Keto Diet Starter Pack: What It Is, How It Works, Grocery List & Healthy Tips
Written by Chrissy Arsenault, MBA, RDN, LD
Curious about the keto diet?
Touted for its many health benefits including weight loss, the keto diet has risen in popularity over the last couple of years.
Read on to learn more about the keto lifestyle, how it works, your starter pack, and tips & tricks on getting started if you believe it’s the right fit for you!
What Is the Keto Diet?
The ketogenic (“keto”) diet is a medically prescribed, low-carb, high-fat diet that was originally designed for children with epilepsy or seizures. By consuming a high-fat, low-carb diet, children were able to see health benefits.
While in the medical setting, keto diets can range upward to 85 to 90 percent of calorie intake from fat, modern keto diets are typically not as extreme. There is not a single version of the keto diet, but most varieties provide the following estimated macronutrient ratios:
- – Fat 55-75%
- – Protein 15-30%
- – Carbs 5-15%
By following a plant-based, keto diet, you can expect to eat satisfying foods that may help you lose weight, raise your good cholesterol, lower your bad cholesterol, and improve insulin sensitivity.   
How Does Keto Work?
We typically turn to carbs as our main source of fuel. In absence of carbs, our bodies then look to fats as the secondary source of energy. Fats convert into ketones, which are then used for energy. This is a state called “ketosis”. 
We actually all experience a little bit of ketosis any time we unintentionally skip a meal or go through long periods without eating, but physiological ketosis, which is what keto diets refer to, can take several days to a week depending on several factors, including your metabolic rate and your body’s response to lack of carbs. 
So, how do you know if you’re in ketosis? Most people living a true keto lifestyle measure their ketone levels until they know what types of foods and quantities keep their bodies in ketosis. You can check ketone bodies through finger sticks, urine, or breath tests.
Keto-Friendly Grocery List
Unlike more straight-forward diets like vegetarian or gluten-free, it can be tough to pick out what’s keto-friendly and what’s not when foods aren’t clearly labeled. As a rule of thumb, keto-friendly foods are higher in fat and lower in carbs.
Also, combination foods that include several ingredients may or may not be keto – you’d have to tally up your macronutrients for the day to see if those foods will fit and check to see if any specific foods kick your body out of ketosis.
To keep things simple, I’ve rounded up a list of foods that are most suitable for a keto diet. Next time you head to the grocery store, take a screenshot of this handy, plant-based keto starter pack grocery shopping list!
- – Lean proteins: Tempeh, tofu
- – Oils and fats: Unrefined virgin coconut oil, MCT oil, avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, vegan butter, sustainably sourced palm oil
- – Nuts, seeds, and nut butter: Almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, flaxseed, pecans, cashews, chia seed, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds; most nut butters that contain less than 5 grams of added sugar per serving; Munk Pack Keto Granola Bar; Munk Pack Keto Nut & Seed Bar
- – Veggies: Dark leafy greens like kale or arugula, mushrooms, peppers, cucumber, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage
- – Fruits: Avocados, olives, limes, lemons, tomatoes, small servings of berries such as blackberries or blueberries, coconut flakes
- – Plant-based dairy alternatives: Cashew milk, almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, rice milk, soy milk; cultured “yogurts” from cashews, almonds, coconuts, hemp, rice, or soy; soy and nut-based cheese
- – Other: Vegetable broth, sea salt, pepper, herbs, spices, coffee, tea, select sweeteners (allulose (our favorite!), monk fruit, stevia, erythritol – read more about sugar alternatives here)
7 Tips for Beginning a Keto Lifestyle
Convinced that you’re ready to live a keto lifestyle? Great! Here are some of my top tips to help you on your keto journey.
- 1. Try substituting veggies anywhere you’d normally have high-carb sides like noodles or rice. For example, you can make zucchini noodles through a spiralizer, cauliflower pizza, or cauliflower rice. This can help you cut back on your total carb intake!
- 2. Learn how to calculate net carbs. Carbs are hidden in so many different foods! When you first start a keto lifestyle, check the nutrition label and do some math to figure out the number of net carbs, which are the carbs that ultimately affect your blood sugar levels and ketosis.
- 3. Keep low-sugar, better-for-you snacks on hand. Nuts, seeds, olives, and plant-based yogurts are all great choices that will keep your body in ketosis. While the typical ‘healthy’ nut bars are high in added sugar and aren’t well-suited for keto, Munk Pack Keto Nut & Seed Bars only have 1g of sugar or less, 2-3g net carbs depending on the variety, and moderate protein and healthy fats. This means that these chewy, delicious bars can fit into your keto journey – hooray! Fun fact: they can now be found at Walmart nationwide!
- 4. Prepare for the “keto flu”. These nasty symptoms are similar to that of the real flu, since you may experience headache, fatigue, lightheadedness, nausea, dehydration, constipation, and feel generally unwell. The keto flu results from your body rapidly getting rid of sodium and fluids due to a low carb intake. To combat the keto flu, hydrate throughout the day (more than you usually would) and try sipping on some vegetable broth, coconut water, or any other low-sugar sources of electrolytes!
- 5. Check your blood work regularly. Although carbs are limited on this diet, there are many micronutrients found in foods like whole grains and fruits, so be sure to check for any nutrient deficiencies! For example, if you’re going the plant-based route, many plant-based foods do not contain vitamin B12, so ensuring supplementation is key for those with low levels.
- 6. Warning: Your pee and breath may smell weird. Yes, it’s perfectly normal. If you experience ketone breath and fruity-smelling urine, try drinking more water and gargle some natural mouthwash.
- 7. Plan ahead! This is not a lifestyle that can be followed without discipline or proper planning. Look ahead to your week and decide when, where, and how you’ll eat your meals. Will you be eating out? If so, check the menus ahead of time. Will you be busy and on the go? Consider keeping keto-friendly snacks like Munk Pack Keto Granola Bars around your environment. These nutritious granola bars only contain 1g of sugar, 2-3g of net carbs, and no high-intensity sweeteners.
The Bottom Line
The keto diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet with medical nutrition therapy origins. While it was designed for children with epilepsy, it is now popular among the general population. By using fat as the primary energy source, people can expect to reap key health benefits. Following a plant-based keto diet can be a healthy option for many individuals, but make sure you plan for success!
What other questions do you have about the keto diet?
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