Looking for a Keto Diet for Dummies guide that helps you learn about keto quickly and simply? This beginners guide answers “what is keto?”. Plus, it defines terms like net carb, macro, and ketosis. It includes easy keto recipes for every meal, keto food substitute ideas, & tools like macro calculators that you can use on your keto journey.
What’s included in this keto for dummies guide?
- What is Keto
- How to: Ketosis
- Keto Benefits
- Keto Foods Explained
- A Macros Definition & Net Carbs
- Keto vs. Atkins & Low Carb
- Easy Keto Recipes
- Next Steps: Final Keto Tips for Beginners
Part 1: Keto Diet for Dummies – What’s Keto
Keto is a low-carb, high fat, moderate protein lifestyle
The ketogenic diet, or keto, refers to a way of eating that can be described as low-carb, high fat, and moderate protein.
Most people on keto eat less than 20g net carbs each day and get more than 75% of their nutrients from fat (more on this below).
The goal of keto is ketosis
One of the goals of the ketogenic diet is getting into what is called ketosis.
Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body is burning fat for fuel instead of burning carbs and sugar. I won’t go into too much detail about the science of ketosis, but if you’re interested in learning more, then you can check out this article.
Part 2: How to Get into Ketosis
As I mentioned above, most people on traditional keto, eat less than 20g net carbs per day. According to WebMD, by simply reducing the carbs and sugar that you eat, the average person can get into ketosis within 3-5 days.
You Can Tell You’re in Ketosis When…
If you’re asking yourself, “how do I know I’m in ketosis?”, then there are two mains ways to tell.
Your ketones are 1.0 or higher
The easiest way to tell if you’re in ketosis is to measure your ketones. To keep things simple, as you enter ketosis your ketone levels increase.
Personally, I use a ketone meter since it is more precise. But, ketone urine strips are a more budget-friendly option. If you use a ketone meter, then a helpful tool that I use for figuring out what the ketone readings mean is below.
Your mood & energy are high
Another way to know you’re in ketosis is to reflect on your mood and energy.
When I’m deep into ketosis, I know it because my energy and mood are generally more positive, focused and upbeat.
I feel like I can accomplish anything, which is very different from the sluggish feelings that I have when I’m eating junk food.
Part 3: Keto Diet for Dummies – The benefits of keto
You can Lose Weight
One of the most popular benefits of keto is that it can help you lose weight.
But, there are many other benefits of the keto way of eating…
As outlined in 10 Health Benefits of Low Carb and Ketogenic Diets, some reasons that people start keto besides weight loss are:
- Manage blood sugar and insulin levels
- Reduce their Appetite
- Improve energy and mood
- Decrease risk for diabetes and heart disease
I started keto to manage my eating disorder and mood.
For me, eating keto has helped me manage my eating disorder and increased my mood and energy. Specifically, I’ve struggled with my weight for most of my life.
I was always the person in the “non-normal” range on the height and weight chart so I spent a lot of my childhood and adult life on some sort of “diet”: the nothing at all diet, all fruit diet, liquid diet, Atkins, Weight Watchers….the list goes on.
For me, none of those diets were sustainable. So, I often ended up in a pretty unhealthy cycle of losing weight, binging and gaining it all back (plus more).
With keto, I’ve been able to have more of the foods that I enjoy without the guilt that typically would cause me to binge.
Part 4: Keto Diet for Dummies – Keto Diet Foods Explained
What do you eat on keto?
Following keto, means that my shopping cart is filled with lots of whole foods: berries, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, grass-fed meats, and eggs.
As shown in the chart below, it also means that I largely avoid bread, sugar, pasta, and other grains. Even though this sounds like it might be restrictive, there are plenty of ketogenic and low carb foods, which make eliminating most carbohydrates somewhat easy.
Does going keto mean I should pile on the butter & bacon?
Keto is high good fat, not the processed kind we’re all used to
When I tell someone that I am following the ketogenic diet, one of the first things that people mention is that this diet must be so unhealthy. They wonder how anyone, including me, could experience benefits from eating so much fat (70-75% of your daily intake is a lot of fat).
For most of the critics, they think I’m eating a ton of processed fats like those found in fast food, cakes, and cookies. In reality, as part of keto, I’m eating lots of avocados, coconut oil, MCT oil, olive oil as well as fat from organic and grass-fed meats.
One of my biggest mistakes was too much fat
When I first started keto, one of my biggest mistakes (besides not reading labels) was eating unlimited and unnecessary amounts of fat.
I figured adding butter to bacon was what I needed to get into ketosis.
The reality is that most people just need one source of fat in a meal. And, over-doing it with fat will probably result in eating a lot of calories. You can track the amount of fat and calories using a tool like MyFitness Pal.
Are there keto substitutes for my favorite snacks?
Yes! As I said above, being on keto has allowed me to eat food that tastes good without having to feel sad that I’ve completely ruined all of my hard work and progress. And, most times, there is a Keto-friendly alternative for the things we crave.
If you like snacks, then you should check out my keto snacks to buy post that outlines more than 20 replacements for things like chips, cookies, and cake that can purchased online and in some stores.
If you enjoy candy, then my keto candy post will help you choose candy that doesn’t stall your progress.
What about substitutes that are kid and family-friendly?
An important part of sticking to keto is having options that all of the members of your family will enjoy.
If you have children, then you should explore my 25+ Kid-Friendly Keto Recipes post. I find it helpful for not having to make a ton of meals.
If you want to encourage you partner or spouse to join you, then I recommend these Keto Date Night Recipes. You’ll find 20+ recipes that are easy to make and will convince your partner that you can do keto together.
Part 5: Keto Diet for Dummies – Macros & Net Carbs
What is a macro?
A macro is short for macronutrient. It refers to the main things that make up food.
When most people mention macros, they are referring to the amount of fat, protein and carbohydrates a food includes.
The standard ketogenic diet is 70-75% fat, 20% protein, and 5-10% carbohydrates. If you’re tracking calories, then you should keep that in mind, when looking at the foods you eat in a day.
To make things simpler, some people focus on eating less than 20g net carbs each day. For me, focusing on eating low carb has been what’s necessary to stay in ketosis.
How do you calculate a net carb?
A net carb is the number of carbs that remain after subtracting fiber and sugar alcohols.
The easiest way to learn how to calculate a net carb is to look at a few labels. You can use the examples below to understand.
Part 6: How is keto different from the Atkins & low-carb diets?
I have followed the low-carb and the Atkins diets. In my experience, the primary difference is how to divide your macros between protein and fat.
When I was following a strictly low-carb diet or Atkins, I focused on eating more protein. In fact, I often described it to people as a protein & veggies diet. On keto, I have moderate protein and high healthy fat since too much protein can cause your body to burn protein for fuel.
Part 7: Keto Diet for Dummies: Easy Keto Recipes
I started Dr. Davinah’s Eats as a way to share keto & low carb comfort food recipe remakes. Here are some of my favorite, easy recipes.
Easy Keto Breakfast Recipe Remakes
Keto Almond Flour PancakesGet this recipe
Keto Fathead Dough BagelsGet this recipe
Keto Almond Flour WafflesGet this recipe
No Fuss Keto Lunch Recipe Ideas
Creamy Caesar Dressing (Quick, Homemade, Keto, Low-carb)Get this recipe
BLT Avocado SaladGet this recipe
30-minute Keto-friendly Dinner Recipes
Keto Bacon Wrapped Cola BBQ Chicken KababsGet this recipe
Seared Scallops & Cauliflower Rice RisottoGet this recipe
Keto Cast Iron Skillet Pork Chops Recipe w/ Creamy Herb & Mushroom SauceGet this recipe
Keto Air Fryer Recipes
Air Fryer ShrimpGet this recipe
Air Fryer Garlic Parmesan WingsGet this recipe
Part 8: Next Steps – Final Tips for Beginners
How do you get started on keto?
Since there are a lot of supplements, I started with electrolytes. These helped reduce the negative side effects of keto flu! Keto Flu is a period of less than a week in which you are basically in withdrawal from sugar and carbs! For me, some of the side effects included getting a headache, being irritable, and being tired.
What other keto resources are useful for beginners?
- Perfect Keto: Macronutrients Calculator
- The Keto Reset Diet: Reboot Your Metabolism in 21 Days and Burn Fat Forever
- The Magic Pill (A Documentary About People’s Experiences with Keto)
- Ruled.me Keto Recipes
- My PCOS Kitchen (another recipe blog)
- Wholesome Yum (another recipe blog)