I’m beyond excited to have Louise Hendon, co-host of The Keto Summit and author of The Essential Keto Cookbook come back and write up another guest post to shed a little more light on the Ketogenic Diet including 7 Things To Know About The Keto Diet Before You Start
Louise wrote an excellent write up about the Ketogenic Diet and few months ago for everyone which included an awesome recipe for keto style black and white layered peppermint patties so I’m really excited she agreed to share some more keto knowledge.
Getting started on the keto diet can sound like hard work. There’s so much to learn and so much to remember: what to eat, what to avoid, and how to take those critical first steps when you begin.
So below, I’ve put together a list of things you should know before you start the keto diet – by making sure you’re prepared, you’ll be giving yourself the best possible chance of success. It’s important to clear up any misconceptions before you begin to make sure you start keto the healthy way. And luckily, getting started isn’t as complicated as you might think.
We’ll go over: what keto is, the health benefits it gives you, 7 things you should know before starting keto, and a few simple steps to help you begin.
WHAT IS KETO?
I’ll start by briefly explaining what the keto diet is:
Historically, the keto diet started out as a way to treat epilepsy in kids (the diet mimicked the biochemical effects of fasting without having to endure not eating).
The main focus of the keto diet is to put your body into a metabolic state called nutritional ketosis – this is when your body burns much fewer carbohydrates for fuel and instead starts burning more fat (in the form of ketones).
Nutritional ketosis is generally defined as having blood ketone levels of above 1.0mmol/L, and you can tell if you’ve reached this by measuring the level of ketones in your blood using a ketone meter.
While high ketone levels is the general focus of a keto diet, you can often get many of the benefits of keto without high ketone levels, so don’t get too hung up on measuring ketones!
The food you eat on keto generally consists of moderate amounts of protein, a fair amount of fat, and very few carbohydrates.
Specifically, you should eat foods lower in carbohydrates like leafy green vegetables, seafood, meats, organ meats, herbs, spices, avocados, healthy fats like coconut oil and ghee, and a smaller amount of berries, nuts, seeds, and olives. But just like on a Paleo or Primal diet, you should still avoid soy products, peanut butter, vegetable oils, and diet sodas. This will help you nourish your body while being in ketosis!
BENEFITS OF KETO
Now we’re clear on what the keto diet is, let’s run through some of its main benefits:
IT CAN HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT
It’s not clear why the ketogenic diet is so great for weight loss, but as this review states, “there is no doubt that there is strong supportive evidence that the use of ketogenic diets in weight loss therapy is effective.”
IT CAN CURB YOUR CRAVINGS
By balancing your blood sugar levels. Many of our cravings are caused by swings in our blood sugar (due to eating carbohydrates and sugary foods) so eliminating carbs gets rid of this problem.
IT CAN NATURALLY CURB HUNGER AND REDUCE OVEREATING
It’s unclear whether ketosis, high fat, high protein, or low carb creates this effect, but studies have shown that a ketogenic diet (especially one high in protein) can curb your appetite naturally.
IT CAN INCREASE YOUR ENERGY LEVELS
And also help you feel more alert and focused. Your mind will be clearer and sharper, and you’ll no longer suffer from the dreaded “mid-afternoon slump” that has so many people reaching for cookies and more coffee.
IT CAN POTENTIALLY HELP WITH ALZHEIMER’S, CANCER, AND CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE
As this review paper states, “there is a ‘hidden face’ of the ketogenic diet: its broader therapeutic action.” And its potential in aiding the treatment and prevention of cancer and cardiovascular and neurological diseases are some of the most exciting possibilities.
7 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE KETO DIET BEFORE YOU START
But before you jump on keto, there are the seven things you should know:
1 – Food quality still matters which means eating high-quality nutrient dense foods and avoiding processed junk foods (even if they’re low carb).
2 – Keto is more than just eating low carb so adding more healthy fats to your diet is vital. But if you’re not used to eating so much fat, increase your fat intake gradually – otherwise it can give you digestive issues.
3 – Higher ketone levels aren’t essential for weight loss and the ketone level you want to achieve can vary depending on a few factors. We’ve put together a guide to optimum ketone levels for the ketogenic diet to clear up any confusion.
4 – Measuring your ketone levels isn’t compulsory, but it can be a good way to ensure you’ve reached nutritional ketosis and to troubleshoot any problems.
5 – What you eat isn’t everything …it’s also important to get enough sleep, manage your stress levels, and make time to exercise. A keto diet should be just one part of an overall healthy lifestyle: if you’re not taking care of yourself, a keto diet won’t fix things.
6 – Keto can be tough in the beginning while your body adapts to burning fat instead of glucose. Be prepared for this and make sure you have a powerful reason for starting keto to keep you motivated while you get through it. If you find you’re suffering from uncomfortable symptoms (also called keto flu), we’ve got 6 ways to help you cure it.
7 – Getting health tests before you start can be a good idea, to make sure any underlying issues like autoimmune conditions, gut problems, and vitamin/mineral deficiencies are taken care of. This allows you to get the full benefits of the keto diet when you try it.
HOW DO YOU GET STARTED ON KETO?
And lastly, here are a few practical tips to help you start eating keto. And if you have questions about keto, then please post it in the keto forum that will be coming very soon here.
- Clear out your kitchen and get rid of all your non-keto food, especially any sweet treats you have lying around. It’s easier to stick to your diet if there’s nothing to tempt you!
- Start your day with a ketone boosting ritual by drinking a large glass of water and taking either two teaspoons of coconut oil or half a teaspoon of MCT oil.
- Choose one meal each day to skip as it makes eating keto a lot easier of you only have to think about two meals each day. Why not try skipping dinner and going to bed early as well – this will also help reset your circadian rhythm!
- Eat unlimited protein/fat in the beginning, but stick to under 25g of carbohydrates per day. It’s best to keep things simple when you begin and alter your protein/fat ratios later, when you’re more used to the keto way of eating.
- Get excited about new recipes and then go shopping for ingredients. Sean has some great recipes like Baked Chicken Thighs and Ketogenic Pizza. It’s a great excuse to try some new recipes. For even more keto recipe ideas, please check out my keto cookbooks here.