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The keto diet quick start guide for dummies. A beginners guide on how to start.

Keto Quick Start Guide For Dummies

The ketogenic diet is not very complicated. Remove sugar and cut carbs to under 50g; Then, replace those calories with healthy fats. That’s the very core of what it takes to do keto. But, no matter HOW simple we try and make things, it ends up complicated in its own way. Many people aren’t used to scanning nutrition labels and counting calories. So, I’d like to break things down into lamen’s terms today and help those of you that are just starting out. Today, I bring you… The Keto Quick Start Guide for Dummies! For all you stupid people out there… ?

There are a few questions I’m sure you will have as you begin on the diet.

So, let’s get this keto quick start…STARTED!

What is The Ketogenic Diet in 1 Sentence?

The ketogenic diet is a way of eating that promotes a fat burning state in the body called ketosis.

How Does Keto Work?

When sugar is removed from the diet and carbohydrates are limited to less than 20g to 50g, the body begins converting fat into ketones. Ketones are an alternate energy source that most organs in the body can run on.

 Okay, So Where Do I Start?

I’m glad you asked! Here, is a keto quick start guide on the basics.

The Keto Quick Start Guide For Dummies Infographic. A beginners guide on how to start following the ketogenic diet.

How Long Does it Take to Get Into ketosis?

It takes 2-3 days to enter ketosis after quitting sugar and carbs. Your body has about 24 hours of stored sugar (glycogen) to run on. After that point, it will begin the process of converting proteins into sugar (gluconeogenesis). 2-3 days into keto, your body will begin the process of breaking down fat for energy (lipolysis). [*]

Fat Molecules are broken into Glycerol and three fatty acid chains. Glycerol is used for creating sugar for organs that require it. The fatty acids are used directly by some organs for energy. The remaining fatty acids are then broken down into ketones for use by organs such as the brain and muscles. [*]

How Do I Know I am in Ketosis?

The cheapest way to check to see if you are in ketosis is to use keto test strips. These check for the ketone acetoacetate. A ketone blood monitor would be a more accurate option.

How Long Does it Take to Fat Adapt?

Fat adaptation occurs after you have been in ketosis for a while. It takes 2 to 3 weeks to adapt and be comfortable on the diet. However, COMPLETE metabolic adaption takes up to 6 weeks. This is the point at which your body will be at maximum efficiency for using fat as energy. [1]

What Do I Need to Do First?

When it comes to a keto quick start, there are two things that matter most in terms of entering ketosis…

1. Remove sugar from the diet completely.

If you see 1 or 2 grams in a serving of something, that is okay occasionally. Stay as close to zero as possible. Sugar is the worst thing you could be eating on keto.

2. Limit Net Carbohydrates to less than 20g to 50g per day.

Subtract Dietary Fiber from Total Carbohydrate to get Net Carbs

To calculate Net Carbs, subtract Dietary Fiber from Total Carbohydrate.

In this example, we are looking at frozen spinach. Our Net Carbs would be 1g.

What Foods Can I Eat?

You can eat as much green leafy vegetables as you want. These include spinach, kale, and cabbage for example. Their net carbs are minuscule.

Make your protein source count. Grass-fed beef, fatty fish (salmon), and various cheeses are great protein sources.

Get your fat from quality sources such as coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, and grass-fed butter. The body seems to prefer saturated fats while in ketosis. [2]

You can get more shopping list ideas here: The Keto Shopping List

How Many Grams of Fat, Protein, and Carbs do I Need?

Keto Macro Nutrient Breakdown for determining total fat, protein, and carbohydrate intake

Fat, Protein, and Carbohydrates are known as macronutrients. They are referenced frequently in the keto community. To figure out your macros, you first need to set your daily calorie target.

Use an app like Under Armour’s “My Fitness Pal” App to set a calorie goal for yourself. This is based on your target weight. Calories are going to determine weight loss, weight maintenance, or weight gain. Keto makes it MUCH easier to drop calories.  Expect to not be as hungry.


Normal protein ranges would be .7g to 1.2g per lb of lean body mass daily.

If your goal is to lose weight and stay in ketosis, stay around .7g to .8g. If you are trying to gain lean mass, then aim towards the higher end.

Calculate your Lean Body Mass here:  Lean Body Mass Calculator

Keep in mind, keto is considered a moderate protein diet; Too much of it can kick you out of ketosis. The body is known to convert excess protein to sugar via gluconeogenesis.


Follow this simple rule. Keep carbs below 50g. Ideally, they will be below 20g for weight loss.

Just like protein, make your carb calories count. Get them from green leafy vegetables. Your body will need the nutrients and fiber during fat adaptation.


Your remaining calories should be filled in with healthy fats.

Choosing Your Macro Nutrient Ratio

Select a macronutrient ratio that works for you. Anywhere in these ranges will be considered keto compliant.

Keto Macro Nutrient Ratios
Fat65% to 85%
Protein15% to 30%
Carbs5% to 10%

Now, You do not HAVE to count calories if you don’t want to; You just need to avoid sugar and stay below 50g of carbs per day. BUT, I would recommend doing it for your first week in order to get an accurate feel for what the diet looks like.

Many apps will allow you to scan in your foods by UPC. This is super easy and shouldn’t be a big time commitment. Below is My Fitness Pal’s daily progress screen. It allows you to see your progress toward each macronutrient.

My fitness Pal Keto Macro Goals

What Are Some Example Meals?

Today, I CHALLENGE you to NOT get wrapped up in all the scientific details and recipes floating around. Just stick to the basics and get your macros right. Cooking is great, but not everyone has the time to do that, nor knows how. You can do keto cheaply and easily if you want to.

If you are on a budget, here is just an example of what you can do. Frozen vegetables are cheap and quick to steam. Butter and cheese can be melted over top.

For lunch, Tuna packets can be combined with just about any fat source.

  • Scrambled Eggs
    • Cooked with 1 to 2 tbs grass-fed butter
  • Cup of Frozen Chopped Spinach
  • 1-2 Tuna Packets with Mayo and Hot Sauce
  • Steamed Vegetables with butter (Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, etc.)
    • Cooked with 1 to 2 tbs grass-fed butter
  • Grass-Fed Beef with Melted Cheese
  • Mashed Cauliflower
    • Cooked with 1 to 2 tbs grass-fed butter
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Cheeses
  • Cream Cheese, Chopped Pickles, and Pepperoni Rolled up

What Foods Should I Avoid?

It is important to eat REAL foods and quality fats.

Avoid sugar completely.

Avoid starchy vegetables such as potatoes and sweet potatoes. The vegetables that grow below ground have a higher amount of carbs. That DOES include carrots and onions so just keep that in mind when you are shopping.

Avoid anything that contains trans fats. This is a processed fat. It can be found in these oils and should be avoided.

Foods That May Contain Trans Fats
  • Safflower Oil
  • Cottonseed Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Safflower Oil
  • Soybean Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Olive Oil (Extra Virgin is good)
  • Margarine

Avoid any other processed foods because they can slow down your system. For example, choose peanut butter that only has peanuts and salt.

Are Artificial Sweeteners Okay?

Many dietitians shun upon artificial sweeteners, but yes they are okay on keto. The main arguments against them are that 1.) they may cause minor spikes in insulin and 2.) They keep your taste pallet from being sensitized to real foods.

These are the best artificial sweeteners for keto.
  • Monk Fruit
  • Stevia
  • Xylitol

Note: xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs since it is rapidly released into the bloodstream. Humans/Primates process it much differently. It is completely safe for us.[*]

Keto Quick Start “Gotchas”

  • To have success, you’re going to do more than just eating things like bacon and sausage. Consume green leafy vegetables to eliminate keto side effects.
  • Salt is especially important because it helps reduce fatigue and increases performance.
  • The kidneys will be flushing fluids. Hydration is crucial.
  • Do NOT cheat in your first 2 to 3 weeks on the ketogenic diet. You need to be in ketosis for your body to fully adapt.
  • Exercise may be more difficult before you are adapted. It will get easier as you approach the 6-week metabolic adaptation point.
  • Cholesterol levels will rise during weight loss then go back down once you have reached your target weight.

Offline Sources

[1] “Chapter 12.” The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: an Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable, by Jeff Volek and Stephen D. Phinney, Beyond Obesity, 2011.

[2] “Chapter 9.” The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: an Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable, by Jeff Volek and Stephen D. Phinney, Beyond Obesity, 2011.

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