Do you want to start a ketogenic diet? You might have read our awesome Keto Diet 101 Guide or you might have heard about the multiple health benefits a keto diet brings: loosing weight fast, controlling your blood sugar level, suppressing your appetite, or burning belly fat. And indeed those benefits are experienced by many people that switch to the keto diet as scientific studies have shown again and again over the years. Here are some other crucial facts to know before you try this low-carbs eating plan.
In this article we dissect 6 crucial facts that you absolutely need to know before you start a ketogenic diet. Armed with this nutritional knowledge you will be able to switch to your new keto regimen easily and super efficiently. Additionally you will be able to avoid the pitfalls some persons with pre-existing medical conditions might experience. It’s important to be aware of this dietary education to experience the most fruitful results of your new keto diet in the most efficient way. Let’s dig right into it with first crucial keto fact.
Table of Contents
- 1 Fact 1: Can You Follow Very Strict Carb Restrictions?
- 2 Fact 2: Are There Different Types of Keto Diets?
- 3 Fact 3: Do I Need To Exercise When I Start A Ketogenic Diet?
- 4 Fact 4: Are There Side Effects With The Keto Diet?
- 5 Fact 5: Best Foods to Eat to Start a Ketogenic Diet
- 6 Fact 6: Health Risks To Be Aware Of When You Start a Ketogenic Diet
- 7 References
Fact 1: Can You Follow Very Strict Carb Restrictions?
The keto diet is a type of low carb diet that puts a very strict restriction on your daily intake of carbohydrates. To be able to apply this restriction you will need to control and measure thoroughly the foods you are eating throughout your day.
A dietitian might be able to help you adhering to these strict carb control as it is not an obvious transition for a lot of persons. A registered dietitian will also help your prevent any risk associated with a rapid transition to a drastically different regimen.
As you start a ketogenic diet please remember that you want to live a healthy life. Living a healthy life by taking good care of your body is important, but it’s also important to keep your mental health in check. Your keto diet meal plan needs to be right for your mind as well. If it’s too hard to stick to it, that might trigger emotional distress in you which might lead to mental health problems like depression or anxiety.
It’s important to be aware of that in particular because the strict restriction on carbs with the keto diet is hard to follow for some people. You will need to reduce the fruits and vegetables you eat. For example as you need to eat fiber rich vegetables only, it won’t be a good idea to eat potatoes. It would be better to eat kale or broccoli instead. So mashed potatoes for example won’t come very often into your plate. If you are able to happily deal with these sorts of restriction, feel free to dive full in the keto diet!
Fact 2: Are There Different Types of Keto Diets?
The ketogenic diet can be declined in multiple different types. The canonical version of the keto diet allows you to eat carbs for around 10 percent of your daily calories. This is the version that most persons adhering to the keto diet follow.
There are other variants of the keto diet though. One of them is called the cyclic keto diet or commonly called carb cycling. This variant allows to adapt the percents of the types of foods your are eating depending on the types of exercises you are doing. Another variant named targeted keto diet targets different levels of types of food in function of the exercises an athlete performs. These 2 variants are mostly performed by endurance athletes like marathon runners or swimmers that need to prepare optimally for a competition. This type of keto diet can increase significantly their performance during athletic events.
As mentioned above the regular keto diet strictly restrict your intake of daily carbs to around 10 percent of your total calories. Other calories should come mainly from fat for 60-80 percent and from proteins for 20-30 percent. For example if you are on a 1,500 calorie diet you should eat around 40 grams of carbs daily for 150 calories. On top of that you will eat 1,050 to 1,200 calories from fat and 300 to 450 calories from proteins. That’s a radical difference with an average Western diet because most American eat around 50 percent of their daily calories from carbohydrates.
Fact 3: Do I Need To Exercise When I Start A Ketogenic Diet?
Over dozens of years a multitude of scientific studies have demonstrated that a high level of physical activity in crucial to sustain a healthy body weight. The ketogenic diet does not prescribe exercise though. This low-carb diet is focused on the level of carbs you eat to be able to trigger the natural state of ketosis in your body metabolism.
Endurance athletes like hockey or tennis players that adhere to a keto diet generally improve their recovery time after a competition. For non professional athletes the transition to the keto diet might not be easy. This can come from a drop in your energy level if you operate a quick transition. Therefore it’s best to transition slowly to a keto regimen over the course of 1 month for example. This will also prevent the keto flu to appear.
Fact 4: Are There Side Effects With The Keto Diet?
It is advised to switch to the keto diet slowly over the course of several weeks to prevent unwanted side effects to appear like the so called keto flu. You need to start measuring how many calories you consume every day and in particular how many calories from carbs.
Once you know your calorie and carb number you can start transitioning to the keto diet by reducing your carb number while keeping your total calorie intake constant. To do that you will also increase your daily intake of fats by the same amount of carb calories you cut.
If you don’t feel confident with your ability to do it yourself you should seek help from a professional like a dietitian. She will be able to guide you for a transition pace adapted to your physiology. In particular if you have medical condition like diabetes it is strongly advised to consult your doctor first because controlling your sugar blood level properly is critical to your health.
Fact 5: Best Foods to Eat to Start a Ketogenic Diet
There are no dedicated costs to start a keto diet. You can find all the expert information you need online like on Think Slim Go Slim for example. You won’t need to purchase any material, book or specific kitchen utensil to start your keto journey. You should be aware that what you pay for your weekly groceries might change though.
Indeed a lot of American purchase and eat prepared foods like pizzas, chicken nuggets, pastas with alfredo sauce, or double bacon cheeseburgers. Most of the prepared foods aren’t keto friendly meaning that you won’t be able to eat them anymore, or at least you need to reduce significantly. Instead you will need to transition to foods rich in proteins and fats which can be more expansive.
Indeed beef meat rich in proteins is always more expensive than wheat made pastas. And fat rich nuts are always more expensive than white or brown rice for example. It is a good idea to consider buying larger quantities by going to Costco or Sam’s Club to offset that.
On the other hand during the warmer month fresh fruits and vegetable tend to be cheap and these fresh produce will reduce your average weekly grocery bill. Which is a good news.
Because the keto diet makes you eat a lot of animal fat, it is always a good idea to balance that somehow when you start a ketogenic diet. Consider adding more plant based oils like coconut oil, avocado oil or avocado oil. These 3 options are extremely healthy sources of plant based fats. You can use them at will while cooking beef for example or to season vegetables.
Unsaturated sources of fats are super healthy fats for you to consume while following keto. That includes plant seeds and nuts or avocados. Note that avocados are one of the rare allowed fruits allowed in the keto diet as most fruits should not be eaten on keto. Also most green vegetable like broccoli, collard greens or green beans will come into your plate very often as you start a keto diet.
In addition to fat rich beef more fat poor meats or lean meats should visit your kitchen like chicken or lean fish like tilapia, cod or flounder.
List of Best Foods For Keto
- Mostly green vegetables: collard greens, broccoli, red cabbage, green peppers, shiitake mushrooms, cauliflower
- Dairy: cheese like cheddar or monterey jack and eggs
- High fat or low fat proteins: obviously beef, poultry and pork, but also fish like tuna or shrimps, and vegetable proteins like soy and tofu
- Nuts or seeds: hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds
- Pure fats: oils extracted from plants like olive oile or avocado oil, as well as butter
- Some rare fruits: avocado, raspberries, strawberries, or blueberries
List of Foods To Avoid For Keto
- Industrial foods: potato chips, processed foods, crackers
- Sweets: chocolate bars, candies, dessert cake, chocolate chip cookies
- Transformed grains: wheat pasta, white rice, wheat bread
- Fruits rich in carbs: apples, pears, bananas
- Artificial sweeteners: the main brands like Splenda
Example of Keto Meal Plans For Your First 3 Days Eating Keto
The following keto meal plans are typical examples of what you will eat along your day when you start a ketogenic diet. Let’s check what is going to reach your plate.
Keto Meal Plan – Day 1
- Breakfast: Omelet with avocado
- Snack: Almond butter and baby carrots
- Lunch: Green salad with olive oil and tuna
- Snack: Cheese stick with nuts
- Dinner: Steak collard greens, rice and garlic
Keto Meal Plan – Day 2
- Breakfast: Mushroom and scrambled eggs
- Snack: Celery sticks
- Lunch: Sautéed pork sirloin with in coconut oil with broccoli
- Snack: Cheese and pumpkin seeds
- Dinner: Beef fillet with sliced red cabbage
Keto Meal Plan – Day 3
- Breakfast: Eggs with fried bacon
- Snack: Raw broccoli
- Lunch: Tofu steak with cauliflower
- Snack: Pistachio nuts
- Dinner: Tuna fish with acorn squash
As you can see these are delicious foods that are 100% keto friendly.
Fact 6: Health Risks To Be Aware Of When You Start a Ketogenic Diet
Starting a keto diet might allow incredible health benefits like loosing weight significantly in a matter of a few weeks. This comes from your body metabolizing ketones to a whole new level to source energy. You might also be aware of the following health risks some individuals experience depending on their prior health conditions:
- Cardiovascular risks
- Gastrointestinal symptoms similar to constipation
- Insufficient intake of necessary nutriments
Some medical expert recommend individuals with a pre-existing history or a family history of cardiovascular diseases to avoid switching to a keto diet. Indeed the large increase in animal fat consumption might be harmful for them and should be avoided for these individuals.
Similarly individuals with type 2 diabetes need to control very closely the glucose level in their blood. As the ketosis phenomenon triggered by the keto diet makes the glucose level crash, it is vitally important for diabetics to talk to their doctor first before considering the keto diet.
Some individuals have a hard time to stick to the keto diet because of the large drop in consumption of carbs. Cutting bread and pastas is very hard for a lot of people, in particular bread as it is commonly eaten during breakfast, lunch and dinner. For these people they might cycle between keto diet and regular American diet to enjoy hamburgers and cheeseburgers more often. But this might cause their weight to go up and down and might cause health issues.
It is important to talk to your health advisor such as your dietitian or your doctor before starting the ketogenic diet. This applies even more if you experience pre existing medical conditions like type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular conditions.
 Kim, Dong Wook, et al. Benefits of the Nonfasting Ketogenic Diet Compared With the Initial Fasting Ketogenic Diet. Pediatrics. vol. 114 , no. 6, 2004, pp. 1627-1630, doi:10.1542/peds.2004-1001
 Dashti, Hussein M et al. Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients. Experimental and clinical cardiology vol. 9,3 (2004): 200-5.
 Paoli, Antonio et al. Effects of Two Months of Very Low Carbohydrate Ketogenic Diet on Body Composition, Muscle Strength, Muscle Area, and Blood Parameters in Competitive Natural Body Builders. Nutrients vol. 13,2 374. 26 Jan. 2021, doi:10.3390/nu13020374
 Wilson, Jacob M et al. Effects of Ketogenic Dieting on Body Composition, Strength, Power, and Hormonal Profiles in Resistance Training Men. Journal of strength and conditioning research vol. 34,12 (2020): 3463-3474. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000001935
 Tinsley, Grant M, and Darryn S Willoughby. Fat-Free Mass Changes During Ketogenic Diets and the Potential Role of Resistance Training. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism vol. 26,1 (2016): 78-92. doi:10.1123/ijsnem.2015-0070
 Valsdottir, Thorhildur Ditta et al. Effect of a Low-Carbohydrate High-Fat Diet and a Single Bout of Exercise on Glucose Tolerance, Lipid Profile and Endothelial Function in Normal Weight Young Healthy Females. Frontiers in physiology vol. 10 1499. 19 Dec. 2019, doi:10.3389/fphys.2019.01499
 Burén, Jonas et al. A Ketogenic Low-Carbohydrate High-Fat Diet Increases LDL Cholesterol in Healthy, Young, Normal-Weight Women: A Randomized Controlled Feeding Trial. Nutrients vol. 13,3 814. 2 Mar. 2021, doi:10.3390/nu13030814
 Yancy, W.S., al. A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet to treat type 2 diabetes. Nutr Metab (Lond) 2, 34 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1186/1743-7075-2-34
 Murphy, Patricia, et al. The Antidepressant Properties of the Ketogenic Diet. Biological Psychiatry, Volume 56, Issue 12, 2004, pp. 981-983, doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2004.09.019.
 Hallböök, Tove et al. The Effects of the Ketogenic Diet on Behavior and Cognition, Epilepsy Research, Volume 100, Issue 3, 2012, pp. 304-309, doi:0.1016/j.eplepsyres.2011.04.017.