The Dos and Dont’s When Starting the Keto Diet
disclaimer: i am not a doctor or health coach. this blog post is based on my experience and what worked for me. please consult a doctor for further information about the keto/low carb diet.
Eating loads of fat to lose fat? It didn’t make sense to me whenever my coworkers first introduced me to the ketogenic (aka keto/low carb) diet. How could one possibly lose SO much weight in a short period of time?
As odd as it may seem, it actually worked out pretty well for me. Beginning the day after Thanksgiving to now, I embarked the keto diet journey and lost almost 40 pounds (38 pounds to be exact)! It definitely was not an easy journey. Starting any kind of diet can cause frustration, anger and discouragement. Luckily, I received so much support from my family and friends, which made the journey less painful.
Recently, I had many people ask me how I lost all the weight. What all did you eat? How strict were you with the diet? How often do you exercise? All three of these common questions are valid to ask, but I think I can provide helpful information and advice beyond these common questions. After fully commencing into the keto diet for seven months, here are a few dos and don’ts I discovered whenever I started.
Do your research. Before even beginning the diet, it’s important to do extensive research to see if this diet would fit your lifestyle. Most of the food I eat includes a variety of meats, such as salmon, bacon, ham etc. so if you consider yourself to be vegan or veterinarian, the keto diet can be challenging for you. Although I have recently learned that vegetarians can do the keto diet— just within moderation. To help me fully understand the nuts and bolts on how the keto diet works, I read articles from Keto Dash and ruled.me
Do create a shopping list. Before you officially start going keto, it’s important to create a shopping list so you can start meal prepping. There are many common ingredients whenever it comes to baking and cooking keto recipes. Some common ingredients I use are almond flour, coconut flour, stevia, truvia, erythritol, coconut oil, olive oil, heavy cream, cream cheese and mozzarella cheese. There are SO MANY different ingredients you can use whenever it comes to baking and cooking keto. To help me learn more about the different types of food I could eat, I referred to ruled.me to create my personalized keto shopping list.
Do keep track of your macros (fat, protein and carbs). Whenever I first started tracking my macros, I will admit, it was extremely difficult. It took a lot more time because I had to log everything I was eating. Although it takes more time, IT IS WORTH IT! Tracking my macros REALLY opened my eyes as to what I was consuming into my body. I didn’t realize how much my body was relying on sugar. Keeping track of what you eat helps you understand what your food is made of and keeps you accountable. You will never have to second guess yourself if you are going over your carbs and/or protein. Once you start tracking your macros in your daily routine, you will start to become more knowledgeable about food nutrition. Within four or five months of being keto, I was able to mentally track what I was eating throughout the day and was still going through ketosis. I kept track of my macros through two apps on my phone— MyFitnessPal and Fitocracy Macros. I also used this keto calculator to help me determine how much fat, protein and carbs I should eat in a day. I highly recommend tracking everything you eat until you feel 100% knowledgeable about the food you are eating. I was able to mentally track what I was eating because I ate the same foods routinely. Don’t feel like you have to eat the same food every single day while you are on the keto diet. For me, I like a routine and didn’t mind eating the same foods every day. Although I did like switching up my routine whenever I discovered new recipes.
Do meal prep. I cannot stress enough how helpful it is to meal prep for your week! Especially if you are working a 9-5 job, I found meal prepping to be extremely helpful. I like to meal prep on Sundays because I then have lunch and/or dinner prepared throughout the week. Meal prepping also helps you keep yourself accountable. If I ever had friends that wanted to go out to eat and I knew I had food leftover in my fridge, I would pass on the offer or I would plan accordingly and not make as much food throughout the week. What is interesting about the keto diet is that you can go out to eat and still eat keto friendly meals. I wouldn’t go crazy because it is much easier to control what you are eating whenever you are at home cooking it. Although you can never go wrong with going out to eat with your friends—that’s how most of our friends socialize anyway, being surrounded by food! Reading Perfect Keto helped me understand what exactly I could order whenever it came to sit-down and fast food restaurants.
Don’t feel discouraged. Whenever I first started keto, I remember feeling frustrated all the time. Within the first weeks of being keto, I was losing weight no problem! Within the first three to four weeks of being keto, I was losing about seven pounds! I couldn’t believe how fast I was seeing results. But then after another three to four weeks, I found myself either being the same exact weight OR I was gaining weight. How could that be if I was being extremely strict with what I was eating? After talking to my boyfriend (who is a HUGE health nut—bless his soul for answering all my keto questions), he told me that it was likely my body was hitting a plateau. Meaning, my body was losing so much weight it has “hit a wall.” Once I realized my weight wasn’t changing for a consistent four weeks, it was time for my body to eat more carbs. In other words a cheat day or meal. Now, I highly recommend not going crazy whenever it comes to your body hitting a plateau—that is why I stress a cheat day OR meal. I honestly hate using the term “cheat” because we should be able to have a balanced lifestyle whenever it comes to eating food. Although the reason why I say you should go with a day or a meal is because you won’t know what works for you until you try it. Whenever Ryan (my boyfriend) told me I should consider having a cheat, we first started with having a cheat meal (I think I had donuts for my first cheat meal LOL). After that, I noticed that my body was still in a plateau for another three to four weeks and that is when we decided it was best for me to have a whole cheat day. After a long and exhausting day of eating nothing but carbs, I quickly noticed that my body kick-started into losing more weight the minute I hopped back on the keto wagon. Again, I can’t stress enough how you should strategically plan out cheat days and meals. Obviously if you continue to have more cheat days and meals, your body and will be kicked out of ketosis, which then means your body cannot lose fat. Plan accordingly and strategically. I know cutting back on your favorite foods suck. But whenever you start to see results, it becomes motivating, which then pushes you to stay on track. I think the other benefit of being keto is that you have to keep yourself accountable. Getting yourself into ketosis takes about two to three days, especially more whenever you first start out. The rule of thumb whenever it comes to being into ketosis is to not eat more than 30 grams of carbs a day. In order to keep myself on the safe side, I only ate 20 grams of carbs a day. It’s important to hold yourself accountable throughout the keto diet, but don’t feel discouraged whenever you don’t see results right away. Trust the process. It takes time!
Don’t worry if you start to feel a little sick (AKA the “Keto Flu”). Whenever you first start keto, you may encounter with getting the “keto flu.” I definitely experienced this within the first two or three days of starting the diet. Granted, I did not prepare myself as much as I should have. My first day of keto, I was only eating beef and cheese sticks and was not eating a full meal. I started to feel a little nauseous and sick to my stomach, BUT the minute I read the Diet Doctor’s article on how to cure your keto flu, I drank chicken broth and felt completely back to normal. I know it sounds so strange, but the reason you may start feeling sick is because your body is making the transition on relying on fats instead of carbs for energy. The more salt and fat you consume (whenever you first start out), the less likely you will experience the keto flu.
Don’t eat processed foods (cereal, bread, pasta etc.). This is an obvious “don’t” whenever it comes to starting the keto diet, but it never hurts to say it. Eating processed foods such as cereal, bread, pasta, granola bars etc. is NOT keto friendly. Because these foods are processed, they contain lots of sugar. I recently watched The Magic Pill on Netlflix and it was extremely interesting to see what kind of studies they have found whenever we consume our body with processed foods. Think of it in this perspective: Before processed foods were created, the only kinds of food we could eat were all natural foods such as meat, fruits and vegetables. Being on the keto diet essentially makes us cave men; we only eat food that is natural and is not made in a factory. Stick with foods that are natural and organic—you will provide your body with healthier nutrients and you will feel much more energized! I played soccer the moment I was fives years old and all the way up to my junior year in high school. I was in tip top shape, but never in my life have I felt so energized until I started the keto diet. It is amazing how differently your body feels whenever your fuel it with healthier foods!
Don’t eat too much protein. A common misconception of the keto diet is that you can eat unlimited amounts of meat, which is not true. Yes I eat bacon, prime rib, steak, sausage etc. But I don’t eat these in every single meal! It’s important to include healthy fats in your diet such as avocado, coconut and olive oil, dark chocolate, nuts, eggs, salmon, cheese etc. That is why I recommend tracking your macros so you can avoid eating too much protein. Eating too much protein can kick yourself out of ketosis so make sure you are getting your source of protein in moderation.
Lastly, Don’t give up! Like I mentioned earlier, the process takes time. Do not expect to lose weight overnight. The longer you stick with it, the more likely you will start to see results! I will admit, there were times that I had a cheat meal, but I always made sure to bounce back on the keto wagon. I also reminded myself everyday why I even started keto: To have a healthier lifestyle.
To help myself stay accountable, I have created a Pinterest board with keto recipes I have made. I also bought three great recipe books to help me get started.
- Sweet and Savory Fat Bombs: 100 Delicious Treats for Fat Fats, Ketogenic, Paleo and Low-Carb Diets by Martina Slajerova
- Keto Comfort Foods by Maria Emmerich
- Quick & Easy Ketogenic Cooking by Maria Emmerich
I also HIGHLY recommend following Low Carb Yum and Wholesum Yum on Facebook. Most of the recipes from my Pinterest board have been found through their websites and they are EXTREMELY DELICIOUS and simple to make!
Additionally, I also follow many keto influencers on Instagram to help me stay motivated and inspired. You will be amazed by how many influencers promote the keto lifestyle—a few of my favorite accounts are @ketoincanada, @keto_bee and @ketoflightattendant. They all do a great job of showing different types of food they eat either at home or on the go. It’s also nice to see that you are not alone in the journey.
Although I have reached my weight goal, I still follow the keto diet. At this point in my life, I don’t necessarily call it a diet anymore because I now have incorporated it into my lifestyle. It is so crucial to fuel our bodies with healthy nutrients. For anyone that is beginning this new lifestyle, I am here to support you and be your biggest cheerleader. The hardest part is getting started. Once you get in your groove, you will start to see results. Best of luck!