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Keto Diet For Beginners

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This is Part 1 in the Keto For Beginners Series. Find the rest of the series here, 2, 3, 4

1. What the heck is KETO?

The short answer – Keto is a Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) diet that forces your body to run on fat (converted to ketones by your liver) and eliminates the constant sugar crashes that most of us get from our carb-filled diets. 

So…..basically we are “hacking” our body, and making it enter the metabolic state of ketosis. 

I know what you’re thinking, Whoa, that sounds scary!

It’s not, and here’s why!

Ketosis is a natural state for your body to be in, and it has many health benefits:

  • increased energy
  • mental clarity
  • weight loss
  • and lower blood sugar

2. KETO Diet explained with a bit of Science

When we eat more carbohydrates than we will burn, the excess gets stored as fat. Low fiber carbohydrates are used up rapidly, leaving us feeling hungry soon afterward. Some examples include bread, flour, sugar, and rice.

So why doesn’t our body use the fat that we have stored?


We never give it a chance!

We are so conditioned to that hunger trigger telling us to eat RIGHT NOW, or else face the impending doom of hanger and headaches. It is a vicious cycle.

When we restrict carbs as an option for energy, the body is forced to resort to that stored energy (IE our excess fat)!

It will go grudgingly, remember we have been doing this to ourselves for YEARS, probably our whole lives!)

  • Carbohydrates/sugar are the most easily accessed form of energy, so our bodies use them up first.

We first burn through any excess carbs, then our glycogen stores.

*Glycogen is sugar that gets stored in our muscles and liver.

Once we’ve burned through the glycogen reserves, our livers will begin producing ketones. Ketones are made from our excess body fat, (Woot!) as well as the fats that we are eating.

Ketones are then used for energy. Once our bodies get used to this, we start to notice that we don’t feel hungry often and we have more energy.

The reason for this is that fat is a “slow burner,” and now that our body KNOWS HOW TO USE FAT AS FUEL, it can continue to tap into the reserves quickly and efficiently.

There is so much that goes into metabolism and the science behind why a ketogenic diet works for weight loss and resolves metabolic disorders. I will dive further into this topic in a future blog article and completely nerd out on you!

3. How Long has Keto Been Around?

Keto has been around for a long time, it emerged as a therapeutic diet to treat epilepsy in the 1920’s, and has evolved into a movement in recent years, spawning MANY variations. (I’ll talk about this further in a later blog article. )

4. Basic Rules of Keto

  • Enough fat for energy

Fat is now your #1 energy source. It’s not a daily goal.

Eat enough healthy fats to feel full and no more, remember, your body is burning through reserves if you limit your inbound supply!

If you have a lot of body fat, you shouldn’t eat a ton of dietary fat, that way you can burn off your body fat first.

If you are close to your goal weight or starting with little body fat, you will want to consume more fat to stay full and have that long-burning energy.

  • Moderate protein

Protein is essential! It is a goal.

You should eat .7g to 1.2g per pound of lean body mass.

Only go over .9 if you are doing heavy lifting or training.

So for every 100lbs of lean body mass, you should eat 70 to 120 g of protein, depending on your activity level.

  • Low carb

You should consume under 20g Net Carbs daily.

Net Carbs = Total Carbs minus Fiber (and SOME sugar alcohols*.)

Most of your carbs should come from low carb vegetables, like leafy greens. 

  • Choose whole foods over processed foods

With whole foods, YOU are in control of what you’re putting in your food.

Not only will you easily avoid fillers and hidden carbs, but you’ll find that food tastes better!

As a great friend often puts it… 

“More than FIVE ingredients on the label and I think twice about eating it.”

  • H20 + Electrolytes

Drink plenty of water, and make sure you replenish electrolytes.

Doing this is essential for avoiding “Keto Flu” as well as staying hydrated and healthy.  This raspberry flavored one is my current favorite, and one container this size lasts me well over a month. <–(affiliate link, come on T-rex costume fund).

5. Foods to avoid from the “Dark Side” of the Keto Force

Sugar of any sort Sugars Alter Egos

· All fruit, except for berries in small amounts. Fruit is high in sugar (natural sugar is STILL sugar), so you would go over on carbs very quickly. 

· Any below ground or starchy veggies – (potatoes, carrots, corn, etc.) these are carbohydrate-rich as well. 

· Grains like wheat, rice, oatmeal, bread, pasta, etc. these are high in carbohydrates, and often a considerable part of our diets. A lot of these can cause inflammation, which can wreak havoc on your body long term. 

· Legumes such as beans, chickpeas, lentils, etc. are also carb-heavy; you should avoid them.

· Processed foods as much as possible; watch out for hidden carbs

· Processed meats or meat with breading, batter or breadcrumbs and some sauces or glazes, as many of these contain sugars in some form. 

6. Umm…What is this Keto Flu I’ve heard about??

Well it isn’t ACTUALLY the Flu.

Some critics of Keto cite this as a reason why Keto is unhealthy – they argue that a healthy diet should not make you have flu-like symptoms.

It isn’t the Keto diet itself that causes it. What does cause it, my friends, is one of two things or both:

Detox from carbs, depletion of electrolytes, or both.

Read more about why this is common, and what to do about it in my post: Keto Flu and Electrolytes. 

“Keto Flu” is different for everybody; common symptoms include:

  •  Headache
  •  Dizziness
  •  Irritability 
  •  Cramping
  •  Nausea
  •  Lack of focus
  •  Cravings

  • HOLY Muscle Cramps!

Cramps and muscle spasms don’t happen to everybody, but I got them, as did a few of my Keto peeps.

I’m telling you, they are the mother of all CRAMPS, usually in the middle of the night in your legs or feet.

Keto shifts the balance of electrolytes in the body because without a carb-heavy diet you aren’t retaining near as much water ( bloated feeling anyone)

I cover this more in-depth in my Keto Flu and Electrolytes post.

I found that I needed additional supplementation of magnesium, and started supplementing with Magnesium Bis-Glycinate at night and Magnesium Malate during the day<–(affiliate links, come on T-rex costume fund)–>

I use both and have been since the early stages of my Keto journey.

Speaking of which….

7. Do I need supplements on Keto?

My personal opinion is that the only thing you absolutely need is electrolytes.

Every person that I know that has switched to Keto, including my husband and myself has benefited using an electrolyte supplement.

The Ultima Brand we use works great for us, and lasts for a month in the 90 serving size. You can find it here.<–(affiliate link, come on T-rex costume fund).

The only downside is a few of our favorite flavors can be challenging to get sometimes due to being out of stock.

So we tend to buy two at a time.

Although I suggest the smaller containers until you find a flavor you like.

As discussed above, supplementing with additional magnesium may be beneficial as well.

DO NOT run out and buy a bunch of supplements and items promoted as “Keto necessities.”

Research first (yep, article coming soon for this topic too).

Due to the recent popularity in Keto, companies are coming out of the woodwork to market items as “Keto” necessities.

Do they fit into the Keto diet? Ehh… most of the time.

Does everybody NEED these things? Absolutely not.

You definitely won’t need them in the beginning, when we are trying to detox your body and flush it out.

You may find that one or a few of them fills a need that you have later on, after you get comfortable with Keto. 

Don’t go out and buy stuff like:

  • Ketones
  • MCT
  • Shakes
  • Collagen

8. Do I need to test for ketones?

Short answer – No.

Don’t bother getting the strips. They are only useful to tell you if your body is making ketones, and not if you are burning them for energy.

Additionally, once your body has adapted to using ketones for fuel, you may register little to no Ketones on the test strip. Your body is using the majority of them. Strips only measure excess Ketones secreted through urine.

Once your body adapts to being a fat-burning machine, and is burning Ketones like a beast, the strips are pretty worthless.

There are other tests, breath and blood tests, and they are quite pricy.

In my opinion, they are not a necessity; I never used them in the 18 months I’ve been a Keto-ian.  

9. I heard Keto is a Fad.  

It’s Not, and here’s why!

Keto is trending, but I would NOT call it a Fad.

It has been around since the 1920s to treat children with seizures and epilepsy.

It is also how our ancestors ate for thousands of years before farming, and then the industrial revolution came along. It was then that we started consuming large amounts of grains, corn, and soy.

Ketosis is a natural state that happens in our bodies when carbohydrates are not present.

Often our ancestors did not have access to fruits and carbohydrates year-round. Therefore, their body would resort to burning fat as fuel, either in diet, or the body’s stored fat. 

10. I heard Keto is unhealthy

The Keto diet itself is not unhealthy.

You can do it in an unhealthy manner, as ketosis is achieved by simply eating less than 20 grams of carbs per day. If you aren’t getting healthy fats, overeating processed “keto” bars/fat bombs, etc.; yes, it can be unhealthy, just like any diet.

Heck, just like anything done incorrectly. Is driving a car unhealthy? No, but drive a car in the wrong lane? You bet your ketone burning butt THAT would be unhealthy.

It is essential to have low carb veggies, healthy fats, and to nourish your body with real, whole foods.

You have to be perfect right out of the gate, and not ever eat a fat bomb or that low carb ice cream you heard about from your fellow low-carber.

It is about making that first step toward health, and tuning it up as you go, and as you learn about your body as you progress through your Keto Journey.

If you’re ready to take control of your health and happiness, I urge you to check out our FREE 7-Day Meal Plan + Bonus Shopping list.

It’ll get you through your first week and show you how simple this can be to begin!

11. I heard that when you stop eating this way, you gain all the weight back. 

Translation: If I go back to eating poorly, I’ll get poor results? YEP.

It is true of any “diet.”

If you go back to eating the foods that got you into the situation that you were in, you’ll be back there before you know it.

The thing about Keto is that it isn’t a diet in the sense that most of us think. I’m going on a diet to lose x lbs. Then you’re done with the diet.

We’ve all been there. (Yo-Yo diet much anyone)?

You lose the weight, and then revert to old habits and weight.

Keto can be done long term, and the beautiful thing about it is that it will help you break that carb addiction

12. I read conflicting information on what you can eat on Keto

Yea. There is a TON of information out there, which is both great and overwhelming.

That’s why I started this site. Here’s the deal though – there is more than one way to Keto. Dirty, lazy, strict, clean, cycled (Look for an article soon!)

Often what you can, or are comfortable eating will evolve.

Maybe you start super strict, watching ingredients, tracking every macro and learn that you can’t maintain that level of strictness, and eat clean and listen to your body.

Or you may start “Dirty” keto, and begin to feel amazing and get inspired to start cooking and eating super clean.

Either option, and everywhere in between is perfectly fine;

what works for me, may not work for you, and that’s okay, its all about figuring it out as we go.

For example, I border on being super strict (definitely not perfect!) because I genuinely FEEL better when I eat that way.

However, my husband has had excellent results with dirty, dirty, not by the book; I want to throttle him cause it’s not fair, lazy keto. (grrr)

Everyone’s Keto path and timeline will be unique to them and what works best for them. 

But it works for him; everyone is a little bit different in approach/results.

How do I take the leap and get started?

You just have to DO IT! 

Cultured Keto has a Facebook group for support, education, and encouragement! We are a super active and fun group, encouraging each other, and sharing struggles and success! Click here to join!

I also put together a FREE 7-Day Meal Plan, Shopping, Prep List and Recipes. 

It’s completely free, and is designed to show you how cost-effective and straightforward Keto can be. Both on time and a budget, and without having to buy tons of fancy new ingredients.

I look forward to you joining the Keto fam! Get ready for some exciting changes! 

What about you? What questions do you have or what’s holding you back from starting? Share with us in the comments below!


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