New to keto?
You’ve seen, you’ve heard, you’ve read, and are now ready to start living a ketogenic lifestyle, but find you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed about where to begin. Well, guess what? You’re in the right place! Below is a quick guide on how to kick start your keto journey and tap into that energizing fuel source we call fat.
Planning and Preparation
Before we begin, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of planning and preparation in being successful on the keto diet, or really making any lifestyle change for that matter. Remember the phrase “failing to plan, is a plan to fail”… that said, here we go!
Check serving size, macronutrients, and get familiar with the ingredient list.
Know your macronutrients (aka macros).
Proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are the three macronutrients that provide energy (fuel) to our body and make up the majority of calories in a food or beverage. Whatever macro is most present in a food item will typically determine its classification. For example, eggs are generally considered a protein source even though they are a good source of healthy fat and contain a very small amount of carbohydrate.
Cut out sugar.
Start eliminating and replacing all foods and beverages that contain added and natural sugar. This is a good step in the planning and preparation phase since you’ll be deciding which foods/meals you are going to eat on a keto diet.
Begin to limit carbohydrates.
For most people, aiming for less than 50g per day of carbohydrates will get you in a state of ketosis (burning fat instead of sugar). That said, I typically recommend starting at around 20-30g carbohydrate per day to jump start ketosis and then adjust from there. Most people count “net” carbs (total carbohydrate minus fiber minus sugar alcohol).
Eat fats to satiation.
Replace your carbohydrates with healthy sources of fat. Basically, if you’re hungry between meals after cutting out carbs, you need to add more fat.
Keep protein normal.
This is typically 3-6 ounces of protein per meal. Remember, for keto, we replace carbs with fat, not protein. However, everyone has a different protein threshold and highly active people may need a bit more like 6-8 ounces per meal.
Lasts around 1-3 days if experienced at all. Fluids and electrolytes are key!
Get optimal sleep.
Good sleep is highly underrated and an important key to health, longevity, and maintaining a healthy weight. Lack of sleep is linked to increased hunger and cravings during the day. Pick a time to start your new way of eating when you know you can get uninterrupted sleep.
Try to minimize stress.
Chronic stress results in chronic inflammation and can prevent weight loss… try to minimize stress especially when first starting a keto diet.
Don’t give up too early!
All too often people give up much too early before getting to the good stuff. Know that the keto-flu will last a few days, but it takes around 2-4 weeks to become “keto-adapted” which is when your body has developed the tools and machinery to burn fat efficiently. Hold tight, drink fluids, eat well, and consume electrolytes… you’ll get there!
“I keep hearing about macros. How do I track them?”
If you’ve read some of my previous articles, you’ve likely learned that I believe in a life without counting macros. However, if you feel tracking and counting is necessary to get started, here’s a breakdown of where to begin:
• 70-75% calories from fat
• 25-20% calories from protein
• 5-10% calories from carbohydrate
Multiple apps are available to help you track calories and macronutrients. I would encourage that once you get the hang of eating keto, try to ditch the calculator and start listening to your body.
Keto Quick Guide:
What to eat and drink:
• Fats: butter, coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, ghee, etc.
• Meats: Beef, fish, poultry, eggs, lamb, etc. — here’s how to get the best keto cuts of meat!
• High-fat dairy: heavy cream, sour cream, cheese, some low-carb yogurts, etc.
• Nuts and seeds: macadamias, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds etc.
• Berries and avocado: all types of berries
• Non-starchy vegetables: all leafy greens and cruciferous — I personally do not count these as part of my carbohydrates
• Sweeteners: Stevia, monk fruit, erythritol, etc. — avoid artificial when possible like sucralose and aspartame
• Fluids: water, coffee, teas, etc.
What to limit or avoid:
• Grains: rice, wheat, corn, oats, cereal, etc.
• Tubers: potato, yams, some squashes, etc.
• Sugar: honey, agave, maple syrup, artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, etc.
• Fruit: apples, bananas, oranges, etc.
• Processed and refined foods: Aim for whole, fresh foods whenever possible.
I often remind people that keto is about replacing, not restricting. If you focus on what you can eat, and learn how to replace ingredients with keto-friendly versions, you will find that keto isn’t really restrictive at all! Remember, Keto is a way of eating and it takes time to learn, so be patient with yourself and know that it gets easier over time.
Also, don’t forget, Hip2Keto is full of tips, tricks, and helpful information to keep you on track… so come back and visit us often!
Tara Finnerty RDN, CSP, CD — is a ketogenic specialist and fat-fueled enthusiast. Tara is a registered dietitian in Utah and owner of Sugar House Nutrition LLC. Her aim is to provide nutrition support for people wanting to reap the many health benefits of the ketogenic (keto) diet. Her expertise in the keto diet was initially working with children who have uncontrolled epilepsy. Tara supports nutrition diversity and works toward helping people find an individualized approach to make healthy eating sustainable.