At the core of the sustainable, healthy lifestyle shared at Carb Manager, you’ll find the high-fat, low-carb, ketogenic diet.
Keto is an increasingly popular nutritional strategy that boasts many potential benefits, from managing inflammation to assisting in a wellness-centered weight loss journey.
You may be curious about getting started on Keto, or thinking about climbing back on the wagon after the holiday period (no judgment here).
Either way, read on to explore our in-depth guide to the Keto diet for beginners and be on your way to creating lasting, healthy habits.
What is a Keto Diet?
Keto is a low-carb, high-fat diet used by a wide range of people to help manage certain health conditions or reach wellness goals.
One of the primary goals of Keto is to induce a state of ketosis. In ketosis, the body uses fat and ketone bodies as fuel instead of running predominantly on carbohydrates - which is the case for most other diets.[*]
Although it may seem like cutting carbs is a new nutrition fad, it’s thought that early human beings adapted to function in ketosis in order to survive through famines or a shortage of carbohydrate-rich plant matter.[*]
Keto as we know it was first documented and popularized in the world of medicine. It was utilized as a primary treatment method for those with epilepsy as far back as the 1920’s (and is still used as support therapy in some patients today).[*]
The diet continued to flourish in the emerging wellness culture of the late 20th century, growing stronger ever since. Carb Manager alone has served more than 10 million users!
6 Potential Benefits of a Keto Diet for Beginners
Here are some of the science-backed reasons many are getting started with Keto:
1. Stable Energy Levels
Low energy levels are often linked to fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which can be triggered by the high-carb foods that make up the bulk of the standard western diet.
Because Keto limits carbohydrate intake, blood sugar variability can become more stable.
This may be why many people report experiencing fewer peaks and troughs in their energy on a low-carb diet, enjoying a slow, more consistent buzz throughout the day instead.
2. Healthy Weight Loss
Keto may be an effective, sustainable weight loss tool for those looking to reduce body fat as part of their long-term wellness strategy.
Many are under the impression that to lose fat, you need to reduce your dietary fat intake. The reality is that as you enter a state of ketosis, the body begins to use body fat (and fat from foods) as fuel.
Because dietary fat helps us stay fuller for longer, lowering your carb intake may help you lose or maintain weight while avoiding hunger.[*] In fact, a 2004 study revealed that participants lost more total weight and body fat on a low-carb Keto diet when compared to a high-carb, low-fat diet.[*]
3. Diabetes Support
The potential for Keto to stabilize blood sugar levels has made it an increasingly popular management strategy for many people with diabetes.
In a 2008 study, researchers examined the efficacy of both the ketogenic diet and low-GI diet in helping patients with type-2 diabetes.
Over a 24 week period, the Keto group saw significant improvements in key metrics such as body weight, fasting blood glucose and HbA1c, insulin sensitivity, inflammation, blood pressure, and more. Overall, greater improvements were seen through Keto versus the low-GI diet.[*]
4. Brain Function
As touched on earlier, Keto was adopted in the early 20th century as part of the treatment protocol for epilepsy. The discovery of these cognitive benefits paved the way for more research around Keto and the brain.
Over the years, the diet has been linked with:
- Improved cognitive performance and memory function.[*]
- Increased BDNF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor), involved in the maintenance, growth, and survival of brain neurons.[*]
- Protection of brain cells, triggered by an increase in ketone bodies.[*]
- Potentially supporting recovery from traumatic brain injuries.[*]
5. Supporting Heart Health
Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide, so it’s no wonder many people are turning to Keto for the potential cardiovascular benefits.
A 2007 study examined the impact of various diets on body fat levels and blood pressure - two key cardiovascular risk factors. The low-carb diets included in the study resulted in the highest reductions in blood pressure, even when controlled for weight loss.[*]
Keto has also been linked with an increase in “good” HDL cholesterol, a reduction in triglycerides and “bad” LDL cholesterol, and a decrease in waist circumference in obese individuals.[*]
6. Managing Inflammation
It's long been understood that low-grade chronic inflammation contributes to many chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.[*]
It’s important to remember that nutrition is just one part of the equation when it comes to managing inflammation. That being said, there are a number of potential benefits to going Keto or low-carb, including:
- Eliminating pro-inflammatory foods such as sugar and vegetable oils.
- Reducing blood sugar and glycemic variability.[*]
- Decreasing oxidative stress associated with glucose metabolism.[*]
Find out more: 7 Keto Benefits Beyond Weight Loss
Who is Keto Suitable for?
A low-carb or fully Keto diet may be suitable for a wide range of people looking for a sustainable way to support various wellness and body composition goals, have more energy and potentially help manage certain ailments.
That being said, there’s no one-size fits all solution when it comes to our health and dietary needs.
Those with health conditions related to the liver, kidneys and fat metabolism should not typically attempt Keto.
Anyone who is pregnant or expecting may also need to be more mindful of their carbohydrate intake. As with any dietary change, always consult a medical professional if in doubt.
The Best Keto-Friendly Foods
As a general rule of thumb, the Keto diet is based primarily around foods rich in fat and protein, containing little to no net carbohydrates.
Net carbs = Total carbs - fiber - sugar alcohols
The Carb Manager approach takes this one step further, helping you create and track recipes that are high in fat, nutrient-dense and packed with flavor.
It’s all about providing you with the tools to make the low-carb lifestyle as easy and sustainable as possible.
Foods to stock up on when getting started on Keto include:
Foods to Avoid on Keto
Following a fully Keto diet means eliminating common carb sources. These include:
- Soda, sugar, chips, cereal, and crackers
- Potatoes, flour, pasta, bread, and starchy veggies
- Grains (including whole-grains)
- Legumes and beans
- Most fruits (except small portions of berries and other low-carb fruits)
‘Dirty’ Keto Foods to Limit
There are a number of low-carb food products that could technically be considered ‘Keto-friendly’, but may not be the healthiest option to base your diet around long-term.
Look to limit or avoid:
- Processed meats such as bacon, deli meats and sausage containing nitrates.
- Synthetic meat substitutes such as wheat protein and soy.
- Low-quality vegetable oils such as peanut or sunflower (especially at high heat).
- Processed foods containing trans-fats (including many spreads, desserts and fast food).
5 Hacks for Setting & Achieving Your Keto Goals
Setting goals around wellness can be helpful in creating lasting, healthy habits. Below, you’ll find a few easy steps to set your Keto targets and help you stick to them long term.
1. Write Down Your What and Why
Writing your goals down is a great way to set an intention and put your ideas into action.
Some people find the more specific the goal, the better. For example: “I will eat a fully Keto diet for 30 days”. Note it down on a post-it note and stick it on the fridge as a constant reminder.
Another option is to focus more on the reason why you’re making the change.
Here it can be useful to link the change back to the things that really matter to you. Consider:
- How would changing your diet benefit the rest of your life?
- Would having more energy from your food mean you could spend more time with your loved ones?
- Would having quick, fuss-free meals planned give you more time to pursue your favorite hobbies?
2. Set up Your Environment
Environment plays a crucial role in our ability to adapt to any lifestyle change long-term.
One simple tweak that will make your low-carb journey that much easier is to gradually stock your pantry, so you always have key ingredients on hand when you need them most.
There’s a lot you can do with eggs, nuts, seeds, avocados and leafy greens. Refer to the Keto Staples graphic from earlier for more ideas.
Prepping your kitchen for Keto can also help. A low-carb diet doesn't have to be expensive, but there are a few kitchen items that can make your life easier:
- Food Containers. Essential for storing any prepped meals and leftovers.
- Air Fryer. An energy and time-efficient way to cook up delicious Keto dishes.
- Food Processor with blender. Great for making high-fat smoothies, low-carb soups, nut butters and more.
- Spiralizer. A simple tool for making noodles from squash.
3. Follow a Keto Meal Plan
Having a meal plan can save you time and reduce decision fatigue, making it easier to stick to the change long-term.
Check out the sample 3-day Keto meal plan below:
Breakfast: Low Carb Overnight Almond Chia Pudding
Lunch: Keto Thai Spicy Peanut Chicken With Asian Slaw
Snack: Keto Chocolate Almond Butter Fat Bombs
Dinner: Keto Italian Beef With Cabbage Noodles
Breakfast: Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
Lunch: Keto Tuna Cakes
Snack: Keto Cheesecake Swirl Brownies
Dinner: Keto Alfredo Chicken Bake
Breakfast: Keto Cheesy Egg & Spinach In A Cup
Lunch: Keto Cauliflower Cheese Soup
Snack: Keto Oven-Fried Kale Chips
Dinner: Low Carb Creamy Balsamic Chicken With Sundried Tomatoes
If you want to dig deeper, Carb Manager Premium gives you access to 5,000+ premium low-carb recipes, plus the ability to follow curated or custom meal plans.
4. Stay Accountable
Making a change can be daunting, but you don’t have to go it alone.
Some of your loved ones may decide to embark on the Keto journey with you, or at least share some meals and provide support.
There’s also a huge community of supportive individuals using Carb Manager. Premium unlocks the ability to add friends and share your daily food logs - a handy feature to help you stay accountable.
5. Record and Track Your Progress
Having some way of recording your progress is key.
Carb Manager is ideal for recording measurable data, such as your calorie intake, body weight, sleep and other important health metrics.
You may also benefit from tracking how your nutrition impacts your mood and energy levels to see if you're heading in the right direction or need to make a few tweaks.
6 Bonus Tips for Getting Started on Keto
Have questions or want a refresher on a specific Keto topic?
Check out some of our extra resources below:
- If in doubt, consult your doctor. A low-carb diet works for many but is not necessarily suitable for all. Work with an experienced practitioner if needed.
- Consider monitoring your ketone levels. If you're new to Keto, you may find it beneficial to check your ketone levels via blood with Keto Mojo to confirm whether or not you are in ketosis.
- Stay hydrated (but not overly). Adequate hydration is worth considering as Keto can increase the need for water and electrolytes. As a general rule of thumb, drink to thirst and consider using an electrolyte supplement or electrolyte-rich food like bone broth.
- Supplement mindfully. Supplementation isn't strictly necessary for everyone, and we should aim to get most of our nutrition through whole foods when we can. But certain supplements can complement Keto well. Here’s our favorites.
- Find your perfect fit. While we may think of Keto as one specific way of eating, there are many variations that fall under the umbrella, from plant-based low-carb to cyclical Keto and beyond. Check out these ways to customize Keto to fit your needs: 6 Types of Keto Diet and How To Get Started.
- Focus on long-term habits over quick fixes. To successfully stick to a Keto or low-carb diet, focus on creating sustainable behavior instead of taking drastic measures. Take a look at these pro tips.
Over to You
Whether you're interested in getting started on Keto for the first time or you’re giving it another shot, deciding to make a change takes courage, and we commend you for that!
You’re now armed with a plan and some simple tools that will make it that little bit easier for you to make lasting changes and reap the potential rewards of a low-carb lifestyle.
All that’s left is for you to get out there and give it your all.
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