Knowing how to start a keto diet isn’t easy. It may seem like you are giving up so much. Starting a keto diet may be scary to you, but trust me, you will be okay.
We are going to break this down into just a few things to follow at first to keep it easy. To keep it simple I stick to;
- Eat from the Green List only.
- Stay under 20 g net carbs per day.
- Eat only when hungry.
- Consume foods with healthy fats to keep you fuller for longer.
How to Start a Keto Diet
To easily know what foods are best to eat they are added to colour coded lists.
Just like a traffic light system, green is good to go. Amber or orange is sometimes (foods) and the red list contains foods considered not to be keto-friendly.
Using the lists when you begin a low carb diet makes it far easier to learn what foods are are low in carbs. The lists also help with making keto meal plans, using the list for reference.
You can print off all the lists and keep them on the fridge or somewhere handy. Use the links below to print off each list as you need.
Best Foods to Eat on a Keto Diet
To stay in a state of ketosis it is recommended to stay under 20 grams of carbs per day. Choose from the Green List and try and include some variety into your meals. There is still a wide variety of foods to choose from.
- Healthy Fats. Eat healthy fat like coconut oil, butter, avocado, avocado oil.
- Protein. Red meat, chicken, fish, eggs.
- Non-starchy vegetable. Leafy green vegetables, cauliflower, asparagus, broccoli.
- Dairy. Full fat dairy such as cream, cheese, butter.
- Nuts and Seeds. Eat low carb nuts and seeds in moderation.
- Berries, low carb sweeteners, low carb condiments and spices.
What are Net Carbs?
Net carbs are the carbohydrates in the food that you digest and use for energy. The net carbs have no energy value or impact on your blood sugar, so basically, we don’t calculate them into our daily carbohydrate count.
How do I calculate net carbs?
It is quite simply subtracting the fibre and sugar alcohols from the total carbohydrates. For us Aussies net carbs are calculated on all Australian nutritional panels.
- Unlike other carbohydrates fibre cannot be digested by the body and passes through the intestinal tract pretty much intact. This is why we do not calculate fibre into our diet.
- Sugar alcohols are sweeteners like xylitol and erythritol. Sugar alcohols taste sweet and are either only partially digested or not at all.
To reach ketosis and stay there it is recommended to stay under 20-30g of net carbs. This can differ for some of us, so you can test and trial your limits. As a rule I personally just stick to under the 20g net carbs and maintain ketosis.
What Is Ketosis ?
Ketosis is a metabolic process where the liver produces chemicals called ketones. Ketone bodies travel to the brain and are then used as our main source of energy.
Our bodies have two sources of energy: glucose (sugar) and fat. When we eat a diet that is high in carbs our bodies default function is to burn the glucose as energy to fuel our body. Any excess glucose is then stored as fat, and we all know how that ends.
When we significantly reduce the number of carbs in our diet our body will switch to burning fat for energy. Once our body makes the switch we are then in a state of ketosis.
How do I get into a state of Ketosis?
To get your body into a state of ketosis you need to be dramatically lower your carbohydrate intake by following a keto diet plan.
The best way to start is to lower your carb intake to 20g per day, or use fasting. Our Meal Plan is the perfect place to get you started. Use our Macro Calculator to calculate your own personal needs.
When your body is in a state of ketosis it is imperative you provide your body with healthy fats as an alternate fuel source.
Many healthy fats can be found in grass-fed meats, eggs, seafood nuts and seeds. Again, the easiest way to ensure your body is receiving the correct fuel it to just follow a keto meal plan.
Testing for Ketosis
There are three main ways for testing for ketosis.
- by far the most accurate. If you do not require a full blood test under medical supervision, you may prefer a blood ketone meter. This requires you to do a finger prick test using ketone test strips. I order my ketone strips through David Jones Pharmacy.
- available from the pharmacy. Not as accurate as a blood test. This method is less reliable if you have been in ketosis for a long period of time. These are available through Elite Health Supplements.
- you can purchase a keto breath tester; however, this is not a reliable method.
Besides actually testing for ketosis you may experience other symptoms which will indicate you are in ketosis.
You may feel thirsty and have a metallic taste in your mouth. Your mental clarity will improve. You will have long-lasting energy and your hunger and craving will have disappeared.
Avoiding Keto Flu or Keto Slump
Once you start a keto diet and your body is in a state of ketosis you may feel your body adjusting to the change.
Your body may take about 2 – 3 weeks to adjust. During this period, you may develop what is known as Keto Flu or Keto Slump.
You may experience symptoms such as, thirst, headaches, tiredness, constipation, dizziness, diarrhoea and irritability.
You can avoid this by supporting your body through the first few weeks of change.
- make sure your body is hydrated and you have sufficient electrolytes and salt in your diet.
- add extra salt into your diet even if it is simply in a glass of water with some apple cider vinegar.
- increase your magnesium and potassium intake. This can be done through your diet or health supplements.
- be gentle with your body while it is adjusting. Low level exercise such as yoga, walking or swimming is preferable.
Rest and Sleep
- rest and sleep is really important while your body is adjusting to change. Go to bed half an hour earlier or try meditation.
While suffering the general malaise of getting into ketosis, it is only short term.
Once the keto flu symptoms have passed you may find that you have a boost in energy levels, and better mental focus.
Learning how to start a keto diet takes just a bit of research. Once you know a few of the facts, are armed with your green food list and a meal plan, life will get a whole lot better.
To maintain ketosis, in my opinion, is not very hard. It is a combination of not only the physical and health changes but also the overall feeling of happiness and contentment in life when you change.
The biggest bonus for me since changing to the keto lifestyle and diet has been how much happier I am every day.
I no longer ride the emotional rollercoaster I was on every day, and I know I have the keto diet to thank for that. This is something we can all benefit from, from changing to a keto diet.
Megan Ellam is an Australian keto recipes blogger living in Thornton, NSW. She is the author of amazing keto cookbooks such as Slow Cook Keto, Keto Loco, The Healthy Family Keto Cookbook and Every Day Keto.
Megan has been following a ketogenic diet since being diagnosed with insulin resistance in early 2017. After a long cooking career Megan simply swapped her “foodie focus” to easy keto recipes. Her keto Australian recipes all include both metric and US customary measures so that everyone can enjoy them.