I learned the word “keto” two summers ago, when my nephew focused on “keto-friendly” foods throughout our family reunion. He and his Dad both struggled with extra weight and unhealthy eating habits, so they decided to try a new way of eating. Their weight loss wowed me, but I was even more impressed by their reports of improved mood, more energy, better self-control around food, and all-around improved health. I decided to try their diet for myself, with an initial 20 lb weight loss, followed by a few times falling off of the health wagon. I am now on try three, with 7lbs lost in the first week and a renewed commitment to my health. If you’re curious about keto, but unsure where to start, here are my 5 Tips for starting Keto:
5 Tips for Starting Keto
1. Start with a Detailed Meal Plan.
Keto Meal Plans are available from a variety of online sources and cookbook authors. I’ve purchased and tried recipes from five different cookbooks and multiple blogs, finding numerous options. I prefer to start Keto with plans from Ruled.Me (purchase Keto Academy ebook bundle) or I Breathe I’m Hungry (free online).
- Melissa at I Breathe I’m Hungry offers a terrific 3 Day Keto Kickstart that will get you into ketosis quickly and then you can follow her meal plans. Weekly shopping lists are included and can be printed. I like her sensible approach to budgeting and meal prep. I used this last time I keto-ed and enjoyed them. My mom and I have also tried her soup diet. The soup was delicious and mom was successful, but I found it frustrating. This is okay and just showed me that I need variety and flexibility to remain successful.
- The folks at Ruled.Me offer their Keto Academy, which includes the Accelerated Weight Loss 4-week keto starter plan. Their entire academy is $54 and includes multiple cookbooks with detailed shopping lists and weekly totals for carbs, protein, and fat. I am currently using this cookbook and loving it. I printed out the plan and then the cookbooks for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and sides/snacks and put them in inexpensive binders. The recipes are budget-friendly and only use a few specialty ingredients you may not already have on hand. This helps me to reference recipes quickly and plan for the week and day. I adjust the dinners to feed 6 people 90% of the time to feed my whole family, adding some fruits or carbs for the kids. This way, I am not making two dinners, which wears me out and makes me feel like all I think about is food. My only critique of this plan is that the instructions for meals are sometimes vague or unclear. Otherwise, my husband said to me the other day, “We could just keep rotating through these meals every month.”
- Leanne at Healthful Pursuit is your resource if you want a dairy-free keto or someone who can help you consider health concerns such as diabetes, vegan eating, or other dietary concerns. Her book The Keto Diet is the first cookbook I purchased and an amazing resource on Keto, with detailed meal plans and delicious recipes. On a personal note, Leann’s honest, heartfelt explanation of her relationship with food and dieting really struck a cord with me. When I read her introduction, I believed I could be healthy and change my binge and stress-eating habits. This book does require a serious investment into specialty ingredients, which can be cost-prohibitive and requires a larger learning curve.
- Other books with meal plans include Keto in 28 and The Wicked Good Ketogenic Diet.
2. Be Prepared for the “Keto Flu.”
Some people adjust relatively easily to a serious reduction in sugar and carbs. I do not. Going into Ketosis can make me feel like I’ve caught something for a few days. This last time, I added a few supplements to my diet and stuck strictly to water and unsweetened tea. I had headaches for a few days, but this was definitely superior to my previous experiences. You can plan ahead to make transitioning to keto easier by having the following on hand:
- A Daily Multi-vitamin
- Ketone Strips
- Water. More Water. Even more water. Water again.
*I am not a medical expert, so please consult with your medical provider before adding any supplements to your diet.
3. Buy Sufficient Water Bottles.
Water is your friend when it comes to keto. If you’re like me, you want your water to be cold. Plan ahead with reusable water bottles. Keep them ice-filled and cold. When you’re done with one, refill it and chill it. Like I said before, drink Water. More Water. Even more water. Water again. When you’re looking for tips for starting keto, water is a must.
Water helps me to ward off my desire to snack or stress eat. When those voices tell me I can’t do this, I take a drink of water. Pretty soon, I find myself looking for my water bottle wherever I go.
4. Plan Time for Organized Shopping and Cooking.
If I don’t have a plan, I won’t be successful in staying on track. I love how the meal plans I described in tip 1 have shopping lists and daily lists that often even include snacks. This is why I am loving using Ruled.Me this time around. There is no guess-work. I look forward to my meals. I am satisfied between meals. Substitution is easy. Many weeks, I prepare a breakfast or dinner that covers other days as well.
Once I’m confidently in ketosis, I can experiment more and add in new foods. When I do, I still need a shopping and meal plan, though. Without this, I find myself unprepared and grabbing for less healthy – and less delicious – options. Give yourself meals to look forward to, with fresh ingredients. Make food preparation a time to listen to e-books, enjoy your favorite music, and appreciate how you are creating something to fuel your body.
5. Find a Cheerleader and Celebrate Your Successes.
This time around, I texted my husband and told him I needed him to encourage me and he immediately began sending positive, affirming messages. I can share small milestones with him, such as the amount of water I drank or resisting that cookie. If I am feeling excited about weight loss, I share it, but we celebrate increased energy, improved mood, and my love of cooking with fresh ingredients. One day, I told my daughter about a recent success and she was so proud, declaring, “We should celebrate – with brownies!” We laughed at this and I told her how I was finding new ways to celebrate without food – which is an entire blog post all on it’s own.
Don’t feel like you have to post on social media about your health journey unless this motivates you in a positive way. If you’re going to post on social media, consider adjusting your audience to genuine cheerleaders. Even if you don’t post for others, consider taking some photos so you can see your progress – and celebrate!
You Can Do This.
Sometimes I sabotage myself. If I slip up and eat a candy with the kids or drink a Coke Zero when I should be having water, I doubt myself. When I don’t demand perfection, I am successful. Oddly, knowing that a slip-up isn’t the end of my success means I’m more determined to stay on track.
Disclosure: Affiliate links are included in this post. Proceeds go to support my blog.