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How To Start A Keto Diet
Updated on January 31, 2024
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Diet / Weight Loss
How To Start A Keto Diet
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Are you looking to embark on a healthy lifestyle journey? 

The keto diet has achieved fame for its effectiveness in helping people lose weight quickly and healthily.

It stands out from other popular diets because it focuses on healthy, quality fats as the primary source of energy rather than carbohydrates. This approach has made keto one of the top diet choices for those looking to reduce carbs and improve their metabolism.

The keto diet is truly special compared to other alternatives due to its focus on fueling your body with healthy fats while promoting ketosis, which makes your body burn stored fat more effectively—something that many people believe other diets have failed to do.

What Is A Ketogenic Diet?

A ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that requires your body to switch from burning sugar (glucose) for energy to burning fat (ketones).1 This shift to a metabolic state of ketosis can result in weight loss and an increased ability for the body to burn fat as fuel.

Achieving ketosis is actually relatively easy with the right diet and nutritional plan. Generally speaking, a keto diet is focused on low-carbohydrate foods and high in healthy fats. 

So what does this mean? 

It means people taking on the keto diet should eat whole foods such as fish, poultry, eggs, shellfish, non-starchy vegetables, seeds and nuts, avocados, and yogurt. 

Those on a keto diet should limit refined grains (think white bread or white rice), starches (think potatoes), and sugary items, including fruits. Additionally, people should only eat moderate amounts of dairy products like cheese.

Overall, it is important to monitor how many carbohydrates one eats each day to ensure they stay within the acceptable level of 30-50 grams per day to reach the optimal benefits of ketosis.

Keto Versus Low Carb Diet Plan

The keto diet requires eating fewer than 20 grams of net carbohydrates daily, while a low-carb plan is generally under 50 grams of carbs.

Additionally, the keto diet encourages eating fat-rich foods that many other low-carbohydrate diets tend to avoid. Keto-friendly items like avocados, fatty fish, nuts, and coconut oil are staples for keto followers because of their high-fat content. The diet even uses healthy fats as an effective way to help people lose weight by promoting ketosis.

A modern low-carb plan is typically aimed at consuming less than 100 grams of net carbs each day.

While there are similarities between these two plans, it's essential to understand the differences to determine which is best for you and your individual health goals.

The Basics Of A Keto Diet

Eating healthy fats while reducing your net carbs is the focus of the ketogenic diet.4 Here are some basic principles of this diet plan: 

Achieving Ketosis

Ketosis is shifting your body's metabolism from burning carbohydrate-based glucose to using fat as energy. Your body can fuel itself this way, so you'll need to reduce your carb intake and increase your fat intake.

Calculating Macros

Macronutrients are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, which your body needs in different amounts to stay healthy. You need to calculate your ideal macronutrient ratio to remain in ketosis.

Counting Net Carbs

Your net carbs are the total amount of carbohydrates in the food you eat minus the amount of fiber.3 

For example, if a food serving has 20 grams of carbohydrates and 5 grams of fiber, your net carbs would be 15 grams.

Getting Started On A Keto Diet

To get started on a ketogenic diet, here are a few essential tips to help you succeed:

Start with a plan

A well-thought-out plan will ensure that you stay on track and don't stray from the keto guidelines. Some great examples of plans include:

  • Meal plans: Preparing a meal plan will help you stay organized and avoid eating the wrong foods that can kick you out of ketosis. For instance, you can plan to make a low-carb breakfast, lunch, and dinner so that you never go hungry or overindulge in unhealthy snacks.
  • Lifestyle plans: Setting up a lifestyle plan that includes regular exercise and sticking to your nutritional goals will help you achieve success on the keto diet.
  • Eating schedule plans: Having an eating schedule that you can adhere to will help keep your metabolism and energy levels up, making it easier to maintain ketosis.
  • Progress tracker: Tracking your progress regularly is essential for understanding the impact of the diet and its effects on your overall health. With each tracking session, you can tweak the foods you eat and other elements of the diet to ensure maximum success.

Track your net carbs

It is important to track net carbs when following a keto diet because it ensures the dieter stays in a state of ketosis, burning fat instead of glucose.

A traditional keto diet usually consists of eating around 20-30 grams of net carbohydrates per day, with some variations depending on the individual's needs.

Tracking net carbs is helpful when trying to stay within the carb limit.

Additionally, tracking net carbs helps people regulate food types and quantities to monitor their overall daily numbers and ensure they get enough vitamins, minerals, and other necessary nutrients.

Increase fat intake

Increasing fat intake on a keto diet is incredibly important for those looking to achieve their desired results.

When following the keto diet, most calories should come from fats to stay in ketosis and produce lasting weight loss changes. A balance among healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates is essential for keeping the body energized in a way that encourages healthy weight management while supporting overall health.

Fats provide an essential nutrient source as they carry valuable vitamins and minerals essential to maintain proper bodily functions.

Eat whole foods

Whole foods are essential to following a keto diet, as they provide the important nutrients and vitamins your body needs.

Whole foods contain fewer additives and preservatives, so you can be sure that you are getting the most natural and unadulterated fuel for your body. Additionally, whole foods often have high levels of healthy fats, making them ideal for a ketogenic diet.

Eating whole foods also helps reduce cravings and hunger pangs associated with low-carb diets, allowing you to stick to the plan more easily.

All in all, whole foods are necessary and more helpful on a keto diet due to their naturally nutrient-filled nature, making a successful transition into this healthy lifestyle easier.

Drink plenty of water

It is important for any diet to include a healthy amount of water intake—however, it is especially critical when following a keto diet. 

When the body moves from burning sugar to burning fat for energy, the body can become dehydrated quickly. Drinking plenty of water helps propel the metabolic process and aids in flushing toxins out of the system.

In addition, drinking enough water has been shown to encourage weight loss on a keto diet by helping you feel full and reducing snack cravings between meals. 

Staying hydrated can also ease potential side effects that can accompany the transition into a keto lifestyle, such as fatigue and headaches.

Experiment with recipes

Eating while on a keto diet can be tricky, as many of the permitted foods may not initially seem very appetizing. This is why it’s important to experiment with recipes. Doing so helps create flavorful and exciting dishes that fit within the diet's parameters.

Additionally, variety is a key component of any healthy eating routine. Experimenting with keto-friendly recipes encourages mealtime creativity and makes eating enjoyable and nutritious. 

Finally, devising unique takes on familiar dishes exposes people to different tastes they may not have tried before. Experimenting with recipes on a keto diet allows for making meals that are within the plan's guidelines but still packed with flavor and excitement.

Supplement electrolytes

Many people don't realize why it is so important to supplement electrolytes when following a keto diet.

Electrolytes, like magnesium and potassium, are vital for the human body to operate properly because they’re instrumental in many bodily processes, such as contracting muscles and chemically maintaining a balance of fluidity in cells.

However, following a keto diet can deplete your body of crucial electrolytes. Keto diets rely heavily on fat consumption and low carb intake, which can cause dehydration and the subsequent loss of electrolytes.

Get active

Being active can help regulate blood glucose levels while on a keto diet, so it is necessary to factor an exercise routine into your lifestyle. Not only that, but increasing physical activity while following the ketogenic diet can also benefit overall health markers such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels. 

Additionally, getting active during a low-carb diet may speed up weight loss by encouraging fat burn and muscle contraction.

Ultimately, integrating exercise into your daily routine while on a keto diet can make all the difference in achieving long-term health outcomes.

10 Best Foods To Eat On A Keto Diet

When it comes to the keto diet, there are a few essential foods that you should focus on to stay healthy and reach your desired health goals. Here is a list of some of the best foods to include in your keto diet plan:2

  1. Avocado oilA heart-healthy fat that helps reduce inflammation and promote healthy cholesterol levels.
  1. Olive oil Packed with polyphenols, antioxidants, and monounsaturated fatty acids that are good for the heart. 
  1. ButterRich in fats like conjugated linoleic acid that can help reduce inflammation and boost immunity.
  1. Coconut oil A great source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which can help promote weight loss and increase energy levels.
  1. Leafy greens Nutrient-dense vegetables like spinach, kale, and lettuce
  1. Non-starchy vegetables — Broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, asparagus, celery, and zucchini are some good examples.
  1. Meat Beef, pork, lamb, and other meats are great sources of high-quality protein.
  1. PoultryChicken, turkey, duck, and other poultry sources are excellent sources of lean protein.
  1. SeafoodFish and other seafood are packed with nutrients. Salmon, for example, is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.
  1. Full-fat dairy products — Cheeses like cheddar and parmesan are rich in calcium. 

Other Foods You Can Eat While On Keto

While other diets often restrict the foods you can eat, even cutting out many that seem like good options, keto is different. 

On the keto diet, there are other seemingly unlikely foods that you can incorporate into your eating plan. Those on the keto diet can enjoy: 

  • Dark chocolate
  • Full-fat cheeses
  • Nuts such as almonds and macadamias 
  • Most fatty meats, such as hamburgers and steak
  • Seafood items like salmon or shrimp
  • A wide variety of vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach

When other diets leave you feeling limited in what to eat without sacrificing flavor or nutrition, keto gives you an entire list of other tasty dishes to try.

Foods To Avoid On A Keto Diet

Certain foods should be avoided if you want to stay in ketosis and successfully lose weight. Here are some of them:

  1. Grains – Grains like wheat, barley, oats, and corn are high in carbohydrates.
  1. Sugar – Sugar should be eliminated from the diet.
  1. Starchy vegetables – Starchy vegetables, like potatoes, yams, and sweet potatoes, should not be eaten.
  1. Legumes – Beans, chickpeas, lentils, and other legumes have a higher carb content. 
  1. High-sugar fruits – Fruits like bananas, pineapples, oranges, and apples contain too much sugar.
  1. Low-fat dairy and milk – Dairy products contain lactose, a type of sugar.
  1. Seed and vegetable oils – Seed oils such as sunflower oil, safflower oil, and soybean oil are high in omega-6 fatty acids.
  1. Processed "low-carb" foods - Processed foods labeled as "low-carb" often contain artificial sweeteners.

By following a ketogenic diet and taking advantage of these helpful suggestions, you can accomplish your goals quicker and more efficiently. With the right nutrition plan, you can achieve your desired results while keeping your body healthy and energized.

Updated on January 31, 2024
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4 sources cited
Updated on January 31, 2024
  1. Diet Review: Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss.” Harvard School of Public Health.
  2. What is the Keto Diet and Should You Try It?” Cleveland Clinic. 
  3. Net carbs are carbs minus fiber and sugar alcohols.” UCLA Health.
  4. Ketogenic Diet.” National Library of Medicine.
Ada Sandoval
Ada Sandoval
Content Contributor
Ada Sandoval is a B.S. in Nursing graduate and a registered nurse with a heart for abandoned animals. She works as a content writer who specializes in medical-related articles and pet health.
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