The Ketogenic Diet: Tips for Beginners
Are you thinking about starting the ketogenic diet but not sure where to start? In addition to cutting down on refined sugar from your diet, the high-fat, low-carb diet forces the body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates. It's a great way to lose weight and control your sugar intake leading to a number of health benefits.
What is the Keto Diet?
The Ketogenic diet is well known high fat, low carb diet which offers a variety of health benefits and is often utilized as a method of weight loss. The diet was initially developed to treat epilepsy in children and reduce the frequency of seizures, however it has since been discovered that the Keto diet can help reduce the symptoms of a variety of neurological, metabolic and insulin-related health conditions including diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimers disease.
What is ketosis?
The keto diet involves drastically minimizing the intake of carbohydrates and replacing it with fat to send the body into a state of ketosis where the body converts fat stores into energy, releasing ketones in the process.
Normally, the body uses glucose derived from carbohydrates, refined sugars and starchy foods as the primary form of energy. However, when the body is starved of carbohydrates and isn’t getting enough glucose for energy, the body naturally adopts an alternative strategy by breaking down fat stores to use glucose from triglycerides. This process releases ketones into the body, which are then passed through the body in urine.
Top Tips for the Keto diet
The first week of the Keto diet isn’t always easy and just the thought of cutting out certain foods can be challenging in itself. Luckily, there are several tips and tricks that you can implement to help you break through the barrier and maximize your chances of getting transformative results.
Prepare for the 'Keto Flu'
When starting the keto diet and cutting back on carbs, you should expect your body to go through a ‘transitioning’ period and adapt of the new process of using fat stores as energy as opposed to glucose. Unfortunately, this does mean you may initially get flu-like symptoms, including nausea/vomiting, headaches, dizziness, diarrhea and weakness, which is why it’s known as the ‘keto flu’.
While the symptoms vary in severity from person to person, it is best to prepare yourself to limit your chance of illness. Stay hydrated as you’ll be losing mostly water weight in the first part of the diet; drink plenty of fluid to reduce symptoms as much as possible. During the first few days of ketosis, you should also avoid strenuous exercise, replace your electrolytes, and make sure that you get plenty of rest.
Be patient and stay on plan – consistency is key!
Within the first week of the Keto diet, you can often expect to see a more dramatic weight loss, usually as a result of a large amount of water loss. After your first week, weight loss can be unpredictable – you may have some weeks where you lose 3-4 pounds and others where you lose nothing. Although this can be disheartening, especially if weight loss is the main goal, it is important to stick to your plan and be patient until you reach your target.
If your weight loss plateaus, make sure you are hitting the right amount of carbs, fats and protein each day and you’re eating the right number of calories. It’s worth also reviewing your workouts; are you doing too little? Too much? Could you switch up your routine? Maybe it’s time to review and readjust your plan and lifestyle so that you can start to see the results again.
Invest in keto cookbooks
In the beginning, cooking keto can be confusing and even slightly daunting. Maybe you’re limited on time and not sure how you’re going to fit the cooking in. Purchasing a few keto cookbooks or finding fast, easy and delicious recipes online can help you at the beginning of your journey.
Here are some of our top suggestions:
These books have an array of delicious recipes to get you on the right track.
What to eat and what not to eat on the keto diet
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail! Planning ahead is key for success to ensure you’re eating the right foods that are nutritious and keep you in ketosis. Add all the foods you need to your keto shopping list so that your fridge is fully stocked with all the right macronutrients, and clear any junk food you have lying around to avoid temptation.Foods to include:
- Meat & poultry – chicken, beef, lamb etc.
- Seafood – fish, prawns, squid etc.
- High-fat animal produce – eggs, hard cheeses, cream, butter etc.
- Nuts and seeds – walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds etc.
- Low carb fruit & veg – spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, cucumber, avocado, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, etc.
- Other sources of fat – olives, coconut oil, salad dressings etc.
Foods to avoid:
- Root vegetables – potatoes, carrots, parsnips, lentils etc.
- High carb fruit – oranges, apples, bananas etc.
- Unhealthy fats – monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
- Sugary foods – sugar-filled sauces, snacks and desserts.
Tips for eating out
Before heading to a restaurant, it’s a good idea to look at the menu online ahead of your visit so that you are prepared and don’t feel overwhelmed when deciding what meal will fit in your plan. Our top tip when choosing a meal would be to base it around protein and swap out any of the foods high in carbohydrates. It is also best to try and avoid the condiments that often come with meals such as sugary dressings, ketchup and seafood sauce. Instead, opt for sauces low in sugar and higher in fat, such as guacamole, mayo or mustard.
Avoid high carb alcoholic drinks
Most alcoholic drinks are high in carbohydrates and are not suitable for the keto diet, however you don’t have to stop drinking alcohol completely. There are many low-carb alcoholic drinks which can be consumed in moderation to help you stay on track.
The best form of alcohol for keto-friendly diets are pure forms, such as vodka, gin, rum and tequila, which are completely free of carbs. However, it’s important to remember that what you mix these with is just as important as the alcohol itself. Avoid mixers with sugar and sweeteners and opt for low carb choices such as sugar-free tonic, seltzer or diet soda.
If you struggle with drinking in moderation, then we’d recommend avoiding alcohol altogether as it can damage your health which goes against the benefits of keto. Also, an evening out can make you feel tired and sluggish the next day which can lead to feeling hungrier and making the wrong food choices. Sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Find a community for support
While keto is growing in popularity, this diet is a little different from what is considered the "norm," and you may feel a little lost or alone on your journey. Social media is a great tool to connect with others who are also keto. They can help you find new keto products and recipes, and you can share your experiences. Facebook has endless keto support groups, and there is a growing population of keto influencers on Instagram and TikTok who share their experiences and pro-tips with their followers.
@janellerohner on Tiktok
@ketokarma on Instagram
@castiron_keto on Instagram
And many more!
Follow us, @nosugarcompany on Instagram. We share lots of fun new keto products, tips, advice and more every week and have a large community of hardcore keto dieters to connect with!
Use a macro calculator and know your basics
This may take a little bit of research, but it will make a difference to your keto journey.
The basic keto guidelines suggest getting around 70% of your calories from fat, 25% from protein and only 5% from carbs. So, for example, if you’re aiming for 2000 calories per day, you should be consuming 25g of carbohydrates, 125g of protein and 156g of fat on a keto diet.
Books and online resources (Like the social accounts mentioned above) will help you get comfortable with your new diet. There are also some great keto apps, such as the ruled.me app that has communities, recipes, and tips!
Keto trackers are also a great tool. Total Keto Diet, Lazy Keto, and Carb Manager are fantastic ways to track your macros and progress without the fuss. We also have a handy Net Carb Calculator on our home page for those wanting to follow keto, no sugar and low carb diets to help you calculate net carbs from your food nutrition labels.
Look into meal plans or meal kitsThese can be so helpful if you're a beginner or simply busy. It takes the stress away from planning your meals and calculating your macros. Many influencers and websites have weekly or monthly meal plans, or you can pay for meal kits that will have everything you need for your dinners sent right to your front door. Green Chef, Keto Chefs and the Body Kitchen are a few meal prep companies that offer keto options!
Find your favourite keto replacements with No Sugar Company
Just because you're now keto doesn't mean you have to cut out all sweets and bread! Brands have created delicious food alternatives that allow you to eat all the foods you love while still following keto diet principles. The No Sugar Company have created a number of keto snacks that allow keto dieters to still enjoy a sweet treat without going off track. From chocolate Keto Krax, Keto Bars and guilt-free Keto Bombs to keto shakes, it’s a treat without the cheat!
Get more useful information on the Keto diet
We’re passionate about helping people like you feel the benefits of the keto diet as we’ve seen the benefits it can have. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.
Alternatively, read our blog for more keto tips and tricks to get you started on your journey!