Its seems like every day there is a new diet fad that friends, coworkers, or even the news is buzzing about, and while it’s great to get inspired and try out new ways of eating to find what works best for your lifestyle and body, it’s also good to know what you’re getting into.
The ketogenic diet isn’t just any diet craze of the day, but has actually been around since as far back as the 1920’s1 when it was popularized to treat people with epilepsy.
The diet’s success today is mostly attributed to its wide array of health benefits, including weight loss and improved health2.
Many people who have heard of the keto diet but haven’t tried it out themselves might have a general gist on what it’s all about—low-carb, high-fat! Sure, that’s the general idea, but there’s a lot more to it!
If you’re interested in taking on the keto-lifestyle, there are some important things you need to know before diving in blindly that will help you succeed.
Let’s take a look!
If you’re going to be cutting out carbs and giving up some of your favorite foods, it’ll help to first understand how it works.
In a nutshell: when you cut back drastically on carbs and replace it with fat, this gets your body burning fats for fuel instead of carbs.
When your body only has fats to work with (for energy), the liver will take fatty acids and convert them to ketone bodies. This process is known as ketosis, and is the ultimate goal on the ketogenic diet.
Yes, yes, I know. Every diet boasts that they’re “not a diet, but a lifestyle”, but remember that while most diets that allow you to hop on and hop off any time without consequence, doing so on the keto diet can actually mess with your metabolism and confuse your body, leading to weight gain.
If you’re considering the keto diet, do so with the intention of truly sticking with it. Going on and off it on whim will just be a waste.
Sure, the keto diet has some restrictions which can put many people off, but what most people don’t realize is that you can ketofy just about anything.
What do I mean by “ketofy”? With a little craftiness and some creativity, you can still eat plenty of the foods you love. Love pizza? Try a wheat-free, low-carb pizza made with keto-friendly ingredients like cheese, ground almonds, and almond flour (Keto pizza recipe here!)
Ketofied pizza! Love bread and can’t give it up? Try out a keto alternative like almond flour bread or coconut flour bread. Ketofied bread!
Ok, so you know that you need more fat in your diet, but what else? And what should you be steering clear of?
Eat: meat (beef, fish, pork, poultry), high fat dairy, eggs, leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, avocado, nuts, berries, seeds.
Don’t eat: grains (like rice and corn), sugar (including fructose), and starches (most root vegetables).
Water weight is the first to go on the keto diet. This means your body will become dehydrated much more easily, so it’s important to drink more water than you normally would to stay hydrated.
It’ll help to eat more foods that contain magnesium, sodium, and potassium or even consider supplements to prevent an electrolyte imbalance.
First embarking on the keto diet can be tough. As your body transitions from using carbs as fuel to ketones from fat, it’s very common to experience flu-like symptoms from headaches and dizziness, to brain fog and nausea.
This is notoriously known as the “keto flu”. Minimize or eliminate symptoms as much as you can by drinking lots of water and eating more fat. Keep fatty snacks handy, such as cheese, pork rinds, and bacon.
Supplementing with keto BHB salts is also a great way to make the transition into ketosis (and maintenance) much better.
You always want to be reading labels on products you buy at the grocery store. This is because most foods use tricky marketing tactics to lead consumers into believing they’re eating healthy, when in fact they might not be.
Ingredients like sugar and corn are everywhere! Don’t let these unhealthy ingredients sneak their way into your food.
It may sound like a daunting task, start reading labels. It becomes much easier once you get to understanding what everything on there means and what your body requires on the keto diet.
Sure, it’s always better to eat organic foods and grass-fed beef, but it can get pricey. Luckily, you don’t have to eat only organic foods to stay keto.
Eating natural or whole foods is best, but don’t be too worried about only buying foods with the “organic” label. The main goal is to avoid processed foods since they typically come with tons of carbs and sugar.
If your wallet is hurting, also keep in mind that keto is a high fat diet. Guess what makes meat cheap? Fat! Opt for cheaper and fattier meats to save some money.
The surest way to know what’s going in your body is by getting more comfortable in the kitchen and making your own meals.
While there are plenty of pre-made and totally keto-friendly foods you can buy at the grocery store, you can save money and feel the satisfaction from crafting your own keto dishes. The internet is chock-full of delicious recipes, so start flexing those culinary muscles!
Keep in mind that achieving ketosis varies from person to person—there is no magic number. The amount of fat, carbs, and protein your body needs to stay happy and healthy depends on a variety of factors, like your height, weight, and your age.
There are online keto calculators that can help you find the right amount for your body, but if you’re still having trouble losing weight or getting into ketosis, keep dropping your carb macros until you get the results you want.
The quickest and most natural route to ketosis is by fasting. Your liver will begin producing ketones like crazy1 and use fat for fuel.
Fasting can often be a challenge, especially if you’re new to the concept, which is why it’s recommended to start with intermittent fasting.
This means fasting for only short periods of time as oppose to days. You only eat during a specific time frame that you set for yourself. For example, this could be 8 hours only during the day in which you are allowed to eat.
Exogenous ketones are essentially ketone bodies in the form of a supplement — typically a liquid or powder. The ketones you naturally produce in your body are called endogenous ketones. Most supplements use beta-hydroxybutyrate as their go-to ingredient since it is the most efficient ketone body.
These supplements will give you an instant supply of ketones, which your body can put into immediate use. Taking exogenous ketones can also help your body more quickly transition from a high-carb diet while also providing some extra energy.
The cyclic ketogenic diet (CKD) is a more advanced approach to the standard ketogenic diet (SKD). The CKD calls for you to follow a SKD where you consume a low amount of carbs with intermittent periods of moderate or high carb consumption.
This allows your body to maximize fat loss while still maintaining the ability to achieve high-intensity exercise, making it a great choice if you’re an athlete! CKD is a great way to boost your performance while still keeping keto.
Being in ketosis will leave you feeling great. You’ll have more energy and feel more satiated. When you eat foods like butter or coconut oil, you can instantly feel benefits the increase in ketones gives. It calms the brain while nourishing the body!
Sometimes it can be tough to get full meals at least three times a day and meet your macro requirements. This is where snacks like fat bombs come in handy.
Usually made from a combination of ingredients like coconut oil, butter, nuts and seeds, fat bombs are a handy way to meet your daily macro count.
It’s easy to underestimate how many calories we eat on the daily, so it’s essential to keep track of them so you ensure you’re meeting your weight loss goals.
A great ways to keep track of what you’re eating is by using an app that tracks calories and also a scale. By using both, you can more accurately know what you’re consuming and have all of the information you need to lose weight consistently.
Some great apps to get you started are MyFitnessPal (for general macro tracking) and Cronometer (for more specific micro and macro tracking).
Don’t know what your starting macros should be? No problem! Use our macro calculator to instantly get the breakdown of macro’s needed based on your goals.
Staying properly hydrated is essential on any diet. It’s easy to get wrapped up in our daily lives that we forget to drink enough water throughout the day.
While on the keto diet, the first thing to go is water weight. This means your body will be losing lots of water and electrolytes, so it’s important to drink enough to avoid the unpleasant and all-too-common symptoms of the “keto flu”. Some of these flu-like symptoms include brain fog, nausea, headaches, and dizziness.
It’s a common misconception that exercise isn’t necessary on the ketogenic diet, but that simply isn’t true if you want to be reaching your weight goals.
While the keto diet isn’t ideal for high-intensity workouts, you certainly can combine exercise and the keto diet together by making some modifications to what you eat.
Very active keto athletes need to ensure they are eating the right amount of macronutrients and taking the right supplements to improve performance.
On the other hand, if you just want to incorporate some exercise to shed some pounds and improve your health, then you have plenty of room to experiment with workout regimens that work for you.
Implementing some exercise in your keto diet will not only help you lose weight, but it will help you gain muscle and improve your cardiovascular health, among other health benefits.
Oftentimes, keto dieters find themselves not reaching ketosis nor losing weight, and the culprit can surprisingly be protein. While protein is an important player in the ketogenic lifestyle, consuming too much will lead to your body converting those amino acids into glucose.
This process is called gluconeogenesis and can really set back your weight loss goals if you aren’t careful.
Every individual is different when it comes to how much protein their body needs, but if you find yourself falling out of ketosis even though you are following all other keto guidelines, it might be time to consider your protein intake.
Not all carbs are created equally! Each carb you consume and where it comes from is very important.
Carbs rich in nutrients can be found in non-starchy veggies and fruits like berries and granny smith apples.
Find a balance in the types of carbs you eat. On your lower carb days, avoid starchy carbs like carrots and sweet potatoes, and limit their consumption to only once or twice a week.
By cycling these carbohydrates, you’re more likely to maintain the balance and keep your body in ketosis consistently.
On a low-carb diet, you’ll naturally have lower insulin levels and so your kidneys will excrete more sodium which can lead to sodium and potassium deficiencies.
When taking salt, opt for Celtic Gray or Himalayan Pink salt since they are a much more mineral-rich form.
Drinking bone broth is another excellent source of sodium that also has its own wealth of health benefits, such as sleep and brain function.
This should get you started with the right mindset, but there is plenty more to learn and understand about the keto diet.
Start reading more literature on the subject, learn about ingredients labels, get inspired by exploring keto-friendly recipes, and overall, embrace the lifestyle!
The ketogenic diet is a unique lifestyle that allows the production of ketones in the body by the liver through the metabolization of fat instead of glucose.
By increasing the fats you consume and drastically cutting out carbohydrates from your body, this allows the body to transition to burning fat for energy.
In the keto diet, you want to move your body into the metabolic state known as ketosis where it burns fat for fuel.
Consuming carbs will give your body quick and intense fuel that leads to bursts of energy, whereas fat and protein burn slowly and gives your body a nice, steady stream of long-lasting energy.
Ketosis will also help regulate your blood without complications. With complex carbs as your diet, your body heightens your blood sugar and produces insulin, which can be nasty in large amounts.
Getting and staying in ketosis can be difficult, and even frustrating, with some people being more successful than others. Stick to these essential 20 must-know ketogenic diet tips to reach your goals.
 Freeman JM, Kossoff EH, Hartman AL. The ketogenic diet: one decade later. Pediatrics. 2007 Mar;119(3):535-43.
 Wheeless JW1. History of the ketogenic diet. Epilepsia. 2008 Nov;49 Suppl 8:3-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2008