Keto Quick Start Guide for Beginners: Shopping Lists, Hacks and Recipes

This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions shared are my own. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Click to view our full disclosure.

We realize it can be overwhelming to start a new meal plan, so we’ve created a Keto Quick Start Guide for you that includes shopping lists, tips, and recipes to help you see results faster.

If you’re looking to feel comfortable in your own skin or get healthy for your family, we’re here to help you stop stressing about your weight and get back on track!

Plus, our Keto Jumpstart Guide will also help you decide if this low-carb, high-fat diet is for you!

To be honest, we don’t do keto 100% of the time, and low carb doesn’t work for our bodies. We find we feel our best when we do 1-3 weeks of a keto-based diet every quarter.  The rest of the time we follow an 80/20 diet plan

We hope this guide will help you kickstart your results and find the perfect plan for your lifestyle and needs! Like starting any new plan, you should always consult your doctor before beginning. We’re not doctors, and this isn’t medical advice.

Keto for Beginners to Start Losing Weight Guide with a Food Platter

What is the Keto Diet?

The keto diet, or ketogenic diet, is a low-carb, high-fat diet with moderate amounts of protein. Since you’re eating such few carbs, your body gets its energy from ketones versus carbohydrates (glucose).

Ketones are produced by the liver using stored fat. This is why you’ll hear people call keto the “fat burning” diet.

In contrast, if you eat a higher-carb diet, your body uses carbohydrates (aka glucose) to fuel your energy. 

The ketogenic diet is just one of many low carb diets.

Learn more about 5 Low Carb Diets & Find Out Which One Works for You

Keto Kickstart Guide with Whole Foods on a Plank

Different Types of Ketogenic Diets

You can choose to do keto a few different ways. Our Keto Quick Start Guide covers 2 types of plans.

The traditional ketogenic diet is typically 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbs (Source).

We prefer a cyclical ketogenic diet. 

The cyclical ketogenic diet follows the percentages above for 5 days and is followed by 2 higher-carb days.

You’ll also have to decide how strictly you want to follow the plan based on the types of food you eat.

You can learn more about the difference between Lazy Keto, Dirty Keto and Strict Keto here.

Eggs, Cheese, Coconut, and berries are part of our Keto Quick Start Guide.

How Can I Make Following a Keto Diet Easier?

As we’ve mentioned before, starting a new diet can be challenging, especially if you’ve never tracked your macros before. 

Our Keto Quick Start Guide is designed to make it as easy as possible though. 

While we’ll share food lists, recipes, and even a sample menu below — we also wanted to include these 2 special keto hacks!

What is Ketosis?

Ketosis is a metabolic state where the body burns fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates.

It takes anywhere from days to weeks for your body to hit ketosis. The reason for the difference in time is that every body is different, and we all have different tolerances to carbohydrates.

Keep This in Mind About the Keto Diet

In our opinion, the keto diet isn’t something you can do long-term, and a lot of people abuse the diet by only counting macros versus looking at the quality of food their eating.

We’d recommend allowing yourself to try it for 1-3 weeks, and then go back to a balanced diet of whole foods. (Remember – whole foods = foods found in nature versus in a box!)

Nuts, Salmon, Coconut Flakes, and berries are part of the keto diet plan.

What Do You Eat on The Keto Diet?

You’ll have lots of healthy fats, quality proteins, and low-carb vegetables like leafy greens on keto. We highly suggest choosing whole foods, or those foods found in nature versus in a box, for all of your meals.

Grab our Ultimate Keto Grocery List: Must-Have Foods for Beginners on a Keto Diet

Recommended Foods on Keto

Below we’ll share 3 examples of each category, but there are more foods that fit into each.

  • Healthy fats — Avocados, ghee, and coconut oil
  • Leafy greens  — Kale, arugula, and spinach
  • Low carb vegetables — Tomatoes, green peppers, and asparagus
  • Lean Meat — Filet, chicken, and pork 
  • Poultry — Chicken and turkey
  • Seafood — Salmon, shrimp, and shellfish
  • Full-fat dairy — Cheeses and heavy cream
  • Eggs

You can also have sugar-free beverages, herbs and spices, and low-carb condiments like hot sauce and mustard.

Grab our list of the 20 Best Keto Veggies List & Learn Which Vegetables to Avoid

Foods to Have in Moderation on Keto

You can have small portions of these types of foods:

  • Low carb fruit — Berries and coconuts
  • Nuts & seeds — Walnuts, almonds, and pumpkin seeds 
  • Sugar-free sweeteners — Swerve, monk fruit, and Stevia
  • Low carb flours — Almond flour, coconut flour, and flax seed meal

Foods to Avoid on Keto

You’ll want to avoid high carb foods like:

  • Grains –  Bread, pasta, and corn
  • Sugar – Candy, baked goods, and soda
  • Starchy vegetables – White potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Legumes – Beans, lentils, and chickpeas
  • Some fruits – Bananas, pineapple, and apples (berries tend to be lower carb and can be had in moderation) 
  • Seed & vegetable oils – Margarine, canola oil, and corn oil

You should also avoid almost all processed foods, as well as, low-fat dairy.

Still a little confused? NO WORRIES! We get it! Get Your List to Complex Carbohydrates

A woman's flat stomach with the words Keto Rules for Beginners

How Do I Get Started on Keto?

It can be overwhelming to start a keto diet – especially if you’re not used to counting macros

With that said, even if you’re not doing keto perfectly, you’ll likely see weight loss happen in the first week or so because you’ll be cutting out junk food from your diet.

So give yourself time and grace to learn while on the Keto Quick Start Guide.

You are moving in the right direction, and it will get easier!

Grab our Guide to Macros (IIFYM) – How To Use Flexible Dieting and Macros for Weight Loss

7 Tips on Starting a Keto Diet Plan

  1. Aim for 20g of net carbs per day. Net carbs are the carbs you consume after subtracting fiber and sugar alcohols). Carb Manager is a free tracking app we like.
  2. Watch your protein. As you track your carbs, also keep an eye on your grams of protein. You want to aim for 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbs. It’s okay if it’s not always perfect if you’re doing the diet purely for weight loss, but that ratio is ideal.
  3. Drink your water!  Due to the body burning fat versus carbohydrates, it’s easier to become dehydrated. Plus, drinking half of your body weight in ounces each day will help you not feel bloated.
  4. Get in your electrolytes.  Sodium, potassium, and magnesium are all vital to the body, and you may notice these get off balance with keto. You can get in electrolytes from supplements, bone broth, or even pickled veggies!
  5. Eat Whole Foods! There are plenty of processed, keto-friendly options out there, but you’ll likely feel better when you reach from foods found in nature.
  6. Move your body! Working out or at least taking a walk around the block can help you feel and look your best faster! Even at a desk job, you can find ways to stay active at work.
  7. Focus on Micronutrients too! The keto diet is very focused on tracking your macros, but micronutrients on keto are just as important!

You may also like learning why Bone Broth is Keto’s Best Friend

How often should you eat on keto?

You should eat when you’re hungry on keto, but there isn’t a set number of meals you can have.

People often mix in intermittent fasting with this diet though. Intermittent fasting is where you only eat for so many hours per day.

Keto Macro Calculator

Perfect Keto has a good macro calculator at the time we’re writing this article.

The calculator helps you find out exactly how many grams of carbs, fats, and proteins you need to hit your 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carb ratio.

Use the Keto Calculator Here

square of keto breakfast casserole

What do you eat the first week of Keto?

One of the main things we get asked about with the Keto Quick Start Guide is what kind of meals are allowed.

While you can have anything as long as it fits into your macros, we’ve laid out a few meal options to help you create a keto menu for your goals.

Keto Diet Plan Meal Ideas

Here are a few breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas that are keto-friendly.

We also will share some of our favorite keto recipes below!


Fresh Garden Salad with Eggs are apart of our Keto Diet Plan.


  • Chicken Salad 
  • Salad with a lean protein topped with oil & vinegar
  • Ham and cheese slices with nuts.
  • A keto smoothie
  • Burger with no bun, topped with cheese and avocado


  • Grass-fed Steak topped with blue cheese with sautéed spinach
  • Salmon with bacon and asparagus
  • Turkey meatballs topped with cheddar cheese and served with low carb vegetables.
  • Pork chops with loaded cauliflower mac and cheese.
  • Bun-less burger with bacon, cheese, or avocado topped with fresh vegetables


You may also like our Keto Fast Food List, as well as, our Ultimate Keto Starbucks Drink List when you’re in a pinch!

Our Favorite Keto Recipes - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks, and Desserts

We've put together a comprehensive list of our favorite keto-friendly recipes! You'll find breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes, as well as, snacks and desserts to help satisfy cravings!

Keto Friendly Fast Food Options

More Free Keto Diet Meal Plans

We really wanted to offer as many great free keto diet plans as possible.

These plans are not associated with our site, but they can help get started quickly and easily!!

Diabetes Strong’s Ketogenic Meal Plan

This Ketogenic Meal Plan is simple, quick to prepare, and optimized with the right macro ratios already calculated for you so that all you need to do is make your meals. Each of the 4 meals in this meal plan take a total of 25 minutes or less, require minimal (if any) cooking, and taste amazing! The meal plan is for 1 person but can be modified for a family. 

Keto Meal Plan Broken Down by Macros

Cushy Spa’s Keto Meal Plan

This ketogenic meal plan is for women, it consists of 1200 calories a day with 3 meals a day. Each day provides you with only around 20g of net carbs, thus gives you a good idea of what a keto diet is like! 

How Can I See Results Faster?

While we’re not huge fans of the idea, you could always try a 3 day hard boiled egg fast. If you do try it, be mindful of your energy, body, and electrolytes. It should also be done only for a short time.

Learn What is the Hard-Boiled Egg Diet? Plus the Benefits & Risks

factor75 steak dinner

Keto-Friendly Products

If you’re looking for a keto meal delivery service, we absolutely recommend Factor! They have some awesome keto meals! 

Grab our Factor Review & Get a Coupon Code

If you’re looking for sweet treat, we love Enlightened’s Keto Ice Cream, and if you can’t find it Rebel Ice Cream will do.

Trying FitVine's Syrah, Rose, and Prosecco

We also found we liked White Claw the best out of all of the low carb spiked seltzer brands.

Fitvine Wine is also another great lower carb choice for alcohol!

Keto Quick Start Guide for Beginners FAQs

Below are the top questions questions we get about our Keto Jumpstart plan.

1. Can I have sweets on keto?

While you can’t have traditional candy or sweets, you can make keto-friendly desserts. There are so many yummy ideas out there!

Grab our favorite keto friendly desserts!

2. Does being keto mean I can never have carbohydrates again?

If you want to achieve and stay in ketosis, you’ll always have to track your carbs. Your body will start adapting after a few months though where it would be easier to enjoy a treat and get back into ketosis faster than you originally did when you first started.

We suggest if you’re thinking about doing keto purely for weight loss, that you do it for a few weeks then go to a more balanced diet. Even the Whole 30 allows you more carbs, and we actually prefer an 80/20 diet long term because it allows for carbs.

3. How long will it take to see weight loss with the Keto Quick Start Guide?

You may see water weight come off in just a few days! 

If you have a significant amount of weight to lose, you will likely see it start to come off pretty quickly. As you get you closer to your goal weight, weight loss will be slower. This is the case with any diet.

4. Will I lose muscle?

I absolutely love lifting weights with LIIFT4

You could lose some muscle with the keto diet, but I didn’t see any losses. This article is great at breaking down how keto diets effect exercise performance.

5. Do I need to refeed or a higher carb day to replenish the body?

We first learned about a Refeed day during the 80 Day Obsession workout program.

The trainer suggested a refeed day in between 30-day phases of the workout, but it was to help with exercise performance. 

You may not need a higher carb day — especially if you’re trying to stay in ketosis because it will likely kick you out of it.

6. How much protein is too much? 

Around 35% of total calorie intake is probably the upper limit. Using a keto calculator will you help you find how much protein you need per day.

7. My breath stinks. Help!

Not really a question, but your breath can stink on low carb diets. Drinking water and sugar-free gum can help give you relief and freshen your breath.

8. I’m so constipated!

While some people experience better gut health on the keto quick start guide, others deal with more digestion issues.  Eating foods high in fiber and upping your water can help with constipation. If the problem continues, magnesium can also help, but again – talk to your doctor first.

9. What if I consistently feel tired or weak?

This is most common when you first start, and people will refer to it as the keto flu. The keto flu happens when your body is switching from using glucose for energy to ketones.

If you continue to feel bad, we absolutely suggest (as your fit girl friends – not your doc) that you switch to another diet plan higher in carbohydrates. Low carb diets aren’t for everyone!

Kalee & Kim Gym

Need a different meal plan?

The Keto Quick Start Guide, or even a low carb diet, isn’t right for everyone! 

You can still bust through the frustration and start seeing the scale move with another diet.

The main thing is to find something that works for you and makes you feel good!

Here are a couple other nutrition plans you might like!

If you were stumbled upon our Keto Quick Start Guide because you think you may have a food allergy, you may also look into doing an elimination diet instead.

An elimination diet can help you figure out which foods are upsetting your body.

You may also like our guides to make Subway, Chipotle, and Dunkin Donuts Keto-Friendly!

Love this Jumpstart Keto Guide? Pin it For Later!


  1. I am amazed at all the yummy foods you can eat with Keto. I am not much for fad diets but this seems to be really great for so many people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.