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10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting Keto

Photo credit: Brooke Lark

Struggling to lose weight? Compulsive/ emotional eater? Foodie? Then listen up, I am a huge advocate for finding the right eating plan for your own body. I have tried nearly all of them to see what was the most suitable for me; concluding that it can vary on your goals. Is it for weight loss? Or improving health? Or maybe simply improving the complexion of your skin? Whatever the case may be, I recognize that one size does not fit all and it can take some time to figure out what works best for your body type.

I know I'm late on the bandwagon for this particular method of eating and I wanted to first lay down the facts about the ketogenic diet.

How does Keto work?

Firstly know that the ketogenic diet was originally created for epileptic patients it was not necessarily designed for weight loss, however celebs have been rooting for this diet as it allowed them to have enough energy to get through a good workout while losing weight quickly.

By severely reducing carbohydrate intake (carbohydrates are the main source of fuel for the body by converting it into sugars), when there are little/no carbs to use for energy, your body will convert fat stores into its' energy source and begin burning fat.

Let's face it, I am a massive foodie. As an adventurous eater I have always found it hard to stay in control of my weight. Regardless of how healthy I was eating, I went plant-based for a long while but found that my body wasn't converting the high amounts of carbs well and instead of losing weight I started to gain and not gaining just a little bit, I gained so much I couldn't recognize myself in the mirror anymore. This lead to the discovery that I was insulin resistant.

A good friend suggested that I try out the Ketogenic diet and see how it goes. She had done it before and did amazingly on it, needless to say I was excited to give it a try. There are a lot of things to keep in mind when starting out but when you get into the swing of things you quickly realize how simple and delicious this diet can be.

Here are 10 tips I wish I had known when first starting out.

Photo credit: Kira auf der Heide

1.Keto flu- The infamous Keto flu was anticipated but I wasn't sure how I would react. Short of a fever, you may get symptoms you are likely to associate with the flu; fatigue, headache, cramps, malaise, diarrhea. Everyone will react differently, in my case there was a general feeling of malaise and leg cramps.

Photo credit: Jezz Timms

2.Water- Make sure you flush out your system with tons of water. Water will help ease the effects of Keto flu symptoms and kickstart your body into ketosis. It will also reduce your hunger substantially especially by drinking at least 250 mL before each meal and throughout the day.

3.Magnesium- Taking a Magnesium supplement will help minimize the effects of the Keto flu.

Photo credit: Heather Ford

4. High fat- Keep your fat count as high as you can. Avocados, oil, butters, cream including coconut cream are excellent sources of adding fats to your diet. Think 70%, 20%protein, 10% carbs. This ratio should be thought of when preparing each meal. If you are not meeting your fat intake needs you can use MCT oil, although quite expensive it is highly effective.

Photo credit: Ali Hassan

5. Moderate protein- Protein can add up so you should be quite cautious here. Especially if you are consuming animal products. Nuts, seeds, olives and eggs are your best choices to add in enough protein. By eating meats you can easily go far over your protein quotient so keep track when animal protein is involved.

Photo credit: Andrijana Bozic

6. Salt- Sodium is essential to balance electrolytes which can lead to a feeling of malaise if not adding enough into your meals.

Photo credit: Jakayla Tony

7. Alcohol- If you are a casual drinker, shunning this treat can be difficult and often leads to failure on most diets. Alcoholic beverages are loaded with calories which is why it is not recommended on restrictive caloric diets. However all is not lost for the keto diet in this day and age but there are rules. Avoid beer, stick to 1 carb or less beverages this can include vodka soda beverages and spirits (rum, gin, vodka) and a diet or sugar free mixer, again double check the carbs!

Photo credit: Sonja Langford

8. Intermittent fasting- If you are serious about losing massive amounts in a short time frame you might want to consider intermittent fasting. If you are a busy body, then this might come easily after the first 48 hours. Keeping yourself busy once your body has adapted to this way of eating will easily deter your mind from looking for a snack. Where most diets will have you panging for something to eat, a keto body will still be fueled from the fats it has stored from the days before. A great method to follow is the 18:6, 18 hours of fasting and a 6 hour window of eating all your meals. Consider 12pm as your first meal and 6 pm for your last meal. Finish your last meal at least 3 hours before you go to bed.

Photo credit: Sharon McCutcheon

9. Monkfruit/Erythritol sweetener- I found these products to be the best option for sweetening foods. Baking, sauces, coffee/tea, everything is covered by this natural sweetening alternative. No carbs, no sugar and will keep you satisfied if you have a sweet tooth like me. They come in granulated sugar alternative, confectioner's sugar and brown sugar replacement. There is no reason not to include your favourite sweetened snacks with this sweetener handy.

Photo credit: Remi Al-Zayat

10. Keto app- Find a Keto app that works for you. By having one to follow, you are not likely to slip up and can log in your progress as the days go by. Some apps have barcode readers so that you can quickly look up carb counts on products at the grocery store.

*Bonus tip: The ketogenic diet can be used in vegan/vegetarian diets. Although there might be limitations to what you can have, it's not impossible.

As with any new diet plan, please talk to a doctor before beginning and ask if this is a good plan for you.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2021!!


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