I could go on for days and days about all the nuances of ketogenic dieting. And I plan on doing that, but not all at once! Since this way of eating goes against what many of us have been taught our entire lives about nutrition, we’ve got to sort of re-train our brains if we want to be successful. Here are a few of the basics so that you can get started. As you continue in your keto journey, you’ll learn so much more.
Keto is not a diet
The biggest thing you should know about ketogenic nutrition is that it’s not a diet. While you can certainly lose a LOT of weight fast, the keto way of eating is not a temporary thing. There are so many more benefits beyond weight loss that keto is referred to as a way of eating (WOE) or a lifestyle. It’s not simply something you do for two months to get into a wedding dress. (However, if you wanted to lose 20 lbs fast to fit into your wedding dress, keto will work!) Just plan on gaining that weight back if you resume your old dietary habits. You can find out about why I started and stay on my keto journey here.
Carbs and calories are not the same thing.
This is where people often get confused. In order to keep your body in a state of ketosis, you’ll need to eat only low carbohydrate foods. For most people, ketosis occurs when daily carbohydrate intake is less than 25 grams a day. You can use Keto test strips detect ketones in urine to help you to know whether or not your body is in ketosis but I prefer testing my blood with this (it’s much more accurate). You may not be able to go above 20 grams a day, and someone else with a different biological makeup may stay in ketosis at 70 grams.
Important note: Don’t confuse grams with percentages! When you look at a nutrition label, you’ll want to keep track of the actual grams of carbohydrates in food. The USDA’s (incredibly outdated) nutrition model assumes a daily carbohydrate allowance of 300 grams. For example, if you eat something that contains 10% of the USDA’s daily allowance, you’re eating 30 grams of carbohydrates. If you’re using the wrong numbers, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Fat is an important part of a keto lifestyle.
Forget what your mom told you. Fat isn’t always bad for you. As a matter of fact, we need healthy fats to keep our bodies and brains running efficiently. Healthy fats and oils are a big part of this way of eating, and they can’t be skipped. They also keep you feeling full, which is important. If you’re doing keto right, you shouldn’t be hungry. If you are, then you need to re-evaluate your macros.
Now that you’re armed with the basics, you’re ready to begin your keto journey. The easiest way to do this is to donate anything in your house that isn’t keto-friendly to the local food pantry. However, that really only works if you live alone or your entire home decides to start a keto lifestyle. The next best thing is to stock up on things that are essential to your new way of eating, so that you’re not tempted to grab that box of cheese crackers after a stressful day. Download my free keto grocery list for a great start!
So what can I eat on Keto?
Low-carbohydrate foods include meats, most cheeses, most vegetables, and some fruits. You can get download my free “getting started” grocery list here. You’ll want to stock your cabinets full of them before you begin so that you’ve always got something “on-plan” to eat.
The best advice I can give you is…keep in simple. Don’t try to make keto breads and muffins, keto stews or fancy casseroles. Focus on whole foods in the beginning that you can make prep ahead of time and can easily track on an app. I personally use the Carb Manager app but there are plenty of good apps to keep track of your macros.