Tips for Getting Started with the Keto Diet.
Updated August 19, 2019
If you’ve been curious about the Keto Diet and wanted to learn more, you’re in good company. This way of eating is all the rage because of its many proven health and weight loss benefits. I recently had a friend ask me what I know about it, and despite the amount of research and reading I’ve done on different theories for eating, I found myself only able to give her a partial answer. That’s when I decided to go to Dr. Will Cole, a leading functional medicine and keto diet expert, so that he could offer some clarity for anyone interested in exploring this type of diet.
As you’ll see in this Q & A, Dr. Cole not only offers information that should be interesting to all of us and helpful to those interested in trying keto out, he also has some great tips for getting started. You’ll find some additional resources at the end that I’ve added as well.
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Peppermint Tea & Me: What is a Keto Diet?
Dr. Will Cole: A ketogenic diet is high-fat, moderate protein, and low-carb. Unlike other low-carb diets it is centered around the idea that you get most of your caloric intake from healthy fats and only a moderate amount from protein.
PTM: The goal of the Keto Diet is to get your body to go into ketosis. What is ketosis?
WC: Ketosis is a state where your body turns from a sugar burner (glucose) to a fat burner (ketones). You are in ketosis when you are solely using ketones as your fuel. We’ve been told for years that glucose is necessary for energy when that is just not the case. Our brains are made up of 60% fat and as babies we relied on fat in the form of breast milk for energy and development. It only makes sense that we feed our bodies exactly what it’s made of rather than depriving it.
PTM: How do you know if you’re in Ketosis?
WC: There are a few different ways to determine if you are in ketosis. You can measure the amount of ketones in your urine with urine strips, but the more keto-adapted you are the less accurate it is. These are better when you are first starting out on a ketogenic diet. You can also use a breath analyzer or a blood ketone meter which is the most accurate.
PTM: What are the benefits of the Keto Diet?
WC: The ketogenic diet was made popular for its ability to help reduce and in some cases, even eliminate, seizures in children with epilepsy. Now the research around the ketogenic diet has expanded to show that it can help everything from improving dementia, enhancing overall brain health, lowering inflammation, fighting cancer, rebalancing blood sugar, and so much more.
Losing weight is definitely an awesome benefit of the ketogenic diet but not the only reason to consider this way of eating. Anyone looking to lower inflammation, boost their energy, think clearer, and keep their blood sugar stabilized can benefit from the ketogenic diet.
PTM: What are some of the reasons a Keto Diet might not be good for someone?
WC: Overall, a ketogenic diet is safe for most people. However, anyone with a known health condition should talk with their doctor to determine if this is the best option for your health case and who can monitor your progress and make adjustments if necessary.
PTM: What can you eat on the Keto Diet?
WC: Most foods are allowed but specific foods can vary for each individual based on if someone has any dietary restrictions, food sensitivities, and how those foods fit into your daily macro requirements. Every person will require a different ratio of fat, protein, and carbs depending on your health goals, weight, and age. In general, wild-caught seafood, grass-fed beef, organic produce and clean healthy fats such as coconuts, olive oil, avocados, and ghee are great staples.
PTM: What should you avoid on the Keto Diet?
WC: All grains, most fruit, sugar, and legumes should be avoided. They are not only inflammatory, but they can raise your blood sugar and inhibit your body from reaching ketosis. Fruit is high in fructose, so it should be eaten in moderation with the main ones in your diet being low-fructose options such as limes, lemons, and berries.
PTM: Who might be a good fit for the Keto Diet?
WC: Since the ketogenic diet is designed to transition your body into using fat instead of sugar as fuel, those looking to rebalance their blood sugar and keep it stabilized can benefit greatly from eating this way. The Ketogenic Diet has so many other health benefits though, so it can really benefit a wide range of health conditions.
PTM: What are your top three tips for someone just getting started on the Keto Diet?
WC: Make sure to focus on clean, real food sources; avoid too many packaged “keto-friendly” snacks; and don’t be afraid of vegetables. They contain vital nutrients and can be incorporated into your diet without going over your carb limit.
Other Resources to Get You Started
If you’re just starting out with Keto, it may seem a little overwhelming. Here are a couple of helpful resources that may help you as you begin to re-think what you have in your kitchen and learn to shop for your new way of eating.
- Dr. Cole’s book Ketotarian: The (Mostly) Plant-Based Plan to Burn Fat, Boost Your Energy, Crush Your Cravings, and Calm Inflammation (Affiliate Link) combines “the best of plant-based diets with the best of keto into an easy-to-follow real food plan for boosting your health.”
- Order Keto meal kits and fully prepared meals online. Green Chef, KetoFridge, diettogo, Ketoned Bodies, True Fare and factor75 are some of these. With the fully prepared meals, some offer frozen, others offer fresh in cooler bags. If that’s something that’s important to you, you’ll want to read carefully to see which you prefer.
- Alex Reed with Bodyketosis offers a very helpful Quick Start Guide with a simple Keto meal plan. Be sure and check it out if you’re curious about what several days of eating on the keto diet could actually look like.
Dr. Cole says that if done correctly, you should be able to thrive on the Keto Diet diet indefinitely. Of course, every person’s situation is different, so again, it’s important to remember to work with your doctor who can monitor your progress and make any adjustments as needed.