Beginners Step-by-Step Guide
The ketogenic diet (or keto for short) is a low-carb, high-fat way of eating that is growing in popularity amongst people looking to live a healthier way of life.
If you are thinking about starting a keto diet, look no further! This step-by-step guide explains what it is, how to start, what to eat, and how this way of eating can benefit your life.
What Is the Keto Diet?
The keto diet involves reducing the intake of carbs and replacing them with fat. Some people aim to cut all carbs and sugars out of their diet. However, for the average person, cutting out all carbs may be too extreme for their lifestyle, so reducing carbohydrate intake is often the popular choice.
Total carb intake is usually reduced to less than 50 g a day. It is generally recommended that out of total daily calories, 70-80% are from fat, 5-10% are from carbohydrates, and 10-20% are from protein (1).
The Potential Health Benefits
The keto diet is a popular diet choice for the health-conscious, as it has shown many potential health benefits across the body. Most people start a keto diet because they are looking to lose weight, but there are also numerous benefits linked to a low-carb way of eating (2). These include:
- Improved insulin levels
- Improved acne
- Promotes heart health
- May reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer
- May help ease PCOS symptoms
- Improved blood pressure
The reason behind these benefits is the weight loss and health improvements due to the dietary change. Individuals on the keto diet avoid large quantities of refined sugars and carbohydrates, often seen in traditional ‘junk food’ and linked to increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity (3).
Can the Keto Diet Help with Weight Loss?
The keto diet has shown benefits in weight loss for many people. Researchers found that adults who followed the keto diet for 8 weeks lost nearly 5 times as much body fat as those who followed a low-fat diet (4).
Low-carb diets like the keto diet also encourage eating more healthy fats and protein-rich foods, regulating appetite and keeping you fuller for longer (5). Ultimately, any diet that helps you shed the extra weight can help improve your blood sugar and cholesterol levels, leading to a range of health benefits.
What Foods Can You Eat?
So, what foods can you eat while on the keto diet? While it may seem complicated to determine what you can and can’t eat, it is relatively simple! The key idea is to avoid eating foods that are high in carbs or carb-based.
Carbohydrates make foods taste sweet or starchy, so avoid foods like grains, sugar, potatoes, juice, and candy. Here’s a list of foods that you should reduce or avoid when on the keto diet:
- Fruits, except small portions of berries
- Grains and wheat, like rice, bread, pasta, and cereal
- Starchy vegetables, like potatoes, sweet potatoes, and parsnips
- Sugary treat foods, like soda, smoothies, juices, candy, and cake
- Alcohol, including beer, wine, and spirits
- Sugary condiments, like jam, ketchup, teriyaki sauce, and barbecue sauce
- Beans and legumes, like chickpeas and kidney beans
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get on to what you can eat! For those on a keto diet, base your meals on low-carb whole food sources, like meat, eggs, nuts, and low-carb vegetables. Here’s a list of foods you can eat on the keto diet:
- Meat; beef, lamb, pork, chicken and sausage
- Fish; tuna, salmon and mackerel
- Butter, cream, and other dairy products
- Unprocessed cheeses; brie, cheddar, and mozzarella.
(Avoid American-style sandwich cheeses which are often packed with sugars)
- All nuts and seeds
- Plant oils; coconut and olive oil
- Low carb-veggies; avocados, kale, onions, tomatoes, capsicum
- Low-carb condiments; salt, pepper, herb rubs, and spices
How Do I Get Started?
An excellent way to ease into the keto diet is by joining a membership program that can give you additional support and guidance. Ultra Lite + Membership is a 6-week program that provides you with hundreds of recipes, meal plans, and shopping lists to help you pick the right kinds of food.
The program also comes with access to a community where you can connect with like-minded people. Need some extra support? Ask our practitioners or check out some of our guides to help you on your keto journey. Joining the UltraLite + Membership is a simple, fool-proof way to jump on the keto bandwagon today!
Side Effects of the Keto Diet
The keto diet is usually safe for most healthy people. However, side effects may occur, especially in the transition stage as your body gets used to a new way of eating. Sometimes, the keto flu can also occur.
The keto flu is usually over after a few days, but the symptoms can still be inconvenient. The keto flu is known for its ‘flu-like’ symptoms (6), which include:
- Changes in bowel movements
- Nausea and digestive discomfort
- Lowered energy and increased tiredness
- Disturbed sleep
- Decreased exercise performance
To limit the keto flu’s side effects, try easing into the keto diet by reducing carb intake slowly, rather than eliminating carbs completely. Another option is to supplement with additional minerals and vitamins, like potassium and magnesium (7).
If you are concerned about any side effects or are thinking about doing the keto diet long-term, talk to your doctor. They will advise you on your nutritional needs and any supplementation you may need to take.
The Bottom Line
A keto diet is a diet option that remains popular for the health-conscious. It has been linked to many health benefits, including weight loss.
An excellent way to get started is with a membership program, like Ultra Lite + Membership. Side effects can occur while beginning the keto diet, like the keto flu, so talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.