I get asked over and over again “What’s the Simple Way to Start the Ketogenic Diet?” This diet can be a bit confusing and overwhelming when you jump into all the information out there.
Let me first start off with a little disclaimer. First, I am not a doctor. I don’t claim to be a specialist in the Keto diet either. I’m just a busy mom that started this process herself. I’m 3 weeks in and 13 pounds lighter. Yay! I have plans to study this way of life in depth. I’ve already signed up to attend the very first Keto Conference scheduled later this year. I’ve never really been the dieting type person. I don’t like the restriction of food and I certainly don’t like feeling hungry. The Ketogenic Diet has really helped me feel full and satisfied through out the whole process. I know I will be successful with it. I’m already successful!
This of this information as a power dump of all the important things I’ve learned from studying this process over the last two months!
What is Ketosis you ask?
Ketosis is a metabolic state characterized by raised levels of ketone bodies in the body tissues, which is typically pathological in conditions such as diabetes or may be the consequence of a diet that is very low in carbohydrates.
How does the Ketogenic Diet work?
The best way for me to explain this diet is with this example of a fire. A fire burns in 3 different ways.
- A fire burns with kindling (small brush or branches).
- A fire burns with logs.
- A fire burns with coals.
Kindling burns really, really fast. A log burns slower… probably an hour or two. Coals burn for a long period of time.
Your body burns energy in 3 different ways also.
Carbs burn really, really fast. Protein burns at a slower rate but fat burns for a long period of time! You want to burn fat!
How do your fat cells work?
Fat cells are like little stubborn balloons in your body. They love to hold their shape and resist change. When you are in ketosis and your body starts to burn fat it starts to deplete these fat cells. But these cells don’t want to change. They start to hold more water to resist this type of change until they can no longer change! Why is that important for you to know that? Because the scale is your worst enemy when you start this diet. Your fat cells will hold more water even though you are losing fat. You will notice a change in your measurements so it’s highly recommended to measure success in the beginning.
How do I start the Ketogenic Diet?
The very first thing I would do is make a decision to start this process and be dedicated to it. You will do more harm to yourself if you decide to eat high fat and still consume the carbs. It will lead to obesity.
Know that there is such thing as the “Keto Flu” when you start. Your body is going through a change and it won’t feel good in the beginning. I had pretty bad headaches for about 3 days. It was the kind of a headache you get when you don’t drink enough water. I would drink more water than usual and I would also drink some pickle juice to help with this change. It doesn’t last very long at all.
Order some Ketone Pee Strips to test the ketone levels in your body. This was very important for me in the beginning. I was learning the different foods that put my body out of its ketosis state. Your body needs to remain in ketosis for this to work.
I thought I knew the foods that are allowed but quickly learned that I cannot trust everything I read on the internet. For example, one keto friendly recipe I tried had a sweet potato with butter and plain cinnamon. I love sweet potato but realized after my test that sweet potato takes my body out of ketosis. I trusted a recipe on the internet that told me this was keto approved!
The other reason the strips were important was that I went out to eat and decided to have the cheese sauce with my meal. Cheeses are certainly approved on this diet but I didn’t realize the restaurants all make a fake cheese sauce meaning they don’t actually have cheese in it at all! Talk about a learning experience! Now I know not to ever order queso or cheese sauce at a restaurant. This may sound stupid and most may have already known this but I did not. This is exactly why the test strips are important to me during this learning curve.
The last thing I recommend is to have a clear plan for your meals. You are the only person that can decide what meal ideas will work for you and your timeframe. You will want to set yourself up for success by being prepared. I do my planning one week at a time. I do my shopping over the weekend so I have everything ready during the busy work week. If you like to eat out a lot just determine which restaurants have foods you can enjoy and stick to those. I will put a small recommended grocery list at the very bottom of this post to help you get started at your first trip to the store too.
My brain was programmed a long time ago that fat was bad. Thank goodness for the book How We Get Fat and What to do About It by Gary Taubes helped to flip that switch for me. If you are local to me and want to borrow mine copy I would be happy to loan it to you. It’s an excellent read.
The last thing that I realized I really needed was a protein powder. I don’t eat enough protein and it’s essential on this diet to meet those targets. I really like the Dyamtize Whey Protein Isolate birthday cake flavor. The books I’ve read suggested the Egg Whites protein too but it doesn’t have any flavor and it’s really hard to mix in water. It’s perfect for baking or adding to recipes though.