I wanted to come up a ketogenic diet for beginners guide to try and make things just a bit easier for people who are just starting their journey . I know how hard it can be to get your head around trying to figure out how to make a keto diet work.
Also see- The Art and Science of A LOW Carb Diet
Trying to calculate the macronutrient percentages and figuring out what that actually looks in in meals can also be a bit confusing. You want to set yourself up for success and this keto diet starters guide can help.
What Is A Ketogenic Diet?
A ketogenic diet or keto diet is a very low-carb diet, which turns the body into a fat-burning machine. It has many potential benefits for weight loss, health and performance.
There is an incredible amount of science behind how a ketogenic diet works and what is going on in your body to help you lose body fat. I will go into a little bit of that and I will post links to articles for those that want to dive into some keto diet science a bit more.
How Does A Ketogenic Diet Work?
On a Standard American Diet(SAD) carbohydrate intake is high (about 40-60% of calories) while fat intake, and especially saturated fat, is limited. Diets high in carbohydrate have the effect of elevating blood sugar and a hormone called insulin over time.
This way of eating has been rammed down our throats(pun intended) for many years now as being the “healthy” way to eat. It isn’t working for a lot of people. My own family doctor now believes that the “traditional” way of eating- high carb/low fat- is just flat out wrong. He actually follows a ketogenic diet himself.
The “keto” in a ketogenic diet comes from the fact that it makes the body produce small fuel molecules called “ketones”. This is an alternative fuel for the body, used when blood sugar (glucose) is in short supply.
Ketones are produced if you eat very few carbs (that are quickly broken down into blood sugar) and only moderate amounts of protein (excess protein can also be converted to blood sugar).
Ketones are produced in the liver, from fat. They are then used as fuel throughout the body, including the brain. The brain is a hungry organ that consumes lots of energy every day, and it can’t run on fat directly. It can only run on glucose… or ketones.
On a ketogenic diet your entire body switches its fuel supply to run almost entirely on fat. Insulin levels become very low and fat burning increases dramatically. It becomes easy to access your fat stores to burn them off. This is obviously great if you’re trying to lose weight, but there are also other less obvious benefits, like for example less hunger and a steady supply of energy.
Also see– 7 Day Ketogenic Diet Meal Plan(PDF)
When you follow a typical Western diet- high carb/lots of refined sugar and processed foods- blood sugar and insulin levels get all out of whack and most people develop a host of different debilitating health conditions such as:
A Ketogenic diet is pretty much the polar opposite of the SAD and actually helps to improve those conditions. I have also noticed more energy, more mental clarity and less joint pain.
The other huge benefit of following a ketogenic diet that I have seen is I have no food cravings at. In the past I almost couldn’t stop myself from wanting to eat sugar and junk food all the time. That is no longer happening at all.
What Are Macronutrients?
With a keto diet plan you are going to keep carbohydrate intake to about 5% of total calories per day. Protein intake is moderate, at about 20% of total calories and fat is very high. Dietary fat will make up 70-75% of your total calories.
- Carbs– 4-5% of daily calories
- Protein– 20% of daily calories
- Fats- 75% of daily calories
“How the hell can I eat so much fat and lose weight??!!” This is a common question. Following a ketogenic diet as a way of eating has some powerful and beneficial metabolic effects on the human body, in part because it lowers blood sugar and insulin levels.
When you reduce carbohydrate intake and instead eat more fat and protein, it results in a switch in metabolic pathways from using sugar as a primary fuel to burning fat as fuel instead. It turns your body into a fat burning machine.
How do I know a keto diet eating plan works? From September 2016 to January 1, 2017 I have lost 40+ pounds by following a ketogenic diet. And I am still losing.
Read about it here– How I Have Lost 40 Pounds in 4 Months Using a Ketogenic Diet
There is a crazy amount of science about insulin and how it works in your body. Here is a good article if you want an explanation of this very important hormone and why we get fat.
“I Need Help Figuring Out My Macronutrient Percentages!”
Trying to figure out your macronutrient(carbs, protein and fats) percentages can be overwhelming. There are so many numbers coming at you and you just want to get started.
I will give you my numbers and explain what they mean and then send you to some ketogenic calculators that will help you get going with your new healthy eating plan.
Here are my numbers.
I am aiming for around
2100 calories per day.(now modified to around 1600-1700 calories per day since I have lost weight)
Carbs are 5% which equals 105 calories which= 26g of carbs
Protein is 20% which equals 420 calories which= 105g of protein
Fat is 75% which equals 1575 calories which = 175g of fat
*One gram of carbs has 4 calories. One gram of protein has 4 calories and one gram of fat has 9 calories.
Here are 3 very good ketogenic calculators. Just plug in your health information and the calculators will pretty do the rest for you. If you have any problems with figuring any of this stuff out just send me a message in the comments or via Facebook.
What Do You Eat on a Ketogenic Diet?
Wow, you have made it this far with the ketogenic diet for beginners. Good for you. And you have even managed to come up with how many grams of fat, protein and carbohydrates you need to be eating. Well done!
Now comes the fun part. Eating!
What do you eat on a ketogenic diet and how do you know how many grams of each macro you are consuming?
The “easiest” way to do this is to set up a free account with MyFitnessPal. This app is both web based and/or you can use it with your phone. I cannot stress the importance of tracking what you eat. Doing this has made all the difference in the world for me. Once you get your account set up you just enter the food you eat and the app calculates your total consumption for each macro and your total calories. There is also a “bar code scanner” as part of the app. You use your phone to “scan” the bar code of the food you are eating and it enters it into your daily eating plan. Genius!
A Keto Grocery List
So what do you buy when you head out to get some food? Here is a keto grocery list of foods to choose from to get started on the ketogenic diet for beginners.
- Ground beef
- Ribs (Pork or Beef)
- Roasts (Pork or Beef)
- Pork Loin, Chops, or Steaks
- Chicken (breasts, thighs, wings)
- Deli cold cuts
- Heavy cream
- Sour cream
- Cream cheese
- Bell peppers
- Romaine lettuce
- Artichoke hearts
- Bok Choy
*fruits in strict moderation as they are very high in sugar
NUTS AND SEEDS
- Soy sauce
- Hot sauce
- Lemon juice
- Lime juice
- Almond Meal/Almond Flour
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Pork rinds
- Beef jerky
Is a Ketogenic Diet Safe? That’s A Lot of Fat
It seems like a lot of fat but they are healthy fats that your body actually needs to function properly. Even saturated fat is not the devil it has been made out to be! What you are not doing is consuming a lot of unhealthy fat in combination with huge amounts of high sugar/high carbohydrate foods. Think pizza, ice cream, Kentucky Fried Chicken and other fast foods. Here is a scientific study that helps show a ketogenic diet is healthier AND more effective than low fat dieting. And here is another one.
A Word on Salt and Electrolytes
Do not omit essential electrolytes: Sodium (Na+), Chloride (Cl-), Potassium (K+), Magnesium (Mg++), Calcium (Ca++), Phosphate (HPO4–), Bicarbonate (HCO3-). Lack of electrolytes or more pointedly the bodies primary electrolyte sodium (aka Salt) is responsible for lethargy, brain fog and “keto flu”symptoms on low carb/high fat diets.
I definitely felt much better when I got my sodium, potassium and magnesium sorted out.
Hopefully this ketogenic diet for beginners guide will help a few people in getting started. Again, if you get confused send me a message in the comments or on Facebook and I will try to help you.
For the first time in my life I have actually had some serious weight loss success and it has been a ketogenic diet that has done it for me. I am convinced it can help you as well.
Be sure to download the Ketogenic Diet for Beginners PDF!
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“Change The Code. Change Your Life.”