Keto 101: How to start a keto diet – Are you ready to go keto?
Have you been wondering what the keto diet is?
Well, here you’ll find everything you need to know about keto, and everything you’ll need to begin your journey to health & wellness, and weight-loss.
You may also be pleased to know that you will feel energized from eating more foods that are both delicious and healthy.
So, are you ready to go keto? Then welcome to the Wiry Body’s Keto Resource. Your one-stop-shop for all things keto.
Here’s how to begin your keto diet and start feeling the healthiest you’ve ever felt in your life.
This site will teach you everything you need to know about keto; that is, how to embark upon a new approach to dieting; one that high in fats, low in carbohydrates, and lavished with proteins.
You will also learn the health benefits of going keto (ketogenic diet), dieting do’s and don’ts, and how to stock your pantry.
You will also learn how to simplify your shopping habits, meal planning, and much more. This information will give you a headstart and ensure long-term success with your keto diet.
What is the keto diet and how does it work?
You’re probably already familiar with high-protein diets. Generally speaking, they allow you to lose weight by limiting your intake of complex carbs and sugars while increasing proteins. However, the term “keto” may be a new concept to you.
Technically speaking, “keto” is short for “ketosis.” it refers to the natural metabolic state the body attains when it begins to burn the body’s stored fats for energy instead of glucose. In a high-carb diet, the sugars from fruits and sweets, and starches from foods like pasta, bread, and grains breakdown into glucose. The body then uses this glucose for energy.
But if you eliminate or reduce the amount of glucose-producing food, the body will have to burn off its excess fat instead. As stated above, ketosis is the metabolic state in which the body begins to convert fat stores into energy.
Once this process begins, naturally-occurring acids called ketones begin to buildup in the body. The body then begins to burn fat instead of sugars, resulting in weight-loss and improved overall health, which is the purpose of going keto.
By substituting hearty fats and healthy proteins for carbs and sugars your body can reach a state of ketosis, converting fat into energy. You can still enjoy eating foods like fish, meat, poultry, eggs, cheese, butter and a whole host of other delicious foods and still lose weight.
Keto is not just another fad diet
Low-carb diets may seem like a new idea, but the keto diet has been around for a century. Originally conceived as a way to combat epilepsy in children in the 1920’s, researchers not only noticed an improvement in behavior, but a lessening in the severity of seizures as well.
Over time, this method evolved into several different forms, for treating high cholesterol, controlling blood sugar and high blood pressure, and for boosting energy and weight-loss.
So how do I go keto?
As with any diet or exercise regimen, it is always a good idea to check with your doctor before proceeding. You should also know that individual results may vary. But once you have decided that the keto diet is right for you, the first step would be to remove all processed foods from your diet.
Going keto means streamlining your food choices, and their ingredients. Processed foods are defined as any food that has changed being consumed. This means removing any foods that have been frozen, canned, fortified or cooked are classified as processed foods.
This means removing chips, cookies, refined oils, imitation, dietary, and fast-foods from your diet. It is also a good idea to purchase only high-end meats–no more beef and poultry from factory farms.
Once you’ve gotten used to the idea of preparing your meals from whole foods, you’ll notice that grocery shopping will have become much simpler, and cooking less demanding. It’s not that you will becoming less food, you will be consuming simpler foods–foods that have not been processed.
The keto diet is not about counting calories; you may be consuming more calories than you were before. But they will be in the form of healthy fats, nuts, cheese, whole dairy products, and high-quality red meats.
An example would be where you used to have lasagna for dinner–loaded down with layers of starchy pasta, sugary tomato sauce, and only a smattering of meat–you will now be eating delicious steak, served with asparagus and zucchini sauteed in coconut oil, with a nice bok choy and bacon salad. Your meals will also include beef, chicken, pork, and bacon raised on real farms. Also eggs, nuts, and cheeses, along with hearty, leafy greens. Low-fat diets will no longer interest you. Your body needs to burn fats for you to lose weight.
Why go keto?
If you are one of those who has bounced from one diet to another over the years, consuming foods labeled “diet” or “low-fat” or “lite” yet never saw any results, then the keto diet is right for you. If you are one of those who constantly struggle with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, celiac disease, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or you just have low energy, then the keto diet may be just the solution you’ve been searching for.
Keto Myths: What keto is not
Myth number 1: Keto dieters can only eat meat
A lot of people erroneously assume keto is a meat-only diet–just eating meat all the time. You will indeed be consuming more healthy proteins, and fewer carbs, keto can be more accurately described as the “fat-burning” diet.
This is because you will be consuming more fats than you’re used to. Fats will make up 75% of your new diet, with protein making up roughly 15-20 percent. For you, fat is fuel!
The fat you consume now will come from foods like butter, bacon, high-fat cream, coconut and other oils, salad dressings, cheese, and full-fat yogurt. Protein will become secondary and only necessary for maintaining the ketosis and burning the fat.
Myth number 2: Keto dieters don’t eat vegetables
Healthy fats will indeed make up 75% of the caloric intake of your new diet, with proteins contributing another 15-20 percent, so the remaining 5% must come from somewhere else; that leaves carbs to make up the difference.
But what type of carbs? Well, the obvious answer is vegetables. It is preferable to avoid starchy vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and corn, you may eat as many leafy greens, like spinach, kale, lettuce, chard, and cabbage, as you like.
Also, hearty vegetables like cauliflower, zucchini, asparagus, spaghetti squash are good choices. Now, some foods, like full-fat yogurts, will have small amounts of carbs, the majority of carbs you consume will come from healthy vegetables.
With your new diet, you might begin your day with a healthy, green smoothie, rich in antioxidants and fiber, and fresh, farm-raised fried eggs. For lunch, why not match a leafy-green salad, made up of olives, avocado, and blue cheese, with some grilled salmon.
Or stir fry some asparagus and zucchini in coconut oil and serve it with grilled skirt steak. Your meals will now be balanced, heartier and healthier. And the high-fiber vegetables you consume are now an important part of your overall health.
Myth number 3: Keto dieters can’t have desserts
Now, it is true that sugary foods, like cane syrup, jellies, honey, agave, maple syrup, etc., will no longer occupy a major part of your diet like before, some natural sweeteners will have little or no impact on your blood sugar or achieve your ketosis milestones.
Natural sweeteners like erythritol and monk fruit are acceptable, as well as cocoa, carob powders, and berries. Tossing a fist full of berries into a green smoothie is a healthy way to fortify your breakfast. If you must have dessert after dinner, try adding some berries to some fresh homemade whipped cream sweetened with stevia for a unique experience.
The keto food pyramid: What to eat and drink while on keto
What can I eat?
The best way to categorize foods on the keto diet is to visualize them as colors on a traffic light–red, green and yellow. Feel free to consume as much of these green light foods as you wish. Red light foods, on the other hand, may prevent you from reaching ketosis and should be avoided entirely. Yellow light foods should be consumed sparingly so as not to impede you from reaching maintaining ketosis.
Use the following keto diet template as a guide:
Green Light: Enjoy Freely
- Healthy oils: these include coconut, avocado, macadamia, olive, red palm, sesame, fish, nut and seed oils.
- Any other healthy oils
- Lard, bacon fat, tallow, duck, chicken, and goose fats
- Butte, clarified butter, ghee, polyunsaturated omega 3s (better if derived from fish and other seafood).
- High-fat content foods like olives, macadamia nuts, and avocados
Grain-fed meats like beef, lamb, goat, venison, pork, chicken, hen turkey, wild-caught fish, and seafood.
- Non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, kale, kohlrabi, radishes, celery, asparagus, cucumber, and summer squash (zucchini, spaghetti squash, etc.)
- Condiments: mayo, mustard, pesto, pickles and other fermented foods (kimchi, sauerkraut, etc.)
Yellow light: Eat in moderation
- Vegetables: Cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, fennel, nori, kombu, okra, bean sprouts, sugar snap peas, wax beans, artichokes, and water chestnuts.
- Nightshades: Mushrooms, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers
- Root vegetables: Leeks, onions, garlic, pumpkin squash, celery root, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes.
- Grain-fed and factory-farmed foods: Meats, dairy, eggs
- Fruits: Berries, coconuts, rhubarb, watermelon, cantaloupe, melons, dried fruits, citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit, tangerines), pitted fruits (peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries, etc.) apples, kiwi, pears, and figs.
- Nuts and seeds
Red light: eliminate from the diet completely
- Processed foods: anything containing carrageenan, MSGs, sulfites
- Sugary foods and sweets: Table syrup, cane syrup, corn syrup, agave syrup, maple syrup, soft drinks (regular or diet), diet foods and artificial sweeteners (including those classified as low, or zero-calorie)
- Grains: Wheat, barley, rice, buckwheat, rye, corn, millet, quinoa, bulgar, pasta, bread, pizza crusts.
- Factory farm-raised foods: Poultry and pork
- High sugar fruits and juices: Bananas, papayas, mangoes, pineapples, tangerines, grapes, dried fruit (dates and raisins).
The accepted rate for how many carbs you may consume per day on the keto diet is 20 grams. However, that number may vary depending on your results, or how many you can tolerate before it prevents you from attaining ketosis.
It is also possible to calculate the net carbs you consume. The net carbs are the number of grams minus the grams of fiber. And although fiber is a carb, your body doesn’t process fiber, so grams of fiber are not counted as carbs. Fiber is a necessary ingredient for your overall health. It aids in digestion and helps keep you regular.
Some other factors that may determine your carb limit are physical activity, body fat index, and your ultimate weight goal.
Can I drink alcohol while on keto?
You can drink alcohol while on keto, but you must be aware of the number of carbs you consume while doing so. Just one Bud Light has 6.6 grams, while a single Samuel Adams Boston Lager has 18.8 grams of carbs. If you must drink beer, you might want to deny yourself of some others elsewhere.
A typical glass of wine has around 4 grams of carbs, while hard liquor has 0. With hard liquor, the carbs usually come in the form of mixers. A single Gin and tonic contains 16 grams of carbs, while Vodka with lime and soda water doesn’t have any. The same goes for tequila, brandy, and whiskey. So having your drinks straight is better.
Try to avoid any drinks that contain a lot of sugar. Drinks like wine coolers or alcohol pop like Smirnoff Ice will usually contain a day’s worth of carbs in a single bottle.
How will I know when I have reached ketosis?
When your body begins to burn fat as a source of energy instead of sugars, you will have entered the metabolic state of ketosis. The burning of these fats causes ketones to build up in the body. These ketones are used as the body’s primary energy source instead of sugar. Attaining this state is the goal of the keto diet.
Ketosis can manifest itself in several different ways; namely, the level of ketones in your blood, urine, and breath.
One of the byproducts produced by the release of ketone in the body is acetone. Acetone can be detected in both the urine and breath, which causes your breath to take on an acrid smell, especially at the beginning of the keto diet. A special breathalyzer is used to measure the amount of acetone in your breath. The smell is temporary and can be treated with regular sugar-free gum.
Ketones in the urine can be detected using specialized testing strips. They are inexpensive and can be purchased at any pharmacy (along with Ketonix for the breath). They are easy to use and are an easy and convenient way to measure ketones in the body.
A special kit for measuring ketones in the blood can also be purchased at any pharmacy. However, this test requires a pinprick to obtain a drop of blood for the test strip. While this is the most accurate testing method, it is also the most expensive. A better option would be the urine test strips.
Are there any side effects I should be aware of?
Sometimes making an abrupt change in your diet can have negative results. If you notice something different after starting the keto diet, there are some adjustments you can make to correct the problem.
Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, occurs when glycemic levels in the blood drop below normal. Signs of hypoglycemia vary from person to person. Some signs that you may be hypoglycemic are sweating, feeling hungry, dizziness or lightheadedness, paleness, irritability, lack of concentration, and weakness.
To avoid this negative effect when beginning the keto diet, drink lots of fluids and eat regularly. Consuming high-protein broths are also recommended.
The most common side effect of switching to the keto diet is the keto flu. Some symptoms include runny nose, headaches, and nausea. Again, drink plenty of fluids and eat regularly and that should remedy the problem.
Sugar is an addictive substance and your body knows when it is missing. Your brain has been accustomed to the regular sugar fixes you use to give it and, as a reward, secrets a hormone called dopamine to make you feel good.
When you suddenly eliminate these sugars, your body has ways of letting you know it is not pleased. The withdrawals can be intense. However, eating regularly to make sure your blood sugar level is normal can help alleviate or avoid this discomfort.
Another delicious way to treat sugar cravings is sugar-free Skinny Me Chocolate. It is made from all-natural Belgium chocolate. It could very well become your favorite snack!
It is normal to feel a little weak at the beginning of the keto diet. Hypoglycemia is the usual culprit, but it could be your body adjusting to the new way of eating. This is just a temporary phase and should pass quickly. You will soon find that you have even more energy on the keto diet than you did before.
Changes in sleeping habits
As your body adjusts to the new energy source, cortisol levels in the blood tend to fluctuate. This affects melatonin production in the body. And since melatonin is a sleep hormone you may find your sleep patterns disrupted. To avoid this unwanted side effect, supplement your diet with herbal adaptogens.
Changes in bladder and bowel habits
Another side effect to the keto diet changes in your bathroom habits. Fluctuating insulin levels is the primary culprit. When insulin levels drop, the liver processes glycogen, with the result that excess salts are released into the urine. As the sodium is released, crucial electrolytes are also lost.
Getting rid of excess water weight is always a plus, but make sure you stay hydrated and replace the salt you’ve lost. This can be done by consuming electrolyte drinks or adding more salt to your diet.
In addition to more frequent urination, you may become constipated more often. This is a sign that something is amiss. Either you’re not drinking enough fluids, not taking your mineral supplements, or not getting enough fiber. While the keto diet is high in fat protein, you must supplement that with healthy carbs from vegetables.
Is the keto diet permanent?
A diet should never be viewed as temporary. Such a position could land you a diet merry-go-round. Not to mention the mental anguish from never achieving your goal. The keto diet requires you to be committed to making a lifestyle change.
Vacillating between a healthy diet one day and a sugary one the next is unhealthy. Moving from one extreme to another like that could have adverse health effects.
Therefore, before you decide to go keto, be ready to commit to a permanent lifestyle change; that you’re finally free yourself from your addiction to carbs and sugary snacks. Once you begin the keto diet, however, the results will be so immediate, you won’t want to go back.
The main benefit from the keto diet is an overall improvement to your health, energy and weight loss. Once you have reached your goal, it may be possible to add more healthy carbs to your diet. They should come in the form of hearty fruits and vegetables though.
It is up to you to find the right balance for obtaining and maintaining your success. Then you can enjoy the experience of eating delicious, healthy meals.
A keto success story
Suzy is a healthy, energetic young woman with a passion for writing. However, she was not always this way.
For years struggled with her weight and felt overwhelmed by low self-esteem and hopelessness that came with it.
“I was a spry, happy young girl until I reached puberty,” Suzy told us. “Then the unimaginable happened. My parents, whom I love dearly, got a divorce and I was devastated. My father won custody of me and my sister and I felt as if my whole world had collapsed. The experience was so painful and, even though my sister was there, I felt so alone that I turned to food for comfort.”
As could be expected from someone so young, the food she turned to had little nutritional value. Her father wasn’t a wealthy man, so most of their dinner excursions were trips to fast-food restaurants, like McDonald’s and Burger King.
“I also remember drinking a lot of carbonated beverages during that time. They became a substitute for water for me,” she said, regrettably.
“The amazing thing was, my father and my sister, ate the same junk that I did and, yet, they didn’t gain any weight. By the time I reached the 8th or 9th grade, I had blown up like a balloon,” she continued. “It was a really difficult time for me because not only was I taller than most of the other girls, I was a lot heavier. My friends looked so attractive being so thin and I didn’t look like any of them. It was depressing at that age as you can imagine. I stuck out like a sore thumb and, to make matters worse, the other kids began to pick at me.”
Suzy’s father was aware of her struggles and tried to cheer her up by giving her even more food. For example, every time Suzy made good grades he would celebrate by taking her somewhere like Baskin Robbins for a decadent banana split. “Only the best for my girl,” he’d say.
By the time Suzy reached adulthood, she’d ballooned up to 300 lbs. “Something has to be done,” she remembers thinking.
Then one day while participating in an online chat group for obese people, someone mentioned the keto diet. Suzy had never heard of it before. Then the person posted some before-and-after photos and Suzy was completely blown away.
“I remember thinking, wow! her before picture was about the same size as I am now,” she said.
“Something clicked in me at that point,” she remembered, “and I knew I had to act.”
Suzy immediately signed up for a keto plan that specifically fit her situation. Eating healthy has become a way of life for her and sugary and high-carb foods went out the window.
“I do feel that keto gave me my life back,” Suzy beamed. “I am so happy now and I feel so energetic. Before the only thing I focused on was food with no consideration of what I put in my body. Now, it feels so good not to be focusing on food all the time. Now I’m free to focus on other things and not worry about what everybody else thinks about me. Freedom is bliss!”
Are you ready?
Beginning a new diet can be hard so we recommend trying the ketogenic diet for four weeks at first. Four weeks should be enough time for you to gauge whether or not keto is for you without severely changing your lifestyle. You can do it individually, or get the Ultimate Keto Diet Guide & 28 Day Challenge (click here & learn more!). It is chocked full of facts, tested recipes and meal plans just for you.
Keto 101: How to start your keto diet