Ever wondered if the keto diet was for you? Need to know the basics of keto and how it compares to other popular diets out there? How about what to eat on keto or what foods to avoid? Did you know there are ways to enhance the keto diet and really create a foundation for success in weight loss and other health goals? Well, we welcome you to our Basics of Keto—The Keto Diet for Beginners!
Keto vs Paleo vs Low Carb vs Other Diets
When you’re looking to start a new health journey, it can be difficult to know where to start. You hear about trending diets and the ones that have stood the test of time and wonder which one might be best for you. And the answer is going to be different for everyone! You have to consider all the different aspects of each health plan based on your current health, your long-term health goals, your eating habits, and what you think you can sustain long enough to get the results you want. Ultimately, the goal is to find the diet plan that works for you, so you can create a lifestyle that provides the health and energy you’ll need to live life to the fullest.
Keto, paleo, low carb...we’ve heard them all. But how do they differ? How are they similar? We’ll break down each of these common diets in their simplest terms and then really dive into getting the keto diet explained.
What is Keto?
To really understand the basics of keto, or the ketogenic diet, you have to understand the main objective of the diet: significantly limit the amount of carbs you consume, while at the same time increasing your fat intake. Why? Because when your body begins to run low on carbs for energy, it turns to the fat in your diet, creating what are called ketones, and repurposes them for energy instead.
With the Keto diet, your caloric intake should pretty closely reflect these percentages: healthy fats (70%), protein (25%), and good carbs (5%). This will likely mean a significant decrease in carbs—including vegetables—and an even more significant increase in healthy fats, like avocado and olive oil, in the average diet. So how does keto differ from a low carb diet?
What is the Low Carb Diet?
It’s all in the name: the low carb diet restricts carbs mostly found in foods such as sugar, breads, and pastas. Which is great for some because it allows more flexibility when it comes to eating vegetables. While veggies do contain carbs, they come mostly in the form of fiber, which means you’ll be kept feeling full longer. That said, the main goal of a low carb diet is similar to that of keto: keep carb counts low so your body works to burn fat instead.
Looking at calories for the low carb diet plan, you’ll want to eat approximately healthy fats (40%-50%), protein (40%-50%), and good carbs (10%-20%).
What is Paleo?
The paleo diet is the most different of the three discussed here. Paleo dieters will find themselves eating something akin to a “caveman” diet—any and all things that were available by hunting and gathering during the Paleolithic era (about 10,000 years ago). This means fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and plenty of protein. BUT, no dairy, grains, potatoes, sugars, or artificial sweeteners are allowed on the paleo diet.
While paleo dieters can follow a great whole foods-based diet, it can feel more restrictive in our modern world and lead to falling off the paleo wagon.
Again, each diet is different and you’ll have to see which works with your lifestyle, habits, and goals. For now, we’ll focus on a deeper dive into the keto diet and how it can work for you and your health and weight loss goals. Consider this your crash course in the keto diet for beginners.
What is Ketosis?
So, what is ketosis? In really simple terms, ketosis is the process of what happens when your body begins to run low on carbs for energy. In scientific terms, ketosis is a natural metabolic state which involves the body creating ketones out of fat and repurposing them for energy. Essentially, your body uses the fat you’ve fed it to create the energy your body needs, usually resulting in well-regulated blood sugar levels and healthy weight loss.
Here are some simple ways to tell if your body has hit a state of ketosis:
- An increase in ketones in the body. The best way to know is to get keto strips which can test the level of ketones in your urine.
- A decrease in hunger. If you feel full and don’t feel the need to eat as much or as often as you did previously, your body is probably in a state of ketosis.
- Since your brain burns ketones instead of glucose, you may experience an increase in mental focus and energy. Reducing carbs in your diet can help control and stabilize blood sugar, which potentially can add to that increase in focus and cognitive functions.
What are the benefits of ketosis? Well aside from the aforementioned blood sugar level regulation and healthy weight loss, ketosis is an incredible way to fuel your brain. Many keto dieters experience increased mental clarity and even decreased stress due to their brains being powered by ketones, not carbs.
How Do I Get Started On Keto?
Now that you have the basics of keto down, you’ve got to figure out how to start a keto diet yourself.
As one expert explains, "My suggestion is to start with changing your mindset first and foremost around three very important facts: this is not just another diet, you don’t have to live in Ketosis forever, and you will not be depriving yourself. Having said that, if you are used to eating highly-processed sugary food and refined carbohydrates you’ll need to ease into it."
So, with your new keto-ready mindset, where do you begin? First eliminate the C.R.A.P. from your diet—carbohydrates, refined sugars, artificial foods, and processed foods. That means head to the pantry and remove pasta, bread, energy bars, cereal, chips, cookies, and sugary drinks, among other things. Just remember, it won’t be forever! One of the basics of keto is that it is not a lifelong commitment.
You’ll also want to stock up on some keto strips so you can know for sure that your body is in a state of ketosis. Without these, it’s difficult to tell if ketosis is truly happening, and you may not feel the way you’d like or get the results you’re looking for without them.
Another good step when starting a keto diet is to plan out some meals in advance. Preparation is key to success with any diet, and the same goes for keto. You’re going to need to have plenty of healthy fats, protein, and a few low-carb veggies on hand for a while. As you get further into your keto diet, you’ll learn more recipes and figure out how to mix things up with your meal plan. But at first, keep things simple so as not to overwhelm yourself and get discouraged. Just remember to stick to about 70% healthy fats, 25% protein, and 5% good carbs.
Discover: What You Need To Know Before Ketosis
What Can You Eat On a Keto Diet?
When you start a keto diet, it may help to have a list of foods you can eat and focus on. Here is a solid list of keto-approved foods:
- Meat—Look for grass-fed beef and wild-caught fish. The higher the quality of the food, the higher the quality of fuel for your body and brain! Just remember that keto is a high-fat diet, not necessarily high-protein. Eat meat in moderation.
- Fish and seafood—Aim for fatty fish like salmon and cook in healthy fats like butter or olive oil.
- Eggs—Eggs are high in nutrients and a great source of protein and can be eaten in a variety of ways on the keto diet.
- Fats and oils—Again, healthy fats like olive oil and butter are great sources for increasing your fat intake on a keto diet but you’re not limited to those. You’re also free to have mayo, coconut oil, hot sauce, and even heavy cream. Just watch out for heavily processed and sugary sauces like ketchup and barbecue sauce, or sweet spreads like jam and syrup.
- Vegetables—Stick with veggies that grow above the ground to avoid higher, starchier carb counts (above 5 carbs per 100g serving). Some keto-approved vegetables include spinach, lettuce, avocado, asparagus, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, and peppers. Underground veggies like carrots, potatoes, and beets are generally off-limits.
- Berries—Blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, coconut, and cantaloupe are your best choices in the fruit + berries + melon category. Again, they have to be consumed in moderation but can make a great keto dessert, served with some freshly whipped cream.
- Nuts—Nuts are a good keto snack option, in moderation. But aim for lower-carb nuts such as macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, and pecans. Avoid pistachios and cashews, which are not very keto-friendly nuts.
- High-fat dairy—Not all keto diets include milk and dairy products, but many do. As long as they’re higher in fat and low in sugar, you should be fine to incorporate it sparingly. High-fat cheeses, butter, and heavy cream are good keto options.
- Drinks—Water and unsweetened coffee and tea will be your main sources of hydration on a keto diet. Bone broth is also a good source of nutrition, and you can occasionally splurge on a small glass of red wine.
Generally, look for whole, unprocessed foods that are high in healthy fats and low in carbs, with some good proteins mixed in. We predict you’ll soon be making good friends with your avocado supplier!
What are Foods To Avoid While On Keto Diet?
We’ll reiterate what we mentioned before as one of the basics of keto—cut the C.R.A.P.
If it’s carb-heavy, processed, and/or artificial—it doesn’t belong in your keto diet. That said, there are also many whole and other “healthy” foods that are off-limits for keto. You’ll need to avoid:
- Starchy vegetables and sugar-heavy fruits
- Sweetened yogurt
- Sugar and honey
Also, don’t be deceived by low-calorie snack packs or even gluten-free treats, as they’re likely still high in carbohydrates. As one of your basics of keto, you’ll quickly become familiar with avoiding sugar and counting calories as you manage your healthy fats (70%), protein (25%), and good carbs (5%) ratios.
Does Keto work?
While the keto diet may not be a good choice for everybody, there is plenty of evidence suggesting that the keto diet is a great way to lose weight. The basics of keto require reducing the number of carbs in your diet and replacing them with healthy fats and good sources of protein which can reduce overall calorie intake and overindulgence in fat-building treats and snacks. When you cut out main sources of edible weakness and replace them with a new way to fuel your body—through ketones—weight loss becomes a natural byproduct of a keto diet. There is also evidence to suggest that being on a keto diet can reduce hunger pangs, again reducing calorie intake and the desire to needlessly snack throughout the day.
Is There an Effective Way to Supplement a Keto Diet?
Adding a supplement system like Xyngular’s Core to your keto diet can take it from basic to unbeatable. The Core system includes an effective combination of five high-quality products that assist with specific weight loss issues and creating healthy lifestyle habits. You’ll also get an 8-day jumpstart program and a keto-approved meal plan, complete with the daily support of a virtual coach named Xander who delivers tips and reminders straight to your phone. With Xyngular’s Core System, you’ll gain the confidence you need to achieve your weight-loss goals alongside the keto diet.
Contact your Xyngular Distributor to start seeing results in just 30 days by taking advantage of the Core System and all it has to offer, or log in to your Xyngular account today!
** Xyngular systems include a variation of the 8-Day Jumpstart. If you have additional weight to lose after your Jumpstart and select a Xyngular system to support your efforts, DO NOT complete another 8-Day Jumpstart immediately. Instead, move to the post-Jumpstart meal plan of your choice and recommended product usage included in your system.