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Keto Kickstart

Family | Recipes

Being that it is the beginning of January, many of you have requested more info on why and how I follow a Ketogenic diet. So let’s just dive right in and get a keto kickstart to the new year!

I have been following a keto lifestyle for over a year now.  Originally my husband and I jumped aboard the keto train partially due to the diagnosis of his fathers Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) and Alzheimer’s.  He was only 59 years old, so this came unexpectedly.  No one really knows if it is heredity or not, but it really made my husband and his brothers think twice about some of the diet decisions they were making (or not making). Could their diet help prevent them from getting this debilitating and ultimately terminal disease? Studies show that it is likely!  My hubs older brother started the ketogenic diet 3 years ago and never looked back.  His dedication and conviction got the rest of us thinking. Other than the known side affect of fat loss, the ketogenic diet has some major brain benefits.  With brain health and fat loss on our side, we took the plunge.  Other than a few holiday slip ups, I’ve stayed committed because I just feel so much better.  I will say it’s much easier to stay committed having myself and my husband on the same diet.

Keto Kickstart - pantry list and snacks

*DISCLAIMER * Obviously I am not a doctor. While the ketogenic diet has many proven benefits, it’s still controversial. The main potential danger regards medications for diabetes, where doses may need to be adapted.Discuss any changes in medication and lifestyle changes with your doctor. I am only sharing my personal option and experiences here today.  

*Affiliate links used throughout this post.

Keto Kickstart – What you need

If you are thinking about starting a ketogenic diet or have already started and would like to further understand the process and benefits I would suggest this book.  “Keto Clarity” has been a super helpful resource and reminder to myself that this is WAY more than a weight loss plan.  Click here to purchase my favorite Keto book.

I was able to collaborate with Atkins last year to develop a couple of low carb recipes.  During the process, I also received This Cook Book.  Atkins is a low carb diet (not the same as keto), but I have found myself making several of the recipes listed in this cookbook over and over.  It’s been a great recipe resource for me. If you are looking for a very basic keto cookbook, get The Complete Ketogenic Diet for beginners! I’ve included links to my very own keto recipes at the end of this post. My favorite is the shrimp alfredo!

If you are serious about tracking your ketones and want to be sure that your body is actually in ketosis, I would definitely invest into some test strips.  You can do this in two ways:  Get these ketone test strips for urinalysis  or Get this blood ketone and glucose testing meter kit.  This method is more expensive, but also more accurate.

Most people enter ketosis when blood ketones reach a level of 0.05Mm/dL of blood. However, the optimal range for blood ketones is from 1.5 – 3.0. for optimal fat burning. There is no way of knowing what your ranges are if you are not testing.  So if you are serious about losing weight and serious about this diet, it is a good idea to purchase one of the 2 testing strips mentioned above.

Ketones are produced if you eat very few carbs (that are quickly broken down into blood sugar) and only moderate amounts of protein (excess protein can also be converted to blood sugar). The liver produces ketones from fat which then serve as a fuel source throughout the body, especially for the brain.  As a general rule, you will want to keep your net carb intake under 20 grams per day.  The fewer carbs, the more effective it appears to be. I personally keep mine under 25 grams of net carbs per day. When you first start you will have to track your carb intake.  After you get the hang of things you will quickly understand what foods to avoid and what foods will become your new BFF’s.

I started the keto diet when my youngest was 6 months old.  I went from a size 8 (still losing my baby weight) to a size 4- smaller then I have ever been.

keto kickstart- before & after
6 months postpartum (before keto), 9 months postpartum (2 months in keto), Now (baby 2.5 years old)

Keto Kickstart

*note: all blue script is clickable link to that product. Happy shopping.

First step- get rid of all your holiday candy, sweets, breads, or trigger foods.  Throw them out! Second step – Go shopping for easy grab n go snacks that are keto approved.  I keep all of my keto snacks in a separate bin in my pantry.  That way I always know what I need and my kids don’t get into it.

Keto Kickstart-Pantry List

Macadamia nuts ( This is my favorite brand & best priced)I like the salty crunch when I’m craving chips.

Keto Hot Chocolate (omg you guys this is a life saver when you got a sweet tooth and it is soooo good).  A tad pricey but worth it! Click here for link.

Beef sticks

pork rinds

70% dark cocoa bar

Organic MCT oil – some people put it in coffee, I take a tablespoon a day before I work out. It’s helpful to stay in ketosis.

My fav candy bar type snack

sunflower seeds

 Low carb tortilla shells– Perfect for lunch wraps

Spiralizer for veggie noodles

Almond Butter or Natural peanut butter (this one is my fav)

Fat bombs- this is my favorite flavor, but you can also make homemade versions.

Pre work out (my fav- 2 carbs) Strawberry Kiwi or Strawberry Kiwi

Here are a few specialty items you will need in your pantry for cooking and baking. 

almond flour

Coconut Flour

Truvia or swerve – my fav low carb sweeteners

xanthan gum (thickening agent)

Keto Kickstart – Refrigerator/freezer List

keto kickstart snacks

Carbonated flavored water if you like bubbles .  I actually have a SodaStream which I love and use daily.

Babybell Cheese – love these for a quick grab snack

stock up on cheeses you love




Hard boiled eggs

Heavy Cream – love to add to my scrambled eggs


cottage cheese

full fat unflavored greek yogurt

cream cheese

deli meat – I always have at least 3 different varieties in the fridge at all times ( I love pepperoni, ham and, turkey)



ground beef

fish – my family loves salmon.  I try and cook fish once a week.  Great source of fat and protein.

Chicken – thighs, breast, legs, wings – just no breading.



sour cream mixed with ranch dressing packets for dipping.

Frozen veggies – stay away form mixes with corn and peas.

frozen cauliflower rice – use as rice substitute or make into mash.

precut veggies: cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, peppers. You can have carrots, just not too many as they are higher in sugar.

pre washed romain lettuce leafs for breadless sandwiches

Tuna or chicken salad

Zuccini and/0r spaghetti squash for pasta replacement

Keto Kickstart- fast food options

I try not to eat fast food in general, but let’s be real…it happens.  My favorite keto friendly fast food options are:

In-N-Out – Double single cheeseburger protein style .  Avoid catsup.

Chick fillet – Grilled nuggets with ranch and side salad

Mexican fast food – burrito bowl minus rice. Replace rice with cabbage or lettuce.

* I also love bacon avocado burgers protein style.  This means with no bun and wrapped in lettuce.  You can order just about any burger as long as you don’t eat the bun, catsup, or Bbq sauce.

I hope this post has been helpful.  If you have any questions, please ask in the comment section below.  That way everyone can read the answers and we can all share information, tips, and tricks. My biggest words of advice would be to stay consistent.  The first couple of weeks will be the hardest as your body adjusts to the low carb intake.  You will feel a bit lethargic and tired (some people call it the keto flu).  It’s normal.  Once you get over that initial 2-3 week hump, you will feel like a million bucks.  You will also notice stomach bloating diminishing right away.  I’ve linked my personal keto recipes below and all of my favorite keto resources & food.


keto pizza recipe         keto shepards pie         keto garlic sausage and peppers          keto shrimp alfredo pasta

keto chicken pot pie         keto buffalo chicken quesadilla          keto no bake cheesecake




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    1. Hi Abby, The intermittent fasting works great. I do it on and off. I don’t eat after 8pm and wait to have breakfast till 10am. If I work out, I do allow myself a preworkout drink. I dont drink but I know there are certain alcohol that are approved. I wanna say red wine and maybe vodka?

    2. Vodka with diet 7-up or diet sprite has been my go to this holiday-no carbs and no sugar! There is also a variety of flavored vodkas that are super fun to try! Coconut, orange, and even cake flavor to name just a few!

  1. Thanks so much for sharing- this is one of the most easy to follow and comprehensive kick starts I’ve seen!

  2. What do your kids eat? Are you making two meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Breakfast and lunch wouldn’t be such a big deal but I can barely get dinner on the table by 6:00pm as it is and I like to ensure that we eat together as a family.

    Also, do you have any blog posts on quick lunches? I work outside the home in an office environment and need to take lunch with me.


    1. Hi Claire, my kids eat the same dinner as we do. I make all of the recipes linked at the end of the post for my whole family. Sometimes I make a noodle, rice, potato, or toast to add to theirs. For example if I am making a roast in the crock pot, I will make potatoes on the side for my kids. If am making spaghetti for dinner, I will add zuccini noodles for me and hubby. If i am making tacos, I will not eat the shell, but instead eat mine over cabbage.

      I don’t have a lunch post, but if you read through what I keep in my pantry and fridge, most of those could be taken to work for lunch. For example, chicken salad or tuna salad over greens – or hardboiled eggs, lunch meat, and cut up veggies.

  3. Happy New Year! I’m excited to start my Keto journey on Monday. Do you have to count protein and fat or just carbs? The protein and fat % I’ve been reading about is kinda confusing to me. As long as I stay under 20 carbs am I good?
    Thanks and love your home!

    1. Hi Stasia – how exciting. The main focus is to keep your carbs below 20grams. However, if you eat too much protein and not enough fat, the protein can turn into insulin which acts as sugar …thats bad. You can eat a ton of fat on this diet though, so dont be shy.

    1. I don’t, but I some people do especially when trying to get into ketosis initially. Not a bad thing to have on hand.

  4. Could you give a brief description of a typical day? 3 meals and 2 snacks? Also, do you add anything to your coffee? Thanks!

    1. favorite breakfast:
      2 fried eggs and 3 pieces of bacon (or)
      scrambled eggs with cream & avocado

      Favorite easy lunch”
      Turkey or ham lettuce wrap with tomatoes, mayo, cheese, and avocado

      Go to snacks:
      macadamia nuts, cheese, veggies and dip

      Dinner – whatever I make for the family minus noodles, rice, tortillas, bread, or potatoes. Exchange carbs for greens like spinach, lettuce, cauliflower, or cabbage.

      I dont drink coffee but you can use coffee creamers with no sugar. (sweetened with truvia or splenda or another low cal sweetener)

      1. Hi Mysha! Wanted to try this diet for a while now. I have tried Atkins before (about 10 years ago?)wanted to know if you have to eat certain foods in certain phases or can you start out eating them? Nuts for instance? Excited to start

        1. No you dont have to wait to eat certain foods in phases. The key to this diet is getting your body into ketosis and staying there so your body uses fat as fuel vs carbs/sugar. Def read through the post and get one of the the items I linked for trading ketones.

  5. So sorry to hear about your Father in Law. My sister was diagnosed with FTD at 56. She is now 60. It has been a real learning curve for all of us.
    I’ve been doing Keto for about a month now. Even through the Holidays. Yay me! Excited to try your recipes. Thanks for the great post.

    1. Greg, it is such a sad disease. Absolutely changes everyones life involved. Way to stay on track during the holidays.

  6. What do you put in your coffee? Do you think it’s OK to continue to use the sugarfree creamer‘s? Also what ketone testor do you recommend the strips or the glucose tester? I read somewhere that you can also eat watermelon or cantaloupe because it’s 95% water have you read anything about that? I always have a hard time getting my water in do you have any tricks ? thank you for sharing all of your information I honestly look forward to your posts every day!

    1. Hi I linked both the strips and tester in this post and explained that the tester is more accurate. sugar free is ok for keto but you have to decide what sweeteners you are ok with! No to watermelon it has a ton of sugar. However you can pull off some berries (rasp, blueberries, strawberries) in small doses. I like to eat with sugar free whip cream

  7. My first day on keto and I just have dinner left to eat. I’ve had 2 carbs and a TON of protein. What do you eat when you’ve had more protein or close to it?

    1. avocados heavy cream…. foods that are high in fat but not nessessarly protein. Even cooked veggies drenched in butter and cheese.

  8. Hi! Would you recommend intermittent fasting as soon as you start the diet or should you wait a bit on that?


    1. Allison, I would not recommend intermittent fasting right away. Your body will need time to adjust to the keto diet. You will likely feel tired for the first 2-3 weeks as your body starts to use fat for fuel over carbs/sugars. I would at least wait a month before incorporating the fasting.

  9. January 5,2019

    Thank you so much for all this knowledge. I am taking it and trying to run to the finish line with it.
    I am 51 and so many of my friends are getting diagnosed with demntia / Alzheimer’s. I have two young kids ( 9 and 6) and I want/need to be my best for a long time! I feel the way you put it all out their is spot on easy.

    1. Im so glad to help amy! I feel like it can be more motivating when there are bigger health goals in mind aside from just weight loss.

  10. Hi Mysha, thanks for the info. I often fall out of ketosis when I work out, you said you take a tbsp of organic oil before you work out to help u stay in….why does this work, do you know? Thanks so much!

    1. Using MCT’s in a pre-workout shake around 30-45 minutes before training can help to increase energy levels during training, and provides an alternative energy source to pre workout carbohydrates. I usually eat my egg breakfast right after workout as it is high in fat – see other comments for an example of my favorite breakfast.

  11. Thanks so much for sharing this info; I’m inspired and encouraged that it is not as difficult as I was making it out to be in my head! Thank you also for the resources and recipes, I look forward to trying them. Just thought you should know that two of your links are broken: the beef sticks and the natural peanut butter.

  12. I just started Keto and feel amazing!!!! Do you drink Ketones? I buy them and have been drinking them in conjunction with my diet and wondered if you do it as well…if so, do you like them?

    1. Hi Allison, I don’t, but I know many people who do. I think they are great if you are just starting out and trying to get into ketosis, or if you have a cheat meal and your body gets kicked out of ketosis, these drinks can help you quickly get back in.

  13. Hi, I love how you are sharing about your Keto lifestyle. I am new to Keto, doing it now since early December. I am curious what you think about some of the sweetners (such as melodextrin). It is in so many carb free/sugar free items. It’s in skinny syrups for coffee, sugar free puddings etc. I see many keto posts where people use it…but some say it kicks you out of ketosis. Just curious what your thoughts are and if you use these foods and it still works for you in ketosis. Last question…any good preworkout formulas you can recommend we can use? Thank you!! 🙂

    1. Hi Amy, some of it is trial and error and is different for everyone. I try not to do too many sugar substitutes in my daily diet, but every once in a while when you need a treat its totally ok. I would just do some research on the ones you are comfortable with.

  14. Thanks for sharing your keto knowledge and what you do to stay keto. I ordered the hot chocolate you recommended…looks like a nice way to give myself a special treat 🙂
    It’s a lot easier than I thought it would be. It’s great to hear everyone’s experiences. Thanks again for helping others!

    1. Hi I don’t actually drink a pre work out shake, just a pre work out supplement juice for energy. I will add links to the 2 flavors I love in my list of keto friendly foods. This pre work out has 2 carbs.

  15. I’ve just read the book and anxious to get started but I have a question about tracking all of the grams and such. I found a KetoDiet app that lets you set your gram goals and you import the foods you are consuming to see your totals. Did you use anything like this to know how many grams of carbs and proteins to track what you were consuming or how did you know ? Thanks

    1. Hi Deb, I didn’t/don’t, but I could see how that would be really helpful esp when starting out.

  16. Thank you so much for putting this post together for us! It seems much easier (and satisfying) than I thought it would be. Just one question – I was wondering if 20g or less carbs zaps energy? I always thought “healthy” carbs gave good energy, but I really don’t know much about it. Thanks for your time. 🙂

    1. Hi Stephanie, at first you will feel sluggish (ketoflu) some people call it. You will gain back your energy though once your body goes into ketosis and it adjusts to burning fat as fuel vs carbs.

  17. Thank you for taking the time to put this post together. You have made it very easy to get started with something I knew very little about. I was wondering, does the lack of carbs affect your energy level? I don’t know much about it but I thought “healthy” carbs provided energy.

  18. Thank you so much for putting this info together. I am about three days in and am realizing how much less I crave sugars and carbs when I don’t eat them at all! I did wonder if besides the ketoflu “feeling sluggish” for a few weeks, if you experienced any other side effects (good or negative) with your sleep, hormones (menstration), skin, hair, and (sorry) bathroom habits? Just wondering more about your long term experience. Thanks for making it sound life a doable lifestyle.

  19. Thanks so much for this post and all of the information on the keto lifestyle. I’m brand new to this, started January 6th, and I’ve already lost 11 lbs! I made your sausage and peppers last week, it was delicious! Can’t wait to try the other recipes too. I have a question about the test strips; I ordered the strips you recommended, and I’ve been testing in the dark purple range, 8 or 16. Is this too high? Should I add more carbs? I’ve been under 15 total carbs most days, but I don’t want to stall my weight loss progress. Also got the hot chocolate (yum!) and MCT Oil. Thanks again Mysha, love your whole blog!

    1. that’s amazing! Sounds like you are doing amazing. I would stick to under 20 carbs for sure, esp while still losing.

  20. One last question-I’ve ordered the book which might answer this but when counting your 20 carbs did you count net carbs (subtracting fiber and sugar alcohols) or did you count every carb regardless? You’re the best!

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