The Ketogenic Diet: An Easy to Read Beginner's Guide
The ultimate beginner's guide to understanding the keto diet and getting you into ketosis fast and healthy.
Keep an eye out for keto diet cheatsheets!
Let's get started!
What are the basics of the keto diet?
The ketogenic diet is a low carb, high fat, and moderate protein diet that uses broken down fat as the bodies main source of energy.
The ketogenic diet is also referred to as the keto diet or the low carb high-fat diet (LCHF).
To be considered a keto diet your macros should look like this:
To get the best results the macros should be balanced.
By severely decreasing carbs the body begins to switch from glucose energy to fat (ketone) energy. This is known as metabolic ketosis.
Your personal range may vary slightly depending on your activity levels and life style.
The percentages are parts of your total calories needs.
Example: You need 2,000 calories per day. That comes out to. . .
1. 25 grams of carbs
2. 100 grams of protein
3. 166 grams of fat
Keep in mind these numbers will vary by activity level.
Calculate your own macro needs in 4 simple steps HERE.
There are so many new words. . . what are the keto diet terms I need to know?
There are some new terms that come into play when starting the keto diet. To clear confusion, keto terms and definitions are listed below.
A natural metabolic body process that starts when the body is deprived of carbs or food for an extended period of time. Also known as metabolic ketosis.
Fatty molecules that are broken down in the liver. Ketones become the body and mind's new source of energy. There are three types of ketones.
This is the goal for long term fat energy and health. Ketones begin to reduce in overall numbers because the body is effectively able to access and oxidize stored and dietary fat for energy. Also called keto-adapted.
Macros or macronutrients:
Types of nutrients from foods that are required for a healthy diet. Fats, proteins, and carbs are all macros.
A macronutrient that provides huge energy storage and fuel. As well as metabolism, tissue health, and vitamin absorption.
According to keto: Fat is a lever and the amount of fat you eat will change depending on your goals.
Carbs or carbohydrates:
A macronutrient that supplies insulin to the body. Healthy carbs from whole food sources help to stabilize energy levels, cholesterol profiles, and body composition.
According to keto: To stay in ketosis limit your carb intake.
A macronutrient that is very important to the health and function of cells, muscles, tissues, and organs.
According to keto: Hit your protein goals daily. Protein is very important. Don't worry about going a little over your macro goals.
Are there different types of keto diets?
In total there are 6 variations of the ketogenic diet. Each variation is meant to meet the needs of an individual.
What are the different types of keto diets?
I personally have worked out 6 times a week while being fat-adapted. Meaning, instead of carb cycling, I worked through ketosis and have been able to exercise almost daily with a high-fat diet alone.
Remember, just because something does not work for you that doesn't mean it won't work for someone else.
Your ideal body and health should always be personalized to your needs.
What are the health benefits of the keto diet?
There are numerous health benefits to the keto diet that separate this diet from others. And it's the reason that so many people, like myself, consider keto not only a diet but a complete lifestyle change.
Running off of health fats completely changes the body from a molecular level. In turn, having a positive effect on every part of the body.
How I do I know I'm in ketosis? - The Keto Flu
There are a few different ways to tell when your body is in ketosis.
One way to tell that your body is going into ketosis is by experiencing some flu-like symptoms.
These flu-like symptoms are commonly known as the keto flu.
Length and variation of flu symptoms depend on your health status before starting the keto diet. For some, symptoms last one or two days. And for others, symptoms can last 3 weeks.
There are a few factors that determine the length and type of keto flu symptoms. They include:
Remember, switching from glucose fuel to fat fuel requires some effort on your body's behalf.
Once you figure out what your symptoms are you can use some of these simple tricks to overcome them.
Reference this infographic below to learn about possible keto flu symptoms and how to overcome each.
The most common keto flu symptoms include fatigue, sugar cravings, irritability, and frequent urination.
How do I test my ketone levels?
Not all people experience keto flu symptoms.
If you are one of those people the best way to check if you're in ketosis if to check your ketone levels.
There are four simple ways to test your ketone levels. . .
It will cost extra money to buy urine and blood strips. On top of the initial cost of each ketone meter.
Testing strips are optional. It is completely up to your comfort level to test for ketones.
If you decide you want to test your ketone levels click on the keto test you're interesting in:
Do I have to test ketone levels?
You don't have to buy any fancy devices to test your ketone levels. You can absolutely go off of the benefits you experience.
If you decide to not use any ketone tests you can purely go off of. . .
1. How you feel overall
2. Body improvements (weight, fat loss, measurements, muscle tone)
3. Health improvements
Use the keto benefits infographic to see the many ways that keto can be measured.
What food can I eat on the ketogenic diet?
The best part of any diet should be the foods.
To stick to a diet you have to like the foods you eat, otherwise, the diet won't stick to you.
Most people that quit a diet do so because the food was too limited and not very tasty.
The ketogenic diet allows people to eat a whole range of yummy food from natural sources. All while keeping bad sugars low and protein and fats in check.
Keep this chart handy when deciding what foods to enjoy freely, enjoy in moderation, and avoid altogether.
I know you might love sugary drinks, but they won't help you to get healthy.
Drink (at least) half your body weight in ounces everyday to keep your body lubricated and digestive system flowing smoothly.
Example: You weigh 200 pounds.
Drink: 100 ounces of water total by the end of the night. That's only 12 cups - you can do that!
How do I tell I'm fat-adapted?
You did it!
You stuck to the keto diet, got through the keto flu and noticed some great results. Now the question becomes, "Am I fat-adapted?"
There are a few ways to tell that you are fat-adapted and ready for long term fat loss and health.
- Excess appetite is gone
- Sugar and carb cravings are gone (if not reduced tremendously)
- Your body can run longer without constantly needing to eat (intermittent fasting)
- You have steady energy throughout the day
- You can exercise regularly without needing to carb load
The indicators above are signs that your body is able to efficiently run off of its own fat stores and consumed fat.
After 1 to 3 months of being in ketosis, fat is officially the main fuel source of your body. The body no longer needs glucose for energy which is why carb, sugar cravings, and excess appetite go away.
At this point, your body is now a well-oiled machine. The best thing for you to do is to stick with it - keep going. You're on the right track.
12 Simple answers to common keto diet questions. . .
1. Should I stop eating carbs "cold turkey" (all at once)?
If your current diet relies heavily on carbs and sugar intake I suggest you slowly reduce your carb consumption over a period of time. Between a 2 to 4 week period seems to work for many people.
People who regularly eat a lot of sugar products and carbs tend to have really bad cravings and sugar addiction withdrawal. Adjust as needed and when you feel a craving drink water.
Use these 5 simple steps to start your ketogenic diet.
2. Can I ever eat carbs freely?
In short, yes, you can eat carbs freely but whether you stay in ketosis or become fat-adapted is another question.
3. So does that mean I can never cheat and eat a carb heavy food or snack?
No, it's only natural for a person to have a cheat day or meal once in a while. As you continue with the keto diet those cravings for carbs and sugars will go away. Along with your need to cheat.
Your ketone and blood sugar levels may be affected, especially if you are diabetic.
4. Can I build muscle on the keto diet?
Yes, the moderate amount of protein on the keto diet allows for muscle function and build. You might not build muscle as fast as you would with a carb-heavy diet.
You may be interested in a keto diet variation that has worked for weight lifters and athletes.
5. Will my urine and breath smell bad?
While going into ketosis excess ketones (mainly acetone) may cause a funny smell in your urine or your breath. This is a side effect of transition and goes away once in ketosis.
6. What can I do for my bad breath?
When your breath gets bad, use a tongue scraper or chew on a piece of sugar-free gum. Both items are travel-friendly.
7. Is keto crotch real?
Just like urine and breath, your body can also release excess acetone into the sweat. If you sweat a lot in your crotch area you may notice a smell.
Women especially have a delicate PH system. The body is making some changes, which may affect PH levels. Causing a certain smell to develop.
Wear breathable cotton underwear and carry a spare with you if you notice any "keto crotch" signs.
Remember this is temporary!
8. Is ketosis the same as ketoacidosis?
No, ketosis is not ketoacidosis.
Ketosis is a natural part of the metabolic system. While ketoacidosis is a rare form of highly acidic blood that occurs in uncontrolled diabetes.
9. Can I do keto if I have a health condition?
There are so many health conditions out there that it would be irresponsible of me to give a definite answer for all.
If you have a health condition that requires a team of doctors, speak to them. Let them know your plans and why you choose the keto diet. You know your body best.
10. Will I have digestive issues?
Healthy digestion comes with healthy foods. Eat your vegetables, get some fiber, and drink lots of water.
11. If I eat too much protein will I be kicked out of ketosis?
No, not necessarily. Depending on a person's lifestyle and activity level more protein may be recommended and will be used up during exercise and to replenish the body afterward.
If you plan on decreasing your activity level for the long term you might want to look into recalculating your macros.
Read more about why protein is important and the best types of protein HERE.
12. Are ketosis and fat-adaption the same thing?
Although both provide energy there is a slight difference. Ketosis is the act of using ketones derived from fat tissues for energy.
Being fat-adapted means that the body can now efficiently oxidize fat. Whether it's from food or stored.
I have more questions. . . Where should I look?
Ask them in our Easy Keto Menus Facebook group!
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