When I started Keto, I had no idea where to begin. I spent a lot of time researching. I mean a lot – it became a slight obsession. With the help of my mum, between us, became keto gurus and could almost tell you the carb count of a meal in a sniff. I highly recommend this step. You will never reap the benefits of Keto unless you completely understand it.
Starting out, if you are doing it right, can be hard. There are a lot of good habits to learn and a lot of bad habits to unlearn. But the effort for those first few weeks all pays off in stockpiles. You are redesigning the way your body processes fuel and ultimately functions, so there is always going to be an adjustment period. As long as you are aware that the way you feel in those first couple of weeks is completely normal and it will pass. Some of you might not experience symptoms through the adjustment period at all – Unicorns, very rare, but they’re out there.
When you first restrict carbohydrates, you are depriving your body of its main energy source. The energy source it has operated on its whole life: Glucose. You’re essentially taking the glucose away and telling your body that it has to use fat instead. There are some changes your body needs to make in order to switch from glucose to efficiently using fat and ketones as it’s primary energy source. It will take time to make this happen.
For the first week of the Keto diet, you’ll most likely have symptoms, all very common and usually takes 1 week to 10 days for these symptoms to resolve.
By the second week you should be starting to feel an improvement in your energy levels, focus and concentration. At this point, your body has made significant strides in adapting to fueling on fat.
initial side effects.
These are some of the common side effects while navigating through the adjustment period:
Your body is used to pulling energy from the glucose that’s abundant in a carb rich diet. Transitioning to a strict keto diet with a lot fewer carbs and a lot less glucose can be rough for some people.
- Mood Swings
- Brain Fog
These symptoms usually go away with a few days, and the intensity of their effects can be reduced by drinking plenty of water, electrolytes and temporarily increasing your salt intake.
If you are someone that is partial to a sugary treat often you will more than likely go through sugar withdrawals as sugar is virtually non existent in a keto diet. Don’t let this freak you out! You won’t miss it – promise. These cravings are normal and a result of your body getting less sugar than it is used to.
decrease in strength and athletic performance.
Your muscles need quick access to energy when exercising. When you are starting the Keto diet, you may experience a decrease in athletic performance. This will only be temporarily. Research has proven that athletes perform just as well, if not better, than those on a carbohydrate based diet.
This is a very common side effect in the early stages of transitioning to keto. The extreme dietary change can cause initial spikes in the stress hormone cortisol, which may interfere with your sleep.
If sleep is a problem as you adjust to Keto, you might consider eating a small amount of carbs before bed. You may also benefit from supplementing with melatonin, limiting caffeine in the afternoon and avoiding screen time 1-2 hours before trying to sleep.
Weeing more is a normal response to starting the Keto diet. This is because eating low carb means secreting less insulin, and insulin plays a role in water retention. Whilst you are eating low carb, you will hold onto less water, which means you will pee a lot more.
While there are many symptoms that can pop up when going keto, they are mostly the result of common issues:
- Body Adaption
- Electrolyte Deficiency
All the above is related and taking the right steps to prevent them will help resolve most of your issues.
drink plenty of water.
Make sure to drink PLENTY of water during your adaption process
Add salt to your meals
Include lots of non-starchy vegetables every day
Have an electrolyte supplement daily (Powerade Zero, Hydration sachets)
While some of the side effects might discourage you – don’t let them
As long as you prepare to go through an adjustment period (maybe start over a long weekend) and take all of the proper steps to keep your stress levels low, and maintain a proper electrolyte and mineral balance, you can greatly reduce – or completely eliminate – these Keto side effects.
Remembering everyone is different. Everyone’s bodies respond differently to diets and Keto may not be the best option for you.
There is an assumption that Keto is a recent fad diet, and it is little known that it actually originated in the 1920s as a tool to reduce seizures in people with epilepsy. When I started out, I had never heard of it and there were not all the ready-made keto food options there are today. Although the Keto breads and cereals are great for when you are at a loss it’s good to understand the roots of the diet and not get caught up on the convenience foods.
tips for getting started.
eat the right foods.
Focus on meat, high fat oils
eat the right amount.
Begin learning your macros
always be prepared.
Have plenty of Keto foods readily available to you in the fridge and pantry. Preparation is key to successful weight loss.
take your measurements.
The scales won’t always be an accurate reflection of your body transformation. You may find occasionally the scales may not change yet your measurements have reduced significantly.
use a tracker.
Apps like Carb Manager and My Fitness Pal are perfect tools for the Keto Diet. You can plug in your health information, and it will calculate your recommended amount of Fats, Proteins, Carbs and Calories to consume daily for your specific weight, height and gender. Generally it will sit at 70-80% Fats, 20-25% Protein and 5-10% Carbohydrates. That is your typical ratio for the Ketogenic diet. Most important to watch your carbs, 20-50 grams of carbs and you will still be in ketosis.
what you can eat.
Fresh meat and poultry contain no carbohydrates and are rich in vitamin B and several minerals including potassium, selenium, and zinc. While processed meats, like bacon and sausages, are allowed on Keto, they aren’t the best you’re your heart. Choose Chicken, Fish and Beef more often and limit processed meats. (Fatty meats are better than lean meats). Think beef, pepperoni, sausage, salami, bacon etc. Pork, including crackle. Chicken and Turkey, you can still eat you just need to remember to add healthy fats to them.
fish and seafood.
Sardines, Mackerel, Tuna. Fatty fish like salmon is your best choice. Fish is rich in Vitamin B, potassium, and selenium, it’s also protein rich and carb free.
nuts and seeds.
Nuts and seeds are full of healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, fiber, and protein. Also, very low in net carbs. Be sure to check the carb levels as there are some sneaky, high-carb, nuts. Cashews – No go.
Eggs are high in protein, vitamin B, minerals, and antioxidants. Eggs have been shown to trigger hormones that increase feelings of fullness and keep blood sugar levels stable.
Non starchy vegetables are low in calories and carbs, but high in many nutrients, including vitamin C and several minerals. Aim for vegetables with less than 8 grams of net carbs per cup. Net carbs are total carbohydrates minus fiber.
Best bets are leafy green vegies. Broccoli, Lettuce, Spinach, Kale. You can also enjoy Cucumber, Brussel Sprouts (controversial I know, but I love them), green Capsicum (the colour does make a difference), Celery, Zucchini, Cauliflower, Bell Peppers
Most cheese has zero carbohydrates and is high in fat. It’s also rich in protein and calcium. A slice of cheese can deliver about 30% of the daily value for saturated fat. Pretty much all cheeses are good to go.
Butter, Margarine, Thickened Cream, Cottage Cheese, Greek Yoghurt. Milk is high in carbs so avoid this as much as you can – a small splash in your coffee or tea you can probably get away with.
Choose heart-healthy fats like avocados, which are high in monounsaturated fat and potassium. Other healthy fats include Extra Virgin Olive Oil, MCT Oil, Dark Chocolate
Foods to be wary of as they contain hidden carbs and are high in sugar.
- Condiments & Dressings
- Greasy Fats
- Beef Jerky
what you can’t eat.
Cereal, crackers, pasta, rice, bread
Corn, potatoes, beetroot, carrot
high sugar fruits.
Bananas, Oranges, Pears, Dates, Peaches
honey, sugar or syrup in any form.
chips and crackers.
baked goods including gluten-free baked goods.
These are a few tips that really helped me while getting started.
- Water is your best friend, drink plenty
- Take Magnesium and Potassium supplements
- Have an Electrolyte drink daily
- Eat healthy fats
- Exercise daily – super light, walks, nothing to strenuous
- Don’t Cheat – you’ll have to start again. You’re either all in or all out
- Take a Fiber supplement, this will help with your bowel movements
- Don’t eat too much protein. Your body will start converting it into energy so it’s not pulling from its fat stores.
how you know you are in ketosis.
How will I know if I am in ketosis?
- Weight loss
- Decrease in measurements
- Increased Urination
- Increased Energy
- Mental Clarity and Focus
- Bad breath (a metallic taste)
- Ketosis Sticks
Like I mentioned earlier this is not a one size fits all prescription, and it’s crucial to do your research to ensure you’re getting all the essential nutrients whilst maintain a Keto diet.
The Ketogenic diet was a 100% match for me. I won’t lie, I dealt with a few unpleasant symptoms in the first couple of weeks. There were many times I question what the heck I was doing and wanted to give up. Constipation, Nausea, brain fog. But once they had passed, and they do, I didn’t look back.
I have never been more in tune with my body and what it needs, and when. (Like a wine every Friday night).
If you are interested in this lifestyle change, I am only a message away and am happy to offer guidance on getting you started in any way I can.
It’s Important to note I am not a medical practitioner and the advice given above is purely my take on the Ketogenic diet from the research, trials and errors I have been through.
For anyone on their own transformative journey, whatever it may be, I wish you the best of luck. It takes courage and mental strength to make a change. You’re doing it and you should be proud.
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