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Here is an easy (but extensive) guide on how to start a Keto Diet.
First, I need to make sure that you know I’M NOT a medical expert on the Ketogenic Diet. I’m not a doctor nor a nurse — I’m just a person who believes in the Keto Diet. I used to be like you — I had NO idea how to start a Keto Diet. I did my own research and figured out what worked for me. This may or may not work for you, but a lot of you have reached out to me and asked how I started Keto and lost the weight.
In this post, I’ll show you how I’ve lost 90+ lbs (and going!) with a Ketogenic Diet. I’ll explain how I started and what you need to know and I’ll also talk about living with Type 2 Diabetes & getting off insulin and my medication with Keto. I was like you once — someone who needed to get healthier. Someone who wasn’t sure of how the Keto Diet works and needed help. I really hope you find this Keto guide helpful. Also, please remember that everyone’s body is different. You may also get different results! Always consult your doctor first before trying Keto!
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
A Keto Diet is a diet that consists of High Fat, Moderate Protein, and Very Low Carbs. It promotes the formation of ketone bodies and uses fat as the primary energy source. Basically, it forces your body to burn and use fat effectively rather than carbohydrates.This is achieved by keeping your -net carbs- under 25g a day. There are so many benefits to a Ketogenic Diet and weight loss is just one of them.
Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet
- Helps stabilize Blood Sugar & Insulin Levels
- Helps reduce inflammation
- Helps alleviate PCOS Symptoms
- Helps alleviate IBS issues
- Weight Loss
- Stable Energy Levels (no sugar crash!)
- Mental Clarity & Sharpness
- Helps with individuals who have Autism, Bipolar, BPD, and others
- Helps with Seizures & Epilepsy (Keto is used successfully to help others who have epilepsy & seizures)
- Reduced Cravings
- Helps your skin
- Increased level of HDL “Good” Cholesterol
Differences between a Keto Diet & Low Carb Diet
There are some differences between a Keto Diet and a Low Carb Diet:
- Ketogenic Diet: Under 25 Net Carbs
- Low Carb Diet: Under 100 Net Carbs
While Keto *IS* low carb, low carb doesn’t necessarily mean it’s keto. Hope that makes some sense 🙂
How do I know if I’m in Ketosis?
- You check your Ketones and it registers above 0.5 mmoL : Checking your Ketones is the most accurate way to find out if you’re in Ketosis or not. I use KetoMojo to check my Ketones & Glucose. If you’d like 15% off your own KetoMojo, click here to save! It’s discounted at checkout. 🙂
- You have bad breath: When you’re in Ketosis, acetone, a type of Ketone is excreted through urine and your breath. A lot of people tend to notice bad breath when they first get into Keto.
- Weight loss is a common sign that you’re also in Ketosis! When you’re in Ketosis, you burn fat in your body (or on your plate) as energy.
- Increased focus & Mental Clarity: After getting over the first 1-2 weeks (keto fog / keto flu), you’ll start to notice that you have more focus and mental clarity.
What are Net Carbs on Keto and how do you calculate them?
So you’re ready to start the Keto Diet and have no idea how to count net carbs. It’s easy! Net carbs is just the Total Carbs minus the Dietary Fiber (if listed) and minus the Sugar Alcohols (if listed) such as Xylitol or Erythritol. Do not subtract “SUGAR” from the total carbs. Sugar and Sugar Alcohols are treated differently.
With the Ketogenic Diet, we don’t count Dietary Fiber because they’re a type of carbohydrate that our body can’t digest and more than likely will not affect your blood sugar levels. Not all fibers are created equal — Fibers such as Chicory Root Fiber (Inulin) or Tapioca Fiber may affect your blood sugar, so tread lightly and make sure to test your Blood Sugar & Ketones (I use the KetoMojo — You can get 15% off if you use my link — discounted at checkout!)
The Keto Diet lets you eat a certain amount of carbs. Keto doesn’t mean it’s zero carb, so allow yourself some vegetable carbs!
How to Calculate Net Carbs on Keto
For example, if I had eaten 40 Total Carbs and 10 of them are Dietary Fiber and 5 Sugar Alcohols, my net carbs would be:
40 (MINUS) 10 (MINUS) 5 = 25 Net Carbs that day
If you prefer to count Total Carbs instead of Net Carbs, you definitely can. It might be a little hard at first and I wouldn’t suggest it until you are used to the Keto Diet.
Here is a helpful graphic for it:
How I lost weight with the Keto Diet
Let’s get on to the good stuff!
I’ve lost 90+ lbs with the Keto Diet and regulated my Type 2 Diabetes without medication. The keto tips below are all from trial and error with the Ketogenic Diet. It is not a one-size-fits-all guide to Keto. Always remember to do your own research. These have worked for me and has kept my Type 2 Diabetes regulated.
I was able to get off my insulin completely (Bolus and Basal insulin) after being on a Ketogenic Diet in the first 6 months. My routine went like this before Keto:
I had to take 100-110 Units of insulin. This meant 4 injections every day:
- Before Lunch
- Before Dinner
This was a part of my daily routine. I had painful bruises on my belly (all over — no joke!)
Insulin was a backup plan — especially when I ate too many carbs. I’d always say to myself “I can just inject more to cover the extra carbs.” Y’all that’s not how it should work, lol. I thought like this for a long time! So after I got off insulin, I didn’t have that back up plan anymore. I knew I had to find other ways to manage my blood sugar and finally found Keto. Keto is the way.
If you’re wondering what my A1C is, it’s currently at 6% (so close – almost at the 5% club!). My starting A1C was at 13-14% before I lost 90+ lbs.
I’m currently not taking any medications for my Type 2 Diabetes and regulating it with Keto completely. If you have Diabetes and you want to try Keto, please check with your doctor first!
What can I eat on a Keto Diet?
The better question is “WHAT FOODS SHOULD I AVOID ON THE KETO DIET”
Here’s a SAMPLE list of foods you can eat on Keto. DOWNLOAD THE FULL LIST HERE.
I just finished writing a 50-Days Keto Meal Plan.
Feel free to use it! Here’s the link.
- Fish and Seafood
- Processed Meats (deli meat, sausages — but look at the carb count!)
- Coconut Oil (my favorite oil to cook with. I use this one, which is refined Coconut Oil)
- Olive Oil
- Avocado Oil
- Green Bell Peppers
- Spaghetti Squash
- Spring Mix
- Yellow Squash
- Zucchini Squash
- Brussel Sprouts
- Heavy Cream (it may say 0 carbs on the label, but it actually has carbs. Around 0.6g of carbs and the FDA allows it to be rounded down. That’s why the nutrition label has 0g carbs)
- Half and Half
- Cheese (but be careful because it has a lot of calories!)
- High Fat Yogurt (watch the carb count)
- Diet Soda (I’m a fan of diet soda, but some people are strict with this.)
- Sugar-Free Drink Mixes (same as above)
- Bone Broth
Eat in moderation. These are high fat and calorie heavy. It’s easy to over eat!
- Macadamia Nuts
- Peanuts (technically it’s a legume but…)
Eat in moderation. Watch carb count.
- Dark Chocolate (I love ChocZero! You can get 10% off by clicking here & use my code: KETOFYME)
- Mug Cakes
- Fat Bombs (high in calories!)
- Monkfruit (My favorite is Lakanto – you can get 20% off if you click here & use my code: KETOFYME)
- Xylitol (don’t use if you have pets)
Now, what foods should I avoid on Keto?
Ideally, staying on Keto means that you need to stay under 25g net carbs. If you’re not strict, you can technically eat almost anything, just as long as you’re under 25 net carbs.
But let’s be real — eating chips, even though it’s only 16g carbs and can technically *fit* in a keto diet, would be hard to stop eating once you start.
It’s better to avoid carb temptations so that you can get accustomed to this way of eating. Here are some foods you should try to avoid on Keto.
- Pasta (doesn’t matter if it’s “veggie” pasta – look at the carb count)
- Rice (including brown rice)
- Potatoes (including sweet potatoes)
- Wheat Flours
- Rice Flours
There are so many different types of sugar. Sometimes we can’t avoid sugar but if you look at the nutrition info and it has these ingredients, it’s best to avoid it if you can.
- Coconut Sugar
- Cane Sugar
- Brown Sugar
- Date Sugar
- Confectioner’s Sugar
- Maple Syrup
Maltitol is a Sugar-Free sweetener that’s usually used in SF Candies, SF Syrups among others. While it’s a Sugar Alcohol that you can subtract from your total carbs when you’re counting net, it can increase your blood sugar. It can also give you a lot of stomach discomfort if you eat too much of it. I would practice caution if you’re going to eat something that has Maltitol in it.
Avoid Sugar Drinks:
Make sure to look at the nutrition info. Look at the carb and sugar count.
- Fruit Juice
- Regular Soda
- Regular Sport Drinks
- Mixed Alcohol Drinks (they usually use simple syrup)
Download my Printable Ultimate Keto Grocery List
Here are my Keto Tips on how to get started & help you on this Keto Journey
I’ve been on this Keto ride for 3+ years and I have learned so much along the way. I’ve done a lot of Ketone testing (for science! :D), I’ve gained weight on Keto, I’ve went off-plan on Keto.. etc etc. But I always go back to Keto because honestly, it’s something that’s helped me with my health & weight. There’s nothing better than getting off my Diabetic medication and losing weight. So.. here are my Keto Tips & tricks to get your started and hopefully keep the weight off. The information below is something that I follow and it’s worked for me, but everyone’s different and you may get different results.
1). ASK YOUR DOCTOR FIRST.
I know I sound like a broken record, but this is important. Some people cannot handle the Keto Diet. While the Ketogenic Diet has helped so many people with weight loss and other health benefits, not everyone can benefit from the Keto Diet. Please make sure you speak to your doctor first.
2). Remove ALL Temptations from your kitchen/home
This is right up there with the first tip 🙂 If you’re just starting with the Keto Diet, it is VERY EASY to give in to carb temptations. I know that it’s not an ideal situation to remove temptations from your home (technically there are temptations everywhere!) but it will really help you if you do this. If you have a family who isn’t on board with Keto, you may need to either remove carb-filled products and hide them somewhere. Out of sight, out of mind.
If you’re the only cook in the house, you may have to cook separate dishes for your family. It would be amazing that the whole family would be on board with the Keto Diet, but I wouldn’t force it. I’m sure they’ll be curious about it too. Let them see your results!
3). Stay under 25g Net Carbs
This is usually the baseline of net carbs to stay under. It depends on your body type and some people can even get away with 50 Net Carbs and stay in Ketosis! Remember that Keto doesn’t mean ZERO CARBS! You are definitely allowed Low Carb and Keto Friendly Vegetables to help you on this diet.Please don’t shy away from vegetables. Check out my extensive Keto Grocery List with Net Carb Counts. That list will help you along this journey. You can also find a Printable Keto Grocery List here on my site.
4). Keep it Super Simple
Don’t overcomplicate the Keto Diet. Starting out can be overwhelming and you need to keep it simple at first. You don’t need to eat meals that have a ton of ingredients that you may not have. Start with the basics like this:
- Breakfast: Eggs, Bacon, Black Coffee with Half and Half.
- Lunch: Cobb Salad with your choice of protein. Omit the Croutons
- Dinner: Keto Salmon Teriyaki or a Taco Salad
Keep it simple and eat what you LIKE. If you know that you like beef, stick with beef. Keto should be enjoyable, not torture. Once you’re used to eating Keto, you can try more complicated recipes!
5). Eat Whole Foods and try to avoid Processed Foods
Try your best to stick to Whole Foods on Keto, especially when you’re starting out. Let yourself enjoy the diet and then after, you can try incorporating keto processed foods / convenience foods, such as keto protein bars, keto shakes, and others. I understand that sometimes you may be busy and may need to grab fast food. That’s okay!
Remember that it’s better to stick to this diet the best way you can, instead of making excuses to eat off-plan.If that means having to grab keto fast food options, then so be it. Better yet, try to Meal prep! No judgements here, btw. We are all trying our best.
6). Meal Prep if you can
This goes with #5 — If you know that you get busy and may not have time to cook, try to meal prep for 2-3 days. Having a busy schedule can put pressure on you to eat whatever is available, INCLUDING CARBS! We want to mitigate that as much as possible, so meal prepping can definitely help you on this diet.
7). Join a Keto Support Group or find a keto buddy
It’s important that you get support during your own Keto Journey.Sometimes, family and friends may go against the Keto Diet. It’s normal — remember that we were all taught that fat is bad. It takes a while to break the mold. If you need support, try to find a Keto group in the community.
I run 100 Days of Keto on Facebook where we are supportive of different ways on how to approach Keto.
8). Avoid Low Carb Alternatives
Try to avoid low-carb alternatives such as Low Carb Tortillas, Low Carb Ice cream, low carb bread, protein bars, etc when you first try Keto. This can trigger unwanted carb cravings. I would highly avoid them until you’re comfortable with Keto.
9). Avoid the “Keto Flu” by keeping your electrolytes up
When you’re coming off the “carb high” and you switch to a Ketogenic Diet, you may experience the Keto Flu. This usually lasts a week or less. Some of the symptoms are:
- Feeling confused
- Hard to Focus (brain fog)
It happens because of the transition from a high carb diet to a very low carb diet.
So, How do I get rid of the Keto Flu?
It’s best to increase your sodium levels. I usually drink “bouillon soup” which is just a cube of chicken or bouillon and some hot water. After 30 minutes, this usually does the trick. You can also try pickle juice.
Drink enough water and hydrate throughout the day! If you prefer drinking your electrolytes, you can try 1/4 tsp of “lo-salt” which is a low-salt alternative that has potassium, 1/2 tsp of Pink Himalayan Salt, and a squeeze of lemon juice or your favorite sugar-free drink mix.
There is also a great Magnesium supplement called Natural Calm that I take on a daily basis. You can try this to help with constipation on the Keto Diet and for your electrolytes.
10). Count your Calories and your Macros
I would highly suggest to try “lazy keto” for the first month or so. Just count your carbs and stay under ~25 net carbs. I feel that a lot of people put a lot of pressure on themselves to be perfect the first time they try this diet. They end up giving up on Keto completely, before being able to reap the benefits of this diet. Don’t do that! DO WHAT YOU CAN. I promise you that the Keto Diet is worth it, if you give it a chance. Once you are more used to the diet, I would then suggest to count your calories & macros.
11). CALORIES MATTER (I’m sorry)
Yes, I know. It all sounds so good to be true right? Eat bacon, fats, meats AND lose weight?! No way! YES WAY… to an extent. Depending on your body size, it’s usually the first month on Keto when you lose a LOT of weight. The first 10-15 lbs will usually be water weight. You’ll drop this quickly (as fast as a week or two) because you’re cutting carbs. After that, your weight loss will slow down and you’ll start to wonder — why am I not losing as much weight as I did the first month?
It’s the calories. I know that this is debatable but please believe me when I say that if you have A LOT of weight to lose (like me), you will need to start counting your calories and macros. This can turn people off to Keto, but I think Keto is more lenient than other diets when it comes to calories. Eating an avocado will satisfy you more than a rice cake. Eating a serving of eggs and bacon can fill you up more than a fat-free breakfast.
So you’re on your 3rd or 4th month of Keto, you’ve been doing lazy keto and not getting results. Are you watching your calories? Are you adding too much fat? A lot of people on the Keto Diet think that a little bit of extra carbs will make you gain weight. If you eat 10-20 extra carbs twice a week, you’re not going to gain weight. You may gain WATER WEIGHT — but you’re not going gain it in *FAT*. But overeating on calories during those two days, no matter if it’s Keto or not, WILL cause weight gain in the long run.
It’s important to keep this in mind on your journey. Know what works for you and your body. Trial and error is something I’ve been practicing on Keto. There is more than one way to do Keto to reap the benefits of this amazing diet.
12). Protein is the GOAL, Fat is a LEVER, and Carbs is a LIMIT.
I know that we all get excited that we can eat fat on this diet. Don’t fear fat, but be mindful. Being able to enjoy an avocado and bacon on this diet is so nice! But if your goal is weight loss, use fat to satiate you. Use FAT to keep you satisfied throughout the day and help you on this diet, instead of hindering you. The great thing about eating fat is that it doesn’t trigger an insulin spike and it will help regulate your blood sugar. But fat is full of calories (it’s 4 calories per gram) and it’s easy to overeat.
>> YOU DON’T NEED TO HIT YOUR FAT MACRO UNLESS YOU ARE TRYING TO GAIN WEIGHT <<
When I first started Keto, most of the advice that was given to me was that FAT was the goal. It wasn’t until I ended up stalling that I realized that adding Fat to my diet was hindering my weight loss. I used to drink BPC every morning which was a whopping 500+ CALORIES WORTH. And all I was doing was drinking it. And honestly, it doesn’t keep you full — It’s the fat in the BPC that’s satisfying you. So instead of DRINKING your fat — wouldn’t it be better to eat it? Take that fat content and eat it in the form of high fat meats and seafood, such as Salmon or Beef.
I’ve always believed in this saying too:
>> I would rather burn the fat on my body than the FAT on my plate <<
Remember that once you’re in Nutritional Ketosis, you will burn fat for energy. That includes Body Fat AND Fat in the foods you eat. Your body on Keto will use up the fat in your food *first* for energy before using up your body fat. So if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s generally better to let your body use up your body fat as much as it can. But if you’re eating more fat than your macros allow, you’re just stretching out the process. You just need to eat enough fat to avoid feeling tired and hungry, but you need to limit the excess fat.
It’s truly a balancing game. Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are satisfied.
13). PROTEIN IS IMPORTANT
Please don’t neglect protein on this diet! This is why macros are important — being able to figure out how much protein you need daily is very helpful. A lot of people will argue about gluconeogenesis but you would need to eat a lot of protein to even trigger that.
If you want to keep your hair (seriously), don’t forget to eat your protein. All you need is enough to keep your body running. New Ketoers tend to get hair loss with Keto and it’s usually because they think Keto is all about high fat and they forget about their protein. You won’t notice the lack of hair growth until 2-3 months AFTER you start Keto. It will then take another 2-3 for your hair to regrow again. You need to eat enough protein to at least maintain bodily functions.
14). Try Intermittent Fasting
** NOTE: ONLY DO INTERMITTENT FASTING IF YOU ARE MENTALLY & PHYSICALLY COMFORTABLE WITH IT AND PLEASE DO NOT USE INTERMITTENT FASTING AS PUNISHMENT! **
I won’t really touch on Intermittent Fasting here (I’ll do it on another post), but practicing IF with Keto may give you better results on your Keto Journey. I’ve been practicing Intermittent Fasting for the benefits (helps manage my insulin levels) and it’s also helped me on the Keto Diet. I wouldn’t do IF right away until you’re ready to add something like this with your diet. Intermittent Fasting IS NOT A DIET, btw — it is a MEAL TIMING TOOL. DON’T EVER USE IT AS PUNISHMENT because of a binge, cheat day, etc. YES – it can get you to Ketosis faster, but you need to understand and know *WHY* you’re doing IF or Extended fasting. Please do not use IF or Extended fasting as punishment.
I currently do 16-18 hours of fasting (6 days out of the week) with the Keto Diet.
15). Keep things “running“
Are you constipated on Keto? It’s normal. It happens to a lot of us. It’s because Keto is a “low waste” diet. If you need help to “go” — try a tbsp of coconut oil or drink Natural Calm or another magnesium supplement. I love Natural Calm because it’s easy to drink. But be careful — too much magnesium may give you diarrhea! Just use as directed 😂
15). Don’t be discouraged by the lack of weight loss or progress
Like I said on #11, weight loss will slow down after the first month or so. Try your best to be consistent with the diet. Look up your macros and start tracking them as well as your calories. And remember that weight loss is just ONE benefit if you’re on a Ketogenic Diet. There are so many other benefits to this lifestyle.
16). IT’S OKAY TO SAY NO
Imagine this — you’re out with your friends, family, or coworkers and they tell you to try something that you know isn’t keto-friendly. It’s okay to say, “No thank you, I don’t eat that.” Peer pressure is real, especially if you’re on a diet. A lot of people may tempt you for fun (or maybe they just don’t believe in the diet) but stand your ground. Remind yourself why you’re doing this!
Support is SO important — try to surround yourself with people who love you and want to see you succeed on this lifestyle.
17). MY FAVORITE TIP
Don’t compare your self with other Ketoers. Remember that everyone’s different and we all lose weight at different rates. Be kind to yourself and don’t give up!
REMEMBER THIS: MIND OVER MATTER. You can only succeed on this diet (or any diet really) if you put your mind to it. No matter how much you prepped, got your list together, etc — none of that will matter if you are not ready to take this on. You need to remind yourself why you started this in the first place and keep reminding yourself every day.
Temptation is everywhere and it’s so easy to fall back. But even if you do, just get back up and keep trying. Learn from your mistakes. Move forward. Do this for you.