BEGINNERS GUIDE TO KETO | START AS YOU MEAN TO GO ON!

Written by: Suzie Walker

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Time to read 19 min

So you’ve heard of Keto….


You must have after all you’re reading this blog!


However, if you are still left wondering what exactly it is, what it can do for you, and most importantly what you can eat on a Keto diet, then read on…


In this Beginners Guide To Keto, we’re going to break it down for you into bite-size pieces...

First Things First…. What Actually is Keto?

Keto is short for Ketogenic, which is a low carb diet with moderate protein and fats. 


And no it’s not Atkins, and we’re not saying just eat bunless burgers smothered in butter all day long!


The goal is to feel full, nourished and to burn fat instead of glucose.


When you decrease the carbs (glucose) your body has to find fuel from other places, on a ketogenic diet this fuel comes directly from fat via the liver (ketones), this is called Ketosis, hence the ‘Keto’ …starting to make sense?

Your body will burn glucose first, decrease the glucose and your body becomes a fat-burning machine!

On average individuals will have to eat 20 grams of carbs or less for this to happen and it takes about a week for your body to go into Ketosis, however as we are all so unique and wonderful some people can eat up to 50g and still be in Ketosis and others a little less, it’s a bit of an individual experiment.


And remember the idea is not to starve yourself and go without; it’s about changing your diet to still feel full and for your body to get what it needs, but minimising the carbs.


When starting out on a keto diet for beginners, it's important to understand the basics of how this type of eating plan works and the types of food you should be consuming. This isn't the same as a typical low-carb diet, and will take some effort to stick to, at least in the early stages!


You can read about The Keto Diet vs Low-Carb Diet Here!

Different Types of Ketogenic Diets

You've no doubt heard of the keto diet before reading this article, but did you know there are actually several types of it?


The most common type is the Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD), which consists of a high-fat, low-carbohydrate, and moderate-protein diet. This type of ketogenic diet can help reduce body fat and weight, while still providing enough energy to maintain muscle mass.


Other types include the High Protein Ketogenic Diet (HPKD) and Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD).

The HPKD is similar to SKD but with slightly higher amounts of protein. It's mainly used when trying to build muscle mass or for athletes who need more protein in their diets. The TKD, on the other hand, involves having carbohydrates around workouts for an added energy boost.

Generally speaking, these specialist types of the keto diet require careful planning and the tracking of calories and macronutrients closely in order to get optimal results.


If you're just starting out with a keto diet as a beginner, then it's best to start off with the standard version. That will give you a good feel for the diet without forcing you to count macros all day!


Eventually, you may even transition to ‘Lazy Keto’ or even ‘Dirty Keto’. But we would recommend those starting out to stick to the standard strict keto diet.


You can find out all about Lazy Keto Here!

keto diet fatty foods

So Why Do People Choose Keto?

Let's be honest, people choose keto because of its incredible weight loss potential.


No diet can shift that flabby midsection like keto can! That's a fact.


But the benefits of a keto diet that aren't talked about as much are the other amazing health benefits that come along with this way of eating.


A keto diet is high in fat, moderate in protein, and low in carbohydrates. This macronutrient combination encourages your body to enter a state of ketosis, where it begins burning fat as its primary source of energy instead of glucose. As you continue to restrict carbs, your body will turn into a fat-burning machine.


Not only can this help with weight loss but also provides numerous health benefits such as improved mental clarity, better digestion, and increased energy levels.


There are several aspects that make the Keto diet attractive to beginners; firstly, it is relatively easy to follow compared to other diets which require more strict guidelines or meal plans that are difficult for someone starting out on their own wellness journey.

The elimination of certain food groups means there are fewer temptations when trying to stay on track; not having access to unhealthy snacks makes maintaining healthy eating habits easier.

Furthermore, because the Ketogenic diet leans heavily towards fatty foods (such as nuts and avocados), it has been proven effective at reducing levels of triglycerides while increasing HDL “good” cholesterol, leading directly to improved heart health over time! 


Who would have thought that ADDING fat to your diet could improve your heart health?


The diet is also muscle-sparing, meaning the weight you lose is coming from your fat stores, not your hard-earned muscles!


There is a difference between losing weight and losing fat. On the ketogenic diet, you lose fat...


One compaint that people have when approaching this way of eating is the cost. You may load your trolley up with expensive meats and fish and feel like you need to remortgage your house to get through the check-out. Thats not true, and keto can be done on a budget.


You can read our article on Keto on a Budget Here!

weight loss on keto

Ketogenic Diets WILL Help You Lose Weight

On the ketogenic lifestyle, you can jumpstart your weight loss journey and start seeing results super quickly.


Research has shown that a keto diet can be an effective tool for weight loss when done correctly. A well-formulated low-carbohydrate, high-fat meal plan will help you to burn fat rather than glucose for energy.

When your body enters a state of ketosis, it begins to utilise stored fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. As a result, people often experience rapid initial weight loss on a ketogenic diet due to water loss and reduced caloric intake.

Eating plenty of vegetables and lean proteins along with healthy fats can help you achieve optimal nutrition while adhering to a low-carbohydrate approach like the one employed by the keto diet.


With proper planning and consistent effort, it's possible to reap many long-term health benefits from following a well-balanced Ketogenic Diet plan...


Just don't be taken in by any product guaranteeing instant ketosis, it's absolute nonsense.


You can read all about Keto Scams Here!

Other Health Benefits of Keto

Beyond melting away those love handles, eating keto can bring a host of other health benefits.


Being in ketosis is beneficial for many reasons - it helps decrease inflammation by reducing circulating levels of inflammatory markers while improving insulin sensitivity which can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

This leads to a healthier body and mind!


Yes, you heard that correctly, Keto can provide your brain with the perfect fuel for clear thinking and concentration. People often begin keto for weight loss, and stay for mental clarity. It truly is amazing if not experienced before!


Keto does require some planning but with the right foods on hand, you'll have no trouble staying in nutritional ketosis and reaping all the potential health benefits in no time.

starting keto with diabetes

Ketogenic Diets for Diabetes and Prediabetes

For those managing diabetes or prediabetes, a low-carb, high-fat eating plan can be an effective way to keep blood sugar levels in check and reduce inflammation. A ketogenic diet is a type of meal plan that's been gaining traction among beginners due to its potential health benefits for those with diabetes or prediabetes.


The metabolic state of ketosis can help those with diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels and improving insulin sensitivity. Additionally, it also reduces inflammation and improves lipid profiles by decreasing triglycerides and increasing HDL cholesterol.


As with anyone with diabetes, It's essential for beginners on the keto diet to consult with their doctor before starting.


Working with a nutritionist can help make sure that your meal plan meets all dietary requirements while still adhering to the principles of the ketogenic diet.


You can read more about Keto and Diabetes here!

good keto food vs bad

How do Beginners Start Keto?

So you know what keto is, and what you can get out of it, but how do you start? - here's how!

To get started on the keto diet, you'll need to become familiar with low-carb foods and meal planning. 


You'll also need to create a simple keto meal plan that fits your unique needs and preferences. Once you have all of these things in place, you'll be ready to embark on your keto journey!

The first step is reducing your carb intake while increasing healthy fats in order to put your body into a state of nutritional ketosis. Everything you think you know about eating can be put in the bin. Forget about 'low-fat' alternatives, that is old news!

Make sure that you have plenty of nutrient-rich low-carb options available — think leafy greens like kale and spinach as well as lean proteins such as chicken breast or eggs — that are easy enough for quick meals during busy days when cooking isn't an option.


Next, add in some healthy fats like avocado or almond butter along with delicious recipes featuring those ingredients so that eating stays enjoyable and satisfying even when following a strict regimen.


Don't forget about healthy keto snacks; keeping some pre-portioned packages or small containers filled with nuts or seeds handy can help curb cravings between meals without killing ketosis!

FOODS TO EAT ON KETO

  • Meat: Beef, pork, lamb, venison, chicken, turkey, and other poultry.
     
  • Eggs: Whole eggs, including the yolk, are a nutritious and versatile option.
     
  • Low-Carb Vegetables: Leafy greens (spinach, kale, lettuce), broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, bell peppers, asparagus, and mushrooms.
     
  • High-Fat Dairy: Cheese, butter, heavy cream, and full-fat yogurt (unsweetened).
     
  • Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
     
  • Healthy Oils and Fats: Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and grass-fed butter.
     
  • Avocados & Coconuts: A rich source of healthy fats and fibre.
     
  • Berries: Limited quantities of low-carb berries like strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.
     
  • Condiments and Sauces: Mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, salt, pepper, and herbs and spices (avoid those with added sugars).
     
  • Beverages: Water, unsweetened tea and coffee, bone broth, and sparkling water. Why not try Bulletproof Coffee?
     
  • Dark Chocolate: Choose varieties with at least 80% cocoa solids and consume in moderation.

FOODS TO AVOID ON KETO

  • Grains and Starches: Wheat, rice, oats, barley, corn, quinoa, and other grains, as well as products made from flour (bread, pasta, cookies, cakes, etc.).


  • Sugary Foods: Sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, and all other forms of added sugars.
     
  • Fruits: Most fruits are high in natural sugars and carbohydrates, so they should be limited or avoided. Exceptions include small portions of low-carb berries.
     
  • Legumes: Beans, lentils, chickpeas, and other legumes are relatively high in carbohydrates and should be avoided.
     
  • Root Vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and other starchy vegetables are high in carbs and not suitable for a ketogenic diet.
     
  • Processed Foods: Highly processed foods, including chips, crackers, packaged snacks, and processed meats, often contain added sugars and unhealthy fats.
     
  • Sugary Beverages: Soda, fruit juices, sports drinks, and other sugary beverages should be avoided due to their high sugar content.


  • Some Dairy Products: Avoid milk and low-fat dairy products due to their higher carbohydrate content. Be cautious with flavored yogurts, as they can be high in sugars.
     
  • High-Carb Snacks: Avoid snacks like chips, pretzels, and candies, as they are typically high in carbohydrates.

If you want to find some of the best keto foods, you can find our article on High Fat Keto Foods Here, and if you are wondering What Is Bulletproof Coffee? Click here!

keto for beginners food

Are There Any Healthy Keto Snacks?

Yes! There are healthy snacks to be had while on keto.


We know that finding the right snacks to satisfy your cravings while staying on a low-carbohydrate eating plan can be challenging, but it's achievable!

Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, or pecans are good sources of proteins and healthy fats that help provide satiety throughout the day. Load up on them!

Seeds like pumpkin or sunflower offer crunchy snacking options that are packed with essential minerals such as zinc, magnesium, iron, and calcium.


Low-carbohydrate fruits like strawberries or blueberries provide an excellent source of vitamins and antioxidants without the added sugar found in most sweet treats.


If you are looking for something a little more tasty, then look no further than our own Keto Snacks:

At The Keto Collective, we always have something available that can stop those carb cravings!

mistakes on keto

The Big Mistakes While Starting Keto

Keto is a change to your diet, therefore it takes a little time for your body to adjust… some people experience headaches or what is known as the ‘Keto Flu’.


Don’t cheat!


A Keto diet is all about that ketosis stage… if you cheat it might put you back a step…. The trick is to ensure you are full and if you have those sugar cravings that’s where our Keto Bars come in handy.


Remember, Keto diets can be beneficial, but be sensible and practical… plan your meals so you’re fully in control, and even if you’re going out you can still remain keto… if you don’t believe us, read our blog on Eating out on Keto!

You must eat enough fat! Your body needs fat to fuel itself. Forget what you thought you knew about healthy eating and up your fats!

Drink plenty of water! Your body will start dropping all of its fluids once you approach ketosis. That means plenty of trips to the bathroom and extra sweaty workouts. You must replace those fluids. Make a point of upping your fluids!


Making sure that you are keeping track of how much food you're eating each day will help ensure that you stay within the parameters of the diet and avoid making any major dietary mistakes while starting out on the keto journey. Time to get out the notebook!


Make sure to avoid any products containing Artificial Sweeteners, they're bad for your health, and may even cause spikes in insulin that you wouldn't have expected!


Read about Artificial Sweeteners on Keto Here!

healthy vs unhealthy keto food

How Do I Survive My First Week of Keto?

Prepare!


Starting your low-carb lifestyle can be a daunting task, but you can get through it with the right preparation and mindset.

To make sure that you have enough energy during your first week on the keto diet, plan ahead and create a meal plan that'll help you stay on track. When creating your meal plan for the week, focus on low-sugar foods such as vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats like avocado and olive oil.


Make sure to include at least 3-4 servings of vegetables per day to get enough fiber and nutrients into your body.


Your carb cravings may come hard and fast, so make sure you always have a keto snack at hand. One of our treats, or a handful of nuts will keep you satiated, but remember to give your body 20 mins after eating to realise it doesn't want carbs anymore.


There's always a delay, and you may end up giving in to your cravings before your body tells your brain it's full!

Sticking with water instead of drinks high in artificial sweeteners will also help you stay energized while avoiding unwanted calories from beverages. 

Getting into a routine early on will make it easier for you to stick with the keto diet long-term; try setting reminders for yourself throughout the day so you don't forget what foods are allowed and which aren't while trying out new recipes!


Don't cut out salt! When on a Keto diet salt becomes important as do your other electrolytes -Magnesium and Potassium… it’s ingrained in us that salt is bad… but on a Keto diet, it’s necessary. And if you’re not supplementing with electrolytes, then make sure you have plenty of green leafy veg in your diet.


With proper planning and dedication, surviving your first week on the keto diet should become much easier.


You can find Our 17 Best Keto Tips & Tricks Here!

keto breakfast

Side Effects Of Keto and How To Minimise Them

Yeah, there's a good chance you will feel the change from burning glucose as fuel to burning fat as fuel. Common side effects may include fatigue, constipation, sugar cravings, headaches, and difficulty sleeping.

Actually, sleeping can be a sweaty, restless time for the first few days, so make sure not to drink as much caffeine as you may normally do. You probably won't need it!

That being said, with some simple adjustments and some decent prep, you can help reduce these symptoms and make your transition into a ketogenic diet easier and less painful.


An important thing to help reduce side effects is to ensure that you're getting enough electrolytes in your diet. Low-carb diets tend to cause an imbalance in electrolyte levels since they eliminate many foods like grains and fruits which contain good sources of potassium and magnesium.


To increase your intake of these minerals, try adding more avocados or leafy greens into your recipe rotation, or add a supplement to your routine.


Consuming enough fluids throughout the day is also essential for minimising the negative side effects of a ketogenic diet. Staying hydrated helps keep your body functioning optimally by flushing out toxins and promoting healthy digestion. Water should be the primary source of fluid intake, but adding herbal teas or other drinks like bone broth can provide additional benefits such as increased energy levels or better sleep quality.


Keeping track of how much water you drink each day will help ensure that you stay well-hydrated while on the keto diet plan. Some new fitness trackers have this feature as standard, or you should be able to find a water-tracking app on your phone.


But be prepared to go to the toilet... a lot! If you are carrying some carb-induced water bloat around the middle, be prepared to pee that all out in the coming days. You may even notice the water retention gone from your face while looking in the mirror!

slow fast dieting

What Is The Fastest Way To Get Into Ketosis?

To enter the state of ketosis, you need to burn through all of your glucose stores. There is no way around that!


The fastest way to do that is to stop eating carbs, and do some type of exercise using your muscles. Whether it is weight lifting, calisthenics, HIIT, or whatever else you can think of, getting a 'pump' will help burn through those glucose stores, and force your body into ketosis.

Ignore any products offering you to get into ketosis instantly. This just isn't possible.

Keep track of blood sugar levels and calories consumed each day. Following a ketogenic diet along with regular exercise can help kickstart your body into burning fat for energy instead of carbohydrates.


Nothing else works!


If you want fast results, you have to be dedicated and ready to push your willpower to its maximum. Within reason anyway!

Stay hydrated and get enough sleep during this process since your body will be tired and dehydrated from your hard work.


And remember the first 3-10lbs of weight you lose will be water!


If you are doing the keto diet for weight loss, don't get overly happy when this water is out of the body. This water loss is the start of your weight loss journey, not the end. As soon as you refill your glucose stores will starchy carbs, this water will come back, so don't get tricked into relaxing the diet or ‘cheating’. It's not worth it.


So stay strict and on track to see 'true' fat loss.

keto food for beginners

Eating Out on a Ketogenic Diet for Beginners

Yes, you can still go out and have a good time while following the Keto lifestyle. You can even have a drink!


The key is to always check the menu in advance and ask questions about what's in the dish before ordering. You need to have a meat or fish meal on the menu. Chinese and Italian is probably not going to work, but a steakhouse is perfect.

Many restaurants put sugar and other carbohydrates into sauces and dressings, so it's important that you're aware of these items before you order. Tell your server that you are on the keto diet, and explain you can't have any sugar or carbs.

Additionally, opt for dishes that are high in healthy fats, as well as low-carb vegetables. Salads are often a great option but be sure to ask for the dressing on the side to reduce added sugars. Don't get tempted to dip!


And don't forget that portion control is essential - even if the food is keto-friendly. Eating too much is still eating too much!

You can still put weight on while on keto, and it isn't a license to eat mountains of meat and fish. Sticking to smaller portions when eating out will help ensure you stay within your calorie limit and remain successful on your ketogenic diet journey!

You can read more about Eating Out On Keto Here, And Find out all about Alcohol and Keto Here!

keto diet supplements

Supplements for a Ketogenic Diet, Do you Need Them?

Here's the thing... If you make an effort to get as many high-quality whole foods in your diet, you shouldn't need to supplement, even on strict keto.


Just make sure you are loading your shopping trolley with as many greens as possible, along with healthy meats, fish, and fats.


If we were to recommend any supplement on the keto diet, it would probably be electrolytes, especially when starting out. They help to maintain proper hydration and balance in the body, and that will be important early on when you are clearing your body of carb bloat. While Sodium, magnesium, potassium, and calcium are all important electrolytes and can be taken in supplement form, they can also be found in foods like leafy greens, avocados, and nuts.

Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil are super beneficial for those that don't enjoy eating fish. If that sounds like you, then it might be worth taking a daily capsule of Omega-3s. Don't overthink it, most supermarkets stock these. Tip - Keep them in the fridge!

If you are into sports, then protein powder may be a consideration. This can be tricky. Most protein powders are loaded with sugar and/or artificial sweeteners, and that is a big no-no on Keto. However, you may be able to find a natural keto-friendly protein if you look hard enough (Just don't expect it to taste great). You will be getting plenty of 'real' protein on the diet, so don't worry about your muscles shrinking!


Multivitamins are also an option, so if you feel like you need these to cover all bases then go ahead. Just make sure you are getting enough whole foods before thinking about supplements.

beginners keto

Finally… On Our Beginners Guide to Keto

Starting a ketogenic diet can feel a little daunting, especially if you are used to a Western (Or American diet). 


Knowing what foods you can and can't eat is crucial, as getting kicked out of ketosis after a few days of strict eating can feel a little heartbreaking.


Hopefully, this guide to the ketogenic diet will help you follow the keto lifestyle a little less painfully, and you may actually end up wishing you had started eating a keto diet earlier!


Let's recap on the most important aspects of the diet:

The keto diet is a low-carbohydrate eating plan that can lead to improved satiety, weight loss, and potential health benefits such as improved metabolism, decreased inflammation, and improved blood sugar control. Cut those dirty carbs, and increase those clean fats. Ketosis will follow if you are strict and don't cheat. Buy Ketosticks and test at the same time every day to monitor your progress.

It is important to stay hydrated and consume nutrient-dense meals while on the keto diet. The first few days are going to be a shock to your system, so load up on healthy greens and drink 2-4 litres of water every day minimum. You will be peeing a lot of fluids out as your body enters ketosis.

Before starting the keto diet, tell people close to you that you are beginning this new way of living, and make yourself accountable to follow through and get healthy. Consult with a healthcare provider to discuss any issues or queries you may be concerned about. And keep up to date with all of our articles at our Keto Knowledge Hub to help make the process easier and to maintain motivation. We are in this together!

That's it, now that you've got the basics down, you're ready to get started on your keto journey!


And don't forget, if you need to satisfy your sweet tooth without breaking ketosis, we stock the Best Keto Snacks at The Keto Collective!

Suzie Walker - Keto Collective

SUZIE WALKER 

Keto Collective Co-Founder & Naturopathic Nutritionist dipNT.CNM 


Suzie has researched and reviewed the many health benefits of low-carb living. She co-founded The Keto Collective, a company that aims to make it easier to find whole food, great tasting, keto alternatives to their everyday favourites.

Read more about Suzie Walker