How To Start A Keto Diet
This is Part 2 of 3 in my KETO SERIES, if you have not yet read Part 1: What's Keto? And Does It Really Work? I recommend you start there and then come back to Part 2.
Here is the link to Part 1:
So you heard about keto from a friend of a friend...
They said all the best things about it, and naturally, you decided to do a little bit of research on your own. You read about the benefits and decided to give it a try. Why not, right?
...how hard can it be? Just eat more fats, skip the carbs and let your body burn fats, and then:
"HELLO keto benefits!"
"Hello weight loss!"
Well if only things in life were that easy... (especially new diets)
But don't worry! In this article we're going to cover how you want to start so you can skip the common mistakes everyone else makes, and give yourself the best chance of success.
A NOTE ON SAFETY
The first thing to do before starting a ketogenic diet is making sure that it's safe for you. Even if you are generally healthy you NEED to consult your doctor before starting keto. People that don't do this in a safe way may not feel well and it can even make them sick.
If you have type 1 diabetes or high blood pressure and you are on medications you need to get your doctor involved because they will need to help guide you specifically.
With type 2 diabetes it's a little bit easier, but again you need to have a physician involved for these changes.
With people who have a heart condition or significant liver or kidney disease, careful evaluation is needed in order to see if they have enough function of those organs to be able to handle the diet. (1)
It is also important to find a doctor with experience in this area. Not all doctors are familiar with keto and what it takes to start it - so be sure to ask if they have already helped someone like you make these changes.
Where To Start?
To start a well-formulated ketogenic diet you need to “organize” your macronutrients.
- Carbohydrates need to be under 10%, so cut down on carbs.
- Proteins need to be in moderation, roughly 10-20%.
- And that leaves us with about 70% of Fats. (1)
A quick note about carbs: when counting carbs on a ketogenic diet you only count net carbs (digestible carbs - carbs left in the food when you subtract fibers and sugar alcohols)
Which Type of Keto Should You Start With?
|Standard ketogenic diet (SKD):||Very low-carb, moderate-protein and high-fat diet.|
|Cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD):||Has periods of higher-carb refeeds (5 days - high fat and very low carb, followed by 2 high-carb days).|
|Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD):||Similar to standard keto diet but with extra carbs around workouts (boost performance, and return to ketosis after the workout).|
|High-protein ketogenic diet:||Similar to standard keto, but includes a little bit more protein. (2)|
We all have different organisms in our bodies and some people will feel better with a targeted ketogenic diet, while others may prefer high protein versions. You may need to try one for a few weeks (typically 3-4 is enough to know) and see that it's just not for you, so move on to the next one (or go back to standard version).
A lot of this is trial and error to see what works for you. Luckily, if you take the time to make the changes properly you may just find something that you can stick with for years!
And once again, no matter what type of diet you want to try, you should consult with your doctor before making any dietary changes.
Now let's get to the fun part. Food!
To eat or not to eat, that is the question.
Good Keto Foods
Fats & Oils (from natural sources)
Healthy oils like extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil as well as avocados or freshly made guacamole are a good source of healthy fats. If you are using butter try using grass feed if possible.
Proteins (in moderation)
You need to be careful with protein intake (too much can lead to lower levels of ketone production and increased production of glucose). To reach nutritional ketosis, don't over-consume protein.
Meat, eggs and fatty fish like salmon and tuna. Try to stick with organic, pasture-raised and grass-fed meat where possible.
Eat unprocessed cheese something like goat cheese or mozzarella. Advice -to balance out protein eat them with something fatty
Stick to low carb, non-starchy and dark and leafy greens like spinach, kale and romaine lettuce.
Also eat cruciferous vegetables that are grown above-ground like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Celery, cucumber, zucchini, chives, and leeks are also a good choice.
If you want to try something different go for fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi.
Nuts and Seeds (in moderation)
Almond, walnuts, chia seeds and fatty nuts like macadamias and almonds. Nuts can be a great source of fats, but remember that they do have carbohydrates.
The higher the number of carbs they have the less you will want to add them to your diet.
You can also use salt, pepper and healthy herbs and spices that don't have added sugars.
Bad Keto Foods
You want to avoid or limit all carbohydrate sources.
Sugar and sugary foods:
- White and brown sugar, syrups like corn and maple, honey, cake, candy, soda, fruit juice, etc.
- Wheat, oats, all rice (white, brown, jasmine), corn and all products containing corn (popcorn, tortillas, corn flour, etc.)
- Products made with flour (bread, bagels, rolls, muffins, pasta, etc.)
- All fruit except avocados, and sometimes small portions of berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries) and lemon, lime, and coconut.
Beans or legumes:
- Peas, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
Root vegetables and tubers:
- Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.
- Due to their high carb content, many alcoholic beverages can throw you out of ketosis.
How to Know What's a Good or Bad Food for Keto?
Just because a food is “keto” (low-carb, high-fat) doesn’t mean it's healthy or good for you.
Yes, this is a high-fat diet, but there are some fats that you need to take in small amounts or cut out of your diet as much as possible, like:
Processed oils that are high in omega 6
There needs to be a healthy balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. (too much of omega-6 can trigger the body to produce pro-inflammatory chemicals). (3)
Found in margarine, fried fast foods, hydrogenated or partly hydrogenated oils/fats. Artificially produced trans fats can increase the risk of heart disease. (4)
Excessive use of high-fat dairy products can lead to a high level of saturated fats in a diet. And that can lead to a high risk of cardiovascular disease.
Certain Sources of Protein
Its recommended to avoid or limit the sources of processed meat because they tend to be nutritionally inferior.
And you should be careful with protein because eating to much can affect the process of a ketogenic diet.
No matter if your diet is keto or some different diet, you should always choose more natural and healthy sources, and in addition to that drink water and stay hydrated.
Now that you know how to start, the next step...
is to know when you are IN ketosis and when you are OUT of ketosis. I prepared a quick article showing you what to look for as you start your new diet (and hopefully adopt it into a lifestyle that works for you).
The article also looks at some possible side effects to watch out for (which means you'll know when to make adjustments), all very important and useful information as you get started.
To read Part 3: How To Know If You Are In Ketosis, click this link:
1. Dr. Stephen Phinney, Virta Health, “Nutritional Ketosis and Ketogenic Diets”
2. Joshi Shilpa, Viswanathan Mohan, Mumbai Diet and Health Centre, Mumbai, India, Dr. Mohan's Diabetes Specialities Centre & Madras Diabetes Research Foundation, WHO Collaborating Centre for Noncommunicable Diseases Prevention & Control, IDF Centre of Excellence in Diabetes Care & ICMR Centre for Advanced Research on Diabetes, Chennai 600 086, Tamil Nadu, India, “Ketogenic diets: Boon or bane?”, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6251269/
3. Arthritis Foundation, “8 Food Ingredients That Can Cause Inflammation”
4. Ganguly R, Pierce GN. The Canadian Centre for Agri-food Research in Health and Medicine and the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, St Boniface Hospital, and the Departments of Physiology and Pathophysiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.The Canadian Centre for Agri-food Research in Health and Medicine and the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, St Boniface Hospital, and the Departments of Physiology and Pathophysiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.
“The toxicity of dietary trans fats.”