Now, I’m no expert on the Ketogenic Diet, nor am I a doctor or a Dietician—so the information I am providing you is based solely on my personal experience.
If you are interested in jumping on the Keto bandwagon it could be for a number of reasons; health, weight loss, illness or just to rid yourself of your addiction to sugar. It could also be a combination of these things, like it is for me.
It can often times be overwhelming when you decide to basically overhaul your entire thought process and way of life, but if you’re prepared and educated it makes it much easier on you and much more sustainable. Let’s start off by naming the things you should NOT do.
Don’t go against any medical advice given to you by your doctor, especially if you have an existing health condition that could be effected in the process. Although there are a lot of benefits to going Keto if you have certain diseases or illnesses your doctor knows what’s best for you and your particular situation.
Don’t start doing Keto without doing your research. When I first started, I did a little research, but not enough and my first three days I felt like I was starving. There are a bunch of great resources on the internet on what foods to eat, which to stay away from and how to figure out which way to go about Keto for your specific lifestyle.
Don’t worry about your calories for the first few weeks! I see this question pop up all the time, where people are afraid of “eating too many calories”. Per 1g of fat there is 9 calories (1g carb = 4 calories, 1g of protein = 4 calories), so fat is going to take up a lot of your calories, because they are naturally higher in them. The good thing about Keto is that more fat is better because it helps keep you satiated longer and has great health benefits! If you focus more so on your macronutrient intake you are better off, because not all calories are created equal. That is if you decide to track your macros (which I recommend).
Don’t have a negative attitude! This doesn’t necessarily have to do with Keto, but basically if you say you “can’t” do something you probably won’t because you already believe that’s going to be the outcome. I used to set myself up all the time for this and I would end up binging and feeling defeated. It was an endless cycle.
Don’t do Keto if this is just a “quick fix”. I believe wholeheartedly that Keto is meant as a way of life. Obviously, if you do any “diet” just to shave of a few pounds and then go back to the way you were eating before you will likely gain the weight back. Same goes for Keto. As you become keto-adapted and fat-adapted (if you do it for longer) you will eventually be able to eat more carbs, but you still have to be relatively low carb/high fat to maintain your weight. Everyone’s body will react differently and that is something to always keep in mind.
Don’t neglect your electrolytes. Sodium, potassium and magnesium are crucial in the body and when you go on a low carb diet, a diuretic-like effect happens and your body flushes out stored water along with those electrolytes. You will feel it! This is what causes “Keto flu” symptoms (along with detoxing off of sugar). You may experience brain fog, headache/migraines, muscle spasms/aches, dizziness and more. If you replenish said electrolytes you can actually avoid Keto flu symptoms (which I didn’t, unfortunately) I recommend either supplementing with the supplements they sell at the drug store or you can make “Ketorade”! I personally drink two to three 32 ounce glasses of Ketorade daily. Each glass has 1/4 teaspoon of pink Himalayan sea salt (or table salt), 1/4 teaspoon of Lite Salt (sodium/potassium) and I usually mix this with Mio’s electrolyte drops, they’re sugar-free and calorie free!
Now, I think I covered most of the “don’ts”, so let’s move on to the “do’s”!
Do find a method of Keto that works for you and your individual lifestyle! There’s a lot of different approaches to Keto, and you need to do what is best for you! If tracking macros and calories stresses you out so much that it makes you question your lifestyle change, try out lazy Keto. Eat high fat, low carb and moderate amounts of protein until you are satisfied. (Usually 75% fat, 20% protein & 5% carbohydrates) People still lose weight and receive the health benefits of Keto by living this way it may just take a little longer. If you’re like me and you don’t quite trust yourself to not over eat, track your macros. I recalculate them every ten pounds I lose. Do realize this is not a one-size-fits-all type of lifestyle, so not one approach to doing Keto is the “right” way.
Do listen to what your body is telling you. You shouldn’t feel hungry on Keto, especially if you are already adapted. It has been proven that your body tells you you’re thirsty the same way it tells you it’s hungry. Your stomach may growl even for thirst. Drink a big glass of water and wait ten minutes—if your stomach is still growling consistently, eat. Use fat to keep you satiated throughout the day (that’s what it’s for!) Our bodies are awesome machines that need to be listened to regularly. If you have a splitting headache all of a sudden, maybe you’re slightly dehydrated or need some electrolytes…just listen to that beautiful body of yours and what it’s saying and everything will be alright!
Do eat lots of whole foods! Don’t get me wrong, I love my occasional (sometimes more than occasional) bun-less McDouble, but I don’t eat that all day everyday! Make your foods as often as you can, because that way you know exactly what’s in it and how it was made (with love, obviously). Some people avoid all kinds of fast food altogether (and that’s completely fine!), some people (like me) just adapt everything to their lifestyle (and that’s also fine), but make sure there is a balance so you can reap ALL of the benefits of this way of life!
Do love your body at every stage during this journey! This applies to all lifestyles, but particularly important when on Keto. People tend to lose weight very quickly on Keto (not all of us, though) and sometimes a little body dysmorphia can sneak its way into our minds. I am very big on body positivity, and I think that is SO important in weight loss. When I lost weight the first time, my body was never “good enough” for me…so I ended up developing some really awful habits due to an over-restrictive lifestyle and it caused me to gain 45 pounds! Negative self-talk will never help you, it will only hurt you. If you don’t accept your body at your heaviest, you will not accept your body at your smallest. The negative voice may lie dormant for a little while, but it always returns!
Do check out these links for specific information on getting started with your Keto journey!!
All About Keto/Macro Calculator: http://www.ruled.me/guide-keto-diet/
Electrolyte Info: http://ketodietapp.com/Blog/post/2013/04/16/Keto-flu-and-Sufficient-Intake-of-Electrolytes
Lazy Keto vs. Strict Keto: https://www.reddit.com/r/keto/comments/33pdyh/lazy_keto_vs_normal_keto/
Keto Approved Foods: http://ketodietapp.com/Blog/post/2015/01/03/Keto-Diet-Food-List-What-to-Eat-and-Avoid
Good Fats vs. Bad Fats: http://www.ruled.me/importance-of-fats-ketogenic-diet/
High Fat Foods: https://www.carbsmart.com/10-healthy-high-fat-foods-perfect-for-nutritional-ketosis.html