The keto basic principles

Carbohydrates (5-10% of the daily energy requirement)

To achieve ketosis it is necessary to eat less than 50 grams of total carbohydrates or between 20-30 grams of net carbohydrates per day. This may not seem like much but I can assure you this allows for plenty of healthy green vegetables: in most cases you subtract present fiber from the total amount of carbohydrates. The number can be adjusted in cases of certain medical conditions that require a higher or lower amount of carbohydrates.

Protein (15-30% of the daily energy requirement)

The amount of protein in grams is determined by body composition (height, weight and body fat percentage) and your activity level. Physically active people need more protein than people who are sedentary. Both exercise and daily occupation play a role in determining the correct activity level.

Protein is important for both preservation and building of muscle mass but eating too much protein can cause you to get kicked out of ketosis: the body will convert excessive protein into glycogen. For this reason I will always emphasize a keto diet is NOT based on high protein, but moderate.

Fat (60-75% of the daily energy requirement)

Fat acts as the filler of your daily energy requirement: you should eat fat to satiety and therefor the fat macro may fluctuate provided it stays at a minimum of 60% of your daily caloric intake. Fat provides a steady energy source without the insulin peaks caused by carbohydrates. This is the reason you will not experience cravings, mood swings or energy dips in ketosis.

Keto flu

The restriction of carbohydrates may cause you to feel unwell in the first few days: headaches, feeling weak, tiredness, muscle cramps, dizziness etc. These symptoms are collectively known as ‘keto flu’. The restriction of carbohydrates makes it necessary to drink more water. This increase in water causes you to urinate more and flushes out the important electrolytes magnesium, sodium and potassium. This process is experienced as keto flu.

Increasing the intake of electrolytes makes sure these symptoms will swiftly disappear. The easiest way is by adding a teaspoon of LoSalt to your water a few times per day, using Himalaya or Celtic salt on food and by taking a good brand magnesium supplement. Other methods are drinking bone broth, pickle juice or a homemade electrolyte drink. Spinach, fatty fish, avocado and nuts (but in moderation) are also good sources.

Balancing electrolytes is usually an ongoing issue and you will have to experiment to see what is needed on a day to day basis. Because of the likelihood of keto flu at the start of a keto diet it is advised to ease up on strenuous exercise: your body needs the energy to focus on the shift in metabolism. You can restart your usual exercise regime once you are in proper ketosis and energy levels are back to normal.