Simple Way to Start the Ketogenic Diet
I get asked over and over again “What’s the Simple Way to Start the Ketogenic Diet?” This diet can be a bit confusing and overwhelming when you jump into all the information out there.
Let me first start off with a little disclaimer. First, I am not a doctor. I don’t claim to be a specialist in the Keto diet either. I’m just a busy mom that started this process herself. I’m 3 weeks in and 13 pounds lighter. Yay! I have plans to study this way of life in depth. I’ve already signed up to attend the very first Keto Conference scheduled later this year. I’ve never really been the dieting type person. I don’t like the restriction of food and I certainly don’t like feeling hungry. The Ketogenic Diet has really helped me feel full and satisfied through out the whole process. I know I will be successful with it. I’m already successful!
This of this information as a power dump of all the important things I’ve learned from studying this process over the last two months!
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
Basically it’s a high fat, moderate protein and low carb way of eating.
I feel the need to explain how this diet works. You are basically putting your body into ketosis.
What is Ketosis you ask?
Ketosis is a metabolic state characterized by raised levels of ketone bodies in the body tissues, which is typically pathological in conditions such as diabetes, or may be the consequence of a diet that is very low in carbohydrates.
How does the Ketogenic Diet work?
The best way for me to explain this diet is with this example of a fire. A fire burns in 3 different ways.
- A fire burns with kindling (small brush or branches).
- A fire burns with logs.
- A fire burns with coals.
Kindling burns really, really fast. A log burns slower… probably an hour or two. Coals burn for a long period of time.
Your body burns energy in 3 different ways also.
Carbs burn really, really fast. Protein burns at a slower rate but fat burns for a long period of time! You want to burn fat!
How do you fat cells work?
Fat cells are like little stubborn balloons in your body. They love to hold their shape and resist change. When you are in ketosis and your body starts to burn fat it starts to deplete these fat cells. But these cells don’t want to change. They start to hold more water to resist this type of change until they can no longer change! Why is that important for you to know that? Because the scale is your worst enemy when you start this diet. Your fat cells will hold more water even though you are losing fat. You will notice a change in your measurements so it’s highly recommended to measure for success in the beginning.
How do I start the Ketogensis Diet?
The very first thing I would do is make a decision to start this process and be dedicated to it. You will do more harm to yourself if you decide to eat high fat and still consume the carbs. It will lead to obesity.
Know that there is such thing as the “Keto Flu” when you start. Your body is going through a change and it won’t feel good in the beginning. I had pretty bad headaches for about 3 days. It was the kind of headache you get when you don’t drink enough water. I would drink more water than usual and I would also drink some pickle juice to help with this change. It doesn’t last very long at all.
Order some Ketone Pee Strips to test the ketone levels in your body. This was very important for me in the beginning. I was learning the different foods that put my body out of it’s ketosis state. Your body needs to remain in ketosis for this to work.
I thought I knew the foods that are allowed but quickly learned that I cannot trust everything I read on the internet. For example, one keto friendly recipe I tried had sweet potato with butter and plain cinnamon. I love sweet potato but realized after my test that sweet potato takes my body out of ketosis. I trusted a recipe on the internet that told me this was keto approved!
The other reason the strips were important was because I went out to eat and decided to have the cheese sauce with my meal. Cheeses are certainly approved on this diet but I didn’t realize the restaurants all make a fake cheese sauce meaning they don’t actually have cheese in it at all! Talk about a learning experience! Now I know not to ever order queso or cheese sauce at a restaurant. This may sounds stupid and most may have already known this but I did not. This is exactly why the test strips are important to me during this learning curve.
The last thing I recommend is to have a clear plan for your meals. You are the only person that can decide what meal ideas will work for you and your timeframe. You will want to set yourself up for success by being prepared. I do my planning one week at a time. I do my shopping over the weekend so I have everything ready during the busy work week. If you like to eat out a lot just determine which restaurants have foods you can enjoy and stick to those. I will put a small recommended grocery list at the very bottom of this post to help you get started at your first trip to the store too.
My brain was programmed a long time ago that fat was bad. Thank goodness for the book How We Get Fat and What to do About It by Gary Taubes helped to flip that switch for me. If you are local to me and want to borrow mine copy I would be happy to loan it to you. It’s an excellent read.
The last thing that I realized I really needed was a protein powder. I don’t eat enough protein and it’s essential on this diet to meet those targets. I really like the Dyamtize Whey Protein Isolate birthday cake flavor. The books I’ve read suggested the Egg Whites protein too but it doesn’t have any flavor and it’s really hard to mix in water. It’s perfect for baking or adding to recipes though.
How do I know how much Fat, Protein and Carbs to consume?
This part is easy. There are tons of Keto Calculators out there to help you determine what your numbers need to be. I personally really like the simplicity of this Keto Calculator to determine my own diet numbers. This calculator will help you determine your macronutrients and how much of what you should be eating everyday! Don’t skip this part because this is the key to getting started!
Macronutrients are nutrients that provide energy for your body and each body is different. It’s important to determine your own numbers and this calculator will ask you lots of information to determine your own numbers.
I’ve also found a really good resource for explaining weight loss and fine-tuning your ratio of macronutrients. It’s in the book The 30-Day Ketogenic Cleanse: Reset Your Metabolism with 160 Tasty Whole-Food Recipes & Meal Plans. This is an excellent book to start out with if you want to read in more detail exactly how this diet works and meal plans for a full 30 days are included. This is the only book that I have found that goes into detail about how much you should consume if you are trying to lose weight.
She states the typical numbers for weight maintenance and ketosis is a 5-20-75 percent ratio but if you are trying to lose weight she suggests sticking to a 20 grams or less in carb intake while keeping your protein intake at a moderate level of about 50 to 75 grams a day to achieve ketosis, a state in which your body will use stored fat for fuel. Which is exactly what you want for weight loss. Then eat fat until you are full or until you reach your calories for the day (whichever comes first).
Here’s a glimpse at the page I am referring to:
First Trip to the Grocery Store
This list is something I did when I went to the store for the first time. These foods that I list are just recommendations and certainly not the full list of allowed foods. These were just the easiest for me to start with.
- Bacon (lowest sugar bacon possible)
- Chicken (usually the higher fat types like dark meat cuts)
- Eggs (I buy about 3 18 count cartons a week for my family of four)
- Ground Beef
- Kielbasa sausage
- Pork Ribs
- Pork Rinds (excellent snack if you need the crunch factor)
- Almond butter
- Butter (Kerrygold is a high quality brand I really like)
- Cheese (Cheddar, Colby, Feta, Mozzarella, Blue cheese, Provolone, Ricotta, and so many others)
- Coconut Cream
- Coconut Milk (unsweetened)
- Cream Cheese (I’m pretty sure I buy about 3 blocks a week now)
- Heavy Whipping Cream
- Mayonnaise (Full Fat mayo such as Dukes)
- Olive Oil
- Sour Cream
- Brussel Sprouts
- Snow Peas
- Spaghetti Squash
Grab the printable version of this Keto Friendly Grocery List here: Grocery Store Keto List
Keto Friendly Cookbook Recommendations
Here are some ideas for quick meal ideas and recipes I trust. I started a tab here on the blog for trusted and tried recipes! Click here to see this Keto Friendly Recipe tab because I plan on updating it with every recipe I make that is a success.
Here are some of my favorite recipes and/or food ideas so far:
Keto Friendly Low Carb Pancakes with sugar free syrup.
Eggs and sausage or bacon for breakfast with a side of avocado.
Salads for lunch (lettuce, chicken/turkey with tomatoes, cheese and avocado and full fat ranch dressing)
I also keep a package of fully cooked grilled turkey or chicken strips in my refrigerator for the week just in case time gets away from me and I need something already cooked! I’ve been known to heat that up with cheese on top and serve it with a side of avocado too. Yummy!
Bacon Cheeseburger soup (is a family favorite)
Baked Brussel Sprouts Casserole (my family doesn’t like Brussel Sprouts but they LOVE this recipe)
Dinners are usually a meat with cheese or a salad with a low carb biscuit on the side.
My favorite snack idea is the Parmesan cheese wisps made by Cello. You can find them at Costco or your can order them here on Amazon. Best Snack EVER! I can only eat about 15 at a time which is one serving before it fills me up. They are so tasty too!
Dessert ideas are Halo Top Ice cream! You can find this at your local grocery store! Seriously good ice cream with no after taste!
I tend to also mix a bit of frozen blueberries or frozen strawberries with heavy cream if I need to up my fat numbers for the day. Mix those ingredients together and it tastes just like ice cream! What a treat!
Another way to help up your fat numbers for the day is to have what they call fat bombs. We made some of our own fat bombs but I prefer to call them sugar free chocolate candy hearts because it sounds much more pleasing than fat bombs. Lol!
These are just a few ideas to help get you started. Stay tuned for many more. We are in the process of testing many different pizza recipes and I’ve already found one that I plan to share real soon! But keep in mind that if you are invited somewhere that has pizza, just don’t eat the crust and only eat the topping! This actually happened to me and I made it work. Where there’s a will, there’s a way right?!
Keto Friendly Facebook Groups and Pages to Follow
We have a page on Facebook dedicated only to really good Keto Friendly Recipes that you can follow here.
We have also created a Group on facebook called the Low Carb Inspirations group so we can have discussions about recipes or problems we want to talk about. Feel free to join the group here too!
UPDATE: Many have asked for the pizza recipe from the photo in this article. This is the BEST Low Carb Keto Friendly pizza recipe I’ve ever tried!!!! SO GOOD!!!