The Keto Diet: A Quick Start Guide for Beginners

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What is the keto diet?

Keto is short for ketogenic, a low carb, high fat, and moderate protein diet. The keto diet starts by limiting your intake of carbohydrates, usually below 20-30g carbs per day. Other low carb diets may only limit carbohydrates to 100g per day. Keto diets have grown in popularity recently with the realization that the typical low fat diet may not be the best approach for everyone.

How does a ketogenic diet work?

Drastically decreasing the amount of carbohydrates that you consume puts your body into a state known as ketosis. The human brain operates on sugars in it’s default state. When those sugars, carbohydrates, are removed the body starts to generate ketones to power your brain and body. These ketones are generated by burning dietary fat. This is why many people say that ketosis is a fast burning state. Another benefit of ketosis is that blood glucose level do not fluctuate the way they do when large amounts of carbs are consumed. This can be especially helpful for diabetics.

Is this the Atkins diet?

Keto is similar to diets like South Beach and Atkins. The Atkins Diet basically puts you into a ketogenic state for the first two weeks. Then you start slowly reintroducing carbs. Keto is like staying on the first 2 weeks of Atkins permanently. There is really no reason to reintroduce carbs.

How do I count carbohydrates?

When counting carbohydrates, it’s important to know that not all carbohydrates are the same. We want to track net carbohydrates. Net carbohydrates are total carbohydrates – fiber. There is some debate about sugar alcohols but I usually subtract them from my total carb intake also.

Do I need to count calories?

Basically, all diets work on the premise of burning more calories than you take in. Therefore, keto is no different. However, keto can make it easier to eat less. The large amounts of fat help keep most people full for longer. You should still count calories but you may find that you lose weight just by keeping your carb count since you won’t be as hungry.

How long can I stay on keto?

The short answer seems to be: forever. There is no real reason you cannot maintain a ketogenic diet for long periods of time.

What is keto flu?

Sometimes people experience flu like symptoms. These symptoms usually occur during the first week or so of starting a ketogenic diet. These symptoms will go away.

Can I drink alcohol?

Most liquors are actually ok on a keto diet so long as you only mix them with things like diet cola. However, the calories from alcohol still count. Also, the body will metabolize alcohol before other macronutrients. This means you’re not burning fat while burning off the alcohol.

As for beer you want to check the carb count on lite beers. There are a few that are under 3g per bottle.

Setting your goals and tracking your food

You need to setup and track your goals. There are several calculators online that can help with this. You can put in your stats and it will give you the macronutrient and calories that you should aim for. For most people the carb goal of 20-30g per day works just fine.

I’m also a fan of MyFitnessPal, a popular diet and activity tracking app, which has a website and app for popular mobile devices. Once you sign up for MyFitnessPal you can use the website to adjust your goals for keto.

Get started on your weight loss journey

You have all you need to get started on your weight loss journey. Some people experience drastic results almost immediately. Some people are a little bit slower. Just remember that if you stay under your calories and carb goal you will eventually lose weight.

What do I do Next?

If you're ready to get started, try our keto calculator to help set yourself up for success.