How to Get Started on the Keto Diet

In the past couple of years, the keto diet has gained a lot of popularity and many are finding are success with this low-carb, high-fat diet. Not only does this diet help you lose weight, but it also helps you fight against diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, and the list goes on. While some argue that this diet is too restrictive, the people who have transitioned to the keto way of life say that this is the only diet that they have seen long lasting results.

What is the ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting?

In simple terms, the keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. It requires you to drastically reduce the amount of carbs and replace them with fats. The breakdown is usually 70-80% fat, 20-25% protein, and 5-10% carbs. As a result, your body starts to use the fats and turns them into ketones in the liver. This helps improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels. The keto diet is usually done with intermittent fasting, but it is not required.

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that consists choosing a certain time frame for eating and fasting for the rest of the period. People usually starting with fasting for 16 hours and build to 18 or 20 hours.

What are the benefits of the keto diet?

This diet originally started as a way to treat neurological diseases like epilepsy, but studies have shown that it has many more benefits such as:

  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Eplipesy
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • PCOS
  • Acne
  • Weight Loss

What are the benefits of Intermittent Fasting?

No matter what time period breakdown a person chooses, the benefits of intermittent fasting are still applicable. The most common benefits include:

  • Weight loss
  • Reduce Insulin resistance
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Better heart health
  • Anti-aging
  • Regularize periods

Why am I doing the keto diet?

Over the years, I’ve gained a lot of weight and as a result, my LDL levels are high and my HDL levels are low. I’m considered over weight and my cholesterol levels put me at a risk of heart disease. With a history of heart disease and diabetes in my family, I decided that it was about time I started taking control of my life. I know the reason I ended up here is due to bad habits and poor choices. I’ve developed a unhealthy relationship with food which has not only impacted me physically, but so mentally. I am a strong believer that what you eat is what you become and after some painful self-reflection, I see a direct correlation of my mental stability and unhealthy food choices.

How did the keto diet help you?

After hearing people around me tell me how successful the keto has been for them, I decided to give it a shot in August 2019. I did it for 3 weeks as a way to lose weight before I went on vacation to San Francisco. I watched a lot of YouTube videos how people had a lot of mental clarity and their obsession with food slowly diminished. I was fascinated with these results and while I wasn’t sure if it would happen to me, I was excited to see if it would work.

At the end of the 3 weeks:

  • I lost 9 lbs.
  • I felt alert.
  • I was more focused.
  • I completed tasks with great speed.
  • My pants fit a lot better.
  • My stomach was no longer bloated.
  • I got a lot of free time.

How can you start the keto diet?

Before you can start the diet, you need to answer these questions:

  • What is your maximum amount of carbs?
  • Will you be intermittent fasting? If yes, when will you start and stop eating?
  • How many meals and snacks will you have per day?
  • Do you want to ease into the diet or do it cold turkey?

When I started, I decided:

  • Maximum Number of Carbs: 20 grams
  • Intermittent Fasting: 18 hours of fasting and 6 hours of eating (12pm to 6pm)
  • 2 meals per day with no snacking
    • Skip breakfast, drink water instead
    • Lunch between 12pm – 1:30 pm 
    • Dinner between 5pm – 6:30 pm
  • Strict diet from Day 1

What can I eat on the keto diet?

Vegetables

Do

Veggie Rice

  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli

Salads

  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Swiss Chard
  • Arugula
  • Iceberg Lettuce
  • Kale

Toppings

  • Mushrooms
  • Celery
  • Cabbage
  • Jalapeno
  • Asparagus
  • Cucumber
  • Zucchini
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Bell Peppers

Fry/Sautee

  • Green Beans
  • Eggplant
  • Okra
  • Squash

Limit – Tomatoes, Onions

Do Not

  • Sweet potato
  • Potato
  • Beet root
  • Carrot
  • Pumpkin
  • Corn
  • Peas
  • Yams
  • Parsnip

Fruits

Do

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries

Do Not

  • Almost all fruits

Meat

Do

Seafood

  • Salmon
  • Snapper
  • Trout
  • Tuna
  • Cod
  • Catfish
  • Halibut
  • Clams
  • Oysters
  • Lobster
  • Crab
  • Scallops
  • Mussels

Meat

  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Steak
  • Ground beef
  • Lamb
  • Bacon
  • Ham
  • Turkey
  • Sausage (in limited amounts and fattier cuts)

Note: Choose high fat and grass fed

Do Not

None!

Oil

Do

Sautee/Frying

  • Avocado Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Ghee

Sautee

  • Walnut Oil

Dressings/Sauces – Do not cook

  • Olive Oil
  • Hazelnut Oil
  • Butter

Do Not

  • Canola oil
  • Vegetable oil
  • Corn oil
  • Soy oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Cottonseed oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Peanut oil

Drinks

Do

  • Hard liquor
  • Dry wine
  • Champagne
  • Unsweetened Tea
  • Unsweetened Coffee
  • Sparkling Water
  • Water
  • Bone Broth
  • Nut Milks – Almond, Cashew
  • Limit – Kombucha
  • Diet Soda – Please don’t tho

To sweeten coffee/tea, check sweeteners slide.

Do Not

  • Soda
  • Beer
  • Cider
  • Sweet wines
  • Sweetened alcoholic drinks
  • Soda

Dairy

Do

High Fat Dairy

  • Heavy cream
  • Cheese (soft and hard)
  • Cream cheese
  • Sour cream

Do Not

Low Fat Dairy

  • Skim milk
  • Skim mozzarella
  • Fat-free yogurt
  • Low Fat Cream cheese

Sweeteners

Do

  • Stevia, Truvia
  • Monk Fruit
  • Chicory Root
  • Sugar Alcohols
  • Erythritol
  • Sorbitol
  • Mannitol
  • Isomalt
  • Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates

Do Not

  • Sugar
  • Maple Syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Dextrose
  • Agave
  • Honey
  • Cane Sugar
  • Splenda
  • Aspartame
  • Saccharin
  • Corn syrup
  • Xylitol
  • Maltitol

Nuts

  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Pecans
  • Hazelnuts
  • Walnuts

Nut Butter

  • Peanut butter
  • Almond butter

Spices

  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Curry Powder
  • Garam Masala
  • Red Chili Powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper

What should I avoid on the keto diet?

Grains and Starches

  • Wheat
  • Rice
  • Rye
  • Oats
  • Corn
  • Quinoa
  • Barley
  • Millet
  • Bulgur
  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Sprouted grains

Grains

  • Cereal
  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Corn
  • Oatmeal
  • Crackers
  • Pizza
  • Popcorn
  • Granola
  • Bagels
  • Muesli
  • Flour

Legumes

  • Black beans
  • Kidney bean
  • Pinto beans
  • Navy beans
  • Soybeans
  • Peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils

No Desserts/Sugar

What are some substitutes from the regular diet?

Grains

  • Flour > Almond, Coconut Flour
  • Bread Crumbs > Pork Rinds, Almond/Coconut Flour
  • Tortillas > Cabbage, Iceberg Lettuce
  • Bread > Cloud Bread, Keto Bread, Lettuce Wrap, Almond Bread
  • Pasta > Zoodles, Spaghetti squash, Cauliflower
  • Rice > Riced Cauliflower/Broccoli

Snacks

  • Chips > Parmesan Crisps
  • Fries > Jicama Fries

Sauces

  • Ranch > Sour Cream + Heavy Cream + Lemon Juice + Herbs + Spices
  • Mayo > Egg + Avocado Oil + Salt + Herbs

How can I track my keto diet?

As someone who loves to journal, I chose to write everything down. Here are some of the things i tracked:

  • Date
  • Number of days on the diet
  • What time I woke up
  • Time of first meal and what I ate
  • Time of last meal and what I ate
  • Amount of water (or any liquids) I drank
  • What time I went to sleep
  • Whether or not I worked out
  • Self-Reflection
    • How did I feel?
    • Did I eat healthy?
    • What can I do better?

References

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ketogenic-diet-101

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