First, let me say that keto is NOT a Monday-Friday diet with cheat meals on the weekend. If you’re interested in embarking on a keto journey prepare to commit because your body has to make some adjustments in order to burn ketones efficiently. However, if you stick with it the benefits can really be worth it! Since keto can sometimes be an overwhelming thing, the point of this guide is to strip keto down to the basics to help you get going. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s hop into it!
What Is Keto?
By now you’ve probably heard of the ketogenic diet, it’s been ALL OVER the place for the last couple of years, but is not a new diet. It’s been around as a treatment for epilepsy since the ’20s but is now being used for more than just that. Many have found weight loss success and overall health improvement by using this diet. To keep it super simple the ketogenic diet aka the keto diet is a low carbohydrate, high-fat diet that allows the body to produce and use ketones for fuel. In general, the body is either burning fat or sugar. If you remove all refined carbs and lower non-starchy carbs down just right (25-30 carbs PER DAY is a great starting point), your body will switch gears and not just burn and/or store the sugar you consume but start burning FAT!
Understand that at the beginning of your keto journey there is an adjustment phase called keto adaptation. Just as it sounds, your body is adjusting to this new way of eating. Keto adaptation can take up to 4-6 weeks (sometimes more, sometimes less) for your body to fully adapt so be patient, and don’t give up! It’s extremely important to eat a high quality, nutrient-dense version of keto to minimize some of the negative effects you may experience like keto flu. We will discuss that more in a later section.
Macros are short for macronutrients. We are talking about fat, protein, and carbs. Depending on what you read macros vary slightly, but for starting purposes here are the keto macro ratios:
70% Fat / 25% Protein / 5% Carbs
Since no one eats in percentages, you can get grams by calculating them. You can easily measure how many grams per meal to get a more accurate estimation of what your body requires to reach your goals. If you’d like to calculate custom macros for yourself, you can use our keto calculator to give you a good starting point based on your current metrics. Some people prefer a “lazy keto” approach to the keto diet. That means they choose to not bother with trying to follow specific macro numbers and eat the right things until satiated. In the beginning, macros can especially be useful to help you understand, but it’s a personal preference.
Benefits of Keto
Besides the obvious benefit of losing weight many experience, there are many other benefits that you may experience including:
- Energy Boost
- Reduced Inflammation
- Mental Clarity
- Reduce Blood Pressure
- Belly Fat Reduction
- Reduced Appetite
What Not To Eat On A Keto Diet
Remember keto is a low carb, high fat, moderate protein way of eating. Here are some of the foods you want to avoid to succeed:
- Sugar | It’s in many things you may not think of so you want to get into the habit of reviewing food labels when possible and avoid it! Even many fruits are high in sugar so be careful, as consuming them can kick you out of ketosis. When selecting fruit use limited amounts of it and stick with berries like strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries.
- Grains | This includes but not limited to whole grains, bread, rice, pasta, quinoa, cereals, oats, and corn. Due to the high carb content, they should be completely eliminated.
- Starchy Vegetables | There are many starchy carbs to avoid but all varieties of white potatoes, sweet potatoes, and parsnips to name a few should be avoided on a keto diet plan.
- Artificial Sweeteners | This needed to be mention because these sweeteners may have a negative impact and kick you out of ketosis. Opt for sweeteners like liquid stevia or monk fruit.
- Beans + Legumes | Although generally a great source of protein and fiber they are another high carb food. Avoid things like black beans, chickpeas, and kidney beans. Peanuts are a legume but small amounts of high quality (peanut and salt only) peanut butter can be enjoyed.
What Can I Eat In Keto?
You may be thinking, well if I can’t have bread or rice or cereal or pasta, WHAT THE HECK CAN I EAT!? Don’t panic, there are plenty of options for you to add to your keto menu! Here are some of staples:
Take a look at the full Keto Essentials food list from the Keto Kills Hangry Guide below. Add it to your Keto Pinterest Board for easy access! Plus, keep an eye on the Get Ya FatUp blog for the latest recipes!
How Do I Start A Ketogenic Diet?
Starting a keto diet is not as hard as it seems. Here are a few things to consider:
First, remove all temptations from your kitchen if possible. If you love chips don’t keep them on your kitchen counter for easy access, remove them or at least if others in your home are not joining you for this new way of eating, designate a specific space in your kitchen for them to keep all of the stuff you can’t have. Try the out of sight out of mind approach.
NOW, that we’ve done that. Stock your fridge, freezer, and pantry with items from the food list that you already like to eat. This will make things so much easier. Don’t try to start with a zillion new keto recipes. The simpler you keep things, the better! Seriously! Pick your favorite protein and cook in a fat of your choice and then sautee the veggies in the residual fat from cooking the protein. BOOM! Simple, yet yummy keto meal. No-fuss!
There are many meal plans you can try but rigid meal plans can be limiting because they generally include things you may not like from day to day and have to be customized anyway, which defeats the purpose. You can easily create a Pinterest board for food inspiration but don’t get to bogged down with that. Think about alllll the recipes you’ve pinned and have never tried! See what I mean!? KEEP IT SIMPLE!
Get planning! You know what you like, but having a plan is the key to success! If you decide to wing it you are much more likely to cave and cheat, so don’t do that! Start to build out a plan that works for you! Homegirl’s plan on Instagram might have worked wonders for her but may not work perfectly for you, so make it your own. Want extra help getting started building your custom meal plan? Check out The FatUp Approach Meal Planner that walks you through how to build your own custom meal plan from the start!
In keto we are either talking about net carbs or total carbs. So what’s the difference?
Carbs consumed in a day INCLUDING fiber.
Total carbs MINUS fiber.
If you looked at the back of a nutrition label like the example below, net carbs would be 33g because we subtract the 4g of dietary fiber while total carbs would be 37g, both of which would be too high to consider eating this food on a ketogenic diet, not to mention sugar content.
Net carbs are generally acceptable, however, you can experiment and see if you get better results with a total carb count.
How To Know If You Are In Ketosis?
There a few methods to check your keto status.
- Urine Test Strips | Although the most affordable, over time can be the least accurate option. At the beginning of your keto journey, you can pick up a box of these up for generally under $10 but as your body adapts to keto and begins to use the ketones produced the results may become inaccurate. However, early on it can be a great indicator for if you are on the right track. Check Amazon or your favorite retailer for “ketone urine test strips” to find the best deal.
- Blood Ketone Test | A very accurate way to test ketones is through blood but it can also be a pricey option. I personally use the original Keto Mojo device and it works very well to test when you want to be crystal clear you are in a state of ketosis, but not only if you are in keto but how deep into keto you are.
- Breath Meter | Pricey, but another option to test ketones levels is through the reusable Ketonix breath meter.
Common Problems On A Keto Diet
- Fatigue | During keto-adaptation there are a lot of changes going on, so it can be normal to be a little more fatigued than normal, so rest as needed.
- Keto Flu | Not everyone experiences this and not to be confused with the traditional flu, but there are some similarities. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, cramps, fatigue, and brain fog. In relation to keto, it’s generally an electrolyte imbalance. As you adapt to keto you want to ensure you increase your electrolytes by consuming things like bone broth, electrolytes tablets, or even a sugar-free electrolyte drink to help you get through it.
- Keto Breath | Often described as a “fruity smell” and said to be caused by the increase in ketones. Should resolve itself after keto-adaptation period.
- Constipation | With all the new changes your bowels may definitely go through a shift. Consider a probiotic supplement and ensure you stay hydrated eating non-starchy veggies that you can tolerate only. Sometimes the sudden increase in fiber, especially from cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, etc, maybe too much at once, so experiment with what works best for you.
- Increased Urination | Your kidneys will go into overdrive with all the ketone production so more frequent than normal urination is a common symptom. When this happens it’s again important to increase your electrolyte consumption as they are being flushed and stay hydrated.
The Keto Boost (Intermittent Fasting)
Intermittent fasting (IF) is like the keto boost element. Simply put, IF is a period of eating and then not eating, that’s all to it! Once you develop good keto diet habits and get a routine, you should notice your appetite naturally decreases. Once that occurs this is generally a natural progression but not a keto requirement. There are various options to intermittent fasting so you can decide what may work best for you. And yes, sleeping definitely counts as fasting! Also as you eat less often you don’t necessarily have to eat the same quantity of food just to meet your macro goals daily, BUT you do want to ensure you keep that nutrient density up! Eat until you are satiated, don’t stuff yourself for the sake of macro goals if you’re not hungry.
- 16/8 | 16 hours of fasting, 8 hours of eating
- 18/6 | 18 hours of fasting, 6 hours of eating
- 20/4 | 20 hours of fasting, 4 hours of eating
- OMAD | One Meal A Day
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