Keto for Dummies: Ultimate Quick-Start Guide
A simple Keto for Dummies guide including a keto glossary. Scroll on down to view the guide, or, you can use the table of contents below to go straight to where you want. Hope you find this keto quick-start guide helpful.
You probably have heard about Keto and the great health and weight loss results people of all ages are getting by following this great plan.
However, are you curious about how to get on board with this diet and get similar results?
Keto requires skill in calculating and tracking macros and sticking to specific types of foods. Therefore, many people feel overwhelmed about what steps they need to take to begin this beneficial diet plan.
In this keto diet summary, I’m going to help you overcome all these keto obstacles (and more).
Quick Start Guide to Keto Diet
- 1: How Eating the Right Way on Keto Can Get You Into Ketosis Fast!
- 2: How to Easily Get Into Ketosis
- 3: How to Get the Results You Want From Eating the Right Keto Friendly Foods
- 4: How to Succeed with This 7 Day Meal Plan Sample
- 5: How to Survive the Keto Flu
- 6: How Eating More Fat Can Help You Lose Weight (+ Fat Bombs)
- 7: How to Eat Sweets Without the Insulin Spike
- 8: How You Can Be Vegetarian or Vegan and Still Go Keto
- 9: Best Keto Resources
- 10: Keto Glossary/Keto Definitions/Keto Acronyms
CHAPTER 1: How eating the right way can get you into ketosis fast
With any diet, you’re going to want to follow the “rules” – right? For example, if you’re not eating the recommended way, then technically you’re not following the diet.
Lucky for you, it’s not too hard to follow Keto, and we’re going to guide you along the way, so you’ll reach ketosis (the goal!) quickly!
So, to reach your goal of ketosis, we’re going to break down what you need to be eating and how much.
Keto is essentially a low carb, high fat and moderate protein diet.
When eating this way, your body goes into Ketosis. This allows your body to produce ketones, which is essentially what your body uses for fuel.
If you’re following a standard diet with a lot of carbs, you will NEVER get into ketosis. Ketosis requires high fat, low carb.
We will go into more about ketosis for dummies in the next chapter.
For now, let’s go into a little more details about what you should be eating….
How-To Follow your Correct Macros (aka macronutrients):
This term is essentially defined as your daily intake of carbs, fat and proteins.
For each meal you want to be within this keto ratio:
- 60-75% of calories from fat
- 15-30% calories from protein
- 5-10% calories from net carbs.
- To start, you could keep your daily net carbs (total carbs without fiber) down to less than 50 grams a day… but, preferably 20-30 grams.
- Do what you can in the beginning and slowly lower your grams each day if you need to. To be sure you’re eating what you should, use a keto diet calculator.
CHAPTER 2: How to easily get into ketosis
In this chapter I will go into more detail about ketosis, what it is, what the benefits are and how to get into ketosis.
Let’s dive in keto for dummies mode…
Ketosis is when your body goes into fat-burning mode. This is awesome right??? Isn’t it everyone’s goal to burn fat?! I know it’s mine! HAHA.
Anyways, normally our bodies function off of burning carbs/sugar.
This is because our diets usually consist of lots of carbs – – carbs are practically in everything… bread, pasta, crackers, beans, rice, fruits and some are even in veggies.
What is Ketosis?
Ketosis is a natural process our bodies go through daily in order to provide us with energy from ketones when sugar and carbs aren’t available.
When the body requires more energy but can’t burn sugar and carbs as fuel, it increases ketone levels, thus putting it in the metabolic state of ketosis.
So, by following a low carb or keto diet you’re not eating many carbs and you’re eating a lot of fat.
Therefore your body begins to look for a different source of fuel to burn, so since you’re eating high fat it then burns fat instead.
This is the keto for dummies definition of ketosis.
Benefits of Ketosis?
The #1 reason why dieters want to enter a state of ketosis is that this is when the fat will begin melting off.
While the ketogenic diet is most commonly used for weight loss, there are also other benefits of ketosis.
For example, some scientists believe ketones provide fuel for the brain while protecting it from degeneration.
There are even some studies that have found a link between a ketogenic diet and the treatment of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia.
Diabetics also benefit from ketosis, as a keto diet is the healthiest way to reduce and control glycemic levels.
How To Get In Ketosis
In order to get into ketosis the keto for dummies way, you’re obviously going to need to limit your carb intake and eliminate sugar from your diet.
If trying to achieve ketosis, it’s best to limit yourself to no more than 20 carbs a day.
However, this can vary depending on your health, so you’ll want to consult with your physician before starting a keto diet if you’re breastfeeding, a diabetic, etc.
Wondering how you can tell if you’re in ketosis?
Most keto diet pros claim your urine will have a distinct odor and your breath may be a bit funky.
You can also use ketone strips to test levels using urine test strips or use a blood glucose monitor.
How long does it take to enter ketosis?
Of course – everyone is different. Anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks is what experts say… but it really does vary from person to person.
All our bodies perform differently. Just hang in there. Stick to low carb and high fat and you will reach ketosis in no time!
Fat Adaptation Details
The term “fat-adaptation,” also known as keto-adaptation, was coined to describe what your body goes through as it begins to burn its fat reserves as fuel instead of the easy, go-to source of carbohydrates.
Once you get into “ketosis” your body learns to be fat-adapted.
Your body begins to increase its production of ketones, which are what your liver makes when metabolizing fats when carbohydrates are low.
These are what are used for energy when your carb reserves are diminishing.
How long does it take to become fat-adapted?
The time it takes to transition into a fat-adapted state varies from person to person.
Your storage of glycogen will drop down, depleting your brain and other organs of glucose and pulling from fat and ketones for energy and fuel.
This process can have adverse side effects commonly known as the “keto flu” (see below).
Some of the symptoms may include brain fog, fatigue, headaches, irritability, light-headedness, muscle cramps, and nausea. However, many people report that they begin to feel better around 7-10 days into the transition!
By the end of your second week, your body should have made the majority of its transition to get into this fat-adapted state.
Normally by this point, your hunger and food cravings should be diminished and your energy levels and stamina should be peaking.
You will find you can go for 4-6 hours in between meals without being hungry!
You may also notice less lactic acid build-up (if you train on the regular) which will show itself in the form of less muscle soreness and fatigue.
How can you make this transition easier on your body?
In order to make this transition a little bit easier on your body, make sure to eat a lot of fat and fiber.
The more full you feel, the less likely you are to crave the previous high carb, processed foods you may be used to eating.
Going from a higher carbohydrate diet to higher fat and lower carbohydrate diet will lower your water and electrolyte intake.
So it is important to make sure you are taking in a higher amount of water than you may be used to throughout your day.
You can also add a pinch of salt to help your cells have an easier time grabbing onto the water molecules and provide your body with electrolytes.
It’s important to remember that the symptoms, transition time, and positive changes you can experience vary from person to person. So go slow and be patient with your body in order to fully grasp the process of fat adaptation and welcome being in a keto state!
CHAPTER 3: How to get the results you want by eating the right keto friendly foods
So, now you know that keto is low carb, high fat and moderate protein. So what does that mean? What can you eat?
It’s simple and we’ve created an extensive food list here. <<Click that link for another one of our keto for dummies guide.
You can even print it out to put on your fridge if you wanted.
Generally, people on keto eat meats, eggs, and high-fat foods like cheese, avocados, olives, oils, and nuts/seeds.
What you shouldn’t have?
You will want to avoid anything filled with carbs. For example: no grains, no beans, little to no fruit (low carb fruit is okay in moderation if it fits within your carbs for the current day), no bread, no pasta, no store-bought desserts.
Keep in mind that there are lots of recipes out there that are ok to have on keto that you might not think are ok. For example: keto-friendly bread, keto-friendly dessert, keto-friendly pasta, etc.
So, don’t feel like you will be completely missing out on your favorite foods!
Again – I suggest our food list here: EXTENSIVE KETO FOOD LIST
CHAPTER 4: How to succeed with this 7 day meal plan sample
I know how important it is to know what to eat and how to eat it. Therefore, I created a keto for dummies sample meal plan.
In it, you will find breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack ideas for one week.
Following a meal plan can help you keep on track and not stray away from the plan.
This is especially true if you do meal prep ahead of time for the week.
This means you would shop, chop, and cook up the food before the start of the week, then make single-serving meals to eat throughout the week.
You won’t make any excuses if you already had your food prepared and ready to go!
You will definitely succeed following a meal plan with meal prep ahead of time.
Below is an easy low carb meal prep sample menu:
But, for a full meal plan – check out our simple keto meal plan sample on this page: >> 7 DAY KETO MEAL PLAN SAMPLE
CHAPTER 5: How to survive the Keto flu
The rumors are true – The keto flu is real!
So, what is the keto flu?
Also known as the “carb flu”, the keto flu is your body’s natural reaction to the process needed to achieve ketosis.
When beginning a keto diet, your body is just learning how to adapt in order to burn fat instead of burning glucose.
This can cause you to feel sick, hence the name “keto flu”.
Are you on a keto diet and think you might be experiencing a bit of keto flu? Here’s what you should look for and how you can cure it.
Keto Flu Symptoms
You are probably going though the motions of a keto flu if you feel any of the following:
- easily fatigued
- brain fog
- an upset stomach
- Outrageous Sugar cravings
Your body is undergoing changes as it’s being starved of carbohydrates and replenished with fats, so this is natural.
But don’t cave. You’ll get through this phase and begin burning fat like it’s nobody’s business.
Cures for Keto Flu
- Hydrate + Add a Pinch of Salt to Your Water: The reason why you feel sick is because your body is being “flushed”, which can result in dehydration.
This is why it’s important to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! You may even want to add a pinch of salt to a glass of water before drinking it, as sodium helps the body retain water.
- Get More Sodium, Potassium and Magnesium: These three essential electrolytes are often depleted when beginning a keto diet, so it’s recommended you eat foods that are rich in minerals and/or take a daily supplement.
You can also drink electrolyte water. For example, you can also have pickle juice.
- Go to bed early/take naps: While hydrating and filling up on electrolytes are the best ways to cure keto flu the keto for dummies way, you also want to make sure you’re getting enough sleep and finding ways to naturally relieve stress.
The keto flu will soon pass and your body will become a fat-burning machine!
What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes, in very simple terms, are the important minerals that our body needs.
In technical terms, electrolytes are minerals in our body that are electrically charged, which will break down into particles called ions when dissolved in a polar solvent such as water. They are present in our blood and other body fluids.
Electrolytes are necessary for our various body functions related to the muscular and nervous system. They:
- enable muscular contractions
- transmit nerve signals
- keep our body hydrated
- regulates blood pH level
- help rebuild tissue
The main electrolytes present in our body are:
At first, sodium deficiency may worry a lot of people.
After all, this mineral is necessary for vital body functions such as fluid balance regulation, blood pressure control, muscle contraction and the cellular transport of nutrients.
Hyponatremia, the clinical term for low blood sodium, may cause symptoms such as confusion, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, headaches and changes in personality.
In reality, sodium depletion as a direct result of a Keto diet is in fact unlikely.
Many foods allowed in Ketogenic diets such as meat, fish, cheese, and vegetables can provide enough sodium to cover the needs of an adult body.
Besides eating these foods, the simple addition of a little bit extra salt during cooking can remove any worries about developing a sodium deficiency while on the Keto diet.
As a reference, one teaspoon of table salt contains 2300mg of sodium, which happens to be the approximate recommended daily amount.
The muscle cramps and twitches associated with magnesium deficiency are probably the two most common symptoms of Keto first-timers.
This mineral is important in bone formation, normal nerve function, and essential for enzyme activity.
If the recommended daily intake of 420mg is not met, muscle tremors, especially after exercise and general weakness can also be experienced.
A Keto diet can provide a huge variety of magnesium-rich foods to choose from.
Spinach, avocados, and tuna fish are great examples, as well as almonds, a handful of which can provide up to 20% of the recommended daily amount.
Many Keto diet followers, especially those who go frequently to the gym, will also choose to take a magnesium supplement to ensure that they won’t have to deal with those bothersome muscle cramps.
When it comes to potassium intake during a Keto diet, things get a little bit trickier.
This electrolyte is the main intracellular ion of the human body and has an important role in neurotransmission, muscle contraction, and normal heart function.
A dietary potassium deficiency can lead to heart palpitations, muscle twitches or cramps and even cause cardiovascular abnormalities.
Modern processing of foods decreases the amount of potassium they contain.
Additionally, fruits, such as bananas, are some of the best sources of potassium but due to their high carbohydrate content, they can very rarely be part of a Ketogenic diet.
But there is also good news.
Keto can still have a plethora of alternative, low-carb options to choose from to ensure an adequate potassium intake.
Just one cup of dark, leafy greens such as kale or spinach, can provide up to 18% of the recommended daily intake of potassium.
Most meats, salmon, and nuts like walnuts and pistachios are also great alternatives.
Finally, two of Keto’s most popular foods, avocados and mushrooms can also help dieters reach the recommended daily intake of 3500mg.
NOTE: A few other electrolytes to keep your eye on nutritionally are Calcium, Chloride, Phosphate, and Bicarbonate.
Health Issues with Electrolyte Deficiency
Variation from their normal range can prove to be very harmful to our health.
The following are some of the common symptoms caused by lack or excess of these electrolytes. As you can see they are similar symptoms to those of the Keto Flu:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Muscle Cramps
- Mood swings
- Brain fog
- Loss of appetite
Keto and Electrolytes Relation
Electrolyte imbalance generally occurs in case of severe dehydration, which is why we often see athletes replenishing their minerals with electrolyte-enriched drinks.
Following a strict keto diet may also however show these symptoms.
By limiting the carb ingestion, we limit the conversion into glucose and hence our body produces less insulin.
As a result, our kidney excretes water (and minerals with it) more often.
There is less water retention, which shows weight loss, but it also alters the balance of these essential electrolytes.
If following the keto diet you are feeling fatigued or pulling muscular cramps more often than ever, it is because these electrolytes are out of their healthy range.
What can we do?
Mix it up! When following a ketogenic low-carb-high-fat diet, ensure including food that is rich in minerals too. The following foods can help increase electrolytes intake:
- Pine Nuts
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Brussel sprouts
If the symptoms persist, consult your doctor. Sometimes it might be necessary to take supplements.
CHAPTER 6: How eating more fat can help you lose weight (+Fat bombs)
Eating more fats means you’re more likely to get into ketosis.
Keep in mind that this goes hand-in-hand with eating very few carbs!!!
You’ll want to stick to both points for ultimate results.
But, the question is – why does high-fat help you lose weight?
You might have always thought high fat would make you gain weight. Right?
That’s what we’ve always been taught for as long as I can remember. Fatty foods = fat on your thighs!
But, this is just false.
Sure, eating really disgusting fatty fried foods from the county fair or fast food is NOT the way to go all the time. Especially if you’re eating fried high CARB foods. That’s where the problem lies usually – carbs.
French fries and donuts fall into the bad-for-you and NOT KETO friendly fatty foods.
Instead, opt for healthy fats.
Oils, nuts, seeds, olives, cheese, and avocados are all my favorite ways to get more fat into my diet. Check out our full fatty foods keto for dummies guide by clicking here.
Have you heard of Fat Bombs?
Fat bombs are the best!
They are bite-sized snacks made mostly of healthy fats (coconut cream, nut-butters, coconut oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, etc) along with keto-friendly flavorings.
There are tons of ideas out there for fat bombs. You can go sweet or you can go savory with them. Click the link below for a complete guide on how to make them which includes a few tasty recipes.
They will save you when you need a little snack, they are easy to make and they are a perfect way to get more fat into your diet. We’ve created a guide for you – FAT BOMB GUIDE.
CHAPTER 7: How to eat sweets without the insulin spike
Sweets and desserts are on a lot of peoples minds.
They are something that a lot of us crave. This is natural. But it’s also kind of annoying when you’ve just begun a new low carb keto diet.
The cool thing is, you can still have sweets on a keto diet.
Yes, that’s right! I said it!
It just has to be sugar-free. So literally no sugar.
So, how do you do this? You opt for sugar-free sweeteners.
Some favorite options include stevia and monk fruit. To learn more, check out our extensive Keto Sweeteners Guide here.
It’s pretty cool the options out there these days when it comes to sugar free sweeteners.
Where can I use keto sweeteners?
You can use these to make your favorite sweet treats: Cakes, muffins, cookies, cake pops or whatever you desire, really.
In addition, you can also use sugar-free sweeteners in veggie smoothies, in your plain unsweetened yogurt or wherever your heart desires.
For example, I sometimes like to add a tsp of stevia to my smoothies. I add some cucumber, kale and a few carrot sticks – blend with some stevia and a bit of water to get it going and I have a tasty smoothie!
If your sugar tooth is craving something sweet – check out our guide here and make yourself a treat:
>>KETO SUGAR FREE SWEETENERS GUIDE
CHAPTER 8: How you can be a vegetarian or vegan and still go keto
If you’re all about being plant-based, vegetarian or vegan – don’t sweat it. You can still follow a keto diet.
The truth is, you just need to stay within the low carb, high fat parameters. Meat eaters and vegetarians/vegans can both follow a low carb and high fat diet.
With a little adjustment to the diet, you can still get into ketosis as a vegetarian or vegan.
Many people who are vegetarian or vegan follow a keto diet. And they still achieve the results they’re looking for. Check out MeatFreeKeto.com for example. She’s created a whole business around this topic.
Steps to going vegetarian/vegan keto.
To go keto on a vegan or vegetarian diet, you would just eat plants. It’s that simple. If you’re worried about protein – keep in mind that plants provide protein, too!
Just remember: stay away from starchy or high carb plants (fruits, beans, grains, etc). These will only keep you out of ketosis and therefore the whole purpose for keto is thwarted.
You might find this type of diet plan hard and/or restrictive, but it’s doable! Get creative and you will succeed!
Get our guide here:
>>VEGAN / VEGETARIAN KETO GUIDE
CHAPTER 9: Best Keto Resources
There are so many products out there surrounding the keto diet.
Below I’ve listed a couple products I recommend. They both include Leanne Vogel of HealthfulPursuit.com. She is THE expert on Keto in my opinion. She knows her stuff!
Firstly, I can recommend our product mentioned below, which is a video course we created that includes 18 videos where we interviewed Leanne on all the important topics of Keto.
In addition, it also includes tons of handy printable guides and a meal plan.
Secondly, I recommend Leanne’s famous book – The Keto Beginning. It will help you dive deeper into keto and it will really help you reach your goals.
My top recommended Keto programs:
- Keto Weight Loss For Beginners Video Course ($29) – we created this video course with the leading keto expert Leanne Vogel. 18 videos + 5 keto printable guides + one-week transitional meal plan. Do the course on your own time and view the videos as often as you’d like. Learn the following:
- what are the common mistakes people make on Keto?
- how do I control my snack cravings?
- Is keto bad for my health?
- What do I do about hunger?
- ….And so much more! Click here to see all you get with the video course.
- The Keto Beginning ($35) – Leanne Vogel created this ebook to guide you more extensively with keto. Plus there is a 30-day meal plan. Click here to learn more about it.
CHAPTER 10: Keto glossary, Keto Definitions and Keto Acronyms for Dummies
Being on any diet plan or fitness routine or whatever, there is always acronyms or words you don’t know.
In keto, for example, you’ll see HFLC, SAD, AS, or PCOS… and you’re probably thinking what the heck is that??
Well, stop stressing – here is a simple keto for dummies guide to follow and know the most popular acronyms and terms you’ll find while following a Keto Diet.
AS – Artificial Sweetener
BF% – Body Fat Percentage
BG – Blood Glucose
BPC – Bulletproof Coffee
CAL – Calories
CKD – Cyclical Keto Diet (great for those who do high intensity workouts)
CW – Current Weight
Fat Bomb – High Fat Snack
GI – Glycemic Index
GW – Goal Weight
HF – High Fat
HF – Hormone Free
HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training
HW – Highest Weight
HWC – Heavy Whipping Cream
IBS – Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IF – Intermittent Fasting
IR – Insulin Resistance
KFD – Keto for Dummies
Lazy Keto – in general this means you’re not really keeping track of all macros
LBM – Lean Body Mass
LCHF – Low Carb High Fat
LC – Low Carb
Macros – aka macronutrients: Carbs, Fats and Proteins
MCT – Medium Chain Triglycerides, a healthy oil usually made from Coconuts
NC – Net Carbs
NSV – Non-Scale Victory
PCOS – Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
RDA – recommended daily allowance
SAD – Standard American Diet
SA – Sugar Alcohols
SF – Sugar Free
Shark Week – Menstruation
SKD – Standard Keto Diet
SW – Starting Weight
T1D – Type 1 Diabetes
T2D – Type 2 Diabetes
WOE – Way of Eating
WOL – Way of Living
This keto for dummies guide is for those who like to keep things simple and easy.
No need to complicate things, just keep it simple and you can still reach your goals. Complications only lead to frustration and a lack of motivation.
I wish you luck on Keto and if you have questions, reach out in the comments below or email me anytime.
If you were looking for something specific in this keto diet summary and didn’t find it here, just ask and I will get back to you. Email: Kelly@HealthyHappySmart.com
What macro tracker do you recommend? I’ve heard of cronometer from a friend. Any thoughts? Thanks.