Where Should You Start
Unless youre using Keto for therapeutic purposes, start on the higher-protein end of standard Keto. Thirty percent of daily calories from protein is a good target to promote fat loss and body recomposition.
If after a few weeks of Keto dieting, youre struggling with exercise, consider experimenting with a cyclical or targeted Keto diet. Finally, if plant-based living is your thing, try Keto 2.0.
The common thread between all these Keto diets? You need to track your carbs! Make this easy with the Carb Manager app, where you can quickly log meals, get community support, and play with different macro ratios.
We have over 3 million people taking their health journey with us. Come join the community.
What Is The Keto Diet Used For
At first, the keto diet was primarily used as a way to help people with seizures. Over time, experts applied the benefits to several other health conditions, including:
- Cognitive and memory improvement
The keto diet has been highly effective for certain conditions, especially type 2 diabetes. One study looked at the before-and-after keto diet results for 349 adults with type 2 diabetes over a period of 1 year. It reversed diabetes in about 60% of the participants. The keto diet also helped many of those in the study to lower their dependence on prescription insulin drugs.
If you have a health condition, it’s best to talk to your doctor before you start the keto diet.
Step : Get Organized & Informed
- Information is power! Knowing the science behind the ketogenic diet and why it works is a huge motivator in implementing and sticking with the plan. In addition, learning the basics of what to eat and what to avoid is crucial for success. Luckily for you, we have all the resources that you need to be successful easily organized in the Resources page. Make sure to check out the following at a minimum:
- The Keto Food Guide
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What Is The Keto Vegan Diet
The vegan keto diet is a meal plan that follows the rules or principles of the ketogenic diet. The biggest difference is the type of foods you can eat.
Plant-based keto restricts you from eating animals and animal-based products, such as dairy and eggs, which is what separates the keto vegan diet from the traditional keto diet.
What Is Ketosis And What Is The Ketogenic Diet
We already have a much more comprehensive article on all the basics of the ketogenic diet here. So, if youre new to the concept of ketosis and the keto diet, please read that first.
Basically, when we eat lots of carbohydrates, most of it will be turned into glucose and our bodies will use that glucose for energy. The excess glucose will get stored as glycogen and as fat . However, our cells can also use fat for energy instead of glucose. And if youre interested in losing weight, then youll want to know how to get your body to burn up fat and avoid storing fat. Thats where the ketogenic diet comes in.
Again, this is a really brief and simplified explanation of ketosis and the ketogenic diet as this article focuses on beginning a ketogenic diet. Please read the article I linked to above for more general information about keto. If you are still longing for more, listen to our podcast with Lisa MarcAurele on simplifying keto.
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Key Takeaways For Step 2 Of Starting The Keto Diet
The most effective way to lose weight is by eating the right amount of calories. Since fat will be your main source of calories while you are on the keto diet, you will need to adjust your fat consumption based on the results you are currently getting and the results you want to get.
The fundamental principles you can use to help you figure out how much you should eat are as follows:
- Eating fewer calories than you need to maintain weight will lead to weight loss.
- Eating more calories than you need to maintain weight will cause weight gain.
- It is healthiest to lose weight at 1 to 2 pounds per week.
While you are on keto, it is important to eat the right amount of each macronutrient as well.
Follow these three keto principles to help you with this:
- Keeping carbs lower than 35 grams per day will help you stay in ketosis.
- Eating the right amount of protein will help you preserve muscle mass as you lose weight.
To help you find out how much you need to eat of each macronutrient, I recommend using these two tools:
- A calorie tracking app
You’re At Risk Of Nutritional Deficiencies
Because the keto diet cuts out grains, as well as a number of fruits and vegetables, there is a risk of certain nutritional deficiencies.
“There tends to be very little vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, calcium, or folate in this diet,” says Doebrich. “Also, the lack of fiber could have an impact on the gut flora and the microbiome is known to play an important role in immunity, endocrine function, inflammatory processes, and even brain health.”
Eating a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, and protein sources can help you to avoid many of these deficiencies. Vandenberg also recommends the following supplements to fill these nutritional gaps:
- Calcium: 500 to 1,000 milligrams per day in two doses
- Vitamin D: 1,000 to 2,000 International Units
- Potassium citrate: Talk with your physician to find out if this is necessary
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How Long Does It Take To Get Back Into Ketosis
The journey back into ketosis is going to look different for everyone. Depending on how glycogen-repleted you currently are, your metabolic flexibility, and the state of your metabolism, it could take anywhere from a day to two or three weeks.
Most likely, if youve been in ketosis before, it wont take more than seven days, but since no ones body is the same, its hard to predict exactly how long it will take for each individual.
If youre just trying to bounce back from a cheat day or two, youll likely find your way back into ketosis within a couple of days. If youve been off your keto regimen for weeks or months, it may take more time.
With that being said, practices like exercise and intermittent fasting will speed up the process no matter where youre starting from.
Keto Macros: Carbs Protein & Fat
When following a keto diet, the idea is to eat very few carbs, a moderate amount of protein, and just as much fat as you need to feel satisfied, rather than stuffed.
CarbohydratesLimit carbs to 20 or fewer grams of net carbs per day, or 5 to 10% of calories. Although its possible that you may not need to be this strict, eating fewer than 20 grams of net carbs every day virtually guarantees that youll be in nutritional ketosis. Learn more >
ProteinEat enough protein to meet your needs. Most people need at least 70 grams per day, or 20 to 35% of calories from protein. Learn more >
FatInclude enough fat to add flavor. Theres no reason to add lots of fat unless you need extra calories. Plus, many whole foods like eggs and meat contain plenty of fat. On a keto diet, about 60 to 75% of your calories come from fat. Learn more >
If you are wondering what kind of results you can expect from a keto diet, the answer depends on how strict you are, along with a number of other factors.
Evidence shows that keto diets help with weight loss, blood sugar control, and many other conditions.7 But outcomes from even the most well-run study are still an average of what each participant experienced.
That means that your experience with keto will be unique. Your weight loss and health improvements may be sudden and dramatic or they may be slow but steady.
What benefits might you experience by switching to a keto diet? Quite a few, possibly.
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Clearly Define The Reason Youre Doing It
Chiropractor Kira C., 29, has been doing intermittent fasting for about three years. She typically fasts once a week, and Kira says she decided to do intermittent fasting knowing it could support her gut health.
Kira points out that intermittent fasting can be tough to stick with if you dont have a reason in mind for following the eating plan. Clearly define the reason that you are doing it, she says. Certain hours get very challenging and you can feel pretty terrible at the moment. Let your ‘big why’ drive you to push through the tough times. For me, that was improving my gut health.
S Beginners Should Take Before Trying The Keto Diet
Jumping into high-fat, low-carb eating? Here are 10 things you need to know to sidestep challenges and set yourself up for success.
The ketogenic diet a high-fat and very low carb eating plan can be tough to start. After all, its likely a radical departure from the way youre eating now . But many people are trying the keto diet, which puts your body in a state of ketosis. That’s what happens when your bodys carb-burning switch flips to a fat-burning one, a change that can cause weight loss and has even been credited with controlling type 2 diabetes, a small past study suggests.
How do you make practical preparations in stocking your fridge and preparing mentally for the big change to come? Consider this your step-by-step guide.
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Keto Diet For Beginners
Eating a very low carb diet is important to achieving ketosis, but low carb does not mean no carb. With Atkins 20, net carbs are restricted to 20g or fewer per day for about two weeks to guarantee that ketosis is achieved. After this induction phase, you will gradually add small amounts of net carbs back into your diet while still burning fat. You can easily count the net carbs you are consuming with the Atkins® app or this guide.
When limiting your carb intake on a keto diet to 2040 net grams per day, it is important to eat plenty of foundation vegetables to ensure youre getting all of your necessary vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber. Reach for nutrient-dense, non-starchy veggies like kale, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, mushrooms, and peppers. Another bonus: the combination of eating whole foods plus gradually adding net carbs as you maintain ketosis also helps prevent setbacks, hunger pangs, and cravings for processed foods.
Bonus tip: Swap in low carb ingredients to make your favorite meals. For example, use zucchini noodles to replace regular noodles in your favorite pasta dish!
How The Diet Works
The trick to the ketone magic is a diet high in fat, low in carbs, and moderate in protein. Keto isnt a high-meat diet or a high-protein diet. Its a high-fat diet.
The exact amount of protein, carbs, and fat can vary a little bit. For example, some people can eat a little less fat and a little more protein. Another popular strategy is to not worry about ratios at all – just keep carbs very low, under 50 grams or so, and eat as much protein and fat as you want. But the basic idea is high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carb.
After eating this type of diet for a few days to a week, youll end up in ketosis – burning ketones for energy instead of carbs or fat – and thats how the magic happens.
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What Is The Keto Diet
The keto diet can be described in many different ways, but the most common definition is that it is a high-fat, low-carb, low-to-moderate protein diet. However, if you dont know what phrases like high-fat and low-carb mean it is difficult to understand what eating keto actually looks like.
The simplest way Ive found to conceptualize the keto diet is this: If you restrict carbs to the point that you enter and sustain ketosis, you are on keto.
Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body is consistently using and burning a highly efficient alternative fuel called ketones. To produce ketones and enter ketosis, we must continually trigger a process in the liver called ketogenesis. The healthiest way to do this is by limiting carb consumption more than any other low carb diet.
This is why this version of the low carb diet is called the ketogenic diet Its primary objective is to limit carbs to the point that you stimulate ketogenesis and enter nutritional ketosis.
If youre not promoting ketone production and maintaining ketosis, then you are technically not on the keto diet. However, this begs the question: Is undergoing such a massive shift in your diet so that you can be in ketosis worth it?
Healthy Ketogenic Snack Options
Snacking between meals can help moderate hunger and keep you on track while following a ketogenic diet.
Because the ketogenic diet is so filling, you may only need one or two snacks per day, depending on your activity level.
Here are some excellent, keto-friendly snack options:
- Almonds and cheddar cheese
- Greens with high-fat dressing and avocado
- Keto smoothie made with coconut milk, cocoa and avocado
- Avocado cocoa mousse
Though these keto snacks can maintain fullness between meals, they can also contribute to weight gain if youre snacking too much throughout the day.
Its important to eat the appropriate number of calories based on your activity level, weight loss goal, age and gender.
If youre unsure how many calories you should be eating, check out this article to learn how to calculate energy needs.
Keto-friendly snacks should be high in fat, moderate in protein and low in carbs. Increase your fiber intake by snacking on sliced, low-carb vegetables with a high-fat dipping sauce.
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Is A Keto Diet Safe
A keto diet is usually very safe.2However, in the following three situations you may need extra preparation or adaptation:
- Are you on medication for diabetes, e.g. insulin? Learn more
- Are you on medication for high blood pressure? Learn more
- Are you breastfeeding? Learn more
If youre not in one of these situations, youll likely do fine on a keto diet, without needing any special modifications.3
Note that theres no shortage of myths and misunderstandings about keto, that frighten children and grownups alike. So if youre worrying about something in particular, check out this link.
Whats The Difference Between Keto And Low
The keto diet often gets lumped in with other low-carb diets. However, the main difference between keto and low-carb is the macronutrient levels. In most keto variations, 45% of your calories or more will come from fat, to help transition your body into ketosis. In a low-carb diet, theres no specified daily intake of fat .
The goals between these diets also vary. The goal of keto is to enter ketosis, weaning your body off of burning glucose for fuel long-term. With a low-carb diet, you may never enter ketosis. In fact, some diets cut out carbs in the short-term, then add them back in.
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How To Start Keto Essentials
Stock up on these items before you begin your Keto journey! You can see the full list of our essentials here on my Keto Grocery List.
We stock up on bacon , plus ground beef, all cuts of chicken , pepperoni, ham, sausage, and beef jerky.
Butter , heavy cream, cheese, and sour cream are all keto-friendly dairy options.
Avocado oil, Coconut Oil, MCT oil, and olive oil will quickly become staples in your home on the keto diet! I use MCT powder daily in my coffee, and it keeps me full for hours.
Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, onions, peppers, spinach, radishes, pumpkins, and other lower carb vegetables are always welcome on keto!
Fruits are more limited because theyre higher in carbs, but you can still enjoy unsweetened coconut, as well as lemons, limes, berries, and avocados.
Easy Steps For Starting A Keto Diet
The main point to remember when starting a keto diet is this:
RULE #1: Restrict Carbohydrates. This is the most crucial part! Restrict to less than 20g or 25g net carbs per day for a keto diet plan .For a low carb diet, aim for under 50g net carbs per day. Some variations limit to somewhere between 50-100g per day, particularly if you are more active.
Stay below your carb limit and youre most of the way there! But to ensure your success, here are some additional tips for getting started on a keto diet and the same applies for a low carb diet as well:
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