Today I have 15 keto tips for beginners to this way of eating. These tips are based on my own experience, as well as what I have read from others.
Keto is the one improvement that I have made in my life that is reaping the most benefits. Bye-bye brain fog, dry skin, dull hair and hello a more even temperment. This is thanks to eating clean food that helps to eliminate inflammation in my body.
And the side benefit that it helps you lose weight and reshape your body naturally doesn’t hurt either!
*This post was originally posted on January 10, 2020 and has been updated with new content*
Hello and welcome to Fearlessly Holistic.
My name is Irma and I want to share my journey to improved health by eating whole foods, moving my body and eliminating stress as much as possible. It is my hope to inspire you to make daily changes.
Why? Because eating fresh, seasonal food and getting some sunshine is the best way to increase longevity. But you do not want just a long life. You want a quality long life.
I like to focus on simple concepts and moving forward one step at a time for sustained progress. If that sounds good to you, then be sure to sign up for my weekly newsletter of tips for Keto/low carb eaters. Get a FREE Keto Food List, Quick Start Guide, and Sample Meal Plan for signing up.
My blog posts are my opinion and the results of things that I have tried that either worked for me or didn’t. My opinions are for informational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. Medical advice should always be obtained from a qualified medical professional for any health conditions or symptoms associated with them. As well, there may be affiliate links in this post. Read more here.
What is Keto?
Keto is short for ketosis, which is your body’s ability to burn fat for fuel. At its core, the keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat way of eating. Ideally you will eat high fat foods, like butter and avocado, as well as a moderate amount of protein.
Your carbohydrates are low-sugar vegetables (like cauliflower and dark leafy greens) and berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries).
You may read that glucose (carbs) is your brains preferred fuel, but this is simply not true. The proof comes from any hunter-gatherer tribe that lives in areas where food does not grow at certain times of the year. Like in the dead of winter.
Related Post: Keto Made Easy
If carbs were a requirement for life, carby foods would naturally grow year round wherever people live (I am not talking about strawberries that are force grown outside of their natural growing season).
No, your brain prefers fat. Since most of your cells are made up of fat, it makes sense that your brain, which is primarily fat, would work best when being fed…you guessed it…fat.
What are Macro’s?
Fat, protein and carbohydrates are macro-nutrients, or macro’s for short. Most foods fit into one of the three macro-nutrient categories.
Of the three macro-nutrients only carbohydrates are not required for life.
The Standard American Diet (SAD) is very high in carbohydrate foods, so it is understandable why so many people these days are unhealthy.
Government guidelines for eating recommend that 60% of calories come from carbs; 30% from protein and 10% from fat. Because you are constantly eating high carb foods to meet these macros, your body never gets a chance to burn off fat.
On the Keto diet, you eat so few carbohydrates that your body naturally burns fat.
The macros for keto or low carb diets is 70 to 80% calories from fat, 20 to 25% calories from protein and 5% of calories from carbohydrate foods, ideally vegetables. This is the information that you would put into a calorie tracker so that you can monitor your results.
Tracking your macros can help you to tweak the diet for better success. Some people can do keto better with the higher amount of protein, while other people do better with higher fat.
You are encouraged to eat healthy fats, like those in meat, dairy products (full-fat), and foods like nuts and avocado’s. Healthy fats do not include deep fried foods, processed meats, or low fat dairy products which use sugars to replace the taste or texture of the fat that is missing.
Prioritize Your Keto Health Goals
It can be easy to get overwhelmed when trying something new like a different way of eating. To make life easier, you may want to prioritize your goals so that you focus on only changing one thing at a time. This way you can get success while moving forward one step at a time.
Let me explain: your first goal might be to clean out your pantry and get rid of unhelpful foods. Next you want to bring in healthier foods while weaning your family away from unhealthy foods.
Then you may want to move to better quality meats, like grass fed or pastured. This way you move forward logically but without changing everything at once.
One way to do this might be…
If you used to buy processed pasta dishes (“K.D”), skip over these in the store and buy plain pasta. Serve this pasta with butter and shredded cheese.
As your family gets used to eating pasta this way, you can move on to the next priority, which might be having pasta only once a week, while increasing how often you serve a green salad per week.
Make salads fun by offering lots of toppings like sliced red onion, fresh berries, or different cheeses like feta.
Start off with low carb bottled dressings, then move to homemade dressing.
In just a few short weeks, you can transition your family away from the worst types of foods, aka processed, an towards better quality foods.
It is important to have your family on board with changes to diet. It can be a real struggle if they are hostile towards change, however they will thank you when they are feeling better.
15 Keto Tips for Beginners
These tips are in no particular order, but are my favorite tips for success. If you can stay one day ahead on your meal planning and prep work, you can make this way of eating workable for your life. And you will feel so much better in no time.
1. Buy Meat and Freeze It
My best tip by far is to buy meat in bulk and freeze it in portions.
Costco, which is the Keto dream food store, is my favorite store to buy meat. They have these amazing ground beef patties that are 8 oz portion size and 16 to a pack. I also buy steaks, pork chops, pork tenderloins, ground turkey, whole organic chickens, and whatever else looks good or is on sale.
Costco is also a great place to get bacon, butter, dairy products, spiralized veggies, and berries in summer.
2. Clean Out Your Pantry
This goes without saying, but if you want to avoid temptation, avoid it by getting rid of tempting foods.
Keep foods that make cooking easier, like canned tomatoes, bone broth, canned fish, and dried onion flakes.
Related Post: Clean Eating For Improved Health
3. Buy Snacks
If you are wondering where to get great keto snacks, just check out your local gas station. You should be able to find plenty of Keto staple snacks, like pepperoni sticks, beef jerky and pork rinds. Watch for baked cheese crisps, or make your own by baking shredded cheese.
Pork rinds are super versatile. You can crush them to coat pork chops, you can make a type of sweet snack like in this recipe from Dana Carpender, or make a cream cheese dip and use them like chips.
Related Post: Keto Chaffle
4. Cook Twice as Much Food
A simple way to get ahead on your new keto way of eating is to cook extra food. Use this food for your next days lunch, or just as back up in case things go funny (like they do) and you need something quick.
For me, I always cook double the pork sausages this way.
It takes about 30 seconds in the microwave to re-heat them and I never have to worry about eating bad foods while waiting on dinner.
Watch the ingredients in whatever breakfast sausage you buy and get the brand with the least amount of bad ingredients (some pork sausage meat contains sugar, wheat, or other starches).
If you can’t find “clean” sausages, limit the amount that you eat.
Recipe: An easy meal is to mix some cut up cooked breakfast sausages with about 8 to 10 eggs and bit of heavy cream. You can add in mushrooms, onions, peppers and some shredded cheddar cheese. Bake in a 9 x 13″ (well greased) pan for about 30 to 40 minutes or until done. Cool and cut into squares for meals or snacks. You can also prepare this in a muffin pan (I do this).
5. Track Your Macros
Sign up for a free food tracker like cronometer. You can get the app for iPhone or Android or use the desktop version. Cronometer has a huge database of foods that you can log daily to monitor your macros.
You can also log your exercise and make daily notes.
6. Hide Your Scale
In the first week of keto, you will likely lose a good chunk of water weight. This weight loss is deceptive because it is mostly water that your body has been holding on to from eating processed foods.
It is quite normal for your body to do this, but you will only lose this weight once. After this initial loss your weight loss should normalize. However, a big loss right at the start can make checking the scale daily into an obsession (guilty!). Pick one day a week to check your stats, but if this is too much then try once a month.
7. Join A Low Carb Forum or Group
These are everywhere, but my favorite is Active Low Carbers. There are tons of great recipes at this site and lots of people doing low carb their way (keto, low carb, South Beach, Atkins etc).
You have an online journal and lots of groups that you can join to learn more about different low carb eating plans.
8. Watch Meal Prep Videos
This is the best way to keep ahead of cravings and temptations…meal prep. Here is a video that will show you how easy it is to meal prep, along with some great food ideas.
9. Eat Breakfast Every Day The First Week
This is the easiest way to stick with Keto…start your day with a good meal. I recommend scrambled eggs with some butter melting on top. This high fat/high protein meal will sustain you until lunch.
Over a period of a week, you may find that you are no longer hungry when you get up. This is normal as your body adjusts to eating this way. As you keep on keeping on, your body will naturally want to fast as your caloric requirements change. Ketosis makes intermittent fasting much easier.
10. Plan To Intermittent Fast
This is just a natural extension of eating low carb…natural fasting. For me, I found that I could eat breakfast maybe twice a week. Most days I am able to naturally fast until lunch time.
Related Post: How To Do An Intermittent Fasting Diet Plan
I then try to fit all of my food for the day into a six hour window (noon to 6 pm).
If you are having troubles getting to noon without food, try a cup of coffee or tea with some heavy cream added to it. The fat from the cream should hold back the cravings until your next meal. Avoid adding sweeteners, even artificial ones, which can kick you out of ketosis.
Bonus Tip: Stay Hydrated
Hydration is vital for anyone beginning the keto diet, especially newcomers. Staying hydrated supports various bodily functions and contributes to the overall success of the ketogenic lifestyle.
Water is essential in maintaining optimal hydration levels.
It flushes toxins and waste products out of the body while also helping prevent dehydration which may arise due to ketosis’s diuretic effect.
Drinking enough water helps the process of turning fatty acids into ketones, which can then be used for energy.
Mermaid Skinny Syrup offers an ideal way to enhance the flavor of water without jeopardizing the keto journey. Packed with delicious carb- and sugar-free sweetness, this syrup gives your water an irresistibly tasty boost while meeting hydration goals while remaining keto friendly.
How much water should you drink?
A simple way to determine the baseline of how much water to drink is:
- Divide your body weight in half
- Use that number as the number of ounces of water to drink per day.
For example, if you weigh 150 lbs then half of that is 75 pounds, so drink 75 ounces of water. You may need more or less, but this is a good starting point.
11. If Cravings Hit, Get Out Of The House
Go for a quick walk around your house, or around the block, or find a friend and walk around the outside of the local mall.
Put your earbuds in and step up your pace. If you have bad habits associated with food cravings (like always buying some junk food when you are legit shopping), then you will have to find a way to ditch those habits.
Try using a printable habit tracker. I have created one for you; just click this link. It is simple and helpful. Be sure to give yourself a treat for making it through a month, like a new top if you are losing steadily.
12. Avoid Artificial Sweeteners
If you have sweet cravings, you may find that artificial sweeteners act exactly the same as regular sugars do. We do not understand why these fake sugars act like regular white death, but they do for many people.
Do yourself a favor and avoid them for the first several months. As well, watch out for too much dairy, which contains milk sugar (lactose). Dairy stalls many new Keto dieters, so if you find that you are not losing weight, take your food back to basics.
13. Plan Meals In Advance
For you, this may mean making up some kind of rudimentary meal plan. It does not have to be complicated…just pick a meat for lunch and a meat for dinner for Monday to Friday. Figure out which veggies your family likes, and plot them in with the meats.
An example might be: tuna and mayo for lunch and a beef burger patty for dinner (lettuce wrapped or not; don’t forget the fixings like sliced onions or sauteed mushrooms).
Keep track of your families favorites and then mix up things for the rest of the days. Your meats do not have to be plain; find a recipe for homemade taco seasoning and make a taco salad (without the chips).
14. Use Sea Salt
Feel free to add salt to your food now. Once you eliminate processed foods, you will have to manually add salt. Pick a quality salt (not table salt, which is crap) like a pink Himalayan.
If you find yourself suffering with strange symptoms in your first week, this is likely the Keto Flu, which is your body adapting to your change in diet. This can be partly alleviated by adding bone broth to your diet, increasing salt consumption and drinking more water. Read this post from Ruled.me for more information.
If you find that you are getting leg cramps now, it is because your electrolytes are off. You should try adding in a Magnesium supplement (not combined with calcium). You can up your potassium with salt substitutes like Mrs. Dash, which contain potassium.
15. Use Quality Fats
The best quality fats are: butter, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, ghee (clarified butter that has been cooked a bit longer), mayonnaise made with a quality oil (like avocado), and any other nut oils that you might like for your salads.
Related Post: 24 Healthy Fat Foods
Nuts are considered a good source of fat, but be careful how many you eat. Those calories can inch up pretty quickly. Ditto for nut butters.
I hope these 15 tips will help you as you transition away from the standard american diet and into one that nourishes your body and brain. A couple of weeks on Keto is enough to know what the main benefits are…clear thinking and a general feeling of improving health.
The best part of Keto is how much more efficiently your body will work now that it is getting proper fuel.
I gave my child plenty of good fats and whole milk growing up, and she always got good grades and had a very even temperament. No crazy mood swings or major hormonal disruptions.
I credit this to quality foods and I am so glad that we have moved away from processed crap foods and into fresh, minimally processed foods instead. Just like our cavemen ancestors used to eat.
Holism targets overall wellness, and when we are well, we only get better with age.
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Here’s to our health!