How to prepare yourself before you start a ketogenic diet ?
Ketogenic diet beginners mostly go headstrong into the first month of keto, without realizing how difficult it is to make the transition. The first month on ketogenic diet is by far the most critical month which may decide your success or failure.
So you bought couple of keto cookbooks, and read all the blog posts you can to make sure you are ready. But, I beg to differ after coaching 100’s of men and women start and succeed on ketogenic diet I have realized if you do not prepare yourself before getting on board, you are most likely to fail.
For keto diet beginners I’ll explain the concept of ketogenic diet briefly before we move to learn how you can foolproof your keto success.
– Ketogenic diet, is a way of eating where you restrict your carbohydrate intakes to bare minimum and eat lots of fatty foods with moderate protein intake. Typically, the macro breakdown is something like 5% carbs, 20% protein and 75% fat. Once you restrict your carbohydrate intake, very soon your body will run out of glucose to burn for energy. But, our body is designed in such a way, that it switch to fats for fuel. This also known as entering ketosis. By following a keto diet plan, you force your body into the state of nutritional ketosis. The main task is to keep your body into ketosis, as long as possible its reap the benefits. I wrote a comprehensive guide for keto beginners, and also our keto blog covers every aspect of keto diet from every aspect so read these for more clarity.
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10 Tips to prepare for the ‘critical’ first month on keto diet
1. Understand the phases of Keto
Ketogenic diet brings a metabolic shift in your body, i.e. your body starts burning fat (aka ketones) for fuel because the supply of glucose has been cut off. But it isn’t as simple it seems to be, your body will go through many physiological changes to achieve nutritional ketosis and everyone will respond differently.
Learning about the phases your body goes through during the transition to nutritional ketosis can help you.
Phase I – First 8 to 10 hours of starting keto diet
– The body is still absorbing fuel form previous meals
– Within 10 hours after the last carbohydrate containing meal, roughly 50 % of the body’s total energy requirements are being met by free fatty acids (FFA).
Phase II – 1 to 2 days since starting keto
– The body relies on FFA and the breakdown of liver glycogen for its energy requirements.
– Liver glycogen is typically gone within 12 -16 hours.
Phase III – 3 to 4 days since starting keto
– Gluconeogenesis has started: the body has drastically increased the production of glucose from protein and other fuel’s such as lactate, pyruvate and glycerol.
– Tissues other than the brain are decreasing their use of glucose, relying on FFA and ketones instead.
– Protein breakdown has increase.
Phase IV – 4 to 7 days since starting keto
– Ketosis has started and will continue as long as carbohydrates are restricted
– Brain has increased utilisation of Ketones
– The liver has started to produce ketone bodies in large quantities
– Initial side-effects of ketogenic diet, including keto flu, might appear
Phase V – After 7 days since starting keto
– Protein breakdown and gluconeogenesis has decreased considerably
– Major protein sparing adaptations have occurred for ketosis
– Any large fluctuation in blood sugar levels or blood pressure might require immediate attention.
2. Start Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is not only a great way to induce ketosis faster, but also have major health benefits. While many will advice you to start intermittent fasting during the first month of keto to enter ketosis quickly, but it is easier said than done.
Intermittent fasting also improves and regulate your overall relationship with food, appetite and cravings. You will be more conscious about what you eat, why you eat, how much you eat.
Intermittent fasting will also stabilize fluctuating insulin response, this will lead to better hunger control. Intermittent fasting will also balance your hunger hormones, like Leptin, Ghrelin. Your stress hormone Cortisol and fat burning hormone Adiponectin will also be regulated.
But it is difficult to start fasting, especially if you haven’t fasted before. It needs some practice, before you can confidently use intermittent fasting to induce ketosis.
Pro Tip: ‘Eat Stop Eat’ this is the best book I found which taught me everything about fasting and how to use it for weight loss, this is a must read.
3. Plan for Keto Cooking
If you bought couple of ketogenic cookbooks, thinking you’ll sail through cooking your first month of keto recipes! Well then you are up for some surprises, the bread will turn out brittle, the wraps won’t hold and too many eggs!
Hold on, I do not want you to believe that keto cooking is difficult all I mean to say you might need some time to get a hang to it. Not all recipes you make might come out the way you thought, and let me remind you there ain’t many restaurants serving keto foods.
The best way to approach keto cooking is find as many recipes as you can and then shortlist those you will be able to replicate and like.
Prepare your whole week’s meal plan, draft related grocery list and stock up your pantry.
I always found baking low carb breads difficult, until I practiced to perfect it.
Tip: Keep yourself handy with keto fat bombs and keto smoothie recipes, they will go a long way for your snack time. Also create a list of easy to make fall back recipe list which you can use in case a new recipe din’t turn out well.
4. Start Practicing Discipline
I am not being preachy here, but do you know why most people fail in their various endeavours of life?
It’s mostly because of lack of discipline, which leads to various other failure triggers.
If you think you are not in the best shape of your life then it is probably true that your discipline with food and health has not been something to be proud of.
Start being disciplined and follow the keto principles to the T.
There are so many high carb triggers all around us, you might find it very difficult to resist all your temptations all the time.
Being disciplined about how you eat what you eat, there’ll be less chances to fall for temptations.
This is a heathy mindset which will spread into other areas of your life too.
5. Do a Pantry Make Over
Your kitchen and refrigerator is most probably filled with sugary snacks, and all kind of processed foods.
It is the way our food system has been for the last couple of decades and that is why obesity, diabetes and heart diseases have turned into epidemics.
Now that you have decided to try Keto, that means you already know who is the culprit aka the ‘Sugar’ and Fat is not much of an evil what we thought of earlier.
First thing first, get rid of all things sugar, flours, and everything high carbohydrate foods.
Load your pantry with good fats, avocado oils, coconut oils, ghee, butter, cream, cheese. Also figure out what kind of sweetener (zero carb sugar alternatives) you prefer, see for yourself if you like monk fruit sweetness, or splenda or anything else.
Start buying low carb vegetables and low carb fruits, and you need get rid of potatoes and bananas etc. Guide to fruits on Keto. Nuts and seeds are also keto friendly, so buy them in bulk. Guide to nuts and seeds on Keto.
Also find some good sources of grass fed meats, you’ll be eating a lot of meat.
6. Buy ketone strips
Ketone strips will measure blood ketone levels to see if you have entered ketosis or not. It also gives them a measurable result initially, and can help you keep motivated. Even though I personally think it is not a necessity. Still, learn how to measure your ketone levels using ketone strips. How to Measure Ketones for Keto Weight Loss (Blood, Breath, Urine)
7. Start Journaling
Journaling in your initial months can help a lot to make keto work. Journaling what you eat, how you feel, and other aspects of your diet will certainly help in understanding how your body is reacting.
If for some reasons keto doesn’t work for you, then investigating the journal can really help.
P.S. This is not for everyone, some people like journaling, and some don’t. I feel journaling helps, you might disagree and nothing wrong in that.
8. Do Not Set Weight Loss Goals
This is a big one, even though subconsciously you’ll wish to see immediate results. You might also lose 10 -15 lbs in the first month only, but you need to remember this is not a fad diet but it is a lifestyle. While weight loss is a big positive side effect of ketogenic diet, but there is so more than weight loss. You’ll finally feel energetic, your skin will glow, get rid of lifestyle diseases and what not. So, instead of treating it as a weight loss diet, approach this as a new of healthy lifestyle for which weight loss is the bonus gift you’ll receive.
9. Prepare for Keto side effects
When your body enters nutritional ketosis, you might have to deal with some keto side effects. It is also popularly known as Keto flu, it is not something to be afraid of, but better to be prepared for it.
Many keto beginners also suffers from constipation, and you might have to deal with it in your own way. Drink lots of water, and electrolytes.
10. Improve sleep quality and reduce stress
Poor sleep quality and high stress can trigger unwanted bodily enzymes and hormones which leads to accelerated weight gain. In case you sleep poorly or under high stress levels, your body will not respond to the benefits of Keto and you might not see weight loss results.
Improving sleep quality and reducing stress while on keto can help you reach your weight loss goals rapidly.