5 Things I Learned About Going Keto (and I wish I'd known before)
How It Works
When I needed to make a positive change in the way I took care of myself (I basically didn't, after having my twins), one of my big issues was my food habits. After some failed dieting attempts I turned to the ketogenic diet. Or I should say, the ketogenic lifestyle. And it seemed like a total snooze: Eat all the meat and dairy you want, and substitute your favorite sweets with a natural sugar replacement (spoiler: that's not what keto dieting is).
Sounds easy, right? But I got into keto expecting miracle results, and I was not entirely ready and unsure exactly what I was trying to do. So the first 2 months I made all the newbie mistakes and stumbled my way through without gaining all the benefits I had expected. After that I decided to pause everything and REALLY looked into the principles behind keto. I also planned a complete month of workouts and meal plans. And that's when things really kicked into gear! I was amazed at how my body was able to transform and how I was feeling overall.
So to save you those first months of messing around, here is my list of things to start with, to set you on the right path, and keep you focused as you make the change to the keto diet!
1. Understand your motivation
Everyone has different reasons for beginning keto. You might be trying to eat healthier, get more energy for exercise, trim your belly or waistline… Understanding your goals before you start is a great way to measure your progress, and an even better way to keep you motivated when you’re struggling. Are you looking to look better, trade fat for muscle, or hit an ideal weight? Are you looking to change a bad eating habit for a good one? Keto can help you do all those things, but having your goals in mind, and keeping them in mind goes a long way to keeping you motivated for the long haul. So pick a goal, and make it measurable.
2. Start Slow
Keto can be overwhelming for some. When you first start, your body may struggle to adjust to the drop in sugar, and increase in fat. This can cause temporary health issues. Additionally, if you’ve been dieting for a while, you’re probably used to the idea that fat is bad. Moving to a high fat diet might change your body, your energy level, and even change you psychologically.
You might think keto is an easier diet, since compared to similar diets, you can eat as much as you like. But a high fat diet doesn’t give you an excuse to eat junk food or processed foods. Making a long term dietary change requires starting slow, and slowly substituting your favorite foods, the ones you might struggle with later on, before switching completely. Check with a doctor or nutritionist, especially if you have existing health concerns or other dietary concerns. Small, incremental changes in your habits will increase the chance of keeping those habits up for the long-term.
3. Get Comfortable With Your Kitchen
The keto diet means preparing a lot of things at home, and making substitutions as you go. Like any dietary change, it can mean a lot of research, and it’s a great excuse to learn new recipes. But if you’re a little nervous in the kitchen, a good way to start is to find a few quick and easy recipes you can start with and build on. Don’t try to recreate your favorite meals straight away. Instead, embrace the change and do some searching for keto recipes you’d like to try. From there, you can set about learning the appropriate substitutions.
4. Use A Keto Calculator
Keto is a diet that is high in fat, but also in nutrients. Bringing your body to a state of ketosis means constantly burning fat instead of sugars. But your body still needs both fat and sugar to function in a healthy way. a good keto calculator works by using your weight, age, gender, activity level and fitness goals to measure out your macros, that is, the specific amounts of fat, protein and sugars your body needs to stay healthy and reach your goals. Using the right tools will make figuring out your macros at home easy, and it also keep you on top of your progress as you go. The better calculators help you track your goals, and log changes in your body. Having your macros calculated even before you start makes it less likely to get confused or discouraged as you go. It means you will stay healthy even as your diet change, and it will keep you focused on your goals. Measure correctly from the start, and make your life easier.
5. Track Your Food
It sounds like a bit much, but keeping a food diary could be as simple as an app on your phone, or jotting in a day planner. Keeping track of your food makes it easier to track your macros, and keep track of your goals. A food diary is also a good place to store recipes and remember where you started from, as your goals continue to change! Keep track of what you’re eating, and you’ll soon know not only your ideal macros, but which substitutions work best, what can trigger a craving, and how best to beat it! Journaling how you feel is always a good idea, and can also be helpful to assess what the effects are of the diet on your mood and energy.
6. Choose Your Substitutions Wisely
If you've got a sweet tooth, or you love your pasta, you're going to need to learn your substitutions going forward. A sense of deprivation is why many diets fail. But you don't want to use a sweetener with aspartame or Splenda, which has zero calories but can still spike your blood sugar, and kick your body out of ketosis. Even whole wheat pastas still contain carbohydrates, so you'll want to switch to zucchini or spaghetti squash noodles. So to have a list of suitable alternatives, will help you a lot in those first months. Or just at any time when you are craving for some comfort food. Something I definitely should have done, since I used to grab whatever was in the house (which was usually not the best choice).
Keto is a great way to lose weight, eat healthier, and make a positive change in your life. But it can be hard to know where to start. Like any dietary change, it can be all too easy to give in to cravings, especially as your body is still adjusting. The trick to staying motivated is to remember your goals, and have the right tools and the right information to keep you going. Starting with the right attitude, and the right tools makes a huge difference.
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