How to Start Keto for Beginners
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.
Tip: Don’t miss my comprehensive How to Get Started with the Keto Diet ebook, where all the resources to get started are compiled in a simple downloadable format without needing to read multiple blog posts.
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:
1. Keto Grocery Items at Walmart
2. Keto Grocery Items at Sam’s Club
3. Keto Grocery Items at Costco
4. Keto Grocery Items at ALDI
5. Keto Grocery Items at Target
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 of 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.
More Keto 101 Resources:
- What’s the difference between Keto and Low-Carb?
- Intermittent fasting for beginners
- What is Ketosis and what are the signs you’re in it?
- What does it mean to be fat-adapted?
- Leg Cramps on Keto: Causes and Solutions
- What is Ketosis? Ultimate Guide to Ketosis & Ketones
- 5 Health Benefits of a Low Carb Diet Besides Weight Loss
- Salt on Keto Diet: 3 Reasons to Include More
- How to Make Bulletproof Coffee
- The Best Keto Products on Amazon
- How to Eat Healthy When Stuck at Home
- 10 reasons that may be causing a stall on the Keto Diet
- Electrolytes on Keto: Explained & Simplified
- 7 Changes You’ll Experience Within the First Month of the Keto Diet
- Amazon Keto List
- 10 easy tips for eating Keto on a budget
- Very Best Basic Keto/Low Carb Grocery List
Thanks for sharing this Kasey. I find your posts helpful and your recipes are so straight-forward. I started reducing carbs last Dec and lost 22 lb to July. Began following the Keto WOE in July and have lost 38 lb to this Dec. Feeling much better. Much more to go, but your recipes and encouragement help keep me on track. This will be a good site to refer new Keto people to when they are asking how to get started.
So glad to hear about your progress! Keep up the good work!!
I want to go go keto
Hey Carolyn, you can do this! Jump right in. I have a lot of great recipes and resources to help you out. Good luck!
I’m ready to try keto lifestyle again. It did work for me for the 3 months that I was doh g it. But then life jumped in and we were stressed to the max with selling our house and buying a new house. It was mother’s day weekend when we finished moving and end of the school year with other summer plans already in the. Oops. We kinda just threw it all out the window. Convenience of the drive through and Grib Hub was our go to ☹️
My questions is do you allow yourself to indulge in some of your fav non keto treats or a glass of wine now and again and still feel like you haven’t ruined everything?
I know there are a lot of keto recipes for muffins and cookies and cheesecake etc. but maybe like a special trip or anniversary you want to enjoy that special item. I would rather wait to have those than try to make all these keto breads that I really don’t care for.
Hey, Katie, check out this recent post. Hopefully, it will help!! Best of luck!!
Kasey, I’m researching the Keto woe. I have read that certain supplements are beneficial, such as potassium, magnesium, calcium and sodium. What are your thoughts on supplements and what do you take? At present, I take a multi-vitamin and magnesium.
Hey, Joy here is a post I did on the importance of electrolytes. Hopefully, this can help.
Do you have a good Mexican soup recipe?
Hey, Julie here are a few. Let me know what you think.
Kasey, I’ve been trying to follow, but still not sure about a few issues. For instance, do you have to follow the 75/20/5? Can I eat Oatmeal? I understand It is high in carbs, but it’s a great food. I’ve been diagnosed as prediabetic and wanting to know if keto is okay.
I’ve managed to cut out breads and sugar, which was not easy, but I did It.
I started Tracking my macros with “my fitness pal” app, just before Christmas. My weight loss however has been very slow compared to the results of others I am 62 years of age. Had my babies in my late 30’s. I eat Most of the recommended foods, but really have problems with veggies.
Anyway, I think I’m doing what I should But I’m not sure. Could it be that i don’t eating enough fat? I started using mct oil about a week ago.
I follow You on Facebook
Any words of advise?
Suzanne, you just have to determine how you want to handle your keto woe. Some follow strict keto, lazy keto or low carb. This is something you will have to research and determine. Eating oatmeal would depend on what woe you decide but is typically very high in carbs. Best of luck in determining how you want to proceed.
I am just starting Keto. Thank you so much for your help and recipes
Sure! So glad my recipes are helpful.
I’m thoroughly enjoying your site and many of your recipes. I have a question regarding your sugar substitutes listed in this article. Is there a reason why you prefer Monkfruit over Swerve? Or do you use both? I’ve read about the “cooling effect” which I’ve experienced with Swerve. I haven’t tried Monkfruit yet, but plan to soon. Does it also give the “cooling” sensation? I think I’ve seen both listed in your recipes and wondered why you prefer one over the other in particular recipes. Thank you!
I started off using Swerve but have been using Monkfruit more and more as it doesn’t have as much of an aftertaste. However, the aftertaste and cooling effect seem to vary so much from person to person. I have read that some people don’t experience the cooling sensation at all. It’s one of those things that each person has to test to determine what is best for them.
I love your recipes, you make this very easy to do
I’m so glad my recipes are helpful. Thank you for your kind words.
I was wondering if avocado is a good Keto food choice?
Yes. My family doesn’t like them so I don’t usually use them in my recipes.
Hi Kasey. Any suggestions on how to feed the whole family while on keto. I have a 17 & 14 year old. The struggle is the high fat while they are not ready to give up sugar & carbs completely. The doctor says the kids need more carbs. How do you balance this?
I usually just don’t make a big deal of it. When I make a keto dish for my hubby and me, I usually have an alternative for my kids. So if I make spaghetti, my husband and I eat it on spaghetti squash but, I’ll make some whole grain noodles for my kids. If we eat hamburgers, my hubs and I will just not eat the bun. So I can always offer an alternative very easily. Hope this helps!
Hi Kasey, love your recipes!!! Is there a list of supplements that should be consumed along with this way of life?
Hey, Carrie, take a look at this for more info on electrolytes.
Wondering about those who have gall bladders removed, and get dumping syndrome when eating grease? Any info on that?
I don’t have a gallbladder but have never had that problem. I have heard of others taking supplements to help with digestion, but I can’t remember what supplement. You may want to try googling a supplement to help digestion after gallbladder removal. I wish I could remember the name of it.
I was told Bile salt was helpful.
I would like to try this as my husband is predestined for some pretty awful medical conditions that I hope we can avoid by watching his weight.
However both he and I have some things that we are allergic and “rabid” dislike of certain foods. Like I can not eat fish. And he refuses to eat avocado.
Can we still go on this diet?
I won’t touch seafood or avocado with a ten-foot pole. I’d search Pinterest for recipes that you enjoy.
Im 41 and a personal trainer. Ive herd and seen so many keto success stores that Ive become personaly interested in it. Of all the articles and info overload, I find your post to be conversational and easier to digest. Was looking for a keto shoping list and I found so much more!
I will refer my clients to this site as it has all the info here. Im not the kind of trainer that wants to keep clients coming exclusively to me, but to empower them to look and do their own research. I find they are more successful this way.
Blessings & Strength,
Thank you, Tim, for your kind words. Glad the info was helpful.
I just wanted to thank you for this information. I have done a lot of research and your is the easiest and most accurate so far. It has been hard to find sites that don’t spend more time promoting than giving actual information.
I am two weeks in on keto and down 11 lbs. Now I have this site to bounce back to (and the shopping list is printed and laminated) to keep me motivated as a new member.
Ty so much!
I’m so glad the info was simple and helpful That is always my goal.