How to Start A Keto Lifestyle
Understanding the Keto Diet
I hate the word “diet”. A diet implies there is an end. It implies it is not maintainable. I prefer to call keto a “lifestyle” because that is what it is to me and I firmly believe that once you experience the benefits, you will think of it as a lifestyle too! However, for the sake of simplicity, I do refer to it as a “diet” in this post.
(All words bold can be found in the glossary at the end of the page.)
The keto (short for ketogenic) diet is a way of eating that will get your body into ketosis, a metabolic state where your body is burning fat as its main source of energy.
Most people in the modern Western world rely on glucose (carbohydrates) for energy. The problem with this is it is burned through quickly causing your energy to crash and you to crave more carbs. When you are in ketosis, your body can tap into your fat stores, meaning your energy is consistent throughout the day.
Ketosis is a normal bodily function, without it, our ancestors wouldn't have survived and we wouldn't be here today. The modern Western diet consist of more carbohydrates than we have ever eaten throughout history. This means most people are stuck in a carb dependency cycle where they have to keep eating every couple of hours.
Keto Diet Benefits
Following a keto diet has been proven to have numerous benefits such as:
improved brain function and memory
improved insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation
If you are looking to lose weight, reverse type 2 diabetes or gain mental clarity, a keto diet might be for you!
Getting into ketosis is dependent on one thing: restricting carbohydrates. When your body doesn't have glucose to burn, it starts turning fat into ketones for energy. Generally, you want to keep your net carbs below 20g.
It is important to eat a lot of fat. Fat is going to be what satiate you and keeps you full. However, there is no number you should aim for. Eat enough that you are not hungry. If you are hungry, you need more fat.
Protein is important to keep your body functioning properly. Not getting enough can result in symptoms such as hair loss and dry skin. You should make sure you are hitting your protein goal each day.
In general, your macros should look something like this:
This ratio can vary a bit depending on things such as your activity level and metabolic health.
What to Eat
Foods you want to eat:
healthy fats and oils (more on this in a second)
quality meat and animal products
low starch vegetables
low sugar fruit
nuts and seeds
Foods you want to avoid:
wheat and grains
sugar (natural or not)
high sugar fruit
Meat and animal products are nutrient dense and should be the bulk of your meals. Vegetables and low sugar fruit are good to accompany, but shouldn’t make up most of your plate.
Good Fats vs Bad Fats
Understanding that not all fats are created equal is critical for your health. Some examples of healthy fats are:
Some examples of unhealthy fats are:
vegetable oil (canola, sunflower, grapeseed, rice bran, soybean and corn oil)
(Download full shopping list here.)
The Keto Flu and Side Effects
The first time you get into ketosis, you may experience what is known as the “Keto Flu”. Symptoms include: headaches, fatigue and digestive issues. Some people get it pretty bad, while others do not experience it at all.
Symptoms can be minimized or even avoided entirely by following these steps:
Drink more water. Your body retains less water when carbohydrates are low, meaning you need to drink more.
Keep electrolytes up. As with water, your body excretes sodium, potassium and magnesium more quickly so you may need to supplement.
Use exogenous ketones. These are ketones you ingest that can help make the transition easier.
Usually, the “flu” only lasts a day or two, but it can be shorter or longer depending on your metabolic history. Stick it out! This is the worst part and you will come out on the other side feeling so much better!
It may seem overwhelming at first, but I promise you it is easy once your wrap your head around it. Once you have experienced the benefits of a ketogenic diet, you will not want to go back to being a sugar burner!
For more keto resources and free downloads, click here.
To see my recommended keto products, click here.
Carbohydrates (Carbs): One of the three macronutrient categories. Foods high in carbs are things such as grains, potatoes and candy.
Electrolytes: In terms of nutrition, the main ones you need to know are magnesium, potassium, sodium and calcium. These are essential for good health.
Fat: One of the three macronutrient categories. Foods high in fat are things such as eggs, oils and cheeses. Also refers to stored body fat.
Glucose: A simple sugar that is a quick energy source of the body. It may provide quick energy, but the energy spike is short lived and leaves you with cravings on the comedown.
Grass-fed: The (cow) was fed it’s natural diet of grass. Conventional cattle are fed grains because it is cheaper, but it comes at a cost to our health.
Ketogenic (Keto): A normal metabolic process where the body does not have enough glucose for energy, so it burns stored fats instead.
Ketones (Ketone Bodies): When fats are broken down for energy, ketones are formed. They will appear in the blood and urine.
Ketosis: A metabolic state characterized by raised levels of ketones in the blood.
Macronutrients (Macros): These are energy-providing substances. The three main ones are fat, protein and carbohydrates. Fat and protein are essential, whereas carbohydrates are not.
Net Carbs: Net carbs are calculated when you subtract fiber and sugar alcohol from total carbs.
Protein: One of the three macronutrient categories. Foods high in protein are meat, eggs and fish.
Total Carbs: The total number of carbohydrates in a food (including fiber and sugar alcohol).
Vegetable Oil: An oil derived from plants that is not released naturally. Oils that fall under this category are canola, soybean, grapedess, rice bran and sunflower. These oils are toxic to the body and have trans fat in them as a result of processing. Avoid at all costs.