What is a keto diet plan for beginners?

May 5th marks two years that I’ve followed a Ketogenic lifestyle. Over the course of the past 2 years I’ve learned a lot about myself and the foods that I want to feed my body for fat loss and ultimately for better health. As I look back on this 2 year anniversary, knowing what I know now, how would I start all over again. How would I make the transition from the standard American diet if I was a beginner?

Keto Plan for beginners

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Keto Diet plan for beginners is a short term (30 day) high fat, low carb diet that promotes the metabolic state called ketosis in a safe, quick manner. For the beginner to make the transition over to keto easier, the diet should include savory favorites like butter, cheese, bacon, green leafy vegetables, stir fry’s… while avoiding high carbohydrate foods like breads, rice & pasta

Keto Diet Rules

Easiest way to manage the keto diet is to count macros (Fats, Proteins & Carbs) instead of counting calories. This isn’t to say that calories aren’t important, but managing the Keto diet is easier if you manage to the macros. Most experts agree that the breakdown of macros should be:

  • 70% Fat
  • 25% Protein
  • 5% Carbohydrates – (These should ideally come from vegetables)

The best way to manage your macros is to track all the food that you consume, in pre-historic times, you know like before Justin Bieber, tracking your macros would be an impossible task. Today, thankfully you can download a number of apps can be used to track macros:

  • MyFitnesspal.com – Free online calorie counter and diet plan. Find nutrition facts for over 2,000,000 foods. To track nutrients, either scan the bar codes of various food items or manually find them in the app’s large pre-existing database. If you’re using a fitness tracking device, MyFitnessPal can likely sync with it to include its data in the exercise log…. this is the one I’ve used most
  • Loseit – a calorie counting app that helps you reach your weight loss goal. Simply download the app, set your goals, and track your foods and exercises to lose weight.
  • Carb Manager – Free carb counter and keto diet tracker for the low carb and ketogenic diet. Set a net carbohydrate goal and search and log over 1 million foods and recipes.

There are other calorie/carb counters available, a quick Google search will produce plenty of results. Choose one that your most comfortable with and make the commitment to track all foods. This is a key part to the strategy you can’t wing it at this point in the journey

What do you eat on a Keto diet?

Proteins

  • Poultry: Free-range Cornish hen, quail, goose, pheasant, chicken, duck, and turkey.
  • Fish and Seafood: Cod, tuna, scrod, anchovies, mackerel, flounder, catfish, trout, mahi-mahi, halibut, sole, sardines, salmon, halibut, snapper, and calamari. Always opt for wild caught fish to avoid toxins present in commercially rearedfish.
  • Grass-fed Meat: These include beef, venison, goat, and lamb. Meat from wild animals are also acceptable; however, avoid sausages and meats that come with sugary sauces and those covered in breadcrumbs. Choose the chunks of meat with more fat since they contain less protein and more fat.
  • Pork: Boston butt, pork chops, ham pork, and loin. When choosing ham, be on the lookout for added sugar. Bacon and Sausages: Preferably, you should buy these at specialty health food stores. If this is not possible, always read the labels to avoid those which contain fillers such as soy or sugars.
  • Canned Tuna and Salmon: Canned tuna and salmon are okay to consume while you are on the keto diet. However,avoid seafood rich in fillers, breaded seafood, and fried seafood.
  • Vegetable Protein Powders: Protein supplements such as whey protein, hemp protein, pea, and rice are acceptable.
  • Whole Eggs: This includes chicken eggs, and quail eggs which you can prepare through any mean desired; fried, softor hard-boiled, deviled, scrambled, or omelet style.
  • Shellfish: Oyster, mussels, lobster, shrimp, crab (not imitation crab that contains additives), clams, scallops, and squid.

Fats and Oils

Because these are your main sources of energy while you are on this diet, go for the types of fats and oils you enjoy. These may include:

  • Omega 3 fatty acids from fish such as tuna, shellfish, and salmon
  • Fish supplements or krill
  • Monounsaturated fats such as egg yolks, avocado, and butter
  • Vegetable oils such as olive oil, coconut oil
  • Non-hydrogenated beef tallow, ghee, and lard.
  • Duck and chicken fat

Fresh Vegetables

For these foods, opt for organic ones or better yet, grow your own to avoid all pesticide toxins. . Vegetables that make it to the list are: (I try to get most of my daily carb intake from this list):

  • Celery
  • Collard Greens
  • Onions (high in sugar; moderate intake)
  • Alfalfa Sprouts
  • Beet Greens
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Bamboo Shoots
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Shallots
  • Kale
  • Bok Choy
  • Sauerkraut
  • Chives
  • Celery Root
  • Swiss chard
  • Cauliflower
  • Snow Peas
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Olives
  • Cucumbers
  • Salad greens and lettuces: Romaine, Arugula, Fennel, Bok Choy, Boston lettuce, Endive, Mache, Escarole, Sorrel,Radicchio
  • Turnips
  • Scallions
  • Dill Pickles
  • Leeks
  • Radishes
  • Asparagus

Dairy Products

  • Mascarpone cheese
  • Unsweetened whole milk yogurt (limit intake of this type of yogurt because it is a little high in carbs)
  • All soft and hard cheeses
  • Cream cheese
  • Full fat sour cream (do not forget to check for additives)
  • Full fat cottage cheese
  • Heavy whipping cream

Beverages

  • Bulletproof coffee
  • Decaf Tea
  • Flavored seltzer water
  • Decaf coffee
  • Water
  • Herbal tea
  • Lemon and lime juice (limit intake)
  • Clear broth or bouillon

 

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts: almonds, macadamias, pecans, and walnuts are the nuts with the lowest level of carbs meaning you can consume them in small amounts. Other nuts such as chestnuts, pistachios, and cashews contain a higher amount of carbs; these you want to eat in moderation

Nut flours: these are necessary because while you are on this diet, it does not mean baking no longer fits into your life. Nut flours such as almond flour will suffice.

Sweeteners

  • Erythritol
  • Splendor-liquid
  • Inulin and Chicory root
  • Lo Han Guo
  • Liquid Stevia
  • Xylitol
  • Swerve

Spices

Here are spices allowed on the keto diet:,,,this is where I try to “liven up” the meals

  • Sea salt

  • Peppermint
  • Ginger
  • Basil
  • Chili pepper
  • Cloves
  • Thyme
  • Cilantro or coriander seeds
  • Rosemary
  • Black pepper
  • Cumin seeds
  • Oregano
  • Turmeric
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Mustard seeds
  • Parsley
  • Dill
  • Sage

What can you not eat on Keto Diet?

  • Avoid all grains, whole meal included (rye, wheat, oats, barley, corn, millet, rice sorghum and buckwheat).
  • Also, avoid all products made from grains; these include foods such as crackers, pasta, pizza, and cookies.
  • Avoid refined fats and oils like sunflower, canola, grape seed, corn oil, soybean, and Trans-fats such as margarine.
  • Avoid milk (only full-fat raw milk is acceptable). For coffee, replace milk with reasonable amounts of cream
  • Avoid tropical fruits such as bananas, pineapples, mango papaya, etc., and some high carb fruit.
  • Avoid fruit juice.
  • Avoid factory-farmed pork and fish.
  • Avoid all artificial sweeteners containing Aspartame, Sucralose, Saccharine, etc.
  • Avoid alcoholic sweet drinks such as beer, and sweet wine (I did a whole post on The Keto Diet & Alcohol click here to read that post)
  • Avoid Soy products

That’s a crazy long list of do’s and don’ts… it certainly gets easier with practice and as long as you’re tracking macros and staying true to the numbers you will succeed. However, some people will find this cumbersome and prefer to have a detailed plan mapped out specifically for them.

Custom Keto Diet

  • Eight-week meal plan created based on the expertise of certified nutritionists, personal trainers, and chefs.
  • Meals that have calorie and macronutrient content tailored to their specific situation and goals.
  • A nutrition plan with food variety to ensure they will get a wide range of nutrients and boost the likelihood of sticking to their diet.
  • Meals that are based on personal food preferences to make their diet enjoyable and help them stay on track with their plan.
  • Detailed recipes with step-by-step instructions to make meal preparation super simple (no prior cooking experience needed).
  • A downloadable shopping list each week that details every needed ingredient they will need in the upcoming seven days.
  • Options on how they can customize every meal even more to suit your taste buds.


Custom Keto Diet 

What should I expect the first week of Keto?

Within the first week that you start the keto diet, some people report symptoms like headache, foggy brain, fatigue, irritability, nausea, difficulty sleeping, and constipation… commonly known as the Keto Flu.

Dr. Marcelo Campos, MD (Primary care doctor at Harvard Vanguard, lecturer at Harvard Medical School and clinical assistant professor at Tufts University School of Medicine) writes in his post: What is Keto Flu?

“A search for this term (Keto Flu) yields not a single result on PubMed, the library of indexed medical research journals. On the other hand, an internet search will yield thousands of blogs and articles about keto flu.

It is tricky to describe exactly what happens after the diet change, because we are left with only our own observations and experiences. These symptoms may not even be unique to the ketogenic diet; some of my patients describe similar symptoms after they cut back on processed foods, or decide to follow an elimination or an anti-inflammatory diet.

What causes keto flu?

Well, we don’t really know why some people feel so bad after this dietary change. Is it related to a detox factor? Is it due to a carb withdrawal? Is there an immunologic reaction? Or is this a result of a change in the gut microbiome? Whatever the reason is, it appears the symptoms attributed to the keto flu may happen, not to everyone but to some people, after “cleaning up” their diet.”

 

The Keto Flu seems to vary from person to person… I remember feeling a little weak and foggy for about 2-3 days, then symptoms cleared up and once past the “flu” I started feeling great. Most doctors recommend that you drink plenty of water and add half of a teaspoon of sea salt stirred in it to replace the water and minerals your body excretes during the first week or so of eating keto

How do I know I’m in ketosis?

Ketosis is the holy grail of the Keto Diet, the point where your body begins burning fat for fuel instead of storing it on your thighs. Beginners don’t know what to expect and I remember being so anxious to know if I was doing “keto” right. Here are some signs to look for:

  • Keto Breath – a metallic or acetone smell to your breath. Your body will initially create more ketones that it will initially use and a by product of the ketones created come in the form of what’s known as Keto breath. It doesn’t last long, increased regularity of brushing and sugar free gum alleviate the issue
  • Weight Loss – It’s kind of the whole point to this… The first week or so can see dramatic loss in weight and it’s so encouraging. I lost 8 lbs the first week… most experts will tell you that the initial drop is primarily water weight, and that may be, but it makes for one heck of momentum builder
  • Fatigue – See Keto Flu above.
  • Decreased Energy – Similar to Fatigue/Keto Flu, your body can take some time to become fat adapted or getting used to burning fat for fuel and not having the carbs/glucose for energy. That goes away after a short while and some people notice increased endurance once they’ve become fat adapted
  • Increased Ketones in the blood – A surefire way to know if you’re in Ketosis is to test ketones in the blood using a blood testing meter. Ketone meters are reasonably priced and easy to use if you don’t mind drawing blood. I found this Bluetooth blood Ketone & glucose testing kit for under $50 on Amazon click here
  • Increased Ketones in the urine – As the body creates ketones and your body flushes out water and minerals from your system, ketones count increase in your urine. You can buy Ketone strips to test the ketone level in your urine as a way to test for ketosis. This method is not nearly as accurate as the blood testing kit, but it’s really inexpensive to buy, I found them for under $10 here on Amazon.

 

How long should you do Keto?

This topic has no shortage of opinions… a Google search will attest to that. Let’s break this down into a few bite sized chunks:

  • One Month – This is more of a proof of concept suggestion than anything else. Committing for the month allows for new habits to form, but more importantly after 30 days you should be able to look back and see meaningful results, this alone will motivate for a longer trial. At 30 days in I had lost 13.5 lbs and I was hooked!
  • 3 months – Some people can take 2 to 6 weeks before their bodies become “fat adapted” and are accustomed to burning fat for fuel. The ideal time to see significant results is 90 days. At this point I had lost 33.5 lbs
  • For life? – That’s quite a leap, 30… 90… forever. The stark truth is that if you return to eating the same way as you had before starting the keto (or any regimen for that matter) you already know what the results are going to be.

Look at a study done on Biggest Loser contestants, a wildly popular reality show that saw contestants achieve dramatic weight loss results:

Link to study: The average weight of the Biggest Loser contestants was back up to 290 pounds. There was only one contestant who didn’t regain any weight. 4 of these contestants have reported—after this study was done—that they now weigh even more than before their participation on the show – The 6 year ‘Biggest Loser’ study: Why Is It So Hard to Maintain Weight Loss? by Mayo Oshin | Habits, Psychology, Weight Loss

Experts can argue back and forth on the advantages and perils of the Keto diet long term. Ultimately, it’s up to each individual as to what they’re comfortable with. The ugly truth is that you need to come to terms with is that for long term success, you can never go back. I’ve been on keto for 2 years now and I know what results eating the standard American diet will yield…. it’s a latent super-power, I can gain weight just thinking of Big Mac’s and large fries.

Will I stay Keto forever? Maybe… I won’t always be the relentless Keto freak that my family has come to love, but there will certainly be some tenets of the Keto diet that will stay forever:

  • Eat Whole Foods
  • Limit sugar & highly processed foods
  • Eat lean proteins & healthy fats
  • Get most of my carbs from vegetables, nuts & seeds

Conclusion

A Keto diet plan for beginners needs to be like the free introductory offer for Netflix or Amazon Prime…. 30 days to get familiar with the program, see the results/benefits and come to the point that you can’t go back to living without it.

In our world of instant pots, instant coffee & instant gratification a beginner needs to see fast results that lead to realization that long term lifestyle change is the only way to see significant and lasting results…. but it’s key to have that early “proof of concept” to promote the long term change.

2 years and down about 80 lbs… I’m still not at my goal weight so the struggle continues… some days good, some not so much, but in a better place today than I have been for many years.

Happy Cinco de Mayo

Keto Bandeeto

26 thoughts on “What is a keto diet plan for beginners?”

  1. Hi Bob,

    Great read as always and Happy Anniversary too.

    Ah yes, “Keto flu”, the first week nemesis. I think this has huge amount to do with the body hankering for carbs, and the complete loss of processed foods from the diet.

    However, as you’ve quite rightly pointed out, weight loss in the first week alone can be a huge motivating factor to see the initial 30 days out, and beyond.

    Thanks
    Partha

    1. Thanks for returning and the kind anniversary wishes.
      We are in agreement with the 30 day window… if there weren’t significant or meaningful results or improvements after 30 days, even an old timer like me would be off to the nearest bakery most likely trying to get myself into a carbohydrate coma in record time

      Bob

  2. The way this information is presented makes the article such an easy read. Last year I had been on Keto for about 4 months. I saw tremendous results during this time, though I would have to say I could see similar results on any diet.

    The main difference being that Keto was easy for me to stick to. As for the Keto flu, I never really experienced it, so I am lucky there. I know many have been hit hard by the shift into Ketosis.

    I plan on making the change back into a Keto lifestyle soon, so I will be bookmarking this page for it’s easily accessible information. Thank you!

    1. Thanks for the read and the kind comments James… the Keto Flu is not as scary as it sounds. With the current pandemic gripping the planet, I’m concerned that people will look at the diet in a negative light. Let me know if I can be of any assistance… good luck with whatever program you decided to follow

      Bob

  3. Hello; there are so many benefits for the individual body when one stick to a healthy diet plan. Whilst there are related nutritious food that is included in the keto diet to those eaten otherwise; not everyone will experience the maximum health benefits that come with the keto diet.

     It is, therefore, a wise choice to follow the healthy way and stick to the keto diet. Read healthy food chart to know what to include in your diet and what not include.

    DorcasW

    1. DoracsW….I agree. While I’ve followed the Keto diet and done very well, I don’t think that it’s the ONLY way to effectively lose weight, in fact I think that almost any regimen that employs a caloric deficit can be effective as long as you can adhere to it long term. Eat more whole foods, eat less highly processed sugar infused food-like substances while burning more calories than you consume… homerun!

  4. Juan Saladin

    Thanks a lot for simplifying things for me!

    I´ve been trying to implement this diet plan several times and I´ve gotten (and taken) confusion as an opportunity to run back to bad eating habits. Some of the things that I´ve gotten the hardest time to overcome grains consumptions. I´m a beans lover and in my family, we use to match them with almost everything imaginable (lettuce, meats, and bread).

    During these quarantine days, we´ve got the opportunity of cooking more at home and we´ve definitely done that; but, instead of looking for improvement, we´ve just reinforced bad eating habits by emulating junk food at home.

    I´ll introduce the recommended ¨28 Keto Diet Plan¨ to my wife later today and this time we´ll get things well done. Thanks a lot for the guidance!

    1. Juan…tell me about the beans…I grew up in a latino family in Brooklyn, NY…”arroz con habichuelas” or “arroz con gandules” was my favorite! If you and your wife are seriously interested take a look at the Custon Keto Diet Plan it’s customized to your body measurements, goals and your personal meal preferences… and it’s fairly reasonable (under $40)… not that you can’t do this without a plan, but it makes it so much easier.

      Good Luck/Buena suerte!

      Bob

  5. Bob, I really appreciate this article about what is a keto diet plan for beginners. I have heard so much buzz around a keto diet and really didn’t know what it was until this. Now I feel like I actually know what a keto diet is and what to eat when I start it. I can tell right now that it will be hard to avoid the stuff you say I can’t eat but, I will give it a shot. I do feel like I have the confidence now to make it happen though. Thank you. 

    1. Russ… it wasn’t really all that hard for me, but I was really motivated to make a change and that certainly got me thru some of the tough times. My advice would be to take a 30 day challenge, evaluate your experience against the results that you get after the 30 days.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Bob

  6. godspowerbrown992

    Hello there! This is awesome. A friend of mine had told me about this diet last month but didn’t give me convincing reasons enough to try out the diet, but with what I’ve read here, I think I’m interested in it though it will be kind of difficult for me as a newbie.

    Thank you for sharing this with me.

    1. I’m glad that you enjoyed the post… be sure to read a few other posts, I’ve been chronicling the journey and hopefully you’ll  find some insight, inspiration or at the very least some humor in my trials and tribulations!

  7. Hi and congratulations on your 2 year anniversary with the keto diet!! I’m sure it was a tough fight, but well worth it.

    I haven’t yet tried the keto diet, but I like the concept as it’s quite similar to the paleo diet. By eating whole foods, and stopping all these processed foods that we see everywhere, we can already see a big change in our heath. Maybe now is the time for me to try the keto diet, as I am in quarantine!

    1. Fernanda… I agree. The Keto diet has worked for me, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the ONLY way to improve your health and drop some weight or lose fat. eat more whole foods, limit highly processed sugary food-like substances. You’ll be amazed at how good you feel

      Bob

  8. I haven’t ever went on a diet but if i was looking for one this would have made it easy. You did all the research that is needed and you have personal experience. It looks like this would be a very good option. Is it easier to just start fully or lower your carbs day by day? 

    1. Hey Erich….because the Keto diet is so radical for a lot of people, I would recommend immersing yourself in a 30 day challenge…this way you have first hand experience… was it hard or was it easy…  then you can compare it to the results that you got. After 30 days I found it to be different, not too hard to stay on… but when I compared it to the results of losing over 30 lbs it was GAME ON

  9. Hi Bob,

    I must say I tried the Keto diet and was very successful in losing a significant amount of weight quickly. However, I could not keep it up for too long…What pleasantly surprised me was the fact that I was not hungry at all, not did I experience any cravings. Do you have any recommendations for sweet snacks when following the Keto plan? Perhaps you can recommend some exercise programs to keep the slimming body toned?

    Many thanks for the article. I will print the lists out to help me keep on track next time.

    1. Hey Monika….take a look at the Fat Bomb post that I made a while back… It’s easy to make and they really help with my sweet tooth… also there are several Keto friendly Ice creams that I’ve reviewed (love ice cream). I’ve been struggling with a plateau and I’m trying to keep things simple in terms of workouts…10,000 steps, 100 push ups every day for the month of May… 

  10. Hi! Thank you for this good article. I read a few articles about the Keto diet, your is the best I came across.  The lists you have on your site are very helpful. I realized that my diet is not that bad and I could make some adjustments, I live in Germany and the bread is tammy so I have difficulty giving up bread. I don’t like cream, and I am not much of a meat-eater, I eat fish and chicken sometimes.  Still, I want to try this diet. What is a good replacement for cream and meat (I don’t eat meat or fish everyday). 

    1. Hey Patricia,

      Thanks for reading and commenting… I find it easier to focus on the carb intake… just keep it below the 20g – 25g per day and the rest is just filled in with things that you like to eat. You could get a custom Keto diet plan tailored to your taste preferences, height, weight, goals to make it super easy to execute

      Bob

  11. Hey Bob,
    This is just so much great information in one post. I must confess, I did try Keto a couple times. Both times for weight-loss and cancer prevention. While I lost 12 pounds in my first two weeks, I did feel that it was a very restrictive diet and therefore, I never lasted. I guessing my failure was because I didn’t do a good research and always ran out of stuff to eat. I am actually book-marking this page because I will like to try Keto again, and there is a ton of stuff to eat on this post, especially out of the fresh vegetables section. Thanks so much for sharing. Awesome website and a very unique webname! Will be back!

    1. Hey Chris… Thanks for the read and the kind words. I tried Atkins way back in the day and did fairly well also… same as you, after a while I ran out of things to eat and I just quit. To be fair back in the ’90’s I didn’t have a smartphone to be able to pull up macros at a moments notice… I can’t over emphasize how important it is to track in the beginning.
      Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions!

      Bob

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