come into play very often.

How Long Does It Take To Enter Ketosis?

If you hate technicalities then you probably won’t like this response.

But for in order for me to properly answer this question I’m going to use a generic example.

Just tag along if you will.

Imagine 2 friends, Jane and Doe, are trying to lose weight.

Now try to answer the following question to the best of your ability.

How long will it take for each one of them to lose 10 lbs?

Before you continue reading, take a quick second to see what answers you come up with and for the sake of it, ask the same question to someone else and see what their responses are.

Truth is there are too many variables missing and that lack of information makes it practically impossible to compare either one of their journeys.

How does that tie into keto?

Well some of the frequently asked questions from people starting a Ketogenic diet are, “How long will it take for me to enter ketosis?” and “Am I in ketosis yet?”

Both fair questions to ask but you need to be very well aware that the time it takes to transition into ketosis isn’t the same for everyone.

Which leads me to another point of emphasis

Producing Ketones isn’t the same as a complete metabolic shift into ketosis.

What does that mean?

It is totally possible for you to start producing ketones after several hours of intermittent fasting but it doesn’t mean you are completely fat-adapted which takes much longer.

Big difference between both.

"Producing Ketones isn't the same as a complete metabolic shift into ketosis."

So how long will it take you?

The appropriate answer is It Depends.

It depends on a number of variables like your age, level of activity, your metabolism, any pre-existing conditions and of course your diet.

For some people it could be a few days for others it could be a few weeks.

If you’re itching for straightforward answers here you go:

How long does it take to get into ketosis (fat burning)? – On average 2 – 4 days.

How long does it take to keto-adapt (i.e. your body has been in ketosis long enough to have completely transitioned from burning carbs to primarily burning fats instead)? – On average 1 – 2 months.

 

Can You Speed Up Ketosis?

Although you can’t get into ketosis with the snap of your fingers there are a few things you can do to get there quicker.

1 - Limit Your Carb Intake

By now this should be a no brainer.

Based on everything we’ve covered so far you should already understand carbs are not your best friend on a Keto diet.

I won’t say it’s easy to do so because we know those pesky carbs seem to be hidden everywhere.

You need to pay particular attention to the foods you eat (more on this later).

It is recommended that you limit your carb intake to about 20-30mg daily when you’re just getting started. Lower if possible.

2 - Eat More Healthy Fat

I bet you saw this one coming. Really shouldn’t have to do too much explaining here.

Fats make up the bulk of any keto diet.

No need to be scared of any healthy fat sources when it comes to keto.

Your goal should be about 70-80% of your total calorie intake.

3 - Exercise Regularly

The more you exercise, the more glucose (carbs) you burn.

Since you’re shifting to a low-carb diet it means you won’t be refilling those glucose resources as much and your body eventually shifts to burning fat.

So an appropriate LCHF diet and more exercise can help speed up the process of ketosis for you.

4 - Try Intermittent Fasting

Simply reducing the total amount of food you eat or going without food for a short period of time can help you get into ketosis quicker.

The idea here is you want to force your body to use up any of the stored glucose.

5 - Try Exogenous Ketones or MCT Oils

Exogenous means something that originates from an external source.

In this case it refers to ketones that are gotten from supplements.

MCT oils contain MCT (Medium-Chain Triglycerides) which are fat molecules found in processed coconut and palm kernel oils.

MCTs are more easily digested in the body and can help with ketone production on a low-carb diet.

Trying either one of those can help speed up the transition into ketosis for you.

How To Tell If You're Actually in Ketosis

This is where ketones actually come in handy.

The easiest way to determine if you’re in ketosis is by measuring for increased levels of ketones in your body.

There are 3 ways for you to do that at home.

I - Breath Test

The simplest place to start is by analyzing your breath.

Unfortunately with the increased production of ketones also comes an unpleasant smelling breath (due to the release of acetones).

This is known as the Keto Breath.

You can purchase ketone breath meters at your local pharmacy and simply follow the instructions.

They’re relatively easy to use but are the least accurate of all 3 tests.

Here are a few options you can purchase online:

II - Urine Test

Next up is measuring the levels of ketones in your urine.

In this case what you’re actually measuring is AcetoAcetate (AcAc) which is another by-product of fat breakdown in the body.

Urine tests are more accurate than breath tests and the steps are relatively straightforward.

All you need to do is purchase some urine ketone strips and follow the instructions on the package.

These strips are also available over-the-counter and at most drug stores.

Here a few affordable ones you can purchase online:

III - Blood Test

Last but definitely not least is a blood test.

This is actually the most accurate way to determine if you’re in ketosis.

Why?

Because it measures Beta-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB) which is the most stable ketone body found at highest levels in blood.

The contrast between all the tests is BHB is what your body actually uses as fuel from fat burning while the other 2 tests simply measure ketones that are being wasted.

So how do you measure for BHB?

You’ll need a blood ketone meter, blood ketone test strips and in some cases a lancet device to draw blood from your finger.

If you have or if you’ve ever seen someone measure their blood glucose levels then the process is similar.

You get blood, place it on the strip then let it run through the machine for analysis.

Here are some great blood ketone meters you can purchase on Amazon: 

keto diet for beginners meal plan

Summary

There are 3 tests you can perform at home to find out if you’re actually in ketosis.

Each test works by measuring a different ketone body i.e. by-products of fat breakdown.

The Breath test is the least invasive but also least accurate of all three. (Measures Acetone)

The Urine test moderately accurate in comparison. (Measures AcAc)

– The Blood test is the most accurate of all three. (Measures BHB)

In addition to the 3 tests there are also some signs you can watch out for to help tell if you’re getting into ketosis (and keto-adapting).

  • Lack of Appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Weight Loss (leftover carbs being burned)
  • Lack of Sleep
  • Digestive Issues
  • Lower Energy Levels for Exercise (see Keto Flu)
  • Improved Cognitive Performance (Better Focus)

Who is the Keto Diet Good For?

Despite its growing popularity, I’m not of the opinion that the keto diet is meant for everyone.

While there are a lot of people who could benefit from ketosis there are still plenty others who may not be able to tolerate the specific dietary and lifestyle requirements.

Understanding whether or not it is right for you is vital to your success.

So who can benefit from the keto diet?

- Anyone Struggling to Lose Weight

The number 1 reason why the keto diet is one of the most searched topics online is because of its role in weight loss.

I’ll even go as far as saying it is probably the main reason why YOU are reading this post.

None of that implies it is a bad thing.

If you’ve tried other methods and nothing seems to work then the ketogenic diet could be a good fit for you.

- Treating Epilepsy in Children

Recent studies have shown that the keto diet can help prevent or reduce epileptic seizures in children.

Reports have shown about a 50% reduction in seizures for affected children on a keto diet.

In some cases, about 10-15% even become seizure-free.

- Other Health Conditions

The Keto diet can also be used in conjunction with other treatment modalities for some health conditions such as:

  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Metabolic Syndrome (Pre-Diabetes)
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Certain Cancers
  • Autism
  • Glycogen Storage Disease
  • Type 2 Diabetes

Truth is a lot of research still needs to be done for some of those conditions but preliminary studies have shown positive results so far.

Who Should Avoid The Keto Diet?

There are certain situations where the keto diet may not be the right fit for you.

Restricting your Carb intake does have an added stress factor for certain conditions.

As always if you are unsure about anything please seek medical advice.

Here are a few situations where you need to be cautious with the keto diet.

- Type 1 Diabetics

Let’s begin with the differences.

Type 1 Diabetics do not produce any insulin at all.

Type 2 Diabetics do not respond well to insulin and often don’t produce enough insulin.

If you can’t produce any insulin (Type 1 Diabetes), then the only solution is to give you insulin.

If you lower your carb intake (which means lower glucose levels) and continue to take your insulin injections you could potentially lower your blood sugar to very unhealthy levels.

Type 2 Diabetes on the other hand can be managed with the proper diet and exercise.

We know Type 2 Diabetics don’t respond well to insulin but they still need to make sure their glucose levels don’t skyrocket.

The keto diet may be helpful to them because it allows the body to regulate blood sugar levels at a low but healthy level.

Whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes you need to talk to your doctor first before starting the keto diet.

If you end up starting then be extremely diligent about checking your blood sugar levels on a regular basis.

- Breastfeeding Moms

Breastfeeding moms need to avoid a “strict” keto diet.

A strict keto diet is anything under 20g of carbs a day.

Breastfeeding alone removes up to 30g of sugar via milk each day. Sometimes even more.

That means limiting any carb intake could potentially be harmful for both mom and the baby.

Although extremely rare, the lack of carbs can also lead to ketoacidosis in breastfeeding moms.

The best bet is to always err on the side of caution and do what’s best for the health of both mom and baby.

- People with Eating Disorders

It’s extremely tough for you to restrict your diet even more when you already have trouble with what you eat.

Switching over to a strict diet like keto can lead to an even harder relapse for anyone with an eating disorder.

- Hypertension

There are 2 situations where you need to be careful if you have issues with high blood pressure.

  • If you’re on high blood pressure medications. And that’s because keto can naturally lower your blood pressure (a good thing) but with the meds it could go even lower (a bad thing). We want to avoid hypotension.
  • Salts and Bouillon: Starting a keto diet can sometimes lead to the keto flu and one of the ways to prevent that is to drink more fluids and add more salt to your diet in the form of bouillon.

The issue with the salt and bouillon is both things could lead to even higher blood pressures.

If you are on hypertension medications, DO NOT INCREASE YOUR SALT INTAKE!

- Removed Gallbladder

The gallbladder stores excess bile from the liver and bile plays an important role in the breakdown of fat.

Without your gallbladder, your liver will still produce bile but there obviously won’t be anywhere to store the excess.

That means it’ll now be up to your liver to portion the amount of bile being released and sometimes the portioned amount may not be enough if you’re on high fat diet.

It could lead to your body not properly breaking down all the fat for the essential fuel and nutrients.

That said, it’s still possible to be on a keto diet without a gallbladder.

You just need to be careful with your approach.

See: Keto Without A Gallbladder

The important takeaway is you need to be conscious of your current situation and use it to determine if keto is a good fit for you.

I understand the keto diet is very popular and yes it has some amazing benefits but that’s not to say you should do it just because everyone else is.

Different Types of Keto Diets

As with most things in life there are different variations or approaches to the ketogenic diet.

The variations are meant to account for flexibility, tolerance, and to make it easier for beginners to commit to it longterm.

There are 4 Keto diet types.

1 - Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD)

The SKD is a very low carb, moderate protein and high fat diet.

The typical macro ratio for the SKD is 75% Fat, 15-20% Protein and 5-10% Carbs.

This is the most common type for beginners or at least a good starting point.

2 - Targeted Keto Diet (TKD)

The TKD is more so for athletes and active individuals who have higher levels of activity and need some extra carbs for their workouts.

The typical macro ratio for the TKD is about 65-70% Fat, 20% Protein, and 10-15% Carbs.

3 - Cyclical Keto Diet (CKD)

On a CKD you cycle in and out of ketosis. You have days where you eat more carbs.

A typical cycle will be about 5 days of keto followed by 2 days of high carbs (non keto days).

Macro ratio: SKD ratio on keto days then 25% Fat, 25% Protein and 50% Carbs on off days.

4 - High-Protein Keto Diet (HPKD)

The HPKD is similar to the SKD but like the name suggests, you get higher amounts of protein.

The typical macro ratio for the HPKD is about 60-65% Fat, 30% Protein, 5-10% Carb.

Besides the 4 different types, you can take it a step further and vary your diet or approach based on what style works for you.

There are 3 options here.

Strict Keto (Clean Keto Eating)

This is basically your all or nothing approach.

No convenience food, no cheat days and making sure you consistently track all your macros.

Lazy Keto (Carb Estimating)

Most common and probably the easiest to follow since it requires less management than the strict keto.

In this case you focus primarily on whole foods and tracking mainly your carbs.

Dirty Keto

This is a combination of IIFYM and Keto.

It’s just about as “laissez-faire” as you could be on a keto diet.

There really is no tracking involved and you could eat just about anything you want as long as it fits your macros.

Of course that makes it the most controversial of all three.

Which one is the most effective?

It’s easy for anyone to say you should follow a strict keto diet because it gives you a higher chance of getting the best results.

But honestly The best approach is the one that works for you.

Each approach will obviously give you more or less flexibility but you’ll still be able to benefit from each one of them if done right.

My suggestion is make healthy decisions.

Your focus on a keto diet should be a healthier diet and lifestyle and you should do so within your own means.

keto diet for beginners

Why Try The Keto Diet?

Here are the benefits of being on a ketogenic diet. A few of which we’ve discussed already.

Benefits of the Keto Diet

1 - Weight Loss

This is the obvious number 1 reason why most people try the keto diet.

It feels like repetition but suffice it to say if you’ve tried any other weight loss diets to no avail then the keto diet could be your answer to losing the extra pounds.

I’ve already explained the process of ketosis and how switching over to your body’s natural fat burning ability contributes to help you lose weight.

(Click here if you need a refresher)

The whole idea is to limit your carbs, consume healthy fats as a source for fuel and lose the weight as your body starts to burn off the excess fat.

Side note: Being on a keto diet is not a “continuous” weight loss process.

In other words you shouldn’t be worried that you’ll just keep on losing weight to an unhealthy point.

Keto only burns excess fat and once you get to an ideal healthy weight, you can still maintain it with the same diet and proper exercise.

2 - Sustained Energy

Normally your body relies on carbs for energy which could lead to more fatigue if you don’t get some more carbs in.

Ever had that sugar rush feeling? That’s why.

The sustained energy on a keto diet is due to the fact that your body is less reliant on carbs and now burning excess fats which you otherwise would just be carrying around.

3 - Reduced Cravings

This ties into the previous point.

Sugary carbs are very addictive and hunger is one of the main reasons why most diets fail.

You’re hangry, the cravings come in and you end up reaching for something rather unhealthy.

The keto diet could help naturally curb those cravings.

Healthy fats are satisfying and along with some protein, they help keep you fuller after your meals.

4 - Improved Heart Health

But only if done right!

It’s well known that losing any amount of weight and eating healthy can help reduce the risk of heart disease (high blood pressure, obesity, etc.)

The BEST way for that to happen on a keto diet is to make sure you’re eating the appropriate amounts of HEALTHY FATS.

That’s the reason why a lot of people frown upon Dirty Keto.

I’ve made this point before – Not all fats are the same.

5 - Better Cholesterol Levels

One of the best ways to raise your good (HDL) cholesterol levels is by eating more healthy fats.

Another added benefit is that a low-carb diet could also potentially lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels or at least maintain it at a safe level.

6 - Reduced Risk of Brain Disorders and Epilepsy

7 - Reversal of Type II Diabetes

Nutritional ketosis and exercise can help reverse Type II diabetes by allowing the body to maintain glucose levels at a low but healthy level.

Lower carbs means lesser blood sugar spikes and a reduced need for insulin.

8 - Better Moods

The overall health improvements as a result of the keto diet can lead to less anxiety, less stress and even lesser depression.

It’s always a good feeling when you see all your hard work finally starting to pay off.

Cons (Risks) of the Keto Diet

Can’t talk about the benefits without mentioning some of the associated risks you need to be aware of.

1 - It's Tough

Transitioning to a keto diet is not all glitz and glamour.

The first few days and sometimes even weeks can be especially tough on your mind and body.

You’re talking years of eating a certain way (which may have been unhealthy) and now completely switching away from that.

Just so you know it’s very easy to kick yourself out of ketosis if you don’t pay attention to what you eat.

That of course could lead to more weight gain.

2 - Poor Physical Performance

The downside to a lower amount of carbs and protein is it could also potentially lead to fatigue, limit some of your physical activities and in some cases lead to muscle loss.

You need to make sure you find the right balance of macronutrients for sustained energy without kicking yourself out of ketosis.

3 - Diabetics

Yes keto could potentially help reverse Type 2 diabetes but there’s always the risk of dropping your blood sugar to low, unhealthy levels.

The risk is even higher for Type 1 diabetics.

Then there’s also a higher risk for ketoacidosis in both cases.

You should always consult with your doctor about the safety of a keto diet with diabetes and be sure to check your glucose levels several times a day.

4 - Nutrient Deficiencies

Lowering or limiting any ratio of macronutrients in your body means you’re potentially exposing yourself to any possible nutrient deficiencies.

There are obviously workarounds to this but that means you need to monitor your diet and of course seek professional advice.

5 - Diarrhea and Constipation

These happen due to the lack of fiber that comes from carbs.

It could also be due to intolerance which typically happens when people don’t ease themselves into ketosis or keto-adaptation.

6 - Keto Flu

This is one of the most dreaded things about the ketogenic diet and it’s really tough if you’re not prepared for it.

More about the Keto Flu below.

What is the Keto Flu?

The keto flu is basically a collection of flu-like symptoms people experience a few days after starting the keto diet.

This happens as a result of the changes your body is experiencing as it begins to adapt to your new way of eating.

Some of the symptoms you may experience include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation and Diarrhea
  • Brain fogs and Headaches
  • Stomach cramps
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Sugar cravings

The symptoms usually last for about a week but it could be longer for others.

keto diet for beginners

How Do You Avoid the Keto Flu?

The good news is the keto flu is non-specific and it does not happen to everyone.

You could be one of the lucky ones but it’s always a good thing to be on the safe side.

Here are a few things you can do to prevent it or at least limit some of the symptoms.

1 - Ease Yourself into the Keto Diet

Going cold-turkey is never a good idea.

You have to remember that your body has been used to you eating a certain way for years.

Give yourself some time to completely remove all the processed carbs from your diet.

2 - Get Adequate Sleep

Lack of sleep leads to fatigue, more stress and irritability.

Getting enough rest is essential for all your daily activities.

3 - Replace Electrolytes

Keto Flu symptoms have been associated to electrolyte imbalances.

That means you should maintain adequate amounts of electrolytes before and during keto.

To reduce the symptoms, you should get supplements that contain potassium, sodium and magnesium.

Some of the best keto supplements you can try include: 

4 - Drink Lots of Water

Staying hydrated is important for your optimal health and well-being.

Ketosis can quickly deplete your water stores leading to muscle cramps so it is essential that you continue to replace those fluids.

I understand getting into the habit of drinking more water can be tough but sugary drinks are no good on a keto diet.

If you struggle with water like I did, I recommend you try Hint Water (Yes, it’s 100% keto-friendly).

5 - Avoid Heavy Exercise

Strenuous exercise adds more stress to your body.

Focus on light exercises first while your body adapts.

6 - Stay Away from the Bad Carbs

Sugar cravings are tough but indulging in unhealthy carbs will do you no good on a keto diet.

Focus on eating enough healthy fats to keep you full and satisfied.

Also avoid going cold-turkey as I previously mentioned and maybe add some clean, healthy carbs temporarily then cut back as needed.

How Do You Treat the Keto Flu?

If you’re unable to avoid it then the next obvious question is how do you treat it?

The tips for preventing the keto flu are the same ones you’ll use to “treat” or get rid of it.

The point I want to emphasize here is there is no magic pill or treatment for the keto flu.

Keto flu isn’t a disease like influenza. It’s simply your body trying to reset itself.

You can manage the symptoms but don’t run around purchasing expensive medications or some other weird stuff people may be trying to sell you.

Now if your symptoms get worse or last a couple of weeks then by all means go talk to your doctor to make sure it isn’t something else.

If you’ve decided the keto diet is beneficial to you and it is a good fit then your best course is to stick with it.

The changes are expected and you need to give your body enough time to adjust to them.

Recommended Macro Ratio for Ketosis

I listed some of the different macro ratios in one of the previous sections about the Different Types of Keto Diets.

Here’s a quick summary:

Standard Keto Diet (SKD): 75% Fat, 15-20% Protein, 5-10% Carbs

Targeted Keto Diet (TKD): 65-70% Fat, 20% Protein, and 10-15% Carbs

Cyclical Keto Diet (CKD): SKD ratio on keto days then 25% Fat, 25% Protein and 50% Carbs on off days

High-Protein Keto Diet (HPKD): 60-65% Fat, 30% Protein, 5-10% Carb

I’m bringing this up again because in the next section we’ll cover the different types of foods you should eat and what foods you need to completely avoid.

The foods you need to avoid is easier to understand because those are the ones that are likely to kick you out of ketosis.

When it comes down to what you should eat, everyone’s taste and level of tolerance is not the same.

Different foods may have higher amount of healthy fats or lower carbs than others but for one reason or the other it may not be something you like.

I know people who hate avocados. You may find it weird but it happens.

That’s just how life works.

A recommendation is exactly just that. It is what is recommended and not what is set in stone.

Even on a keto diet you should still strive to create some nutritional balance for obvious reasons.

Other factors come into play as well – age, overall health, level of exercise and so on.

The more I learn about different diets the more hesitant I get to put specific numbers down because some people use them as single targets and fail to make the necessary adjustments when needed.

Please treat the keto diet as an improvement on your overall lifestyle instead of something you need just for cosmetic changes.

The best macro ratio for ketosis is the one that works for you.

If you’re keen on numbers then the Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD) is a good starting point.

For more on macronutrients and how it all makes sense please read: The Ultimate Macro Diet Guide for Beginners and Newbie Dieters.

"The Best Macro Ratio for Ketosis is the one that works for You!"

Best Foods to Eat on A Keto Diet

The key to success with keto is to eat as few carbs as possible and focus instead on higher amounts of healthy fat as your primary source of energy.

Of course you need some protein in moderation or as you see fit.

What you eat (or don’t eat) is where you begin to set yourself up for success or failure.

To avoid making the list painfully overwhelming, I’m going to focus on listing the group types with a few popular examples instead of including every food item under the sun.

Like it or not, part of your keto journey will involve some more research as time goes by.

If something isn’t listed or you are unsure, a quick online search can help you determine if it fits your diet.

As always please feel free to ask on here as well.

Lean Meats and Poultry

Chicken, Turkey, Steak, Pork, Beef, etc. 

Go for organic and grass fed if possible.

Seafood

Salmon, Sardines, Shrimp, Crab, Clams, Mussels, etc.

Wild caught are your healthiest options.

Eggs and Low-Carb Dairy Products

Eggs and dairy products like cheese, healthy butters, plain greek yogurt, full-fat cream.

Beverages

Water, Fresh veggie juices (no fruit juices or concentrates), unsweetened tea and coffee, low-carb alcoholic drinks in moderation.

Low Carb Vegetables

Broccoli, Spinach, Mushrooms, Green beans, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Cucumber, to name a few.

Low-Sugar Fruits

Avocados, Tomatoes, Melons, Strawberries (in moderation), Olives, Limes, Lemons.

Healthy Oils

MCT Oil, Coconut oil, Ghee, Avocado oil, Extra Virgin oil

Condiments and Dressings

Avoid sugary condiments or anything with too many carbs of course.

If you’re not making yours, please pay attention to the nutrition labels.

Herbs and Spices

Basil, Thyme, Oregano, Rosemary, Cilantro, Cinnamon, Salt and Pepper.

Seeds and Nuts

Flaxseed, Chia seeds, Almonds, Sunflower seeds, Hazelnuts, Walnuts, Pecans, etc.

keto diet for beginners - best foods to eat on a keto diet

Foods to Avoid on A Keto Diet

Grains

Wheat, Rice, Corn, Pasta, Breads and Cereal.

Sugary Beverages

Sodas, High Fructose drinks or juices, Sports drinks, and Vitamin waters.

Sugary Condiments

Avoid any condiments with high sugar content or a lot of carbs.

Fruits with High Sugar and Carb counts

Such as Bananas, Pineapples, Apples, Oranges, Grapes, and Grapefruit.

Processed Foods

Anything with fillers, additives, sugar or preservatives that could kick you out of ketosis.

Certain Vegetables and Starches

Examples include Legumes, Potatoes, Yams, beans, Carrots, and Beets.

keto diet for beginners - foods to avoid

Snacking on a Keto Diet

As restrictive as it may be, it’s still possible to have a snack or two on the keto diet.

Just make sure you stay away from the popular high-carb snack options.

Also make sure you include any snacks as part of your carb count so you don’t go above your daily recommendations.

Here are a few tips to help you when you need something to snack on.

  • Keep keto-friendly veggies and fruits readily available for a quick go-to snack option.
  • Avocados are healthy, packed with nutrients, and really make for an excellent snack or part of your meals.
  • Low- carb seeds and nuts are filling but avoid over-indulging or your carbs may add up.
  • Hard-boiled eggs can last in your refrigerator for up to a week. If you like them, make them.
  • Hard, full-fat cheeses contain protein and healthy fats. They’re also very satisfying.
  • The occasional high-cocoa chocolate (70% or higher) is okay but limit it to 1 0r 2 squares.

Whatever you choose to snack on, just make sure it is keto approved and remember you may need to do so in moderation.

.

Tips for Dining Out on A Keto Diet

Sticking to the keto diet can be tough when you’re away from home because you never really know what’s going into the foods you eat.

Still I don’t think it makes any sense to tell you avoid visiting any restaurants or dining out if you want to.

It is totally possible to dine out but you need to be creative and definitely need to plan ahead of time.

Here are some tips to help you enjoy yourself away from home without kicking yourself out of ketosis.

1 - Plan Ahead

You can check restaurant menus online or even call ahead of time to see if they have any recommendations for your diet.

Talk to your friends about your diet changes too.

2 - Eat a Light Keto-Friendly Snack Before You Leave

It reduces the hunger and cravings and also helps prevent you from eating too much.

3 - Say No to Processed Foods and G.P.S

GPS stands for Grains, Potatoes and Sugar.

So stay away from the fries and sodas. You certainly don’t need any of those.

If you can avoid the ultra-processed foods, you’re halfway there.

4 - Be Creative

Get rid of the bread from burgers and sandwiches.

Order your burritos in a bowl – without the corn or flour wraps.

Eliminate the rice and beans.

Go for crustless pizzas.

So many different opportunities for you to be creative. It’s your meal after all.

5 - Skip the Dessert

Sugar and carbs. Need I say more?

6 - Ask Questions

Probably the most important tip here.

There’s no reason why you shouldn’t ask questions to see how you can be accommodated. Just don’t be pushy about it.

Keto isn’t something new anymore. 

Many more people and restaurants are aware of it but it’s still up to you to ask  the necessary questions.

Lifestyle Changes to Help You Achieve Your Goals on a Keto Diet

What you eat is important but your keto journey doesn’t end with your diet only.

Without the right focus and determination you can easily find yourself out of ketosis or even worse, give up.

To tell everything will be smooth sailing as a beginner isn’t true but there are certain things you can do to prep yourself for success and keep everything on track.

Here they are:

- Understand Exactly Why You're Doing This

90% of the time most people choose keto because of its weight loss benefits.

Knowing the benefits is important but the question is why do you want to lose weight and how do you know this is a good fit for you?

Take your time to answer those questions diligently because those are your motivating factors.

- Gradually Cut Back the Carbs

If this is your first time on a keto diet then go easy on yourself.

Allow some time for your body to adjust.

Not only is great to help prevent the keto flu, it’s also a way to make it easier for you to commit longterm.

If this isn’t your first attempt then figure out what went wrong and start from there.

- Test Your Ketone Levels Often

How else do you know you’re (still) in ketosis if you don’t check?

Click here to read about the different tests again.

- Drink Lots of Water Daily

Hydration is important for your body in general, not just for keto.

Stay hydrated.

- Exercise Often

Diet is just half the equation.

If you’re serious about losing weight then you need to exercise as well.

I’m sure you understand the benefits of being physically fit.

- Intermittent Fasting Helps

It might be tough in the early stages but intermittent fasting can help you reach ketosis a lot quicker.

It could also lead to more weight loss.

Combine both only if you’re able to tolerate it.

- Avoid Stress and Take A Break When Necessary

Stress has never done any favors for anyone. At least not anything good.

In the time I was researching for this article I came across different stories about people who obsessed over keto to the point where it seemed more detrimental than helpful.

That’s not the point.

I’m sure strict keto enthusiasts may frown against this but take a break if you need to.

Nobody is perfect and chances are you may not get it right the first time.

Learn from your mistakes, take a breather and get back at it when you’re ready.

Keto shouldn’t make your life any more difficult than it is.

If you don’t enjoy the process you won’t stick with it. Plain and simple.

Best Keto Apps

Speaking of making things easier for yourself, here are some of the best keto apps that can come in handy with your daily routine.

These keto apps are available on both Android and iOS.

Carb Manager

My Macros+

Keto.App

Calorie, Carb & Fat Counter

Final Thoughts

The keto diet just like any other diet is meant to complement or improve your overall health and nutrition ONLY if it can fit within your lifestyle.

It may be beneficial to some and not so much for others. 

You’ll always have people who swear by it and others who completely despise it.

This article is meant to make it easier for you to understand what the diet entails and to give you enough information to help you make a decision that best suits you.

If you choose to switch to a ketogenic diet then use it as an opportunity to live healthier.

I’m an advocate for living healthy and if you’ve determined the keto diet works best for you then I’m all for it.

Keto Recipes

Need some Keto recipes to get you started? 

Check out the following lists of delicious keto meal ideas I’ve compiled for you.

FAQS

Here’s a summary of some of the different foods you should eat and the ones you should avoid
on the keto diet.

What You Should Eat

  • Meat and Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Eggs and Low Carb (High fat) Dairy
  • Low Carb Vegetables
  • Water, Unsweetened and Low Sugar Beverages
  • Low Sugar Fruits
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Healthy Oils

What You Should Avoid

  • Grains
  • Sugary Beverages
  • Starches
  • Sugary Fruits
  • (Ultra) Processed Foods

The one obvious thing you should always keep in mind when starting a Keto diet is you should focus on reducing your carb intake and eat more Healthy fats.

If you fail to do this you won’t get into (or remain) in Ketosis and obviously the diet and its benefits will be of no good to you.

Here are a few other tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep a list of keto-friendly foods handy and include some quick go-to options.
  • Prepare yourself for the keto flu (read more about it here).
  • Don’t go cold turkey. It’s better to ease into it so your body can adjust.
  • Exercise often. It helps with the weight loss.
  • Last but not least, Be patient. Keto isn’t an instant magical solution. If you grow impatient,
    you’ll likely quit before you can reap the rewards.

The Keto Diet does have its benefits but it may not be a good fit for everyone. There are different situations where you need to be precautious or avoid it completely.

Some of those situations include:

  • Diabetics
  • Breastfeeding Moms
  • Anyone with Eating Disorders
  • Hypertension
  • Removed Gallbladder
  • Anyone struggling with Nutrient Deficiencies or Food Intolerance.

If you are unsure, please always seek medical advice.

Here are 10 common signs to tell if you’re in Ketosis.

  1. Bad Breath
  2. Weight Loss
  3. Insomnia
  4. Short-Term Fatigue
  5. Headaches
  6. Increased Ketone Levels in Blood & Urine
  7. Loss of Appetite
  8. Poor Physical Performance
  9. Digestive Issues
  10. Increased Focus

Yes you can.

Plain, Unsweetened coffee is keto-friendly.

You should avoid the sugar and milk due to the extra carbs.

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