What is Keto? A Beginner’s Guide to the Keto Diet


* This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.

 

If you’re reading this at the time of publication in early 2019, then you’ve more than likely heard about the Keto Diet. But what is Keto, exactly? And why has it gained so much popularity in recent months and years?

Disclaimer: Before we dive in, I must make it clear that I am not a doctor, nutritionist or health-care professional of any kind. Any information in this article is for educational purposes only. You should always talk to your doctor before starting any new diet. 

 

What is the Keto Diet?

The Keto diet (aka. the Ketogenic diet) is a high fat, moderate protein, very low carb diet that guarantees weight loss, increased energy, less inflammation, sharper brain function and overall better health.

Similar in theory to the Atkins diet that swept the nation in the ‘90s and early 2000s, Keto severely limits carbohydrates, which means no bread, no pasta, no sugar and no carb-heavy fruits and vegetables like apples, bananas, carrots and potatoes. 

But the Keto diet limits carbs even more than the Atkins diet and really emphasizes the importance of consuming healthy fats. In fact, it’s generally recommended that at least 70% of your diet be made up of fat on the Keto diet.

This emphasis on eating fat goes against so much of what we’ve been “fed” (pun intended) over the past few decades about fat being bad, but it makes more sense once you realize that anything claiming to be “low-fat” typically has a higher sugar content, and we all know sugar is bad the body. 

Don’t believe me? Read the nutritional information on a carton of full-fat milk or cream and then compare it to the nutritional info. on a carton of skim milk. You’ll see that while the fat content is lower in a glass of skim milk, the sugars are through the roof! 

 

Keto and Homesteading

The Keto diet is a great fit for the homesteading lifestyle!

While homemade breads, carb-heavy fruits and veggies and home-baked sugary treats are off-limits, there are many Keto-friendly foods that homesteaders can make from scratch and even grow or raise themselves.

These include…

  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Full-fat milk & dairy 
  • Grass-fed meats
  • Leafy greens
  • Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.)
  • Tomatoes & peppers
  • Berries (in limited quantities)
  • Lots of fresh herbs
  • Most tree nuts
  • BUTTER!!!

It’s a homesteader’s dream! (Are you beginning to see why I’m actually excited about this diet?)

 

Keto is a lifestyle, not a fad diet

The science behind Keto is actually pretty cool, and it’s actually what made me finally try it out. Because you see, I am NOT a dieter.

I think the last time I actually dieted was when I was about 16 years old and was vain and wanted to be skinny and hot. (Sounds like a 16-year-old mentality, doesn’t it?) But otherwise I’ve never been a big believer in “diets.” To me, they are almost always fads that don’t last and aren’t sustainable. So I’ve always believed more in an overall healthy eating approach: whole foods, lots of fruits and veggies, lean meats and limited amounts of processed foods.

The Keto diet is all the rage right now, but what exactly is it? Learn Keto basics, including the science behind how it can help you lose weight, feel more energized and even improve your brain function. Before you try keto, you've gotta read this! #keto #beginnerketoBut after I had my daughter, even eating a healthy, whole, homemade foods wasn’t enough to shed the weight, and now here I am, 50 lbs. overweight and in need of some sort of healthy, sustainable change to my diet. Because what worked for me at 16 ain’t workin’ for this mama anymore. Who feels me on this one?

And so, I began researching some of the hot diets today to try to see what all the fuss was about and see if just maybe I could find something that I could actually stick with for the longterm.

I checked out Whole 30 and Paleo, but found that they were just too restrictive for me and for the foods I really enjoy eating. I knew I would probably try one of these diets out, feel overly restricted and then eventually give it up and gain all the way back plus more. But this time I’m really looking for a lasting change; A lifestyle rather than a diet. And then I found Keto.

 

The Science Behind Keto

The Ketogenic Diet is called so because when you follow the diet properly, your body goes into a metabolic state called “Ketosis,” which essentially means that it switches from burning carbohydrates for energy and stats burning fat instead. This means that you also start burning body fat, which means weight loss is sure to follow.

Here’s a breakdown of what happens during ketosis:

  1. You severely limit your carb intake, which  signals to your body that it has to find an alternative source of fuel, and so your body starts burning fat instead of carbs.
  2. When your body starts burning fat as its primary source of fuel, it goes into ketosis. This means that your liver starts converting fat into  ketones, which end up in your bloodstream and are carried to all parts of your body to use as fuel.
  3. When you are in ketosis, your body becomes a highly efficient fat-burning machine. It starts to breakdown body fat and use that as fuel. Of course, when you start burning body fat, you begin to lose weight very quickly.

Other benefits of ketosis are said to include better brain function/less fogginess, lower blood sugar, less inflammation (because most inflammatory foods are carb-heavy), more energy and feeling fuller longer without the sugar crashes and hunger associated with a calorie-restricted diet that is still high in carbs.

Now, let me say this again: I am not a health professional, nor am I an expert on the Ketogenic Diet. 

If you’re interested in the Keto Diet and want to learn more about the science behind it, I strongly recommend both talking to your doctor first AND doing some more in-depth research yourself. 

Here are some articles and resources that I’ve found helpful:

 

How I’m approaching Keto

The Keto diet is all the rage right now, but what exactly is it? Learn Keto basics, including the science behind how it can help you lose weight, feel more energized and even improve your brain function. Before you try keto, you've gotta read this! #keto #beginnerketoAs a homesteader, I’m all about homegrown and homemade whenever possible, and supplementing with store-bought whole foods as much as I can (ie. I’m not about to start buying pre-made, processed, Keto-friendly TV dinners or anything).

I also believe in eating more plants than meat as a general rule, both for health reasons and in the name of frugality. So my approach to Keto is as follows:

  • Cut out sugar (including all forms of refined sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc,) cut out all grains (pasta, rice, bread, etc.) and severely limit all other carbs. 
  • Eat lots of healthy fats (duh), including coconut oil, avocados and avocado oil, olives and olive oil, lard and butter, oily fish (salmon, sardines, tuna, trout, etc.), high-fat & low-carb nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, pecans, chia seeds, hemp hearts, etc.) and full fat dairy (full fat cream, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, etc.)
  • Eat lots of low-carb vegetables, particularly cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.) and leafy greens (kale, spinach, lettuce, chard, etc.). Also include colourful low-carb vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and asparagus. And of course, onions and garlic. Always a tasty and nutritious addition!
  • Include reasonable amounts of other healthy proteins like eggs, chicken, fish and red meat (organic free-range, wild-caught and/o grass-fed is best!) 

While many people think you can just sit around eating a pound of bacon a day on Keto, I prefer a healthier, more balanced approach. (Although I’m not gonna lie, I love me some bacon every once in a while too!)

Note: When it comes to carbs, most foods have at least some carbs. On Keto, you don’t need to limit all carbs necessarily. What you want to do is limit your net carbs. In order to find out the net amount of carbs in a particular food, subtract the amount of fiber (in grams) from the total grams of carbs to get the net grams of carbs in a serving of food.

 

Caveats and cautionary advice about the Keto Diet

 

Ketosis vs. Ketoacidosis

While Keto is celebrated for helping to lower blood sugar, and can even be used to help regulate and lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes, it can be dangerous for people suffering from Type 1 diabetes. This is because without the right balance of fat, protein and carbs, people with diabetes can go into something called “ketoacidosis.”

Unlike ketosis, ketoacidosis is very dangerous and can even be fatal. While most people without diabetes, and even those with Type 2 diabetes don’t necessarily need to worry about ketoacidosis, people with Type 1 diabetes are at greater risk of developing ketoacidosis when following a Ketogenic Diet. 

Again, I highly recommend talking to your doctor or health care professional before embarking on a Ketogenic Diet plan. This is especially true for anyone suffering from diabetes (Type 1 or 2). 

 

The Keto Flu

Another thing you should know about is the “Keto Flu.” The Keto Flu is not really a flu, it’s simply the name that has been given to the feeling that some people get when they are first starting Keto and their body is transitioning from burning carbs to burning fat.

Some people report feeling lethargic and under-the-weather, much like you would when suffering from the flu. It usually starts about 24-48 hours after transitioning to a ketogenic diet and should pass within a week or two at the most. 

Not everybody experiences the Keto Flu. So far I haven’t experienced any of the Keto flu symptoms. In fact, I’ve felt great since day one! (Knock on wood).

 

Know Your Macros

One last caveat about the Keto Diet is that, in order to be successful, you’ve gotta know your macros.

Macros (short for “macronutrients”) include fat, protein and carbs. So knowing your macros means knowing the balance and ratios of fat, protein and carbs in your diet. 

In order to be successful on Keto, you need to figure out exactly how much of each macronutrient your body needs. In general, you want to aim for about 70% fats, 25% protein and 5% carbs.

Of course, everybody is a little different and has different health goals, and so every body needs something a little bit different. 

I use this macronutrient calculator to help me calculate my macros.

 

How do I know if I’m in ketosis?

So how do you know if you’re in ketosis? 

There are three main ways to know for sure if your body is in ketosis:

 

1. Urine testing strips

You can use these urine testing strips to measure the level of ketones in your body. You pee on the strip and then match the colour of the strip to the colour spectrum on the bottle of testing strips. The darker the strip, the higher the level of ketones in your blood. This is what I’m currently using to measure my ketones.

 

2. The breath test

Ketones are made up of three different molecules, one of which is acetone. Acetone (the same ingredient in nail polish remover) is naturally occurring in the body, but on Keto your body will produce more acetone, which can leave your breath smelling slightly sweet and metallic. This is a normal side effect of ketosis. 

 

3. Blood testing

You can also test your ketones with a blood glucose and ketone testing kit. Similar to testing your blood glucose when you have diabetes, this monitor will read your glucose and kept levels. While you could use this method to test your ketones right from the beginning, I would start with the urine testing strips and then move onto blood testing after a while of following the Keto Diet since urine strips eventually become less effective once your body stops excreting ketones through urine.

 

Easing into a healthier lifestyle, one good habit at a time

If you’re signed up for my weekly newsletter, you probably received an email I sent out just after Christmas (2018) about how I have a big, scary goal of losing 50 lbs. by December 31st, 2019. While I could have jumped on the weight loss bandwagon with everybody else on January 1st, I knew it would be better to ease myself into a routine and develop healthier habits, one-by-one, in order to create sustainable, lasting change.

So I used the month of January to research different diets and find something that would work for me. I wanted a lifestyle change, not just a fad diet, so I landed on Keto and decided that I would start on February 1st.

I used the month of January to get into some other healthy habits that would get me into a better physical and mental space to take on Keto. One of them was giving up alcohol completely. My goal is to go the whole year. I’ll reassess as I go (especially because wine is allowed on Keto!) but for now I don’t miss it at all. My head is clear and I feel happy and healthy and in the right state of mind to go after my big goals.

Another thing that’s been a game-changer is going to bed early, getting a full 7 to 8 hours of sleep and then waking up early (usually around 5 a.m.) This gives me the chance to start my day off right. I get lots of work done before my husband and daughter wake up, I take time to stretch and meditate and start my day on the right foot.

So as I said, my plan was to start Keto on February 1st, but after a super carb-heavy meal at our annual Ukrainian New Year celebration, I literally woke up the next morning and knew I was ready to start Keto right away.

This is the exact same way I finally conquered my goal of quitting smoking two years ago. I woke up one morning and I was just done with cigarettes. I quit smoking that day and I’ve been a non-smoker ever since! I knew if I could quit smoking this way, I could start Keto this way too, so I decided to start that day when I was feeling good and motivated.

This did mean that I had to go out and spend a chunk of our February food budget on January 21st so that I  had enough Keto-friendly food in the house to get going without falling off the wagon. Plus, I figured starting early would give me a week to feel out the diet and get used to it.

So far I give it a massive two thumbs up! While I haven’t lost any weight yet, I already feel better, my skin has started to clear up and I’m surprisingly full most of the time.

 

What my day looks like on Keto

 

Early Morning

The Keto diet is all the rage right now, but what exactly is it? Learn Keto basics, including the science behind how it can help you lose weight, feel more energized and even improve your brain function. Before you try keto, you've gotta read this! #keto #beginnerketo

 

My favourite part about Keto is starting my day with a Bulletproof coffee, which is essentially a fatty coffee that’s mixed with heavy cream and healthy fats.

You could just mix some coconut oil or butter in with some coffee and heavy cream, but personally I love the following latte-style Bulletproof coffees…

 

“Cinnamon Dolce” Bulletproof Coffee

I especially love this recipe from Ruth Soukup from Living Well Spending Less. It uses a dash of cinnamon and reminds me of a Cinnamon Dolce latte from Starbucks, minus the sugar:

  • 1 cup freshly brewed coffee
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp. heavy cream (I usually pour a little more)
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • Blend on high for 15-20 seconds and enjoy:)

 

Bulletproof Mocha

I’m also a bit of a chocoholic, so I invested in some organic cacao powder (no added sugar and zero net grams of carbs) as well as this upgraded cocoa butter, which is high in fat but zero carbs and has a hint of creamy chocolate flavour to it. This is how I make my Keto mocha:

  • 1 cup freshly brewed coffee
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp. upgraded cocoa butter (it comes in solid chunks so I estimate about a tablespoon)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp. organic cacao powder
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • Blend on high of 15-20 seconds

 

Breakfast/Brunch

The Keto diet is all the rage right now, but what exactly is it? Learn Keto basics, including the science behind how it can help you lose weight, feel more energized and even improve your brain function. Before you try keto, you've gotta read this! #keto #beginnerketoIntermittent fasting is recommended on Keto as well, so I’ve been starting my day with a cup or two of Bulletproof coffee and a couple glasses of water to get hydrated, then I make my Keto brunch around 10 or 11 a.m.  These are a few of my favourite Keto-friendly breakfasts so far:

  • Scrambled eggs with sour cream instead of milk whipped into the eggs
  • Broccoli Cheddar Omelette made with the homegrown broccoli we still have in the freezer 
  • Baked eggs on avocado with cheese and homemade salsa

Yum, yum, yum. I think mornings are my new favourite on Keto. No wonder I can get up at 5 a.m. now!

 

Lunch

For lunch, I’ll usually have Keto-friendly leftovers from the night before or I’ll have a Keto-friendly snack platter that looks something like this:

  • Cheese
  • Olives
  • Sliced tomato
  • Sliced avocado
  • Raw almonds
  • Keto-friendly veggies and dip (tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, broccoli, etc.)

 

Dinner

The Keto diet is all the rage right now, but what exactly is it? Learn Keto basics, including the science behind how it can help you lose weight, feel more energized and even improve your brain function. Before you try keto, you've gotta read this! #keto #beginnerketo

 

For dinner I change it up between meat and veggie main courses and often have a salad on the side with leto-friendly ingredients like olives, tomatoes, cucumbers and avocado. I add some healthy fat to my main course in the form of creamy sauce, cheese or healthy oils. So far I’ve had:

  • Chicken Parmesan (without the breadcrumbs)
  • Keto Meatballs (with hemp hearts instead of breadcrumbs) 
  • Broccoli Baked with Cheese and Curried Homemade Mayo
  • Chicken Caesar Salad
  • Taco Salad (no chips)
  • Veggie (or add chicken or shrimp) Stir-Fry with Cabbage “Noodles”

 

Join me on my Keto journey

If you’re on my regular mailing list (and if you’re not, you should be!) look forward to some Keto-friendly recipes coming soon!

If, however, you’d specifically like to follow my weight-loss journey (and hold me accountable for sticking with my goals!) then click below to receive regular updates on my progress with Keto, along with Keto-friendly recipes and health and fitness inspo. to help you achieve your BIG health and fitness goals this year too! 

>> Sign up to receive health & fitness updates from The House & Homestead, including Keto-friendly recipes, health & wellness tips and inspiration from the front lines of my own weight-loss journey. <<

Wishing you health, wealth & the courage to go after your BIG goals this year 🙂

I'm a modern homesteader on a mission to transform our house into a safe, sustainable, self-reliant sanctuary and to help you create, grow and live a good life by transforming your house into a thriving homestead too!

 

 

 

 

The Keto diet is all the rage right now, but what exactly is it? Learn Keto basics, including the science behind how it can help you lose weight, feel more energized and even improve your brain function. Before you try keto, you've gotta read this! #keto #beginnerketo


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ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
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I’m not always so good at sharing all of the awesome stuff I’ve got going on in life and business here on social media. When you’re a full time homesteader, business owner, editor, mom and wife, sometimes IG falls by the wayside 😬

But I just had to pop in this morning to let you know that I’m doing something I’ve never done before, and offering anyone who would like to try out my online membership program—The Society Of Self-Reliance—the opportunity to join for just $1.

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I grew up in Vancouver and had pretty much zero experience homesteading before my husband, Ryan and I decided we wanted to escape the rat race, become less dependent on the modern industrial food system (and all modern industrialized systems), and dove head first into this lifestyle around a decade ago.

We packed up and moved to Vancouver Island where we live now, started our first garden, and the rest is pretty much history.

(Well, actually that’s not true… There have been A LOT of ups and downs, successes and failures, wins and losses, struggles, challenges and pivotal moments along the way, but those are stories for another day).

Over the past few years, our decision to follow a less conventional path that aims to break free (at least in some part) from “the system” has been affirmed over and over again. We all know for a fact now that our food system, healthcare system, financial system, transportation system and so much more are all really just a house of cards built on shaky ground. We’ve been lucky so far, but sooner or later it’s all liable to collapse.

But preparedness and security isn’t the only thing that drives us… The peace of mind I get knowing that everything we grow is 100% organic, and that the ingredients in our food, medicine, personal and household products are safe and natural is worth more than anything I could buy at the grocery store.

(I’m not perfect though. Not by a long shot. I still rely on the grocery store, on modern medicine, and on many modern conveniences to get by, but I balance it as much as I can:)

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I’m all about practical gifts; Gifts that will truly make life easier and contribute to my and my family’s wellbeing. And our family includes our animals!

One of the ways we make sure our chickens are taken care of is by letting them free range during the day, but making sure they’re locked up and safe from predators at night. But who wants to be up at the crack of dawn to open the coop, or wake up to a bloodbath because you forgot to close the coop the night before?

(The answer is obviously no one… No one wants that).

Automating our homesteading tasks as much as possible allows us to worry about other things and saves us a ton of time. Plus, it makes sure that things get taken care of, whether we remember or not.

Using an automatic chicken door has been a GAME CHANGER for us. It’s one of those lesser known homestead tools that can make all the difference, and I’m always recommending one to anyone who keeps chickens!

This chicken door from @chickcozy_ is so easy to install and use too, and right now you can get one for a steal during their Black Friday sale!

Save over $40 off an automatic chicken door, plus use my coupon code for an ADDITIONAL DISCOUNT!

Don’t forget to check out their chicken coop heaters too, which are also on sale right now:)

Whether you’re shopping for yourself or looking for the perfect gift for the chicken lover who has everything (which might also be yourself;) the @chickcozy_ automatic chicken door is one Christmas gift that won’t soon be forgotten!

Comment “Chicken” below for more info and to get my exclusive coupon code! 🐓

#chicken #chickens #chickendoor #chickcozyautodoor #chickcozy #chickensofinstagram #chickensofig #chickenlover #homesteadlife
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Yes, you read that right…

Modern Homesteading Magazine is coming to an end.

This decision has not come easily, but there’s a season for everything, and more and more I’m feeling called to transition out of this season and into the next in both life and business.

And so this final farewell issue is bittersweet. On the one hand, it’s the first ever annual issue, with 100 pages packed with brand new content that celebrates the best of the past 32 issues!

And it’s the first issue I’ve ever offered in PRINT!

But on the other hand, it marks the end of an era, and of this publication that I’ve absolutely had the pleasure of creating and sharing with you.

If you’re a digital subscriber, you will not be charged a renewal fee going forward, and will continue to have access to the digital library until your subscription runs out. As part of your subscription, you’re able to download and/or print each issue of you like, so that you never lose access to the hundreds of articles and vast amount of information in each issue.

Rather than subscribing, you can now purchase an all-access pass for a one-time fee of just $20, which gives you access to our entire digital library of issues.

Plus, for a limited time, when you purchase an all-access pass you’ll also get a gift certificate for a second all-access pass to gift to someone else.

I’m also still taking preorders for the print version of this special edition issue, but only for a few more weeks!

When you preorder the print issue, you’ll also get a digital copy of the special edition issue (this issue only), and will receive a print copy in the mail later this year (hopefully by Christmas so long as there are no shipping delays!)

Click the link in my profile or visit modernhomesteadingmagazine.com to check out the latest issue, purchase an all-access pass to the digital library and/or preorder the print issue today!

Thanks to everyone who has read the magazine over the past 4 years. I’m humbled and grateful for your support, and can’t wait to share whatever comes next:)

#modernhomesteading #homesteading #homesteadersofinstagram
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It’s easy to romanticize homesteading, but the truth is that those homegrown vegetables, those freshly laid eggs, that loaf of bread rising on the counter, and that pantry full of home-canned food takes time, effort and dedication. It doesn’t “just happen” overnight!

But if you work on learning one new skill at a time and gain confidence in it before moving onto the next, one day you’ll be looking back and marvelling at how far you’ve come.

That’s where I’m at now. Life today looks a lot different than it did 10 years ago, when our homesteading and self-reliance journey was just beginning.

Back then we still lived in our city condo and were just beginning to dabble in all of this stuff. But my husband Ryan and I felt a sense urgency to start pursuing a more self-reliant lifestyle, and we committed to taking small steps, one day at a time to make that vision a reality.

Over the years we’ve continued to put one foot in front of the other, adding new skills and tackling new projects along the way that have helped us get to where we are today.

While there’s always more we want to learn and do, as I look around me right now, I’m so grateful that we took those first steps, especially considering what’s happened in the world over the past few years!

If you’re also feeling the urgency to take the first (or next) steps toward a more self-reliant life, this is your final reminder that today is the last day to join The Society of Self-Reliance and start levelling up your homesteading and self-sufficiency skills so that you’ve got what it takes to:

• Grow your own groceries
• Stock your pantry
• Create a natural home
• Get prepared
• Learn other important life skills like time management for homesteaders, goal setting and how to become your own handyman

And more!

If you’ve been feeling called to level up your self-reliance skills (because let’s be honest, we’re in for a wild ride these next few years with everything going on in the world), now is the time to heed that call.

Link in profile to enroll before midnight tonight, or go to thehouseandhomestead.com/society

#homesteading #selfreliance #selfsufficiency #homesteadingskills #preparedness
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