Beginning keto can feel very much like embarking on a new adventure that feels completely foreign. That’s because the diet – though extremely popular – is far from straightforward. And especially if you already live a healthy lifestyle, it can be hard to wrap your head around keto. How could all of that fat and meat be healthy?
Not to worry – we’re going to break it all down for you in this Ketogenic Diet for Beginners guide. That way, you can feel empowered and excited about your new keto journey. The good news is that despite how it may look at first, research shows that this diet actually can work to help increase overall wellness, establish healthier lifestyle habits, and promote a healthy weight. (1)
Once you fall into a groove with keto, you’ll start to understand it better, and may just feel better than you’ve ever felt! Plus, you’ll likely become part of the “keto club” of enthusiastic followers that love to speak about their success. Ready to join?! Let’s begin!
What is Keto? The Bottom Line
You’re going to give up most carbs in exchange for satisfying, high-fat foods. This triggers a totally scientific process in your body leading to much less inflammation and increased fat-burning.
Ketones and Ketosis Explained
Normally, your body burns glucose for energy. Glucose is a type of sugar you get from carb-like foods. By removing most of those carbs from the equation, your body is forced to use an alternate source of fuel… called ketones.
The state of “ketosis” happens when your body doesn’t have any carbs to burn, so instead it burns stored fat. During this process as the fat is broken down, your liver starts producing ketones, or natural acids that provide a clean, effective source of fuel for your brain.
Benefits of Going Keto
People turn to keto for many different reasons, but one of the main ones is to help reach a healthy weight. This is because keto (and low-carb diets in general), may help you kick your sugar addiction, control cravings, burn more body fat, and reduce fat storage. (2)
There are also a number of potential keto health benefits to going keto. But there are also some things you need to be careful about during the process. Check out this post on keto benefits and downsides to learn more.
Ketogenic Diet for Beginners: What to Eat and Avoid
The best way to understand the keto diet is to take everything you know about the traditional food guide pyramid and flip it over! There is a whole new set of rules when it comes to keto!
The keto food ratios you want to aim for daily are:
- 75% Fats
- 20% Protein
- 5% Carbs
In addition, you want to stay under one of these daily limits for carbs:
- 50g or less of total carbohydrates, or
- 30g or less of net carbs
Determine your daily macros with a keto calculator for easy personalized results. We’ll get into the best ways to keep track of your carbs later, but first, let’s break it down by food group…
Keto Food Groups
You may be used to sidestepping a lot of fats like butter and oils, but in keto, you’ll want to bring them on! A high amount of fat is what’s going to help switch on the ketosis in your body, so it’s really important to get enough. When choosing your fats, aim for the healthiest, highest quality options like grass-fed, organic butter. Also, oils such as extra virgin olive, avocado and coconut. These are all jam-packed with health-boosting nutrients!
If you’re a coffee lover, the ultra-popular keto drink, Bulletproof Coffee, combines grass-fed butter and MCT Oil to boost your body and brain. MCT Oil comes from coconut oil, but has even more benefits due to how quickly it’s absorbed and utilized. So you feel the results immediately!
Next, you definitely want to get your protein while on keto – as long as it’s secondary to the fat on your plate in terms of portion sizes. And the fattier the cut of meat the better. For instance, fatty steak, bacon and dark meat chicken is great. In addition, fatty fish like salmon and swordfish are ideal. You can also cook leaner proteins in more oil or butter to increase the fat content.
Though many dairy items are normally shunned because of the high saturated fat content, they’ll be your friends on keto. Cheese, heavy cream and eggs all help contribute to getting you into ketosis. Just try to balance the amount of dairy with your intake of unsaturated fat sources, for the most health benefits. Also, stay away from higher carb/sugary dairy sources, such as milk.
All types of nuts and nut butters make great snacks on the keto diet, since they’re high in fat, and contain heart-healthy unsaturated fats. The only thing you need to be careful of with nuts is the carb content – yes, there is one! As long as you stay within your carb limit, you’re free to enjoy them.
It’s very important to eat your veggies on the keto diet, to ensure you get enough fiber, along with essential vitamins and minerals. The key is to only eat low-carb veggies, and luckily, they are some of the best ones for you, health wise.
Some of the best keto veggies include leafy greens like kale and spinach, Brussel sprouts, broccoli and zucchini. Plus, diced cauliflower makes a great alternative to rice and can be used in a variety of recipes.
Though most fruits are too high in carbs/sugar for the keto diet, two of them (that you may not realize are fruits) are actually keto staples: avocado and olives. Both have pits, therefore are classified as fruits. And the extremely high fat content makes them staple keto foods. They’re also “good fats”, providing unsaturated fatty acids that promote healthy cholesterol levels.
Beyond those, you can have small amounts of low-carb berries (such as blackberries, raspberries and strawberries) on keto, but that’s it. All other fruits will throw you out of ketosis.
Though you’ve likely been taught the difference between “good” and “bad” carbs, this doesn’t apply in keto. For instance, though oats are a whole grain with a slew of health benefits, they’re high in carbs, therefore don’t fit into a keto diet.
For this reason, you’ll mostly need to stay away from all whole and refined grains. As a substitution, you can use almond flour to make substitutions for some of your favorite foods, like crackers and pizza crust.
Unfortunately, beans/legumes and keto simply don’t mix. Although beans could be considered a health food, the carb content is simply too high in most of them. As a replacement, try the following products in your meals…
Eden Organic Black Soy Beans (only 1g of net carbs per serving!) is the best alternative. You can also have white kidney beans, although one serving is 12g of net carbs, so you have to be careful not to go over your limit.
Obviously, you’re avoiding carbs, so regular “desserts” such as cookies, cakes and candies are out. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative. Dark chocolate (70-85%) is low in carbs, so you can enjoy a small amount. In addition, there are a number of keto recipes available that use almond flour, and high fat ingredients like heavy cream and avocados. You can also use small amounts of natural sugar substitutes, like the sugar alcohol, erythritol.
And for alcohol, avoid anything with added sugar, like fruity cocktails. Though you should check the individual carb content for each, some lower carb options include wine, light beer, whiskey, rum and gin.
How Do You Know If Your Body is In Ketosis?
There are a few different ways to do keto (and even different types of keto diets). But the most popular way by far is to track all of your macronutrients (carbs, fats, protein and calories), in a carb-tracking app.
Some well-known free carb-tracking apps include:
- My Fitness Pal
- Carb Manager
- My Keto
For a much more relaxed version of the diet, some people do “lazy keto” instead. Basically, in this version, you don’t keep track of all your macronutrients using an app. Instead, you only track your carbs, by reading labels and trying to stay within a carb count of 30g net carbs per day (or 50g overall carbs).
Adjusting to Low-Carb Living
Keep in mind, when you first start cutting the carbs in your diet, your body is likely to react – but don’t worry, this is actually a good thing! Your body needs a little time to get used to using ketones as a superior source of fuel, and in the meantime, it might be missing the carbs.
The good news is, if you start to experience any early symptoms of eating low-carb, it means you’re in ketosis, and your dietary plan is working! Plus, once your body gets onboard with the new routine (usually anywhere from 1-3 weeks), you just may be feeling better than you’ve after felt. In short, it’s worth it, and a total normal process for your body to go through.
Some people call the initial symptoms of very low-carb eating the “keto flu”, but it’s unlikely to be anywhere near as bad as an actual flu. In addition, some people don’t get these symptoms at all, and some only get them very briefly.
Potential “Early Keto” Side Effects:
- Bad breath (fruity smell due to the ketones)
- Fast weight loss
- Trouble sleeping
- Digestive issues
Potential Eventual Keto Effects:
- Increased energy
- Enhanced mental focus
- Reduced appetite
- Cravings control
- Better sleep
In addition to these telltale signs of being in ketosis, you can also purchase keto kits to check your breath, urine or blood for ketones.
Your Keto Diet Plan for Beginners Starts Here
Now you’re caught up with the keto basics required to hit the ground running, but you still need the tools to succeed. This is where we’ve got you covered. Life is busy, and it can be hard to stick with keto if you don’t plan in advance…
Which is why the 310 Keto Kit includes:
Keto Meal Plan E-Book: 7 full days of meals (breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner) to get you started on keto.
310 Shake + Shaker Cup: A sugar-free, low-carb meal replacement shake that makes it simple to get in the fruits, veggies and fiber that can sometimes be missing on the keto diet. Plus, it’s a quick and convenient option for keto meals on-the-go (and it tastes delicious)! Just pour, shake and go!
310 MCT Oil – As discussed earlier, MCT Oil is a keto must. It supplies your brain and body with supercharged healthy fats to help you get into ketosis – and it’s ridiculously easy to add 1-3 capfuls into your shake!
Take a short-cut to more efficient keto with the 310 Keto Kit today – take the guesswork out of low-carb/high-fat eating, and simply your diet plan!
Stay Tuned for More Keto Guides…
We hope you enjoyed this Keto for Beginners Guide! We know you’re excited about your keto journey, and we are too. Which is why we’ll be publishing guides for many other relevant keto topics. Stay tuned on the 310 Blog for the info and tools that will help you live your best keto life!