“How do I start a ketogenic diet?”

“How do I start a ketogenic diet?”

[image source above: bodybuilding.com]

This has been a question I’ve been asked so many times, and honestly every one is different. By all means I am not calling myself an expert at all things keto, but I know enough for it to work for me and I’m just sharing my experience with this diet.

  • I wouldn’t rely on other people to give you answers. I always like to say to “Do your own research” when being asked this. You need to find out what macros best suit your weight and height and you can start off from there to use as a guide. Usually, 65-80% of fats make up a ketogenic diet but it can vary. You need to get a better understanding what ketosis will do to your body, blood sugar, and insulin.
  • If you have any underlying health issues CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR before starting this diet. This diet is not for everyone!
  • As with any diet, exercise is still important. Don’t be a lazy bum. lol

  • The first couple of weeks starting out keto is the most crucial. You need to keep track and monitor what you put in your body for the first few weeks so you can get your body used to the amount of food that should be on your plate.
  • Go grocery shopping and create a meal plan! Keto isn’t expensive if you know the right foods to buy. Just start off simple and look to create a simple menu that has similar ingredients. When I first started keto 2 years ago I was unsuccessful with it because I didn’t plan my meals and ended up eating out all the time and found myself getting kicked out of ketosis then eventually carb binging not even a month later.

If you don’t know by now, keto mainly consist of a low carb, high fat, moderate protein diet. Once your body get used to using fat as an energy source rather than carbohydrates it will use your stored fats to burn off for energy.

For me, I went cold turkey and fasted for 24 hours and just drank a lot of water, tea, and black coffee to suppress my hunger. Once that 24 hour period is up, I started to eat foods rich in fats, healthy fats that is then I also limited my calorie intake to 1000 calories per day.

  • The BIGGEST mistake that most people make when starting out this diet is they have the mindset that “Oh I’m eating all these fats and little to no carbs so let me eat like 20 pieces of bacon”. CALORIES ARE STILL IMPORTANT! Just because you may have reached ketosis, that doesn’t mean you will lose weight! If you’re consuming more calories than you burn, of course you won’t lose weight -__-
  • Many keto newbies make the mistake of assuming they can eat any fats as long as it doesn’t have any carbohydrates. But the truth is not all fats are the same! And that will cause you more harm than good.
  • What you want to eat are saturated fats (poly and mono saturated) and comes with a host of benefits. What you want to avoid are trans fats. I’ll create a simple list below with a couple of examples of healthy fats that I personally use as well and you can start off there and do more research on what to eat.
  • Saturated and Unsaturated fats are your best friends. Unsaturated fats are more commonly found in nuts, avocados, and vegetables. Saturated fats can be found in meat, eggs, dairy, and oils. Unsaturated fats are found to reduce cardiovascular risk, lower blood pressure, and improved cholesterol and lipid levels. While trans can be found in vegetable oils, baked goods and processed snacks and can pose a big threat to your cholesterol and heart!

Sources of Healthy Fats:

  • MCT Oil (medium chain triglycerides),
  • Extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil (GREAT source of monosaturated fats)
  • Avocado (the freaking poster child for good fats and keto)
  • Grass-fed butter/Ghee butter
  • Nuts (I personally like to eat pecans. It has the lowest carb and highest fat content with just 1g carb for 1/4 and 22g of fat. Macadamia nuts are my fav also.
  • Seeds (sunflower, flax, and chia seeds)
  • Fatty cuts of meats and fish (NY strip steak, ribeye, porter house)

So what should you avoid?

Trans fats! Even when you’re not on keto, this is the most unhealthy fat that you need to avoid! As it can cause more harm than good. Avoid cooking with vegetable oils, canola, grapeseed oil, margarine, and any processed foods.

Now that you know what to avoid….

The one thing that I HATED and wish I knew before was the “keto flu”. This was the worst thing ever. When you’re first starting out your body will get dehydrated and you will need to hydrate hydrate hydrate your body. DRINK WATER! Take electrolytes and add extra salt to your food. If not, you will feel like complete fucking shit!

  • Calorie deficit is still needed to lose weight. Keto will help suppress your appetite so you can go longer without eating. All those fats you consume will make you full faster without eating much for longer periods of time.
  • Try intermittent fasting as this will work wonders when on keto. You’ll actually burn more fat while fasting.
  • Do not eat when you’re not hungry.
  • Eating too much protein than fats may stall your weight loss.

How do I know if I am on ketosis? What should I expect?

During the process of ketosis, your liver will produce ketones. I would recommend buying a ketone blood monitor to see if your body is producing ketones. Urine tests and breath analyzers are less reliable.

  • Weight loss within the first week is usually normal and you may lose up to 10 lbs.. But don’t get too excited this is mainly a reduction in water weight. True fat loss may not occur until a couple of weeks/months. When losing so much water weight in a short period of time, you will become dehydrated so please drink water and electrolytes.
  • Muscle cramps and spasms was a huge thing for me. At first I didn’t know I had an electrolyte imbalance and would always wake up in the middle of the night screaming from leg cramps! Also headaches and fatigue is another big thing. When your body is so used to using carbohydrates to burn off energy then completely switching to a high fat diet, you will feel weaker than normal. So don’t get discouraged and stick it out a little bit longer.
  • Also when you poop, you will start noticing you’re pooping out some fats as your body is not used to eating so much fats and you may get constipated so make sure you eat fiber riched foods as well.
  • Insomnia is another thing. I had insomonia for the first couple of weeks. Not sure if that happens to everyone but I’ve read that it’s normal to experience that when starting keto.
  • Bad Breath also known as keto breath. This is the most common side effect of being on keto as it can give out a fruity smell. So make sure to brush your teeth several times a day.

Summary: So now that you know what to expect, make sure to consult your doctor first if a very low carbohydrate diet is suitable for your health as this may not be for everyone. You know what to consume and what to avoid, but please still do your own research as what may work for me, may not work for you. Happy ketoing!

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