What is the Best Way to Start the Keto Diet?
Try these 5 proven methods to have success on the keto diet
I have talked to a lot of people that have tried but failed to stick with the ketogenic diet. One thing I have learned from my military background is in order to defeat an enemy, you have to understand the enemy. Failure is the enemy here, so let’s discuss how to be successful at sticking with the Ketogenic Diet.
1. Make a real commitment:
|You can have success on the ketogenic diet|
The start of the Ketogenic diet can be challenging, so you have to make a commitment. There is definitely an adjustment period. Your body has to adjust to a different way of fueling itself. Instead of using carbohydrates for fuel, you are forcing your body to use fat as fuel.
Your body has rarely had to utilize fat for fuel because, if you were raised anything like me, you stuffed carbohydrates in your mouth all day long every day. As long as you have any form of carbohydrates in your stomach, you are not burning fat.
If present, your body will always use carbohydrates for fuel before it will use fat. So the science behind the Ketogenic diet is to restrict your carbohydrate intake so your body will be forced to start burning fat.
It actually makes sense, but the problem is, your body and mind won’t like it. Your body really wants to burn carbs, you have burned carbs your entire life and your mitochondria have adapted to that fuel source.
Also, genetics have built into our bodies the ability to store fat so during times of famine we wouldn’t starve and die. Without this fat storage ability, the human race would have probably become extinct like the dinosaurs.
If you understand that the adjustment period will be difficult, you can mentally prepare yourself for it. Everyone reacts a little different and the adjustment period will vary based on your age and metabolic health. According to Mark Sisson’s book, “The Keto Reset Diet” he coined the phrase “Reboot your metabolism in 21 days and burn fat forever.”
So plan on a difficult, challenging adjustment for around 2-3 weeks. You might even get what they call the Keto Flu. You don’t really have the flu, but you feel terrible. I have answered the question of “How to Prevent the Keto Flu” in this article. Part of it is your body adjusting to ketosis, but the other part is the lack of electrolytes.
During the first 10 days, you will quickly lose a lot of your excess water weight. The swelling will go down in your fingers, face, and ankles. Electrolytes will also be excreted with the water. A sugar-free, calorie-free electrolyte supplement is highly recommended.
Don’t be afraid of salt, put some salt on avocado and you’ll get your sodium and potassium. It’s also a good idea to supplement your diet with magnesium citrate to prevent constipation.
Gain as much knowledge as you can. YouTube can give you tons of keto information.
During this adjustment period expect to feel extremely drained and exhausted. You’ll feel cravings for bread and sweets. You’ll feel like your blood sugar is low and you might even get light headed. Your blood sugar won’t really be dangerously low, it will just be a little lower than what you are used to.
Your body will try to convince your mind that you really need to eat carbs and sweets, but you don’t. As long as you are not a type 1 diabetic, your liver will normally make enough glucose on its own, even with no food intake. The liver’s ability to make glucose is called gluconeogenesis.
Some people get cramps and some people on Keto get constipated. You have to fight through that adjustment period and stay committed. I think that most of us would endure almost any hardship for a million bucks right? Well, being able to burn fat for the rest of your life is more valuable than a million bucks. Isn’t being healthy and looking and feeling good invaluable?
You are eating completely different than you did before and you have to fight through the misconceptions that you have been told your entire life. You have to open up your mind to a new way of thinking. There are a lot of negative keto myths associated with the Ketogenic Diet, so you have to do your research and think outside the box.
The ketogenic diet isn’t something that you do for short term weight loss. Would it work, sure, but most of your weight loss at the beginning is water weight.
To go through the adjustment period and gain the ability to burn fat as fuel, only to give that up and go back to burning sugar again doesn’t seem worth it to me. If you just want a short term diet it might be easier to go with Nutrisystem or Weight Watchers…..or just continue Yo-Yo dieting.
The Ketogenic Diet is a lifestyle change and a commitment to permanently change how you eat and fuel your body.
3. Eat plenty of fat in the beginning:
The ketogenic diet is not a low-fat diet, if eating fat scares you, then keto is not for you. Americans have been trying different versions of a low-fat diet since the early 1970s and it’s obviously not working. Currently, 65% of Americans are either diabetic or pre-diabetic.
When the low-fat dietary guidelines came out in the 1970s, people starting trying to reduce their fat intake, but the calories had to be made up somehow, so they replaced fat with carbohydrates and the metabolic conditions like diabetes and obesity started to explode. Get it out of your head that fat is bad because it is not.
Increasing your fat intake will help your body adjust to burning fat, and since fat is digested slower in your body, you will have sustained long term energy. But most importantly, fat doesn’t raise your blood sugar and spike insulin.
Insulin causes your body to retain and store fat. In a high insulin environment, your body simply cannot burn fat. In the beginning, your body needs to adjust to using fat as energy and the best way to do that is to ingest fat.
When you are in a keto-adapted state, circulating fats, blood ketones and the liver work together to provide 75-85% of your body’s energy. So yes, your cholesterol level will likely increase because eating more fat requires more of it pass through the bloodstream.
Doctors and pundits that show alarm over high cholesterol need to update their knowledge base.
Why are we still focusing on cholesterol alone?
The 2013 guidelines from the American College of Cardiology now offers a 10-year heart disease risk predictor that includes multiple biomarkers, not just cholesterol.
We need to look at the big picture and evaluate how the Ketogenic Diet effects all the biomarkers as a whole. Inflammation and oxidation in the body are starting to emerge as a key indicator of health.
Here is a list of all the biomarkers that need to be evaluated when considerating when predicting future health issues:
- family history
- total cholesterol
- HDL cholesterol
- LDL cholesterol
- Inflammation (C-reactive)
- systolic blood pressure
- diastolic blood pressure
- diabetes (A1C)
- drinking alcohol
4. Get your priorities straight:
After you make it through the adjustment period, you burn fat very efficiently and have almost unlimited energy. That is commonly referred to as being “fat or keto-adapted.”
Becoming fat adapted should be your number one priority, not losing weight. The weight (fat) will come off on its own as you get fat adapted. Taking MCT oil (medium chain triglycerides) helps speed up the process. How do you know when you are fat adapted?
The cravings start to go away, you can skip meals without getting hungry and irritable. You don’t feel the need to snack. You can go longer and longer between meals and don’t feel the need to eat or drink before or after a workout.
The feelings of hunger become different, yes you still feel a type of hunger, but it’s soft and gentle. It’s kind of there in the background, but you can ignore it. You finally are in control of hunger and it doesn’t control you. It’s very liberating not to feel you MUST eat.
5. Remember to be patient:
If you’re like me you’ve probably lived your entire life eating excess carbohydrates. There is a very good chance your cells have become resistant to insulin from all those years of excess carbohydrates.
Your metabolism is likely damaged. It’s going to take time to repair your damaged metabolism.
To avoid or reduce a lot of the earlier discussed challenges like the keto flu, you have to ease into the Ketogenic Diet. Yes, eventually you need to lower your carbohydrate intake to 20-30 grams a day, but you don’t need to do it the first day.
There are different ways to do it, for example, the first week I stopped most starches, but ate chili (beans) and lentils and was still eating close to 60 grams of carbohydrates a day. Then the next week I cut out beans and lentils and boosted my fat intake.
I made keto coffee with grass-fed butter and MCT oil in the morning and started eating eggs, avocados, macadamia nuts, vegetables, olives and cheese, and low carb vegetables. Going into Keto slowly will prevent you from getting the keto flu.
Then the next week I started skipping breakfast and then lunch and by about 5 weeks I was fat adapted and the fat started melting off my body.
Keto can be a healthy, rewarding lifestyle if you take the steps to be successful. If you have questions about the Ketogenic Diet and are ready to get started please read 13 Beginner Tips for the Ketogenic Diet.