The 10 Best Tips For Starting The Keto Diet

9 min read

At A Glance

  • 1. You May Need To Taper Rather Than Eliminate Carbs
  • 2. Eat More Fat, Even If That Means Raising Calories
  • 3. Supplement With Electrolytes
  • 4. Drink At Least A Gallon Of Water 
  • 5. Stock Up The Keto Cupboard First
  • 6. Have Some Carbs Before And During Hard Training
  • 7. Get Your Fiber Up
  • 8. Boost The Transition With Fasting
  • 9. Keep The Protein at 0.8-1g/lb
  • 10. Most Importantly, Be Patient

Getting The Diet On The Tracks

Here’s the ultimate guide to kicking off keto. If you can cross off each of these steps, then this diet won’t come with so many hurdles.

This article is the sequel and response to the issues I posed in the piece, 8 Classic Mistakes Even Seasoned Dieters Are Making On A Keto Diet. So it might be a good idea to read that first, in order to get a better idea on the issues I’m tackling here.

1. You May Need To Taper Rather Than Eliminate Carbs

It’s the trap that tends to snare up the most. People who start keto often make abrupt changes to their carb intake, and that can severely tax the system as it struggles to make ends meet. The thing is, if you’ve been dining on a thousand calories of carbs a day, your brain and body are going to be heavily reliant on sugar as its main fuel source. And even worse, they won’t be optimised to burn fat for fuel. 

So what happens when carbs come down to practically zero? Your brain can’t burn glucose, it’s a bit finicky at burning ketones (fat), and that results in the brain sending out an emergency alert. Headaches, brain fog, dizziness, hunger, the good stuff.

You’ll have to make the call on this one. If you feel you’re reliant on carbs, then a better option would be to drop the sugar down to 100-200 grams first, and let that settle for a few weeks. At that point, you’ll be better metabolically adjusted to go to the final stage and into the sweet thrills ketosis.

How Long Does It Take To Become Fat Adapted?

2. Eat More Fat, Even If That Means Raising Calories

In that same spirit of helping the transition between fuel sources, you’ll definitely need at least 60% of your calories coming from fat. This is the time to face your fears head on and ditch the sugar-loaded sauces and replace them with the full-fat versions.

As carbs become sparse, fat availability must increase. You can’t be stingy about adding higher fat foods to standard fit and frugal meals. Grilled chicken breast with a side of broccoli won’t perform well in this situation.

If you’re forced to raise calories to maintenance levels in order to get enough butter in, that’s not going to slow down your summer dreams in the slightest. The smoother you can make the transition, the easier it will be to keep the diet going at a steady pace. 

Why Saturated Fat Rules

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of fats that you can bring on the menu

  • Meat
  • Oils
  • Butter
  • Nuts, Nut Butters & Nut Flours
  • Avocado
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Seeds

3. Supplement With Electrolytes

The initial few weeks involves the body dumping excessive amounts of electrolytes in response to the insulin drop. The resulting deficiencies can cause a cascade of side effects that kill any vibe you’re getting from being free of sugar. Fortunately this is an easy situation to right up. 

Take lo-salt, or himalayan pink sea salt to replenish sodium and potassium levels, by adding it to your meals, or just swishing it down with a pinch of water. Green vegetables can further help raise potassium. Throw in a magnesium supplement, and you’ll be able to nip the keto flu in the bud.

Bone Broth Recipe

4. Drink At Least A Gallon Of Water 

Along with adding back electrolytes, you should look to raise your water intake in order to make sure you’re combating the dehydrative effects of the keto initiation. For the most part, you should just stick to water, but feel free to throw in a few coffees and soups to pump the numbers up.

5. Stock Up The Keto Cupboard First

This may need to be preceded with a carb clearout, because you might find it difficult to sit comfortably with the knowledge that a bowl of cornflakes is less than a minute away. Taking out the option of cheating makes dieting a whole lot easier, and settling for willpower can go either way. 

Once the cupboards are looking slimmer, fill it up with essentials for keto-friendly baking and cooking. Sugar-free sweeteners like stevia, thickeners such as almond flour, plenty of oils, eggs, enough to last at least a few weeks. You will have made a commitment, and set yourself up to have an enjoyable go at it.

6. Have Some Carbs Before And During Hard Training

If you’re new to low carb, then the body is bound to experience a performance drop when you attempt intense exercise. This can be fixed by adding 20-30g of sugar either just before, or as you train. Go for the straight stuff, like maltodextrin, dextrose, or a lucozade drink. Don’t use this chance to get a bagel going. 

And it has to be hard training. Going for a steady run really isn’t going to use much glucose unless you decide to keep going down the track for a couple more hours. You should be looking to fuel with just as many as you need.

How To Get Carbs On Keto

7.  Get Your Fiber Up

Vegetables do contain carbs, but as long as you avoid the starchy variety, the count is going to stay well below the 50g mark. Leafy greens in particular will be great sources of fiber, which will keep you feeling full after meals, avoiding the pitfalls of post-meal hunger rebounds. 

Even better, fiber offers that transitional step I mentioned earlier in the article. So if you were to stop first at the 100-200g carb mark, you could make up those numbers with high fiber options. Sweet potato, chickpeas and red kidney beans being strong examples.

A fiber supplement like psyllium husk can be easily added to shakes, sprinkled over food, and won’t hurt the bank.

8. Boost The Transition With Fasting

Intermittent fasting works through a similar mechanism to keto, and both can ultimately put you into ketosis. When you fast up to the 16 hour mark, you’ll have a decent amount of ketones in your blood, and that’s partly why many feel that they get stronger as the fast goes on. It seems counter-intuitive to get energy from forgetting to eat, but the presence of ketones has your body switching to a better energy source. 

Bringing fasting into the keto regime will hasten the process of fat adaptation, provide less issues hypoglycemia, and can actually increase dietary compliance. The idea here, is that it’s easier to turn down food when it’s not on the menu. Out of sight, out of mind. 

Fasting should also help you build a better relationship with hunger. When you can push past a point where your brain can think of nothing but food, you’ll notice the hunger practically vanishing. Most of the time, hunger is an emotional cue, and not a sign that you actually need something to keep the engine running.

9. Keep The Protein at 0.8-1g/lb

There’s a therapeutic version of keto that involves a macronutrient breakdown of 90% fat and 10% protein. That’s on the low side, and doesn’t blend well with athletic endeavours. Protein is the superfood of weight loss, and it’s the one factor that all successful diets agree on. Consuming enough will spare muscle, increase satiety, and control blood sugar.

When you’re setting up a keto diet, go through the following steps. 

1. First decide if you want to bring your carbs down to 25-50g. 

2. Then set the protein to 0.8-1g of your bodyweight. 

3. Figure out the calorie deficit you’re going for, between 10-20% of your maintenance calories.

4. Make the rest of your allowance with fat.

5. Use this calculator if that seems too complicated. I’ve included it in the resources menu.

Counting calories is a must when you’re new to the scene and switching up foods. You don’t want to slog through two months before realising you were hanging around maintenance the whole time.

The Benefits Of High Protein Keto

10. Most Importantly, Be Patient

You can go into keto with the best plan possible, with all bases covered, and your brain might still decide that it needs to hold onto the status quo. You might still go through periods of ravenous hunger, you might be irritable, depleted, and wonder whether a diet can be worth all this trouble. There might be a point to that, because there’s no diet that can suit all comers. Some just won’t be able to adapt to keto, and will be better to a carb-rich environment. 

But you should give the diet at least two weeks of consistent work before pulling any triggers. It’s crucial to understand the body is designed to preserve homeostasis, and it can take a lot of discipline and persistence to push it down from its perch. Transitioning to ketosis has plenty of upside across fat loss, energy, performance and stress management. It’s definitely worth the shot, and you might as well make sure you take a good swing.

More Keto Tips

11 Ways Keto Boosts Your Brain

The Difference Between Paleo And Keto

The Top Mistakes Made On A Keto Diet

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