So you want to start KETO – now what…
Keto is not just a diet. It is a lifestyle. It involves drastically changing what you eat and how you shop for food. It means a lot of changes, BUT IT IS WORTH IT!
Why? Not only because it allows you to drop and control your weight, improve your health, control your cravings, but, ALSO, because of how it makes you feel.
My personal ketogenic journey started on January 10, 2017 at my highest weight of 245lbs that I quickly started shedding. Please note that MY ketogenic lifestyle does not end with the changing diet plan alone. It, also, involves creating other healthy habits – some of which I will talk about below.
HOW TO GET YOUR BODY INTO A STATE OF KETOSIS
In order to induce the state of ketosis, you must deplete all glycogen (storage of glucose) from your body. It will take few days of very high fat to protein and sugar ratio for the first few days. The higher the fat percentage the better. Limit protein and eliminate the carbs as much as possible. While you do it, exercise may help you accelerate the process. Working out helps you burn the glycogen at the faster rate and allows you to get into ketosis much faster. This process, depending on how much you limit the intake of carbs and proteins and how much you burn, may take few days.
Why limit proteins? Because any excess of protein you consume you body cleverly transforms into glucose and stores as glycogen. Your body is smarter than you think when it comes to its survival methods. In this case, however, it does not work in your favor.
Tip: Due to the fact that the Ketogenic diet dehydrates, make sure to drink a lot of water! Even better – add a bit of salt to it, so your body retains it longer. I know that the thought of drinking salted water doesn’t seem like anything pleasant. I recommend adding it to the seltzer water (carbonated/mineral water) so the bubbles mask the taste 🙂 That’s what I have been doing. This will help you avoid or better handle the keto flu.
Watching macros – especially in the beginning – is key! What we commonly call macros is a short way of saying macronutrients. They divide into three components: fats, proteins and carbohydrates. The macro ratio I suggest consists of at least 80% fat, and the most 15% protein and 5% carbs (or less… try to keep carbs at below 20g a day). The best way to track macros is to use a food diary app such as MyFitnessPal. I don’t think I would lie, if I said that it is everyone’s preferred app for this purpose. You track what you eat and the MACRO tab allows you to check the amount of grams/percentage you consumed of each macro category.
TIP: I like to use food scales and measuring cups/spoons to make sure my serving sizes are accurate.
Deciding what to eat these first few days is not easy for a newbie. I know! I have been there. The most popular beginner “fat” choices, when grocery shopping, usually are: bacon, cream cheese, heavy whipped cream, coconut products – oil/ mct/manna/etc, oils, eggs, mayo, olives, butter. For recipes and more choices I would recommend following keto oriented users on instagram. You may, also, want to create your own instagram keto-account to share your personal journey and food diary (pay forward). That’s what I did to keep myself accountable- it helped! Feel free to follow me at @under20carbs.
Moreover, I suggest you purchase some ketogenic cookbooks . They not only help with meal ideas, but many also contain a lot of valuable information. My personal favorite when I first started was the QUICK & EASY KETOGENIC COOKING by Maria Emmerich.
Keto flu is an unpleasant state your body is switching the fuels – from glycogen to ketons (sugar to fat). In my case it only lasted 1-2 days, but I hear some people struggle with it for much longer. My symptoms included feeling nauseated and weak. Symptoms other people describe, also, include: sugar cravings, fatigue, brain fog, difficulty sleeping, irritability and stomachache. Please refer to my TIP above – trust me, you will thank me! The silver lining of this temporary discomfort, you are entering ketosis and this state of feeling sick will not last forever. As a matter of fact, you are about to feel so much better!!!
When you starting to feel any symptoms of the keto flu, it is your sign that it is a good time to start using the keto urine sticks to determine whether INDEED you are entering ketosis. These sticks are great indicators when you are staring on the program. You will later realize you don’t need to use them often once you get a hang of your keto diet plan.
ACHIEVED KETOSIS? NOW WHAT?
Now, it is time to polish your eating habits. Until now, you didn’t have to watch calories, but going forward it will be a good idea to do so. In order to calculate your personalized keto diet goals (calories, macros, etc.) I suggest using the keto calculator located here: http://mariamindbodyhealth.com/keto-calculator/ . It will outline your plan for you depending on what it is you are looking to achieve (maintaining, weight loss, etc)
I am a firm believer that all diets work better when combined with any physical activity. The type and level of the activity should be created to suit your personal lifestyle and abilities. It may be as simple as adding extra steps to your day. I recommend getting a FITBIT device and app to track your daily activities, set your own goals, or join challenges. I am a big fan of the challenges – they are extremely motivating! If you do decide to add this aspect to your keto lifestyle, feel free to connect with me using my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. The more fitbit buddies, the better!