The keto diet is a healthy way of living that also helps you lose massive amounts of weight. Total Keto Diet for Beginners provides you with everything you need to start the keto diet: from how to calculate macros to keto food lists, to five keto meal plans to select to suit your lifestyle & of course all of the ketogenic rules you need to know like what foods to avoid on the keto diet! If you are looking for information on how to start losing weight on the ketogenic diet, Total Keto for Beginners is the place to start.
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The keto diet can be confusing. One minute you’ve got it all together & you’re searching for weight loss recipes and next thing you know you’re looking up macro counts on a random website because you think you may be doing the whole keto diet wrong!
It happens to the best of us.
That’s why I wrote this guide-Total Keto Diet For Beginners. To help you navigate the keto diet without losing your mind!
Hey-I understand you may be skeptical of all the weight loss gurus out there. You should be skeptical!
But this is not just another keto blog. Seriously, the keto diet changed my life.
Five years ago I was a little heavier than I am now. After a series of unfortunate events, including being called fat by one of my daughter’s friends and realizing I was becoming a shut-in due to my weight & a heavy cloud of depression, I decided to start this life-changing keto diet that I didn’t believe in at first. It appealed to me because I loved food & I refused to starve myself. I saw results immediately, and once I gained momentum there was no stopping me. I lost more than 20 pounds in the first two months. That’s when I started to believe in the keto diet. You can read more here.
I’ve been fat. I’ve been skinny. Now, I feel strong. If you want to lose weight, no matter how much-a little or a lot-I can help you do that.
Over the past five years I’ve learned a few things that I think will help you lose weight on the keto diet too. This guide outlines everything you need to know.
As cheesy as it may sound, you can change your life with this diet.
Not just shed a few pounds for a wedding, or get in shape for bikini season, I’m talking about real life altering progress.
The keto diet offers many health benefits in addition to weight loss that have impacted my life big time. It helped with my depression, balanced my hormones, stabilized my crazy migraines and I look ten years younger. Hell, let’s be honest. I’m a different person now. And that’s fine. Because I hated who I had allowed myself to become. But enough about me, let’s get to keto!
What Is The Keto Diet?
The ketogenic (keto) diet is a low carb, high fat diet that helps you lose weight by entering a natural metabolic state known as ketosis. The ketogenic diet has been around since the 1920’s when a physician developed it for patients with epilepsy. In addition to weight loss, numerous studies have indicated that a ketogenic diet reduces factors for cardiovascular disease (diabetes, heart disease, stroke) and some suggest it to be beneficial for certain types of cancer.
Halle Berry revealed earlier this year she uses the ketogenic diet to manage her Type 2 diabetes and credits the diet for slowing down her aging process. Popular versions of the keto diet include the South Beach Diet & the Induction Phase of The Atkins Diet. Today we are talking about the straight up standard ketogenic diet for weight loss.
Ketosis & The Keto Diet
Ketones are produced in the liver from fat when you eat very few carbs and moderate amounts of protein. Your body & your brain then uses these ketones for fuel.
When you are on the keto diet, your body switches from using carbs to fat as fuel/energy sources. As a result, insulin levels decrease and fat burning increases. Big Time.
This ultimate fat burning mode is known as ketosis.
Fat Burning Mode = Ketosis
When your body is producing ketones you have entered ketosis-which is a natural metabolic state. (Not a danger zone like Ketoacidosis-which is a dangerous complication of Type-1 Diabetes.) Once you’re in ketosis your body has started to work for you & burn fat for fuel.
You will also feel more alert, energized, less hungry, and focused.
If you’ve read anything about the keto diet then you’ve likely seen the words macros & micros tossed around (like you should know what those are.)
Don’t feel bad if you had to google macro. It gets a lot of hits!
When people are talking about macros they are referring to the amount of fats, protein, and carbs you need in your diet to hit ketosis.
Macro is short for macronutrient. Macronutrients are fats, protein, and carbohydrates. Our body needs these nutrients to grow, develop and repair itself. Macros contain calories & every macronutrient contains a certain number of calories per gram.
For example: 30 grams of Fat contains 270 calories. 30 grams of Protein contains 120 calories. 30 grams of carbs contains 120 calories. You can get lost in these numbers. DON’T. Let’s move on. I’m sorry I brought it up.
Micro is short for micronutrient. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals and they are also necessary for life but in smaller amounts.
Typically on the keto diet you’ll get 10% of your calories from carbs, 15-25% from protein, and 70% or more from fat.
UGH! Just Tell Me How Many Macros I Need To Get Into Ketosis????
Use this Free Low Carb Macro Calculator to figure out your number the EASY way!
All you have to do is insert your body fat percentage (you can use this to figure it out), gender, weight, activity level, and weight loss goals! You’ll find out exactly how many calories you need to be eating as well as what your daily macronutrients should look like!
Signs of Ketosis
In the beginning of the diet it may be easy to say forget it & throw in the towel because you don’t know if it’s working…Maybe you’ve shed a little water weight, but you expected more. You didn’t give up your favorite breakfast smoothie & swear off fast food for nothing! You need to know your sacrifices are paying off. I get it!
So how do you know if the diet is working?
While your body won’t be sending you an email alert when you hit ketosis, it will give you a few distinct signs that you are entering the fat burning nirvana.
Bad Breath – This is the most common sign your body is in ketosis. You may experience a metal-ish taste or even a fruity taste. However you describe it, bad breath is a good thing because it means you body has started to feed off of it’s fat stores. Chewing sugar free gum will help until your body gets used to the diet & then your breath will go back to normal! You won’t have chronic halitosis forever!
Decreased Appetite – This fabulous benefit comes along with most low carb diets. You aren’t eating sugar and carbs so you don’t experience the blood sugar roller coaster’s peaks and crashes like you used to. Also, factor in that the foods you are eating are full of healthy fats and energy sustaining protein. Or it may be the ketones working on the hunger hormones.
My personal experience? I don’t get hungry anymore – well, I don’t stay hungry all the time.
I once was a stone cold carb addict. I couldn’t go an hour without sugary snacks or a drink in my hand or at least nearby. Cheeze-Its & Dr. Peppers nearly did me in. Now, not so much.
What You Can Eat On The Keto Diet
- Coconut Oil
- Bacon Fat
- Duck Fat
- Beef Tallow
- Avocado Oil
- Olive Oil
- Macadamia Nut Oil
- Walnut Oil (Use Small Amounts)
- MCT Oil
- Palm Oil
Pretty much every meat you can think of is on the keto diet! Just in case you can’t think of it-I’ve listed it here! Grill it, bake it, boil it, slow cook it. Meat is always a fabulous low carb choice!
Pepperoni – Bacon – Deli Meat – Sausages – Salami
Disclaimer: These are low carb – but they are also considered “dirty keto” – Processed meats are not good for you – neither are processed cheeses. But here’s the thing – I believe in clean eating and avoiding unhealthy foods as much as possible and now that I have lost the weight it is easier to make those calls. Could I have done that 100 pounds ago? Nope. What’s my point? I’m not the keto police and I’m not here to judge you.
- Red Snapper
- Mahi Mahi
- Orange Roughy
- Chicken Eggs
- Goose Eggs
- Duck Eggs
- Quail Eggs
[MOST FRUIT IS TOO HIGH IN CARBS TO RISK IT! THESE ARE OK IN VERY SMALL AMOUNTS]
- Avocados & Olives
- Bell Peppers
- Boy Choy
- Brussels Sprouts
- Collard Greens
- Green Beans
- Jalapeño Peppers
- Iceberg Lettuce
- Mustard Greens
- Spaghetti Squash
- Swiss Chard
- Turnip Greens
Nuts & Seeds
- Brazil Nuts
- Pine Nuts
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Sesame Seed
- Soy Nuts
- Sunflower Seeds
- Blue Cheese
- Cottage Cheese
- Cream Cheese
- Feta Cheese
- Greek Yogurt
- Goat Cheese
- Half & Half
- Heavy Whipping Cream
- Sour Cream
Foods To Avoid Keto Diet
- Rice Flour
- White Flour
- Wheat Flour
- *Most Flours As A Rule
SUGAR IS NOT ALLOWED! AVOID THESE COMMON SUGAR FILLED FOODS!
- Sports Drinks
- Ice Cream
- Fruit Juice
Avoid These Ingredients
- White Sugar
- Brown Sugar
- Corn Syrup
- Coconut Sugar
- Maple Syrup
Fruit to Avoid
- Canned Fruit
Processed Foods: If it comes in a bag or a box it’s probably processed food which is NOT on the keto diet!
Stay Away From
- Snack Bars
- Most Sauces
- Baked Goods
- Ice Cream
Both full & low-fat milk are not allowed as they are high in carbs
Avoid All Beans, Lentils & Soybeans on the Keto Diet!
- No Chickpeas
- No Baked Beans
- No Black Beans
- No Pinto Beans
- No Kidney Beans
- No Lima Beans
- Exception for Green Beans & Peas-You can have those
Avoid Unhealthy Fats & Oils
- Canola Oil
- Corn Oil
- Peanut Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Safflower Oil
- Soybean Oil
- Sunflower Oil
Keto Friendly Herbs & Spices
- Basil Leaves
- Black Pepper
- Cayenne Pepper
- Chili Powder
- Sea Salt
- White Pepper
- Italian Seasoning
- Garlic Powder
Alcohol & Keto
Yes, you can have a glass of wine. No, you cannot drink the entire bottle. If you’re looking for carb counts, here’s a couple you may find helpful.
Pinot Noir comes in with the lowest carb count at 3.4 grams for a 5 ounce glass in case you’re looking for a red.
There are a few whites that have a low carb count too-like Pinot Grigio. It has 3.4 grams. So, a little wine is fine.
Beer AKA ‘Liquid Bread” should be out of the question. It’s loaded with gluten! I’d just red flag it & move on – BUT – if you can’t live without beer there are a few low carb ones that are legit.
Straight up liquor is your lowest carb option. Tequila!, Vodka, Rum, and Gin all have 0 carbs & Brandy only has a few. Keep in mind this is without mixers like juice & soda. Those are loaded with sugars & carbs & are OFF LIMITS on the keto diet! Keep it neat & you’ll be fine!
What I Did To Lose Weight
My first few months on the keto diet were so BORING. I ate the same thing over & over again.
I was afraid to try anything new and I was straight up paranoid that I would accidentally eat “hidden” carbs – and all the weight would come back in 30 seconds.
My menu looked like this: Cheddar cheese, boiled eggs, meat & cheese roll-ups, grilled chicken, fat bombs, and steak.
Slowly, I became a low carb lunatic. My refusal to try anything different was driving my family crazy too.
But I needed to be 100% sure the recipes I used would keep me in ketosis. Was I seriously afraid someone would sneak in carbs to sabotage me?
That sounds so ridiculous now, but in the beginning, it was a thing! These recipe ebooks from Tastaholics saved my sanity.
All of the recipes are 5 NET CARBS or LESS & have 5 INGREDIENTS & ARE SUPER EASY TO MEAL PREP!
You can get these ebooks here!
Another major player? Keto Krate!
They deliver new snacks to your door every month – all with 5 net carbs or less! It’s a fabulous way to get the latest & greatest (legit) keto snacks & ideas – plus coupons! Check Keto Krate out here
6 Keto Meal Plans
You have several options here. I ultimately decided to go with a meal plan that was all inclusive just to save time – I understand this doesn’t fit everyone’s budget and lifestyle, so I’m listing several keto meal plans to help you get started.
This 30 day meal plan outlines the diet & gives you a basic shopping list, but the main attraction is the recipes. Over 90 ketogenic meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! All low carb, keto-friendly recipes with a good variety –so you won’t have to endure the boredom I suffered!
2- 30 day meal plans, a cookbook with 60 recipes + detailed information you need to know about becoming a fat fueled female – including overcoming food allergies, weight loss stalls & plateaus – pretty much everything you can think of – & – then some! Find out more here
Need to simplify your life? How does 5 ingredients, 5 steps, & only 5 net carbs per meal sound? This was the first keto meal plan I used & I’m still happy with the variety! High-quality, simple recipes that don’t use crazy hard to find ingredients!
Plus, they send shopping lists & snack recommendations so you can take that job off of your To Do list! You can try it for free!
Leanne takes the stress & hassle out of meal planning & everything else for that matter – She is an incredibly relatable and reliable source of information. Her Balanced Keto Weekly Meal Plans include complete organized shopping lists, allergen guides, time saving 5 minute recipes, & “entire family” guides on making a low carb high fat diet work for everyone in your household!
If you haven’t met Leanne-she has a hit podcast that’s fabulous-you need to ASAP!
Yes. You can do keto AND be a vegetarian. This plan reviews the basics of how a vegetarian keto diet looks & provides 90 recipes for breakfast, lunch, & dinner. Even if you aren’t a vegetarian this is a great resource for healthy keto recipes!
Free Meal Plan for week one. This one covers the basics of the diet & gives you a snapshot of what you’re working with menu wise by providing keto friendly recipes for breakfast, lunch, & dinner for your first seven days of the ketogenic diet.
A Few Words on the Keto Flu
Maybe you’ve heard of it? While it isn’t caused by an actual virus or even ketosis, the keto flu is very REAL.
What is it? The keto flu is the name given to the symptoms your body has when it goes through carb restriction. The best way to avoid it is to stay on top of your electrolyte intake by eating enough sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
Symptoms of Keto Flu
- Difficulty Sleeping/Insomnia
- Digestive Upset
- Lack of Focus
- Sugar Cravings
- Mental Fog
- Heart Palpitations/Arrhythmia
- Cramps (Leg & Muscle)
- High or Low Blood Pressure
Sounds like a disaster doesn’t it? I know, right. Look, the good news is that everyone doesn’t experience the keto flu and if you do the symptoms don’t last forever. The symptoms usually start around the first couple of days of carb restriction.
If you’re going through it right now you can try a couple of these remedies to make yourself feel less like a walking train wreck.
Keto Flu Remedies
The #1 Tip to Avoid the Keto-Flu – Stay Hydrated!
The keto diet can cause you to drop water weight, especially in the first week, which can lead to dehydration. Dehydration leads to all kinds of nasty symptoms like headaches, dizziness, weakness.
Sounds like the keto flu, right? Stay on top of your water game by drinking plenty of H20! Tea & coffee count too, but nothing is better than water. Drink even more if you are suffering from diarrhea – which can also cause dehydration. I found that adding a 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a glass of water eased my keto flu symptoms.
Help Ease Keto Flu Symptom Tip 2: Replenish Electrolytes
When you cut carbs, your levels of electrolytes tend to drop, which can result in making you feel like garbage. Here’s a breakdown of the common symptoms and remedies of low electrolytes.
Sodium: Symptoms of low sodium levels include fatigue, weakness, headaches, and brain fog.
The Fix: Increase sodium by adding extra salt to your food and drinking 2 cups of bone broth daily.
Pink Himalayan Salt – Now that you’ve cut your carb intake your body won’t be holding on to sodium as much as before. Insulin levels usually go down on a low carb diet, and you’ll be losing water at a rapid pace during the induction period. This means you’ll be losing sodium (salt) too! Pink Himalayan Salt is special because it contains 84 different minerals & it helps to regulate blood sugar levels which is VIP on a keto diet. Use this stuff to season your food, drinks, hell, shoot it like vodka. Just get the sodium into your system ASAP.
*If you have high blood pressure or heart disease, you need to speak with your doctor before adding any more salt into your diet.
Symptoms of Low Magnesium & Potassium
Low Magnesium: Having muscle and leg cramps? You may need magnesium. Take a supplement or add more magnesium-rich foods to your diet like almonds, chia seeds, spinach, and dark chocolate.
Low Potassium: Symptoms of low potassium are muscle cramps and pains and increased heartbeat. To increase potassium levels, you could take a supplement or add more potassium-rich foods like avocado, mushrooms, brussels sprouts, and broccoli.
Bone Broth -It may not sound appetizing, but bone broth is delicious and more importantly, full of electrolytes! Bones are loaded with electrolyte minerals, and when simmered on low heat for hours (12 hours via your crockpot) these bits of super nutrition get excreted into the broth. Kettle & Fire has a fabulous 100% Grass-fed Bone Broth you can buy online. More into cooking? Here’s a recipe!
Keto Supplements To Consider Before Starting A Keto Diet
MCT Oil – Increases ketone levels. Perfect Keto offers an MCT Oil Powder made with real MCT’s from coconuts. It is available in five flavors that are easy to mix with keto-friendly fibers for digestive support. (Word To Your Mother readers get a 15% discount if you use this link. Discount code: WTYM15)
Electrolyte Supplements – Perfect Keto covers your electrolytes with a supplement that includes Magnesium, Sodium, Calcium, and Potassium. (Word To Your Mother readers get a 15% discount if you use this link. Discount code: WTYM15)
What’s The Difference Between Keto Diet & Low Carb Diet?
Many people confuse the ketogenic diet and a low carb diet, and it’s important for you to know the difference! Here’s the low down. On a low carb diet carbs are limited to around 50 net per day, depending on you you talk to. Some folks say more, some say less. On a keto diet, you are looking at 20 to 30 net carbs per day.
Also, a low carb diet may include a lot of ingredients the keto diet doesn’t allow.
It’s up to you if you want to go all in 100% strict keto. If you want to be fat fueled and reap the benefits of ketosis you need to go the ketogenic route.
Because a strict ketogenic diet will put your body into ketosis & a low carb diet will not. Well, maybe it will, maybe it won’t. Who knows? On a “low carb diet” you don’t usually track your macros like you do on keto. Things are, shall we say, a little more fast and loose?
Foods are allowed on low carb diets that are not allowed on keto.
Take beans for example. Not allowed on the keto diet. Why? Because carbs.
Are they lower in carbs than a bowl of pasta? Yep.
See the problem? Look, I love beans, so please don’t email me if you are a low carb bean enthusiast. All I am saying is that there is a difference between keto & low carb and you can lose weight on both. Read more about the benefits of a low carb diet and decide for yourself:)
Keto Diet Tips
Plan Your Meals
If you don’t meal prep now, it’s time to start! This will make a HUGE difference!
Not only will meal planning & prepping keep your diet on track it will save you a TON of MONEY on food!
I know it doesn’t sound like fun-TRUST ME. I KNOW.
It took a long time for me to become a meal prep person. I hate the grocery store. And I don’t always love cooking! But you know what I hated more? My body. That may be harsh, but it’s true.
You can read more about how to meal prep on the keto diet here!
Related: 35 Easy Keto Recipes for Meal Prep Sunday & 50 More Keto Meal Prep Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Don’t give up! Stay on track to meet your weight loss goals by writing them down (like a business plan) and tuning out your inner critic. Look, you are more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down, create a vision board and find your “why”. I dive in a little deeper on how I silenced my inner critic and lost weight here.
Related: 12 Weight Loss Motivation Quotes
Count Every Win
Every time you successfully avoid a carb or plan a meal or drop a pant size pat yourself on the back. Don’t celebrate by eating a cake, but do give yourself credit! Dieting is hard. Reward yourself!
Get a Keto Diet Buddy
You may find it easier to stick to the diet if you have a friend who is also ditching the carbs. It can get pretty lonely being the only one at the lunch table without a bun.
Document Your Progress
Do this Now.
You are going to drop a lot of weight, and you will want to track your progress. Take pictures & measurements of yourself at your current weight. Be sure to get your waistline, bust, arms, etc.
You should also make a quick video of yourself. You don’t have to post it on Facebook or Instagram- keep it for yourself! Talk about why you want to lose weight, why you aren’t happy with the way you look and how your life will be different when you meet your goals.
This may sound silly and cheesy, but this is a big step in making it happen. There is science behind it. People that write down their goals & keep a vlog (video+blog) of their progress stay focused & are more likely to succeed.
Tell Your Friends & Family
Make sure the people closest to you know you’ve decided to change your lifestyle and health. They can’t support you if they don’t know. This will also keep you from having to constantly remind everyone you can’t eat bread:) *Hopefully!
Keto Grocery List
Ready to do this?
And here are the kitchen tools you will need. No, you don’t have to go buy a Spiralizer unless you just really want to! And you do not have to buy everything on the list – it is just a guide.
You may already have some of these things so don’t forget to take inventory before you go to the store! I hope this helps! Please let me know if there is anything I can help you with!
Here’s a black & white printable version that won’t take all your printer ink!
It’s not as attractive, but it’s way more practical! I’m working on my graphic design skills-hopefully I’ll get better with time! If you have trouble downloading please let me know & I’ll email you a copy!
Before you go – It takes hard work, discipline, dedication & a focused mind to lose weight, & stick to the keto diet!
I know. I’ve been there! The keto diet helped me lose 100 pounds! That’s an entire 4th grader for those of you who like a visual:)
My point is – if a 40-something mother of three kids can do it – you can too! For more tips, recipes, & inspiration, subscribe here to join me.
Did I Miss Anything?
Do you have enough information to decide if the keto diet is right for you?
Or are you still on the fence?
Either way, please let me know by leaving a comment below!
More Must-Have Keto Resources
Psst! As of September 2019 there are over 500 Low Carb/Keto Recipes on this website and I’m adding new recipes and tips every week. Bookmark:
The Ultimate Keto Shopping List – This list, infographic & printable PDF will help you through every section – so you’ll know what to grab & what to pass on by!
7 Day Keto Meal Plan – This Ketogenic meal plan includes 35 keto recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner & snacks – with macros.
Keto On A Budget: 21 Ways To Lose Weight & Save Money On The Ketogenic Diet – How to meal plan and save money on the keto diet.
Ultimate Guide To Low Carb Alcohol + Drinking On The Keto Diet – Here’s the one where I share 34+ keto-friendly cocktails and pretty much everything you need to know about drinking + ketosis + keto-friendly alcohol + what to avoid
16 Things You Need To Know Before Starting The Keto Diet (Lessons From Someone Who Has Lost 100 Pounds) – My personal perspective on starting the keto diet and losing weight.
Keto Meal Prep 101 – Fabulous tips & tricks for making meals ahead and not spending all day in the kitchen!
26 Easy Keto Breakfast Recipes – Perfect for meal prep day!
40 Keto Crockpot Recipes – Speaking of meals, here’s 40 fabulous low carb dinners for your slow cooker!
40 Keto Instant Pot – More of a pressure cooker fan? Here’s some of my favorite fast Instant Pot meals
30+ Keto Dinner Recipes For When You Have Zero Time [30 Minute Meals] – When you need a healthy dinner – ASAP
Keto Flu: Symptoms, Remedies & Tips To Avoid Feeling Like Garbage – What you need to know about the keto flu – including common symptoms & remedies
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First, thanks for sticking with me – I started this blog to help people like you take control of their health – achieve their fitness goals – lose weight – and gain the confidence they need to go out and live life to the fullest. (Because that’s what losing 90 pounds on the keto diet did for me:) If you need help, please reach out. In addition to blogging full-time, I’m a Health Coach, and I’m a mom of three awesome kids – 2 girls & one precious son who happens to have autism.
I’m continually seeking balance to do all of the things – and I’d love to help you do the same.
You Can Find Me On Facebook.
I’m also on Pinterest.
One day I may participate regularly on Instagram, who knows:)