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You’ve done it. You’ve made that first step in making the conscious decision to try a keto diet out but you’re wondering where to start. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. The first couple of weeks, we’re not going to sugar coat it here (pun intended), are going to be tough. Adapting to a new lifestyle is difficult, there’s no doubt about it but we know you’ve got what it takes and we’re going to help with our beginners guide to the keto diet.
We’re assuming here that you’re completely new to a keto diet, and if you are you might ask, what exactly is the keto diet?
Put short and simply: The ketogenic diet is a very low carb and high fat diet designed to put your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. Our bodies, when deprived of carbohydrates, become exceptionally good at burning fat for energy and our liver starts to produce ketones which can be supplied to the brain for energy.
So, where do I start?
We’re sure you’ve already done some research but just to clarify, you should have only around 10% of your daily calories from carbohydrates or, you need to eat under 20 grams of carbohydrates daily.
I know what you’re thinking, this sounds crazy. Especially, if you’re very new to a keto diet and your diet is very high in carbohydrates right now. However, if you naturally eat a relatively low amount of carbs, it is going to be a lot easier for you.
So, the first place to start is to write down or record the typical foods or meals that you would eat within a week or two week period. Be honest and get snacks written down to!
To get a rough estimation of where you stand, roughly calculate the amount of carbs you consume on a weekly and daily basis. If it’s around 100 grams a day, it’s going to be a lot easier to cut out those high carb foods to get that figure down. However, if you’re eating 150 - 200+ grams per day, it’s going to take a little longer.
You could of course, go from one extreme to the other, if you want to quickly get into ketosis within a few days however, we don’t always recommend this. We’re more interested in longevity and sustainability, your personality will determine if this is the right step for you. Adapting to a new diet or lifestyle takes a little time. Patience really is a virtue.
So, where do you go from here?
You’re aware of how many carbs you eat on any given day currently and you know where you need to get to. As we just mentioned, we wouldn't recommend some people going to the extreme straight away and there’s a reason for this; The drastic change in diet could really put you off, causing you to give up before you’ve even started. And there is no way we would want this to happen. Gradually adapting to things makes it easier and slowly implementing new changes and routines makes it easier to pick it up and sustain long term.
For now, at least within the first week, don’t focus too much on the amount of carbs you’re eating per day. If it’s not under the 20 grams per day, that’s absolutely fine.
Within this first week or two just identify the carbs with your meals and think about either replacing those, cutting them out or create a new meal plan altogether with less carbohydrates within it.
Just forget the numbers and concentrate on getting these foods and drinks out;
Rice, pasta, cereals, potatoes, oats, fizzy drinks, fruit juices, cakes, sweets, low fat or diet products, dressings, sauces, alcohol.
And more of these foods in;
Plenty of green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, red meats, chicken, turkey, bacon, salmon, tuna, mackerel, eggs, butter, cream, unprocessed cheese, full fat greek yogurt, nuts, nut butters and seeds.
Once you have cut out those high carb foods completely and introduced more keto friendly meals into your routine, then you can start to calculate the numbers and further nitpick at the numbers to ensure that you can get into ketosis. It’ll be much easier once the foundations are grounded and those numbers won’t look so daunting.
As you get into the swing of things and you have adapted your diet around eating a low carbohydrate diet, you can start to introduce more advanced methods for recognising when you’re in ketosis and increasing your intake of salts and minerals with keto friendly supplements and you’ll be well on your way to being a fat burning, keto machine.
What we also feel is important is to not have too much of one particular keto friendly food either, such as too much meat and fish. Try to have a good variety of meat and fish throughout the week so that you’re not eating bacon every morning and steak every evening. Rotate the meat and fish throughout the week. For example; Monday’s meal is with steak, Tuesday’s meal is with salmon, Wednesday’s meal is with chicken etc.
We’re actually advocates here of eating a lot less meat but certainly not against eating meat at all, just sustainably.
You don’t have to miss out on the foods and snacks you love either. There are so many amazing keto products now that are made to help keto dieters get through the day and manage those macronutrients.
The awesome thing about the ketogenic diet is that a meal with higher fat will make you feel more satiated and fuller for longer. As time goes by you won’t crave carbs or sugars so much either.
The dreaded ‘Keto flu’ and how to handle it.
Well, our proposed guide for beginners will help alleviate symptoms of the keto flu and you could almost consider the keto flu as a sort of withdrawal effect. Your body is adapting to the change in nutrients and almost throwing a tantrum that it’s not getting the foods it craves because it’s simply used to those nutrients.
But, it could happen and you may feel these symptoms;
Low energy, increased hunger, sleep issues, nausea, digestive issues and a decrease in exercise performance.
These will pass usually after a few days and once this initial period is out the way with, you’ll be flying. Again, our recommendation of easing into a ketogenic diet will help mitigate these symptoms and it’s because of the ‘keto flu’ we recommend this, as we’ve found this is one of the biggest reason’s people are put off by a keto diet. On the surface, it feels like it’s having a negative impact on your body. This isn’t necessarily the case and should be carefully managed to ensure you’re kept on the right track.
Of course, with any significant diet change, please consult your doctor and if the symptoms are unbearable, then of course consult your doctor.