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Home / Ketogenic Diet / Keto Diet for Beginners

Keto Diet for Beginners

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg March 12, 2019

The Ketogenic Diet For Beginners: Your Quick Start Guide

There are lots of guides about the ketogenic diet for beginners, but here's what makes this one different:

You'll discover Healthy KetosisTM

Unlike traditional forms of the keto diet, Healthy KetosisTM uses high-quality ingredients full of nutrients to support your health.

I've helped hundreds of people improve their blood sugar, lose weight, lower their Fat Storing Hormone, and get their health back under their control.

And in this guide, I'm going to show you how you can get started with your own keto diet plan. Even if you're a total beginner.

Let's jump in.


What Is The Keto Diet?

You've heard so much about the ketogenic diet your brain is probably drowning in details. But at its core, keto is basic. It's a very low-carb, moderate protein, high-fat diet.

Simple, right?


Here's Why The Keto Diet Works

When you lower your dietary carbs, your body burns fat and produces ketones. You've likely heard of being in ketosis, which is the condition when your body is using its own fat for fuel instead of the glucose from carbohydrates.

You will need to start adapting your body to fat burning and away from using sugar (glucose) as its preferred fuel source. This can take anywhere from three days to two weeks.

But you want to get that fat off your body, right? This is the way to do it! You’ll actually lose weight while getting healthy.

As well, you'll preserve lean muscle, which causes you to burn more calories every day—unlike the muscle you lose when your body runs on sugar and never taps into fat burning mode.

You get into ketosis is by reducing carbohydrates in your diet down to between 20 and 50 grams per day. Carbs stimulate Fat Storing Hormone, the hormone that stores fat.

In the presence of excessive Fat Storing Hormone, your body stops burning fat. Carbs and frequent eating keep Fat Storing Hormone high, and fat stuck to your body like glue.


Why The Keto Diet Works


What To Eat On The Healthy KetoTM Diet

There are three primary molecules in food that your body gets its energy from protein, fat, and carbohydrates. You’ll see these referred to as macros.

In the diagram below, you can see the recommended percentages of calories from each macro in relation to each other. These are rough percentages that can vary from person to person based on your body size and activity level.

What To Eat On The Healthy Keto Diet



You want to keep your carbohydrate amounts between 20 and 50 grams per day. Many people use 30 grams to keep it simple, but the lower the carbohydrates, the more fat you’ll burn. When you calculate carbs, subtract the fiber. This is called net carbs, and this is what you want to use as your 5 percent of total calories.


NOTE: You won’t use vegetables will not be a part of the carb equation, with the exception of higher-sugar vegetables such as squash, carrots, beets, peas, tomatoes, and onions.


Also, remember that even foods that don’t seem to have carbs, such as nuts, seeds, and hummus, actually do contain some carbs.

Berries have less sugar than other fruits, which is why they’re allowable in small amounts on the keto program.

To make it easier for you to gauge the grams of carbs in common foods, here are some practical examples of what 20–50 grams of carbohydrates look like:

Carbs - hummus, raspberries, blackberries

28 g hummus = 3 g net carbs

60 g raspberries = 7.5 g net carbs

70 g blackberries = 8 g net carbs

Total: 18.5 g net carbs


Carbs - hummus, butternut squash

56 g hummus = 6 g net carbs

141 g butternut squash = 16 g net carbs

Total: 22 g net carbs



Carbs - butternut squash, raspberries, blackberries

120 g raspberries = 15 g net carbs

123 g blackberries = 14 g net carbs

97 g butternut squash = 11 g net carbs

Total: 40 g net carbs


Carbs - butternut squash, raspberries, blackberries, hummus

56 g hummus = 6 g net carbs

120 g raspberries = 15 g net carbs

123 g blackberries = 14 g net carbs

132 g butternut squash = 15 g net carbs

Total: 50 g net carbs


Carbs - carrots, almonds, sunflower seeds, hummus

85 g carrots = 6 g net carbs

56 g almonds = 6 g net carbs

30 g sunflower seeds = 3 g net carbs

42 g hummus = 5 g net carbs

Total: 20 g net carbs


Carbs - carrots, almonds, beets

85 g carrots = 6 g net carbs

47 g almonds = 5 g net carbs

136 g beets = 9.2 g net carbs

Total: 20.2 g net carbs


Carbs - carrots, almonds, beets, hummus, tomatoes, sunflower seeds

250 g tomatoes = 7 g net carbs

170 g carrots = 12 g net carbs

136 g beets = 9.2 g net carbs

30 g sunflower seeds = 3 g net carbs

42 g hummus = 5 g net carbs

56 g almonds = 6 g net carbs  

Total: 42.2 g net carbs


Carbs - carrots, almonds, beets, hummus, tomatoes, avocados, acorn squash

170 g carrots = 12 g net carbs

136 g beets = 9.2 g net carbs

250 g tomatoes = 7 g net carbs

2 medium avocados = 8 g net carbs

56 g almonds = 6 g net carbs

100 g acorn squash = 8 g net carbs

Total: 50.2 g net carbs


Vegetables Are The King Of The Healthy Keto Diet

You don’t need to count carbs for most vegetables, so feel free to eat as much as you like.

I recommend consuming:

•    7–10 cups of salad per day, or

•    4–6 cups of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.


If you’re using cruciferous vegetables, I recommend steaming or slightly sautéing them because more antioxidants are released when you slightly cook them.

When you buy salad, realize that one-cup equals 1 ounce. To give you a reference, bags of salad are often 5 ounces (five cups), and plastic containers are also 5 ounces.

Bags of salad and plastic containers  5 ounces (five cups)

Consuming large salads with spring mix, spinach, arugula or even cabbage will start to give you the nutrients that help undo Fat Storing Hormone resistance, which is when your cells ignore the Fat Storing Hormone that’s needed to pull sugar out of your blood, putting you on the path to Type 2 diabetes.

There are numerous studies demonstrating that various nutrients—vitamins A, B, C, D and K, potassium, magnesium, and chromium—improve Fat Storing Hormone balance, which is the icing on the cake. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one!)

Below are some examples of amounts of salad I recommend:

Healthy Keto Salads


Vegetables really are the king of the keto diet! The fiber in the leafy greens will feed your gut microbes. They, in turn, convert the fiber into butyrate (a type of fatty acid), which lowers your Fat Storing Hormone and helps you lose weight.

Although fiber is a carbohydrate, it has zero effect on your Fat Storing Hormone levels. The greater the diversity of vegetables, the more wide-spectrum your microbes will become.


CAUTION: If you bloat from vegetables, steam them or reduce the amounts

until you have no bloating. Bloating will reduce your results.



On average, you will be consuming 3 to 6 ounces of protein at each meal. To stick with Healthy KetoTM, I recommend organic, grass-fed meat and poultry, wild-caught fish, and organic, pastured eggs.

Practically speaking, what does this look like? See below.










If you are starting your ketogenic diet with three meals a day, here are two examples of how much total protein you could eat in one day:

Total protein you could eat in one day in Keto Diet


Healthy Fats

When you eat healthy fats, you help move your body to burn its own fat. Some examples of healthy fats include coconut oil, olive oil, grass-fed butter, avocados, and nuts.

On keto, 70% of your meals should be fat. I know this sounds like you’ll need to down multiple sticks of butter, however, because fat has more than double the calories of the same volume of proteins and carbs, by volume it’s not as much as it may seem.

In other words, you have to eat fat to burn fat. How amazing is that!

As well, fat keeps you full much longer than carbs, so you don’t get hungry between meals.

Here are a few examples of what total daily fat for the day looks like:

Total Daily Fat for the day in Keto Diet


What’s Off Limits When You’re Keto

You knew this was coming! Buckle up, because if you want optimal health and weight loss, you’re going to have to give up some of your favorite foods. But I promise, if you follow this guide, you won’t feel hungry and your cravings will subside.


Sugar (Oh, The Evil Temptress Sugar)

You will need to reduce your dietary sugar down to zero.

Yep, zero.




But the good news is, your sugar craving will subside...and once you’re steadily in ketosis, it will disappear.

Sugar is added to pretty much every processed food. Which ideally you won’t be eating on keto, right? Especially Healthy KetoTM.

If you’re ever tempted to indulge, just read the label and see the various forms and disguises sugar takes. Here are some:

·      Table sugar (cane and beet)

·      Fructose

·      Honey

·      Brown sugar

·      Agave nectar

·      Dextrose

·      Maltodextrin

·      High-fructose corn syrup

·      Maple syrup

·      Rice syrup

·      Juice

·      Alcohol


If you’ve just gotta indulge your sweet tooth a little, there are acceptable sweet alternatives. The three that I recommend, which are easy to get, are stevia, non-GMO erythritol, and non-GMO xylitol.


Grains and Starches

Bread, Donut, Cereal, Grains, Stratches

Grain products to avoid include bread (sprouted bread too), pasta, cereal (even oatmeal), crackers, biscuits, pancakes, and waffles. Even if something is gluten-free, it’s still a grain. (Gluten is the protein in grains, not the grain itself.)

You have to avoid ALL grains, including oats, wheat, and barley. Quinoa, although a seed, should also be avoided.


Exception: Small amounts of Finn Crisp Thin Rye Crispbread, a brand of rye crackers that only have four grams of sugar. This is net carbs, which is the total carbohydrate minus the fiber. The product is non-GMO, and in low quantities, it does not seem to negatively affect ketosis.


Starches to avoid include white and red potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, white and brown rice, corn (even though it’s a vegetable), and cornstarch.



Fruits to avoid include apples, bananas, pineapples, pears, dates, figs, grapes (and raisins), as well as fruit juices (orange, grape and apple juice—even tomato juice).


Exception: Small amounts (one half to one cup) of berries per day.


Legumes (beans)

Legumes to avoid include beans of all kinds: pinto, black, kidney, and the like.


Exception: Hummus.


Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting (IF) is not a diet. It’s a pattern of alternating periods of eating with periods of not eating, also known as fasting.

You limit the frequency of your meals, which allows you to rely on fat burning for all the time between meals and while you’re sleeping at night.




This is important because one of the primary triggers of Fat Storing Hormone is eating—eating anything. Eating five to six times a day—and let’s not forget snacking—will spike Fat Storing Hormone. Frequent eating throughout the day causes chronic sustained higher levels of Fat Storing Hormone, which stops you from losing your body fat.

Eating Throughout the Day Causes Higher Levels of Fat Storing Hormone

Eating less often, with no snacks to spike Fat Storing Hormone in between meals, is the most powerful way to correct Fat Storing Hormone resistance.


To start intermittent fasting, eat three meals per day—NO snacks—absolutely nothing between meals but water, black coffee, and other non-caloric, non-fat-storing-hormone-spiking drinks. (Too much coffee, however, will also spike Fat Storing Hormone.) Keeping Fat Storing Hormone at a normal level between meals and during sleep allows your pancreas, which produces Fat Storing Hormone, to rest and recover.

Eating Window of 8 Hours - Keto Diet

However, some people have a hard time going from one meal to the next because they experience blood sugar crashes and severe hunger. The solution to this is to consume more fat during the meal. Fat not only satisfies you the most; it triggers Fat Storing Hormone the least.

Remember, consuming lean protein and low-fat meals keep you hungry, so the answer is more fat and lower carbs.

The goal over time is to gradually transition from three meals per day to a shortened daily eating window of only two meals per day.

Continue to Push Breakfast Forward - Keto Diet

Intermittent fasting is not about lowering your calorie intake; it’s about eating less often. Your new goal should be to reduce the frequency of the meals you eat and avoid spiking Fat Storing Hormone.

Low-calorie diets do not work because they keep you hungry and craving—even worse, they deprive you of nutrients, eventually slowing your metabolism. If you’re transitioning from three to two meals, make sure your two meals contain the same calories as the three meals.

As you adapt, which is called keto-adaptation, it will be easier to go longer before your first meal of the day. Continue to shorten your eating window as gradually as you can, as seen in the diagram below with a four-hour eating window. There are many different meal schedules you can use based on the demands of your life.

Keto Adaptation - Four-Hour Eating Window.

It is okay to be a little hungry as long as it does not impair your cognitive function or cause headaches or weakness.


From Sugar Junkie To Fat Burning Machine

Allow your body to adjust to running on fat. For some true sugar junkies, this can take a few months. But your cells will eventually adjust, and you’ll enter full fat-burning mode. Then it gets really, really easy to resist snacking because you have no cravings and are not hungry anymore.

When you see the weight simply melting off, this will motivate you to stick to your new way of eating.

With many of my patients, I’ve found that at first, you’ll need a lot more fat with meals; however, as you burn more of your own fat, you’ll need less. Some people decide to even do one meal per day, especially if their thyroid is very slow.

But with one meal a day, just make sure the meal is a robust one, containing all the needed nutrients to fortify your body with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, those important fatty acids, trace minerals—all of it. (This can be aided with green drink powders and high-quality electrolyte supplements that will help you get your daily requirements for potassium.)

Let your body tell you when to transition to one meal a day. The best clue that you are in deep ketosis is your hunger disappears!

 From Sugar Junkie To Fat Burning Machine

Meal Examples


3 Meals per Day

3 Meals Per Day 1800 Calories -  Keto Diet

3 Meals Per Day 1800 Calories -  Keto Diet


2 Meals per Day


2 Meals Per Day 1500 Calories -  Keto Diet

2 Meals Per Day 1500 Calories -  Keto Diet

2 Meals Per Day 1500 Calories -  Keto Diet


1 Meal per Day

1 Meal Per Day 1200 Calories -  Keto Diet

1 Meal Per Day 1200 Calories -  Keto Diet


The Benefits Of The Keto Diet And Intermittent Fasting

The combination of ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting provides you substantial health benefits that include:

·      No more cravings

·      Less hunger between meals

·      Better memory

·      Cardiovascular protection

·      Normal blood sugar

·      Improved mood

·      Improved cholesterol

·      Way more energy

·      Amazing skin

·      Much less inflammation

·      Improved sleep


Yes, you’ll have to make changes to lifelong habits. But your health is worth it.


Keto-Adaptation Side Effects

Your body is going to have to switch fuel sources from carb burning to fat burning. It will need a new cellular process to accomplish this.

When you follow this plan, your cells will change over and adapt, which usually takes between three days and two weeks. It all depends on how serious your Fat Storing Hormone resistance is.

During this adjustment phase, you might experience some of the following symptoms:

·      Keto flu (feeling run-down)

·      Fatigue

·      Irritability

·      Muscle cramps

·      Kidney stones

·      Sleep problems

·      Constipation

·      Keto rash


I know it’s uncomfortable. Don’t worry, it will pass!


A Few Keto Tips


Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

Take 2 tablespoons of ACV in a 16-ounce glass of water. Add some lemon juice (2 Tbsp) and drink up. This will help the transition into fat burning and increase your digestion and energy. Lemon can also decrease any risk for kidney stones if you are susceptible.


B Vitamins (Nutritional Yeast)

Doing ketosis requires more B vitamins to allow energy factories (mitochondria) to do their job. Nutritional yeast provides a good natural source. Make sure your nutritional yeast is not enriched with synthetic B vitamins. I do recommend my version, which comes in tablets.

You’ll notice this will greatly help you with exercise and having more endurance. When someone is deficient in B vitamins, they can experience fatigue and more stress.


Potassium (Electrolytes)

Your body requires key minerals when doing keto, specifically potassium and magnesium. However, you should never take only one mineral without the related ones, as it can create an imbalance.

Using a high-quality electrolyte blend is recommended. My brand comes with all the electrolytes but in the ratio that matches most people’s deficiencies, with super-high potassium, good amounts of magnesium, and lower amounts of sodium and calcium. It also comes with trace minerals and contains no maltodextrin. When you are deficient in potassium and magnesium, you may experience fatigue and a lack of endurance.

Electrolyte Powder and Nutritional Yeast


Frequently Asked Questions About

Ketosis and Intermittent Fasting


What is a ketone?

A ketone is a byproduct of fat being burned in your body. It is basically a source of energy (fuel) that is an alternative to glucose. Ketones are the preferred fuel for the body and are more efficient for the brain and the heart.


How long before I start losing weight?

You, understandably, want weight loss to start right now. But your body has been running on glucose for your entire life. Your cells have to build new enzymes—a whole new cellular machine—to break down fat as a new source of fuel.

However, you should start experiencing fat loss in three days, then more as your body becomes a fat-burning machine.

Once you get there, you won’t have sugar cravings anymore. You’ll have better blood sugar. Your memory will be sharper, you’ll urinate less at night, and you’ll sleep better because your blood sugar won’t be plummeting during the night after sugar spikes.


I started the keto diet about a week ago. Now, I’m tired constantly. What do I do?

As your body adjusts to fat burning, you will need more B vitamins. The nutrient you need a lot of to keep the fatigue away and help your adrenals and metabolism is B5. Sodium deficiency could also produce fatigue and weakness.


Can I eat beets, peas, tomatoes, corn, and potatoes on a keto diet?

Starchy vegetables like beets, peas, and carrots can be eaten in small quantities because they are rich in fiber, which reduces the Fat Storing Hormone spike. Tomatoes are moderately sweeter and can be consumed in higher amounts than these others; however, potatoes and corn must be eliminated.


What kind of liquids should I be drinking that won’t interfere with ketosis?

  • Filtered or spring water.
  • Bone broth is good—even during the fasting period between meals. Too much can slow ketosis for some people.
  • Homemade sodas with flavored stevia—these are great.
  • Apple cider vinegar in water is good for helping you manage Fat Storing Hormone and also for overcoming Fat Storing Hormone resistance.
  • Unsweetened almond milk.


But avoid alcohol and even coconut water.


Is coffee okay on the ketogenic diet?

Sure, if you’re having about one 8-ounce cup per day, not 15 cups. The problem with coffee is that it is the third most sprayed crop in the world and it depletes the adrenals. If you’re going to drink coffee, make sure it’s organic, that the creamer is organic, and that you use xylitol, which is GMO-free and tastes just like sugar.


What about Bulletproof Coffee?

Bulletproof Coffee is coffee with added grass-fed butter and fat called MCT oil, which is extracted from coconut oil. If you want to use that as a meal, fine; but it can trigger Fat Storing Hormone a little. That being said, I think it is good to do in the beginning, because it reduces hunger. However, for some people it could slow progress; so experiment and see what works for you.


What are the best supplements to take while on keto?

There are several of the supplements that I recommend for various situations, all of them found on my website:

  • Electrolyte Powder: This is loaded with potassium, magnesium, chlorides and trace minerals to provide your cells with the right nutrients.
  • Blood Sugar Support Formula: This supports healthy blood sugar levels to enhance the ketosis state.
  • Nutritional Yeast: This has all the B vitamins you need and more.
  • Wheat Grass Juice Powder: This is packed with vitamins and minerals as well as phytonutrients.


Can I chew gum?

This is a minor concern, but yes. You should choose xylitol gum.


Can I have a cheat day?

No. If you want to get into ketosis and stay there, you need to stick to the plan. It can take over a week to get back into ketosis after a sugar slip.


Can my cholesterol go high on a ketogenic diet?

When you lose weight, fat cells shrink. In a fat cell, there are triglycerides and cholesterol. Now, as that fat cell shrinks, you can burn triglycerides, but you cannot burn cholesterol. So it will go into the blood, go to the liver, and come out through the bile. But you’ll be totally fine as long as your triglycerides are low. (If you’re not using those as fuel, then you’re eating too much sugar.)


What can I do about ketosis and constipation?

There are many scenarios that can cause constipation with the ketogenic diet. Most people assume it’s a fiber issue, but it’s not that simple. You want to compare what you were doing before ketosis and after. Look at the change in vegetable fiber consumption. If you don’t have enough gut bacteria to digest all these vegetables, they will cause bloating, constipation, gas and all kinds of digestive issues.

Some people can do vegetables and others can’t, of course. Some people can’t do cabbage; others can’t do cruciferous. So you might have to switch to less fibrous vegetables, such as various kinds of lettuce, and especially kale and beet greens, for your potassium.

Electrolytes greatly help with constipation too. If you need more support getting electrolytes, try my electrolyte powder. It helps supply the 4,700 mg a day of potassium you need, which is hard to manage without high vegetable consumption.


What is ketoacidosis? Is this good or bad?

Ketoacidosis is a very dangerous condition that happens only when you’re a type 1 diabetic and completely stops making Fat Storing Hormone. This results in raising your acid levels far beyond normal. However, Healthy KetosisTM will not produce acid levels even close to those of a ketoacidosis condition.


Can I do IF without doing a keto diet—or should I do both?

Well, if you’re doing intermittent fasting alone, but you’re eating lots of carbohydrates and not eating nutrient-dense foods, your skin, hair, and nails will suffer. Learn what your nails reveal about your health here. I recommend doing both, as they both complement the reduction of Fat Storing Hormone.

Exclusive Membership to Keto Diet Program

For more information, you can always check out my YouTube channel or join my exclusive membership site with over 200 video lessons to get yourself healthy and looking great:

  • Body Type Techniques
  • Learn from Case Studies Just Like You
  • Details on What to Eat and What to Avoid
  • Amazing Tips on How to Stick to Your Plan
  • Nutritional Recommendations for Your Body Problem
  • Advanced Exercise Strategies for Toning & Fat Burning

I guide you step by step to help you achieve a healthier body and a healthier you!

Healthy Keto Guide for Beginner

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