Keto Diet For Dummies Cheat Sheet
If you’re thinking about starting the keto diet, you need to get ready! A keto diet for beginners checklist can help ensure you’re on track to reach your goals. It’s easy to fall into a rut with any diet, so be sure to branch out with some of the suggestions here for keto diet foods — including snacks and alcoholic drinks.
Getting Started with Keto: A Checklist
The ketogenic diet (keto for short) is all about going low carb — very low carb. If you’re thinking about trying keto, you need to get ready.
The following keto diet for beginners checklist is a great place to start.
- Prepare the kitchen. When you’re making a drastic diet switch like keto calls for, you’ll want to rid your fridge, freezer, and cabinets of anything you can’t eat. This can take some time; you’ll find hidden carbs in foods you never imagined would hide them. Dedicate an afternoon to going through all your food stock and eliminating things you can’t have.
If you have roommates or family members who won’t be joining you on your keto journey, think of creative ways to divide foods you can eat from those you can’t. Reorganize your cabinets into “low-carb” and “regular” categories; this way, when you go to prep food, you’ll only have to look at ingredients you can have, eliminating the majority of the temptation.
- Prevent keto flu. Many first-time ketoers experience what is known as the keto flu when they first begin to transition off of carbs and onto a diet centered on healthy fats. As glucose and glycogen are eliminated from your system, they carry with them quite a bit of water weight and electrolytes and can create flu-like symptoms for a few days. Although keto flu isn’t an uncommon symptom of transitioning from a high-carb standard American diet to a low-carb diet, but the symptoms can be lessened or even avoided altogether. If you stay hydrated, keep your electrolytes up by taking a good multivitamin, and ensure that you’re getting enough rest every night, your transition can be so smooth that it’s barely noticeable.
- Transition well. Think of going from a standard American diet to keto as scaling a 10-foot wall; if you eat a high-carb diet through Sunday and go completely low-carb on Monday, it’s going to be quite an adjustment. If you begin adding in more healthy fats and slowly decreasing your carbs in the week leading up to your official keto start date, however, you’ll find that it’s like building a staircase for the wall — each step is that much easier.
Because you’re avoiding sugar, you’ll notice a distinct decrease in the amount of sweetness in your diet. Make a list of keto-friendly desserts that will keep you on track with your diet, but allow you to satisfy that sweet tooth when you have cravings.
- Remember what to subtract (carbs) and what to add (fats). Keto is a full diet transformation, and sometimes it can be easy to focus on only what you need to take away (carbs) or on what you’re adding (fats). You have to balance both: If you only subtract carbs, you’re going to be ravenous all the time, and that will eventually lead to uncontrolled snacking, which is almost certain to throw you out of ketosis. If you focus only on adding fats, you may not get your carb count low enough, and this could interfere with — or even completely stop — your weight loss.
- Know what to measure and what to ignore. Multiple studies have confirmed that when people pay attention to what they eat (by counting calories or watching their macros, for example) and how much they weigh (by stepping on a scale regularly), their weight loss efforts are much more successful. However, it’s possible to focus on the numbers too much and let it control you — remember to avoid this.
Your hydration level can cause weight to fluctuate by up to 3 or 4 pounds a day, so if you’re stepping on the scale every morning, keep that in mind. If you’re measuring ketones, don’t forget that urine strips test for excess ketones, so it’s possible to have a very slight indicator, or even none at all, and still be in ketosis (when your body is metabolizing fat for fuel instead of using carbs/sugar). Remember that all of these numbers are indicators and are useful for tracking progress over the long term, but don’t let any particular statistic discourage you in the short term.
- Tell your family and friends. Starting this incredible journey is exciting, and you should want to tell people! Other than just sharing something you’re pumped about, though, there are other advantages to telling family and friends about your diet. First, it will help keep you accountable — if everyone around you knows what you’re starting, you won’t be as tempted to cheat. Second, it will make the inevitable dinner party or double date less awkward if you wait until then to let them know you have dietary restrictions.
Don’t be ashamed of what you’re doing — own it! This is an excellent step toward better health, and you should be completely excited about going keto!
Keto-friendly foods are plentiful and delicious, but sometimes it helps to have a quick-reference guide to what you can and can’t eat. To get you started, here are some of the major food categories that will make up your diet on keto:
- Healthy oils and fats: Butter, olive oil, avocados, fish oil, flaxseed, chia seed, coconut oil, and even lard and bacon fat.
- Seafood and fish: Virtually anything in this category is good, just be careful of how it’s prepared (for example, breading is filled with carbs). Wild-caught seafood is the best! Keep your eyes peeled for tuna, tilapia, salmon, shrimp, cod, octopus, halibut, and bass, among others.
- Meats: Any kind of meat is fine, including chicken, lamb, venison, pork, and beef. If you have the option, choose grass-fed meat whenever you can.
- Vegetables: All the non-starchy vegetables are approved for keto. Avoid potatoes, large tomatoes, and corn. Instead, focus on broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, yellow squash, mushrooms, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, spaghetti squash, zucchini, onions, and garlic.
- Eggs: These are some of your best friends, and don’t think you’re limited to just the whites! The whole egg is fair game here, and the yolk adds phenomenal flavor!
- Dairy (especially full-fat): Milk itself has sugar and should be limited, but most other forms of dairy are keto-approved with no limitation. Various cheeses (especially hard ones), heavy cream, unsweetened yogurt, and butter are very common options on keto. Unsweetened almond milk is an excellent replacement for regular cow’s milk.
- Nuts and seeds: Be careful not to overindulge, but walnuts, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, and macadamia nuts are tasty treats you shouldn’t hesitate to include in your diet!
- Flour replacements: Don’t give up baking just because you’re going low-carb! Explore options like almond meal, flaxseed meal, almond flour, and coconut flour.
- Berries: Most fruit isn’t on the approved list, but many kinds of berries are! You still need to limit the amounts, but strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries are all good. On a related note, lemons and limes are also keto-approved, so use those to add some tartness to your new way of eating!
- Sugar alcohols and other sweeteners: Some of the best artificial sweeteners include monk fruit, erythritol, stevia, Truvia, and xylitol. Each of these varies slightly in its properties, so you may need to choose one for your morning coffee and a completely different one for baking.
Having a comprehensive list of snack options goes a long way toward preventing you from cheating on your diet. Here are two lists, one that requires no preparation and another that takes just a little bit of upfront effort.
- Pork rinds
- Full-fat Laughing Cow cheese
- Dark chocolate
- String cheese
- Moon cheese
- Omega PowerCreamer
- Cocoa nibs
- Jerky (just make sure the one you choose is sugar-free!)
- Cherry tomatoes
- Quest bars
- Nut butters
- Bulletproof coffee
- Cold cut roll-ups
- Green bean fries
- Chocolate avocado pudding
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Jalapeño poppers
- Keto lava cake
- Cream cheese celery
- Kale chips
- Frozen berries
- Chocolate bark
- Protein shakes
- Cucumber boats
- Sugar-free ice cream
Yes, you can drink alcohol on keto! You should limit your intake, but there’s no reason that alcohol should be completely off-limits. You’ll generally want to avoid sweet wines, full-calorie beer, and many of the sugary mixers that are common with mixed drinks. Remember that alcohol contains calories and is detrimental to your health. If you’re trying to lose weight and get healthy, drinking alcohol will slow down your progress. With that in mind, here’s a comprehensive list of the options you can have, so you can plan ahead for your next night out.
- Pinot noir
- Cabernet sauvignon
- Pinot grigio
- Sauvignon blanc
- Bud Light
- Bud Select
- Bud Select 55
- Amstel Light
- Coors Light
- Rolling Rock Green Light
- Michelob Ultra
- Michelob Ultra Amber
- Natural Light
- Miller Lite
Keto chasers and mixers
- Diet flavored bubbly water
- Diet tonic water
- Seltzer water
- Flavored seltzer water
- Zero-sugar drinks (for example, Monsters, Red Bull Sugar-Free, Bai5 sweetened with erythritol)
- Mio Water Enhancement