5 Tips for Beginners Who Are Looking to Start a Keto Diet
Chances are, if you’ve come to this blog post, you have either already decided or are in the process of making a decision to start a ketogenic way of eating. First off, let me say congratulations for making the conscious effort to better your body and health, and second, let me express how excited I am that you’re looking into eating a low-carb, high-fat diet because it has done nothing but wonders for me.
There were a lot of questions when I began; heck, I still have questions from time to time. But, having eaten this way successfully now for over a year, there are some main questions/tips worth mentioning that I wish I had known when starting out.
1. Take progress photos and body measurements from the get-go
For some, this comes as a no-brainer. However, if you were anything like I was when I started this way of life, I hated taking pictures of my body and worked diligently to hide/delete unflattering pictures of myself on all social platforms.
Now, looking back, I wish I had kept some of those photos and had taken more comparison photos, because it’s really cool to see visually, firsthand how much I have changed in the past year. I suffer from bouts of body dysmorphia (where my mind can’t comprehend and acknowledge that I have indeed lost weight and that I’m at a healthy weight), but it’s hard for even my skeptical mind to argue with a clear before and after comparison photo.
It can be hard for some to get in the habit of tracking measurement and weight. If you’re having a hard time keeping up momentum or tracking your weight loss on the regular, there are some cool helpful charts and trackers out there, like these stickers that fit neatly into most planners/daily calendars, this planner that prompts you to jot down exercises and weekly measurements, and this weight loss diary that encourages you to stay hydrated and focus on self image and preservation, as well.
Additional Tip: Keep some of the articles of clothing that you wore in those before photos in order to wear them again in the after progress photos. This helps visually connect just how much your body is changing even if you can’t see it. One thing many on keto will confess is that the scale can be an evil liar. Some days it proudly boasts a significant drop in weight, where other days it will shout a weight loss stall or, even worse, a gain! When this happens, don’t fret so quickly. Check your body measurements and progress photos and carry one once you’ve seen that you are indeed losing fat.
2. You’re not going to be as hungry at times
This really freaked me out when I first started eating this way. About 1.5 months into eating a ketogenic diet, I noticed that I wasn’t really eating breakfast anymore. Instead, I had started sipping on a coffee with heavy whipping cream (HWC), butter, and sweetener in it (commonly known in the keto community as a bulletproof coffee). I would sip this drink from 9 AM throughout my morning, and not be hungry for a substantial meal until 12:45 PM to around 2 PM, depending on the day.
Because I was losing weight, some who took notice on this eating behavior were worried that I was purposely starving myself. Let me tell you, it only takes one quick glance on my Instagram account to realize that is far from true. Long story short on this is that as your body becomes fat adapted and learns to burn your fat for fuel, you may not feel as hungry as you used to on a carb-heavy diet.
3. It might cost a bit more
With a special way of eating comes a special list of groceries (stay tuned for my comprehensive list of recommended kitchen goods). One thing I noticed when changing to this way of eating is that “the good stuff” does not come cheap. Unfortunately, the food industry is quite aware what a commodity certain ingredients in our lifestyle are, such as almond flour or coconut aminos (a great substitute for soy sauce).
Be aware that your grocery bill may go up a bit more when eating this way. But, my biggest tip for this is to not buy everything “healthy” under the moon just because you saw it in one Keto recipe. I still have a whole container of nutritional yeast that’s practically unused because I just had to have it in order to do keto when I first started out.
If you’re on a budget and strapped for cash, stick to the basics: meat, cheese, and veggies. Look for coupons at the meat section/deli of your grocery store, and buy the cruciferous vegetables that are on sale. I’ve prepped meals that cost about $3 or less a plate several times.
4. You’re going to have to ask questions and research constantly
You’re going to realize quickly that others don’t understand what all is incorporated in a low-carb, high-fat diet. If you only cook at home and don’t ever go out to eat, you will have the luxury of knowing every ingredient that goes into your dishes. But, if you’re like me and wanted to make sure this way of life didn’t inhibit you from going out and having fun, you’re going to have to learn a new routine when it comes to eating out or going to parties where food is involved.
If you go to restaurants often, you’re going to need to get in the habit of asking questions about their menu options. I learned that several waiters shrugged or “forgot” if I would ask “is there flour in this dish?” instead, I learned telling the waiter that I can’t have gluten helped in narrowing down the options for what I actually could eat at the restaurant without hidden carb-ladened ingredients (I actually do have a gluten sensitivity, so this helped in not feeling so bad in requesting gluten-free options, but hey–keto goers can’t eat gluten either!).
Additional Tips: Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions! I can’t tell you how many brunches and dinners I’ve gone to where an omelet or steak meal sounded great, but I was put off by the hash browns or mashed potatoes the restaurant paired with the dish. All restaurants I’ve been to have been more than happy to substitute extra veggies in place of the carb-riddled sides. Worried about going to a new restaurant and not being sure if they’ll have low-carb options? Look up the menu online before going. A lot of chain restaurants even offer their nutritional info online for customers to check. When in doubt, go with a bunless burger.
5. Everyone is going to have an opinion
Did you think that people in your life were opinionated before? Just wait until they see how you eat on a ketogenic diet. Suddenly, everyone around you seems to become a health expert; many will be a critic of whether or not fat adaptation is possible and safe, and others will think what you’re doing is downright horrifying.
Let’s put it into perspective: a chocolate chip cookie has, on average, 8g Fat and 16g Carbohydrates. A tablespoon of butter has 12g Fat and 0g Carbohydrates. Scarf two carb-riddled cookies after lunch and no one bats an eye. Put butter in your coffee or on your steak and everyone loses their minds. Even though the two cookies contain a higher fat content than your 1 tbsp of butter, everyone suddenly becomes a worried health expert because society has told them eating cookies for dessert is normal, while supplementing your meal or drink with fat is not.
The best advice I can give for this is to smile and nod when people say their piece, then go about your business as usual. Just remind yourself why you’re doing this, and carry on. Use those measurements to keep momentum. They may not understand now, they may not understand years from now. They don’t need to; you’re doing this for you, and if you’re getting healthier and feeling/seeing change, then that’s all that matters. Keto on!