Want to learn how to start a keto diet or low carb diet? This easy low carb/keto beginners guide will show you how! The easy way.
Whatever the reason you’re starting a low carb/keto lifestyle, whether it be for health reasons, to lose weight or a personal decision, the one thing remains the same: you want to succeed in this low carb journey… And this “Keto Diet for Beginners guide” is here to help you!
Because I believe you live your best life when you’re in control of your health and wellbeing. And you (and only you) have the power to gain that control.
Sometimes we just need a little bit of help-, especially at the beginning.
Which is where this post comes in.
I’ve put together the essential information you need to know before starting a low carb or keto diet, in an easy to follow format aimed at beginners- so you don’t have to go around chasing information.
I hope it will motivate you, save you time- and get you to your goals quicker.
And hopefully, answer some burning questions you might have about beginning a keto diet / low carb diet in general.
Let’s start, shall we?
Low Carb vs Keto
In the following sections, I’ll go over the differences between low carb vs Keto in terms of a diet plan, since many people often wonder what difference between them is.
What is a Low Carb Diet?
A low carb diet is when you eat mostly high fat, moderate protein also lower carbohydrates.
You will also hear people count or track their “net carbs” when it comes to low carb diets
Net carbs are carbs minus fiber and non-digestible sugar alcohols .
Net carbs = carbs – (fiber + non-digestible sugar alcohols)
Take an avocado as an example. If a small avocado has 9g total carbs, and 7 grams of fiber and 0 sugar alcohols – the net carbs would be only 2g (9g-7g-0g=2g). Which is makes avocados a Keto staple food!
Many people also often ask: “how many carbs in a low carb diet”. While the exact carb allowance will differ person to person(keep reading below on how to calculate carb allowance for your body), here are are some “general” total net carb amounts for different low carb diets .
- Ketogenic diet: less than 20 grams of net carbs per day
- Low carb diet: 20-50 grams of net carbs per day
- Moderate low carb: 50-100 grams of net carbs per day
Next, we’ll dig deeper into the Ketogenic diet.
Keto Diet Explained
What is a Ketogenic Diet?
A ketogenic diet is a type of low carb diet that has a strict macronutrient ratio (or you might hear the term macros) that you must follow in order to get into a state of Ketosis.
What are Macronutrients?
Macronutrients are carbohydrates, protein, and fat. The Keto diet usually around 60% fat, 35% protein and 5-10% carbohydrates .
What is Ketosis?
Ketosis is a process in your body that occurs when you don’t have enough carbs to burn as energy.
Instead, your body burns fat and makes ketones, which it can use for fuel. 
Being in a state of ketosis can be very effective for weight loss and some claim it helps increase their energy and mental clarity.
How long does it take for the body to go into ketosis?
It can take 2-4 days to get into Ketosis when first starting Keto, but it varies from person to person. For some, it may take a week or longer.
Keto Diet Facts
- Keto can help you lost weight and improve your health 
- A ketogenic diet can improve insulin sensitivity 
- “Keto Flu” (read below) resolves on its own within days.
- On Keto, you can eat meat, fish, eggs, nuts, healthy oils, whole dairy, butter avocados and lots of low-carb veggies.
- Avoid carb-based foods like flours, grains, rice, sugar, legumes, juice, high carb vegetables(potatoes) and most fruits.
How to Start a Keto Diet or Low Carb Diet
The first thing when learning how to start a Keto diet is to figure out what you should eat and what you should limit.
I’ll go over a list of foods for both scenarios, a little further down- so don’t worry – I got you covered!
Once you learn about the foods, the next step (and this is speaking from personal experience), is to set up your environment and for success.
Clean Out Your Pantry and Fridge
A good idea before you start the keto diet is to clean out your pantry and fridge and rid yourself of tempting high carb foods- think chips, cookies, candies, etc…
Here’s a before and after view of our pantry when we first started eating low carb/keto…
If you don’t want to waste food, give it to family/neighbors or donate it in your local Buy Nothing Group.
The last thing you need is to fall back to old habits in moments of hunger or unplanned meals.
Instead, stock your fridge and/pantry with low carb /keto-friendly foods (listed below), snacks, meal options.
So when you’re starving (or bored, emotional, etc..) you won’t be faced with a decision you might later regret.
If you live in a household where you can’t all ditch high carb foods, you could still make some tweaks: store high carb foods out of eyes site (I.e. in the cupboard, highest shelf of the pantry, back shelf in the fridge).
And bring the foods on the keto diet to the forefront (on the counter, eye-level shelf in pantry or fridge).
Eat your (healthy) Fats!
For so many years we were taught to fear eating fats. But in reality, we shouldn’t fear healthy fats. Healthy oils (unrefined olive, avocado, coconut, etc), butter, eggs, whole/grass-fed dairy, nuts, and nut butter- are perfect examples of good fats that you can eat on Keto.
Stay away from unhealthy fats like processed trans fats, vegetable oils, hydrogenated oils.
Keto Diet Foods to Eat
What can you eat on the keto diet?
- nuts and nut butter (macadamia, brazil, walnut, pecans, almonds, etc)
- almond & coconut flours
- Oils and fats (butter, ghee, olive/avocado oil, mayonnaise, etc..)
- Full fat cream and full-fat cheeses
- Meats: fresh or canned tuna, beef, chicken, lamb, eggs, etc.
- leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables
- tomatoes, lemons and limes, berries (in small amounts)
- seasonings like salt, pepper, etc..
- unsweetened tea and coffee (my favorite tea)
- Keto approved sweeteners (Stevia, Monk Fruit, etc)
Knowing what you should eat is important, but also knowing what you should avoid is also beneficial – when you’re learning how to start a keto diet. Here’s a list of some foods to avoid/limit when eating low carb/ keto.
What to Avoid Eating on a keto diet or low carb diet
What foods are not allowed on the keto diet?
- Grains: rice, four, pasta, and oatmeal
- Beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts
- Low-fat dairy
- Starchy vegetables like corn, peas, and potatoes
- Most fruits, except lemons, limes, tomatoes, and small amounts of berries
- Processed snacking foods: potato chips, pretzels, and crackers
- Added sugars and sweeteners
- Sweetened beverages: juice and soda
- Trans fats, such as margarine or other hydrogenated fats
- Most alcohols- wine, beer, and sweetened cocktails
Macro Calculator (Keto Diet)
Being on Keto will mean you’ll need to track your Macros and stick to your maximum allowance of carb s(or net carbs), protein and fat.
To get your customized daily macro allowances (or your allowance for carbs for keto diet), you can use a free online Macro calculator. They should ask you your weight, height activity level and the goal you are trying to achieve.
How To Track Your Macros
Once you know you macro amounts, one of the best way to track your macros (especially when you are just starting out) is by using a food scale an easy to use tracking apps.
Keto Meal Plan
Think of meal planning as setting up your future self for success.
As you probably already know, you don’t want to be making food-related decisions when you are hungry, or tired, etc.
Making those decisions with a full belly and in advance will take the stress out of figuring out what to eat.
Meal planning doesn’t have to be a pain or take long either.
It could simply mean making a bigger batch of your dinners so that you have leftovers for lunch the following day.
Or it could mean planning/doing groceries for your weeknight meals, the weekend before. So you know what you’re eating each night of the week.
Which will avoid the “there is nothing to eat, let’s order out” scenario.
Simple and easy plan-ahead actions can really make a big difference when it comes to sticking with your new lifestyle.
If you’re looking for a pre-made Meal plan, check out this Keto meal plan book on amazon – it goes excellent reviews on Amazon!
Keto Diet (low carb) Recipes
Having access to easy to prepare (and tasty) keto /low carb dinners, lunches and breakfasts will really help with your meal planning.
I personally like easy meals that don’t require a bazillion ingredients. AND easy to prep and cook.
Also, I don’t cook just for myself.
I cook for my whole family.
So I strive to make recipes that everyone enjoys AND that are nutritious.
Being on Keto /Low carb diet doesn’t mean just eating bacon and sausages all day long. You can (and should, IMO) try to include lots of low carb veggies and healthy fats and meats – and limit highly processed foods.
In my collection of Keto recipes, you’ll find keto/low carb meals that are easy to make, wholesome and tasty – for you AND your family.
What is Keto Flu?
When I first started low carb, I felt miserable.
I’m not going to lie.
I had no energy, headaches and grumpy. This went away on its own about a week later, after which I started to feel great!
Little did I know, what I actually went through was -what many call- “Keto Flu”.
And it’s super common.
The good news is: it goes away! After it does, you should feel better (I personally had more energy and mental clarity than before Keto).
What Causes Keto Flu and How long does it last?
Dramatically reducing your carb intake is a big change for your body, and some people might be more sensitive to this type of shift than others.
Some symptoms that can occur are (but not limited to): Headache, Constipation, Irritability, etc.
These symptoms are transient and should go away in about 1 week.
How to Get Rid of the Keto Flu
Although you don’t need to do anything special, then just ride out the week or so of symptoms, there are a few things you can try to alleviate or shorten the duration of Keto flu.
This electrolyte, in particular, was a huge help when I was going through Keto Flu (the second time around, after a two month hiatus). I drank it for the first week while starting on Keto and didn’t notice any major symptoms ( compared to the first time I went through Keto Flu, which was miserable). Plus it tasted good, and it was super cheap under $3!
- Stay hydrated (you shed lots of water with Keto, so stay well hydrated to avoid dehydration and headaches)
- Avoid strenuous exercise (during keto flu)
- Replace electrolytes lost (eat potassium and sodium-rich foods, or use an electrolyte supplement, like this one on amazon)
- Get enough sleep
- Eat enough fats (to reduce cravings/mood swings)
Keto Gadgets and Cooking Utensils (Optional)
You don’t need to buy anything special to start the Keto diet- except for the food itself.
But if you’re looking for ways to make your low carb meals faster, easier and more enjoyable- I have found the tools/gadgets below really helpful.
I personally have everything in the list below and use them in my low carb cooking and my recipes
The Instant Pot is an easy to use Electric pressure cooker that cooks food much faster than on stove/oven. It also has a sautee function so you can make one-pot meals, which makes cleanup faster. Not to mention is boils eggs faster and perfectly, every time!
Cast Iron Pan
Cooking with a cast iron pan is another tool that makes cooking easier and faster (and even tastes better)! Cook one-pan meals, and take your meals from the stove-top to the oven without changing dishes. In a cinch! Checkout this Cast Iron Pan on Amazon.
If you have a hard time kicking your soda habit, then the Soda Stream will come in handy. You can use it to make unsweetened “bubbly” water, or even buy specialty water enhancers made out of stevia (which is a Keto approved sweetener). You can take a look at the different models of Soda Stream on Amazon.
If you want to strictly track all macros when starting on Keto, then having a Food Scale will really come in handy. That way you never have to guess the amounts of food you are eating.
All In OR Baby Steps
Some people like to go all in and start Keto/ Low carb from day 1. For others, this might be too much of a drastic change.
And that is totally OK.
If you want a more gradual approach then go low carb for 1 meal a day and then adding in a new meal every other day until all your meals/snacks are covered.
Or start with revamping your snacks at first.
You have the power to choose how you want to approach this because you know your body the best and can adjust how you need to.
Remember, you are in this for the long haul, there is no rush.
Having an understanding support system can make any new change in life, easier and more successful. This includes big dietary changes, such as in the Keto Diet.
In the best-case scenario, your family/ friends will respect your new food changes and not try pressuring you back into old habits- and they might even accommodate for you.
If this is the case- amazing!!
But this may not be a reality for everyone.
If you find you’re a bit isolated and need some extra support, there are some FREE online facebook support groups.
You can join and connect with others who are going through the same journey and challenges as you!
Keto Important Safety Information
As with any new big dietary change you make, you should first consult with your doctor to confirm you don’t have an unknown condition that would be negatively affected by eating low carb.
For example, kids, pregnant /nursing moms, people with diabetes(1 and sometimes 2), liver, pancreatic, kidney disease and other conditions might be suggested to avoid the Keto diet.
There might be other conditions that also should avoid Keto, so please check with your doctor first.
And the journey begins…
I hope you enjoyed this in-depth guide on how to start a keto diet! You are on your way to taking control of your health and wellness – proud of ya! You are going to do great, reach those health goals and feel wonderful- as you deserve to feel! Very excited for you my friend 🙂