How To Start A Ketogenic Diet
If you've ever felt OVERWHELMED by all the information floating out there on the web about a ketogenic diet and how to start a healthy ketogenic diet, this page is for you. As a Certified Ketogenic Coach, a nurse, and weight loss business owner, I'm here to break down this diet to the bare bones so that you, the consumer will know how to exactly get started with a ketogenic lifestyle and (hopefully) will not leave any pertinent information behind.
You won't believe how many times a day I get asked the exact question of "how to start" or have heard clients say " I didn't start because it's too confusing" so this page will hopefully answer ALL of your questions in lamens terms. But, first, let's start with the basics...
What is keto, anyway?
Basically, a ketogenic diet, or "keto" as you may hear it called very often, is a metabolic state that your body will enter when carbs are depleted from your body.
Simply put, there are two different ways your body can run. You're either considered a "sugar burner" or you're considered a "fat burner". If you eat carbs, you would be considered a "sugar burner" as your body will run and get it's energy off the carbs and sugar you consume throughout the day.
In the ketogenic state, you would be considered a "fat burner" because you're not taking in any carbs and sugar on a ketogenic diet to run off of, so your body must resort to burning fat that you consume and stored body fat for energy. When all carbs are depleted from the body, the liver will start producing what are called "ketones' which are used for energy, hence the name "keto".
Goal of a Ketogenic Diet
Now you may hear different standards and variations of the keto diet depending on who the information is coming from. Some say "fat is the most important" thing to eat on a ketogenic diet, some say no. Some say that you can eat up to 50-75g carbs daily on a ketogenic diet, others will tell you that is entirely too much. Some will tell you that as long as you're eating meat, cheese, and bacon there is nothing else you'll need to worry about. And although everything I mentioned has some sort of truth to it, I'm here to teach you the basics so let's un-complicate this for ya!
Oh hell. Here we go again. There's that damn word! Ok, ok before you move on, let's give you this information simplified.
First, what the heck is a macro? A macro or macronutrient is a type of food required in large amounts in the human body. The three macronutrients you ONLY need to worry about with a ketogenic diet are:
1. Fats 2. Carbs 3. Proteins.
With the keto way of eating, 65%-70% of your calories come from good fat sources. 25-30% of your calories will come from protein and 5-10% of your calories will be carbohydrates.
To determine how much you're supposed to be eating in a day you'll want to figure out your macros based on your age, height, and activity level. We recommend using a ketogenic macro calculator like the one here.
After you input your information based on your age, sex, height, and activity level, it's going to ask you how many carb grams you want to aim for.
**IF YOU'RE WANTING TO FOLLOW A KETOGENIC WAY OF EATING, YOU WANT YOUR CARB GRAMS TO BE BETWEEN 20-25G** Leave that calculation of 25g to start with.
If you do NOT know your body fat percentage, look at the picture at the top of the page and GUESS about what your body fat % is.
You'll get a reading like these:
How Do I Keep Track?
Everything you eat and drink in a day has some sort of macro "count" from it. For example, Coffee has 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of protein, and 0 grams of carbohydrates in it. So coffee would be considered a "freebie" in the ketogenic world or any other diet plan that requires you to count your macros that you eat. Now, what if you're someone who adds creamer to your coffee? Regular French Vanilla Coffee Creamer has a macro nutrient count per serving of 1 tablespoon, Fat 1.5g, 0g Protein, and 5g of Carbohydrates.
So.. one tablespoon of creamer just ate up 5 GRAMS out of your 25 GRAMS of Carbohydrates that you're allowed to have in the WHOLE day! YIKES!!! Think about switching to sugar free creamers and syrups while you're trying to get your body into ketosis. REMEMBER, every carbohydrate breaks down the same way, straight into sugar in the body. Let me repeat that... EVERY CARB WHETHER IT IS BROWN RICE OR A BAG OF SKITTLES WILL BREAK DOWN INTO SUGAR IN THE BODY AND GET STORED AS FAT!!
We recommend keeping track of what you eat with an app. Our favorite app is CARB MANAGER. Carb manager will calculate your NET CARBS for you (total carbs-fiber=net carbs). If you're unsure of what app to use, here is a nice break down of several apps we compared.
HERE is a step by step guide to setting up your macros in carb manager. Please download this set up your macros in carb manager as this states. If you need help, please text me 814.771.4377.
Ok, HARD part is over! Yayy!
Now that the hard part is over, all you really have to do is start tracking what you're eating. Include EVERYTHING! Coffee, coffee creamers, sugar, butters and oils you fry your food in, count that one french fry you had a Mcdonalds! Keep track so YOU KNOW about how much food you're supposed to be eating! If you don't track, how the heck are you supposed to know if what you're eating will work for you? Keep track in your app and do this for a minimum of 2 weeks until you figure out about how much you should be eating a day.
What to Eat on a Ketogenic Diet?
I always get this question. As long as you start cutting out the obvious... breads, sugar, soda, crackers, etc you're already well on your way to a keto life. Here is a simplified grocery list of some essentials you'll need in your fridge to be successful on the ketogenic diet.
- Meats- beef, lamb, poultry, etc
- Fish & Seafood AT LEAST TWICE A WEEK
- Eggs- Organic and free range is best
- Leafy greens- spinach, kale, etc
- Non-Starchy veggies- broccoli, cauliflower, etc
- High Fat Dairy- hard cheeses, high fat cream, grass fed butter (ghee or kerrygold)
- Nuts and seeds- pecans, macadamias, walnuts, sunflower seeds
- Sweeteners- Stevia, erythritol, xylitol
- Other fats- coconut oil, high fat salad dressing, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil
As far as eating on a ketogenic diet, try to aim for fresh veggies, good fat sources like avocado oil, olive oil, cheeses, olives, etc. and stay within your protein goals. The first 30 days of a ketogenic diet you should be focused on keeping your carb grams at 25g or lower a day. THAT IS IT. Don't worry about getting all the fat in, stay AT your protein goal or under. Never over. Our bodies go through a process called gluconeogenesis where it can turn excess protein into glucose to be stored as energy. FOCUS ON CARBS AND PROTEIN for 30 days. Worry about fat later. PERIOD. This is the way i coach ALL my customers and they all have success with it. To find out more, please visit the TS Transformations Community on facebook.
What Foods Should You Avoid On Keto?
- Grains- wheat, corn, rice, cereal, etc.
- Sugar- honey, agave, maple syrup, etc
- Fruit- most fruits contain a ton of natural sugar. Berries are OK as they have a very low insulin and glycemic index (they will not shoot your blood sugar too high when consumed)
- Tubers- Potatoes, Yams, etc
- Bad Sweeteners- aspartame, sucralose, sacchrine, sweet and low, equal, etc.
The Keto Flu. What is it & how to avoid it?
Adapting to the ketogenic diet can feel legit just like the flu! =( Tiredness, fatigue, stomach pains, and dizziness are very common symptoms of the keto flu. The keto flu is caused by carb restriction. It's your body DETOXING from carbohydrates! If this doesn't tell you that carbs and sugars are bad for ya, just wait til you detox! YUCK!
Although the keto flu is totally normal, there are ways to derail that train!
I wish someone would have told me about these gold nuggets when I first experienced the keto flu!! Exogenous ketones is a super fancy word for synthetic ketones. Man made ketones. All they do is just tell the body like "heyyyyy..... we have some ketones here! Let's use them up for energy and let's start making some more!". During the keto flu process your body is depleting carbs but is not producing ketones until around day 9. The exogenous ketones will help tremendously with the transition of carb depletion and the start of making ketones. Plus when those ketones are present, you barely feel any of that keto flu crap!!
Did i mention having these buggers around can come in handy. Listen to the scenario:
Let's say you're out with your friends for an evening and you haven't really told them about your new lifestyle yet so you don't make menu changes when it comes to your night out. The margaritas start flowing and before you know it you've gone completely over your carb macros for the day and you knock yourself out of ketosis. Yes, you're gonna knock yourself out. So you have two choices... 1. Jump right back on board tomorrow and you'll "probably" experience keto flu AGAIN. or 2. Go back to old habits.
When people do this, unfortunately they want to aim for option 2. They start with that negative self talk again of "I can't do this" and they give up! But guess what... if you had your handy GoBHB ketones handy you'll avoid that crazy keto flu and continue on again AND... GET BACK INTO KETOSIS FASTER!
Xtreme Ketosis will be a miracle worker, and you'll thank me later!
Electrolytes... Why do we need them?
Proper micronutrient intake is just as important as a well-formulated macronutrient intake. Electrolytes become depleted on a ketogenic diet due to increased water excretion and decreased water retention. Important electrolytes to focus on during a ketogenic diet are sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
Simply put, your body holds onto LESS water with a ketogenic diet. When you're excreting water instead of holding onto it, the potassium, sodium and magnesium will also deplete from your system as well and can cause some symptoms like heart palpations, dizziness, general uneasiness and so on and you shouldn't shake a stick at this kind of stuff! Drink propel, pickle juice throughout the day to replace lost electrolytes or take Xtreme Electrolytes. Simple as that. Whichever you decide is fine with us, just as long as you make sure you're getting these micronutrients each day!
There's a lot more to learn about keto and I've just scratched the surface but these basics should get you started and well on your way to your new lifestyle. If you're interested in learning more, please join us in the TS Transformations Community where we do live coaching a few times a week!
You don't lose weight to get healthy. You get healthy to lose weight. Ketosis is more than weight loss. Your goal should be to get healthy. Making sure you get as much nutrients as you can from the foods that you eat and making sure you're eating QUALITY food. Ketosis is healthy because it allows your body to run off fats, which is "cleaner" fuel.
An average body needs between 6-8 cups of veggies or salad per day to meet the required amount of some nutrients like potassium. Bananas are too high in sugar and only provide about 300mg of potassium. Veggies and salad in larger quantities can provide the required nutrients without spiking blood sugar.
If you're NOT eating that many veggies on your ketogenic diet, we recommend supplementing with a simple greens supplement. These supplements can be found mostly anywhere but they are cheaper on Amazon. I did hear that even Walmart has green supplement that is chocolate flavored.
What about calories? Do they matter?
Calories in vs calories out= WEIGHT LOSS. I'm sure you've heard the term right? Well is this true? I am not totally ruling calories out here, and I still do believe the term calories in vs calories out. However, 100 calories from a donut is certainly different than 100 calories from fresh green spinach. Wouldn't you agree? We want you focusing on the QUALITY of food rather than the QUANTITY of food.
The keto diet calculator will give you a rough estimate of the number of calories you should be consuming a day. Aim for that number. If you don't make it to the total count for the day, that's ok! Just be sure you're getting vitamins and minerals that your body needs to run and function properly.
Bulletproof coffee? What is it & Do we need it?
Ohhhh bulletproof coffee. The amazing little drink that can give you a boost in 30 second flat! I love my bulletproof coffee. I drink it ONLY because I do not eat enough fat throughout the day. If you find yourself having a hard time getting all the fat in, grab one of these babies. But, in all reality, you do NOT need to drink bulletproof coffee on a ketogenic diet.
Intermittent Fasting? Do I have to practice this with Keto?
Naturally, once your body starts entering the state of ketosis, you'll benefit from a decreased appetite naturally. Must you practice intermittent fasting? NO. You can eat all 3 meals if you want, but my theory is-- if you're not hungry, don't eat. Simple as that. I drink coffee in the morning because I'm just not hungry! I have my first meal around 11 am and go about my day. If you want to learn more about intermittent fasting, please read this article.
Sometimes, our bodies will rebel against us and all this fat we're consuming and decide to bless you with some bloatedness, uneasiness in the tummy, constipation, and so on. This could be a sign that you're eating TOO MUCH fat so it's totally ok to back that down a bit. However, constipation is not a fun thing to be every day so we do recommend maybe taking some probiotics/prebiotics to help with the constipation and gut health. We recommend Lean for this. It's not only going to help in the bathroom, but will offer you some phenomenal fat burning effects as well.
Fat Bombs! Fat Bombs everywhere!
Fat bombs, AKA little bites of pure freaking heaven! Seriously, if you're craving on the keto diet for some sweets, fat bombs will be your saving grace! Do you need to eat them? Nahhh but we deserve some pure goodness once in awhile! Also they'll help keep you fuller longer and you can avoid snacking inbetween meals. They are also great for late night treats if you're one of those night time pickers! There's a ton of fat bomb recipes out there. Here's a few of our favorites on Pinterest.
Do I need supplements to start the keto way of eating?
My tried and true answer? NO. YOU REALLY DO NOT NEED A THING TO START. However, not everyone has willpower to start this lifestyle change hiding in their back pocket and that's honestly what supplements are for! To help "supplement" your other efforts! Use them to your advantage!
Appetite suppression and craving control supplements I suggest: Slim & Burn
These 2 supplements will also help with detox, energy, sluggish bowels, focus, and weight loss plus added fat burning.