What to expect from our article
OK, SO NOW YOU HAVE DECIDED TO START KETO, NOW WHAT?
Deciding to start a Ketogenic diet is hopefully going to be the most challenging part of Your journey. If you have visited other websites, you may have been scared off by all the science behind it. While this diet looks highly complicated, it isn’t. We have tried to break down all of the complex sciencey stuff and make it as simple as possible.
The plan is straightforward to transition into, and if you are in the right mindset, you are more likely to succeed. Some people prefer to jump straight into Keto, but we advise that you take your time and ease yourself into over two weeks. You can get some unpleasant side effects if it is done too quickly. You may experience headaches, fatigue, dizziness etc., not everyone does, but it is possible, and don’t worry, these side effects are short-lived and don’t last for very long either. You may have heard of the Keto flu. It’s what happens to the body once you start removing carbs.
To try and avoid the unwanted side effects of Keto, I recommend first cutting as many processed food items out of your diet as possible. Forget about macros, counting, weighing or measuring, and concentrate on cutting down first. We can think about all that other stuff later.
OK, so now you have decided to start Keto, now what?
I always think it is best to start with a clean slate and set a week or two before your start date. Start the process by removing all temptations from the house, have a sort out in your pantry, cupboards, fridge and freezer. Getting rid of these foods will mean you are more likely to stick to the plan and less likely to resort to your old eating habits.
I say to do this in advance because it will give you a chance to use up a lot of items before the big day. If you want to go ahead and do it straight away, you can donate any unwanted food to your local food bank.
Keto is for those people who want to start eating for their health. This is not a quick fix. It is a complete lifestyle change. If you think you can do this plan and then go back to your old way of eating, it will never work. You have to be committed to changing your life forever.
That’s not to say that you cannot have a day when you eat higher carbs or even have a day off as long as you can get right back on afterwards. I am in this for the long haul. I don’t ever plan on coming off Keto and will continue to eat this way for the rest of my life. My health is far more important than eating a cream cake or a chocolate bar. But I also realise that I enjoy a night out now and again and will not punish myself for having a meal out or a few vodkas!! I can try to make better choices when I do, which will limit any effects and help me stay on track. Let’s remember it is impossible to gain 2-3lb of pure fat overnight, and if I do gain, it is most likely going to be water weight.
SET A TARGET WEIGHT
Setting a Target Weight
Setting a target weight is a personal choice. Some people like to set more than one goal weight. For example, if you have a lot of weight to lose, it may seem more achievable by setting a mini-goal of say 1-2 stones when you have 6-7 stones to lose.1-2 stones doesn’t seem so much compared to 6-7 stone, but that’s entirely up to you.
Tracking Your Progress
There are lots of apps, trackers and ideal weight programmes that will tell you what to set as a target weight, but I think it is a personal choice, my ideal weight is around 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 stone according to some apps, yet other apps say 9-10 stone I know I will never be eight stone!! I’ve set mine at 10 1/2 stone which is at the higher end, and it’s not an unrealistic goal.
A great way to see how you are progressing is to take pictures, do one lot for yourself in your undies and another in clothing, find an outfit that fits snugly and use that outfit every time you take new pictures and make a comparison with your start pictures. I like to take pictures once a month and compare them side by side. If you belong to a support group, upload them sometimes, we get it in our head that there is no difference, but once we upload them, others can see a noticeable difference, which can give you a huge confidence boost.
DON’T OBSESS ABOUT THE SCALES.
Don’t weigh, measure
The most amazing thing about Keto is if you’re doing it right, you will 100% without a doubt lose weight, many people become obsessed with the weighing scales, and that obsession will be the undoing of this way of eating. As I mentioned before, there is no way you can gain 4lbs of fat overnight on this planet. If you get on the scales and see a 4lb gain, it will not be overweight. Our weight can fluctuate daily, and the percentage of water we lose and gain goes up and down over a matter of hours, so only use the scales as an indicator, not as a daily measurement.
INVEST IN A TAPE MEASURE
We already know the scales can be inaccurate and unreliable, so that you may be asking yourself, well, if I can’t rely on the scales, how do I know I’m losing weight? Simple! Measure yourself. The number of times I’ve heard someone say, well, I haven’t lost any weight, but I’ve lost 2-3 inches is unreal. I would rather lose inches and see a difference in my size than see the scales move. Sometimes those scales don’t move for weeks at a time. That doesn’t mean you’re not losing. It just means you’re probably retaining water weight. You see, when we start losing fat, the cells which hold the fat stay open. They start open to hold water in the hope that more fat is coming. After the body realises that no more stored fat is coming, they lose the water and shrink. Remember, we didn’t get fat overnight. We are not going to lose the fat overnight. The process takes time. Stick to the plan, make good choices, and you will lose weight.
Tracking Your Macros
You can track your macros for your meals. Exercise etc., through my fitness pal app, you can even pop all the ingredients for your meal into the calculator, and it will tell you the nutritional information for that meal. It’s a great way to keep track of everything, so you don’t go over your carb allowance.
It is recommended that you wait for around 3-4 weeks before beginning or returning to exercise once you start Keto. This is because you don’t become properly fat adapted and using fat entirely for energy for around 3-4 weeks, people start back to exercise too soon get dizzy or feel a little bit weak. So they think that they need to carb up to exercise this is counterproductive. You do not need carbs for energy. You will be using fat stores.
Keep it Simple
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Keto is best served simple. I mean basic, no copying junk food staples like bread, cakes, biscuits, cookies, or ice cream. We want to break all of the associations we had with those foods and introduce a new way of eating. I see many people start off OK, and within a few days, they see all these lovely Keto copycat recipes and want to go and create them. By doing this, you are setting yourself up to fail.
Giving Yourself time to settle in
You need to give yourself time to settle into this new way of eating before adding all of the other stuff, at least 12 weeks. What people do, and I’ve done it myself, is try to recreate recipes, nothing they make matches up to the REAL thing, so they start sneaking a bit of cake here or a bit of chocolate there, thinking that little bit won’t hurt when in fact it will.
Adding in all these treats at the beginning can also seriously affect weight loss. They are higher in carbs, so eating them may stop you from getting into Ketosis. Staying under 20g carbs a day is hard to do when you spend a considerable amount of your carbs on Keto treats. Once you are in Ketosis, you will be able to tell which foods kick you out and which foods cause cravings etc., so you will avoid them.
Once our bodies adjust to being on Keto, our tastes change, we start to enjoy our food more, so when we add in the Keto treats, we see them as just that, treats. Also because our tastes have changed to accommodate our new way of eating we are less likely to go for the old lousy food we used to eat.
FIVE STEPS TO SUCCESS
For the first 2-3 days, you can eat whenever you feel hungry, and there is no limit to the amount you can eat as long as it’s not processed food. We want to be eating mainly meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, eggs and salad items and any food from the allowed list.
Eat whatever you want. After about 4-5 days of eliminating processed foods from your diet, you should start to eliminate other food sources. Begin with fruit, stick to eating meat, fish, vegetables and salads etc., don’t worry about sticking to this and that macro, as long as you are eating from the allowed foods list. You should also introduce some good fats, butter, cream, avocado, olive and coconut oils.
After about a week, you can start eating foods from the allowed list only and limit the number of carbs to around 50-70g per day. By approximately ten days, you should be ready to start restricting your carb intake to around 30g-50g of carbs per day, eating meat, fish, salad and small amounts of vegetables, start taking vitamin supplements.
After two weeks on the plan, you can calculate your macros (fat, protein and carbohydrate) intake per day and be well on your way to a healthier lifestyle and weight loss programme on Keto. Not everyone uses macros, and it’s not something you have to do if you don’t want to. As long as you keep your carbs to 20g or below, eat moderate protein and plenty of fat, it’s OK. You can introduce these at a later date.
However, you can skip all of the above and go right to calculating macros and limiting carbs to 20g per day from day one. If you do jump straight in, you will need to be drinking lots of water (minimum of 2 litres a day), getting around 5g of sodium per day for (electrolytes). Eat your greens, including avocado, for potassium. You should also take extra supplements of magnesium. Doing this should minimise any effects of keto flu, but it is not guaranteed.
While I don’t usually recommend fasting, I recommend starting your first day with a fast, do not eat anything from the night before till lunchtime on your start day. Drink bulletproof tea/coffee and water. This will help eliminate any first-day cravings and constant hunger. By then, you will know the difference between physical hunger rather than your brain telling you are when you’re not.
Reaching Your Goal Weight
Once you have reached your desired target weight, you will enter what we call the maintenance stage. This is where you will be able to add in some more carbs. We can increase carbs to around 50-55 per day. Some people can tolerate a little more carbs, so it’s up to you to experiment and increase to a level that suits you without gaining any weight. If you do gain weight, give it a few days as this could just be water weight from the increase in carbs. If you keep gaining weight, just drop it back down to 20g per day until you reach your target and then try again. Keto is all about trial and error to find what works best for you. Although the number of carbs will change what you can eat will not, except for sweet potato, remember this is a lifestyle change we do not want to return to our old eating habits because we will gain all of the weight back.
Not a One Way Fits All
SUSTAINING A KETOGENIC DIET
The Ketogenic way of eating is not a one size fits all way of eating. While it suits some people to eat Keto strictly, the book and the letter may not suit everyone. This is a way of life for me now, I intend on sticking to this for the rest of my life, and if it means I have to tweak it a little bit to suit my own needs and my lifestyle to stay on it, that is what I’m going to do. I don’t mean adding loads of junk food; I mean subtle changes like having sweetener, an occasional vodka and diet coke, or a Keto meal out on a special occasion. I am not going to beat myself up about it; I am going to make it fit.
For something to be sustainable for an extended period, you have to enjoy it, or you will end up back to where you were. Some people have one way of doing things, and that way has to be the only way, that’s not the case here, I am giving you the tools to be able to change bad eating habits and create new ones, so if having sweeteners in your coffee in the morning helps you to stay on track you carry on.
Our bodies were not designed precisely the same, so what works for one person may not work for another. It’s all just trial and error in the end. I cannot eat gluten, but that doesn’t mean everyone shouldn’t eat it (although I advocate cutting it out). Find what suits you and stick to it.
If you got this far, I just want to say good luck starting your new Keto lifestyle and a brand new healthier you. It is a decision that you will not regret.