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Going Keto? This beginner’s guide to keto covers the ketogenic diet, ketosis for beginners, keto guidelines, + easy keto recipes. Use this keto diet guide today to start your keto way of life.
I have been on a keto diet for over five months. I’ve done tons of reading and thorough research. I’ve scoured the internet for tips, advice, and yummy keto recipes. I may be close to a keto expert by now.
I’m writing this post to bookmark all of my favorite keto recipes. That way I can refer to them anytime I need to. I’m also writing this post because I am in LOVE with the ketogenic diet, and I want to share all of my keto tips and research with you. Hopefully it will make your keto way of life easier.
What is a Ketogenic Diet?
If you landed on this page, you probably already know what a ketogenic diet is. However, in the event that you do not, I want to cover a little bit about the ins and outs of keto. If this is repeat for you, skip to the bottom of this post to my keto recipes for beginners section.
Keto is short for ketogenic. A keto diet is a very low carb diet. The goal is to help you burn fat more effectively.
Fuel for the human body takes three basic forms: carbohydrates (sugars), protein, and fat. These are called macros, or macronutrients.
With a standard American diet you consume, and likely store, a large amount of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are generally the first energy source to be utilized when living and exercising. What happens when you have no carbohydrates left to burn? Your body turns to using fat as fuel.
By eating a low carbohydrate diet, you are tricking your body into burning fat. First the fat that you eat. Then your fat reserves. This is why so many people lose weight on the keto diet.
This is a very simplistic explanation of what the keto diet is. If you are into Science and how the body works, you may want to do more research. Or pick up a book on the the diet..
Keto Diet vs a Low Carb Diet
The ketogenic diet is much more than a low carb diet. You can certainly eat low carb and have health and weight loss success. However, the methods involved in the keto diet, ensure that you are training your body to use your fat reserves for fuel.
While the keto diet IS a low carb diet. It is also a moderate protein and high fat diet. This might go against all that you’ve been taught. However, there is a lot of research to back up how healthy fats are good for you. There is an extremely good, and eye opening, documentary called The Magic Pill that covers all of this in more detail.
The key to the keto diet lies in your macronutrients. Most research suggests your diet should consist of approximately 5% carbs, 20% protein, and 75% healthy fats. Some people take it a step further and track net carbs, ensuring that they are always under 20 net carbs. (I personally do this.)
Net carbs are carbohydrates minus fiber and sugar alcohols. For example, one medium zucchini has 6 grams of total carbohydrates and 2 grams of fiber. This equals 4 grams of net carbs.
There are numerous tracking apps that can help you to determine whether you are staying within your macro ratios. I use the free version of Carb Manager on my phone.
To determine your exact macros, check out this post on how to calculate your macros.
Ketosis for Beginners: What are Ketones?
The ketogenic diet allows your body to produce small fuel molecules called ketones. Ketones are produced if you eat very few carbs, and only moderate amounts of protein. (Too much protein can be converted to blood sugar.)
When the body produces ketones, it enters a metabolic state called ketosis. This leads your body to burning fat for fuel. Once you’re in ketosis, you are what is called fat adapted.
You can achieve ketosis through fasting, and through the ketogenic diet. Some people combine their keto diet with intermittent fasting. This means fasting for a portion of each day. For example, 16/8 means fasting for 16 hours and eating during an 8 hour window. (I eat from 12pm to 8pm each day, and fast from 8pm to 12pm the next day. Basically, I skip breakfast.)
Some people believe you can be low carb and fat adapted without being in ketosis. There is a lot of Science behind all of this, that is beyond the scope of this article. I believe the main thing to keep in mind is that if follow the rules of the keto diet, you will get results.
However, lots of people want to know that they are definitely producing ketones and are in a state of ketosis. The only way to know this is through Keto Testing. It’s not necessary, but might give you piece of mind at the beginning of your keto journey.
Beginner Keto Diet: Keto Guidelines
Now that you understand what the keto diet is, it’s time to explain some of the keto guidelines and rules.
The keto diet is low carb AND no sugar. This means that you can not eat sugars or fake sugars; and should not eat most fruits due to their sugar content. Some people enjoy berries on occasion. Lemons and limes are ok as well.
There are some all natural sweeteners that are deemed safe on the keto diet. These include Erythritol and pure Stevia. (Some Stevia products include fillers and other ingredients. Make sure to read your ingredient labels.) Since you can not eat sugar, you also need to watch for sugars in any packaged products.
While you can have a small amount of carbs, these carbs should come mostly from non starchy vegetables and occasionally fatty dairy products. This means you can not eat baked goods made from traditional grain flours. You also cannot eat starchy vegetables like potatoes, parsnips, beets, peas, etc.
Vegetables you can eat include most leafy greens and other low carb veggies like cauliflower, asparagus, and brussels sprouts.
While you can have dairy, some people find that they have less or limited weight loss while consuming dairy. Watch the sugar content of your dairy choices. Dairy products should be full fat; like heavy cream, cream cheese, hard and soft cheeses, as well as full cream milk and greek yogurt.
Healthy fats include nuts and seeds, rendered animal fats, butter, cheese, as well as coconut and olive oil. Avoid other processed oils like vegetable and canola oils.
You can eat any meat on the keto diet so long as it is not processed and full of chemicals and sugar.
Strict Keto vs Lazy Keto vs Dirty Keto
As you progress on through your keto journey, you may hear the terms strict keto, lazy keto, and dirty keto.
Strict keto means that you are following all of the rules of keto, mentioned above, and that you are staying below 20 grams net carbs per day.
Lazy keto usually means that you are staying below 20 grams net carbs, however, you are not tracking your macros or calories.
Dirty keto means that you are staying below your 20 grams net carbs, but you are eating non keto foods.
There are many people who will state that they are on a keto diet, yet they are drinking diet sodas and eating low carb wheat products. Fundamentally, this is not keto.
It doesn’t mean these people are bad. However, it can be confusing to someone new to keto. You’ll need to decide what is best for you.
Ketogenic Diet Reviews
If you do an internet search, on the keto diet, you will find a lot of ketogenic diet reviews. Many are favorable. However, many are not. The important thing to consider, as with any diet, is whether the diet is backed by Science and research.
Many people who are against a keto diet believe that it is a hard diet to continue long term. While this is in fact true, many people start a keto diet to lose weight and continue on a low carb diet (more than 20 grams net carbs) to maintain their weight loss.
At the end of the day, you need to do your own research to determine which diet (healthy eating plan) is right for you.
The main benefit for most people considering a ketogenic diet is weight loss. For some people, this means rapid weight loss. However, there are also numerous other benefits.
Some keto benefits include:
- Decreased Appetite
- Weight Loss
- Decreased Triglycerides
- Increased HDL – Good Cholesterol
- Improved LDL Levels – Bad Cholesterol
- Reduced Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels
- Possible Lower Blood Pressure
Keto Tips for Keto Success
If you are looking for major keto success, you should stick with a strict keto diet. In addition, you might find it helpful to track your calories. You can do this is the Carb Manager App mentioned above.
Your diet should consist of healthy proteins, a variety of low carb veggies, and healthy fats.
Too many people think keto is all meat, butter, and bacon. While you can definitely enjoy these foods, you need to use common sense. A package of bacon a day is not good for anyone, regardless of whether it fits in with your macros.
Speaking of Macros
First of all, it’s best to stay below 20 net carbs. Next, you should try to meet your protein macro for the day. Finally, you should use your fat macros as a lever. If you are hungry, eat more fat. If you are not hungry, don’t worry about it. You do NOT need to meet your fat macros each and every day.
Keto Treats and Keto Desserts
You can enjoy a keto treat from time to time. And you can create substitutes of your favorite foods. However, your carb allowance should mostly come from low carb veggies, and your fats should comes from healthy fats.
If you find that you are at a weight loss stall, decrease or eliminate your treats and dairy products to see if that helps.
How to Increase Fiber
Since a ketogenic diet eliminates beans and grains, it can be hard to get a good amount of fiber into your diet. I’ve found that eating high fiber (keto friendly) foods like broccoli, almonds, chia seeds, and berries help. Do an internet search for high fiber keto foods to come up with a list that you like.
Ketogenic Diet Recipes for Beginners
Following are some of my favorite ketogenic diet recipes. I have tried each and every one, and love them all. Of course, we all have different tastes. Therefore, you may or may not love these recipes as much as I do. Either way, these keto recipes are a great starting point for your keto diet menu.
Special Note: None of these recipes contain almond flour or tree nut products (aside from coconut) as we have a tree nut allergy in our house.
Keto Bagel Recipe
If you are craving a bagel while on the keto diet, this keto bagel recipe will definitely hit the spot. It’s made with only five ingredients and has a nice chewy bagel texture. I like to top mine with Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend before baking. Find the recipe at All Day I Dream About Food.
Keto Donut Recipe
I love a good chocolate cake donut and this recipe does not disappoint. They are super easy to make and only take 15 minutes to bake. You’ll need a donut pan to make them, but it’s completely worth it. I purchased this BPA Free Silicone Donut Pan for a great price. Find the recipe at Low Carb Diet World.
Keto Fat Bombs
If you are new to keto, you are going to hear a lot about fat bombs. Fat bombs are basically little balls of fat. You eat them to increase your fat intake. They are not necessary, but you may find them helpful. I keep a batch on hand in the freezer. I rarely eat them. However, they do come in handy when I am hungry and need a quick satiating snack.
As you progress through your keto journey, you’ll find that you are able to create meals that meet your macro needs. When this happens your appetite will decrease, and your need for fat bombs will also decrease. But you still may want to have a few fat bomb recipes on hand. Just keep in mind that fat bombs are high in fat and calories. Therefore, I view them as treats.
If you want to make your life easier, consider investing in a set of silicone mini muffin pans. They are just the right size, and are perfect for making fat bombs.
Keto Fat Bomb Recipes
My favorite fat bomb recipe is a chocolate chip cookie dough fat bomb. You can find the recipe at Paleomomnons. And yes, you can have chocolate on the keto diet. The best chocolate is sweetened with stevia, making it low carb. I’ve found that these chocolate chips are the best. You can find them online, and possibly at your local Whole Foods or Natural Foods store.
I also really like these coconut oil fat bombs from Paleo Hacks. However, they do contain honey, which is not keto approved. I omit the honey and add slightly more coconut oil to help bind the ingredients. I also freeze these fat bombs in my silicone mini muffin pan. When they are frozen, I pop them out and store them in a bag in the freezer. I do this for most of my fat bombs.
Another great fat bomb is the chocolate fat bomb from Chocolate Covered Katie. This fat bomb is yummy and super easy to make as well.
These Peanut Butter Fat Bombs are super creamy and yummy. Whip it for a bit and it’s just like a mousse.
I love myself a good treat. That’s one of the hardest things about the keto diet. However, you can still enjoy a treat now and then. You just have to make them yourself.
These Keto Cheesecake Bites can be made various ways and are definitely satisfying. Omit the peanut butter and add in various extract flavorings. Or make it plain and top with a few berries.
These No Bake Peanut Butter Bars taste just like a peanut butter cup. They are a little high on the carb end. However, they don’t have as many carbs as a traditional peanut butter cup. I make a batch and keep them in the freezer.
This Keto Almond Joy Chia Pudding is fantastic. I use coconut milk and skip the almonds as we have a nut allergy in our household. I also grind the chia seeds to make a smoother pudding. Keep in mind that your pudding will be higher in fat if you use coconut milk vs almond milk. Also, the recipe states four servings, but you could probably stretch it to six.
Keto Coffee: Bulletproof Coffee Explained
You’ll hear a lot about bulletproof coffee while on a keto diet. Bulletproof coffee is a mixture of coffee, butter, and MCT oil. This concoction fills you up with good fats and gives you a ton of energy. The best butter is from grass fed cows.
MCT oil is medium chain triglycerides oil. These are found in coconut oil. However, you’ll get a higher concentration if you purchase MCT oil.
My current favorite coffee recipe is this Keto Rocket Fuel Cafe Mocha. It has chia seeds which boosts the coffee with nutrition and fiber. I’ve found grinding chia seeds in a coffee grinder helps with any texture issues.
Keto Breakfast Recipes
Aside from the keto bagels and donuts above, there are a ton of keto breakfast recipes available on the Internet. Keto breakfast is easy because you can eat eggs, bacon, and sausage; the staples of many great breakfast recipes.
I really love the cheesy bacon coconut flour biscuit recipe from Kasey Trenum. They are super delicious and can be frozen, then reheated in the microwave.
I also love Shirred Eggs, which is a breakfast recipe that just happens to be keto friendly. I use bacon instead of the ham in the recipe. However, you can use ham so long as it does not contain sugar or preservatives.
These Coconut Flour Biscuits are delicious for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Try using a variety of spice combinations and different types of cheese. I roll them into balls and they come out similar to Gougères, a French cheese puff.
Keto Lunch and Dinner Recipes
Once you get the hang of it, eating keto is relatively easy. Most of my lunches and dinners include a small amount of protein and lots of low carb veggies. My fat comes from cooking in olive oil, butter, or coconut oil.
The veggies I eat often are:
- Brussels Sprouts
- Peppers and Onions (in small amounts)
I love zucchini pasta. It’s great with Bolognese Sauce. Just remember to track the veggie carbs in the sauce. Purchase a sugar free tomato sauce like Rao’s Marinara Sauce, or make your own from scratch. Sometimes you can find zucchini noodles at the grocery store. I opted to purchase a Spiralizer because I use it so frequently.
Keto Mashed Potatoes and Shepherd’s Pie
If you are craving a mashed potato, you might want to try this loaded cauliflower mashed potato recipe from Low Carb Maven. While they don’t taste 100% like mashed potatoes, they come pretty close. They also make a great topping for a delicious keto shepherd’s pie. Find the recipe at My Keto Kitchen.
Keto Pizza and Keto Sandwiches
You can also use cauliflower to make a fantastic pizza crust. This cauliflower crust recipe by Dr. Berg is pretty close to the keto crusts I purchase from Cali’flour Foods. You may be able to find Cali’flour Foods crusts in your local grocery store as well. I recently saw them in mine. Check the freezer section. I also use these crusts for sandwiches and quesadillas.
Beginner’s Guide to Keto Conclusion
I hope you’ve found this beginner’s guide to keto helpful. Please bookmark, share, and come back often; as I will update the recipes section when I try new recipes.
If you have a keto recipe you absolutely love, please share it with us in the comments section below. I would love to try it!