This guest post is written by Louise Hendon, co-founder of the Keto Summit and author of the Essential Keto Cookbook. You can learn more about Louise and the Keto Summit by clicking here.
Please note that I am not a doctor or registered dietitian. Before starting any new diet and exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise and/or diet changes with them before beginning.
No more easy toast in the morning. No more packing sandwiches for lunch. And no more pasta for dinner. Oh, and no more brownies for dessert…
The keto diet is hard. There’s no way around it.
And (unfortunately) I’m not surprised when people fail after just two or three weeks.
But there’s a reason why people fail on a keto diet:
They don’t have a plan when starting out.
You don’t have to be one of those people that fails on the keto diet!
In this article, I’ll lay out a simple 7-step plan to help you get started with a Keto diet.
What is a Keto Diet?
Before jumping into how to start keto, what is a keto diet in the first place?
Dr. Rob Raponi has already written a detailed article on the ketogenic diet.
But I’ll also quickly explain what the keto diet is and what you should eat when following it.
The keto diet is designed to get your body into a fat-burning state called ketosis. And you get into ketosis by changing up your macro intake.
As Dr. Raponi wrote, in general, most people on a keto diet get around 5-10% of their calories from carbohydrates, 15-30% from protein, and 60-75% from fat.
That means, you should eat foods like beef, chicken, low-carb veggies, low-carb fruits, and lots of healthy fats like avocados, coconut oil, or ghee.
And you should avoid foods like grains (including rice), processed foods, starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, breads, pastas, or diet sodas/energy drinks.
Thankfully, there are hundreds of keto recipes out there that allow you to indulge in some of your favorite non-keto treats. For example, Dr. Raponi’s Keto Muffin recipe will make your mornings a little more delicious.
7-Step Method to Successfully Start a Keto Diet
You’ll exponentially increase your chances for success on the keto diet if you follow this 7-step method to start keto.
Step 1: Sit down and clearly write out your intentions/goals
It’d probably be pretty hard to go on a road trip if you didn’t know where your destination was… You wouldn’t know which way to drive. You wouldn’t know how long it’d take you.
You’d be setting yourself up for failure, right?
This step of the keto journey is like plotting out your destination. By describing (in detail) what success looks like for you, it’ll be much easier to create a plan to reach success.
Is success losing 35 lbs over 6 months? Would you be thrilled if your skin cleared up? Is the goal to increase your energy levels so you’re more productive?
Write down (in detail) your goals for your keto journey.
Step 2: Start cleaning your kitchen/pantry
If you have non-keto foods on every shelf of your fridge and throughout your pantry, it’s going to be much harder starting out.
So by throwing away (or donating) all your non-keto foods, you’ll avoid being constantly tempted.
Step 3: Go shopping and fill your kitchen/pantry with delicious keto-friendly foods
Now that your fridge and pantry is cleaned out, you need to stock it with keto-friendly foods.
One huge problem that I see is that folks don’t have enough keto-friendly snacks or keto-friendly ingredients on-hand. And when they get hungry or need to prepare a meal in a hurry, they don’t have the food they need.
And when there’s a rush or you’re “hungry stressed” (as I like to call it), then non-keto foods seem like a much easier alternative.
If you’re not sure what to stock your kitchen with, you can check out our complete list of keto-friendly foods.
Step 4: Pick a non-stressful time to get started
The first week of keto you may experience the keto flu. Some folks get flu-like symptoms the first week that they start keto (since your body needs to adjust). And during this week it’s important to get enough rest.
So if you’ve got a huge deadline at work, or your kids are really sick, or you’re going on that summer camping trip next weekend, then now might not be the best time to start keto.
That doesn’t mean that if your life is always stressful you should put off starting keto forever.
What I’m saying is that it’d be best to pull out your calendar and take a look at what you’ve got coming up in the next month. Then within the next month choose the best week to start keto.
Mark it in your calendar. And until your first day do your best to make sure your schedule stays light for that week.
Step 5: Create accountability
If you don’t have some form of accountability to stay strong on your keto diet, you’re much more likely to give up or quit.
So here are a couple of keto accountability ideas:
● Commit to your keto diet on social media. Let your friends know that you’re going to stick to your diet for the next three months or until you lose those 20 lbs you’ve been dying to lose. After posting something like that publicly, it’ll create pressure (in a good way) for you to keep your commitment.
● Encourage a family member, friend, or co-worker to do keto with you. Having a partner creates healthy competition and an incredible support system.
Step 6: Forget about fat and protein and ONLY focus on your net carbohydrate intake for the first week
Your first week of keto will be tough.
You probably won’t be feeling great because of the keto flu. Plus switching to a completely new diet can be tricky.
That’s why for the first week of keto you should only focus on limiting your carb intake to 25g of net carbs or fewer.
Don’t calculate how much fat you should eat. Don’t calculate how much protein you should eat. Only focus on your net carb intake.
There’s two reasons we recommend doing this:
The first is that getting your body into fat-burning ketosis is dependent only on the amount of carbs you eat, not on fat or protein.
The second is that your body will be under stress during this first week.
Switching to a new diet can be a “shock” to your body.
So by not focusing on your fat or protein consumption you’re able to simplify the process.
Step 7: Prepare for keto flu
There’s a good chance you’ll have to deal with the keto flu.
It’s not fun, but thankfully there are certain things you can do to combat it.
Eat more healthy fat
Eat more calories (when people switch to keto it’s often hard for them to get enough calories at first since they’re used to eating so many calories in carbohydrates)
Add more salt to your food (as sodium can be released from your body when you first go keto)
Drink enough water (and consider drinking bone broth)
If you’re feeling up to it, get active (it doesn’t have to be a full-blown workout, but think about getting outside for a long walk)
The first two or three weeks of your keto diet are going to be the hardest.
Your body is transitioning to a new way of eating.
Your mind is trying to figure out how to make keto work with your schedule and budget.
And of course, your taste buds want to be happy too.
But you can make going Keto much easier for yourself by following this 7-step method.