Many people want to start a healthier lifestyle and more and more people now flock to a low carb or ketogenic diet as part of that lifestyle. With all the information available online, in books and research studies, getting started may seem complicated and even overwhelming at times. But it does not need to be complicated at all if you follow these twelve basic steps first.
1 Keto does take a lot of self-education through reading about it online, in research studies or in books, but also by listening to podcasts for example. It will not only help you understand how it actually works but it also helps you to achieve your goals. So do take some time to do your own research instead of just listening to advice from other ketonians. Just try to set aside some time for it on a regular basis.
Also keep in mind a keto lifestyle is first and foremost a lifestyle for health, with weight loss as a side effect. If you have any medical issues your body may focus on healing first at the start of keto, weight loss may come later;
2 Processed foods, even if they are low in carbs or labelled as ‘keto’, do not belong in your meals. Always look at food labels for ingredients first, then the carb count. To learn which foods you can eat, have a look here
3 Calculate your personal macros with a proper keto macro calculator. Here are 3 reliable macro calculators:
4 Install and set up a tracking app with those macros and start pre-planning 2 or 3 proper meals, do not snack. Pre-planning ensures you stay within your macros, never log as you go. Macro trackers are always a personal preference, the most used trackers are:
5 Follow the basic macro rules:
- track correctly calculated personal macros in grams, not percentages, and always use a small or moderate caloric deficit at most. Eating at a too large deficit i.e. under eating, will lead to a damaged metabolism, stalling and possibly issues with your thyroid;
- the carb macro of 25 grams net carbs is a limit but do aim to get as much of them through healthy green vegetables, much needed for fiber and micronutrients. Going extremely low in carbs does not make for better ketosis or more weight loss;
- protein is a goal: meet that macro daily, do not go under or over by more than 10 grams on a regular basis until you are fully keto adapted and more metabolically flexible, at which time some people may start to experiment more with their macros;
- do not exceed the fat macro and always keep at minimum 60% of your daily caloric intake to avoid creating a too large deficit;
- recalculate your macros with every 10 lbs lost and/or with any significant change in your activity level.
6 Stay hydrated and balance your electrolytes. Magnesium, potassium and sodium are all three very important to prevent keto flu symptoms:
- take a good brand magnesium supplement, use a dermal magnesium oil spray or add Epsom salt to a (foot)bath;
- for potassium add LoSalt to your water. Never supplement potassium in pills, that should only be done on dr prescription;
- salt food with Himalaya salt;
- bone broth and pickle juice are good pick-me-ups.
7 Try to avoid baked goods such as keto breads, cookies etc, chocolate, fruit and low carb natural sweeteners at the beginning, this helps to get rid of cravings faster;
8 Try to not drink alcohol until keto adapted if weight loss is important to you. Your body will always prefer alcohol over fat for energy and this may stall weight loss. Keep in mind diet soda is never part of a keto lifestyle;
9 Strenuous exercise is best left out at the start of keto. It can be too much to handle for your body due to the metabolic changes and your energy levels will also most likely be lower. Light exercise such as walking is fine, once your energy has returned you can resume your regular exercise regime;
10 Good sleep is very important for both healing and weight loss so try to work on a proper sleeping pattern. Lowering stress levels through relaxation techniques is also very helpful;
11 Any kind of fasting is not recommended unless keto adapted or falling into it naturally;
12 Starting this new lifestyle may feel overwhelming so try to keep things simple in terms of meals: vegetables, a protein source and added fats. There is plenty of time to try elaborate recipes once you are are ‘settled in’.
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