Keto 101: The Beginners Guide to the Ketogenic Diet

The keto diet is having a hall of fame moment, and here’s what you need to know.

By: Rebecca Jacobs

It’s hard to ignore the fact that the keto diet is having a hall of fame moment and has taken the health and wellness industry by storm. It’s clear that the ketogenic diet isn’t going anywhere any time soon, and with more celebs like Megan Fox, Halle Berry, and the Kardashians jumping on the keto bandwagon, the diet is continuing to gain popularity.  

Plus, it’s not hard to like the idea of going keto. I mean who wouldn’t want to enjoy liberal amounts of avocados, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, eggs, ghee, and yes, even bacon?

So, if you are new to keto, read on to learn more about this high-fat, low-carb way of eating. We are going to break down exactly what you need so you can decide if keto is right for you.

What is the Keto Diet?

While we know that a hefty slab of butter is an acceptable part of the ketogenic diet, there’s much more you need to know about the keto diet. The ketogenic diet is focused on fueling up on healthy fats while significantly limiting your carbohydrate intake. You will get the majority of your daily calories from fat and protein with the goal of getting into a state of ketosis.

What is Ketosis?

So, here’s another term you need to know about when it comes to going keto. Ketosis is what everyone talks about when following a ketogenic diet. Ketosis is what you are striving for when you significantly restrict your carbohydrate intake.

Your body gets into a state of ketosis when you restrict your carb intake, so your body uses stored fat for fuel. By doing this, you can literally train your body to become a fat burning machine, and once your body starts to rely on fat for its energy source, your body will start to produce ketones. These ketones can then be used as another source of energy.

The Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet & Ketosis

With so many people on the keto bandwagon, there has to be a number of benefits, right? As it turns out, there are quite a few reasons why someone may decide to give this diet a try.

  • Reduce Inflammation: The keto diet has been shown to help slash inflammation thought to be due to the fact that there is less free radical production when the body uses ketones for energy vs glucose.
  • Lose Weight: Legit the most talked about benefit of the ketogenic diet is its ability to help assist with weight loss. Many people go keto to help train their body to use fat for fuel vs carbs. When you use stored fat for fuel, you are helping your body burn fat and boost energy at the same time. It’s a total win, win situation and the most common reasons people give the keto diet a try.
  • Combat Brain Fog: Do you feel like you’re walking around in a fog, and have a hard time focusing as the day goes on? If so, the keto diet may be super beneficial for you. The keto diet has been known to help support improved mental clarity which is linked to a reduction in inflammation, and a reduction in the sugar you consume each day. So, if you rely on endless cups of coffee to get you through the day, it may be a dietary change that does the trick to help sustain energy and help reduce that nagging brain fog.
  • Kick Sugar Cravings to the Curb: Sugar cravings are something we all experience at some point or another, and some of us definitely struggle with this more than others. However, real talk. The more sugar you eat, the more you are going to crave. It all has to do with that reward system in your brain that gives you a “high” after you eat that donut or bowl of ice cream. But, it’s once that sugar high wears off that you experience brain fog, out of control blood sugar levels, and irritability. Plus, more times than not you feel “hangry” every time you are looking for a sugar fix. It’s a vicious cycle, and something the keto diet can help you kick. When you cut sugar out of your diet, and get over the keto-flu hump, you will be well on your way to kicking those sugar cravings curbside for good.

So How do You Get Started?

Committed to trying the keto diet? Here’s are the quick facts you need to know to get started.

  • Limit your carbs to 20-50 grams per day.
  • Completely avoid candy, soda, fruit juice, and any processed and packaged food products.
  • Limit your consumption of fruits, starchy vegetables, and grains. Stick to the 20-50 grams of carbs per day mark when it comes to adding these foods to your diet.
  • The classic keto diet consists of consuming 75% of your calories from fat, 20% from protein, and 5% from carbs. You can calculate your ideal daily macro intake by using this keto calculator. Everyone’s ranges will vary slightly. The important part is that your fats are high and your carbs are low!
  • The keto diet isn’t an invitation to eat processed and damaged fats. Instead, it’s ideal to eat plenty of nutrient-dense fats like coconut, olive oil, avocados, whole eggs, wild-caught salmon, and ghee. And yes, you can eat bacon and butter, if you stick to high-quality options. Butter should be grass-fed, and bacon should be nitrate-free and organic when possible.
  • For optimal results, focus on as many whole foods as possible, and avoid artificial sweeteners.
  • Focus on a whole body approach for better results by getting enough sleep, reducing stress, and exercising daily. Try pairing the keto diet with some HIIT FitOn workouts for optimal fat burning.

Let’s Talk Side Effects

If being able to load up on healthy fats all day, and still shed weight sounds too good to be true, it’s time for a serious chat about one very real thing you need to watch out for when starting the keto diet. It’s the dreaded keto-flu and something that so many people who go keto experience at some point. The keto-flu makes you feel like you would do anything for a bagel and cream cheese or a slice of pizza. The cravings can be intense, and can even make you want to quit the keto diet before it had a chance to make you feel better! With keto, you often have to feel worse before you start to feel your best.

So, why does this far too well-known keto-flu occur? It happens when you first start a high-fat and extremely low carb diet. And, if we’re being honest, it can make you feel like total crap (we’re talking nausea, headache, irritability,) it’s no fun, but it’s temporary. The keto-flu happens as your body gets used to its new fuel source.

To help you get past this initial hump, you can sip on bone broth, stay super hydrated, get extra sleep (a total excuse to sleep in,) and get your body moving even just 15-minutes per day.

If you experience the keto-flu, remind yourself that it’s temporary, and once you are on the other side of it, it will just be a distant memory.

Should You Try It?

Wondering if you should give the keto diet a try? There may be a few reasons someone may go keto. Weight loss is definitely the number one reason, but some people go keto to help support memory, reducing inflammation, and support better energy levels.

However, there are also some cases where the keto diet isn’t advised such as during pregnancy, if you are breastfeeding, or if you are chronically ill or underweight. As a general rule of thumb, just talk to your doctor before making any big changes to your diet, and of course, always listen to your body; It will tell you exactly what you need to know if you tune into how your body is reacting.

Plus, if you do start the keto diet, know that you don’t have to be so strict long-term. You can do the traditional keto diet for a few months, and then try out carb-cycling a couple of days per week to give your body a carbohydrate boost on carb-cycling days.

The Bottom Line

Many people claim that they start the keto diet in hopes of shedding some excess weight, only to stay on the keto diet long term after realizing just how great it makes them feel. If you are in need of a health reboot and want an excuse to eat all the avocados, keto may be the ideal option for you! Ready to dive into the keto world? Whip out your grocery list and write out these keto essentials to pick up when you are at the grocery store this week.

  • Grass-fed butter
  • Ghee
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Avocados
  • Wild caught salmon
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Eggs
  • Nuts & seeds
  • Herbs & spices
  • Full-fat unsweetened yogurt
  • High-quality cheese
  • Avocado-based mayo
  • Coffee & tea