Keto 101 - The Beginners Guide To The Ketogenic Diet

What is Ketosis? 

Ketosis is simply a metabolic state where your body uses its fat stores as its main source of energy. 

This usually occurs as a result of reduced calorie and carbohydrate intake. When in ketosis, your energy supply comes from ketones in your blood rather than the glucose found in your blood and tissues. 

What Are Ketones? 

Ketones are a by-product created by your body when fat is burned rapidly. The presence of ketones in your body above the normal level is indicative that you have entered a state of metabolic ketosis. 

This essentially means that your body has begun to utilise fat stores to fuel its everyday functions. 

Is Ketosis The Same As A Ketogenic Or 'Keto' Diet? 

Ketosis is the metabolic state achieved through a ketogenic or keto diet. This type of diet aims to replicate the effects of fasting through calorie restriction and reduced carbohydrate intake. When you fast, your body utilises fat instead of carbohydrates as the main source of fuel.  

What Are The Health Benefits? 

Research has shown ketogenic diets to have a positive effect on lowering the risk factors  and associated factors of (amongst others): 

  • Cardiovascular disease 

  • High cholesterol levels 

  • Increased blood pressure. 

  • Type 2 diabetes 

  • Visceral fat reduction 

  • Weight loss 

How Does The Body Respond When Switching To A Ketogenic Diet? 

Everyone responds differently to being in a ketogenic state. Not all side effects are experienced and most subside as the body becomes more adept at burning fat as its main source of energy. 

In the early stages, fatigue is common. This is the initial adaptation response to the reduced intake of carbohydrate and the body shifting from burning carbohydrates (glucose) to burning fats (ketones). 

The body begins to break down its stored glucose leading to the release of a lot of water, which is removed by the kidneys. As a result, dehydration can be common and should be compensated for by increasing water intake. 

As ketone levels in the body rise, some convert to a chemical called acetone, which can lead to a metallic taste in the mouth. Some people on a ketogenic diet may also have experienced some initial hair loss. There is no conclusive evidence however, that ketogenic diets lead to hair loss. Hair loss may occur as a result of numerous factors, including stress or a reduced uptake of iron. 

Entering ketosis can take anywhere from 3 days to a few weeks depending on the individual 

How Do I Know If I AIn Ketosis? 

It is possible to test whether one has entered ketosis within a few days after embarking on a ketogenic dietAn easy to use and obtain ketone test strip will reveal the level of ketone bodies in the urine. If the concentration is high enough, a state of ketosis has been successfully achieved! Note: Any change to the strip color indicates changes in ketone levels but a true state of ketosis will be marked on the strip. 

There are other ways of determining whether one is in a ketogenic state. Changes in mood and alertness, along with a stronger odor in breath and urine are indicators. Many people also report better sleep and decreased appetite. 

What Makes a Diet Ketogenic?  

A ketogenic diet is a HIGH fat, MODERATE protein and LOW carbohydrate eating plan. Generally, you would aim for: 

70%-75% of you daily calories from fats 

20%-25% of your daily calories from protein 

5% of your daily calories from carbohydrates 

Trying to figure out your macronutrient (fats, protein and carbohydrate) percentages can be overwhelming. There are so many numbers coming at you and you just want to get started. 

As an example, for an 1,800 calorie per day diet 

75% fat means 1,350 calories from fat. Fat has 9 calories per gram = 150 g fat per day 

20% protein means 360 calories from protein. Protein has 4 calories per gram = 90 g protein per day 

5% carbohydrate means 90 calories from carbohydrate. Carbohydrate has 4 calories per gram = 22.5 g NET carbohydrate per day. 

Fiber is considered neutral.

NET carbohydrate = TOTAL carbohydrate - FIBER 

 ½ an avocado contains 9 g of carbohydrate and 7 g of fiber. By subtracting the fiber from the total carbohydrates count (9 g carbs - 7 g of fiber), you can calculate your net carbohydrate total to be 2 gThis 2 g amount is what is used when counting toward the daily carbohydrate limit. 

There are also some extremely effective ketogenic calculators and apps available for free and for purchase to make these calculations simpler. Using a tracker in the beginning is an important tool in getting your macronutrient levels dialed in and allows you to more effectively troubleshoot later. 

What Do You Eat On A Ketogenic Diet? 

Now comes the fun part. Eating! What foods do you buy when going grocery shopping for your ketogenic program? 

As with a Paleo diet, the most benefit is to be gained from eating nutrient dense, ethically raised and produced whole foods. Although packaged products may appear to fit in with the Ketogenic nutritional profile, they are not as nutritious.

Here is a sample Ketogenic grocery list to get you started:


(ethically sourced, grain and additive free) 


(visit for environmentally friendly options) 


(only if tolerated, raw, grass fed and/or organic) 

Fats & Oils 

(cold pressed, extra virgin, organic, grass-fed) 

  • Bacon 
  • Steak 
  • Ground beef 
  • Eggs 
  • Ribs (Pork or Beef) 
  • Roasts (Pork or Beef) 
  • Pork Loin, Chops, or Steaks 
  • Chicken (breasts, thighs, wings) 
  • Ham 
  • Sausage 
  • Bacon 
  • Cured Meats 
  • Prosciutto 
  • Shrimp 
  • Cod 
  • Scallops 
  • Crab 
  • Tuna 
  • Albacore 
  • Salmon 
  • Oysters 


  • Aged Cheese 
  • Heavy cream 
  • Sour cream 
  • Butter 
  • Cream cheese 


  • Coconut oil 
  • Extra virgin olive oil 
  • Ghee 
  • Avocado oil 
  • Lard 
  • Tallow 
  • Duck fat/ goose fat 
  • Chicken fat 
  • Cold pressed nut oils (macadamia, hazelnut) 
  • Cold pressed sesame oil 





Plants  (vegetables and fruits;  seasonal, local, organic)  Nuts & Seeds  (raw, organic)  Condiments & Dressings  (Additive, sugar and grain free)  Miscellaneous 
  • Avocado 
  • Bell peppers 
  • Mushrooms 
  • Cucumbers 
  • Cabbage 
  • Cauliflower 
  • Romaine lettuce 
  • Broccoli 
  • Artichoke hearts 
  • Kale 
  • Asparagus 
  • Spinach 
  • Bok Choy 
  • Garlic 
  • Onion 
  • Olives  
  • Blueberries 
  • Raspberries 
  • Blackberries 
  • Strawberries 
  • Cranberries 

*fruits in strict moderation as they are very high in sugar 


  • Almonds 
  • Hazelnuts 
  • Macadamias 
  • Pistachios 
  • Walnuts 
  • Pecans 
  • Sesame 
  • Sunflower 
  • Pumpkin 
  • Flax 


  • Mayo 
  • Mustard 
  • Coconut aminos 
  • Hot sauce 
  • Ranch 
  • Salsa 
  • Lemon juice 
  • Lime juice 
  • Vinegars


  • Unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • Unsweetened almond milk 
  • Nut butters 
  • Flax Meal  
  • Almond Meal/Almond Flour 
  • Coconut flour 
  • Olives 
  • Herbs 
  • Spices 
  • Pork rinds 
  • Jerky  



Getting Started on Ketogenic Meals 

Pete's Paleo Eat What You Love line has ketogenic meals created just for you, no counting, weighing or cooking required. It comes frozen to store in your freezer (plus free shipping!) for those days when you just don't feel like cooking.

Is a Ketogenic Diet Safe?  

Initially, when starting a ketogenic diet, it may seem like you are eating a large amount of fat. These are, in fact, healthy fats that your body needs to function properly and efficiently. Even saturated fat is not the unhealthy product it has been made out to be!  

What you are not doing is consuming unhealthy fats in combination with huge amounts of high sugar/high carbohydrate foods. Think pizza, ice cream, fried chicken, burgers and other fast and highly processed foodsA high quality ketogenic diet can behealthier AND more effective than a low fat high carbohydrate (yes, even whole grains) plan. 

Some Important Considerations When Beginning A Ketogenic Diet 


Adequate fiber ensures that you have proper digestive function and may aid in the prevention of constipation. It is important to eat low carbohydrate vegetables to maintain your fiber intake. 


Water loss can be rapid on a Ketogenic Diet. To prevent dehydration, consumption of more water than accustomed will be necessary. Symptoms including light-headedness, brain fog, constipation, and headaches, are often the result of dehydration. Caffeinated beverages, although permitted on the Ketogenic Diet, are diuretics. If you drink these be sure to drink even more water to compensate. 


Due to the increased water expulsion by the kidneys, many electrolytes are simultaneously lost. Electrolyte imbalances are heavily responsible for initial adaptation symptoms. Electrolytes that are essential include Sodium (Na+), Chloride (Cl-), Potassium (K+), Magnesium (Mg++), Calcium (Ca++), Phosphate (HPO4–), Bicarbonate (HCO3-). Lack of electrolytes or more pointedly the bodies primary electrolyte sodium (aka Salt) can be responsible for the lethargy and brain fog some may experience when following a Ketogenic Diet. These electrolytes can be replenished through seasoning and adding a high-quality sea or rock salt as well as increasing your intake of certain foods and/or supplementation. 


As with every other aspect of your life, do not discount the importance of sleeprest and stress management. They are key to the successful achievement of your goals. 


The Ketogenic Diet can seem overwhelming at first, but is essentially simple to follow and life changing by shifting the body's reliance on fast burning carbohydrates to a longer, more sustainable energy source in fats. 

Check out Pete's Paleo Eat What You Love Ketogenic Meals to get you started and show you how delicious and satisfying eating a higher fat diet can be.  



Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.