Keto Diet for Beginners: Ultimate Guide 🥓

Keto Diet for Beginners.

What if I told you that it’s 100% realistic for you to lose weight without exercising?

Or that you can burn fat by just sitting in a chair and breathing?

Haha, yeah right says the voice in your head right now. Another fad diet that’s just going to waste my time and effort.

Well, if you’re that much of a skeptic then just eat cabbage water and chain yourself to the treadmill. We doubt that you want to do that though, since you’re here and reading this article.

Keto isn’t for everyone. You have to change your diet of course, and it’s not going to be easy but it’s much more fun than killing yourself at the gym.

It requires intense discipline and dedication. You must stick to the diet rigorously–one slip up and you’ll have to start all over again.

You can say goodbye to sugar.

But after a break from sugar you won’t want it again anyway, so also say goodbye to sugar cravings.

But you get to eat bacon.

Bacon with butter.

And you’ll never look or feel better!

A diet that encourages you to eat bacon and butter? That sounds stupid goes that voice in your head again.

Well, if you think like that you’re about to be in for a rude awakening. It’s likely that your entire concept of healthy eating has been distorted by modern food marketing.

But we’ll get to that.

We’ll also get to why you should eat bacon and enjoy fatty meats without fear of getting fat around the belly.

Then we’ll explore how the keto diet affects the body and why it’s so dramatically effective at burning fat.

We’ve also got some cheap and easy recipes that anyone can follow, and lists of groceries if you’re too lazy to cook.

After that we’ll talk about the huge energy boosts keto can give you and how it can cure fatigue and make you leap out of bed every morning rather than dragging yourself half asleep.

And finally we’ll take a look at some other resources and products that will take your keto game to the next level.

Everything in this guide is supported by mainstream peer-reviewed scientific sources, which we explain and cite whenever necessary.

So without further ado, let’s get to the basics.

What is the keto diet and how does it work? ?

The ketogenic diet switches your body’s energy supply to burning fat instead of glucose, a state called ketosis.

Keto is the only diet capable of doing this. The Atkins diet is similar to the keto diet but it’s too high in carbs to put you deep in ketosis. That’s not to say the Atkins diet is bad–just think of it as a weaker form of keto.

Image result for atkins keto comparison
Courtesy of kissmyketo.com

Were you even aware that it’s possible to change your body’s energy supply? I wasn’t until I read up on keto.

If your body isn’t in ketosis, which is true for 99% of people, you’re in glycolysis instead–the state in which your body burns glucose for energy.

You have to burn one or the other, fat or glucose, to survive. The body burns glucose by default but if none is present then it switches to ketosis and burns fat instead.

The main sources of glucose are carbohydrates and protein. If you eat too much of one or the other or both then your body is simply burning excess energy to keep you going, rather than stored energy in your fat.

So all that running on the treadmill is for nothing if you simply consume too many carbs and protein–your body is just burning all that extra energy without even touching that belly fat.

It’s time to change that!

What are my daily macros on the keto diet? ?

Daily keto macros (macronutrients) should consist of 70-80% fat, 20-25% protein and 5-10% carbs, according to perfectketo.com.

Image result for keto diet breakdown
Courtesy of Perfectketo.com

We advise you use their calculator to work out your daily macros based on your goals and lifestyle. The result should be similar to the pie chart above.

Carbohydrates ?

The most important rule to stick to in the keto diet is whatever you do, try and avoid eating simple carbs.

Here are some examples of foods containing large amounts of simple carbs:

  • White bread
  • Potatoes
  • Pasta
  • Sugar
  • Chocolate
  • White rice

Yes, white bread and pasta are on the same list as sugar and chocolate! Were you even aware that those foods are bad for you? I wasn’t until I studied keto. Eye-opening stuff.

Because they are rich in simple carbs, these foods will provide a quick burst of energy and leave you feeling fatigued afterwards. However some studies argue that the so-called sugar rush is a placebo effect and that short-term fatigue is the only effect on energy that these foods produce.

Complex carbs, on the other hand, are encouraged by the keto diet. Here are some examples:

  • Brown rice
  • Brown bread
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Wholewheat pasta
  • Vegetable skins
  • Fibrous vegetables

Complex carbs are similar to their simple counterparts but take longer to digest and tend to be richer in fiber. The key difference from the perspective of a keto dieter is that complex carbs don’t spike your insulin as much as simple carbs because they produce a slower release of energy.

If building muscle is your goal then complex carbs should be an essential part of your diet. It’s very difficult to build muscle without consuming a substantial amount of them.

20g is a generous limit for daily carb intake while on keto but going as low as 10g will result in faster and more intense ketosis. It’s not recommended that you cut simple carbs out of your diet entirely because you will risk getting ‘keto flu’ symptoms which come from the shock of sudden low blood sugar.

The science behind the diet is relies on starving the body of carbs. If you eat more than 20g of carbs in a day then you will most likely kick yourself out of ketosis, and worse, spike your insulin levels.

Minimise your carb intake. If you can’t limit yourself to 20g carbs daily then you need to rethink your goals or choose another diet because keto isn’t for you.

Protein ?

Protein, like carbs, is a daily limit in the keto diet. You must calculate your daily protein limit and not exceed it or you risk breaking ketosis. If you haven’t already, calculate your daily protein intake with this calculator.

As a rule of thumb, you should restrict your daily protein intake to between 0.7 – 0.9 grams per pound ( or 1.5 – 2.0 grams per kg) of body weight, the higher range if you’re trying to build muscle.

Everyone knows that protein is essential to building muscle but it can also be converted to and stored as fat if consumed in excess. The body converts and stores some of the amino acids of excess protein as fat in a process called gluconeogenesis.

Basically too much protein has the same effects as eating too much carbs, but you can eat more protein on the keto diet because the daily limit is higher.

Healthline describes the consequences of eating too much protein in detail and also recommends these sources of protein:

  • grass-fed lean meats and pasture-raised poultry
  • wild fish
  • eggs from pastured hens
  • grass-fed and organic dairy
  • legumes
  • nuts
  • whole grains

Fat ?

Unlike carbs and protein, your daily fat intake is a variable rather than a goal. This means you should only consume as much fat as you need to stay sated.

Basically, if you’ve hit your protein and carb limit already in a day, eat fat to stop feeling hungry.

What? I have to eat fat to lose weight? That sounds stupid, how can that possibly work?

Fat doesn’t make you fat; the only thing the fat in your food has in common with the fat around your belly is the name.

Perhaps you’re still falling victim to the fat scare of the past couple of decades.

In the 1960s, several sugar companies commissioned a misleading report that demonised saturated fats as the main culprit for heart disease.

Saturated fats were the scapegoat of choice in the great fat scare.

Whilst eating too much saturated fats (or any other one thing) isn’t good for you, people went to the extreme and started abstaining entirely from eating fat.

Low fat alternatives to common foods fill supermarket shelves today but does anyone bother to check what they’ve replaced the fat with? There’s a good chance it’s sugar.

Fat is an essential part of any diet and with keto most of your calories are coming from fat.

A fantastic source of energy, fat is calorie-dense and eating too little of it will leave you feeling constantly fatigued and cold, particularly in a diet rich in simple carbs.

To explain what types of fats you should consume when doing keto, we need to break down the different types of fats: saturated, unsaturated and trans.


Saturated Fats

Without getting too deep into chemistry, saturated fats contain a high ratio of hydrogen to carbon. They are often solid at room temperature.

It’s simplest to think of solid or viscous fatty foods as being the richest in saturated fats:

  • cheese
  • butter
  • lard
  • coconut oil
  • palm oil
  • fish oil (omega 3)

These are the foods that were the scapegoat of the fat scare yet modern studies demonstrate there is no scientific link between the consumption of saturated fats and heart disease.


Unsaturated Fats

Unsaturated fats are formed of less dense particles than saturated fats and tend to be liquid at room temperature:

  • vegetable oils
  • olives
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • fish

Healthline recommends replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in your diet whenever possible to avoid type 2 diabetes and improve your cholesterol.

Fiber ?

You must eat fiber whether you’re doing keto or not. It ensures healthy bowel movements, shreds weight and and reduces blood sugar levels.

Although fibers are carbohydrates, you can subtract fiber when counting your daily carb intake because you don’t digest it. Fiber just goes in and comes out but does your body a lot of good on the way.


We can divide fiber into type types:

Fermentable fiber

Soluble and feeds bacteria in the digestive system. Mixes with water to form a viscous substance in the gut.

Non-fermentable fiber

Insoluble and doesn’t provide as much nutrients as fermentable fiber. Doesn’t mix with water very well and mostly passes through the digestive system intact.


Healthline recommends a daily fiber intake of 38g for men and 25g for women.

Another less mentioned benefit of fiber is it makes you feel full without affecting ketosis or increasing your calorie intake because you don’t digest it.

What are the best foods to eat on the keto diet? ?

Now that we’ve broken down and discussed macros in detail, you’re probably wondering what foods you should add to your grocery list.

Well, we’ve done the hard work for you and made a list of what we recommend as keto superfoods.

Avocado ?

Millennials love it, it’s the key ingredient of guacamole and, contrary to popular belief, it’s actually a fruit and not a vegetable.

If we had to pick one food that summarises the keto diet then avocado would be a no-brainer.

Avocados contain 9g of carbs per 100g of fruit, 7g of those carbs being fiber (don’t forget fiber doesn’t count to your daily carb limit). This means that per 100g of avocados that you eat, you are only digesting 2g of carbs.

Of each 15g of fat per 100g of fruit, 10g of that fat is monounsaturated. Monounsaturated fats are some of the best you can eat on keto because they improve your cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease.

Also the high fat content of avocados will keep you sated throughout the day.

The only negative things we can think of about avocados is cost and low protein. Depending on your location, avocados vary widely in price.

They also contain only 2g of protein per 100g of fruit, which isn’t necessarily a con because protein is a daily limit and you need to eat it in moderation to stay in ketosis. It just means that if you’re under your daily protein limit then you should seek more protein-rich alternatives.

Bacon ?

Bacon is often touted as staple food in the keto diet, even having books like Bacon and Butter: The Ultimate Ketogenic Diet Cookbook named after it.

What is it about bacon specifically that makes it so popular for keto dieters? Why bacon over other cuts of pork, or even other other cuts of beef, lamb or chicken?

Well the answer is that bacon is nothing special. Then why include it in your keto superfoods section, you ask.

Because you expect it to be here so here it is. The answer is that bacon is perfect food for keto, as well as most other cuts of pork, as well as beef, chicken and lamb.

Bacon holds a special place in our heats because it has reached a meme-like status on the internet. It has gained an unfair reputation as being a greasey, fattening indulgence rather than a key part of a healthy diet designed for weight loss.

The 1960s fat scare created by sugar companies is partially to blame for this. We need to reform and red-educate society of the merits of bacon and meat in general.

Perhaps the reason why bacon has become the de facto mascot of the keto diet is because it challenges people’s perception of it being an unhealthy food. A diet that recommends eating bacon seems controversial to many but scientifically it has no reason to be.

Each 100g of bacon contains 37g of protein and 42g of fat–both building blocks of the keto diet in large quantities.

Most of bacon’s fat is monounsaturated which is one of the healthiest kinds, proven to reduce cholesterol and risk of heart disease.

But we would like to point out once more that while bacon is great for keto, it’s not significantly any better than most other meats. Perhaps its main advantages are its flavor and cost.

We also forget to mention that while bacon sandwiches are delicious, don’t forget to use whole wheat bread instead of white bread for your next bacon sandwich.

Spinach ?

Spinach is probably the most obvious food on this keto superfoods list, and for good reasons.

Rich in nutrient and antioxidants, spinach is proven to prevent cancer, lower blood pressure and offers a whole host of other health benefits.

It’s difficult to discuss spinach without mentioning Popeye, of course. After all the cartoon is responsible for significantly boosting spinach sales and promoting its consumption in general.

A 2010 study even revealed how watching Popeye encourages kids to eat more spinach and other vegetables.

Whilst spinach is great for micronutrients, it’s not so great on the maconutrients side.

Here’s the macros for 100g of spinach:

  • Calories: 23
  • Water: 91%
  • Protein: 2.9 grams
  • Carbs: 3.6 grams
  • Sugar: 0.4 grams
  • Fiber: 2.2 grams
  • Fat: 0.4 grams

91% of spinach is water, for a start. The remaining 9% offers meager amounts of protein, carbs and fiber.

So the pop culture image of Popeye chugging gallons of spinach and getting bulging muscles isn’t grounded in science.

He would have been very lean and healthy from such a diet, but would have struggled to gain muscle with such a lack of protein and carbs.

Apart from the rich micros, the main selling point of spinach is that it’s cheap and filling. You can bulk out your meals efficiently with spinach and fight hunger without significantly raising your calorie intake.

Salmon ?

Of course, fish comes as no surprise to anyone researching keto superfoods. But what is it about salmon in particular that makes us recommend it over other fish.

The answer is two specific types of omega-3 oil that are only found in fish.

Salmon happens to be one of the richest sources of EPA and DHA, both of which are omega-3 fatty acids that greatly help fight cardiovascular diseases, joint pain, respiratory illnesses, ADHD, Alzheimer’s and even depression.

The other benefit that salmon offers over other types of fish is its high protein content of 20g per 100g of fish. Compared to chicken’s 27g of protein per 100g, salmon is only 7g behind and offers the precious omega-3 oils that chicken lacks.

What does a typical keto daily meal plan look like? ?

Healthline has created a simple, affordable and realistic one-week ketogenic diet plan:

Monday

  • Breakfast: Two eggs fried in pastured butter served with sauteed greens.
  • Lunch: A bunless grass-fed burger topped with cheese, mushrooms and avocado atop a bed of greens.
  • Dinner: Pork chops with green beans sauteed in coconut oil.

Tuesday

  • Breakfast: Mushroom omelet.
  • Lunch: Tuna salad with celery and tomato atop a bed of greens.
  • Dinner: Roast chicken with cream sauce and sauteed broccoli.

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: Bell pepper stuffed with cheese and eggs.
  • Lunch: Arugula salad with hard-boiled eggs, turkey, avocado and blue cheese.
  • Dinner: Grilled salmon with spinach sauteed in coconut oil.

Thursday

  • Breakfast: Full-fat yogurt topped with Keto granola.
  • Lunch: Steak bowl with cauliflower rice, cheese, herbs, avocado and salsa.
  • Dinner: Bison steak with cheesy broccoli.

Friday

  • Breakfast: Baked avocado egg boats.
  • Lunch: Caesar salad with chicken.
  • Dinner: Pork chops with vegetables.

Saturday

  • Breakfast: Cauliflower toast topped with cheese and avocado.
  • Lunch: Bunless salmon burgers topped with pesto.
  • Dinner: Meatballs served with zucchini noodles and parmesan cheese.

Sunday

  • Breakfast: Coconut milk chia pudding topped with coconut and walnuts.
  • Lunch: Cobb salad made with greens, hard-boiled eggs, avocado, cheese and turkey.
  • Dinner: Coconut chicken curry.

What happens to the body when in ketosis? ?

Ketosis is a biological state your body enters when it is producing higher than average levels of ketones.

Ketones are molecules produced by the liver in response to low levels of carbs in the diet, as well as fasting and prolonger, intense exercise.

When induced by deliberate changes in the diet, usually by eating less carbs, it’s called nutritional ketosis.

Ketosis is also an effective treatment for epilepsy and type-2 diabetes.

Being in ketosis is like flipping a switch; instead of your body burning glucose you’re burning fat instead. Most people are in glycolysis, the state of burning glucose for energy.

Why burn all that new fuel for energy when you can burn off your stored fat instead?

Much better!

What does it feel like to be in ketosis? ?

Ketosis feels amazing.

I used to get 8 hours of sleep every night, only to wake up every morning feeling like crap. I felt like I’d slept about 3 hours and looked like it too. Dark rings around my eyes like a panda.

I was frustrated because I couldn’t figure out what was the cause. I had a balanced diet and going to sleep any earlier would have been ridiculous. Plus any doctor will tell you that 8 hours of sleep is more than enough.

The problem was the diet.

Now every morning I spring out of bed without a single yawn, plus my eyes have no bags anymore.

Being in ketosis feels like switching on an extra battery in my body that I never new existed, I thought it was normal to feel tired all the time.

Since starting keto, I now wake up an hour earlier than usual to use the treadmill before work, something I couldn’t ever comprehend doing before.

How do I know when I’m in ketosis? ?

There are a number of ways you can determine whether you’re in ketosis or not. Once you’re familiar with the sensation of being in ketosis then you’ll know for sure whether you’re in it or not in future.

Ketone Test Strips ?

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Easy to use
  • No batteries

Cons

  • You have to pee on it
  • Not always clear result
  • Not as accurate as electronic instruments
  • Result takes time to show accurately
  • Difficult to maintain a record of results

Ketone Breath Analyzers ?️

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • More accurate than keto test strips
  • Immediate readings
  • Maintains record of results

Cons

  • Needs batteries
  • More expensive than test strips
  • Not as accurate as ketone blood analyzers

Ketone Blood Analyzers ?

Pros

  • The most accurate ketone test
  • Immediate readings
  • Maintain record of results

Cons

  • Needs batteries
  • Requires blood samples

Why is insulin bad for keto? ?

What’s the deal with insulin anyway? It’s not necessarily a bad thing to have higher insulin levels but with the specific goal of weight loss via the ketogenic diet in mind, insulin production is something you want to minimise.

Can I have a cheat day on the keto diet? ?

The short answer to whether you can have a keto diet cheat day or not is simple: no.

If you consume too many carbs in a day you will kick yourself out of ketosis and spike your insulin.

However if you’ve been in ketosis for a long time you will have more resistance to carbs and can get away with eating more.

We can’t recommend how many carbs you can get away with but you can measure your ketone levels and experiment with eating more carbs using a ketone test kit.

Is the keto diet safe during pregnancy? ?

The keto diet and pregnancy is a controversial relationship. To remain on the safe side we discourage it; anything that may harm the development of your baby is simply not worth the risk.

“A ketogenic diet during gestation […] is associated with organ dysfunction and potentially behavioral changes in postnatal life,” according to the study, published in BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth.

As for the keto diet post-pregnancy, one study has demonstrated that it has little impact on the nutritional value of breast milk.

The same source states that babies are naturally born in ketosis, which suggests that we’ve evolved to consume ketogenic diets rather than the carb-heavy ones we’ve cultivated as we’ve moved on from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

So don’t do keto when pregnant but as soon as you’ve had your baby, go nuts.

Does the keto diet cause hair loss? ?‍?

When properly followed the keto diet doesn’t cause hair loss.

Reasons why someone may lose hair on the keto diet are that their diet is causing them stress. Stress leads to lack of sleep and a number of other symptoms that are tied to hair loss. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

Following the keto diet improperly can also lead to hair loss if you eat insufficient protein. Malnourishment is a direct cause of hair loss.

So, no the keto diet doesn’t cause hair loss but if you don’t follow it correctly then you may lose hair from stress or malnourishment.

Keto Diet Before and After Photos ?

To keep you motivated we’ve included some keto diet before and after photos below. They are all genuine and we’ve added sources to prove it.

Can you drink alcohol when on the keto diet? ?

The keto diet and alcohol is another controversial relationship. The short answer is, yes, you can drink alcohol when doing keto.

Here’s a table of keto-friendly alcoholic beverages and carb content (source):

Type of alcohol Serving size Carb content
Rum 1.5 ounces (44 ml) 0 grams
Vodka 1.5 ounces (44 ml) 0 grams
Gin 1.5 ounces (44 ml) 0 grams
Tequila 1.5 ounces (44 ml) 0 grams
Whiskey 1.5 ounces (44 ml) 0 grams
Red wine 5 ounces (148 ml) 3–4 grams
White wine 5 ounces (148 ml) 3–4 grams
Light beer 12 ounces (355 ml) 3 grams

The problem is that alcohol is often calorie-rich, so while you may be enjoying a low-carb drink you could be piling on the calories.

As any good doctor will tell you, don’t forget to enjoy your life but drink in moderation.