Keto 101 for Beginners
Have you ever wondered how to start Keto diet? It really doesn't have to be as daunting as it seems.
Here are the basics to understand before embarking on a ketogenic journey.
Find your 'why?'
"Why should I do Keto?"
Before you dive into Keto, take a moment to think about your reasoning for starting.
For most people, weight loss is the big motivator. It was for me initially and I've successfully lost 80 pounds. It's okay if this is your only motivator at first.
As I progressed, I discovered a whole slew of additional benefits of ketosis like
- steady blood-sugar levels
- dramatically less anxiety
- improvements in my debilitating digestive issues
I did all of this without exercise, and felt amazing!
Over time, my "why" changed from a focus on losing weight to optimally feeling my best.
Weight loss isn't always linear and sometimes you really need to have a mindset change to find long-term success.
While losing weight, try to think of others motivators that will keep you determined to keep going!
Calculate your daily calorie needs.
It doesn't matter which plan or style of eating you follow, calories do still matter.
Now I know what you're thinking ... why bother with Keto if I'm just going to count calories?
When the body is adapted to using fat as fuel, feelings of hunger are blunted significantly. This is because blood sugar levels are remaining steady and not spiking as they would with higher carbohydrate diets.
This also means that you are often satisfied with less food, are fuller longer, and for most people, eat less often.
Ultimately, this makes reducing your calories a lot easier.
Use the Macro Calculator to calculate your daily calorie limit + macro recommendations.
Choose a meal plan.
Did you know that a ketogenic diet has been used in a clinical setting since the 1920's? While originally developed to improve severe epilepsy cases, many other conditions were found to benefit as a result.
This discovery led to many different nuances of a ketogenic diet like:
- Strict Keto - a plan that is often strictly whole foods with no sweeteners
- Dirty Keto - a plan that focuses more on keeping carbohydrates low with less emphasis on ingredients
- Carnivore - a plan that focuses mostly on foods from the animal kingdom with minimal-to-no plants
These are just a few examples that can be tailored to fit your exact situation.
Which one is best? The one that gives you the results you want and is sustainable for your lifestyle.
Eat Keto-friendly foods.
This will depend on the plan you choose, but a majority of the foods you will eat on a standard Keto diet are:
- meats of all types and cuts
- high quality fats and oils
- low carb dairy
- low-sugar fruit (like berries & avocado)
- non-starchy vegetables
- nuts and seeds
Download the List: Keto Diet Food PDF
Foods to Avoid
- high-sugar fruits
- starchy vegetables
- high lactose dairy
Hungry? Check out my Keto recipes
Carbs are a limit.
This is the most important step when following Keto!
Ketosis is triggered by keeping carbohydrate levels very low.
It is recommended that you stay between 20g - 50g of carbs per day.
When this happens, dietary and body fat is converted into ketones and used as an energy source.
I try to aim for 20g per day, as this all but ensures that you remain in a ketogenic state.
The rest of your daily calories will be made up of protein and fat.
Fat is fuel and flavor.
One common misconception about Keto is that you need to eat a ton of fat to be in ketosis. I disagree and think this is very bad advice.
You do not have to hit a specific fat goal. Instead, use enough fat to make your food taste good and to provide energy.
Fat is the most calorie-dense of the macronutrients and very easy to overeat.
In the end, calories still matter, especially when you are trying to lose weight.
Hit your protein goal.
Protein is the essential building block of the body. When consumed, it is broken down into different types of amino acids that are responsible for various functions including:
- building muscle
- repairing organs and tissue
- hormonal balance
Unlike fat, you definitely want to try to hit your protein goal daily.
Adequate protein is necessary for any way of eating, notably to prevent muscle loss. It is also very satiating and satisfying, which means it keeps us fuller longer.
Some ketogenic diets limit the amount of protein, but I would personally be more concerned with not getting enough.
If you've ever heard someone mention that they felt horrible on Keto, it's most likely due to a lack of electrolytes.
Electrolytes are important minerals that help our body maintain a normal pH balance.
The three main electrolytes you will need to replenish are
I personally find that I get enough sodium from food daily, but always supplement with potassium and magnesium.
Develop a support system.
I remember when I first started eating Keto at my previous job. I got so many looks and was constantly lectured about how I was "destroying my body" by not eating grains and sugar.
These are also the same people that were silent as I binged on fast food and guzzled a liter of Coca-Cola for lunch every day.
When my partner started to see the results I was getting with Keto, he decided to try it with me!
Having a support system that respects your food choices and health endeavors is very important.
I was surprise at how much closer it brought us together. It was like a whole new learning experience for both of us.
I know that not everyone has a supportive member in their home, and that's okay too.
If you are feeling a little lost in the Keto space, I can't say enough good things about connecting with others on social media!
I highly recommend creating an Instagram account or joining a Facebook group where you can share your ideas, meals, successes and even blunders! I've made some lifelong friends online that motivate and inspire me every single day.