“One of the best meal planning tips I’ve ever received is to structure breakfast and lunch so that you don’t have to think too much about it,” says Emily Bartlett, co-founder of Real Plans. “If you’re okay with repetition, it’s ideal to have a simple selection of recipes for breakfast—including some that can be taken on the go. For lunch, go ahead and use your leftovers with a fresh green salad, and be sure to include a dressing that you really love.”
On the other hand, the types of foods you’ll avoid eating on the keto, low-carb diet are likely the same ones you are, or previously were, accustomed to getting lots of your daily calories from before starting this way of eating. This includes items like fruit, processed foods or drinks high in sugar, those made with any grains or white/wheat flour, conventional dairy products, desserts, and many other high-carb foods (especially those that are sources of “empty calories”).
Mistakes, refinements, pivots, corrections, whatever your want to call them… These changes are the vehicle that takes us from stage to stage of the Ketogenic Hierarchy of Needs. The good news is they are also the vehicle to break through plateaus and reach new performance levels. Changing habits is tough, no doubt about it, but have fun and go for it!
There are several medical studies — such as two conducted by the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center for the University of Iowa, and the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, for example — that show the ketogenic diet is an effective treatment for cancer and other serious health problems. (12)
For a period of 3-4 days up to 2 weeks, you will be eating the minimal amount of carbohydrates and sugar (20 grams net carbs maximum per day). After this you may be able to add in small amounts of net carbs if your body can handle it, but probably not more than 50 net carbs total per day.  This is tricky, because some people can't handle more than the 20 net carbs even after they have adjusted to ketosis.  Others can handle 50 net carbs and easily stay in ketosis.  If you feel fine at 20 net carbs and it doesn't bother you, than there's no reason to make any changes.  You can test your ketosis by how you feel, or by actually testing - which is discussed in section 3.
A keto diet has shown to improve triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels most associated with arterial buildup. More specifically low-carb, high-fat diets show a dramatic increase in HDL and decrease in LDL particle concentration compared to low-fat diets.3A study in the long-term effects of a ketogenic diet shows a significant reduction in cholesterol levels, body weight, and blood glucose. Read more on keto and cholesterol >
In the first week, many people report headaches, mental fogginess, dizziness, and aggravation. Most of the time, this is the result of your electrolytes being flushed out, as ketosis has a diuretic effect. Make sure you drink plenty of water and keep your sodium intake up.6One of the fathers of keto, Dr. Phinney, shows that electrolyte levels (especially sodium) can become unbalanced with low carb intake.

This is one reason why tracking your food intake should be a priority. There are apps like Cronometer, MyFitnessPal, and LoseIt! that allow you to record all your foods for the day, and each has a large database of fresh foods, packaged foods, and restaurant meals, plus you can enter in your own recipes. This way you can know exactly what macro- and micro-nutrients you’re getting, with no guess work.
Although studies have shown that the keto diet can reduce seizures for children with epilepsy, there is no evidence indicating that keto helps with other brain disorders or improves mental cognition, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Some studies show that keto may lower blood sugar for people with type 2 diabetes, but there is not enough long-term research to determine whether it’s safe and effective for diabetics.
Absolutely Steve. I love ranch salad dressing, cheese, cream cheese, steak, shrimp, and some vegetables. I am making “fakery” to satisfy my sweet tooth. (Fakery is baking using almond or coconut flour instead of wheat and white flour, and Swerve sweetener instead of sugar (made with Erythritol which has no impact on GI and is good for your teeth) I am over half way to my goal already. Thank you for your article. I appreciate your dedication, knowledge and sharing with the world. (and your cute animal gifs)

The keto diet isn’t new, and it’s been around for nearly a century. It was originally developed to treat people with epilepsy. In the 1920s, researchers found that raised levels of ketones in the blood led to fewer epileptic seizures in patients. The keto diet is still used today to treat children with epilepsy who don’t respond well to anti-epileptic drugs.[2] 
The ketogenic diet for weight loss is based on the idea that driving the body into ketosis will maximize fat loss. Ketosis is a normal metabolic process that occurs when the body does not have enough glucose stores for energy. When these stores are depleted, the body resorts to burning stored fat for energy instead of carbs.  This process produces acids called ketones, which build up in the body and can be used for energy. (2)

Hi Lauren, I just started this diet. Any tips for beginning? I am not sure I am taking in enough throughout the day. I snack on cheese and red grapes, raspberries throughout the day. I have a protein shake for breakfast and lunch. and then this evening I am having a chicken salad with avocado and romaine. Like I said I don’t think I am taking in enough throughout the day.
Although a standard ketogenic diet is even more restrictive in terms of carb intake, a “moderate keto diet” (just as some folks have followed a modified Atkins diet) is another option that will very likely still be able to provide substantial weight loss results and other improvements in symptoms. Including slightly more carbs can be very useful for maintenance, allow for more flexibility, provide a higher fiber intake, and overall may feel more sustainable long term socially and psychologically.
The second tip is to “carb-up”, meaning to eat high fat, low carb all day, and at night basically eat all carbs, no fat. Carbs like sweet potatoes, plantains, and grains, are some of the prefered foods when practicing “carb-up”. The reason why the “carb-up” practice can be helpful is because, once you are fat-adapted, your body burns carbohydrates first, and then goes into the fat-burning mode but, once you increase the amount of carbs eaten, your body’s ability to better burn fat is increased. To sum up “carb-up”: helps you go from fat-adapted back to the fat-burning mode.
If you talk to keto aficionados, you’ll find many save leftovers from dinner for the next day’s lunch. Cook once, eat twice—your keto diet menu for lunch is solved. If you don’t like leftovers or if you’re craving something different for lunch, the mid-day meal can be as simple as a scoop of chicken salad. Or, hit the salad bar at a local grocery store and top a bowl of greens with some good-fat goodies. You can also try one of these simple keto lunches:

“One of the best meal planning tips I’ve ever received is to structure breakfast and lunch so that you don’t have to think too much about it,” says Emily Bartlett, co-founder of Real Plans. “If you’re okay with repetition, it’s ideal to have a simple selection of recipes for breakfast—including some that can be taken on the go. For lunch, go ahead and use your leftovers with a fresh green salad, and be sure to include a dressing that you really love.”
After the initial transition period (often referred to as the fat-adaptation or keto-adaptation period), most people find they gain a ton of mental and physical energy.  They don’t have energy crashes in the afternoons and they often sleep a bit less but wake up feeling refreshed.  They also tend to eat less because they don’t feel hungry or have cravings.

It also interferes with some of the social aspects of food, considering how limiting it is. No cake on your birthday. No pie on Thanksgiving. No chocolate truffles on Valentine's Day. Boo to that! If you consider yourself someone who loves to eat and takes great joy in the social experience of a good meal, then the restriction of this diet may be emotionally unhealthy.


Hi Emily, I was also really nervous about the amount of fat when I first started too! Just trust it, give it a couple of weeks to work its magic and then you will definitely feel more comfortable! I actually used a couple of online calculators for macros and took the average of what they all said. When starting keto, remember your net carbs should be under 20 grams, so use that as a guideline when calculating the rest of your macros. Let me know if you need anything else!
I came across your site yesterday, signed-up, and am a fan; thank you for all your exhaustive efforts which I have yet to explore. I have no issues re-welcoming more fatty, whole, and nutritious items into my daily regimen and am a healthy-eater to begin with; that is, I choose quality any day. Recently, I decided to give Keto a go. I don’t like “diet” nor am I a die-ter. I have to lose about 50lbs and began the transition (to Keto) a week ago. How? I removed all bread-related carbs, pasta, and the treats I’d been indulging in for a few years now.

According to the USDA, a 100-gram serving of red tomatoes has 3.89 grams of carbohydrates.43 You may add this fruit to your ketogenic diet safely and gain its beneficial nutrients, particularly lycopene. Researchers from Ohio State University suggest that this antioxidant may help protect your skin from sun damage, which may result in a lowered risk of skin cancer tumors.44
The Ketogenic Diet is unlike any other diet in the world in that it utilizes a high fat, minimal carbohydrate and moderate protein system in order to reset your body’s ability to burn unwanted, stored fat. By restricting  carbohydrates that are converted into glucose, you begin the journey to re-program your metabolism to start burning stored fats for fuel and energy instead of first burning beneficial glycogen that is stored in your muscles.

Some people like to weigh their food when they first transition from a normal diet to a ketogenic diet, in order to have a fuller understanding of the amount of carbohydrates that they consume, although this can be used just in the beginning as a guide. But ultimately no, you do not have to weigh your food in order to be successful with a keto diet.


Since then, it’s the same 10-15 pounds that I keep losing and gaining back. Love your mantras- I’ve written a few down in my journal and some just ring in my head like a music track- never two in a row!! Can’t outrun your fork!! The one about losing weight, looking good in the mirror, then world domination is my favorite. With keto, it gets me fantastic and very quick results and I go with a recarb meal (not recarb day) once a week. Eat a little more carbs after workouts. Now with the strips, I can see if what I’m doing post-workout keeps me in keto. I wish this article had come out a couple of months ago- I did hours of research before going keto, much of it bland, definitely no animal gifs. Thanks for all your resources- they are so eye-opening and so motivating (and funny)!! Great knowing that if I feel like I need the boost with 1-1 coaching it is available. Keep up the outstanding work!

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