So now you have made the decision to start Keto, now what?
Making the decision to start a Ketogenic diet is hopefully going to be the hardest part of Your journey, if you have visited other websites you may have been scared off by all the science behind it, or the keto is bad for your health articles because it goes against the product that person is trying to sell you.
While this diet looks extremely complicated it really isn’t and as for being dangerous people are literally losing their limbs and even their lives to diet related diseases, taking lots of different medication to treat the symptoms of those diseases when they could simply make a dietary change and be free of it and the medication. We have tried to break down all of the complicated stuff and make it as simple as we can.
The plan is straightforward and easy to transition into and if you are in the right mind-set 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 it over a two week period, 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 Keto flu. It’s what happens to the body once you start removing carbs.
In order to try and avoid the unwanted side effects of Ketosis I recommend first cutting as many processed food items out of your diet as possible, forget macros and counting and weighing or measuring, concentrate on cutting down first, we can think about all that other stuff later.
I always think it is best to start with a clean slate, set a date a week or two before your start date. Start the process by removing any and 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 back to your old eating habits.
The reason I say to do this in advance is 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 is never going to 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 are able to 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!! What I can do is 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 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 stone when you have 6-7 stone to lose.1-2 stone 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 8 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, use that outfit every time you take new pictures and do a comparison every now and again 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 and that can give you a huge confidence boost.
Don’t obsess about the scales
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 on this planet you can gain 4lbs of fat overnight. if you get on the scales and see a 4lb gain it is not going to be fat. 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 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 but that doesn’t mean you’re not losing weight 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 stay 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 the weight.
You can track your macros for your meals. Exercise etc, through the 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 when you start Keto, this is because you don’t become properly fat adapted and using fat fully for energy for around 3-4 weeks. People who start back to exercise too soon can get dizzy or feel a little bit weak, because of this they think that they need to carb up to be able to exercise which is counterproductive, you do not need carbs for energy you will be using fat stores.
Keep it simple
Keto is best served simple, by simple I mean basic, no copying junk food staples like bread, cakes, biscuits, cookies, or ice-cream. 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. We want to break all of the associations we had with those foods and introduce a new way of eating. We do not recommend cheating on keto as it can have detrimental effects on your health and your efforts to lose weight.
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 actual 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 getting into Ketosis. Staying under 20g carbs of carbs a day is hard to do when you are spending a huge amount of your carb allowance on Keto treats. Once you are in Ketosis you will be able to tell which foods kick you out and which foods cause cravings ect, then you will be able to avoid them.
Once our bodies adjust to being on Keto our tastes change, we start to enjoy our food more so when we do eventually 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 bad food we used to eat.
6 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.
2. After about 4-5 days of eliminating processed foods out of your diet you should start to eliminate other food sources, starting 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. Eat whatever you want. You should also try to introduce some good fats, butter, cream, avocado, olive and coconut oils.
3. After about a week, you can start eating foods from the allowed food on the keto food list only, limit the number of carbs to around 50-70g per day. By around 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.
4. After 2 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. Not everyone uses macros on keto 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 its fine, you can introduce these at a later date.
5. You can however 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) to flush out all the toxins. Be mindful that keto is a diuretic and adding extra water can flush out electrolytes.
we recommend consuming around 5g of sodium per day for (electrolytes) eat your greens including avocado for potassium, you should also take extra supplements of magnesium glycinate, doing this should minimise any effects of keto flu but it is not guaranteed.
6. While I don’t normally recommend fasting generally I do recommend starting your first day with a fast, do not eat anything from the night before until lunch time on your start day, drink bulletproof tea/coffee if you like or just water, this will help to eliminate any first day cravings. By lunchtime you will tell the difference between physical hunger and your brain craving sugar.
Not a One Way Fits All Diet
The Ketogenic way of eating is not a one size fits all way of eating, while it suits some people to eat strictly Keto, by the book and to the letter it 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 in order to stay on it that is what I’m going to do, I don’t mean adding in loads of junk food I mean subtle changes like having sweetener, or 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 a long period of time you have to enjoy it or you will end up back to where you were, there are people who 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 sweetener in your coffee in the morning helps you to stay on track you carry on.
Our bodies were not designed exactly 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 anything acidic like tomatoes for instance as it causes me to have extreme mouth ulcers but that doesn’t mean everyone shouldn’t eat it. Find what suits you and stick to it.
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 are able to 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 start to gain weight give it a few days to settle down 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 and although the carbs will change what you can eat will not, with the exception of sweet potato, remember this is a lifestyle change we do not want to return to our old eating habits because we will end up gaining all of the weight back.
If you got this far I just want to say good luck starting out on your new Keto lifestyle and a brand new healthier you. It is a decision that you will not regret. See our why should I do a ketogenic diet guide for the next step of your journey.