On my old YouTube channel I have a video called 10 Beginner Mistakes on Keto. It’s actually just as relevant now as it was 6 years ago when I made it. I wanted to provide info on the keto diet for beginners. I have some things to add, though. After 7 years of experience being on keto myself and working as a ketogenic nutritionist. Keto diet for beginners isn’t as complicated as you might think.
The keto diet popularity
As the keto diet gained popularity in recent years. The popularity came with a tsunami of misinformation, dogmatic rules and horrible descriptors like “lazy” and “dirty”. URGH. It was not fun to try to cut through all of the misinformation. I tried explain to people that at its heart, the keto diet is a diet of individuality. It requires exploring personalised nutrition.
We have become so accustomed to just following a cookie cutter diet plan. We have lost touch with our bodies and its signals. Fasting too much when our bodies are screaming for nutrition. Jacking up already high stress hormones with black coffee on an empty stomach. And, worryingly, we avoid carrots like they are in the same category as doughnuts.
The madness has to stop because, done right, the keto diet is extremely effective for health and weight loss. It has the power to reverse disease, improve health, reduce unhealthy fat and give you back your life. The keto diet for beginners means throwing out all of that misinformation. It’s about learning how to figure out what YOUR keto diet looks like.
What is the keto diet
The keto diet shifts the body’s metabolism away from relying on glucose (sugar) for energy. It switches to using ketones, which are produced when the body breaks down fat. That’s it. It’s a simple switch of fuel by your metabolism.
Typically, to get into ketosis, you need to reduce carbohydrate intake to a very low level. This is in comparison with a Standard Western Diet of 300+g of carbs per day. Most people are able to reach ketosis at 20g of carbs per day but some people can eat 50g per day and still be in ketosis. Here lies the importance of individualising your keto diet.
To substitute the reduction in carbs, you increase fat intake to provide the body with enough energy to live. Protein intake is also usually kept moderate, as high protein intake can interfere with the process of ketosis. My program is called Protein Priority which is NOT high protein. We go by the rule of 1g to 1.5g of protein per day per kilogram of ideal body weight but I will go more into that soon.
What are keto diet macros
Macros is short for macronutrients of which there are three:
The standard macro breakdown is:
- Moderate Protein – 20% to 25% of daily calories
Protein intake is moderate and usually ranges from 1-1.5 grams per kilogram of ideal body weight. Consuming too much protein can increase insulin and blood sugar levels, which can hinder ketosis. We prioritise protein because it is the most important macronutrient.
- High Fat – 70% to 75% of daily calories
This high fat intake encourages the body to use fat for energy instead of carbohydrates, as there is an abundant supply of fat available. However what is a vital piece of missing information is that the fat should be a mix of body fat and dietary fat. The more fat you lose, the more fat you should eat to keep weight loss going and keep your metabolism healthy.
- Low Carbohydrate – 5% to 10% of daily calories
The keto diet limits carbohydrates to 20-50 grams per day, which is very low compared to the standard American diet that often includes 200-300 grams of carbs daily. This restriction forces the body into a state of ketosis, where it burns fat for energy instead of glucose.
But what is really important is that macronutrient breakdown on the keto diet can vary depending on your goals and needs. Some people may need to adjust their macronutrient ratios to reach their desired state of ketosis or to manage certain health conditions. Keto for beginners means just getting started though, don’t worry about making any adjustments in the beginning. Just get going!
What a nutritionist recommends you eat on keto
In the beginning it’s more important to move away from carbs and switch your body to burning fat. To do this you need to ignore the so-called experts that would have you skipping meals from day one. This is wrong and will cause you more problems with carb cravings and carb withdrawal.
Choose carbs that are mainly whole food and if you have problems with sugar, avoid as much sweet food like berries as you can.
Eat as many times a day as you need to in the beginning.
- Meat and Poultry: Beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, and other meats are excellent sources of protein and are naturally low in carbohydrates. Opt for grass-fed and organic meats when possible.
- Fish and Seafood: Fish and seafood are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and are low in carbs. Salmon, tuna, cod, shrimp, and other types of seafood are great options.
- Low-Carb Vegetables: Vegetables that grow above the ground are generally low in carbs making them ideal for the keto diet. Broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, spinach, and kale are some good examples.
- Healthy Fats: Avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, butter, and ghee are healthy fats that are excellent sources of energy on the keto diet.
- Nuts and Seeds: Nuts and seeds are high in healthy fats, protein making them perfect for keto snacking. Almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds are good choices.
- Dairy Products: Full-fat dairy products such as cheese, cream, and butter are allowed on the keto diet. However, it’s important to limit intake to avoid overconsumption of calories. Fat tastes good and it’s easy to overeat.
- Berries: Although fruits are generally high in carbs, some berries such as strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are low in carbs making them suitable for the keto diet.
Again it’s important to know that the amount and type of foods that you can eat on the keto diet may vary depending on your individual goals, needs, and preferences.
The top 5 mistakes beginners make on keto
Here are the top 5 mistakes I see beginners make on keto
1. Not tracking carbohydrate intake:
It’s easy to underestimate how many carbs are in certain foods, and this can make it difficult to reach and maintain ketosis. To avoid this mistake, it’s important to track your carbohydrate intake carefully and ensure that you are staying within the recommended range. If you don’t know, you don’t know.
2. Not getting enough electrolytes:
The ketogenic diet can lead to increased urine output, which can cause you to lose important electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Not getting enough of these minerals can cause a variety of symptoms, including headaches, muscle cramps, and fatigue. To avoid this mistake, it’s important to make sure you are getting enough electrolytes through your diet or supplementation.
3. Eating too much fibre:
The ketogenic diet can be low in fibre, which can really help people with IBD, IBS, Crohn’s disease to name a few. The low fibre also helps to reverse autoimmune conditions that have strong links to gut health. However, switching from a Standard Western Diet to keto can add in a lot of fibre and can cause constipation. To avoid this make sure you increase your fibre intake slowly and take plenty of magnesium.
4. Not eating enough healthy fats:
The ketogenic diet is high in fat, but it’s important to focus on healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, and nuts, rather than unhealthy fats such as seed oils. Not getting enough healthy fats can cause you to feel hungry and tired.
5. Not staying hydrated:
The ketogenic diet can cause you to lose water weight initially, but it’s important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other fluids. Not drinking enough fluids can lead to dehydration, which can cause headaches, fatigue, and other symptoms.
Avoiding these mistakes can help you achieve success on the ketogenic diet and reap the benefits of this low-carb, high-fat approach to eating. Following my advice about the keto diet for beginners, puts you ahead of the game!
The keto diet can offer a range of benefits for those looking to improve their health and wellbeing. I’ve seen amazing stories of weight loss, improved blood sugar control, Type 2 Diabetes Reversal and reduced inflammation. Additionally, the keto diet has been shown to improve brain function, support heart health, and reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases. It can be a powerful tool for achieving optimal health and wellness.