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I’ve partnered up with a family member to once again tackle the ketogenic diet. I tried it a few years ago but very incorrectly, and last year in just 4 months alone I lost about 20 pounds with no exercise. I was just 10 pounds away from my goal weight and then a little vacation involving excess drinking and eating triggered a bulimia relapse, so I had to stop the strict dieting to prevent weight obsession.
For those who aren’t familiar with eating disorders, they are simply another form of remaining in power and control, so the best thing for me to do was remind myself that I am human and to be kind to myself. Eat those carbs. Have some chocolate during that time of the month. I think it’s put me in a better mindset to be more forgiving towards myself, despite the fact that I’ve definitely put on the winter weight, and more.
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The weight gain has definitely taken a toll on my self-confidence and I admit that I feel a bit anxious to see friends I haven’t seen in a while, because I feel that the weight gain is apparent. I don’t verbalize my anxiety as much as I used to, but it’s been a gray cloud looming over me ever since the holiday feasting began.
The keto diet was one diet that I really enjoyed! It’s a simple yet very tough diet that requires a lot of willpower. To sum it up, you pretty much cut out all carbs and limit yourself to less than 30 grams a day, which you’ll get in small amounts from vegetables. It is focused on a high fat/moderate protein/small carb ratio, as replacing carbs with another source of fuel – in this case, fat – ensures your body is still getting energy.
This means no sugar – even from fruits. The first few weeks of induction is pretty awful, especially with the migraines, sickness, and cravings, but after your body adjusts it becomes smooth sailing and the weight drops very quickly.
Some of you have seen the pictures I shared on my Instagram stories and have sent me messages and emails about what I did, so here are 10 things you need to consider when starting the keto diet.
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10 Things to Know Before Starting the Keto Diet
#1: Your first few days are going to feel like hell on Earth
I don’t say this to scare you, but because you need to prepare yourself for the worst headache you’ll probably ever experience in your life. When your body switches over from using carbohydrates as fuel to ketones from fat, your body is forced to use a completely different type of fuel from what it’s been used to for years and is now having a rough transition. You may experience flu-like symptoms from headaches, dizziness and nausea – this is known as the “keto flu” or “induction flu.”
Although the induction phase can be very uncomfortable, there are ways to minimize it. Make sure to drink a lot of water, and even if you don’t feel like it, eat more fat. Keeping fat-friendly snacks on hand like cheese, cold chunks of solidified coconut oil, pork rinds (0 carbs!), bacon, and Quest low-carb protein bars will help get you through this phase faster.
This might also sound kind of gross, but I would eat potassium salt and this would help fight off those headaches. If you’re not as weird/desperate as I am, chicken or beef broth can help quell any nausea or headaches (I just mix bouillon with water).
#2: Everything you lose within the first month is water weight
While the weight loss within the first month is rapid, you must also remember that this is mostly due to dropping water weight. Every gram of glycogen binds to about 3-4 grams of water, so as your body depletes itself of its glycogen stores, all that water gets flushed away too. You will feel much lighter, feel less bloated and “swollen.”
#3: Watch your electrolytes
Because of reduced glycogen stores and a drop in water weight, you will become dehydrated much more easily, so it is crucial to hydrate more often and consider taking magnesium and potassium supplements in order to prevent electrolyte imbalances. Another common side effect of electrolyte imbalances are cramps and charlie horses, so be sure to take those supplements – they also greatly help during the induction process! Also, remember to take Vitamin D to aid in potassium absorption.
Below are the supplements that I buy with the best prices (even compared to in-store):
Solgar Potassium Tablets: $14.93
Nature Made Vitamin D: $6.70
Solgar Magnesium Citrate: $13.20
#4: Everything the most innocent of foods may have carbs in it
You’re not only saying goodbye to the most common carb-laden culprits like rice and bread – you have to say goodbye to fruit and some vegetables as well. It is extremely important to check labels of EVERYTHING at the grocery store and doing your research as to what foods are keto-friendly and secret saboteurs.
#5: Keto is definitely not a bland diet
Although you may have to put more care and consideration into your cooking at home, the satisfaction from keto meals is much greater than any other diet I have tried. There are so many delicious keto-friendly recipes floating around online – in fact, I collect them in a pinboard on my Pinterest.
Click here for my pinboard of over 200 keto-friendly recipes.
#6: You will have no physical energy
Unfortunately, glycogen is stored in your muscles and is used to fuel them, which means that as you progress deeper and deeper into ketosis, your muscles will become depleted of energy. In my deepest state of keto, I was getting very tired going up the stairs in my two-story home.
On the plus side, on keto, weight loss is much faster than any other diet, so you can lose weight even without working out at the gym.
#7: You will lose weight fast (if you do it right)
If you minimize your carbohydrate intake to about 20-30g carbs per day, you will lose a ton of weight. This means that you have to fill up on cruciferous or low-carb vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli, drizzle your salads in extra virgin olive oil, don’t eat too much meat, and add fat to every meal. It may sound limiting, but if you calculate your macros wisely, you’ll discover that it’ll take you a less amount of food to keep you full.
#8: Keeping snacks on-hand is essential
If you break on this diet, you may get “kicked out” of ketosis, which induces a headache and side effects that resemble the induction flu. You must have to go through the induction phase again to enter back into ketosis, so cheating can be a real pain on this diet.
Making sure to keep snacks on hand is a surefire way to stave off any cravings. Again, cheese, bacon, solidified coconut oil, Quest low-carb protein bars and pork rinds are great snacks to have.
#9: It’s totally possible to go out to eat with friends
While it may seem impossible to go out and enjoy a “normal” dinner with your friends, there are several ways you can still go out to eat at either restaurants or fast food places.
Here are my favorite keto-friendly things to eat:
- In-n-Out: protein-style cheeseburger (lettuce wrap)
- Pretty much any fast food place since you can ask for a cheeseburger wrapped in lettuce
- Chipotle: Get a burrito bowl with meat, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and fajita vegetables. Say goodbye to beans and corn salsa, and go easy on the other kinds.
- Breakfast omelettes – you may not be able to have pancakes, but you can still enjoy a hearty omelette with cheese, bacon or avocado.
- Salads (no croutons, add bacon crumbles and meat). Check the carb content of the salad dressings as they are not all created equal, but a Caesar salad is usually a safe pick that’s high-fat/low-sugar.
- Steak! Steakhouses normally cook their steaks in butter, and you can have vegetables as a side.
- Lobster and butter. Lobster buffets are safe! Just remember that moderation is still key, and calories still exist.
There are a ton of other foods you can eat at restaurants, but those are my normal go-to staples.
#10: Your alcohol tolerance will go down severely
This could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your drinking habits. I used to be able to drink several shots of tequila and wake up with no hangover, but on keto, I can get buzzed off of a single shot and wake up hungover even if I go to bed sober (also worth noting that hangovers on keto are the worst kind you’ll ever get).
On the plus side, when going bar hopping or clubbing, it only takes me about 1 shot to get buzzed, and 3-4 shots to get absolutely plastered. When on keto, remember to pace yourself, as your tolerance will be completely different from outside of the diet.
Also, remember to stay away from mixed drinks and beer, but shots or a glass of red wine is relatively safe. Pro-tip: Before drinking and upon waking up, take some B12, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin D, as this combination will help your body metabolize the alcohol faster and keep your electrolyte levels up. You’ll thank me later.
I know it’s crazy – getting rid of carbs completely? “But you need it!” Yeah, we need it, but we really should be getting it from better sources like vegetables, and this is a way to encourage healthier food choices while metabolizing body fat through dieting. It’s definitely not a crash diet, since you’re not focusing on the amount of food but rather what type of food you are eating. So keto definitely helps me with ridding myself of the terrible controlling habit of counting calories.
Spring and summer are both approaching very fast, so I’m going to have to motivate myself to stick to this diet until I hit my goal weight. Diabetes runs in my family so I would like to use this carb detox to get my butt into gear and reset my health. Time for a change!
Do you guys have any health goals for the upcoming spring and summer seasons? Let’s chat in the comments – be my new health and fitness buddy!
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