Learning the basics of what a keto diet is in the first place? Check.
Dreaming a bit about all the benefits you’ll eventually get from it? Check.
Noting down the foods you should eat (and the ones to avoid)? Check.
Well done, it seems you’re all set to start your journey into ketosis! Let us guide you with a comprehensive list of advice on the first steps to make - and the possible challenges along the way.
Step 1: Learn all the details about ketosis and the keto diet
The core concept of the keto diet is pretty simple: cut the carbs, feast on the fats, don’t forget the proteins. However, just like any other serious idea, movement, or doctrine, it has a whole lot of details to dig in and consider before jumping straight into action.
For example, what about professional bodybuilding during ketosis? Granted, there’s enough data suggesting that ketones improve physical performance, but don’t you need much more protein to build muscle mass than recommended during the keto diet? Are there any health contra-indications to this diet? Possible risks and side effects? Should you buy a bunch of supplements to support you along the way?
Give yourself enough time and write down all the questions and doubts you have about going keto. Finding the answers to them will allow you to start your journey with a peaceful mind and a dedicated resolve, and both of these components are essential for success in the long run.
Step 2: Find 16 keto-friendly recipes that sound like something you’d like
That’s four recipes for each major meal time of the day (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and four extra recipes for keto-friendly snacks.
Preparing a delicious cooking list beforehand will protect you from the so-called analysis paralysis, a state when you find yourself unable to make a choice due to the abundance of factors to consider and thus make an unhealthy or detrimental choice («Screw keto, I’m ordering pizza»).
Also, coming up with an exciting menu will make you look forward to starting and following your diet in the first place.
Step 3: Plan ahead on what you’re going to cook and when
Finding a bunch of keto-friendly foods that sound great is just the start: you’ll need time to cook the stuff, which isn’t that easy for some folks.
For example, the start of the workweek is usually a violent time with little to no openings for a good keto-cooking session. Wednesdays are more like it, and the weekends are just perfect.
Planning your culinary efforts ahead significantly boosts your chances to actually do the cooking, so book that evening of yours for some ketogenic dedication in the kitchen.
Step 4: Buy in bulk
This advice is based on 2 simple reasons:
- Cheaper ingredients. It never hurts to save a few dollars when you have the chance, right?
- Increased probability of sticking to the chosen foods. Buying the right ingredients is already a commitment to actually eating them, so opt for more over less. Having a few delicious steaks waiting for you in the freezer makes you more likely to eat them when you’ll get hungry instead of going out for some junk food.
Also, buying in bulk is absolutely necessary for our next step, which is…
Step 5: Cook in bulk
Have you ever thought why most bodybuilders, athletes, and serious dieters cook in bulk and way beforehand, sometimes for the whole week at once?
Because having a stack of containers with pre-cooked food basically frees you from any doubts or needless thoughts whatsoever: you grab the lunchbox, you eat the stuff, that’s it. No excuses for not doing it.
Step 6: Don’t underestimate the power of keto snacks
There will be times when you’ll find yourself having trouble meeting your macros (macronutrient requirements), especially when it comes to fats. There also will be times when you’ll be suddenly struck with hunger somewhere on the go, faced with the need to get yourself something to eat.
The solution to both of these problems are keto-friendly snacks, sometimes referred to as fat bombs. These are quick bites prepared from accepted ingredients, easy to carry with you and chomp on should the need arise.
In a certain sense, these are no less important than your major meal times, so make sure to cook a lot of keto snacks as well.
Step 7: Keep an eye on your water intake
Let’s get this straight: forcing your body to shift from a carb-oriented to a fat-oriented metabolism of energy is already as stressful as could be. The worse thing you could do in such a situation would be to get yourself some extra stress in form of water imbalance or lack of nutrients.
Also, some keto experts state that the ketogenic diet is mildly diuretic (meaning it increases the amount of water and salts expelled from the body through urination) and thus recommend increasing water intake and counting your micronutrients as well.
The general recommendation here is to listen closely to your body and drink when you’re thirsty, but The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine affirms that a daily intake of about 3.7 liters for men and 2.7 liters for women is the adequate amount.
Step 8: Keep track of your keto effectiveness
To make sure you’re doing everything right in your keto efforts, it’s important to keep track of the essential numbers: namely, it’s the level of ketones in your body.
The easiest way to do that is with the help of ketone test reagent strips for urinalysis. No need for blood samples, no need to go to any labs: these provide fairly accurate results.
Although there is no universal recommendation on how often you should perform this test, here are a few milestones to consider:
- End of week 1: Initial adaptation, beginning of the «keto flu» (note that not everyone is affected)
- End of week 3: End of the keto flu (for those who happened to catch it)
- End of week 4: The first big milestone. A total blood count is also recommended at this point, just to stay in touch with everything that’s happening in your body.
Getting started with keto is actually much easier than it may sound. Find a few recipes that resonate with your personal taste in food, try them out, stick to the recommendations - since and repeat, control for success.
All of the steps described above are, in reality, just friendly advice to help you with the most common troubles that beginner keto-dieters experience at the start of their journeys.
But, of course, that’s far from being all that can be said on the matter of ketosis and health. Stay tuned - more advanced articles are coming out soon, here on OneEarthHealth!