I’ve seen a lot of people say things like “Im starting the keto diet on Monday and I’m really nervous” and other variations of the same thing.
So I wanted to create this blog post to give you 10 really good pointers for starting a keto diet!
The keto diet isn’t an overly complicated diet – which a fantastic thing – however there are some critical things to know and mistakes to avoid that will REALLY get you started off on the right foot.
With that said, here are my top 10 keto diet tips for beginners!
How To Start Keto The Right Way
1. Track Your Macros From Day One
A keto diet is a diet high in fats, moderate in protein, and very low in carbs.
To get into ketosis, you need a macro ratio of:
- 5% carbs
- 20% proteins
- 75% fats
Or a ratio that is very close to the above.
A keto diet is a HIGH FAT diet. I can’t stress that enough. Most people struggle to get into ketosis because they do not get enough fat in their diet or they get enough fat but also eat too much protein, which will likely prevent you from getting into ketosis because excess protein can be converted to glucose via gluconeogenesis.
The only way you’ll know if you are eating the right ratio of macronutrients is by tracking them!
There are many free apps you can use. A very popular one is myfitnesspal. You can download it on your phone. It’s very easy to use. It will give you a daily reading of your macros.
You also need to track your macros because you will likely encounter some hiccups during your keto journey, like stalling in weight loss or maybe inability to sleep. You need to know what you’ve been eating so you can trouble shoot these problems.
Also, it’s really nice to see your daily macro intake and caloric intake anyway :). And it feels great when you really nail it!
2. Get The Right Amount Of Electrolytes
This one is huge and the number one reason why people feel like crap when starting a ketogenic diet.
They most likely feel lethargic, brain foggy, tired, and overall like a bus hit them because they have an electrolyte imbalance.
The good thing is that this problem is EASILY fixed, or easily PREVENTED.
An electrolyte is a class of minerals essential to your body’s survival. Basically, when you go keto, your body flushes out these electrolytes more rapidly than when you ate a regular high carb diet that retains electrolytes.
The 3 main electrolytes you need to be concerned about are:
You want to make sure you get enough of each. Try and get it through your diet alone. Sometimes that’s hard. You may need to buy supplements. Try not to get sodium or potassium supplements. These two are more easily achieved through food alone. Magnesium is harder to get with food alone, so a magnesium supplement is popular among keto dieters.
A deficiency in any one of these causes a mineral imbalance and also causes your body to have “flu like” symptoms.
If you’ve heard of the “keto flu” then you know what I’m talking about.
I wrote a separate blog post about the keto flu, how to overcome it, and how to flat out prevent it in the first place. You can find it here.
3. Focus On A Few Keto Superpower Foods In The Beginning
In my opinion, to succeed on a keto diet, you are better off focusing on using a few ingredients really really well, rather than looking for a variety of foods to consume.
There are NOT a lot of superpower keto foods. I’m talking foods high in fat and low in carbs, and moderate in protein.
So, a keto superfood like an avocado needs to be used in a variety of ways. You’ll likely find more success making 5 recipes using avocados rather than looking for a bunch of other foods that work well with a keto diet. Keto recipe books help with adding variety and ideas. I do recommend picking one up. But OVERALL, really try and learn MANY ways to use an avocado, or eggs, or bacon, etc. These high fat low carb foods will be a staple in your diet and you want to get damn familiar with them.
4. Don’t Focus On Calories & Eat When You’re Hungry
In my opinion, you shouldn’t count calories in the beginning. This doesn’t mean you get to eat all the keto foods you want whenever you want.
The point is that your body will be going through a lot as you adapt to a ketogenic diet. You are transitioning from fueling your body from glucose to fat. Your body will throw crazy hunger signals at you and be hangry as hell. I think it’s better to eat when you feel the urge to eat – even if it means you are knowingly over eating.
The beginning is the adaptation phase. Once your body is more used to your new diet, your hormones should “chill out” a bit and you should start getting hungry when you actually need food.
In the beginning, simply eat when you’re hungry. Don’t over eat. Eat until you are satisfied. If you find you’ve eaten a lot and you’re still really hungry, then try upping the amount of fats by a lot – which is supposed to satiate you. But again, your body is so used to glucose it may tell you it’s hungry even when you don’t need food. You’ll learn to identify “fake hunger” as time goes along.
5. Understand Your Body Is Going Through A HUGE Metabolic Shift
I touched on this above a little. To reiterate, your body is metabolically changing during this process. A ketogenic diet teaches your body to run on fats for fuel. Your body needs time to create the enzymatic changes to do so. So be patient with it. Continue to make sure you eat a proper keto diet with the right macronutrient ratio.
Don’t get too bummed out if you didn’t hit the right macros for the day. You’re learning how to do this way of eating and that takes time as well. Also, your body may feel like it’s going haywire, but it’s just adapting to your new fuel source.
6. Look For The Fat
The hardest part of going keto is likely NOT reducing carbs from your diet. It will probably be getting enough fats in your diet. Remember, a keto diet is 75% fat. That’s A LOT. So start looking for fatty foods when you go grocery shopping. Start thinking about how you can get MORE fat into your diet.
You’ll eventually learn to put butter in your coffee, spoon feed yourself coconut oil, butter your veggies big time, use bacon grease for everything, etc. You may not do ALL of these things, but I think you get the idea…. this is a very high fat diet and to get into ketosis, you must get enough fats in while keeping carbs low.
7. The Scale Is NOT Your Friend
A lot of people start a keto diet to lose weight! And that’s awesome, cause keto is one of the best, if not the best way to lose fat and keep it off.
However, in the beginning, I would avoid putting too much stock into the scale. When you BEGIN a keto diet, you’ll likely lose a lot of weight, almost immediately. That’s because when you go low carb, you flush out a lot of water immediately….. which means you’ll lose water weight fast.
You’ll eventually start burning fat and the scale will likely continue to move down. But know that during the adaptation phase, your weight could go up and down depending on so many things. So sure, you can step on the scale and have a look… but please don’t get discouraged if you gained a couple pounds overnight. There are so many things your body is going through, it’s not an accurate representation of how well you are doing on the keto diet.
Pay attention to keeping your macro’s in the keto region. Eat when you’re hungry and don’t over eat, and eat high quality nutrient dense foods. Once you get fat adapted, you can really start to fine tune things. I feel strongly in the beginning, you should simply focus on “getting it right”. Or as right as possible, and not worry about the actual weight loss so much. That will come – if it’s not already coming.
8. It Takes Time To Become Keto Adapted
Keto adapted means your body is fully able to run on fats for energy efficiently.
Everyone is different, but transitioning your body to run on fats efficiently takes time. It can take a few months for some people. So be patient.
Keep putting in the hard work. You will get fat adapted eventually. If it takes longer then it takes longer. Don’t get discouraged!
9. Trust Your Body, Not A Book
Books are a guideline to help you get on track. They are incredibly useful and I highly recommend you buy a keto diet book or two to get you started. A great book is called The Keto Diet.
But just keep in mind that you need to trust you and your own body. If you feel something isn’t right, then something probably ins’t right. For example, I talked about “fake hunger” earlier… which is a common thing that happens when you cut carbs out. Sometimes you are TRULY hungry and if your body is screaming at you for food, then you should probably feed it.
Your body will tell you a lot of things so make sure you pay attention to it. Use the advice from helpful books but follow what your body tells you. You’ll learn to understand your body better through this process too.
Some days you really don’t feel like eating at all. You barely ate and you’re not hungry. You’re going to be in a huge calorie deficit if you don’t eat. But a book told you that you need to eat this much and at this ratio every day. Well, if your body doesn’t want the food, then you probably don’t need it! If this is a long term thing that happens, then maybe something else is going on that needs to be addressed. But overall, your body will tell you what it needs.
10. Eat A Paleo Keto Style
A paleo keto style of eating is really just a keto diet that eats healthy foods. I consider paleo healthy because it’s eating whole foods we evolved with eating over time. For me, this is the healthiest way to consume foods. I really recommend eating a CLEAN keto diet. You can absolutely hit your keto macronutrient ratio every day by eating junky foods…. but we’re trying to lose weight and gain optimal health here, and doing that kind of defeats the purpose of a keto diet.
I wrote a blog post about what a paleo keto diet entails here.
11. Continually Educate Yourself
And lastly, you want to continually learn new things. Like all the time. I recommend picking up a keto book or two. And then read stuff online, join keto Facebook groups to learn from others, listen to keto podcasts, etc.
All of these things will help you hone in on living a keto lifestyle efficiently.
You’re not going to be close to perfect when you start. You’ll learn something every day. It could be just a little tip. It all adds up. In just 6 months to a year you could be absolutely a wealth of knowledge on the ketogenic diet. And you’ll obviously be able to use this knowledge on yourself and help others who want it. But you want to make sure to always be learning!
Keto Diet Resources You May Find Useful
The keto diet has been popular for a few years already but is finally now truly exploding in popularity because the truth is coming out about how you actually lose fat and what you actually need to eat for overall optimal health.
If you’re new to keto and need guidance, or you want to start this diet and need resources like cookbooks and keto health info to get you started, I’ll share with you some of my favorite ones below:
Keto Camp is a keto diet guide for beginners that’s well rounded with keto information on general health, using a keto diet specifically to lose weight, and it comes with cookbook and workout resources to burn more fat. If you’re looking for something to get you started, this is a great one.
Keto Diet Cookbook is a really good keto cookbook especially for beginners and people who aren’t great at cooking. The recipes are simple and easy to make, and are specific for weight loss and overall general health. The bonus material will give you a strong foundation of keto knowledge as well. If you’re looking for a great cookbook and want to deepen your understanding of keto, this is a great choice.