How to Start on the Ketogenic Diet
Maybe this is your first attempt at dieting, maybe you’ve tried them all with some or no success, whatever your backstory you have found yourself checking out the Keto Diet as an option. You might have even landed here by accident but now you are curious about what the Keto Diet is.
Basically, the ketogenic diet is based on Ketosis – a metabolic state in which some of your body’s energy supply comes from ketones in the blood. When in ketosis fat reserves are readily released and consumed – your body’s “fat burning mode”.
Keto is similar to Adkins
Remember the popular Atkins diet of the 90’s? This is similar to that in that it’s a high fat and low carb way of eating. The diet encourages generous amounts of meats, real butter, and other healthy fats while avoiding processed foods, pasta, and grains.
There are some differences between the two programs, but I won’t be going into that. I will, however, be giving you tips on how to start on the ketogenic diet so you can have the most success with this way of eating.
DISCLAIMER: I’m not a doctor (nor have I have ever claimed to be one), so I can’t tell you if this way of eating is good for your overall health. As with any diet, always check with your doctor before starting a new plan.
While the ketogenic diet is considered somewhat controversial, it is a less restrictive plan with good sources of natural carbohydrates and some doctors have researched it so they understand how it works.
Now that we got that out of the way…let’s dig into getting started on the keto diet!
How to Start on the Ketogenic Diet
Research the Keto Diet
Since you are here reading this you are probably already doing just that. Look into things like:
- the basics – this post explains the basics of the ketogenic diet and how to get started. You’re in the right place!
- what makes up the Keto diet – the ketogenic diet consists of counting macros. Macros are your protein, carb, and fat intake. Each of us has our own unique numbers to reach every day, but a good rule of thumb is to keep your carbs under 20 net carbs per day with moderate protein and higher fat.
You can use a keto calculator (which is discussed further down in this article) to help you find what your numbers should be.
- how long it lasts – the ketogenic plan lasts as long as you continue this way of eating (WOE). As with any meal plan, you need to talk to your primary doctor first and discuss your personal health care.
- what the benefits are to following a ketogenic lifestyle – there are many benefits to this way of eating, click on the link to learn more.
- the drawbacks – one of the biggest drawbacks to the keto lifestyle is called keto flu. Keto flu generally occurs the first 3-5 days after starting this way of eating. Signs of the ketogenic flu include sugar cravings, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, difficulty sleeping, irritability, and difficulty focusing.
Basically, your body is adjusting to this new plan and the keto flu is its way of fighting the process to a healthier lifestyle. Stay tuned for more on the keto flu and how you can cure it or not even get it.
- the different types of the keto diet – depending on how aggressive you want to be in your fat burning journey will determine which type of plan you want to follow. You could be on a standard, targeted or cyclic, restricted or even a lazy keto diet plan. Stay tuned for more on the different types of keto diet plans you can follow.
Check out our Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet and Lifestyle
Keto Diet Tip #1: Jot down a pros and cons list of how this way of eating can help the overall of you or anyone that is going to be doing the keto diet with you so you can take that with you to discuss with your doctor.
Commit to this new way of eating
If you made it through the research and you know the ins and outs of the diet and still want to do it, be sure you are 100% committed to this WOE (way of eating).
From the beginning, you need to be committed to it because it’s not like your typical diet and sometimes a little cheat will have disastrous results.
As with any diet, keto will be as successful as you commit and stick to it being. In the beginning, you may cheat and I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s okay. Just get back on track and keep going.
Keto Diet Tip #2: Print this free weight loss contract and commit to yourself that you can do this! You are your biggest success story and when you believe in yourself, anything is possible.
Use a ketogenic calculator
Before you start this way of eating, you need to determine your body’s nutritional needs. You can use a keto calculator to help you with that. This is the ketogenic calculator I used. It was the easiest to calculate the number of macros and calories I needed to start the keto diet.
Get rid of non-keto-friendly foods
Once you learn what’s on the keto approved the list and what is not clear out your refrigerator and pantry of sabotaging snacks and recipe ingredients except those that the rest of the family will be eating up (unless everyone is going keto).
Obvious items like potato chips, pasta, and cookies are not the only culprits.
The name of the game in keto is super low carb, less than 20 net grams per day, and you want those coming from healthy foods like veggies. You will be surprised how much sugar…carbohydrates are in things like canned pasta sauce, gluten-free items, and other so-called diet foods.
Check labels on everything and stick to basics when you are just beginning.
Check out our 20 Must-Have Items to Keep on Hand with the Keto Diet
Keto Diet Tip #3: To calculate carbs based on net grams, simply subtract the total carbs from fiber and you will get the net carbs for products with a nutrition label.
Test your ketones
Once you have been on the ketogenic diet plan for a week or two, use ketone testing strips to check if your body is in ketosis. A state of ketosis means your body is in a fat burning state.
When you reach ketosis, you will notice that your metabolism is boosted and energy levels are elevated.
Go shopping for keto-friendly foods
Now that you have emptied out your food supply (I know that was hard on you), you want to replenish it with keto approved snacks, drinks, and meal ingredients. I will go more into this kind of list in another post but for now, I will give you quick basic list:
- various meat
- hard cheeses
- heavy cream
- cream cheese
- low carb veggies like spinach, broccoli, green beans, and radishes
You want to steer clear of the vegetables that are grown in the ground, but remember leafy greens are your best friend. Items like pickles, berries, pork rinds, low carb beef jerky, low carb full-fat Greek yogurt, and fat bombs will make up most of your snacks.
Keto Diet Tip #4: Make a list of the approved foods you can eat on the ketogenic diet and keep it where you meal plan. This will help you as you start your journey to weight loss.
Keep a food journal
Writing down what you are eating is probably one of the biggest ways you can be successful on the keto diet. You can keep the food journal on paper or by using apps like My Fitness Pal or Stupid Simple Keto.
Each of these apps allows you to count calories and macros (protein, carbs, and fats) so you can be successful on the keto diet. These apps do offer a paid subscription service to access additional things within the app, but I have been able to use the free version without any problems.
Prep Your Meals In Advance
I have found with any new way of eating it is much easier to stick to if you plan and prep in advance. Have something on hand to combat sugar cravings, cravings for crunchy snacks like chips, soda, etc..
Prepare meals in advance to freeze or put in easy to grab containers. Success will be your reward when you make it easy on yourself by putting in a couple hours each week to prepare for coming meals and snacks.
Keto Diet Tip #5: I have found that prepping meals twice a week works best for me. This ensures my approved snacks and meals are fresh so I usually prep meals on Sunday and Wednesday. This works for me, but it may not work best for everyone.
Some people on this way of eating prep their meals every evening. Do what works best for you and the time you have available.
Take measurements & weight regularly
Before you start day 1 of your journey, take your measurements and weight then jot them down in your food journal or on your meal plan. On the keto diet or any plan, weight is not necessarily based on the number you see on the scale.
Everyone loses weight differently so by weighing in and taking measurements weekly, you can really see how you lose weight from week to week. It will also give you insight into what is working and what’s not working for your body type.
Keto Diet Tip #6: This will help keep you motivated if you see the numbers going down or it can also help you figure out where you need to improve. Trust me, there will be times when the numbers don’t change.
It can be discouraging, but you can find ways to tweak your plan to be successful when you have your measurements and food journal.
Find a support system
After you get started on the keto diet and start seeing results, you will want to tell everyone you know about the ketogenic diet. The funny thing is you may already know someone on this program and/or you will have people asking you questions about it. Those people are your support group!
They are your biggest supporters when you have questions, your weight loss plateaus or you just need someone to keep you going on this new lifestyle journey. Keep those people close and form your own “support system” to help each other on the path to weight loss success.
You will all be each other’s biggest cheerleaders on this journey.
Check out our 15 Not So Secret Ketogenic Diet Tips and Tricks for Success
That’s it for now…I’m sure your mind is swirling with questions and you may even be in information overload. It’s okay! Take it slow and ask questions! We will have more information on the benefits of the ketogenic diet later this week. Stay tuned!
I am a mom of 2 little ones. A 2 year old little girl and a 9 month old boy. When i was pregnant with my son i weighed 298lbs. After i had him i got down to 270lbs. I struggled with postpartum depression. Everyday I was so disgusted with myself. One day i had enough and decided it was time to change my life. I was a little afraid that i wouldn’t be able to do it, but once i started counting calories i couldn’t stop. I got down to 217lbs, but then my weight stopped. It took me 2 or 3 weeks to figure out what i needed to do and start losing again. I had switched to macro counting and finally got down between 200-199.8. My weight has stalled again. And I’ve heard about the keto diet. But every where i would look everyone wants money. I’m a mom with a budget and can’t afford to spend anything extra (especially if i don’t have to). I’m so grateful I found your site! Thank you for sharing the keto information. My goal is to be 170 (hopefully) by my 1 year mark of my weight loss beginning journey. My 1-year mark is July 21st. If you have anymore more tips i would greatly appreciate it!
Congratulations on your journey Samantha! You are doing amazing on your weight loss journey and I look forward to hearing an update on your progress. Keep up the good work!
With all the high-fat content will my cholesterol sky rocket?
This is something you will want to discuss with your primary care doctor. I am not a doctor and can not give you advice on how the keto diet will affect you.
My husband is a Lineman that needs a hardy meal so dieting has been a struggle..
Thanks for sharing these tips on how to start on the keto diet!
NIce read! I find this article so useful to me as I’m planning to do keto diet someday. Thanks for sharing this information!