By now you've likely heard the many success stories of people using a keto diet to get in shape, lose excess weight, increase energy levels, reduce symptoms of type 2 diabetes, and a host of other health topics.
The keto diet, a low-carb and high-fat diet, was originally introduced to help treat epilepsy in children but has now been shown to have many other therapeutic benefits.
Whatever your goals, the health benefits of the ketogenic diet are numerous including weight loss, increased mental performance, improved mood, and more restful sleep.
If you're looking to go keto, we've got some helpful tips that will kickstart your keto diet and help you hit your goals.
1. Prepare Your House
Clear out your cupboards of all the junk food and high-carb snacks. There's nothing worse than sabotaging your diet because you had a moment of weakness and ate a box of cookies. Don't keep any of that stuff in the house. Instead, replace these foods with keto-friendly snacks and ingredients,so you're armed and ready when hunger pangs strike.
Here are some quick and easy keto snack ideas:
- String Cheese
- Pork Rinds (aka chicharrones)
- Dark Chocolate
- Nut Butters (almond, peanut, macadamia)
- Hard Boiled Eggs
- Tuna or Chicken Salad
Omega 3 is another supplement you should have in your arsenal because it can be what helps you find that perfect balance you are looking to achieve with your diet.
You should make sure to avoid hydrogenated fats as well like vegetable oil and instead, substitute it for coconut oil. Focus on healthy fats.
Additionally, consuming water is a good tip to help you on your Keto diet. If you get tired of just plain water, you can use flavor packets, but you will need to check the labels and see which are loaded with carbs and which are not.
2. Plan Your Way Through It
If you're new to the keto diet, your biggest question is likely what to eat on a keto diet. Make sure you've picked out some keto recipes and have a plan of attack for your daily meals. You don't have to make complicated meals at each sitting.
Keep it simple by crafting a plate that's centered around some dark leafy greens, a nice piece of meat, and a good amount of healthy fat (such as coconut oil, grass-fed dairy, non-trans fat oil-based dressings, or creamy sauces) on the side.
You can also do a quick Google search for keto meal plans, so you're armed with recipe ideas and a shopping list. As well, be sure to grab our FREE 28 Day Keto Meal Plan! It includes full recipes, macros, and weekly shopping lists. We've done everything but cook the meals for you!
3. Arm Yourself for the Keto Flu
It doesn't happen to everyone, but the majority of us will get flu-like symptoms when our body transitions from burning carbs for energy to burning fat. It typically only lasts from 3-5 days, but it can derail even the best of us if we're not mentally and physically prepared.
The best way to combat the keto flu is to stay hydrated and replenish your electrolytes of sodium, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. As well, you can consider supplementing with exogenous ketones. Exogenous ketones not only provide ketones and energy but also have electrolytes.
Just be sure to drink plenty of water and feel free to add extra salt to what you're eating these first few days.
Keto Flu Symptoms:
- Bad Breath
- Trouble Sleeping
- Feeling Weak
- Trouble Sleeping
Keto Flu Remedies:
- Drink more water
- Eat more fat
- Replenish electrolytes with bone broth
- Supplement with MCT Oil and Exogenous Ketones
- Ease up on exercise temporarily but be sure to stay moving
4. Don't Worry About Perfect Macros at First
If you find keto daunting but want to give this low-carb diet a go, thenease into it. The ideal ratio of macronutrients for the ketogenic diet can vary based on several factors such as weight and activity level. Typical guidelines aim for a calorie breakdown of 70% fat, 25% protein, and 5% carbohydrates.
You may find it a tad bit frustrating at first to track every meal and make sure you're hitting your daily macros on a ketogenic diet plan. Instead of stressing about the perfect macros, focus first on reducing your carb intake. Avoid foods that are high in sugar and starch like apples, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Once the low-carb challenge becomes easier to manage, get your protein and fats aligned with your macro goals and get into ketosis.
While you stay away from sugars, you will also want to steer clear of any sugar substitutes as well because they can also cause a rise in blood glucose levels which can lead you to put on weight, instead of taking it off.
5. Make Intermittent Fasting Part of Your Routine
One way to kickstart ketosis is to fast. A great way to do this is to implement intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is when you fast for an extended period of the day and then eat at will during the non-fasting period. A good way to start is with a 16/8 fast.
Simply don't eat anything for 16 hours and then eat to satiety during the other 8 hours. A lot of people find that a good place to start is eating during a window of 12pm-8pm and fasting the other hours of the day.
If your goal is ketosis, be sure to maintain your macro goals and feel free to eat whatever your daily calorie goals are during the 12pm-8pm window.
Like with any diet you may have lost weight on, you probably also hit that plateau where you stopped dropping the pounds. You may even begin to feel tired and a bit run down. At times like these, the intermittent fasting can be used to help get off the plateau and back on track with your weight loss goals.
6. Get Support from your Family and Friends
One of the best ways to ensure we stick to any new diet or goal is to have someone hold us accountable. Tell your family and friends that you are embarking on a ketogenic diet for better health and you want their support.
Tell them not to tempt you with sugary treats or other carb-heavy foods and instead ask them to send you any good keto recipes they find. Even better, ask them if they want to join you on this journey!
Having a support system in place as you test the waters of a Keto diet can also be good to help lower your stress levels. If you are experiencing higher levels of stress, then the Keto diet may not yield the positive results you are expecting.
Stress impacts hormones and can also cause our blood sugar levels to rise, and this can also sometimes lead to insane carb cravings we can’t shake. High stress is definitely a hindrance to any weight loss goals you have set for yourself with this diet.
Practice meditation and other stress-relieving exercises as another way to combat this and release any tension you may be holding onto.
7. Test Your Ketone Levels
If you really want to know if you're in ketosis, then you need to test your ketone levels. The two most common methods are a urine test or blood test. Both tests can be performed at home very easily. Urine tests are a more affordable option; however, they can also be a bit unreliable. Blood tests are done with a simple prick.
Our recommendation? Keto-Mojo. They make an affordable and reliable glucose and ketone meter kit. According to Volek and Phinney who wrote, "The Art and Science of Low Carb Living" the optimal range of ketones is 1.0-3.0 mmol.
When you determine that your body is in a consistent state of ketosis, then you will know that everything has been balanced properly and the stored fat is what is being burned for energy.
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
At its core, the ketogenic diet involves a drastic reduction in carbohydrate intake with an increase in fat consumption. It's a low-carb, high fat, and moderate protein diet that triggers your body from being a glucose burner to a fat burner via the process of ketosis.
Ketosis occurs when you deprive your body of glucose,and it has to find another source of energy: fat! For more information about ketosis, ketones, and the ketogenic diet, check out our Beginner's Guide and sign up for our newsletter.