Tips & Advice

18 Things to Know Before Starting a Keto Diet

Thinking of starting a keto diet? Here are 18 things people who started the keto diet wish they knew beforehand. They share their advice to make it easier for all new keto beginners out there.

Starting a keto diet? Helpful advice from people who have done it

  1. Be strict for the first 30 days. “I wish someone would have told me to be super-strict for the first month. Eliminate grains, sugars, (personal opinion, dairy) and artificial sweeteners. Whilst eliminating dairy is not part of the standard keto diet, I found it helped curb carb cravings quicker. For me, dairy also seemed to aggravate inflammation and made my weight-loss slower. Overall the ketogenic diet is great and has helped me lose 90lbs in 10 months. Stick to the plan and the results will follow.”
  2. Take enough sodium. “To minimise your chance of experiencing the keto flu, keep your electrolytes up (sodium in particular) – a simple way to do this is to salt your food to taste – or to drink bone broth. You can also add a little salt to your drinking water – not enough to taste.”
  3. Don’t be overwhelmed by macros to begin with. “With the keto diet tracking your macros is a crucial part of the diet’s effectiveness. However, when you’re starting out, just focus on eliminating carbs and sugar and make sure you’re eating enough healthy fat to kill any hunger pangs and cravings. (If you find tracking macros time-consuming, check out our custom meal plans which removes all the headache of tracking macros for you).”
  4. Drink more water than you normally do. “Carbohydrates hold a lot of water and sodium in your body. When you restrict carbs, you need to compensate for the drop in your water and sodium intake. So, drink more and ensure you are eating enough salt. Side effects of dehydration can include flu-like symptoms. Just carry a bottle of water with you – and keep one on your night-stand – and drink whenever you’re thirsty plus a bit more.”
  5. Work up to the 20g of carbs/day over several days. “It can be difficult to go from a high-carb diet to just 20g of carbs a day. If going cold-turkey is too difficult, work towards this goal over the course of a month, reducing your amount each day. If 20g is too low, keto allows you to go up to 100g a day (but try to keep to 20-50g). However,  of course, your weight-loss results will be slower.”
  6. Scales are not the best way to track progress. “Your weight is not a great measure of progress because weight-loss naturally fluctuates (fat loss, however, is quite linear) and if you’re exercising you may be putting on weight in the form of muscle – which is, of course, a good thing. A better way to track your progress is to take body measurements – stomach, waist, biceps, legs etc. Take the time to do this as it’s more accurate and equally motivating.”
  7. You can’t have cheat days. “This is something to bear in mind when starting a keto diet. Other diets let you have cheat days but that doesn’t really work on the keto diet because it can take several days to get back into ketosis once you’re out of it. It’s better that you know this from the start so as not to give yourself false hope! Let go of trying to sneak fun, addictive or white carbs into your macros. Just because you made space for it, does not it’s good for you. Don’t sabotage yourself. Instead of a cheat day – let yourself have a day where you increase your calorie intake if you want – but stay within your macros.”
  8. See carbs as an addiction. “Starting a keto diet, a shift in mindset to start seeing carbs as an addiction helped me. I mean this in a very real sense – just like smoking or gambling or any other harmful activity. Seeing carbs as serious as any other harmful addiction made me more determined to let carbs go. “My carb craving is my addiction talking” is a powerful statement to help you get through the tough times. In fact, it has been estimated that carbs are as addictive as cocaine. Your carb craving is the plea of an addict. Healthy fat can stave off carb cravings. Eat an avocado, take MCT oil, eat bacon, some healthy vegetables…”
  9. Always have keto snacks with you. “Make sure you always have access to some keto food on your person. You don’t know where you might end up during the day – in a restaurant, meeting a client, at a friend’s house, with family – who are not on keto, don’t even know what keto is or who may be hostile to the idea of keto. Being prepared is the easiest way to resist temptation.”
  10. Whatever is manageable for you is good. “You don’t have to be a keto chef putting on dazzling dishes and a wide variety of foods every day. If you know a handful of go-to recipes that work for you, that’s great. (Some people can quite easily eat a food they enjoy every day – if that’s you, stick with it! It will make you’re keto diet so much easier. You’re eating for yourself, you’re not running a keto restaurant – so keep it simple. Alternatively, let someone else do the hard work for you!”
  11. It’s not always going to be fun. “Starting a keto diet is not always fun (but it’s a damn sight more fun than a calorie-restriction diet – and it works). You have to expect that sometimes the food will be boring or you’re going to have to let go of certain comforts and convenience. In the same way we limit a child’s choice of foods for their own good, you need to do the same for yourself. Be an adult about it. For now, train yourself to look at food as nourishment to build a better body – not necessarily as fun or pleasure.”
  12. Ease yourself into it. “For some, starting a keto diet is easier if they prepare for it a couple of weeks in advanced by gradually reducing your carbs and gradually increasing your healthy fat intake. Doing things gradually may also help you avoid the “keto flu” (which some have put down to actual carb withdrawal symptoms). It may take you a couple of weeks to find what works for you in terms of discovering go-to meals, knowing your trigger points, getting comfortable tracking macros etc. You don’t have to do it all from day one.” 
  13. Keep it simple. “You can make starting a keto diet simple or complex. If you love cooking, go for it – make keto as varied and as exciting as you want. If your culinary experience extends to little more than boiling eggs, well then… boil eggs! Find what works for you. For most people, keto is an aid to weight loss and it doesn’t have to be this “Instagram lifestyle” thing. If eating bowls of chilli or chicken wings is your keto meal, more power to you.”
  14. It’s tricky to start with but becomes easy. “I eat a more relaxed version of the keto diet – up to 50g carbs – works for me. This is higher than the daily 20g the standard keto diet states but you still get results – it just takes a little longer. If you’re struggling to reach your daily fat intake amount, drink bulletproof coffee, coconut oil/MCT, full-fat cream, butter alongside the usual keto staples of meat, eggs, bacon, avocados, dripping. Some say it can take up to six months to become fully keto adapted, until then, expect some hiccups but once you are adapted, you really don’t need to do much to maintain your natural weight.” 
  15. Eat the keto you want to eat. “There is no requirement to eat every keto meal out there! Eat what you like and skip the stuff you don’t. There’s enough variety out there and if you’re one of those people who doesn’t really need variety, go for it. And – as is often the case with keto – if you don’t feel like eating, then don’t! It’s not a competition, it’s not a race. Start at your own pace, eat what you want to eat – social media posts are not compulsory! So long as you are following the keto diet in terms of macronutrients and not exceeding 100g of carbs a day (preferably 20g – but you may need to work up to that) – there is leeway in how you do keto.”
  16. Prepare for the keto flu. “Not everyone gets the keto flu but a significant number do. It’s not ebola – there’s nothing to worry about. You’ll feel poorly for a few days – like a common cold. The keto flu can be avoided/minimised with a good magnesium and potassium supplement and by drinking enough water”.
  17. Get friends, family and colleagues on board. “If you can, get the support of trusted, helpful friends, family and colleagues behind your diet. However, don’t mention the word “keto”. Too many people are just too brainwashed into believing fat is bad and low-fat is good. It’s not your job to convert them – they will realise for themselves one day (or not). Just let them know you’re on a diet and part of it is to reduce your carbs and sugar. No details necessary, just say you’re “cutting down” on certain items. Having supportive people behind you can make all the difference. And if they can’t be supportive (make that judgement call before), don’t say anything and perhaps avoid them when you’re just starting a keto diet.”
  18. Just start. “As with most things in life, the best thing you can do is just start. You will learn as you go and there’s not too much that can go wrong in the grand scheme of things if you stick to the following: no more than 20g of carbs a day (100g if you’re starting out, and reduce from there); eat more healthy fats and cut out all sugar. Just get the basics down. You will see wonderful results which will inspire you further. You’ll wonder why you didn’t start keto sooner. It really is that simple!”

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