If you're thinking of starting a Keto diet, you might be confused on how it all works and where to start. Here are some great tips to help you get started off right and be successful on your Keto journey!
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Weight loss isn't always the sole reason one chooses to start a Ketogenic WOE (way of eating). Some make the change strictly for health reasons, some for weight loss and some, like myself, for both.
Everyone’s journey is different, but the end result is much the same- a diet free of processed foods, and very low in carbohydrates and sugar. The change your body will undergo is nothing short of amazing! These are some of the things that helped me in my transition...
For many who consume a lot of carbohydrates, restricting them to only 20 a day can be quite an adjustment. I have seen people throw in the towel within the first month because the transition was too overwhelming.
I first learned about Keto through my Nutritionist, who started me on a very lazy version of Keto (because I was still recovering from surgery). So over the course of about a week or two, I slowly started removing carbs from my diet, replacing them with low carb vegetables and increasing healthy fats. I cannot tell you how much easier this made my transition!
Keto is life-changing and if you stick with it, you will want to eat Keto for the long haul. Getting off to a good start is essential, and if that means slowly transitioning over 1-2 weeks, you will be glad you did it, trust me on that!
What to Eat?
Start with 3 meals a day and 2 snacks. For each meal, make sure you have 3-5 ounces of protein, with a vegetable and a healthy fat. Drink plenty of water, and cut out anything with sugar. You can have coffee, tea and my personal favorite- water with fresh lemon and a little stevia, which makes a great homemade lemonade!
Proteins that are organic, grass-fed and unprocessed meats (no nitrates/nitrates, MSG, hormones or antibiotics) are ideal and include: Beef/Steak, Dark Meat Chicken and Turkey, Pork, Ham, Bacon, Sausage, Eggs (free-range if possible), Crab, Shrimp, Mussels, Oysters, Lobster, Squid, Tuna, Trout, Sardines, Halibut and Cod.
Vegetables can include: Artichokes, Asparagus, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumber, Kale, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Okra, Onions, Peppers, Pumpkin, Radishes, Sauerkraut, Spinach and Zucchini. Garlic, Tomatoes, Leeks and Onions are Keto friendly, but should be eaten in small amounts.
Snacks can include: cheese, nuts, seeds (for a detailed list of these click here), pork rinds plain or dipped in sour cream, homemade crackers, celery with no-sugar added peanut butter or almond butter (make your own), deviled eggs, pickles, olives, avocado, fat bombs, cheese crisps, berries & cream, hard boiled eggs, uncured cold cuts, uncured beef jerky and raw veggies with homemade ranch dip. For more snack ideas, click here.
Get into the habit of narrowing your meal timeframe down a bit, say from 8am-8pm, this way you allow your body to fast and go into fat burning mode for 12 hours straight. Eventually, when you become fat-adapted, you will probably be able to ditch the snacks and just have 2-3 meals a day.
Take Your Measurements Before Starting Keto
Initially you will lose a fair amount of water weight, but at some point things will slow down a bit. There will be times when you are not losing and you don’t want to get discouraged. Check your measurements and you should find that you are losing inches!
Do Some Research on the Ketogenic Diet
Make sure you know which foods to eat and which to avoid. Become familiar with how Ketosis works, how to get into Ketosis and stay there. Take advantage of the many great resources available online. Here are some of my favorite and trusted sites are:
Increase Your Sodium Intake to Avoid “Keto Flu”
Losing water weight also causes us to lose electrolytes: sodium, magnesium and potassium. Add more salt to your food, have some chicken broth on hand for when you feel sluggish. Pickle juice also helps. I also use Trace Minerals , and it works great for me!
Calculate Your Macros and Log Your Meals
It’s important to know that you are getting your portions right. If you eat too much protein and not enough fat, it can prevent you from getting into ketosis. It's also great for accountability and it's really the most effective way to insure that you are eating just the right amount and not going over. Be sure to recalculate your macros with every 10-20 pounds lost because your macros will slightly change over time.
Set Realistic Goals for Weight Loss
Most of us are trying to undo years of damage from poor eating habits. A Ketogenic diet heals you from the inside out, so while there might be times when your weight loss has slowed, as long as you stick to the plan, you body is still changing on the inside. This is not a quick, overnight transformation, so be patient and remember that as long as you stick to the plan, you will eventually get where you want to be!
So how much can you expect to lose on the Keto diet? Check out this great article from Perfect Keto for more tips and how to set realistic expectations.
Add Enough Fat to Your Meals
In addition to eliminating sugar, processed foods and carbs, another key part of what makes Keto so successful is the high (healthy) fat content in our diet. Healthy fats keeps you satiated between meals. If you are having trouble getting enough fat, add a fat bomb to the end of your meal. Try my recipe for toasted coconut fat bombs , they are delicious! Click here for 15 Ways to Add More Fat into Your Keto Diet.
Every time we eat it spikes insulin. When we stop eating, our bodies start the fat burning process. If you are really hungry and must have something, reach for a fat bomb or a high fat option like ½ an avocado, rather than a protein. Fat does not spike insulin as much as protein does. So once you have become fat-adapted or feel satiated enough, skip the snacks when you can.
Try to Buy Organic Foods
Foods that are uncured (no nitrates/nitrates), contain no preservatives or harmful additives , Free-Range, grass-fed and Non-GMO foods are best, whenever possible. Remember that you are eating whatever the animal was fed or being given and hormone, steroids, antibiotics can have negative effects on our bodies. I stock up on my favorites when they go on sale, then freeze for later. It saves me money and most often I don’t have to sacrifice quality!
Eat Foods Rich in Potassium
Losing water weight as a result of lowered insulin, also causes you to lose minerals and electrolytes, which we need! Increasing your sodium intake and foods that are rich in potassium including Avocado, mushrooms, spinach, artichokes, zucchini, broccoli and salmon are important. Try to incorporate them into your meals whenever you can.
Dr Berg's article explains it best: "When you shift to a ketogenic diet, your body tends to release more water as opposed to storing it. The reason this happens is because you’re lowering insulin. This is healthy of course, lowering insulin. But it also leads to telling your kidneys to dump more water as waste and to retain less water.
So, that’s one reason you dump so much weight on keto—both initially and in the long term. You’re dumping all that water weight, puffiness, inflammation, and FAT.
As you lose all that water, you lose all the minerals in that water too and, in the end, you can quickly become depleted of the key electrolytes that your body needs to function properly."
Take a Good Multivitamin and Consider a Magnesium Supplement
The Keto diet can have a diuretic impact on the body and increases the excretion of ions, which causes us to also lose precious magnesium. Taking a good Magnesium supplement helps replenish this deficiency and eases symptoms including constipation, insomnia, fatigue and muscle cramps. I take 400mg of Nature's Bounty Magnesium every night just before bedtime and it works better than anything else I’ve tried! I also take Alive Once Daily Multivitamin. You can also include foods that are rich in magnesium like seeds, nuts, dark leafy green vegetables and avocado.
Add Fresh Lemon to Your Water
Lemons are a great source of Vitamin C and also help protect your kidneys from forming kidney stones. Eating a lot of foods that are high in oxalates like spinach, broccoli, kale, berries, nuts and seeds can make our kidneys vulnerable to stones, particularly when combined with high calcium foods. Some Keto foods that are high in calcium are broccoli, cheese, kale, sardines, yogurt, okra and almonds.
Avoid the Keto Baked Goods
I think the natural reaction to such a drastic change in our diet, is to seek replacements for foods that we're used to eating. For me personally, that was the case with bread, pancakes, and bagels. These and other goodies that are made with almond flour are fine, but when you're first starting Keto, they can cause weight loss stall for some. While almonds are Keto-friendly, they are also calorie-dense, so I would eat them sparingly until you are closer to your weight loss goal.
Remove all Temptations, Whenever Possible
Throw out foods that are high in carbs, sugar and even alchohol. Avoid restaurants that don’t have Keto-friendly options. Look for those that serve some type of grilled chicken, beef or fish, hamburger, steamed broccoli, spinach or asparagus, salad with a low carb blue cheese, ranch or Cesar dressing. When you are hungry, the last thing you want are unhealthy foods staring at you from your pantry or surrounding you at a restaurant!
Avoid Cheating, Especially in the First Month
Eating too many carbs can kick you out of Ketosis and for some, it could take a few days to a week to get back in. It's honestly a bad habit to start early on and typically those who cheat, will feel the effects, physically and emotionally. If you happen to slip up, don’t be too hard on yourself, pick yourself up and be sure to crank up your fat until you are back in!
I hope you find these tips helpful, if so, please comment and share your experience!
Note: It's best to consult with your Doctor, Nutritionist or Licensed Professional before making any dramatic changes to your diet. I am not a Doctor, Nutritionist or Licensed Professional, so the tips offered in this article are for your consideration and does not take the place of professional medical advice.