10 helpful topics when Starting A keto Diet
Starting a keto diet can be a challenge
The biggest hurdle in my Keto journey was in the first 2 to 4 weeks. It WAS right at the beginning, when I was starting a keto diet.
I must have started and stopped a dozen times before I finally got serious in September 2017.
There’s a TON of information out there on the Ketogenic Diet. For me, I found myself in information overload.
I wanted to put together some simple information for the beginners.
The ten topics listed below were probably the essential pieces in my journey when I first started.
1. What is the Keto Diet?
The Quick Explanation:
Keto is short for Ketogenic. It is a low-carbohydrate, moderate protein, and a high-fat diet.
When eating a Ketogenic diet, your primary fuel source will be ketones, which will burn fat.
On the flip side, when eating a high carbohydrate diet, your body runs on glucose for energy.
I always like to mention that the Keto diet sometimes gets confused with the Atkins diet because BOTH are low carb diets. The main significant difference, however, is that Atkins is high PROTEIN while keto is high FAT.
For me there is a massive difference in how my body reacts to those two macros. I feel much better when I keep my FAT intake up and my protein intake moderate.
2. Track your Macros
Marcos: a big part of the Keto diet. (carbohydrates, protein, and fat)
I HIGHLY recommended when you are first starting that you track these macros and do your best to fall within a specific percentage range for each type. You can use a variety of calculators found online, but I used MyFitnessPal.
Here are the ideal ranges:
Carbs: 5 to 10 %
Protein: 20 to 25 %
Fat: 70 to 80 %
It might take some time to figure out where the ‘sweet’ spot is for you. Some people can eat a higher amount of carbs and not kick themselves out of ketosis. Some MUST stay closer to the lower end.
Be a detective.
Starting a keto diet is YOUR journey; find what works for you.
Need a nifty calculator to get you started and determine what YOUR macro breakdown should look like?
Try this one over at tastaholics!
A good indicator that you are eating too little carbs is noticing your mood.
Many people can experience the famous “hangry” effect and be irritable. If you experience this, try increasing your carbohydrate intake slightly.
Keep in mind this could be a part of the Keto flu in those first few weeks.
More on that later.
Something to keep in mind while tracking your macros. You DON’T have to do this forever.
Some people only track long enough to get an idea of what it feels like to eat this way and then ONLY go back to tracking when they think they need a reminder or get off track. I did it for about four weeks, then backed off.
If you are anything like me, if I had to log my food forever, this way of eating would not be sustainable.
When tracking carbs, there are two ways to go about it.
You can track ALL carbs or just the NET carbs.
Calculate Net carbs with Total Carbs – (minus) Fiber.
Some even subtract out certain sugar alcohols. To learn more about macros & sugar alcohols, check out this article HERE.
If you don’t want to bother with net carbs, for now, don’t worry about it. Some people say it’s better NOT to track net carbs when first starting a keto diet since you might be eating some sneaky carbs you are unaware of.
NOT tracking net carbs can give you a little buffer.
You can also use the myfitnesspal app to enter recipes, an AWESOME tool to get an idea of what the breakdown looks like in the macro department.
Specifically, it allows you to see which ingredient might have too many carbs, and sometimes you can then search for an alternative ingredient. Playing with this can be fun for some people who like to experiment.
On a side note, I have NOT tracked my calories at any point in this journey.
In the beginning, I saw them since myfitnesspal tracks them alongside my macros, but I don’t feel it’s an essential piece to the keto diet.
Others will disagree with me on this, and that is fine, but for someone who used to obsess about my food intake, I had to stay away from counting calories.
3. Difference between Strict Keto Vs. Lazy Keto
Chances are good; Strict Keto is what you will be experiencing when first starting.
It’s doing what we just discussed, which is tracking all your macros with every meal.
Lazy Keto is a form of Keto where you DON’T track anything but eat very low carb.
OR you only track your carbs.
When starting a keto diet, this is the approach that I like to follow because I know that staying strict won’t be sustainable for me in the long term.
I don’t want this way of eating to be a chore. I want to enjoy my life and enjoy my food.
The beauty of these two different approaches is that you can switch between the two when needed.
If you feel you need a little extra help, start tracking.
If you feel like you got the hang of things, back off.
Simple as that.
The best approach is what WORKS FOR YOU.
Be careful not to get hung up on what you ‘should’ do according to what everyone else says. Even though I share my journey of what worked for me here on this site, it doesn’t mean it will be a perfect fit for what you need.
Don’t be afraid to experiment until you find the best balance
4. Drink water and electrolytes
The main reason – The Keto Flu
For those who don’t know what this is, it’s your body adjusting to this new way of eating.
Your body is withdrawing from carbs and also experiencing an electrolyte imbalance. You can experience headaches, an increase in cravings for sweets (or carbs in general), irritability, dizziness, and more.
Studies are starting to support that sugar/carbs can be on the same addictive level as cocaine and heroin. So it only makes sense that the Keto-Flu is a REAL thing that can and does happen.
Be patient and give your body time to adjust. I promise on the other side of this adjustment are AMAZING things.
Some of the ways to help reduce these side effects are:
- Add salt to meals
- Add more fat
- Drink Water – half your body weight in ounces
- Drink a cup of chicken broth
- Make sure to get Magnesium in your diet: nuts, artichokes, spinach, leafy greens
- Make sure to get Potassium in your diet: Avocados, nuts, dark leafy greens, mushrooms
5. Keep it simple
When starting a keto diet, find the top keto foods that work for you and stick to them for the first few weeks.
Don’t overcomplicate it.
Mine were: hard-boiled eggs, string cheese, bacon, pickles, low carb veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus), almond milk & black olives.
Some other ideas are bulletproof coffee, dark chocolate, avocados, pork rinds (dip them in hummus or guacamole), nuts, steak, ground beef & spinach.
There is wisdom in keeping it simple in the beginning.
If you over-complicate it and start seeing results, you will begin to believe that it must be complicated to work for you.
Some of my FAVORITE recipes are those that have very few ingredients and are easy to make. Over at Tasteaholics, they offer a various of recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner & dessert with up to 5 net carbs, 5 ingredients, and 5 or fewer steps to make.
I highly recommend checking it out if you need SIMPLE.
If you start simple and then later get fancy with your food and recipes, you will always know you can go back to simple when life gets busy or hectic.
Food should be a joy, not a chore.
6. Research the benefits
I am a BIG believer that if you find value in what you are doing, you will stick to it.
Starting a keto diet is no different.
In my opinion, there is a lot of value in eating a keto diet, and when I first started, I researched a ton looking for solid reasons this was going to be a good choice for me.
Obviously, on the internet, anyone can find information to support their point of view. So if you go looking, you will see those that support Keto and those that don’t. Instead, what I specifically looked for were testimonies from everyday people, like me, that had results.
What I found were people with:
- Improved blood sugar and insulin levels
- Sustained energy while feeling full
- Lowered blood pressure
- Blood results showing reduced triglycerides & increased HDL levels
- Mental Clarity
- Improvement in Insulin resistance
- A decrease in inflammation.
For me specifically, I have been dealing with PCOS for years! I found many, many testimonies of individuals that had reversed their PCOS symptoms. That alone was enough to give this way of eating a try and gave it a great value.
7. Know the signs of Ketosis
The first question I had when starting keto was, ‘How do I know if I am in ketosis?
One of the ways some figure this out is by using ketone urine testing strips. Ketones can be detected in the blood, urine, and breath. Ketone strips will let you know the level of ketones in your body and be a great resource if you are unsure how your body reacts to this diet.
I have not used them because it goes back to ‘keeping it simple’. I didn’t want to overcomplicate things and get discouraged.
So instead, I used some other observations:
Many trips to the bathroom.
Decreased hunger & Increased Energy
For me, the stinky urine was VERY obvious in those first few weeks. As a newbie, I didn’t know this was a sign of being in ketosis, and it was freaking me out. BUT, with some research, it became clear.
If you are experiencing any of these signs, know that over time they will decrease.
You will NOT have lousy breath forever.
You will NOT have to run to the bathroom every five minutes forever.
As your body adapts, so will these changes you are experiencing.
8. Eating out
When I first started eating this way, I was working full time and eating out a ton!
In fact, for me, I almost felt it was easier to eat out rather than cook.
As I was researching this way of eating, I learned many ways to adapt your food to fit the guidelines suggested. I feel as if I could write an entire post about this piece specifically.
But for now, it comes down to not being afraid to ask for changes in your order.
When ordering ask for:
- No Bun
- No Ketchup
- Lettuce wrapped
- Veggies in place of french fries
- Add mushrooms and bacon to almost any burger
- Convert nearly any sandwich into a salad
9. Walking & Sleeping
These two pieces were critical in my journey with Keto.
They aren’t directly related to the diet itself, but it can dramatically increase your long-term results when given attention and paired with the ketogenic diet.
When I started this way of eating, I was on a hiatus from exercise. (more on this below) BUT, I was making it a point to walk and get a good night’s sleep as often as possible.
Because our bodies need to allow us to heal.
In the simplest terms, walking and sleeping are stress reducers and also can lower our cortisol levels. When the body has reduced its stress, it will use its fuel source more efficiently.
In the case of starting a keto diet, that means more fat will burn.
10. Be okay with imperfection
I saved this piece for last, but in my opinion, it is the most critical piece on this list when starting a keto diet.
I have learned over the years that my most significant source of procrastination is trying to be perfect. If I feel like I can’t execute something flawlessly, I get discouraged and eventually move onto something else or give up.
Sometimes the procrastination happens immediately, preventing me from starting at all.
Other times, it happens over time while feeling overwhelmed and frustrated during the entire process.
My start and stop, start and stop approach to the ketogenic diet, before I got serious in September 2017, was precisely a result of thinking I had to execute it flawlessly.
You do not!
My two biggest hang-ups when starting were thinking:
1) I had to exercise
2) I had to give up soda
(YOUR hang-ups will be different)
Exercise has been a trigger for me around my body image. I had been working out for YEARS, sometimes hardcore, other times not, but always thought it was the only way to look and feel good. If I was NOT exercising, I was not going to lose or maintain my weight.
I needed a break.
When I started the ketogenic diet, I had a hard time believing it would have any effect if I didn’t pair it with some hardcore exercise, and since I was on a break from exercise, how could I start eating this way?
Well, I did.
And guess what?
I did NOT exercise (aside from walking), and I still dropped weight.
It was the first time it had ever happened to me. It was a healing experience to know that I can exercise for OTHER reasons knowing it has nothing to do with what the number on the scale says. It was a risk, and I am grateful I overcame it to start the ketogenic diet.
AND THEN, soda. Same belief.
If I drank soda, I could NOT lose weight.
I wasn’t ready to give it up, not even a little. I also had massive adversity to diet soda because of the aspartame. My whole life, I have felt that it was pure poison.
So what is a girl to do?
Shift my beliefs.
I decided NOT to do this perfectly. I shifted to diet soda when I first started this way of eating. Knowing that if I tried to go low carb AND cut out soda at the same time, I would fail.
NOW, I am NOT saying you should do this. Not even a little bit. The point is that I decided for myself that I didn’t have to do it perfectly.
I am now working on cutting out the diet soda, and incorporating low impact, strength training back into my daily life.
But NOW, I am not under the stress of too many changes at once. I am creating new habits ONE at a time vs. all at once.
I believe long-lasting change happens one step at a time.
BONUS #11 When Starting a Keto Diet:
YOU HAVE TO LET GO!
The whole theme of Journey To Euphoria is around SIMPLE LIVING, and in every area of simplifying your life, it starts with Letting Go!
It’s a fundamental truth that letting go of old beliefs and thought patterns around food will give you the jump-start you need to succeed!
Let us help you: Check out our Programs and Services. It’s all about shifting your mindset and we will walk you through proven steps to simplify all the various areas of your life, including your journey to starting a keto diet!
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