Ketogenic Diet for Beginners | Ultimate Beginners’ Guide
In this guide you will get everything you need to know as a beginner to ketogenic diet to get started.
It’s easy to be confused with all the conflicting information that exists, and I understand that. But it’s also annoying, because it’s perhaps the most simple diet you can find.
So here comes everything you need to know to get a successful start with keto / LCHF.
Objective: fat burning
The goal of ketogenic diet is first and foremost to get the body switched to fatty farming.
This means that your body uses fat as primary energy. In order to make the body do so, it requires a coherent period of time when you eat very few carbohydrates.
You can not do half then expect full results.
In addition to being full of energy and avoiding fluctuating blood sugar when the body burns fat, it also helps to regulate your appetite.
Many describe it as feeling less hunger. Others experience that the appetite completely disappears.
The diminished hunger means that you can go several hours without eating. You do not need to frequently re-fuel your body, since it has access to energy stored on your body in the form of fat.
You can therefore succeed in calorie deficiency and lose weight without starving.
But before you get there, you just need to go through the first weeks of conversion. It takes 2-6 weeks, depending on how metabolically flexible you are when you start.
Eat fewer carbohydrates
The maximum carbohydrates is 20-30 g per day. If you are an athlete, or very active, I would recommend no more than 50 grams of carbohydrates a day. Everyone else should stick to 20-30 g at the start.
This is the most important and imperative rule. Everything else is just minor details. If you can only focus on one thing, let it be this.
In theory, it doesn’t matter where you get your 20-30 g carbohydrates, but with the aim of making your keto diet as healthy and nutritious as possible, I recommend that you choose to get the majority of them from vegetables.
You get the most carbs from vegetables by choosing green salad vegetables and cabbage, for example rooted and sweet potatoes.
However, I recommend that you spread your carbohydrates throughout the day and do not eat them all in a meal. You can count your macros (carbs in this case), using a free apps called MyFitnessPal, if you are unsure of how many carbs there are in each veggie.
Eat animal protein for each meal
Since you want to get lean but want to keep your muscle mass, it is important that you eat enough protein.
Therefore, I recommend animal protein (e.g. meat, fish, poultry or eggs) for all meals as it contains fewer carbohydrates compared to plant-based proteins, e.g. from beans, lentils, etc.
And as it is a complete protein containing all amino acids your body need.
If you are in calorie deficiency for the purpose of weight loss, your need for protein becomes greater. The same applies if you are not quite young anymore (e.g. 35 + like myself).
With age we lose muscle mass every year, and we would like to avoid it. If you do a lot of strength training (weight lifting), you also need extra protein.
So what is protein enough?
I usually recommend 1-1.5 g of protein per 1 kilogram of your body weight. It’s set in stone, but it’s a nice guideline.
Keep in mind that meat contains only approx. 20 g protein per 100 g.
You do not eat high protein on keto diet. You just need to eat enough protein.
Eat fat until you are full
Get very few carbohydrates + sufficient amount of protein gives very few calories. Therefore, you need to add fat to your diet to get enough energy and to feel comfortable.
To do this, choose fatty parts of meat, chicken with skins, fatty fish like salmon and mackerel and choose the fat dairy products like cheese, cream and cream, cremefraiche instead of the lean ones.
You probably need to add some extra fat to this, and the good sources are butter, coconut oil, olive oil and avocado oil.
You eat fat until you are full. And that’s the key to the keto diet success here!
Since the carbohydrate and protein amount you eat is reasonably constant, fat is the only handle you need for calories.
If you want to lose weight, add a little less fat. Do you want to maintain weight, do you add more?
Initially, you may need more fat to feel full, but after the first time you will notice that your appetite normalizes and you feel less hungry and you can now adjust the amount of fat intake.
Vegetables, meat and fat = What your diet looks like!
In the nutshell, you eat vegetables, meat and fat.
If there is food you are in doubt, then you will not eat it. Or, you can beat your carbohydrate content and make it fit into your daily routine.
There is no need for you to bake bread of almond flour or eat brownies made with dark chocolate and butter because there is no room for your 20-30 g carbohydrate accounts. You eat real food. Vegetables, meat and fat. That way your ketogenic diet becomes simplified and easy to follow!
Remember to add salt and rehydrate
You need extra salt and hydration when you eat LCHF. Initially, you let go of your glycogen stores (“carbohydrate deposits”) and as each gram of glycogen stores 3-4 g of liquid. This will cause a loss of fluid.
The low insulin level (from the minimal carbohydrate consumption) causes your kidneys to get rid of sodium (salt).
It is therefore important that you rehydrate and consume more sodium. You do that by drinking enough liquid, by adding more salt to your food and by drinking a few glasses of broth each day.
You can also take a few salt shots. I recommend 0.5-1 teaspoon of salt twice a day, and I recommend you see this as mandatory, at least in the first few weeks.
This is very important especially if you experience transition symptoms such as headache, dizziness, energy loss, etc. Salt and liquid is the answer to 99% of all these problems.
Do it only if you really take it seriously
It makes no sense to ask your body to make such big changes in the way it translates energy (from glucose to fat) if you are not interested in some degree of low carb lifestyle on the long run.
If you just want to eat bread, pasta and sugar as part of your lifestyle, I suggest you find another method to lose weight. There are many roads to Rome, and Keto / Strict LCHF is not for everyone.