Ultimate Guide to the Ketogenic Diet
Keto Beginners Series

Ultimate Guide to the Ketogenic Diet

Carb Manager Staff

Carb Manager Staff

a year ago

So you’ve been seeing the Keto success stories in your newsfeed, and you’re ready to try it for yourself.

Kudos to you for taking the first steps toward your health goals! You’re here, you've got Carb Manager in your pocket, you might have looked at a few Keto recipes or blog posts, and you’re already visualizing your friends’ stunned reactions to your “Keto transformation”. But how do you get from here to there? It has something to do with bacon and macadamia nuts, right?

In this article, we’re going to teach you everything you need to know to lose weight, get healthier and feel like the best version of yourself using the Ketogenic Diet.

You’ll learn the basic science behind Keto, the benefits, what to eat, what not to eat, how to get started the right way, and more. No B.S. No fluff. Just the exact information that you need to become a Keto success story.

What is Keto?

(KEE-TOH) 

The Keto (short for “Ketogenic”) diet is a very low carb and high-fat diet that puts your body into a natural metabolic state called “ketosis”. Normally, your body breaks down carbs into glucose, which it uses for energy, with any excess being stored as body fat. In ketosis, your body instead begins to burn fats and break them down into molecules called “ketones” for energy. And if you’re eating at a caloric deficit, it will burn body fat — rather than dietary fat — to create those ketones, resulting in weight loss. We’ll go deeper into the science behind these processes shortly.

The emphasis on achieving the metabolic state of ketosis is what makes Keto different from similar low-carb diets like Atkins or Paleo.

Ketosis comes with a variety of benefits that may include:

  • Weight Loss
  • Enhanced Fat Burning
  • Appetite Suppression
  • Increased Energy
  • Better Blood-Sugar Stability
  • Decreased risk factors for heart disease
  • Improved medical conditions like diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and epilepsy

And much more…

You might be skeptical of this whole “high fat” concept. After all, haven’t we been taught our whole lives that fat is the enemy? How many times have you heard the phrase “healthy low-fat diet”? Exactly. We get it.

But here’s the bottom line.

Fat has gotten a bad rap. The idea that all fat is bad for you and that it inevitably leads to heart disease, higher body fat levels, and weight gain came from studies that used flawed methodologies and — in some cases — were actually paid for by the sugar industry in an intentional effort to shift the blame from sugar.

According to an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Society for Internal Medicine (JAMA Intern Med), the role of sugar (which is, of course, a carbohydrate) in coronary heart disease and other negative health outcomes was becoming clear in the 1950s. So in the 1960s, the sugar industry-funded research highlighted the risks of fat and downplayed the role of sugar in contributing to coronary heart disease.

These studies became “gospel” and went unquestioned for decades. They were used to create public policy and to create medical school nutrition curriculums up until just recently.

But scientific opinion is quickly shifting, and there is now mounting evidence that implicates carbs (as well as certain types of “unhealthy” fats) in the development of heart disease.

Nutritional science now understands — and average family doctors are slowly catching on — that healthy fats are actually an important part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.

But how do we define a “healthy fat”? Most Keto blogs and popular resources define trans fats as unhealthy, with anything else (monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, saturated fats) being fair game.

But from a scientific and nutritional standpoint, the story is a bit more complex. For example, omega-3 and omega-6 fats are both polyunsaturated fats, and many Keto resources would lump them under the “healthy fats” umbrella as a result. But omega-6s play a role in promoting inflammation, while omega-3s reduce inflammation.

On a similar note, saturated fats are typically regarded as unhealthy by the medical establishment, but are seen as healthy by many in the Keto community. And again, the issue is more complex than it seems at first glance. Saturated fats can be broken down into categories of short, medium, and long-chain saturated fats, with each category having different properties that can impact health in different ways.

With that being said, there are a variety of specific fats and oils that are known to be healthy, and that are recommended on a Ketogenic Diet. We’ll touch on this below, in the “What to Eat on a Keto Diet” section, and then you’ll find a fairly complete list in our Comprehensive List of Foods to Eat and Avoid, which you can see here.

The Ketogenic Diet is often misunderstood and maligned as just another “fad diet”. But under different names and in different forms, it’s actually been a part of our history since time immemorial.

Human beings have practiced fasting since the early days of our species. This was sometimes done intentionally for health or spiritual reasons. It was even more often done out of necessity: food was often scarce, and early humans would sometimes go days in between meals, only to feast when they had a successful hunt.

What’s the connection between fasting and Keto? Just like carbohydrate restriction, fasting puts the body into a state of ketosis, with all of the benefits that come along with it.

Even when our ancestors had access to regular meals in times of plenty, these meals were typically high in fats and proteins.

Carbohydrates were only available during very specific times of the year, when fruits and underground tubers ripened. Our ancestors were likely in ketosis for the majority of the year. It wasn’t until the advent of agriculture, around 9500 BC, that carbohydrates, mostly in the form of grains, became a regular part of the everyday human diet.

Fast forward to the 1920s, and Keto was “re-discovered” as an effective treatment for pediatric epilepsy.

The current low carb “craze” dates all the way back to the 1970s, when the first book on the Atkins diet was published. Atkins took off again in the late 90s to early 2000s, paving the way for the rediscovery of Keto as a popular diet for health and weight loss.

And you probably know the rest. Today, major brands, famous doctors, and celebrities promote the benefits of Keto; restaurants offer Keto specific menus; and mainstream media outlets pump out coverage of the diet on a daily basis. Keto is becoming the de facto standard for those who want to take control of their health.

The Science of Ketosis

Now that you have some background, let’s talk about the science of ketones and ketosis.

There are two main energy sources that your body can run on: glucose (produced from carbohydrates and, to a lesser extent, protein) and ketones (produced from fats).

The only way to use ketones as a primary fuel source is by restricting carbohydrates and increasing healthy fat intake. By doing so, you enter the fat-burning mode known as ketosis. This is because glucose takes priority for energy if it is present in high enough amounts in your body. When you highly restrict carbs in your diet, you use fats — both dietary and stored body fat — for energy instead.

Ketones are molecules that can supply the brain and body with energy. Not only do you receive the benefits of weight loss by becoming a fat-burner, but you may even begin to experience improved mental clarity and more stable mood, among other benefits.

For example, the Ketogenic Diet may also decrease insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity. High insulin levels contribute to weight gain and certain metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

Note: Ketosis is much different from ketoacidosis, which is a serious medical condition most commonly affecting people with diabetes, in which the body produces extreme amounts of ketones. Here, we are talking about metabolic, or nutritional ketosis, which is the production of safe levels of ketones under the metabolic control of your body.

Calories and Macros

Many diets focus on the concept of calories in, calories out (CICO). Calories are important, but a CICO-only approach to weight loss — without providing guidance as to where those calories should come from — is flawed in that it sees all calories as being equal, and thus all foods as equal.

But all foods are not equal. Foods are composed of different ratios of macronutrients (macros). This is where the macro-based diet comes in. The three types of macros are fat, carbohydrates, and protein, and get their name from the fact that your body needs them in large (macro) quantities for energy production.

A macro-based diet first decides how many calories you need per day based on your lifestyle and your individual goals, similar to a strictly CICO-based diet. It then goes further by setting a specific ratio of these three macronutrients (expressed as a percent of total daily calories) as a daily goal. Different macro-based diets use different specific macro ratios to achieve specific physiological effects in your body.

For example, Keto sets a target macros ratio of 5% carbs, 25% protein, and 70% fat (often written as 5:25:70). The “Zone” diet uses 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fats (40:30:30). The so-called “Carnivore” diet is 0% carbs, 25% protein, 75% fat (0:25:75). And the standard “bodybuilding” diet is usually 25% carbs, 40% protein, 35% fat (25:40:35).

In comparison, the “Standard American Diet” is typically around 50% carbs, 20% protein, and 30% fat (50:20:30), give or take.

Macro ratios give us a different way of thinking about dieting. With a macro-based diet, the focus is shifted from simply depriving yourself of calories to providing your body with the energy and nutrients it needs to run efficiently and to trigger specific physiological changes.

Benefits of Keto

Both academic studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that Keto may provide numerous health benefits, from weight loss to diabetes management to improved mental health and beyond.

While much of the actual research is preliminary, we’ve cited studies in this section where appropriate as a starting point to help you and your doctor decide whether Keto might be right for you and your particular health situation.

Some of the specific benefits of Keto may include:

Weight Loss

When you enter ketosis, your body switches from burning primarily glucose to burning dietary and body fat as an energy source, which provides obvious weight loss benefits. In 2004, a study published in Nutrition and Metabolism compared the effects of the Keto Diet to a low-fat diet. The study revealed that both women and men lost more weight and body fat when they followed a Keto Diet, in comparison to a low-fat diet.

Appetite Reduction

Appetite reduction is another potential benefit of Keto, and alongside the fat-burning metabolic processes mentioned above, is another primary reason as to why Keto tends to be so effective for weight loss.

Keto has been found to suppress a hormone called ghrelin, also known as the hunger hormone. When you’re in ketosis, your ghrelin levels don’t increase like they would if you were not in ketosis. With stable levels of ghrelin, you naturally feel less hungry. Cravings for “carby” and sugary foods may be reduced as well.

In 2014, a study was published in the Obesity Reviews Journal which looked at the evidence for the appetite suppressing properties of the Ketogenic Diet. The study was conducted as a systematic meta-analysis of 89 cross-disciplinary studies. The researchers found that there is indeed evidence that being in ketosis prevents an increase in appetite during caloric restriction, and that people may experience appetite reduction.

Increased Energy

Many Keto dieters report that they experience increased energy as they go about their day. The primary mechanism for this is likely the blood glucose and insulin stabilization that comes with ketosis and carb restriction. The standard American diet consists of large quantities of simple carbs in the form of sugary snacks and drinks.

These foods cause your blood sugar to spike, which is followed by a blood sugar crash, leaving you on an energy roller coaster, where you are often left feeling tired, groggy, irritable, and even anxious or shaky.

Enhanced cellular mitochondrial function, or healthier cells, is another possible mechanism for increased and more stable energy levels This was explored in this 2007 study in the publication Epilepsy Currents.

Better Sleep

In this day and age, our sleep is under constant attack. Whether it’s just the stress of everyday life, the overconsumption of sugar and caffeine, or the proliferation of “screens” that disrupt our circadian rhythms, it seems like nearly everyone struggles with sleep.

So of course, many Keto dieters who start eating low carb and high fat to lose weight are thrilled when they discover that the diet may help them sleep better as well.

Granted, there isn’t much research yet, and the reports are anecdotal. So we can only make educated guesses as to the mechanisms.

On the one hand, for those who are overweight or obese, weight loss alone is known to improve sleep quality. So just losing weight on Keto may improve your sleep quality.

But Keto enthusiasts who are using the diet for purposes other than weight loss have also reported sleep benefits.

This could be due to another potential mechanism: Entering the state of ketosis increases the amount of energy produced in the brain, which also increases the amount of adenosine, which is an important chemical known to influence sleep quality.

Although most reports are anecdotal, there have been a few studies that look at sleep and ketosis in specific populations. It’s possible that these studies could be applicable to mainstream Keto dieters, although there’s no hard evidence as of yet. For example, one study suggested improvements in sleep for epileptic children whose seizure activity interferes with healthy brainwave activity while sleeping.

Though better research designs and better quality research is needed to truly understand how Keto affects sleep, many Keto dieters continue to report that they experience better quality sleep once they are Keto-adapted, and are less sleepy during the day!

Anti-inflammatory

The Keto Diet may provide anti-inflammatory benefits via several processes. The first is simply that the Keto Diet excludes many inflammatory foods, such as sugar, simple carbohydrates, and many processed foods. Beyond that, ketosis may also have direct anti-inflammatory effects through various mechanisms, such as increased adenosine production and decreased pro-inflammatory molecules.

Cognitive Benefits

Anecdotal reports indicate that Keto may reduce brain fog while improving mental clarity and focus.

There are a few possible causes for these cognitive benefits:

May Improve Cholesterol and Heart Disease Risk Factors

If done right, the Keto lifestyle is heavy on “good”, heart-healthy fats that are known to have cardiovascular benefits, such as omega-3s and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). Additionally, low-carb diets have been shown to improve multiple risk factors for heart disease, such as: increasing “good” HDL cholesterol; increasing the size of LDL-C particles, which has been shown to decrease cardiovascular disease risk; reducing overall “bad” LDL and triglyceride levels; decreasing waist circumference; lowering blood pressure; and decreasing inflammation. In return, this may balance out your cholesterol issues and improve heart disease.

Management of type 1 and type 2 diabetes

Keto can be a game-changer for individuals living with diabetes. The American Diabetes Association has even recently recommended reducing carbs as part of an individualized nutrition therapy plan.

For those with type 1 diabetes, following the Keto Diet may help you lower the amount of insulin you need to take to control your blood sugar. As you reduce your carb intake, you’ll need to work closely with your doctor to appropriately adjust the amount of insulin you are using in order to avoid hypoglycemic events.

Better control of your blood sugar will result in better HbA1c, as well as lower risk of associated conditions, like cardiovascular disease and kidney damage.

For those with type 2 diabetes, the Keto Diet can provide significant improvements in weight, fasting blood glucose and HbA1c, insulin sensitivity, inflammation, decreased blood pressure, and more. This could result in dramatic decreases or even complete independence from diabetes medications. A 2-year study with type 2 diabetics on a Ketogenic Diet demonstrates these promising results!

In 2008, a study was published in the Journal of Nutrition & Metabolism that compared the effects of the Ketogenic Diet to a low- glycemic reduced-calorie diet. The researchers discovered that the Keto participants had more significant improvements in hemoglobin A1c, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, body weight, and good cholesterol in comparison to the alternate group. About 95.2% of the individuals in the Keto group eliminated or reduced their diabetes medication, compared to the 62% of people from the low glycemic group.

If you have diabetes, or any other medical condition, it is critically important to seek the guidance of a licensed medical professional before you start your Keto journey, and to follow-up regularly.

The Carb Manager App offers a variety of features specific to diabetes management - click here to learn more.

May Improve Blood Pressure

As you lose weight, other health benefits naturally follow. For example, one major health benefit that tends to follow weight loss is lower blood pressure. In the 2-year study with type 2 diabetics mentioned above, the Keto group showed significant improvements in blood pressure at the two year mark compared to no significant improvements in the usual care group.

Excess body fat and blood pressure are part of a common metabolic disorder known as metabolic syndrome, which increases your risk for heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Metabolic syndrome is characterized by high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excessive body fat around the waist, and a poor cholesterol profile.

The Keto Diet has demonstrated improvements in all of these factors, thus having the potential to reverse metabolic syndrome and reduce your risk of these chronic diseases.

In 2007, there was a study published in the Journal of American Medicine that tested the effects of multiple diets on weight loss, as well as their effects on blood pressure independent of weight loss. Atkins and Keto had the highest positive impact on blood pressure, even after controlling for weight loss.

This diet successfully decreased the individuals’ systolic blood pressure by an average of 7.6 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by

4.4 mmHg — twice more than any other group.

May Improve Mental Health (Depression/ Anxiety)

A variety of anecdotal reports have described improvements in mental health when following the Keto lifestyle. Individuals have reported improvements to depression, anxiety, bipolar, and even schizophrenia. Recent studies are beginning to support the anecdotal evidence.

One mechanism may simply be improved nutrition. The Western diet is nutritionally deficient. Keto provides more nutrients from dense, whole foods that the brain needs for optimal function.

In addition, studies suggest that switching from glucose to ketones as the body’s main fuel source may improve mitochondrial respiration, increase neuronal growth factors, strengthen the signal sent between synapses, reduce brain inflammation, and reduce oxidative stress, all of which may play a role in improved subjective mental health.

Finally, insulin and blood sugar swings can contribute to mood issues. The Keto Diet can significantly smooth and level out these swings and fluctuations, which may also lead to a subjective perception of decreased mood swings and more stable mental health.

Other Conditions

Keto has shown promise in treating a variety of other diseases and health conditions.

A mix of preliminary research and anecdotal reports suggest that this diet may improve:

Types of Keto Diets

While the standard Keto Diet will meet the needs of most people reading this guide, there are a few variations on the diet for specific scenarios. Let’s take a look at the different options so you can decide which one will work best for you and your lifestyle.

Carnivore/Zero Carb: Pretty much what it sounds like. Animal products only. Some people eat dairy (but never milk, since it has carbs). Others stick with 100% meat. Vegetable and plant-based foods are strictly forbidden. Even supplements are discouraged. This is probably the most extreme version of Keto, and there are no studies on the safety of following this diet.

Individuals who follow the Carnivore diet claim that it has many of the same benefits of Keto (such as weight loss, benefits of ketosis, mental clarity, and smoothing out blood sugar), but supposedly to a greater degree. In addition, it’s dead simple to follow, and there’s not much need to track macros, since you’re literally just eating meat.

This diet is probably best left to those who enjoy experimenting with extreme “life hacks”; we wouldn’t recommend it for the casual dieter.

Dirty Keto: Follows a similar macronutrient breakdown as regular Keto, with one crucial difference: It doesn’t matter where the macronutrients come from. Processed food and fast food are fair game with “dirty Keto”, as long as they fit your macros. It’s simple. It’s easy. It’s cheap. And you’ll probably still lose weight as long as you stay in ketosis and maintain a calorie deficit.

But the drawbacks are the same as any diet where you’re eating a lot of “junk food”. Individuals following this diet routinely run into issues with skin blemishes, exaggerated “keto flu” symptoms, inflammation, weight gain after going off the diet, bloating and gut issues, and so on.

It’s probably okay to do “dirty Keto” once in a while as a “cheat” or in a situation where you’re traveling or have a really hectic day. But we wouldn’t recommend it as a long term diet solution.

Lazy Keto: Basically the same as the regular Keto, but you don’t track macros. Advanced Keto dieters who’ve been on the diet for a long time, who are using the diet for weight maintenance only, and who have an intuitive feel for macros and dietary choices can get away with “lazy Keto”.

Those who are new to Keto, who are actively trying to lose weight, or who are relying on Keto to manage a medical condition should stay away from “lazy Keto”.

OMAD: Eating just one meal a day (a type of intermittent fasting) while you’re on Keto. This one is also just like it sounds. You literally eat one big meal a day, then exist on water and black coffee the rest of the time. It’s highly effective, but it’s also very restrictive and intense. Most people don’t stick with it, and end up going back to poor diet choices as a result.

As with other more extreme diets, this one is probably best left to those who enjoy experimenting with various “life hacks” and whose bodies can handle the stresses that an intense fast can bring.

Ordinary Keto dieters who do want to try fasting are better off experimenting with a more moderate 16:8 (16 hours fasting, 8 hours eating) form of intermittent fasting.

CKD (Cyclical Keto Diet AKA “Carb Cycling”): A variation of Keto which involves eating clean carbs one or two days per week. The other five or six days out of the week, you’ll follow a standard Ketogenic Diet that consists of very low carbs, high fat, and moderate protein.

This diet is typically used by athletes who want to reap the benefits of Keto while enjoying the increased athletic performance from having carbs (glycogen) available to their body as an energy source. Some users also use it to give themselves a “cheat day”.

This diet can be effective for certain athletes, but probably isn’t necessary for the average Keto dieter. If you do utilize the Cyclical Keto Diet, be sure to take advantage of the “carb cycling” feature that’s available with Carb Manager Premium.

Click here for more detailed guidelines in choosing the diet that’s right for you.

How to Tell If You’re in Ketosis

You can tell if you’re in ketosis by testing for ketone metabolites in your breath, urine or blood, or by simply observing your body for the normal signs that your metabolism has switched to using ketones for fuel.

Testing for ketosis is fairly inexpensive these days, and can be beneficial for those who are new to Keto. When you test, you have instant, unmistakable confirmation that you’re either doing everything right… or doing something wrong. Breath and urine tests are more convenient, while blood tests are more accurate.

View Ketosis Breath Analyzers on Amazon.

View Ketosis Urine Strips on Amazon.

View Ketosis Blood Meters on Amazon.

For Keto dieters with a little experience (or who don’t want to spend the money on testing equipment), it’s fairly easy to tell when you’re in ketosis. When your body reaches ketosis, you will likely experience more energy and focus, weight loss, and reduced appetite. Other possible symptoms are short-term fatigue and the “Keto flu” (more on this below), which not everyone experiences, but which is a sure fire symptom that your body has begun breaking down fat to produce ketones. Some people who are especially attuned to their body also notice changes in the smell of their breath, the taste in their mouths, and their body odor.

What to Eat on Keto

The million-dollar question, right? If you’ve made it this far in the guide, you already know that you should be eating lots of fats and adequate protein, and then filling in with fibrous, low-carb produce. But what does that look like in practice?

Here’s a list of some common foods that many individuals include in their Keto Diet repertoire:

  • Natural, unprocessed meat. Preference is for high quality and hormone-free, and especially free-range and grass-fed.
  • Seafood, such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines. Wild-caught and fatty fish is preferred.
  • Organ meats such as liver
  • Animal fats
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Cream and butter
  • Bell peppers, tomatoes (limited quantities), and cucumbers
  • Cruciferous veggies
  • Dark, leafy greens
  • Other low-carb and high-fiber veggies
  • Small portions of berries

What Not to Eat on Keto

Above all else, skip the carbs. This includes:

  • Soda, sugar, chips, cereal, and crackers
  • Potatoes, flour, pasta, bread, and starchy veggies
  • Grains
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Most fruits except berries

Even though they may not contain carbs, you’ll also want to avoid or limit anything with processed ingredients or unhealthy fats. Eating these foods would put you into the realm of “dirty Keto”.

Examples of foods to avoid are:

  • Deli meat, bacon, sausage, and other processed meats
  • Fake “meats”, such as soy- or plant-based products
  • Inflammatory oils, such as seed oils
  • Trans fats

Click here for a fairly complete list of what to eat and what not to eat on Keto.

The Keto Flu

Here’s a common scenario: You stock your cupboards with Keto-friendly goodies, you’re excited about your new diet, and you’re going strong on the low-carb train for a few days when BAM! It hits you. Instead of experiencing all the health benefits you keep hearing about, you feel like garbage. Fatigued, mentally foggy, or even aches, pains, and nausea. Are you coming down with the flu? Or is this a sign that the Keto Diet isn’t a good fit for you?

It may be none of the above! You may be going through the “Keto flu”, which is a common, but short-lived, set of side effects that often occur after restricting carbs in your diet.

The most common symptoms of the Keto flu are:

  • Mood swings
  • Stomach aches
  • Food cravings
  • Brain fog
  • Nausea
  • Physical fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Bad breath
  • Insomnia

These symptoms don’t occur in everyone, but tend to be more common in people who are doing Keto for the first time. On the other hand, the Keto flu is fairly common, and doesn’t necessarily indicate that the Keto Diet isn’t a good fit for you.

The Keto flu occurs for a couple of reasons.

First, your body is simply getting used to using ketones for fuel instead of glucose. As your body adjusts, you can temporarily experience low blood sugar, which can cause many of the symptoms described above.

Second, going into ketosis can leave your body low on electrolytes. Electrolytes are excreted when carbs are restricted. This is because carb restriction leads to lower insulin levels. Lower levels of insulin result in less water reabsorbed by your kidneys, leading to more water excretion, which in turn leads to more electrolyte excretion.

This can also cause many of the above flu-like symptoms.

Success tip: If you do experience the Keto flu, practice self-care, and take it easy until it passes.

There are a few ways to combat symptoms of the Keto flu. Here are the best approaches you can take to minimize, or even prevent, these flu-like symptoms altogether.

  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water.
  • Consume adequate amounts of green leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, and collard greens, to help maintain proper electrolyte levels
  • Add pink Himalayan sea salt to your food and water to replenish sodium levels. Sodium is the mineral excreted in the highest quantities when carbohydrates are restricted.
  • Eat plenty of fiber-rich vegetables to prevent digestive issues
  • Exercise daily
  • Consider supplementing with B vitamins
  • Make sure you are also consuming enough healthy fats when you first go Keto. More often than not, people will eat much less fat than they think they’re supposed to when adopting the Ketogenic Diet. Track everything you eat in Carb Manager to ensure you're getting enough healthy fat!

Click here to read more about the Keto flu and methods for dealing with specific symptoms.

Keto Tips

The Keto Diet is a powerful tool for losing weight and improving health. But for many people, particularly those in Western countries, it can involve a radical shift in the way that they view nutrition and what constitutes a “healthy diet”. And as a result, there can be a bit of a learning curve as you get up to speed with your new Ketogenic lifestyle. To make the transition easier, we’ve put together this list of Keto tips to help you overcome common hurdles and give you practical strategies for success.

#1 - Keep it simple and strict, at least at first. No “dirty Keto”. No “lazy Keto”.

#2 - Drink lots of water. Carb Manager’s water tracking feature is ideal for this.

#3 - Reduce stress

#4 - Track what you eat. Use Carb Manager for easy tracking. #5 - Watch out for hidden carbs

#6 - Exercise

#7 - Try moderate intermittent fasting

#8 - Try mindful eating

#9 - Always get enough fat. Try fat bombs and “shots” (shot glasses) of healthy fats

#10 - Improve gut health with probiotics and fermented foods #11 - Test ketone levels

#12 - Unless you are sodium sensitive, consider increasing salt intake or take an electrolyte supplement

#13 - Prioritize sleep

#14 - Plan meals. Carb Manager Premium comes with a Keto meal planner.

#15 - Eat lots of veggies

#16 - Get your 5% carb macros from veggies and berries #17 - Invest in a food scale

#18 - Give away or throw away carby foods #19 - Plan ahead for eating out

#20 - If it makes sense for your budget, invest in Carb Manager Premium 😄

9 Tips for Dining Out on Keto

Sticking to your macros while dining out may seem like a daunting task. Free breadsticks, sugary cocktails, every other dish served with a side of fries… what’s a Keto dieter to do? The good news is that you don’t have to cancel date nights with your partner or skip out on happy hour with your co-workers. With a bit of planning and creativity, dining out on Keto is totally doable!

With that in mind, here are 9 tips to help “keep it Keto” when eating away from home:

Plan ahead: If you’re in a major city, Google some Keto-friendly restaurants. Even in smaller cities, a lot of restaurants now have low- carb and Keto-friendly menu items. It can also be useful to save up your 5% daily carb macros allotment for your restaurant meal!

Think protein and veggies: You can’t go wrong with a protein for your main course, and a Keto-friendly veggie on the side. Steak and asparagus? Salmon and broccoli? Even pasta themed restaurants can typically accommodate this type of meal.

Watch for hidden carbs: Keep the nutritional guide within reach. Restaurant food is loaded with hidden sugar and carbs, especially fried food.

Add a side of healthy fat: Try to add an avocado, egg, or other healthy fat.

Be careful with sauces and condiments: Always check the ingredients. Ketchup is usually spiked with sugar. Mustard and hot sauce are typically okay, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!and they probably get these questions all the time. They’re there to help!

Keep it simple with beverages: For non-alcoholic beverages, pick water, unsweetened tea, or black coffee. If you want alcohol, reach for the gin, dry red wine, dry martini, vodka, brandy, or whiskey with no mixers.

In a pinch, make a meal of sides: If you can’t find Keto options, try loading up on veggies with olive oil or butter on top.

Ask questions: Feel free to ask the waitress or waiter questions about ingredients or Keto options. Keto is mainstream these days, and they probably get these questions all the time. They’re there to help!

Think creatively for dessert: If you left room for dessert, ask for berries and heavy cream or dark chocolate.

Eating Keto on a Budget

The Keto Diet is for everyone. While grass-fed, organic, wild-caught, local options are the healthful ideal, they’re not a requirement to improve your health and your life on Keto. On top of that, Keto doesn’t require any expensive supplements or pre-packaged foods. You can eat as extravagantly or simply as you like on Keto.

If you’re on a budget, save money by cooking your own meals with simple ingredients. For example, Low-Carb Philly Cheesesteak Skillet, Keto Chicken and Cauliflower Cheese Bake, and Keto Bacon Wrapped Chicken Thighs with Cheddar Sauce are all delicious, easy options.

Quality, Keto-friendly veggies covered in oil are relatively inexpensive. For protein, it’s okay to buy cheaper types and cuts of meat. Choose chicken over beef or fish, as it tends to be more affordable per pound. A slow cooker will come in handy for stewing meats, which will save you time and money. Organ meats are also ideal: they’re inexpensive while being full of fats and nutrients!

Shop at Trader Joe’s or Costco if they exist in your area. Stock up at your local grocer when there are sales. If your area has a meat or dairy share, consider joining one.

You can also save time and money by planning ahead and doing meal prep in advance. The Carb Manager Meal Plans are there to help you! You can plan an entire week’s worth of meals, generate a shopping list with only the exact items that you need for those meals, and queue up those meals to be added to your daily log with just a couple of taps.

Set aside time on a Sunday to prep meals for the week, and avoid the temptation of eating out later on.

Finally, buy products when they’re in season (and more affordable) whenever possible, versus expensive, out-of-season items imported from far away. You can optionally can or dry seasonal produce to have it available throughout the year.

The Ketogenic Diet is simple and never requires pre-packaged foods or supplements. It’s a better dietary practice to get all of your nutrients from whole food sources rather than relying on supplements to fill in the gaps and make up for poor food choices.

That being said, there are a few supplements that may make your Keto journey easier, helping you to stick to it and get better results. As always, check with you doctor before starting a new supplement, particularly if you have a medical condition.

MCT Oil: MCT is short for “medium-chain triglycerides”. This is a type of fat that is broken down by your liver and which enters your bloodstream to be used as energy by your brain and muscles almost immediately after consumption. Supplementing with MCT oil will help you to hit your fat macros and increase your ketone levels, as well as to provide a quick, non-stimulant source of energy on-demand.

Electrolyte Supplements: When you dramatically reduce carb intake, such as when on a Ketogenic Diet, your body begins to flush out essential vitamins and minerals. If you don’t replenish these electrolytes, you may be more likely to fall victim to the dreaded "Keto flu". While these minerals can be easily consumed from green leafy vegetables and other whole food sources, using an electrolyte supplement is a great way to ensure adequate micronutrient levels.

Fish Oil: Research suggests that omega-3 acids DHA and EPA provide significant health benefits. Fish oil is also extremely beneficial for people on a Keto Diet, as it helps to maintain an optimal omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. Too much omega-6 without omega-3 increases inflammation and can be harmful to your health.

Exogenous Ketones: These are among the most popular supplements in the Ketogenic community. And not just because they have “ketones” right in their name! Exogenous ketones are essentially “ketones in a bottle”. They can raise your ketone level almost immediately upon consumption, even if you recently ate carbs. Studies suggest that exogenous ketone supplementation can regulate hunger levels, improve athletic performance, reduce the severity of the “Keto flu”, and speed up muscle recovery.

Greens Supplement: While it’s important to eat your veggies, some people beginning their Keto journey don’t eat enough leafy greens to maintain optimal micronutrient levels. While it’s better to increase your intake of healthy leafy greens, a greens supplement can help to fill in the gap while you get used to eating on a Ketogenic Diet.

Wrapping Up

The Keto Diet can provide tremendous weight loss and health benefits. It’s so much more than a “fad diet”. Keto and low carb, high fat in general is one of the oldest and most widely studied nutritional protocols for a reason: it works.

While Keto can be dead simple once you’re used to it, there can be a bit of a learning curve when you’re first starting out. And it’s important to follow the diet properly in order to get the best results. Taking the time to understand exactly what Keto is, the science behind it, and why it works is an investment in your eventual success.

If you’ve made it through this “Ultimate Guide”, then you should be armed with all of the knowledge necessary to become one of those “Keto Diet success stories” that you’ve probably seen in the media.

Carb Manager is an all-in-one Keto resource with a built-in macros tracker, Keto recipes, meal plans, an active community, and so much more that you'll need to succeed on the Keto diet.

If you haven't yet—set a date to start your Keto Diet, and commit to it. We believe in you!

Comments 30

  • Sue

    Sue 8 days ago

    Can you advise how many grams of fat protein and carbs are recommended

    • RemarkableKetone411122

      RemarkableKetone411122 5 days ago

      Depending on weight but as a Male I keep my cals. at 1350 Protein 20% so (1350 x 20%= 270/4=67.5g) FAT 70%(1350 x 70%=945/9=105g) and carbs (1350 x 10%=135/4= 33.75g) So Protein 67.5g Fat 105g Carbs 33.75g I move these numbers around but the general idea is above..I do like to keep carbs closer to 20g per day. and food 1200-1400cals a day... two most important things....Keep carbs low and Fat high.

  • budingRose

    budingRose 12 days ago

    thank you. Very instrumental to keep me balanced and focused towards my goal.

    • GorgeousRadish469576

      GorgeousRadish469576 16 days ago

      Read the article , confused on staying away from deli meats and sausage, thought these were good choices. I eat deli chicken and roll it up with cheese for lunch, not a good idea? Also, eat sausage with egg for breakfast.

      • SuperRadish195533

        SuperRadish195533 17 days ago

        Very useful and interesting bit of information. Thank you for sharing

        • FabulousCauliflower196021

          FabulousCauliflower196021 25 days ago

          skip legumes?

          • FantasticRadish773892

            FantasticRadish773892 a month ago

            I've just started yesterday if carb manager gives you 33g net cards and you stick to that or below I'm on 20 today will that be low enough for ketosis?

            • RemarkableKetone411122

              RemarkableKetone411122 5 days ago

              33 and lower... 20 is great but hard...Keep it up!! everyone is different and some people can lose at 100g carbs a day but most to that push to get started and 20g is a great way.... I lose weight quickly at 1200-1300cals and 20g of carbs... keep the Fat high..over 100g but the ratio is in the article Protein 25% Fat 70% Carbs 5%

          • Red fox 69

            Red fox 69 a month ago

            Interesting read

            • UnbelievableAvocado179063

              UnbelievableAvocado179063 2 months ago

              damn this is very concise

              • UpbeatKetone531183

                UpbeatKetone531183 2 months ago

                I wish this article could be shared.

                • IneffableArugula771173

                  IneffableArugula771173 2 months ago

                  Based on some other guidelines and videos I have watched about the Keto diet, the amount of calories and carbs that CarbManager has set for me seems too high. Also, I have a gastric sleeve so I am unable to eat so much in one sitting. Can I adjust it in my App?

                  • FabulousKetone744009

                    FabulousKetone744009 2 months ago

                    I was able to adjust my percentages! Just gotta go up in the left corner in settings and go under macro calculator. If you scroll down you should see it!

                • FantasticKetone535478

                  FantasticKetone535478 2 months ago

                  And it sead I am what over everything so I can not have any more food today I guss

                  • dal8kim7363

                    dal8kim7363 2 months ago

                    I see three in a row from you, and sense some frustration. If you are still hungry, you should eat something. Even if it puts you "over" and especially as you are getting adjusted to a new way of eating (WOE). It takes time and practice to get your macros right, and in a way that you are satisfied. Tracking errors can be an issue too. For example if you eat the "keto" bread from Aldi I noticed that sometimes the protein is listed as 50g and others 5g. The package says 5g. Two cups of cheese (while delicious) may not keep you full, but if you put some broccoli under some of that cheese you will get some fiber, and also micro-nutrients that you could be missing. Did you make your own pizza, or is it pre-packaged? Some of those pre-made items have sneaky carbs... I like to take the cheese, some pizza seasoning and my topings and fry them in a pan when I need pizza. Some people see immediate weight loss (probably water) and for others it takes a bit. For me I lost 8lbs of water in the first three days, but actual pounds off come in waves every 2-3 weeks or so... check how you feel and how your clothes fit. Hope this helps.

                • FantasticKetone535478

                  FantasticKetone535478 2 months ago

                  I have hade two eggs two slices ket bread teo cups of cheese and cauliflower keto small pizza crust

                  • FantasticKetone535478

                    FantasticKetone535478 2 months ago

                    I have just started keto diet been a weak I thought see some whait loss but nothing

                    • ExcellentKetone989547

                      ExcellentKetone989547 3 months ago

                      Thanks for the update

                      • Betsy A.

                        Betsy A. 3 months ago

                        Wow! That was lots of great information-thank you. This is the perfect app for those doing Keto.

                        • OutstandingCauliflower336955

                          OutstandingCauliflower336955 3 months ago

                          Great information- especially the info on the differences in Macros of different diets. What is the difference between Keto and Atkins?

                          • FantasticKale570816

                            FantasticKale570816 3 months ago

                            I have hypothyroidism, on levothyroxine and Keto Diet

                            • UpbeatCauliflower292781

                              UpbeatCauliflower292781 2 months ago

                              so am I and its been three weeks now and I've never felt better.

                          • GorgeousCauliflower552643

                            GorgeousCauliflower552643 3 months ago

                            Very helpful

                            • StupendousArugula430913

                              StupendousArugula430913 3 months ago

                              Thank you very helpful

                              • OutstandingMacadamia655241

                                OutstandingMacadamia655241 3 months ago

                                This was very helpful:) Reading this has reenergized me- that I am on the right track:):):) Thank you.

                                • PropitiousRadish794804

                                  PropitiousRadish794804 3 months ago

                                  This has answered some questions for me. I was wondering if I was doing this right...and I am! 15 pounds and counting!!! The Carb Manager app makes it tangible and you can "see" your progress! For me that is important!

                                  • UpbeatArugula630951

                                    UpbeatArugula630951 3 months ago

                                    Really enjoyed reading this. Thanks so much

                                    • RousingRadish914940

                                      RousingRadish914940 3 months ago

                                      very interresting! thks

                                      • GorgeousCauliflower993194

                                        GorgeousCauliflower993194 3 months ago

                                        So much excellent info! Lots to absorb. Thank you

                                        • UpbeatKale771667

                                          UpbeatKale771667 3 months ago

                                          What does the "alphabet soup" mean after your name? I don't understand degree and/or medical titles as I don't work in the medical field. Thanks!