Keto for Beginners

By March 29, 2019

Keto for Beginners

Everyone has been trying the keto diet, from celebrities to your next door neighbor. You’ve seen your friends show exceptional weight loss results with keto — but how and why does it work? Most importantly, is the keto diet right for you?

What is Keto? | Ketosis | Choosing Foods | Foods to Avoid | Meal Plans | Weight Loss | Overall Health and Wellness | Adding Supplements | Tips and Tricks | Side Effects | Frequently Asked Questions | Support

What is Keto?

What is keto?

The keto diet is a ketogenic diet: that is, a diet that is designed to burn fat. By placing your body in a state of ketosis, you are better able to burn fat, lose excess weight, and take on your daily activities. When you’re on the keto diet, your body uses fat as fuel, rather than relying on the glucose in carbohydrates. As a result, you’re able to experience a number of key benefits.

Fuel more efficiently. Fat burns slower than carbs. When you eat a high-fat, low-carb diet, you’re often less hungry than you would have been if you were eating primarily carbs. Fat burns slower, which means you stay full longer. This overall decreased hunger 1 makes it easier to avoid cravings and prevent overeating, which all on its own can help with weight loss.

Get off the blood sugar roller coaster. Most people have experienced the fast energy high that comes from overindulging in carbohydrates. Unfortunately, that high quickly disappears, leaving you hungry, cranky, and sluggish again. That hungry, sluggish feeling often sends people looking for the next “high” as quickly as possible, leading to overeating and a host of other problems. On the keto diet, on the other hand, you’re able to get off that roller coaster and maintain a steadier blood sugar throughout the day.

Go longer between meals. Can you set your clock by when your stomach starts rumbling? Do you find yourself reaching for snacks multiple times throughout the day? On the keto diet, you’ll decrease those cravings and find that you’re more satiated between meals, which may actually mean that you spend less time thinking about food.

Support optimal hormone function. When your hormones are functioning at peak efficiency, women will experience fewer problems with their menstrual cycle, better sexual function, and improved energy levels. Mood swings may not entirely become a thing of the past, but they will often decrease substantially as hormones level out.

Boost brain function. Many people report that once they’re in ketosis, they lose the “brain fog” that often limits their daily activities. Rats in ketosis, even aging rats, had improved cognitive function 1 , and some studies suggest that eating a keto diet can help slow the progression 3 of Alzheimer’s disease. Even individuals without cognitive impairments often find that eating keto can help improve brain function, offering a feeling that they’re simply thinking faster and more clearly.

Decrease stress levels. Your hormones are leveling out. Your brain function is improving. It’s little wonder, therefore, that the keto diet can help decrease your overall stress levels, High blood sugar levels can contribute to stress at a cellular level, which plays out throughout your entire body. By reducing sugar and carbohydrate consumption, you’ll find that you’re better able to regulate those stress levels.

Lose excess weight, effortlessly. Counting calories is a frustrating process that leaves many people feeling as though they’ll never be able to successfully lose weight. Opting for the keto diet instead, on the other hand, can help weight simply slide off for many individuals.



Are you ready to get into ketosis? It may be easier than you think. First, make sure you’re consuming most of your calories from fat. A high-fat diet will provide your body with the fuel it needs while increasing your energy levels and preventing those dangerous blood sugar highs and lows. You can have moderate amounts of protein on the keto diet, but you’ll need to significantly limit carbohydrates to get your body into ketosis. You’ll also need to keep your electrolytes in check: many people struggle with feelings of the “keto flu” in the early days of moving into ketosis because they’re not balancing electrolytes properly.

Curious about whether or not you’re appropriately fat adapted? Check out this video to help spot signs of fat adaptation. You can also try this strategy to test your ketone levels and learn more.

Choosing Keto Foods

Choosing Keto Foods

On the keto diet, you don’t have to count calories — thank goodness! Instead, you should focus on eating quality foods. For example, grass-fed and finished beef tends to have a more favorable omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid profile when compared to grain-fed beef 4 . Need an easy list of the foods that are most appropriate on keto? Check out the lists below!

Start with a Quality Protein

Calling all meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans! Choose a protein source that works best for you.

Animal-Based Protein:

  • Skin-on chicken thighs
  • Chicken drumsticks
  • Chicken wings
  • Steak, any cut
  • Ground beef
  • Pork chops
  • Ground pork
  • Sausage (nitrate free and uncured)
  • Lamb chops
  • Ground lamb

Plant-Based Protein:

  • Hemp hearts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Chia Seeds
  • Broccoli
  • Non-GMO tempeh
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Navy beans
  • Quinoa

Choose Your Non-Starchy Vegetable

  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Swiss chard
  • Collards
  • Zucchini
  • Cauliflower
  • Turnips
  • Onions

Add a Healthy Fat

Healthy fats can be used for cooking, making a dressing, or simply added to your meal.

  • Beef tallow
  • Pork lard
  • Coconut oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado oil mayo
  • Avocado oil dressings and marinades

Snack as Needed

There are plenty of great snacks available for keto dieters. Try some of these options:

Foods to Avoid

There are plenty of great foods you can enjoy on the keto diet, but there are also several key foods you should avoid. Try to stay away from foods like:

  • Grains, including corn, wheat, rice, and barley
  • Legumes, including pinto beans, peanuts, kidney beans, and lentils. If you’re vegetarian or vegan and depend on legumes as a primary protein source, consider soaking or sprouting them first to reduce the presence of antinutrients and improve digestion 5
  • Sugar in nearly all its forms. This includes sugars you traditionally think of as “healthier,” like honey, maple syrup, and agave
  • Nearly all fruit. Some berries are keto-friendly; however, it’s important to know which ones are included as part of your diet
  • Starchy vegetables like potatoes, squash, and yams
keto foods to avoid

There are also some oils, including sesame oil, that can cause significant inflammation and make it difficult for you to function as you’d hoped while you’re on the keto diet. Check out the worst fats to consume while you’re on the keto diet — or, for that matter, at any time. By avoiding these key fats and oils, you’ll find that you’re in a better position to enjoy the results of your Keto diet.

Keto Meal Plans

Are you tired of trying to “do it on your own” as you struggle to figure out how to handle the keto diet? Consider how these programs and meal plans can help you get started on your new diet plan without leaving you stressed, frustrated, or ready to quit because you can’t even remember what you are supposed to eat and what you aren’t.

The Keto Bundle The Keto Bundle

The Keto Bundle

This is a great program that bundles together The Keto Beginning and Fat Fueled programs. You’ll get a focus on why keto works, how it can work for you, and how to alter it to make it work for you, personally. This program offers all the pieces you need to make the keto diet work, including meal plans, step-by-step instructions to help you make sense out of the keto diet, and personalized support that will help you make the keto diet your own.

Balanced Keto Weekly Meal Plans Balanced Keto Weekly Meal Plans

Balanced Keto Meal Plans

Balanced Keto Meal Plans offers a meal plan subscription program that’s delivered straight to your inbox every Tuesday. It provides everything: weekly meal plans, shopping lists, and even dietary modification guides that will cover just about any food sensitivity. You’ll also get carb-ups that are built directly into the plans, so you won’t have to worry about figuring it out on your own. Learn more about meal plans here.

I highly recommend both of these great plans, which can be used to help you adapt to a keto lifestyle or provide you with the support you need to continue with that diet on an ongoing basis. You don’t have to try to figure it out alone! Instead, let these tried and true programs walk you through this process.

Weight Loss

Measuring tape

All this information is great, but you’re probably wondering about the answer to one key question: how does keto help with weight loss? You want to embark on a journey that will help you feel better, think better, and look better: one that will provide you with more energy and help you shed excess weight all at the same time. The question is, how does keto really help with weight loss?

Eating a high-fat, low-carb diet helps promote insulin sensitivity. This is the opposite of insulin resistance, which often is often linked to weight gain. Diets higher in protein and low in carbohydrates are shown to help increase weight loss in significantly obese adolescents 5 , who are at high risk for health problems and other issues associated with their weight. Men on a ketogenic-style diet 7 were able to control their appetites, decrease hunger, and more easily lose weight, even with high levels of obesity.

Ketosis can also help maintain appropriate weight 8 after significant weight loss, making it a great choice for individuals at all stages of the dieting process. Study after study continues to bear out the effectiveness of keto-style diets: high fats, moderate protein, lower carbohydrates. The keto diet makes it easier to stick with the diet plan and stay on track, rather than falling off the wagon due to cravings or poor results.

It’s important to note that for some women, your body may need to heal before it can lose weight. In many cases, insulin resistance and inflammation can contribute to a serious struggle to lose weight, not because you aren’t doing it right, but because your body simply needs to heal first.

If you’re finding that you can’t lose weight on keto, chances are, there’s a reason behind it! On the keto diet, you may experience weight loss plateaus that can frustrate even the most determined keto warrior. Your body may have adapted to your current diet, requiring you to tweak your plan to continue getting results. With The Keto Bundle, you’ll get advice and help that will enable you to overcome those difficulties. If you need more support, Happy Keto Body offers a plan designed just for you, keeping you on the keto train and preventing you from falling off over and over again.

If you’re ready for real change in your body, the keto diet can help you meet your goals and reshape your body. It’s not without effort, but it is well worth it!

Overall Health and Wellness

Mystical knot of longevity and health

A great diet isn’t just intended to help you lose weight, though that’s certainly one key benefit. A great diet should also help support your mind and overall wellness. Your mental health impacts your gut health, and your gut health can have a significant impact on your mental state: your energy levels, your stress levels, and even your mood and mental stability. The best way to keep your mind healthy is to support your overall health.

A clear focus on your physical health and your diet can impact every aspect of your life. The foods you eat can completely transform mind and body alike. You don’t just want a healthy body, you want a healthy mind, too! The 21-Day Whole Keto Challenge is a great place to start. In just 21 days, you can watch an incredible mental transformation and claim your right to feel amazing and beautiful, just as you are. Before you know it, you’ll feel as though you’ve awakened a whole new you, a you who knows her worth and is ready to take on the world.

Maybe your main concerns are over your physical health, like uneven hormone levels or ongoing gut challenges? Check out my Fat Fueled keto program. By opting for a few simple dietary changes, you can completely transform your body. In many cases, you’ll find that this program improves gut health, increases your energy, and just makes you feel BETTER.

Want the whole package to improve mental and physical health, increased confidence, and receive mega support along the way? Check out Happy Keto Body. This 12-week doctor-approved membership program is expressly designed with you in mind — and it’s intended to help you overcome complicated health challenges, finally reach your goals, and discover a whole new, happier you.

Adding Supplements to the Keto Diet

Supplement bottles

In general, most of your nutrients and food consumption should come from real, whole foods. Your body is designed to process foods in, well, food form! If you have specific nutritional concerns or deficits, however — especially if you’re dealing with food sensitivities or allergies — you may need to add in supplements to help you meet your goals. Some people, for example, may benefit from omega-3 fatty acid supplements, depending on their health history and concerns 9 10 11 .

Your supplements should be tailored to your specific body and your unique dietary needs. Someone struggling with digestive issues will need different supplements and nutrients from someone who just wants to optimize their keto diet. Happy Keto Body offers a number of resources that will help you more effectively determine exactly what supplements you need for your body, while this video will offer you more information about supplements that can help support a keto diet and keep your body functioning at peak efficiency.

In many cases, you’ll find that there are whole food options that will fit many of your supplement needs. Bone broth and liver, for example, are packed with nutrients that will leave you feeling full of energy and healthier than ever. Think of them as nature’s multivitamins! By adding these simple items to your diet, you’ll discover that you need fewer packaged supplements — and there are plenty of other opportunities to source your dietary needs from whole foods, rather than turning to pills in a bottle. Bone broth is easy to make and simple to keep on hand, especially if you’re already opting for healthier protein sources.

Hate liver? Don’t worry: you’re not alone! That doesn’t mean that you can’t find ways to work it into your diet — often ways that are more delicious than you thought. Check out this recipe for Balsamic Chicken Liver Pate for one great way to integrate liver into your diet — without feeling as though you’re stuck eating something you hate. If you really can’t stomach it, here’s another option.

Tips and Tricks

Treasure Map

Are you feeling intimidated by all the information out there on the keto diet? Worried that you won’t be able to stick with it? These tips and tricks can make it easier for you to handle your keto journey.

First and foremost, keep it simple. The keto diet doesn’t have to be complicated! In fact, the more complicated your recipes and plans, the better the odds that you’ll accidentally knock yourself out of ketosis or, worse, quite deliberately give up altogether. Instead, look for ways to keep your diet simple. You’ll find that it leaves you better equipped to deal with cravings, snack when you need to, and choose keto-friendly dishes that will keep you satisfied.

Prepare yourself ahead of time. There are some common obstacles to sticking to the keto diet, many of which have already been covered by the people who have gone before you on this journey. Go in prepared! Check out this video Before You Start Eating High Fat or go over What’s Wrong with the Ketogenic Diet before you get started. When you know what’s coming, you’ll find that you’re in a much better position to deal with whatever challenges happen to come at you along the way.

Figure out your game plan. How are you going to handle common hurdles, from eating out on keto to sugar cravings? Simply knowing your next step can help you more effectively address those challenges. Check out these posts for how to order keto at:

Find a support network. You don’t want to do it alone! With a qualifying digital purchase, you get access to my secret Facebook community, where you can discuss recipes, receive support from other keto women, and help one another along the way.

Ask your questions. Do you have questions about some of the details of the keto diet? I’ve got resources for you! Check out information about exogenous ketones, fasting, carb ups, weight loss on keto, and more. Remember, you don’t have to do this on your own! I’ve already paved the way for you, and I’m here to help throughout the process. Of course, Happy Keto Body will help you customize your diet and figure out all the details of your keto plan.

Side Effects

Side Effects

Keto is awesome! Unfortunately, there may be some side effects that go along with these dietary changes, especially early in the process. It can be hard to feel your best when you’re dealing with hair loss, keto flu, changes in your hunger cues, cravings, or digestive upset. Luckily, I’ve got advice on how you can make some key changes to keep living your best on the keto diet and totally avoid those pesky side effects.

The Keto Flu

Not everyone will have to deal with the keto flu, but some people discover that in the early days of keto, they struggle with feelings of lethargy, muscle cramping, difficulty focusing, irritability, headache and trouble sleeping 12 . These five easy steps will help you beat the keto flu and feel more like yourself again. You can also try my recipe for keto lemonade that will help prevent keto flu from ever raining on your keto parade — and enjoy these tips and tricks to avoid making the mistakes that other women before you have made when trying to deal with the keto flu.

Hair Loss on Keto

You’re not alone if you find yourself in a hair loss cycle, especially early into your journey on the keto diet. In this video, I’ll walk you through what happened to my hair on the keto diet — and how to deal with it if it happens to you.

Changes in Hunger

As you spend more time on the keto diet, you may find that your appetite changes — perhaps you find yourself WAY more hungry than usual, or even way less. Listen to your body, eat when you’re hungry, and your appetite should balance out once your body becomes accustomed to using fat as fuel instead of sugar. much healthier. If you’re worried that cravings will overtake you, have no fear! As you continue on keto, avoiding carb-laden foods, and fueling your body with fats, cravings for those high-carb, sugary foods should decrease 13 .

Upset Stomach on Keto

If you don’t have a gallbladder, or you’re experiencing digestive issues on keto, you may need more support. Check out this post on fat digestion on keto for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

You’re ready to get started on the keto diet, but before you begin, you may need the answers to some common keto questions. Check out my most-asked list:

Where should I start?

Getting started isn’t as hard as you think! Check out this post on how to start eating high-fat to learn more about how you can begin to transform your eating habits in just 4 simple steps.

Should I carb up?

A carb up, at the end of the day, takes out some of the fats in your meal and replaces them with carbs. Carbs come from starchy veggies, rice, fruit, or gluten-free pizza: many of the foods that you generally avoid while you’re on the keto diet. You may need a carb up if you are:

  • Dealing with hair loss
  • Experiencing hormone issues, including the loss of your period or a wonky cycle
  • Feeling overly restricted or bingeing

You’ll need to experiment to see what feels best with your body. If you’re looking to experiment with carb ups on keto, check out this post: All About Carb Ups and Cyclical Ketosis, which may help give you a better idea of what to expect and how to manage carb ups on the keto diet.

Will keto work for me if I’m vegetarian or vegan?

Keto can absolutely work for you if you typically follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. Keto vegetarians and vegans will naturally eat more carbs than keto meat-eaters, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t continue to follow the diet. Check out some of these resources:

How much protein/fat/carbs should I eat?

What should my macros be? In general, I avoid counting macros while on the keto diet. Macro counting produces a number of common problems, including a struggle with feelings of restriction. If you do want to learn more about counting macros without restricting, check out The Keto Bundle. My 12-week keto coaching program for women, Happy Keto Body, will help you customize your keto diet to your specific dietary needs.

Can I do keto if I have diabetes 14 , high cholesterol, and/or high blood pressure?

I’ve seen many people with these conditions thrive on keto, and in many cases, it has even helped manage other conditions. If you have diabetes 15 , high cholesterol 16 , and/or high blood pressure, you need to work carefully with your doctor to make any major dietary changes and observe how they impact your overall health. There are also numerous studies that suggest that a ketogenic diet may be particularly helpful in the management of diabetes and other health conditions. In fact, eating low-fat diets filled with “filler foods” can actually increase your risk of disease.

Can I do keto if I have food allergies or sensitivities?

I personally have a number of food allergies, including nuts, wheat, dairy, and peanuts, as well as a handful of food sensitivities, and I do just fine on keto! The trick is to make the keto diet work for you. If you’re struggling to lose the weight you thought you would on the keto diet, for example, you may find that you have unidentified food sensitivities that are making your body work too hard to process the food you’re eating. By supporting your gut health, you’ll often see substantial improvements in many areas of your life, including your ability to lose weight on keto. You can also support your gut health by eliminating foods that you may be sensitive to; my Fat Fueled program is designed to help you fully customize your ketogenic protocol to meet your individual needs. Struggling to find foods that work for you on the keto diet, based on your sensitivities? Check out my recipe search, where you can filter out ingredients that don’t work for your body.

Can I do keto with hormonal imbalances? How does keto impact PCOS? Thyroid issues?

Amenorrhea? What about adrenal issues? Remember, you can fully customize the keto diet to fit your specific dietary and health needs. The keto diet can go a long way toward helping to balance women’s hormones, in fact, it helped me get my period back after over eight years of amenorrhea. Many people have used the keto diet to help balance their hormones. Check out some of these stories from other women who have healed using keto:

Can I do keto while pregnant or breastfeeding? Can kids do keto?

Many women rely on keto to support reproductive health and supercharge their fertility. Of course, you should always chat with your doctor before making major changes to your diet or your children’s diets. That being said, I’ve talked with many women who cook keto meals for their entire families; the keto diet can be an excellent choice for both mom and baby, whether you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or your kids are helping you prepare keto meals! In short, the keto diet is one that can work for the entire family — you just have to figure out how to make it work. Children, for example, may need to eat more carbs than the typical adult on keto, while adolescents 18 may have other unique dietary needs.

Will keto work for me if I’m perimenopausal or postmenopausal?

Yes! In fact, women who are going through menopause 19 or who are already past menopause may do better on a low-carb diet, and they may not need support from carb ups. The keto diet is also key to balancing hormones, which makes it easier for many women to manage the challenges that go along with menopause. If you need more help with managing menopausal symptoms, achieving weight loss, or anything else menopause and keto-related, remember, Happy Keto Body can help you reach your goals.


Keto Support

Support is key for a successful keto journey! It’s difficult to make a big change without support around you, and when you embark on the keto lifestyle, you may need the support of family and friends to help make those changes possible. If your friends and family aren’t on board with keto, you don’t have to do it alone. A qualifying digital purchase will get you access to my secret Facebook community, where you can receive support from keto veterans who have been in your shoes.

The Keto Diet Podcast can provide you with regular help maintaining your keto goals with episodes focused on topics like macro tracking, food quality, gut health, responsible exogenous ketone usage, body positivity and self-acceptance, plus so much more.

If you want even more personalized support, Happy Keto Body is the best option for you. With a Happy Keto Body VIP membership, you’ll receive lifetime access to the VIP forum where you’ll get support from me, other members, and Dr. Nina. You can also submit questions to be answered by a naturopathic doctor and registered dietitian during live group coaching calls. In short, it’s an incredible community dedicated to helping you achieve your keto diet goals!

Need more advice on getting started? Take a look at How to Be Keto…Alone. Need more keto motivation? Check out the 21-Day Whole Keto Challenge for daily inspiration and support.

There’s a whole community out there ready to support you as you go on your keto journey. What are you waiting for? Let’s do this thing.

The Ketogenic Diet infographic

This entry was tagged: diet tips, keto diet, keto diet for women, keto for beginners, keto how to, the keto diet

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Hi! I'm Leanne (RHN FBCS)

a Functional Medicine Practitioner, host of the Healthful Pursuit Podcast, and best-selling author of The Keto Diet & Keto for Women. I want to live in a world where every woman has access to knowledge to better her health.

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