How many carbs: the ultimate guide to starting a keto diet

By Anita Parker – on in Food
Join in on the high-fat fun by learning how to properly adopt a low-carb diet with this beginner's guide to going keto.

The ketogenic diet seems to have taken over the internet. Suddenly, no one is scared of fat anymore. People are ditching carbs, feasting on fried eggs and avocado, feeling amazing and losing weight. But while keto lets you go heavy on the cream, it does not come without its fair share of restrictions and laundry list of foods to avoid. Armed with will power? Want to know what all the hype is about and possibly never come back from low-carb high-fat land? Here is all you need to learn about the ketogenic diet. Welcome to bacon heaven.


What is keto

Keto is short for ketogenic, a type of diet intended to put its followers in a state of ketosis. Sounds like Chinese? Ketosis is a metabolic state in which one’s body is forced to run on fats rather than on carbohydrates. It therefore entails a strongly regulated high-fat and low-carb intake. Keto differs from the likes of the Atkins diet in that it involves a moderate protein consumption as opposed to a high protein regimen. This particular approach helps burn fat more efficiently, resulting in weight loss, but also in a number of other benefits such as improved overall health, muscle gain, mental clarity and physical performances.


The Specifics of the keto diet

Keto leaves nothing to chance. To get in the magical—it’s actually science—ketosis state, one has to respect a specific ratio of macronutrients, namely 70–80% fat, 20–25% protein and 5–10% carbs. How many carbs is that? The answer strongly depends on your profile and personal total daily calorie needs. Someone following a stricter version might want to keep their net carbs under 20g per day while others, a strong man, for instance, might keep their intake under about 30 to 50 g per day. We suggest using an online calculator in order to identify your specific needs while also taking your objectives into account. Once you have determined your individual macro requirements, consider downloading an app such as My Fitness Pal or Carb Manager to help you track your food and ensure that you are reaching your goal without overdoing it, especially on the carb front.


How do I know if I am in ketosis?

Even if you are tracking your food and staying away from obvious and hidden carb sources, you might want to make sure that you really are in a fat adapted state. So how do you know if you really are running on all that bacon? There are more ways than one to do so. The simplest and most affordable one is ketone test strips. When metabolizing fat at a high rate, your body converts fatty acids into ketones. And said ketones can be then traced in your urine. These practical little strips let you test your ketone levels and identify if you are in ketosis and if so, in which stage you are in.


So, what do I eat on a keto diet

High fat does not mean unhealthy. The ketogenic diet prioritizes whole healthy foods that are either high in fat, low in carbs or both. This means staples such as meat and fish, certain oils, leafy greens and more. Of course, all sugary foods, grains and starches, legumes, root vegetables, alcohol must be avoided. Some low carb fruit such as berries can be consumed in small quantities and unhealthy fats such as processed vegetable oils should be avoided. Wondering what’s for dinner on that kind of diet? Here are some recipe inspiration and practical snack ideas.

Keto : meat-free options

Keto sure requires a lot of planning and a lot of sacrifices. However, the journey can easily be made simple and enjoyable. There are keto friendly dessert recipes for when you are craving something sweet and even fast food options that won’t kick you out of ketosis for when you are on the road or simply cut off guard. And although the regular keto diet is meat and dairy heavy, vegetarians and vegans can also adopt the high-fat low-carb lifestyle. Skeptical? Have a look at these keto recipes that have nothing to do with bacon, or any other animal products for that matter.


Now that we have shed some light on the reason why Carol at work adds coconut oil to her coffee and never gets too close to the complimentary fruit basket in the employee room, you too can now the low-carb party and feast on fats from breakfast to dinner.

Cover photo credit: @dietdoctor | Instagram