By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. Ever heard that quote before? It rings absolutely true when it comes to changing the way you eat! If you think you’re ready to start the keto diet, stop what you’re doing and follow these five steps first.
1. Research, Research, and Research Some More
I’m embarrassed to say this, but when I first did the keto diet, I didn’t do any of my own research. I felt like I knew enough from my friends and family to jump right in. That’s the story of how I ate only cheese for a week straight.
In all seriousness, the keto diet is more than just “no carbs, lots of fat.” You’ll still be eating some carbs, and it’s important to know how many. Generally speaking, you’ll be consuming around 60-75% of calories from fat, 15-30% from protein, and 5-10% from carbs. In the research stage, it’s also important to note the foods to avoid, foods you can eat, and what you can drink besides water. I also recommend grabbing a few easy dinner recipes to start out with.
2. Stock Up on Keto Staples
When you’re ready to grocery shop, it’s important to stock up on the staples. These items are low-carb foods and ingredients that are easy to add to a dish to increase the fat. You’ll need to grab butter, cream, olive oil, and cheese. Sesame oil is also a great way to add fat and a ton of flavor. You’d be surprised at the variety of different oils you could pick up at your local grocery store so keep an eye out!
Staple foods you’ll want to grab include things like peanut butter, nuts, avocados, cottage cheese, easy snack bars, and high percentage dark chocolate because, yum.
And don’t forget to add in some olives. Olives are a great source of fat, and go a long way to put some pizazz in your meals. And, for the brave at heart, try my new personal fav – garlic stuffed olives!
3. Bump Up the Electrolytes
What the heck are electrolytes, am I right? An electrolyte is a substance that conducts electricity when dissolved in water. Why does this matter? They help regulate the flow of water in and out of cells, and spark nerve impulses. This means that they are important in a variety of functions helping to keep our hearts beating, our lungs breathing, and our brains learning.
During ketosis, our bodies excrete a lot of electrolytes which can lead to some of the more unpleasant keto side effects. You’ll have to replenish them. No, you won’t need to drink those sugary drinks that help you win soccer games, just be sure you’re getting the sodium, potassium, and magnesium you need by salting your foods and eating non-starchy veggies. I even use getting in some electrolytes as an excuse to eat dark chocolate which happens to be an excellent source of magnesium.
4. Know the Side Effects and How to Combat Them
Most people feel at least a few negative side effects from the keto diet in their first week. Unfortunately, some of the side effects include the following:
- Difficulty focusing (“brain fog”)
- Lack of motivation
- Sugar cravings
- Muscle cramps
These symptoms are also known as the keto flu. Just know that it’s completely normal to feel this way as your body transitions from using carbs as fuel. The best way to combat these symptoms is by drinking lots of water, increasing your salt intake, and going easy on the exercise. If symptoms persist, it may be because you’re not eating enough fat. Try your best to endure the pain of it, because the benefits are soon to follow.
5. Drink Up
In the days leading up to the beginning of your diet, start drinking more water because you’ll need to get used to it. You need more water on keto as dehydration is a known side effect. The keto diet causes you to lose salt, which means it’s harder for your body to retain water. In addition, your body stores glycogen in water in your muscles. Your body will burn through the stored glycogen, and it won’t be replaced due to the lack of carbs. This is great in terms of weight loss, but you’ll need to make up for the loss of water.
Hydrating adequately before and during the diet could help you skip the keto flu symptoms all together!
As always, another important step is to talk to your health care provider before starting a new diet. Once you’ve done that, these five steps will make starting the keto diet a downright breeze!