Whether you’ve seen the incredible transformation pictures on Instagram or have stumbled across a keto diet plan in a health and fitness magazine, there are a few things that you should know about the keto diet before jumping head first into this high-fat, low-carb way of eating.
Keto is a lifestyle, not just a diet.
It’s not uncommon to hear people refer to keto as a Way of Eating (WOE) rather than a diet, and this is because it is not something that can be stopped or started. For the keto diet to be effective, it needs to be treated as a lifestyle change and not as a fad diet. If you repeatedly stop and start the keto diet, you risk confusing your metabolism and could actually end up gaining more weight than when you first started.
It requires patience.
Some transformation pictures can easily lead you to believe that the weight will simply fall off you from the moment you start the keto diet, but sadly, unless you have a lot of weight to lose, your transformation could be a lot slower. Although ketosis may not be able to give you the instant and dramatic results that you were hoping for, it’s important to remember that slow and steady weight loss is actually more healthy for you in the long run.
There are no magic numbers.
Generally speaking, the keto diet involves eating 75% fat, 20% protein, 5% carbohydrate, but these aren’t magic numbers. Some people find that they are able to enter ketosis while eating as many as 50g of carbs a day, whereas others need to drop their intake to just 20g. In the beginning, you will need to find your sweet spot through trial and error, so don’t be disheartened if your numbers don’t match up to those you’ve seen elsewhere.
Achieving ketosis can take time.
Just as your carbohydrate intake will be personal to you, so will your journey to ketosis. Some people find that they can enter ketosis quickly through diet alone, whereas for others, the process can be much slower, and they may need to take supplements such as exogenous ketones to get into and maintain their ketosis.
Keto flu is real!
When your body enters ketosis, it is very likely that you will experience what is known as keto flu. As your body switches into fat-burning mode, you may begin to feel tired and nauseous, and you could also develop a persistent headache. Keto flu is a normal part of entering ketosis and is actually seen as a good sign! So don’t panic, stay consistent with your diet, drink plenty of fluids, and replenish your electrolytes, and it will pass.
You may also experience keto-breath.
One of the other common signs that you are entering ketosis is ‘dragon breath’ caused by ketones exiting your body. Once again, keto-breath isn’t anything to be worried about, though it can be a little embarrassing! To help keep your breath minty fresh, try to maintain good oral hygiene, check to make sure that your protein intake is not too high, or chew some sugar-free breath mints or a cardamom pod.
Water is your best friend.
Whether you’ve got a nasty case of the keto flu, are struggling to go to the bathroom, or have nose-wrinkling dragon breath, water is going to be your best friend. The keto diet can cause you to urinate a lot more frequently, leading to dehydration that can cause constipation and headaches. Try to drink at least a gallon of water a day - you may find it easier to stay on top of your water intake if you buy a gallon water bottle.
It can take some time for your gut to adjust.
When you switch to a diet that is high in fat, it can take some time for your gut to adjust. During this period, you may experience constipation, diarrhea, gas, and bloating, but it will pass as your body adjusts to its new way of eating.
The keto diet doesn’t need to be expensive.
A common myth about the keto diet is that it is costly. Although switching from cheap, stodgy carbs like rice, pasta, and bread to high-fat foods such as nuts and seeds, can cause a rise in your grocery bill, you will find yourself eating far less food overall and so with careful meal planning, ultimately, your grocery bill will remain much the same.
You need to have an after plan.
Although it may seem strange to be thinking about life after ketosis before you’ve even begun the keto diet, it is crucial to consider your after-plan if you want to avoid piling the weight back on when you leave ketosis. Most people only stay in ketosis for a set period to help them achieve their health goals and never intend to remain on the keto diet forever. Jumping straight back into your old diet is often not the best way to maintain your new weight, so think about your after plan, the changes you plan to make, and how you will maintain your weight long-term.
So there you have it - ten things that you should know before starting the keto diet. Although some of these may seem a little daunting, we hope they don’t put you off giving it a try.