Ketogenic Diet 101

Updated May 1st, 2022 – Written by Craig Clarke

The following is geared towards people who want to try out a ketogenic diet and just want to quickly know what they should and shouldn’t do. No confusing science or lengthy explanations here, only 15 easy guidelines to kick-start your keto journey.

How strictly the guidelines are followed is entirely up to you, but if you follow them 100% you can be assured you’ll be eating for your body and greatly improving your long-term health and well-being. If you want more details, feel free to read our comprehensive guide to the ketogenic diet >


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What is a keto diet?

Eat high fat, moderate protein, and a small but healthy amount of green vegetables.

A ketogenic diet should be high in fat, moderate in animal protein, and low in carbohydrates. Knowing and counting your macronutrients is encouraged until you reach your goals. At goal weight, employ the tactic “eat until full.”

What should you eat on keto?

Use added fats where possible to supplement your ketogenic diet.

Eat generous amounts of saturated fats like coconut oil and butter or ghee. Beef tallow, lard, and duck fat are great for cooking as they have high smoke points. Olive, avocado, and macadamia oil are also good fats to use in salads and drizzle over food.

Too much protein consumption can lead to gluconeogenesis

Eat moderate amounts of animal protein and don’t over indulge. This includes red meat, poultry, pork, eggs, organs (liver and kidney), fish and shellfish. Aim for fattier cuts of meat where possible; all meals with protein should contain added fat as well. Be careful about sugars in cured meats like bacon, salami, and jerky.

Eat fresh or frozen vegetables. Reduce the amount of berries that you eat and cut out fruits (and high-carb vegetables) completely.

Eat fairly free amounts of fresh or frozen green, leafy vegetables like spinach. Moderate amounts of cruciferous vegetables (like cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage). Small amounts of nightshades (eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers) and berries (raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries). Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes should be avoided completely on keto.

Moderate the amount of nuts, seeds, and berries that you eat. Try to keep snacking to a minimum.

Eat restricted amounts of nuts and seeds. Aim to eat nuts high in omega-3 and low in omega-6 like macadamia nuts and brazil nuts. Try to eat limited amounts of blackberries and raspberries as other berries are higher in carbs. Pair the foods you eat with added fats to keep hunger down. Consider cutting snacks out of your diet completely as it generally leads to slower weight loss.

Avoid all sugar and grains on keto.

Cut out all grains (wheat, corn, rice, cereal, etc.) and sugar (added sugar, honey, agave, maple syrup, etc.) from your diet. This includes, but is not limited to soda, juice, sports drinks, candy, chocolate, bread, pasta, cereal, cakes, pastries, oats, muesli, and quinoa.

What should you not eat?

Be careful of dairy intake, specifically soft dairy and cheese that usually have more carbs.

Try to limit your intake to only high-fat dairy like hard cheese, heavy cream, butter, and mayonnaise. Eat less soft cheese and half n’ half to keep carb counts down. Too much dairy intake can lead to slower weight loss, so try to create balanced meals that don’t heavily rely on dairy.

Dealing with keto flu?

Make sure to supplement your electrolytes and drink plenty of water - this will combat the keto flu.

It’s common to experience the “keto flu” when transitioning to a ketogenic diet. Drink plenty of water and supplement electrolytes. Consider drinking bone broth as it’s filled with micronutrients that will make you feel much better. Most side effects are caused by dehydration or lack of electrolytes.

Read nutritional labels

Read nutrition labels and be careful of hidden carbs in pre-made products.

Make sure that you read nutrition labels and ingredient lists. There are tons of products out there with hidden carbs and sugar inside. Be especially careful with “low-carb” products that are not using good sweeteners.

Eat when you’re hungry

Nutrient timing isn't as big as it used to be. If you want to do intermittent fasting, then do it. Whatever feels natural.

You don’t have to eat three square meals a day, do what feels most natural to you. Eat when you’re hungry and don’t worry if you skip a meal – everything balances out. If you find that you feel better when you skip a meal, you can always consider adding intermittent fasting into your routine.

Reduce insulin levels by reducing snacking. Try to eat a few hours before bed to regular hunger hormones.

Try to reduce the spikes in your insulin levels throughout the day by cutting back on snacking. Try to go to sleep on a light stomach, eating 3 hours or more before bed. Getting a good night’s sleep will help regulate your hunger hormones as well.

Track everything

Track what you eat and stay strict. This is very important in the beginning when you're new to keto.

Try to stay strict with your eating habits, tracking where necessary. Don’t weigh yourself too often as it can lead to stress – we recommend once a week. Make sure to take measurements with a tape measure too – sometimes the scale doesn’t move but the measurements do!

Exercise on keto

Adding in exercise can be beneficial. If you already workout, make sure that you're eating enough by using our keto calculator.

Adding in light exercise after meals or during the day is always beneficial. If you already work out, be sure not to over-exercise. Many people undereat when exercising; make sure that you’re feeding your body enough energy. You can calculate your macros with our easy keto calculator >

Adding more fat and reducing carbs and protein is a common solution to many woes on a ketogenic diet.

If you feel low energy or aren’t seeing the results you expect, consider adding more fat to your diet and consuming less protein and carbs. Many people find it easy to increase their fat intake by drinking ketoproof coffee in the morning. Reducing dairy and nut intake can also sometimes help with slow weight loss.

Consider supplements

Make sure to get your micronutrients in. Deficiencies in micronutrients will leave you feeling terrible.

If you don’t consume organ meat, consider supplementing with a multivitamin. This can help with micronutrient deficiencies, which can lead to lethargy and problems focusing. Increasing the amount of leafy green vegetables you consume can also help.

If you need extra help, consider our Keto Academy Program - everything is done for you and made simple to follow!