Family enjoying picnic in sunny park.

How to Get Started on a Ketogenic Diet: A Beginner’s Guide


A ketogenic diet, also known as a low-carb high-fat (LCHF) diet, is a nutritional approach that involves consuming more fat and fewer carbohydrates than what you would typically find in a standard Western diet. The goal of this type of diet is to shift the body’s metabolism from relying on glucose for energy to using fat instead. This process is called “ketosis,” which occurs when your body burns through its stored glycogen reserves before turning to burning fat for fuel.

Why Choose a Ketogenic Diet?

There are many reasons why someone might choose to follow a ketogenic diet. For one thing, it can be an effective way to lose weight since reducing carbs often leads to reduced calorie intake. Additionally, some people report feeling better overall while following a keto diet due to improvements in blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity. Others may use a ketogenic diet therapeutically to manage certain health conditions such as epilepsy or Alzheimer’s disease.

Planning Your Keto Meals and Snacks

Apple slices with peanut butter on plate.

Meal planning is essential when following any dietary approach, but especially so with a ketogenic diet where specific macronutrient ratios must be maintained. To ensure success, plan out your meals ahead of time and make sure they fit within the guidelines of the diet. Some popular keto-friendly foods include:

Grass-fed meat and poultry

Fish and seafood


Non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens and cruciferous veggies

Healthy fats like avocado, nuts/seeds, oils, and dairy products like cheese and cream

When snacking, opt for high-fat options like nuts/seeds, hard-boiled eggs, cottage cheese, or smoked salmon. Avoid sugary snacks and processed junk foods.

How to Calculate Macros for a Ketogenic Diet

Macronutrients refer to the three main nutrients we need in our diets: protein, carbohydrate, and fat. On a ketogenic diet, the ratio of macronutrients should ideally look something like this:

Protein: 20% – 35% of total daily calories

Fat: 60% – 75% of total daily calories

Carbohydrate: less than 10% of total daily calories

To calculate your individual macro breakdown, first determine your total daily caloric needs based on factors like age, height, weight, activity level, etc. Then divide those calories into their respective macronutrient categories according to the above ratios. Make sure to track your progress regularly and adjust as needed to achieve optimal results.

Supplements for a Ketogenic Diet

While there is no need to take supplements on a ketogenic diet if you are eating a variety of whole foods, some individuals may benefit from additional support depending on their goals and health status. Here are a few common supplements used alongside a ketogenic diet:

MCT oil: Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are a type of saturated fat that can be easily digested and provide quick energy. Adding MCT oil to coffee or smoothies can help increase ketone production.

Exogenous ketones: These are manufactured ketones that can be taken as a supplement to aid in entering and maintaining ketosis. They may be beneficial for athletes or others who want to maximize performance while still adhering to a strict ketogenic diet.

Salt: Since sweating and urination increase ketone levels, adding extra salt to your diet can help prevent dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.

Exercise on a Ketogenic Diet

Mature woman jogging in park.

Regular exercise is important for overall health and wellbeing, regardless of whether you’re following a ketogenic diet or not. However, there are some unique considerations to keep in mind when exercising on a keto diet. First, make sure to hydrate properly before, during, and after workouts to avoid dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Second, consume enough carbohydrates pre-workout to top up your glycogen stores and provide energy for your workout. Finally, consider incorporating higher intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions into your routine since these tend to rely more heavily on ATP produced by the breakdown of muscle glycogen rather than just fat oxidation.


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