So, you’ve made the executive decision to start your keto diet. Now what?? With the seemingly endless stream of diet advice floating about the web these days, it can certainly be intimidating to figure out where to begin. But don’t fear! Allow us to help you get started with your keto journey on the right foot, and achieve a successful (and easy!) fat-fueled existence!
A Quick Biology Lesson
Before we dive into the weeds of what to eat on a keto diet, it is important to take a step back and make sure that you truly grasp the how behind the diet. How will my body react to this diet? How does ketosis come about? How can a few dietary adjustments actually change my body’s composition?
Well, I’m glad you asked! Here is the gist of what you need to know:
● At the most basic level, our body’s main energy source comes from glucose, a.k.a, carbs
● Because glucose is the most easily accessed source of energy ( far easier than fat and protein), your body will automatically pull from your carbohydrate stores for quick energy throughout the day
● When you eat a high -carb diet, your body will consistently pull from this source, therefore bypassing any of the fat that you have tucked away (you know… that little bit of extra cushioning)
● However, when you follow the keto diet, you dramatically restrict your carbohydrate intake, therefore forcing your body to pull from your fat -reserves for energy (bye-bye tummy pooch!). This is a process called ketosis, which is the metabolic breakdown of fat into ketones, which are then used as fuel
● Because you will be starving the body of carbohydrates, you will not only be burning your excess fat for fuel, but you will also be burning this fuel slower, which naturally decreases your appetite, increases your energy reserves, and ultimately burns off any extra weight from fat
I don’t know about you, but I would certainly consider increased energy and decreased fat storage to be a win in my book!
A Quick Lesson In Proportions
Now that you’ve passed your biology refresher, it is time to move on to some mathematics! One of the most important facets to succeeding in your keto-diet journey is to grasp the macro-nutrient breakdown required to push your body into ketosis.
When planning out your diet regimen, try to fill your plate with these nutrient ratios:
● 70-80% Healthy Fats
● 20-25% Protein
● 5-10% Carbohydrates
I offered a bit of a range for each category since everybody reacts a little bit differently when converting ketones. A petite and physically stagnant woman might find that she requires fewer carbohydrates to trigger ketosis than a seven-foot tall ex-football player, for instance. That being said, these percentages are recommended and upheld across the board. A few great resources for figuring out how these can fit into your preferred meals and diet include: freedieting.com and myfitnesspal.com
But, What Am I Supposed To Eat?
Great job passing your mathematics and biology practicum! Now for the real-life conundrum…. What to eat?? Below, I have listed all of the foods that are approved for the keto diet:
Grass Fed and Wild Meats
● Lamb or Goat
● Wild-Caught Fish/Seafood
● Pastured Pork and Poultry
● Pastured Eggs
● Bone Broth
● Liver, Kidneys, and other Organ Meats
● Fats from Animals: Butter, Lard, Tallow, Ghee, Duck Fat, Goose Fat
● MCT Oil
● Plant Based Fats: Coconut Oil, Macadamia Oil, Avocado Oil, Olive Oil
● Polyunsaturated fats from animals, such as seafood and fish
● Coconut cream or cocoa butter
● Nuts – macadamia, almond, cashew, hazelnut, pine nuts, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds,
sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, brazil nuts
● Leafy greens (these often have the lowest amount of carbohydrates)
○ Swiss chard
○ Bok choy
● Spaghetti Squash
● Bamboo Shoots
● Lots of water!
● Coffee (black – you can use coconut cream as creamer) or Tea (unsweetened)
● Kombucha (make sure it’s unpasteurized and check carbs/sugar)
Condiments and Snacks
● Mustard, mayonnaise (check out this delicious avocado dressing! )
● Pesto (here’s a great keto-friendly recipe)
● Pork Rinds
● Bone Broth
● Kimchi and Sauerkraut
● All Spices, Herbs, Lemon Juice, and Lime Juice
After reading through this list of allowed foods, it can be staggering to reflect on the old-school food pyramid that many of us had drilled into our minds. Where are the grains? The diary? The fruit and sweets?
I’ve got some alarming news for you… none of those are needed for optimal functioning! In fact, all of those “necessary” food groups that were preached for so long are actually detrimental to our most natural bodily processing. For more on this (I could spend hours explaining the intricacies), check out Ben Greenfield’s deep-dive here.
Great… Now, How Do I Start?
My best advice to you is to simply dive in! Too often we get so caught up in our own heads that we paralyze ourselves with “what if’s” and never actually start! In need of some encouragement? Many people find success from planning and prepping their meals in advance, following grocery lists (find a printable version here), and recruiting friends and family members to join in the experience. This diet encourages a life filled with delicious, natural foods that your body and taste buds will absolutely love. So what are you waited for? Get started on your keto journey today!