Keto Basics For Getting Started
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Keto Basics For Getting Started

13th September 2019

There are a lot of keto guides for beginners that get to the nitty-gritty scientific details of the subject. While we do recommend reading resources in depth we also understand that it takes time and effort to do so. We’ve condensed the information down to give you the most time efficient way to understand the basic principles.

Grilled salmon with broccoli

Origins of the ketogenic diet

The ketogenic diet is not a new concept and was coined in the 1920’s when doctors were able to successfully manage childhood epilepsy with a keto diet. However low carb and fasting diets have been used to treat epilepsy since the ancient Greek times.

What is ketosis?

The human body only has a couple of days worth of stored glucose (sugar). When you eat a ketogenic diet the body cannot replenish the depleted reserves of glucose. Once all of the glucose is used up the body will start using fat for energy.

The fat is either obtained through the diet or from your body's fat reserves. The fat undergoes a complex chemical process in the liver and the end result is the production of ketones. These ketones are then used for energy.

The body converts fat into ketones which the body uses for energy when it has run out of your body’s sugar reserves

Close up of beautiful delicious bacon

The benefit of ketones

Without the process of ketosis the body would have no way of turning fat into usable energy. Think of what would happen when your body runs out of glucose without ketones. Every cell in your body would be depleted of energy and your brain would very quickly stop functioning.

Ketones are a backup system to enable you to hunt for food (or grocery shop) even when you are starving

Protein to glucose

The third source of energy that your body can use is protein. Cells in the body still require some glucose to function. The body is capable of making the right amount of glucose needed by the cells by turning protein into glucose in the liver.

So even on a ketogenic diet your body is able to self regulate and produce the right amount of glucose to function. If you are consuming excess protein you may be kicked out of ketosis.

How long does it take to become keto adapted?

The amount of time it takes to deplete your glycogen storages is unique however usually it will take between 2-5 days. You will only know that you are in ketosis when your blood or urine has a high amount of ketones.

While it is not necessary to test for ketones it is a great tool for tracking your progress and understanding how your body reacts to carbohydrates.

Ways to produce ketones quicker:

  1. Intermittent fasting / fasting in general
  2. Exercising on an empty stomach
Ketogenic dishes in meal prep containers

How to test for ketones?

There are three ways of measuring ketones in the body: urine strips, breath ketone meters or blood ketone meters.

Urine strips are the cheapest and can tell you if you are in ketosis. However they only measure excess ketones in the urine and are therefore inaccurate in depicting the body's actual ketone levels. In time your body will stop producing excess ketones and only create what is needed. Even though your body is in ketosis the urine strips can give a negative result.

Breath ketone analyzers can give more or less accurate insight into your ketone levels. The larger upfront cost is balanced out by the fact that they are reusable unlike the blood ketone strips. They are accurate however not as accurate as blood ketone meters.

Blood ketone meters are the most accurate and the most expensive method of testing for ketones. It costs around a $1 every time you check your blood ketones. The draw back is getting used to pricking your finger to get a small drop of blood.

You do not need to measure ketones to follow a ketogenic diet

What are the keto macros?

Macros refers to the macronutrients carbohydrates, fat and protein that make up food.

Net carbs refer to the amount of carbohydrates in a food where the amount of fiber is subtracted.

Micronutrients on the other hand refer to the vitamins and minerals.

On a ketogenic diet:
60-75% of daily calories come from fat,
15-30% of calories come from protein,
5-10% of calories come from carbs.

You do not need to eat excess fat to stay in ketosis. Fat is high in calories and eating too much can easily increase overall calorie consumption. The only macronutrient that needs to be reached daily is protein.

Protein is the only goal you should hit daily. Carbs and fat are the upper limits to stay below.

Ketogenic dishes in meal prep containers

What is keto flu?

Keto flu usually happens in the first week when your body is adjusting to your new diet. Symptoms include brain fogginess, tiredness and fatigue. The keto flu isn’t the same for everyone. Factors like genes or lifestyle can affect how the keto flu impacts you.

In the first week of eating a ketogenic diet your body is flushing out water and sodium at a quicker rate causing you to feel tired or fatigued. Insulin in your body triggers the kidneys to hold on to water and sodium. So when you start eating a low carb diet, insulin levels drop and the kidneys flush out the water and sodium it was holding on to. Glycogen is stored with water, so when your body is using those up, some water is released as well. The body undergoes hormonal and cortisol changes during a transition to a ketogenic diet.

The best and easiest way to replenish your body’s water and sodium levels is to drink a bit more water than you normally would with added salt, magnesium and potassium.

  1. Add a pinch of unrefined salt to your water. Celtic sea salt as it has the highest levels of trace minerals.
  2. Add a pinch of magnesium flakes. Magnesium is also absorbed through the skin, so make your own spray or have a bath.
  3. Add a pinch of potassium is found in lite salt.
Ketogenic dishes in meal prep containers

Common Keto Questions Answered

Fruit juices
Soft drinks
Energy drinks
Iced tea
Diet sodas

Small quantities a few times a week:
Coconut water
Vegetable juices
Milk & soy milk

Allowed daily:
Coffee & tea (without sweeteners)
Bone broth

Add some lemon or lime, cucumber, mint leaves, fresh grated ginger or lemon grass.
Add a pinch of salt and lite salt and magnesium for an electrolyte bomb to help navigate the keto flu.

Net carbs refer to the amount of carbohydrates in a food where the amount of fiber is subtracted.

After a while of following a ketogenic diet you will start to get a good grasp of what foods are allowed. Especially if you have a blood or breath ketone meter you can keep track of whether you are in ketosis without tracking your macros.

Our meal plans are designed so you don't have to track your macros!

How long you should follow a keto diet for depends on your personal goals. Speak to your medical practitioner regarding your health and wellness.

The bottom line is drinking alcohol will impact ketosis but you can still drink alcohol if you really want to. Make sure to choose low carb alcohol, such as wine. Spirits such as vodka or whiskey are great options however avoid the sugary drinks that go alongside them. Sugary delicious cocktails are probably the worst for your keto diet.

Some individuals report getting stronger effects from alcohol as well as worse hangovers.

Ketoacidosis is a complication of type 1 diabetes where the body has produced a dangerous amount of ketones. Always consult with a medical professional when undertaking a diet change.

Yes. The ketogenic diet does not hinder muscle gain if you are getting adequate protein in your diet and hitting the gym. Carbohydrates are not needed to lift weights!

Staying hydrated is the key to feeling well during the first week of starting a keto diet. Also add some Celtic sea salt, magnesium and potassium to your water. This will replenish any lost electrolytes.

Contrary to popular belief the ketogenic diet isn't all about the fat. Fat bombs are great for increasing the amount of total calories consumed, however, that is all they are good for. Avoid fat bombs and get your daily energy from more nutritious foods. Macadamia nuts are high fat, low carb and have amazing nutrition.

If you are comfortable with changing and substituting ingredients in restaurant meals it is possible to eat a ketogenic diet in a restaurant. When in doubt have grilled steak, fish or chicken with a side salad without dressing. Ask for some olive oil and lemon juice to dress the salad.

Interested in creating new habits?

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