Beginner’s guide to the keto diet

Cookbooks, Diet & Fitness

The keto diet offers weight loss and other health benefits by switching your body’s primary fuel source away from carbs and towards fat.

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How do you begin the keto diet?

The low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet is one of the most popular diets because of its rapid weight loss and fat-burning benefits. Multiple studies have shown that a keto diet leads to increased weight loss, even compared to a low-fat diet

Because a ketogenic diet is highly restrictive, you’re likely to consume fewer calories and lose more weight. You’re also more likely to feel fuller longer and require less food to feel satisfied. 

But despite its benefits, the keto diet also comes with unique challenges and requires a bit of research to do well. Before you start a keto diet, learn about which foods are allowed and which aren’t benefits, risks, and how to stay healthy on a keto diet. 

What is keto?

In a keto diet, about 80 percent of your daily calories come from fat, 15 to 20 percent come from protein, and less than 5 from carbs. This balance of macronutrients deprives your body of its preferred fuel source, the glucose produced from breaking down carbs. Your body begins to burn fat for energy instead.

As a byproduct of this metabolic process, your body produces ketones. Ketones have the ability to provide energy for the brain. Blood sugar and insulin levels also decrease.

Intermittent fasting can help you enter ketosis more quickly and reduce your overall calorie intake. For more information, take a look at the full keto diet book buying guide from BestReviews.

What are the health benefits of a keto diet?

  • Diabetes: For people managing diabetes, a keto diet may aid in weight loss, improve insulin sensitivity and manage blood sugar. In some studies, keto was even shown to help patients cut back on blood sugar medications.
  • Heart health: Keto may lower the risk of heart disease by regulating body fat and good cholesterol levels. 
  • Cancer: Preliminary studies indicate a ketogenic diet may slow tumor growth. Research on animal subjects suggests keto may reduce colon, gastric and brain cancer. 
  • Brain health: Healthy fats and increased ketones may lead to improved brain function. 
  • Energy: People on a keto diet may experience increased energy and focus.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): Keto may be a valuable treatment for PCOS because it reduces insulin levels.    
  • Epilepsy: A keto diet may reduce seizures
  • Alzheimer’s: A keto diet may improve cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer’s, as well as slow the progression of the disease.
  • Parkinson’s disease: Keto may improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. 

What foods can I eat on a keto diet? 

Most calories come from fat on a keto diet. Too much protein may prevent you from entering ketosis. You should also avoid processed foods with synthetic ingredients and stick to whole, single-ingredient foods. 

Healthy food delivery services with keto-friendly options can make sticking to a keto diet easily. Freshology’s Keto-Carb30 is ideal for keto meal delivery, and SteakChop is great for those who want premium quality meat and seafood delivered to their door.

Produce

  • zucchini 
  • red bell pepper
  • garlic
  • white onion
  • green cabbage 
  • scallions
  • mushrooms
  • lime
  • avocado
  • spinach
  • lettuce
  • cherry tomatoes 

Protein

  • bacon
  • ham
  • breakfast sausage
  • ground beef
  • turkey 
  • chicken thighs
  • chicken breasts 

Dairy and eggs

  • blue cheese 
  • cheddar cheese
  • butter
  • eggs
  • yogurt
  • cream cheese 
  • whole-milk yogurt 

Pantry 

  • bone brother 
  • peanut butter
  • almond butter
  • almond flour
  • soy sauce
  • cocoa powder 
  • vanilla extract 

Fats 

  • olive oil
  • avocado oil
  • coconut oil 
  • sesame oil
  • ghee

Cooking essentials 

  • sesame seeds
  • cinnamon 
  • ginger
  • salt
  • pepper
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder

What foods must I avoid on keto? 

  • Carb-based foods like grains, rice, starches, pasta, and cereal
  • Sugars and sugary foods like fruit juice, soda, cake, candy, and even some fruits
  • Potatoes, sweet potatoes, and other root vegetables like carrots 
  • Beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils
  • Low fat or sugary salad dressings, condiments, and sauces like honey mustard, ketchup, and barbecue sauce 
  • Diet foods like diet soda and artificially sweetened desserts 
  • Most alcoholic beverages, including beer and wine 

How do I eat out on a keto diet?

It’s surprisingly easy to eat out on a keto diet, as most places have low-carb options on the menu, like meat and vegetable dishes. 

For appetizers, choose meat and cheese boards, roasted vegetables (as long as they aren’t cooked in sugary sauces), and salads. 

For an entree, order a meat, fish, or egg dish. Don’t ask for a side of fries or potatoes. Instead, ask for a salad or steamed vegetables on the side. 

You can also modify the entrees you already love to be keto-friendly. Ask for your burger on lettuce rather than a bun for a filling keto meal. Be sure to skip ketchup, which is high in sugar. 

Ask for an extra side of cheese, sour cream, or guacamole with any dish you order to raise your fat consumption. 

What are the side effects and risks associated with a keto diet? 

Always consult with your doctor before you start a keto diet. While a keto diet is healthy for many people, there are some common side effects to watch out for:

  • Some keto dieters experience flu-like symptoms when their body switches from carb fuel to fat fuel. Keto flu symptoms may include nausea and diarrhea and typically only last up to a few days. Increasing hydration, electrolyte, and salt intake can help alleviate these temporary symptoms. 
  • Starting the keto diet may cause your breath, sweat, and urine to smell like acetone. This goes away with time. 
  • Some keto dieters may find they have less energy for fitness, especially at the beginning of their diet.
  • Some people experience constipation while in ketosis. Promote regularity by increasing your fiber intake. 
  • Vitamin C deficiency is common in a keto diet, as many fruits are high in sugar and are cut out, leading to decreased vitamin C intake. Eating broccoli and brussel sprouts can help. 
  • Sodium deficiency is common during ketosis and can lead to dizziness, fatigue, and irritability. Try adding more salt to your food to alleviate symptoms.
  • Because keto is a highly restrictive diet, it can lead to disordered or orthorexic eating, especially in those people who have struggled with an eating disorder in the past. Always consult your doctor, and avoid extreme diets if you have a history of disordered eating. 

What are the best supplements for a keto diet?

  • MCT oil helps burn fat, increase energy, support brain health, and curb cravings.  
  • Natural salt is useful for avoiding the keto flu when you first start the keto diet. 
  • Exogenous ketones raise your body’s ketone levels to help kick your body into a ketogenic state faster. 
  • Keto whey protein increases satiety and helps balance your macros for weight loss. 
  • Creatine helps with muscle and strength training. 

What you need to buy for a keto diet 

Perfect Keto Test Strips - Best for Testing Ketones in Urine on Low Carb Ketogenic Diet

Perfect Keto Test Strips – Best for Testing Ketones in Urine on Low Carb Ketogenic Diet

These urinalysis test strips measure the ketones in your urine to conveniently and reliably detect whether you’re in ketosis. Enough for three months of daily ketone analysis. 

Sold by Amazon 

Premium Keto Diet Pills

Premium Keto Diet Pills 

30 days’ worth of Keto Bhb salts help induce ketosis and manage cravings. These keto diet pills provide an energy boost to help you stick to a workout routine while on a low-carb diet. 

Sold by Amazon 

The Complete Ketogenic Diet for Beginners: Your Essential Guide to Living the Keto Lifestyle

The Complete Ketogenic Diet for Beginners: Your Essential Guide to Living the Keto Lifestyle

This keto diet book contains recipes, meal plans, shopping lists, and scientific explanations of the keto diet. Learning about the fundamentals of keto can help you master the diet and stay on track for a healthy lifestyle. 

Sold by Amazon 

 

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Evelyn Waugh writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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