Tips for Starting Your Ketogenic Diet

I posted these tips on /r/keto the other day in response to a question. I’ll maintain and build them out here.

Tips for starting your ketogenic diet:

  • Keep your carbs under 20g/day – That’s kind of what the whole thing is about. If you’re not sure how to do that, it’s easy: count every gram of carb for everything you put in that big hole on the front of your face. If you want to get sophisticated, set up an account on MyFitnessPal.com.
  • 65% of your caloric intake should be from fat, 30% from protein, and 5% from carbs (up to 20g a day). If you aren’t sure how to calculate all this, check out MyFitnessPal.com and log your food.
  • Watch for excess protein – Too much causes increased protein, which causes increased insulin, which causes reduced weight loss. (Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance, p.66)
  • No cheat days – Really.  Not worth it. Come back if you’re seriously plateaued or stalled, then we can talk.
  • If what you are about to eat didn’t once have a face, triple check the carb count before eating it. Don’t assume anything is safe to put in that big hole in the front of your face!
  • If what you are about to eat grew underground, triple check the carb count before putting it into that big hole in the front of your face.  Many root veggies have lots of carbs, so don’t get lulled into thinking that all veggies are safe.
  • Drink plenty of water – The ketogenic diet will flush you out, so you need to always be rehydrating.
  • Drink a cup of chicken broth a day for the first 2-3 weeks – When the water goes, so too go your electrolytes.  Broth is a good way to keep up on some of your salt requirements, and it can do wonders with the keto flu.
  • No exercise for the first 2-3 weeks unless you are already fit/an athlete – You know that conventional orthodoxy about exercise being essential for weight loss? It’s garbage.  For the first few weeks of keto, your body is going to be going through enough changes. Don’t decide to add more stress to it at the same time by starting an exercise program. If you do, you may find yourself not having the energy to finish. After that, if you want to continue with your exercise, understand what to expect.
  • Take pictures of your body from all sides when you start. Trust me, you’ll want these to compare with in a month.
  • Read /r/keto every day.  It’s probably the best resource out there, and you’ll find something new there daily (if not hourly).
  • Try answering a question in /r/keto or in ketochat every day. If you can’t answer a question, try asking a question that hasn’t been asked before (this is harder than it sounds). If you can’t ask a question that hasn’t been asked before, try contributing an interesting resource (article, journal, website or video, etc…) that isn’t already a commonly referenced resource (this too is harder than it sounds).
  • Understand that ketostix are optionalThey can be helpful when you start to keep you motivated, but if you use them, you really need to learn what they do and do not measure (and why they won’t be as effective the longer you stick to your diet).
  • Understand the difference between ketosis and ketoacidosis – There are many misconceptions about this from lay people and medical professionals alike. It’s a good thing to educate yourself so you can respond appropriately when they tell you that ketosis is dangerous.
  • Read something professionally published about nutrition, keto, low carb, etc… every day. This includes books, videos, medical journals, research, etc.
  • Learn to distinguish nutritional faith & orthodoxy from nutritional science, regardless of whether either supports or opposes keto.
  • Be respectful of the diets and lifestyles of other people.

 

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