The ketogenic or keto diet may be known as a weight-loss craze or a trend, but the truth is it has been around for over 100 years. This keto diet for beginners guide will walk you through all of the benefits of a low carb diet, as well as give you the 411 on how to get started.
While going keto is associated with weight loss, a ketogenic lifestyle is about much more than fad dieting. When I wrote Total Keto Diet for Beginners in June of 2018, my goal was to give you all of the information you needed to determine whether or not a keto diet was right for you, and I wanted to provide you with a glance into what to expect once you started.
Note: This post was originally published on July 6, 2018, and updated on March 4, 2020, for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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Today we’re covering a lot of ground. Here’s a list of the topics we’ll cover.
What Is A Keto Diet
Types of Ketogenic Diets
Benefits of a Keto Diet
Ketosis: What It Is And Signs You’re Fat-Fueled
Macros: Net Carbs & How To Find Your Number
What To Eat & What To Avoid
Alcohol: Drinking On The Keto Diet
Choosing A Meal Plan
Keto Flu & How To Get Over It
Keto Vs. Low Carb: What’s The Difference?
Keto Diet Tips
Keto Shopping List & Recipes Index
Here’s the deal – I get serious when it comes to keto and details, so you can count on Total Keto for Beginners as your comprehensive, detailed guide to starting the ketogenic diet.
The truth is, the keto diet can be confusing – especially if you have been eating a high- carb, Standard American Diet for years. One minute you think you’ve got your act together – just scrolling for 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 Total Keto Diet For Beginners. To help you navigate the keto diet without second-guessing yourself or losing your mind.
Because I get it, second-guessing self-proclaimed weight-loss gurus was practically my job for two years.
Being skeptical is a good thing.
The ketogenic diet is big business, y’all. Everybody wants a piece of the low carb pie.
Here’s the thing, the keto diet changed my life.
Seven years ago, I was a little heavier than I am now.
Ok, fine. A lot heavier.
I was 100 pounds overweight; on the fast track to a heart attack, my back hurt 24/7, and to top that off, I was depressed:
As in, shut-in status sad.
I spent the majority of my time on the left side of the bed with my DirectTv remote subbing in as my Ride or Die chick.
I suffered from crippling anxiety, and Oh My God Take me to the hospital-style migraines.
And to make matters worse, my weight was beginning to embarrass my kids.
It only takes one ill-mannered 7-year-old girl to call you fat; one seriously screwed up battle with pneumonia to make you thankful to be alive and one game-changing low carb lifestyle to turn it all around.
Within a week of starting a keto diet, I saw results, and once I gained momentum, there was no stopping me. I lost more than 20 pounds in the first two months. You can read more about my weight loss here.
I’ve been fat. I’ve been skinny. Now, I’m healthy.
And a health coach. If you want to get fit – the right way – or lose weight – no matter how much II can help you do that.
The ketogenic diet is a life-changing low carb lifestyle – it isn’t just an on-trend way to get a beach body or shed a few pounds for a wedding.
The keto diet offers many health benefits in addition to weight loss that impacts your life big time. We’re talking balancing hormones, stabilizing migraines, lifting the clouds of depression, getting your groove back with tons of energy, and looking ten years younger.
What Is The Keto Diet?
The ketogenic (keto) diet is a low carb, high-fat diet that helps you lose weight by entering the natural metabolic state known as ketosis.
The ketogenic diet has been around since the 1920s when a physician developed it to reduce seizures for refractory epilepsy in kids. 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.
Who Should Not Try A Ketogenic Diet
Here comes the part where I curb your enthusiasm. Keto works – and the health benefits – which I will get to in a minute – are abundant, but there are always precautions and safety issues you have to consider before diving into any diet – including keto.
If You Have Type 1 Diabetes – Stop Here
The keto diet could lower your insulin to dangerously low levels. I advise against this approach and recommend you seek the advice of your favorite medical professional.
If You Have Type 2 Diabetes – Talk To Your MD
There is no doubt that keto works for type 2 diabetes – probably better than any other diet, and because it works so well at lowering blood sugar levels – you need to speak with your doctor first. You’ll need to review all of your medications – and possibly alter your dosages.
Are You Pregnant or Breastfeeding? Stop Here
Your body needs access to every macro and micronutrient it can get. And I know it is tempting to jump on a diet bandwagon immediately after delivery, but remember that low carb diets are associated with lower milk production. If you are breastfeeding, try to continue for at least six weeks and then look into starting keto.
Do You Have A Thyroid Disorder? Talk To Your MD
The theory that keto is a miracle-worker for hypothyroidism is still controversial. Because low carb, ketogenic diets are so effective at reducing insulin levels and may suppress thyroid hormones, you need to get an expert opinion before taking a blogger’s word for it.
Have You Had Your Gallbladder Removed?
The gallbladder is responsible for producing bile – which helps you digest fats properly. Without it, you will need to make adjustments to the Standard Ketogenic Diet, and it is best to get an expert opinion before diving in.
Keto For Kids? No
Keto is effective in reducing seizures in kids with certain types of epilepsy – and that where it ends, guys.
Here’s the thing – when a physician recommends keto for a child, they take all of the necessary precautions to make dang sure that the child’s getting adequate nutrition. We’re talking closely monitored by that physician, or a nurse or a registered dietician.
Take a look at this 2018 study that showed that kids following a keto diet for epilepsy developed noted health issues relating to growth and development – nutrient deficiencies, increased cholesterol, and stomach disturbances like vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea.
Ketogenic Diet Benefits
Cardiovascular Disease – Losing weight helps lower your risk factors from high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol levels, and obesity
Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome – Improves blood sugar, and cardiovascular risk factors
Improves Symptoms of PCOS Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (Source)
Acne – When you cut sugar and carbs out of your diet you lower insulin levels which help lower inflammation leading to bright, youthful, acne-free skin
Bipolar Disorder – Keto maybe a mood stabilizer for mood. (It definitely helped mine.)
This study reveals that the keto diet was more effective for Bipolar patients than medication. Their improvements were linked to sustained ketosis.
Types of Keto Diets
Standard ketogenic diet (SKD): Macronutrient ratio: 75% fat, 20% protein, 5% carbs
High-protein ketogenic diet: This version ups the protein intake from 20-30%. The macro breakdown may look like 65% fat, 30% protein, and 5% carbs.
Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD): A Targeted Keto Diet is not much different from the Standard Keto Diet with one exception – you add complex carbs before working out. For a TKD to be effective, you do need to be fat-fueled (in ketosis). You may want to try the Standard version for a month or two – get into ketosis – and then try a Targeted version.
Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD): This version, which is popular among athletes, encourages you to eat healthy, complex carbs two days of the week. (To be clear we are talking about complex carbs like brown rice, sweet potatoes, and quinoa – not doughnuts or candy) And yes, a CKD does kick you out of ketosis – on purpose.
Today we are talking about the straight-up standard ketogenic diet, which, along with the high-protein keto diet, is supported by the most research. But before I go into too many details, let’s get straight regarding Clean and Lazy or Dirty Keto.
Clean Keto Vs. Dirty or Lazy Keto
When I started the keto diet, I didn’t know there was a difference in clean and dirty keto, and to be honest; I’m not sure it would have mattered to me at 100 pounds overweight.
If someone had called me out for eating “dirty” – massive quantities of steak, cheese, and eggs, I would’ve been offended, but not enough to stop.
And if someone had called my version of keto lazy? I would have invited them to kiss my ass.
The truth is when you have a lot of weight to lose, you do what you have to do. I don’t think I could’ve stuck to a clean keto diet at first. It is more expensive, I live in a small town with limited access to healthy foods, and there is a more significant learning curve involved.
Now, as a health coach, I’m way more in the know than I was back then, but that doesn’t make me the keto police.
It isn’t my place (or anyone else’s) to judge you and your decisions – period—the end. But I wouldn’t be doing my job here if I didn’t give you all of the details you need to make the most informed choices for your body.
Clean keto and dirty keto have a few things in common. Both versions limit the number of carbs and sugar you take in, both versions can get you into ketosis, and both versions help you lose weight – the difference comes down to nutrition.
Specifically, the quality of the food you’re eating.
On Clean Keto, your macros come exclusively from unprocessed, whole foods like grass-fed, pasture-raised beef, healthy fats from coconut oil, avocado, olive oil, grass-fed butter, and high-fiber organic vegetables. Clean Keto dieters steer clear of all packaged foods, processed cheeses (like cream cheese), and fast food joints.
Then there’s Dirty Keto – which gives you the go-ahead to drive on through for that bunless burger and skip out on the vegetables.
Dirty Keto is also cool with massive amounts of butter, cheese, bacon, sausage, pork rinds, and pre-packaged foods – as long as it fits your macros.
What’s The Problem As Long As I Lose Weight?
For millions of people, the benefits that come from reducing their weight on any type of diet are substantial – even if it’s only 10 pounds. We’re talking better sleep, decreased chronic pain, lower blood pressure and blood sugar, healthier cholesterol levels, and lots of motivation to keep going.
But here’s the thing: while the dirty keto foods are keeping you full, they are probably not keeping you healthy.
Dirty Keto foods lack the vitamins and minerals that you need – and if you go too long without eating nutrient-dense foods, you will end up with a weakened immune system, unhealthy gut, inflammation, and swelling.
My advice is to be aware of the two schools of thought and figure out what works best for your body – right now.
Like I mentioned, when I started keto, it was dirty – and that was the best I could do after following a SAD (Standard American Diet) after 30 plus years.
Eat a variety of foods – experiment with healthy fats and see what works for you. Do not let the keto police or that loudmouth guy from accounting who thinks he’s Mark Sisson tell you you’re doing keto wrong.
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 and your brain then use these ketones for fuel.
When you are on the keto diet, your body switches from using carbs to fat as its energy source. As a result, your insulin levels decrease, and fat burning increases.
This ultimate fat-burning – fat-fueled 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 and burn fat for fuel.
You will also feel more alert, energized, less hungry, and focused.
Signs of Ketosis
At 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 and swear off fast food for nothing! You need to know your sacrifices are paying off. I get it!
So how do you know if you’re in ketosis?
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 your body has started to feed off of its 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.
If you’ve read anything about the keto diet, then you’ve likely seen the words macros 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!
Let’s go ahead and clear up the confusion. When people are talking about macros (on keto), they are referring to the number of fats, protein, and carbs you need in your diet to hit ketosis.
Macro is short for macronutrients. Macronutrients are fats, protein, and carbohydrates.
Our body needs these nutrients to grow, develop, and repair itself. Macros contain calories, and every macronutrient contains a certain number of calories per gram.
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 goals. You’ll find out exactly how many calories you need to be eating, as well as what your daily macronutrients should be.
What You Can Eat On The Keto Diet
Macadamia Nut Oil
Walnut Oil (Use Small Amounts)
Keto Diet for Beginners: Meat
These are low carb – but be warned – processed meats are not healthy, and they also fall into the “dirty keto” category. Any meat that has been “cured,” “salted,” “canned,” or “dried” is processed meat – which means it has a lot of salt, fat, and chemical preservatives added.
People who eat a lot of processed meat are more likely to suffer from heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer – which is why these fall into the Dirty Keto category.
Now, I’m not suggesting you need to give up your bacon or your deli meat for good – everything in moderation, ok?
If you want to clean up the dirty look for lean cuts with no salt – no sugar & no nitrates.
Keto Diet for Beginners: Poultry
Keto Diet for Beginners: Fish
MOST FRUIT IS TOO HIGH IN CARBS TO RISK IT! THESE ARE OK IN VERY SMALL AMOUNTS
Avocados & Olives
Nuts & Seeds
Half & Half
Heavy Whipping Cream
Keto Diet for Beginners: Foods To Avoid
*Most Flours As A Rule
SUGAR IS NOT ALLOWED! AVOID THESE COMMON SUGAR FILLED FOODS!
Avoid These Ingredients
Fruit to Avoid
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
Both full & low-fat milk are not allowed as they are high in carbs
Avoid All Beans, Lentils & Soybeans on the Keto Diet!
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
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.
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 and carbs and are OFF LIMITS. Keep it neat, and you’ll keep it keto.
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, Also Known As ‘Liquid Bread,” is full of gluten and honestly, should be out of the question. I recommend avoiding beer, but if beer = life for you, you do have a few low carb ones that are legit.
What I Did To Lose Weight
My first few months on the keto diet were so BORING. I ate the same thing over and 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?
Yep. Keep in mind this was back before the find anything and everything on Pinterest days.
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 five 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 free 30-day meal plan outlines the diet & gives you an essential printable 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 tasty variety –so you won’t have to endure the boredom I suffered!
If you’re a woman, then this is for you. Leanne Vogul has dedicated her life to helping women master the keto diet with super helpful and relatable advice to become a fat-fueled female. She can help you overcome food allergies, sugar cravings, weight loss stalls, and plateaus, and while you’re at it – balance your hormones. Here’s what you get:
- The complete beginners guide to keto fat loss that will kick start your journey towards health and happiness immediately.
- 2 30 Day Meal Plans A 30-Day meal plan that takes the guesswork out of what to eat and when to eat it + a 30-day mindful meal plan that allows you to pick and choose the meals you want to eat. Choose from a packed list of nutrition-rich foods that will leave you satisfied.
- 250 Recipes that will not get old
- Total body confidence, regulated metabolism, and timely implementation with a specially designed ketogenic protocol.
- 11 packed chapters with everything you need to know to get into and maintain a state of nutritional ketosis so you can burn fat all day.
- A complete guide to eating low-carb, high-fat, whole-food-based approach with moderate protein and no dairy, grains, or legumes.
- 9 essential tips that have helped me, and thousands of women like me, make their diet more successful than any diet they’ve tried before.
- A complete rundown of the 12 supplements your body needs to maximize the fat-burning power of a keto-based diet.
- 7 warning signs that will tell you if your diet is causing more harm than good.
- A dedicated 24-page chapter dedicated to guiding you through healing your body, achieving health, balance, wholeness, and setting up your life in a way that continues on that journey for the long-term.
- 15 steps you can take to reverse your hormonal imbalances.
- A 6-week mindset alteration system for reducing shame, guilt, and fear from your food choices.
- Step-by-step instructions for regulating carbs and 12 symptoms to watch out for during a keto diet.
- A 6-week and 7-day practice to body positivity and intuitive eating how-to.
- How to work out to prevent health and fitness imbalances (overlook this, and you’ll never have completely balanced health).
- How to boost fat consumption, avoid food allergies, and how to use intermittent fasting to bust through weight loss plateaus.
Need to simplify your life? How does 5 ingredients, 5 steps, & only five net carbs per meal sound? Now, 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 – Can I get an Amen?
(And now they have an app you can download for free that makes life so much easier:)
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!
Once again, it’s Leanne to the rescue. She takes the stress and hassle out of meal planning with her Balanced Keto Weekly Meal Plans. You’ll get:
- 7-days of meal planning, done for you
- Complete shopping lists, already organized
- Tips guaranteed to keep you on track
- Allergen guides and alternatives
- Low-FODMAP, dairy-free, grain-free, nightshade-free, egg-free, and nut-free alternative lists
- Easy to prepare breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks
- Carb-up practices for balancing hormones and breaking plateaus
- Timesaving 5-minute recipes
- The “entire family” guide to making a low-carb, high-fat diet work for everyone
- And much, much more!
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 into a plant-based, keto diet, this is a fabulous, free resource with over 90 clean keto recipes.
The Hungry Girl’s Guide to Keto covers the basics of the diet and gives you a snapshot of what you’re working with menu wise by providing 21 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 an actual virus or ketosis doesn’t cause it, 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 Diet for Beginners: 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.
Which 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 – yep, I went there – because you’ll be extra dehydrated from the big d alone – so if you’re running to the ladies’ room every 5 minutes – you need more water. I found that adding a 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a glass of water was all I needed to get past the minor keto flu symptoms I experienced.
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 – which means you’ll be losing sodium (salt) too!
Pink Himalayan Salt is unique because it contains 84 different minerals & it helps to regulate blood sugar levels. 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.
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 you need to know the difference! Here’s the low down.
Carbs Per Day
On a low carb, diet carbs are limited to around 50 net per day, depending on who you ask.
Honestly, it depends on you, your weight, your goals, and your activity level.
On a keto diet, you are looking at 20 to 30 net carbs per day.
On a “low carb diet,” you don’t usually track your macros as you do on keto. Things are, shall we say, a little more fast and loose?
A low carb diet may include a lot of ingredients the keto diet doesn’t allow.
Foods are allowed on low carb diets that are not permitted on keto.
Take beans, for example. They are not allowed on the keto diet. Why? Because of 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.
It’s up to you if you want to go all-in 100% strict keto.
If you’re going 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, and a low carb diet will not.
Well, maybe it will, perhaps it won’t – it depends on who your guru is:)
I can tell you that if you abide by a strict Standard Keto Diet, track your macros, and test for ketones, you’ll eventually get to ketosis.
But again – you can reap the rewards of heart health, focus, and weight loss 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 – meal planning and prepping will make a HUGE difference; from keeping you on track with prepped meals that are ready to go at a moment’s notice to saving you a ton of money on groceries – there’s no substitute for fabulous meal planning.
But you know what I hated more?
My reflection in the mirror.
Skipping parties because I was afraid people would talk about me.
Refusing to be in family photos because I hated the way I looked.
Compared to these fears and frustrations – becoming a meal planner was easy.
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
Stay Motivated By Setting Goals
Don’t give up!
Stay on track and reach your goals by writing them down. If it isn’t in writing – it’s a dream, not a goal.
Seriously, go old school and grab a pen and a post-it note – or hell, use the back of that extra-long CVS receipt you’ve been holding onto – there’s tons of room on the back, and we both know you’ll forget to use that coupon in time:)
The truth is, people who write down their goals are something like 80% more likely to reach them versus people who don’t. So, it is worth your time, OK?
Here’s what I need you to keep in mind when writing down your goals.
Always be as specific as possible- and you must, must, must make your goals time-measurable do not write down “lose weight” – that is too vague.
Instead, write, I will lose 10 pounds in the next month by drinking water instead of soda or swapping cauliflower for potatoes.
Now your brain has something to work with and a timeline to keep you accountable.
Related: 12 Weight Loss Motivation Quotes
Count Every Win
Every time you successfully avoid a carb or plan a meal or drop a pants size pat yourself on the back. Don’t celebrate by eating a cake, or eating in general – 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 and measurements of yourself – Be sure to get your waistline, hips, bust, arms – because you’re going to celebrate every inch you lose.
Now, create a video. Hear me out on this – I know it sounds silly – but you will thank yourself later.
You don’t have to post it on Facebook or Instagram- or wherever – this one is for your eyes only. Look at the camera and go – start with why you want to try the keto diet – what are you looking to achieve with this diet?
Then, focus on how your life will be different after you reach your goals.
Use the imagery technique pro athletes and Olympians use when they are training and get a clear image in your mind of what life after going keto means.
Are you full of energy? Are you rocking a classic little black dress at cocktail hour? Or are you outside enjoying your family and friends free of body shaming and the chronic pain that has put you on the sidelines for too damn long?
Getting clear on what you want and focusing energy on that will get you lightyears further than listing all the things you want to change.
Pain pushes. Vision pulls.
You can call me cheesy if you want, but there is science behind imagery and goal setting.
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. Plus, filling them in on the details will keep you from having to remind Aunt Linda why 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 buy a Spiralizer unless you just really want to! And you do not have to buy everything on the list – it is only a guide.
You may already have some of these things, so don’t forget to take an inventory before you go to the store!
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. If you have trouble downloading, please let me know & I’ll email you a copy!
Before you go – It takes hard work, discipline, dedication, and a focused mind to stick to the keto diet!
I know. I’ve been there! Remember, 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.
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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!
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.
Crockpot or Oven Baked “Crack Chicken” – Another easy set it & forget it dinner that is always a hit – with 3.6 net carbs per serving
Keto Flu: Symptoms, Remedies & Tips To Avoid Feeling Like Garbage – What you need to know about the keto flu – including common symptoms & remedies