There are lots of guides about the keto diet for beginners, but here’s what makes this one different:
You’ll discover Healthy Keto®
Unlike traditional forms of the keto diet, Healthy Ketosis uses high-quality ingredients full of nutrients to support your health. I’ve helped hundreds of people to lose weight and get their health back under their control. And in this guide, I’ll show you how you can get started with your own keto diet plan even if you’re a total beginner.
Or if you’re a seasoned keto adherent who’s limited your carb intake, become keto-adapted, and enjoyed the anti-inflammatory benefits of a low carb keto way of eating, you’ll find tips and tricks drawn from years of research that you probably won’t find anywhere else on the web.
What is a healthy ketogenic Diet?
A ketogenic diet is simply a diet, which causes your body to run on what are called ketones instead of sugar from carbohydrates like pasta, grains or sugary foods. Ketones are a type of acid formed when your body begins burning stored or dietary fat for fuel instead of carbs. They’re actually a very efficient fuel for your body. The most abundant, and beneficial, ketone is called beta-hydroxybutyrate or BHB.
On a typical American diet, your body is constantly converting sugar from carbs into energy. However, when you change to a high-fat diet and limit your net carbs, your body starts producing ketones for energy. As a result, on a low carb diet, your body automatically begins burning fat (1).
In a keto diet, the goal is to switch your body from burning sugar fuel to fat fuel.
Do You Really Need Carbs?
The dictionary defines carbohydrates as “substances such as sugar or starch that provide the body with energy.”
Simple carbohydrate made of refined flour and added sugar rapidly converts to blood sugar (glucose) when you eat them. Complex carbohydrates, such as grains and beans, convert more slowly. Regardless, all carbohydrates convert to sugar in the body – and when your net carb intake is high you’ll gain weight.
All your life you’ve been told that you need carbohydrates for energy or that your brain can only run on glucose made from carbs, a type of sugar. Those are myths, as evidenced by the countless healthy, happy individuals on low-sugar or low-carbohydrate diets(2). Instead, you can run your body on other fuel sources such as fatty acids and ketones produced by fat burning. While your body does need a very tiny amount of glucose (sugar) to function, it has the capability to produce all the glucose it needs internally from fat or protein, not carbs.
The carbs you do need are vegetables—but only for the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber they supply. Otherwise, your body does not require carbohydrates for good health. In fact, the opposite is true. Carbohydrates, particularly refined carbohydrates, deplete your nutrients and negatively affect your health. Carbs also turn to fat in your body, and they impede fat burning. (That’s why you haven’t been able to lose weight on a high-carb diet(3).)
“Ketosis” is the state your body is in when it is converting fat into energy. When a diet is referred to as “ketogenic,” it only uses a particular combination of foods that puts your body into ketosis using a process called ketogenesis. This food combination is:
*Clean carbs refer to non-starchy vegetables
The goal of the ketogenic diet is to get your body into ketosis and keep it there. When you’re in ketosis, your body creates better fuel for itself and for your brain.
As you can guess, the foods that throw you out of ketosis are excessive carbs and sugar and high protein. So too will frequent eating.
Getting your body into ketosis is like flipping a switch from using energy from carbs to using energy from fat. The result is that you start burning fat automatically as you go through your day.
Traditional Keto Diet Plan Vs. Healthy Keto®
Although the common denominator of all keto diets is low net carbs to induce ketosis, not all keto diets are created equal. In fact, traditional ketogenic diets do not differentiate the type of food.
Many times, they include processed, genetically modified foods, gluten products, unhealthy trans fats, and synthetic vitamins. This gives keto a bad rap. A healthy keto diet food list is very important to understand. Traditional low-carb, high-fat keto’s primary goal is usually rapid weight loss or a reduction of epilepsy symptoms, and not necessarily good nutrition. As a result, you could lose weight or reduce certain symptoms but become less healthy overall.
Any type of ketogenic diet, by limiting net carbs, also reduces your fat storing hormone (4) – but why limit yourself when there are an impressive variety of long-term health benefits, which await you?
To distinguish my keto program from others, I coined the term “Healthy Ketosis.” It’s based on a guiding principle of mine:
It’s not “Lose weight to get healthy,” its “Get healthy to lose weight!”
Healthy Keto is groundbreaking because it emphasizes obtaining your required nutrients from high-quality foods such as organic vegetables, full-fat organic dairy, and wild-caught, grass fed, pasture-raised meat, fish, fowl, and eggs —all with the goal of getting you healthy to lose weight rather than losing weight to get healthy.
No Counting Calories On The Healthy Keto Diet
As you know, typical diets are centered on calorie counting. You’re told you need to simply consume fewer calories than you burn and you’ll lose weight, regardless of where those calories come from. This is not only wrong but it’s unhealthy.
When you look at the definition of food in the dictionary, you’ll see why:
Food: (n) That which is eaten to sustain life, provide energy and promote the growth and repair of tissues; nourishment. The word “food” comes from an old English word “foda” which meant nourishment.
Eating is not simply a matter of getting calories; it’s about getting nutrients from those calories (5) And that is what Healthy Keto® is all about: getting the nutrition you need from the foods you eat.
Another vital point is that not all calories are created equal when it comes to your hormones. Carb calories trigger fat-making and fat-storing hormones the most, while calories from fat trigger those same hormones the least (6).
In other words, you need to eat keto-approved fat to lose fat.
Healthy Keto® Diet Guidelines for your Quick Start Keto
When you keep in mind that food is intended to provide nourishment not only calories, but there are also two principles that form the foundation of a healthy ketogenic diet:
Eat low carb, high-fat foods that cause you to use your own fat reserves when you’re in ketosis.
Eat foods that provide all the nutrients your body requires for health.
Don’t Eat Sugar at All
To get into ketosis and stay there, stay away from any type of sugar or anything that turns quickly into sugar such as wheat, corn, rice, cereal, most fruits, and the like.
When you consume sugar, your body will burn it as fuel, and you won’t experience the healthy, weight-loss benefits of fat burning. You’ll need to be alert to the ingredients of all foods and beverages you consume. Be sure to check nutrition labels for sugars or sugar-creating ingredients.
Examples of these include:
High-fructose corn syrup
What to Eat Overview
On the Healthy Ketogenic plan, I recommend the following breakdown of the types of calories you eat:
Although this plan is not based on calorie counting, I’m giving you these percentages in terms of calories since they are a common measurement guideline in the food industry.
The Truth About Fat
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, widespread media stories about the alleged virtues of low-fat diets resulted in hundreds of unhealthy low-fat foods on our grocery shelves. These low-fat processed foods were (and still are) loaded with sweeteners and chemicals to make them more palatable because they lacked delicious fats like butter or coconut oil.
Rest assured that healthy dietary fat is a vital component of any diet. Your body needs it! Fat assists in cell growth, the production of hormones, the absorption of nutrients, and more (7). MCT oil is particularly healthy for you and can assist the body getting into ketosis and staying in it.
Our bodies use the ketones as fuel without having to process the ketones through the liver. MCT oil can be taken while intermittent fasting and when taken in moderation MCT oil will not break a fast.
Although 70 percent of your diet as fat seems like an excessive amount, remember we are talking about 70 percent of the total calories. Because fat is more than double the calories per gram than protein or carbs, the amount of fat in weight size is a lot smaller. Instead of focusing on the 70 percent, let’s look at it in the volume of food on your plate.
I recommend you gradually work your way up to your daily amount of fat. If you add too much fat too quickly, you’ll overwhelm your gallbladder, which can cause shoulder pain and bloating. Keto involves eating more fats, and your body will adapt to this by producing more bile. This is a gradual process and may take time, so if you react to an increase in dietary fat cut back a little and introduce it more slowly.
On my Healthy Keto Plan, you’ll be eating foods like beef, large salads, butter, and eggs. If you want to know the gram amounts of fat you’ll be consuming, it will range between 20 to 50 grams in each meal.
I recommend everyone start off on a higher amount of fat in the beginning to help satisfy you between meals. As your body adapts to ketosis over time, you can reduce your fat if you need to lose more weight. Since either your ketones are generated from your own body fat or the dietary fat you eat, eating too much fat may keep you from losing your own fat, particularly if your metabolism is slow despite still being in ketosis.
Healthy dietary fats include:
Organic, grass-fed unprocessed meats, pasture-raised eggs, and wild-caught fish are perfect for this diet. The fattier types of fish and meat are recommended to help you stay in ketosis. An important note is that the leaner the protein is, the more it will elevate your fat storing hormone thus preventing ketosis (8).
And remember, this is a moderate-protein diet. While you may have heard stories of people going crazy eating all the bunless cheeseburgers they want while on a low carb diet, eating too much protein will result in some of the protein being converted to glucose and booting you out of ketosis.
You’ll only need three to six ounces of protein per meal, and maybe a bit more if your metabolism is fast, you’re exercising, or are a large person. Don’t worry about counting grams here, as this can be a little complicated when it comes to protein—just stick with three to six ounces per meal while you’re on the keto diet.
Limit your net carbs to keep your body in ketosis. Choose healthier types of carbs ideally suited to a ketogenic diet such as green and leafy vegetables. You will be able to consume a small number of berries too.
If you feel like you might miss your favorite high-carbohydrate foods, there are plenty of ketogenic substitutes. One of the beauties of the keto diet is once you adapt to fat burning, your hunger and cravings will greatly subside, and you may not even miss your favorites (9)
Consuming enough keto-friendly vegetables is a vital part of this healthy keto diet plan. These veggies will provide your body with plenty of nutrients and help you stay in ketosis. Your main choices will be green leafy vegetables along with cruciferous ones.
The more raw vegetables you can eat, the better. However, if you bloat when you eat vegetables, you will need to start with a smaller amount of raw ones. Steaming them will help.
A big salad at lunch or dinner could provide several cups of greens. For dinner, steam vegetables then top them generously with butter.
Though avocados are fruits, their high level of healthy fats means you can eat them freely on a keto diet. A typical avocado also contains fiber and only two grams of carbohydrates. Plus, it includes minerals such as potassium, which is an essential ingredient of the Healthy Ketogenic diet. Avocados also help improve triglyceride and cholesterol levels (10).
Steer clear of corn and soy; they are usually genetically modified organism (GMO) foods that are problematic on a keto diet.
Choosing Your Carbs
To keep your body in ketosis, your consumption of carbohydrates should be between 20 and 50 grams per day. You can still eat some health protein rich snacks foods occasionally.
In choosing carbs, avoid unhealthy carbs like grains, potatoes, or concentrated carbs like juice. They’re not part of a low carb diet; they’ll boot you out of ketosis, spike your fat storing hormone, and bring your weight loss to a screeching halt.
I’ve mentioned net carbs several times. Net carbs in food are calculated like so: total carbs minus fiber = net carbs.
It’s worth calculating the amount of net carbs in many of the foods that you eat. Doing so will help you stick to your keto diet with greater ease, as well as increase your awareness of the nutritional value of the food you’re putting into your body.
Here are other carbs to avoid:
All fruits (except blackberries and raspberries as they have a minimal effect on blood sugar)
Grains (like bread)
Tubers like potatoes and yams
You should also avoid foods with unhealthy artificial sweeteners like aspartame, NutraSweet, Equal, sucralose, or saccharine. And there is one more to avoid; it’s called maltitol. Despite being so called sugar free, it can spike your blood sugar similar to how sugar does (11).
Healthy Keto® Beverages and Food
Now that I’ve mentioned a little bit about the food and drink you should avoid while on a low carb diet, here’s the good news: there are many delicious items you can enjoy while on the keto diet for beginners. To make it easy for you to compare the healthy items with those to avoid, I’ve put them together in this section:
The best beverage choice while in ketosis is pure water. Choose filtered or spring water, sparkling or bottled.
Other Healthy Keto® choices include:
Carbonated drinks unsweetened or sweetened with xylitol, stevia or erythritol.
Apple cider vinegar added to spring water.
Unsweetened almond milk
Coffee in small quantities, preferably only one cup a day
You may drink tea through the day if it is naturally decaffeinated. Many people use tea to help them fast longer when they begin to combine keto with intermittent fasting. To learn about intermittent fasting
If you use cream, use organic half and half or whole cream. If you can get grass-fed it would be even better.
It’s good to add some electrolytes to your water, to help your transition to ketosis. Your body needs these minerals, especially potassium, magnesium and even salt (sea salt) (12).
Beverages to Avoid
Avoid the following liquids:
Diet soda or any drink with aspartame, Nutrasweet, Equal, Splenda, sucralose, saccharine or acesulfame potassium (another artificial sweetener)
Coconut water (because of sugar content)
Sweetened cranberry juice.
Milk, except for half and half and whole cream.
Keto Recipes for the Foods You Love
Do you like buttery, chocolatey brownies? How about pizza? You don’t have to sacrifice these treats on the Healthy Ketosis diet, if you tweak the recipes.
With a little work, you can convert your favorites treats to a low carb keto version. Try replacing wheat flour with almond or coconut flour. Almond flour is great for everything from pancakes to piecrusts. Replace sugar, honey or other sweeteners with xylitol, stevia or monk fruit sweetener.
Just wait till you check out my pizza recipe using cauliflower in the crust.
And my favorite, making mashed cauliflower to replace mashed potatoes!
We have plenty of recipes to help you substitute the foods you love with keto-friendly versions.
Keto Meal Plans Simplified
You’ll find it much easier to stay on your healthy keto® diet when you plan meals in advance.
If you’ve never planned out meals before, think about how you might be able to cook for multiple meals at one time. The salmon you eat on Monday night can also be part of your lunch on Tuesday. Steamed broccoli or Brussels sprouts can accompany your grass-fed steak tonight and top your salad tomorrow. Drizzle olive oil, a good source of a healthy fat called omega-3s, onto your vegetables and you’re set for a delicious low carb keto meal.
In other words, you do not have to follow a long list of recipe ingredients. You can use basic foods that take minutes to prepare.
Something else that will come in handy is the time you will save by not eating as often. When you’re in ketosis, your hunger will naturally subside and you’ll find yourself eating fewer times per day. When you do this deliberately, it’s called intermittent fasting (IF) – and it will help you save a lot of money. Most people on keto and IF are eating two meals and some even one meal a day. This is called OMAD (one-meal-a-day).
Keto Shopping List
After you’ve decided on some recipes, review our keto approved foods list of recommended food brands. Create your own shopping list for the meals you’d like to create, plus foods you can reach for quickly when you get busy but still want to maintain ketosis. (And not succumb to high carb temptation!)
When you go to the store, you will need to read labels looking for very low sugar content and without soy oil or corn oil. I have a list of brands I recommend that you can check out here.
The following foods should be avoided:
Starchy foods like white potatoes
Sweet potatoes and yams
Foods with monosodium glutamate (MSG)
Seven Foods and Drinks You Must Never Consume on A Healthy Keto® Diet.
1. Orange juice
Commercial orange juice is pasteurized, which means it’s heated to a high temperature to kill bacteria. The pasteurization process destroys any vitamin C, enzymes, or other nutritional benefits. You’re basically drinking a glass of water and sugar (13).
2.Soy protein isolates (processed soy protein)
Many protein powders and bars contain soy protein isolates. Human bodies don’t do well on this highly processed product. It irritates the liver and could potentially increase your estrogen levels (14).
3. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
This sugar syrup is present in hundreds of foods and drinks. It will rocket your blood sugar, causing your body to start burning sugar and to stop burning fat for energy (15).
4. Processed meats with nitrates
Nitrates are chemicals added to food as a preservative to stop bacterial growth. They are commonly found in sandwich meats such as salami, hot dogs, bacon, and sausages (16).
5. Milk from large commercial dairies
Most milk sold out of big dairies contains residues of antibiotics and hormones used to keep the cows producing milk. These substances negatively affect your body (17).
6. Packaged, frozen meals
Once known as “TV dinners,” these low-quality meals contain unhealthy protein, starches, and carbs that will stop fat burning.
7. Imported fruits
Not all countries have health and safety laws about pesticides such as DDT, which is banned in America. And even though you can’t sell DDT in the U.S., it is sold to other countries. These countries then export DDT-exposed fruit to the U.S. In short, we can’t control the pesticides used by foreign countries but we can avoid their fruit imports.
(13) Nutritional Composition of Orange Juice