How to Start a Ketogenic Diet?
There are some really simple and practical things we can do before entering a ketogenic diet. The more prepared you are the better the adherence. Below are some very effective strategies for getting into ketosis and staying there:
Calculate your macronutrients
If you have a decent nutritional app (Carb Manager seems to be pretty good) you can calculate your macronutrient split expressed as a percentage of total daily calories. Otherwise, speak to a nutrition coach who can help you set up your macro split and total calorie targets, also expressed as grams which keep things easy. As a general rule of thumb, you should keep your net carbs to around 10-15% of your total calories. Your fat intake should be +60% of total calories. Lastly, your protein intake should be minimum. 1.2g per kg of lean bodyweight. Feel free to Email me if you need help with this.
The kitchen is where any diet will be made or broken. I would never suggest you have to have everything measured, weight and popped in Tupperware, for this diet to work, but you will need to have some bases covered. Before beginning a new strategy it’s always a good idea to cleanse your fridge and pantry of any foods that don’t serve your goal or health.
I talked about this a lot on my YouTube channel but adherence is 30% about understanding the mechanics of a diet and 70% about creating new habits that supersede old negative habits or patterns of behaviour around food. We are all human and riddled with imperfections* such as impulses, cravings, proclivities and addictions. Cleansing your kitchen is an effective way to remove foods that are the go-to when the cravings hit, if their temptation isn’t physically there then problem solved.
Remove any foods that are highly refined and/or high in carbs/sugar.
- Fruit juice
- Processed Snacks
Instead, stock your kitchen with health-promoting, nutrient-rich foods. Foods which are natural and unprocessed will ensure you’re two steps ahead, even before you’ve restricted carbs and got into ketosis.
Staples for a keto kitchen include:
- Olive oil
- Cruciferous vegetables
- MCT oil
- Sea salt
Grabbing food on the run can be tricky on a keto diet, certainly not impossible, but at times a challenge. Dining out is usually easier, it might mean you have to go slightly off-piste with the menu, but in my experience staff/chefs are very accommodating. If in doubt order some keto-friendly sides.
Now it’s time to create your culinary masterpiece. If you need inspiration head to my keto recipes – they are all gluten-free, ethical and keto-friendly, otherwise here are some guiding principles:
• Don’t snack
• Have 1, 2, or 3 meals per day
• Aim for 10-12 hour feeding window
• Base eat a meal on protein – as ethical as you can afford
• Aim for 1-2 palm-sized serves of protein with each meal
• Aim to have 2-3 fist size serves of above-ground veggies per meal
• 1-2 thumb size serves of healthful fats with each meal
• Season your food
• Drink minimum 2 litres water per day (more if hot/humid or exercising)
Example of keto meals:
- Jerk Chicken
- Scrambled eggs
- Liver and onion
- Pan-fried fish
- Butter chicken
- Green Thai curry
- Roast chicken
- Pork belly
Prepare to feel sub-par for a few days
I go into more depth about this in my previous blog (Can I still work-out while beginning the keto diet?) but there is a fair chance you may experience a few bumps during the on-boarding stage. This is known as keto flu and symptoms include headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue and brain fog. Keto flu typically lasts 3-5 days but can last 3 weeks in rare cases and is the product of short term loss of water, sodium and potassium. The symptoms are also due to the short-term reductions in fuel availability to the brain and nervous system.
In short, nothing to worry about but following some of these recommendations will help to reduce the duration and severity of keto flu.
- Drink Plenty of Water
- Drink Apple Cider Vinegar
- Add Electrolytes
- Add MCT Oil
- Add More Fat
- Reduce Carbs Further
- Drink Coffee
- Avoid Snacking
- Cold Emersion
Subjective and objective measures
If this is your first shot at keto I’d suggest getting a ketone blood monitor to test whether you have achieved ketosis or not. Test daily until you have attained > 0.5mmol ketones in your blood. Once you spend enough duration in ketosis begin to subjectively assess how you feel to get a qualitative feel. This method might prove to be easier in the long-term. However, it’s necessary to quantifiably measure ketones at the start.
Any questions about starting keto or a health plan, or perhaps you want to tweak your existing strategy email me at [email protected]
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