There is so much information about the Keto Diet online and in books, but it seems that many get bogged down in all the details. Here is a simple guide on how to start Keto that brings together all the information and resources you need to be successful.
Beginner’s Guide to the Keto Diet
I started following the Keto Diet 21 months ago to get off the baby weight. Having had my last two babies in my 40’s it was important to me to lose the extra weight and feel good about myself again. Since I had these babies later in life, being healthy and active is very important to keep up with them. After seeing results from a friend of mine online, who looked like her body had melted, I thought I’d give this “keto thing” a try.
I had no intention of making an entire lifestyle change and was pretty skeptical since I had been eating lean and clean for years. In fact, I was confident I’d gain 10 lbs the first-week eating keto-friendly foods. Instead, I lost 6 lbs eating foods that were incredibly delicious that I had avoided for years, and I felt full for very long periods of time, which was fantastic. That was enough for me to jump headfirst into this lifestyle change, and I’ve never looked back.
How to Start Keto: Basics, Tips, and More!
Keto is one of the simpler diets to follow. You don’t have to count calories or points, you can eat eggs and bacon for breakfast, and you don’t have to exercise for hours and hours on end. It can take some getting used to, especially if you’ve previously tried low-fat diets, but your body and mind will thank you for it!
Getting Started With Keto
Though I refer to it here as the Keto “diet,” Keto is not a diet – it’s a lifestyle. As you get started with Keto, you’ll most likely find that it’s easier – and more satisfying – than any lifestyle change you’ve ever tried. You get to eat full flavor, full-fat foods and lose weight while feeling great. It doesn’t get much better than that! While you’re here, be sure to check out my best Keto resources for beginners.
Keto Apps – Getting Started with an App to Track Macros
While many people prefer the accountability of an app to help them track their fat, protein, and carbs, I have found that I don’t have the brain space. My goal is food freedom, and I know myself well enough to know that tracking every bite of food that goes into my mouth would call me to obsess. Why I don’t track Macros on the Keto Diet explains the many reasons why I choose only to count net carbs in my head.
At the same time, I know that many feel much more comfortable tracking macros and having boundaries in place to ensure that they are eating the right amounts of fats, proteins, and carbs for their specific health goals each day. If that is the case, you’ll find information regarding the best apps for tracking macros on the keto diet a great resource so that you can make the best choice for your personality. First, you’ll want to calculate your macros with a Keto Macronutrient Calculator.
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 (of course), plus ground beef, all cuts of chicken (I prefer chicken breasts personally, but thighs have more fat), pepperoni, ham, sausage, and beef jerky.
Butter (grass-fed if possible), 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 they’re higher in carbs, but you can still enjoy unsweetened coconut, as well as lemons, limes, berries, and avocados.
Sweeteners & Other Keto Specific Grocery Items
My favorite keto-friendly sweeteners are Monkfruit Classic, Monkfruit Powdered, or Monkfruit Golden (Swerve Granulated, Swerve Confectioners, and Swerve Brown can be subbed interchangeably). I use Xantham Gum to thicken my sauces and soups and as a binder in some keto sweet treats. Keto-friendly flours include almond flour and coconut flour. I use coconut flour in my recipes as my daughter is allergic to almonds.
Other helpful shopping resources:
The Keto Flu
While writing this guide on how to start keto, I knew I couldn’t leave out the yuckier parts of the switch, including the keto flu. The “Keto Flu” happens when your body switches from burning carbs to burning fat. You may experience muscle cramps, headaches, and fatigue during this time, and these symptoms may last for a few weeks. You can combat the Keto flu by increasing your fat and/or salt intake and drinking more water. You’ll experience other changes within the first month of the Keto diet, including increased energy and fewer carb cravings! Eating less, needing less sleep, and feeling energized were all enormous draws for me to choose a Keto lifestyle.
Eating Fat on the Keto Diet
Many Keto newbies are worried about the high-fat content of their new diet because our whole lives, we’ve been told to lose weight by eating less fat. If you look at the science behind Keto, though, our bodies are used to burning carbs. With Keto, you’re eating very few carbs, so your body burns fat instead. You’ll also notice you aren’t hungry as often as when you were eating a higher-carb diet. One of the biggest obstacles for me with any diet is that I often find myself hungry. With Keto, that’s not the case.
If you’re not sure about the benefits of fat, read my post about signs you’re fat-adapted and signs you’re in ketosis. It took me about 6-8 weeks before I was fat-adapted, but your results may vary. The longer you follow the Keto lifestyle, the less you’ll crave carbs.
Butter, coconut oil, and bacon fat, oh my! Fat is a critical part of your success with Keto. Check out my list of healthy fats for the Keto diet.
Keto Meal Prep
Your success on Keto depends on your dedication and the amount of prep you are willing to put in. I recommend meal planning (see my favorite recipes below!), starting with my Keto grocery list. You can find over 100 free Keto Meal Plans that many find to be very helpful. Don’t worry; it doesn’t take a ton of preparation to be successful with Keto. You can make Keto work even when you’re busy.
Part of planning is budgeting. Buying in bulk and shopping for veggies while they’re in season will help slash your Keto grocery bill dramatically. Yes, you can do Keto on a budget!
My Favorite Keto Recipes
- Keto Pizza Casserole
- Low Carb BBQ Chicken with Bacon
- Cheesy Ranch Chicken Broccoli
- Keto Lemon Bread Recipe
- Low Carb Mexican Skillet
- Keto-Friendly Cheesy Crackers
- Keto Queso Soup
- Keto Egg Roll in a Bowl
- Keto Sausage Ball Recipe
- Low Carb Cheesy Bacon Bites
- Low Carb Keto Biscuits
- Blonde Low Carb Brownies
- Keto Mexican Stuffed Peppers
- Keto Stuffed Pepper Soup
- Keto Mixed Berry Muffins
- Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes
- Keto Pumpkin Pie
The Worst Part of Keto
I don’t want you to think it’s all sunshine and rainbows from day 1 with the keto diet because it’s not. Just like any other lifestyle change (especially such a drastic one like keto can be for some people), there’s going to be an adjustment period. You may get very cranky because you’re used to fueling your body on carbs. Once you start following a keto lifestyle, you switch energy tanks, so to speak, from being a carb burner to a fat burner, which might cause some irritability as your body adjusts. If you can get past that slump – the crankiness and tiredness you may experience for the first few weeks and the keto flu – you’re going to feel amazing! That is why keto works; once you get past the rough spots, it’s smooth sailing, and the potential results you get are beyond compare.
After over 4 Years Following Keto
It’s been over 4 years since I started following a keto lifestyle. Now, I’ve hit my goal weight and am maintaining my weight loss. I love that carbs and sugar no longer control me. I’ve learned that I am stronger and more disciplined than I thought I was and that food doesn’t have to be at the forefront of my mind all of the time. It takes commitment, dedication, and discipline, but the sacrifices yield results.