7 Steps to Starting Keto
If you are unsure what a Ketogenic Diet is, then I would advise first starting the my article What is Keto? This article will give you a basic understanding of the diet. If you are more familiar with Keto then it is time to figure out how to start!
How you start a Keto Diet can determine a lot about not only what type of progress you will see but also the sustainability of the diet as well as the quality of your life while on the diet.
In my opinion, sustainability is the most important factor for Keto. I believe that the Keto way of eating is truly superior for our health but if the diet cannot be sustained long term than it does not matter! While there are certain approaches that can be taken to best optimize the diet, these approaches may not make the diet sustainable for everyone. For this reason, I teach from a perspective of balancing an optimal Ketogenic Diet and a sustainable Ketogenic Diet. The purpose of this approach is to better help turn Keto into a lifestyle rather than a diet. Here are the 7 steps I recommend you take if you are a beginner to set yourself up for success not only in the short term but also the long term.
At the beginning of this article I recommended reading my past articles because I do think it is important to educate yourself on what it is you are trying to achieve with your diet. While you don’t need to become an expert to follow Keto, I believe that developing a nutrition education foundation will make you more likely to stick to the diet because you will know what changes your body is going through and why they are a good thing!
2. Jump in
This step is very simple. Don’t dip your toe in, jump in! A lot of people reason that first transitioning to low-carb will help them get ready for Keto. The truth is that this approach just delays the time it will take for you to start seeing and feeling the benefits of Keto!
Remember, low-carb and Keto are not the same thing. When we follow a Keto diet, we produce an additional fuel source in ketones to make up for the lack of carbohydrates. Just going low-carb will not allow for the same degree of ketone production and ketones are the fuel that keep us energized, focused, and feeling good in our day to day Keto life.
One of the simpler starting points you can take is cutting carbohydrates and increasing your fat intake. However, I would recommend doing a little more research, so you can better enhance your experience.
3. Approved Food List
When most people start a Keto Diet, they first start by determining their calories and macronutrients, then they begin planning their meals and counting calories. As I mentioned, sustainability is one of the most important factors on Keto and for this reason, I do not recommend taking this approach.
Sure, taking this approach may allow you to be stricter, but this approach may also make you find the diet to be too difficult mentally and harder to sustain long term.
Instead, I recommend learning which foods you should have on Keto and which foods you should avoid on Keto. If you can complete this step, then you are already off to a great start!
Once you have this, I recommend eating those foods. That’s it. Eat them until you are satisfied. Do not worry about calories AT FIRST. One of the common features of Keto is hunger reduction. If you take this approach you may find that you adapt to the diet a little quicker and once you become adapted and experiencing hunger reduction, you may start restricting calories incidentally. Note that this may not happen for everyone so if after 3-4 you have not experienced any progress then you may need to start counting your calories.
There are also a lot of Keto recipes and treats out there to help get us used to cutting out carbs. While these foods should not become a staple of your diet, they can be used as a tool to help keep you on track!
4. Beat the Keto Flu
The Keto Flu: Flu-like symptoms that can accompany induction to a Ketogenic Diet.
While the Keto Flu can occur at the start of Keto, it does not have to occur. Some of the Keto Flu symptoms are a result of removing one fuel source (carbohydrates) and the body not yet being adapted to using a new fuel source (fat and ketones). However, many of the symptoms are related to being deficient in electrolytes or being too calorie restricted.
Add electrolytes to your diet by using electrolyte supplements like those from Perfect Keto to combat electrolyte deficiency. You can also replenish electrolytes through your foods by adding things like mixed nuts, avocado, fish, and salt.
Your body may also need a little more fat at the beginning of your Keto Journey. I recommend slowly adding MCTs to your diet to help provide more energy to the body. Be sure to start slow with MCTs so you do not upset your stomach!
MCTs: stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides which are a certain type of fat that can be rapidly digested and used for energy.
5. Listen to Your Body
It is important to always be listening to how your body responds to what you are putting in it. Everyone should make tweaks to their diet to better tailor it to their body type and goal and this is something you will learn about yourself over time!
Since I have been doing Keto for a while and listening to my body, I now know how to tailor my diet to meet different goals such as improving brain function or focusing on fat burning. It is good practice to be intuitive and find what strategies work best for you!
6. Add Exercise
Exercise is a key component to a healthy lifestyle and this stays true on a Ketogenic Diet. While it is true that you don’t have to exercise to see results on Keto, it is also true that you will see more robust results if you do. Furthermore, one of the things I found during my graduate research was that exercise can increase our ketone levels which could help with Keto-Adaptation. If you are already exercising, pick up the intensity. Higher Intensity training could lead to greater fat burning and ketone production.
Exercise CAN be enjoyable! Pick an activity you enjoy doing and start doing it a couple days a week. I personally enjoy playing basketball 3 times a week and lifting weights 2-3 days per week.
If you do not exercise at all then follow this plan.
Download a podcast episode or eBook and on Monday’s and Thursday’s go for a 25-minute walk.
Increase by 5 minutes each week or add another day of walking.
After a 3-4 weeks, add a day or two of light weight lifting.
Push it a little harder every week
7. Stick to it
Many people say they have tried keto but for most this means only a few days. Keto may not be easy for you at first but if you never allow enough time for Keto-Adaptation then you will never experience the benefits.
I believe that some degree of Keto-Adaption can occur after 2-4 weeks depending on the person. However, I think that you continue to adapt and experience additional and more robust benefits from keto the longer that you follow it. I would recommend committing to at least 2-3 months of Keto to really give the diet the chance it deserves.
I stayed strict Keto for 10 months when I first started. I believe that committing for a longer duration allowed me to improve so many different parameters of my health. Taking this approach has also made Keto dieting and managing my energy and body composition levels so much easier.
The Keto diet does not have to be as confusing and difficult as we often make it! Following these 7 steps is a great way to get started. From there you can read and react to your body to make sure you are always striving to improve your health!