How to Start a Keto Diet?

  • Jan 05, 2024
  • By Rikke Svartangen
  • 0 Comment

If you’re new to the keto diet, where to start can be the most confusing question of all.

There is so much complicated—even contradictory—information out there that it can be difficult to know which advice to follow.

We’ve created this guide for keto diet beginners to help you navigate the world of low-carb diets.

The first point to make, as you’ll see when you read on further, is that all keto is low carb – but not all low carb is keto. We’ll start by showing you how to tell the difference between the various low-carb and keto diets so that you can make informed choices.

Then it’s all about the keto diet—where to start, what to eat (and what to avoid) and some of the challenges you might encounter along your journey to a keto lifestyle.

Low-Carb Diets

What is a low-carb diet?

A low-carb diet is one that limits the amount of carbohydrates you eat.

These carbohydrates come mainly from sugary and starchy foods that are eaten as part of our daily meals. Staples like regular pasta, white rice and bread made from cereals such as wheat are all high in carbohydrates. As are processed foods like sweetened yoghurts and chocolate.

While there’s no official definition of what qualifies as a “low carb” diet, when you start one, the recommendation is to cut right down on these foods. We recommend that you stay at 20g carbs to stay in ketosis, under 50g carbs for weight loss, and under 100g for weight maintenance.

While the benefits of a low-carb diet are many, lowering blood-sugar levels and weight loss are two common motivations for people starting a low-carb diet.

💻 RELATED: If you're considering a low-carb diet, we've created an article dedicated to why and how to go about it 👉 What is a Low-Carb Diet

You can also find a huge range of products that are suitable for a low-carb diet in our shop. They’re all clearly marked with the Low Carb symbol. 

What is a keto diet?

A ketogenic diet (“keto” for short) is simply a very low-carb diet.

The aim of the keto diet is to put the body into a state of ketosis. This is a process where—starved of sugar as fuel—your body uses fat instead. To reach a state of ketosis, you need to eat less than 50g1 of carbohydrates per day.

That doesn’t mean not eating at all. Quite the opposite! You’ll need to keep up your protein intake and increase your fat intake to 30g–40g a day2

Many beginners use a keto diet to start weight loss before they move on to a low-carb diet. And vice versa: keto can also be used to restart your metabolism if you feel like you’ve stopped losing weight on a low-carb diet.

All of the products in our shop that are suitable for people following a ketogenic diet are clearly marked with the Keto or Clean Keto symbol.

What is a paleo diet?

The paleolithic or ‘paleo’ diet (sometimes also called the stone-age diet) takes low-carb eating back to the very basics.

The paleo diet is all about eating as we did as hunter-gatherers. Which is simply as naturally as possible. A paleo diet isn’t always low carb. In fact, it doesn’t focus on how much fat, protein or carbohydrates you should eat3.

Instead, the emphasis is on eating whole, unprocessed foods like grass-fed meats and organic vegetables, including starchy foods that aren’t included in low-carb and keto diets, such as potatoes.

We have many products that work with a paleo diet and, as with every product we sell, they are clearly marked so it’s easy for you to choose what’s right for you.

Starting a Keto Diet

Keto…or clean keto?

Starting a keto diet can be as simple as cutting out the sugar and starches in your diet from foods like rice, flour, grains, potatoes and bread.

To take this a step further, many people who start the keto diet also choose to limit the processed food they eat. This diet is also sometimes referred to as ‘clean keto’. 

Part of clean keto is using no artificial sweeteners to replace sugar. 

You might struggle with your sugar cravings when your keto diet starts. Many people use sweet substitutes like chocolate sweetened with Erythritol and Stevia (two natural sweeteners) to help control cravings. However, they will keep your taste for sugar alive and kicking.

As overcoming your body’s addiction to sugar altogether is vital to succeeding with your keto lifestyle, we recommend that you avoid any sweeteners that can trick your body into thinking it’s still being fed sugar.

Instead, the focus of this kind of keto diet is on eating whole foods from quality sources such as grass-fed meat, free-range eggs and wild-caught seafood. 

Following a clean keto diet will mean cooking most things from scratch using specially adapted keto recipes. Although this is the best option for everyone, we all lead busy lives and need convenience sometimes. 

To help you on your journey, we’ve worked with nutritionists and chefs to create all-natural, pre-prepared keto meals. Cooked in small batches and nutritionally balanced, they are ideal for days when you’re pushed for time and need a healthy meal…fast.

All the clean keto products on our website have been carefully vetted by our nutritionists, and are clearly marked so that you know they fit your dietary requirements.

For some people, starting on a clean keto diet can be a great way to discover any undiagnosed food intolerances. You can always start with a clean keto diet, and then introduce these products back into your diet one by one. 

The benefits of the keto diet

The idea of the keto diet is to convert your body from a sugar burner to a more efficient fat burner. Starving your body of sugar has numerous benefits. 

✅ Weight loss—If you’re trying to lose weight, then a keto diet is one of the most effective ways. It uses your body fat as fuel to give you energy, rather than relying on the sugars that come from carbohydrates.

✅ Anti-inflammatory—For your body, fat is a cleaner, healthier way of fuelling your metabolism. The science behind this is that burning fat releases fewer free radicals, which can damage your cells causing illness, ageing and inflammation4. By eliminating sugar you are decreasing the risk of developing chronic inflammation throughout your body.

✅ Increases insulin sensitivity—Eating carbohydrates causes a rise in your blood sugar, which leads to a spike in your insulin. This can lead over time to insulin resistance and ultimately type 2 diabetes5. In a study published in Nutrition and Metabolism, researchers found that diabetics following a ketogenic diet needed less diabetic medication—and even reversed their condition in some cases6.

✅ Better mental clarity—Ketones are a great fuel for your brain. According to studies cited by diabetes.co.uk, they increase the amount of ‘energy factories’ in your brain that boost the energy levels in certain areas7.

Day one on the keto diet

As we’ve said before, all you really need to do to start your keto diet is cut out sugar and all starchy food. 

But you do need to eat some carbohydrates. Recommendations vary but the PCH suggests as little as 20g a day8. These carbohydrates can come from vegetables that grow above ground, such as broccoli, bell peppers and courgettes. Some berries, like blueberries and raspberries, are also lower in carbohydrates. 

Eating 1g of protein per kilogram of your ideal body weight should give you the right amount of protein per day. So that your keto diet doesn’t become one that starved your body of essential macronutrients, we recommend that you reduce your intake to this number gradually.

If you weigh 100kg you should be eating 90g of protein a day, and gradually lower in 10g increments. 

And of course, you need to eat fat. 

The key is to eat when you’re hungry. And eat enough fat to stop being hungry. Remember, fat is now your fuel so you need to let your body know that you’re feeding it. 

This fat can come from dairy products like cheese and yoghurt, olive and coconut oils, and avocado. The PCH recommends 30g of fat a day for women and 40g for men9

Things to look out for 

The keto diet causes your kidneys to stop retaining water and sodium, so initially, you’ll need to go to the toilet more often. To make sure you don’t experience an electrolyte imbalance or dehydration—which can give you flu-like symptoms—increase your intake of sodium, magnesium and potassium. 

💻 RELATED: To learn more about what's going on in your body as you're on your keto journey, read our article 👉 How the Keto Diet Works 

If you’re using a clean keto diet, you’ll also need to reduce or eliminate sweeteners from your diet for the first month at least. Sugar increases your appetite, making you want to eat more. Sweeteners trigger the same response in your body. 

It takes at least a month to rid yourself of sugar cravings. We don’t mean just chocolate. Sugar is in all processed foods: bread, tinned soup, ketchup, sauces. 

It’s not an easy process. You might feel quite groggy for the first few days. But once your body becomes fat-adapted, you’ll start noticing the health benefits and it gets easier. 

Alcohol, milk and peanuts are higher in carbs. We recommend that you take them out of your diet for the first month so that you can see what effect they have on your cravings. After the month, when your appetite is regulated, you can decide whether you want—or need—to reintroduce them.

Maintaining a Keto Diet

How to vanquish hunger

If you’re eating enough fat, you shouldn’t feel hungry between meals. But if hunger does strike, this is how you deal with it….

First, hunger is a sign that you’ve not eaten enough fat or protein. So make a mental note to increase the amount with your next meal and going forward. 

Second, check that you’re actually hungry. Thirst—or even boredom—can make you think you’re hungry when you’re actually not.

Lastly, always keep snacks handy. Nuts such as almonds, macadamias, walnuts and brazils are a quick fix. As are pork crackling or olives. If you’re at home, try making yourself celery topped with nut butter. 

And don’t forget to take supplies with you when you’re out and about. Cubes of cheese or hard-boiled eggs can easily fit into your bag when you’re on the move.  

To weigh or not to weigh?

This is a very personal choice.

Scales can be a poor gauge of success. It is, after all, just one way to measure your progress. You might choose to weigh yourself at the start, and then at intervals as you move forward with the keto lifestyle. 

However, our honest advice is to use the fit of your clothes to judge how your body has changed.

Choose an outfit that fits you really well right now and save it. As time goes by, try it on to see the difference in your shape and size. Don’t throw them away no matter how loose they get. These are the benchmark for where you started. 

This way, if the scale hasn’t moved but your clothes are fitting more loosely and you look visibly fitter, chances are you’ve lost body fat and possibly gained some muscle.

Taking pictures of your progress is also a great way to see how far you’ve come. You look at yourself in the mirror every day and it can be difficult to notice the changes day-to-day. Taking a ‘before’ photo and charting your progress visually is so powerful. 

The one-month high

If you can stick to the keto diet for a month, your body will undergo an incredible reset.

Around week 1 you’ll notice that your cravings disappear and your sleep improves. At week 3, you’ll start to feel a lightening of your mood as you get better mental clarity. 

By the end of the month, you’ll feel a great sense of well-being. And you should be able to really tell the difference that removing sugar from your diet makes to your body. 

You should notice the physical changes in your body too. 

If you’ve started a keto diet to lose weight, you’ll hopefully feel a sense of freedom as you see your body fat decreasing, and as you’re able to increase your daily activity. 

If, after a month, you’ve not noticed any change in your body, it’s important to seek advice from your GP or specialist, so that they can help you adapt your diet and get you on the right track.

 

woman holding a water bottle

 

References

  1. Harvard School of Medicine Diet Review: Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss available at https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/ketogenic-diet/ (Accessed on 3 March 2022)
  2. ibid
  3. The Paleo Diet Why The Paleo Diet Doesn’t Focus on Macronutrients available at https://thepaleodiet.com/why-the-paleo-diet-doesnt-focus-on-macronutrients (Accessed on 3 March 2022)
  4. The British Medical Journal Free radicals and inflammation available at https://ard.bmj.com/content/60/5/442.1 (Accessed on 3 March 2022)
  5. Diabetes.co.uk Ketogenic diet benefits https://www.diabetes.co.uk/keto/keto-diet-benefits.html (Accessed on 3 March 2022)
  6. Yancy, Foy, Chalecki et al. A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet to treat type 2 diabetes available at https://nutritionandmetabolism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1743-7075-2-34 (Accessed on 30 March 2022)
  7. Diabetes.co.uk Kentogenic diet and mental health available at https://www.diabetes.co.uk/keto/ketogenic-diet-and-mental-health.html (Accessed on 3 March 2022)
  8. Harvard School of Medicine Diet Review: Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss available at https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/ketogenic-diet/ (Accessed on 3 March 2022)
  9. ibid

Nutrition

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