Keto Quick Start A Six Step System for Starting and Succeeding on the Ketogenic Diet Happy Keto Woman 1st Edition
Introduction to the Ketogenic Diet It seems like keto is all the rage these days. But there is a great deal of misinformation out there about what exactly the ketogenic diet is and how to adhere to it. Simply put, it is a diet of low carbohydrates, moderate protein and high fat. That last part scares some people, but it will all make sense in a moment. More and more research is showing that fat does not make us fat. In fact, the primary culprit of our obesity epidemic is sugar. Not fat. “But I don’t eat sweets.” Sugar isn’t always found in sweets. It is anything that your body turns into glucose during the digestion and absorption process. In a word, carbohydrates. This includes: • Bread • Potatoes (and most root vegetables) • Pasta • Grains • Candy • Fruit Each of these foods contains varying amounts of carbohydrates, which your body converts into glucose (sugar) during digestion. In a healthy person who is at their ideal weight and fitness level, this glucose supplies energy that they then burn off. However, as we become a more sedentary society, we consume more and more sugar, but burn less and less of the resulting glucose. When we don’t burn off the glucose within a certain amount of time, our body, rather than get rid of that extra sugar, stores it as fat. Historically, this allowed our ancestors to have energy reserves for when food was scarce. Today,
especially if you are able to be online reading this, chances are you rarely, if ever, go hungry. “But fruit is good for you! And grains are the biggest part of the food pyramid!” Today’s fruits do not resemble the ones our ancestors ate. They have been bred and modified over generations to be little more than sugar bombs. You can get all of the very same nutrients from vegetables, without the sugar. As for the food pyramid, follow the money. Poke around and see who had a vested interest in the layout of that pyramid, as well as the change in overall health and obesity on a national level since its implementation. When you ingest a high carbohydrate diet, your body releases a lot of insulin to help process that sugar. This puts a lot of strain on your pancreas, potentially causing Type 2 diabetes and other health issues. Also, when you consume a lot of sugar, you get blood sugar spikes. And as you come down off of those spikes, you again feel hungry, tired and maybe even cranky. Eating ketogenically stops that. By strictly limiting your carbohydrate intake, you reduce the stress on your pancreas (and other organs), and force the body to begin burning your stored fat for energy instead. Ketones, the form that energy from fat takes, are a far more efficient fuel for your body and brain. The ketogenic diet has been shown to: • Aid weight loss • Stabilize blood sugar • Balance hormones • Lower A1C levels • Boost energy • Increase mental clarity • And more. So, how do you get started? In this guide are six steps that will put you on the right path.
Getting Started Step 1: Find Your Why This may seem like an odd first step, but it is vital to your success. Weight loss is not a linear process. You will experience ups and downs, stalls and plateaus, no matter what method you use to lose. Without a solid why, it is easy to lose confidence and give up. So, start by finding your why. Find the core reason that you are doing this. What, beyond losing weight, drives you to eat better, get healthy and have more energy? Perhaps you want to be able to play with your children? Or, you want a longer, healthier life to spend with loved ones. Maybe you lost someone to diabetes complications and don’t want to suffer the same fate. Dig down and figure out that one big reason that will keep you going on the hard days. Write it down where you can look at it often. Journal about it. Whatever it takes. Your why will be that beacon of light you can keep in sight when all around you is dark. It can overcome many of the stumbling blocks you might encounter on your keto journey.
For instance, you are going along, losing a good amount of weight. Then, you have a rough weekend and indulge in high carb food. The next day, you feel bloated, tired and hungry. Part of you feels guilty and wants to give up altogether. Then, you look at that beacon. That powerful reason you have to get back on the wagon and keep moving forward. No one is perfect. And no one does keto perfectly. And that’s okay. The important thing is to have something to keep you motivated. To give you hope. So, take some time today and figure out why you want to go on this journey. Why you want to change your lifestyle to be happier, healthier and more energetic.
Getting Started Step 2: Take Before Pictures and Measurements When we are heavy and unhealthy, it’s easy to avoid the camera. Most of us do. But, it’s hard to know how far you’ve come if you don’t have a record of where you began. So, find a most unflattering outfit, one that hugs in all the wrong places, and get pictures in it. Front, side and back. You can do this yourself in the bathroom mirror, or you can have a trusted friend or significant other do it. What’s important is that you have a basis for comparison down the road. Also, get a tailor’s measuring tape (in the sewing area of most stores) and measure yourself in specific areas: • Neck • Upper Arms • Chest • Waist • Hips • Thighs Some people also measure wrists and ankles. Often, we will lose inches even when we are not losing pounds. The reason for this is that your body is undergoing recomposition. It is replacing some of the fat with muscle. And a pound of muscle only takes up 20% of the space that a pound of fat takes up. So, as you replace fat with muscle, that part of your body gets smaller, even though it weighs the same. Think of it this way: A pound of rock will not take up as much space as a pound of cotton. So, if you get rid of the cotton and replace it with the rock, you will have more room, but no change in weight.
You do not have to show your before pictures and measurements to anyone. They are for your eyes only. But put them somewhere easy to find, because in a month or two, you will be shocked to see the changes you’re making, no matter what the scale says.
Getting Started Step 3: Establish Your Macros Macros is short for macronutrients. Your macros will be the grams of fat, protein and carbohydrates you need to be eating each day. It will also show you the calorie intake that will work best for you to start losing weight. Different websites have different macro calculators. Find one that works for you and enter the requested information. If it asks for an activity level, put sedentary (or something close to it). This will give you the most bang for your keto buck. Since the calorie burn calculations for most exercises are inaccurate, it doesn’t make sense to include them in your calculations. Also, do not set your net carbs to more than 25g. Twenty grams is ideal, but 25 works for most people. Once you have your macros, you will know where you stand in terms of how you will be eating. What do macros look like? Here’s an example: 38/F/5’4” Current weight: 200 pounds 30% Body Fat Mostly Sedentary 1450 kCal (calories) Goal - a 16% deficit 25g Carbohydrates 100g Protein 106g Fat So, this woman should not consume more than 1450 calories per day. And of that, only 25g will be carbohydrates and 100g will be protein.
The fat grams will vary from day to day. In fact, it is fine if you do not reach your total fat intake in a day. This forces your body to burn it’s stored fat instead. The key is to use fat to help you feel full. Beyond that, it is not a goal to reach for. Now, go find a keto macro calculator and get your macros. In the next step, we will learn what to do with this information.
Getting Started Step 4: Track Your Carbs For the first two weeks of the ketogenic diet, the only macro you need to track is your carbohydrates. On nutritional labels, carbs will be broken down into dietary fiber, sugar and sugar alcohols. Starchy fillers are not listed, though they may appear in the ingredients lists on the food package. You will be tracking net carbs. This means, you will take the total carb amount and subtract the fiber and sugar alcohols from that total. So, if the item has 10g of carbohydrates, 2g fiber (soluble or insoluble) and 2g sugar alcohols, your net carbs will be 6g. That 6g will include all sugar and fillers. Sugar Alcohols Not all sugar alcohols are created equal. Sugar alcohols are artificial or non-sugar sweeteners. These include: • Stevia • Erithrytol • Maltitol • Sorbitol • Aspertame • And others. Each one reacts differently in the body. Most of them do not trigger much of an insulin response, which is a good thing. However, Maltitol, Sucralose and a few others can be problematic. They can trigger hunger and cravings. You will need to test and figure out which sugar alcohols you can tolerate without problems and which to avoid. In order to track, you will want to use either a notebook or a phone app. These are the most popular tracking apps at the time of this writing:
• My Fitness Pal (user generated information can be unreliable at times) • Cronometer • Carb Manager (limited without paid upgrade) • Senza It doesn’t matter which app you use (or if you decide to go the pen and paper route), so long as you track carefully. This means that you will want to weigh out your serving sizes to keep yourself honest. Invest in a good kitchen scale. It will pay for itself quickly. Aside from tracking your carbs, simply eat when you are hungry and stop when you get full. Important Note: Electrolytes As your body gets accustomed to using fat for fuel, you may experience withdrawal symptoms from sugar. This is normal. A good way to minimize this experience is to stay hydrated and be sure to get enough sodium, potassium and magnesium. Since glucose binds to sodium in our bodies, when we reduce glucose, our bodies shed sodium quickly. This can leave us feeling tired, weak and sick. You will want to take in at least 5000mg of sodium per day to offset this loss. It seems like a high number, but it matters. The same applies to potassium (any salt substitute is potassium). You will want to ingest at least 3000mg per day. And at least 500mg of magnesium. The best way to get these supplements is to add the salt and salt substitute to your food and drink. For instance, you can mix two teaspoons of salt and one teaspoon of salt substitute in a container, then add 1/2 teaspoon of that mixture to a liter of water. For flavor, you can add a sugar free drink mix, such as Crystal Light or Mio. Not only will this method help you get your electrolytes, it will help you stay well hydrated. Both of these will make the first two weeks (and beyond) of keto far more simple.
Getting Started Step 5: Start Tracking Calories After the first two weeks, you will want to start tracking your calorie intake. Keto alone is not a weight loss plan. You still need to take in fewer calories than you burn. By now, you may have already lost some weight. This is generally excess water your body has been retaining. However, don’t dismiss it. You are heading in the right direction. Just don’t expect to always be losing at the same rate. Some weeks you will lose a few pounds, some weeks you may go up a pound or two. Especially for women, this is an issue. Our menstrual cycles cause water retention and hormonal disarray. Don’t panic. It will pass. Chances are, you will end your cycle weighing at least a little less than before it began. The same app you are using to track your carbs will track your calories and other macros. Now, strive to stay at or under your calorie macro on a daily basis. Doing so will further encourage your body to tap into your fat stores for energy. As your weight drops, you will want to adjust your macros. It is recommended to do so at every 10-20 pounds lost. As we get smaller, our calorie needs change. If you don’t update your macros, you can find yourself stuck at the same weight because you are inadvertently taking in too many calories. Spend the next week getting accustomed to tracking your calories. Then move on to the next step.
Getting Started Step 6: Track Your Protein You should be getting the hang of tracking your food by now. The next thing to pay close attention to is your protein intake. Contrary to what you may read in many places online, too much protein will not affect your ketosis. You would need to more than double your macro in order for it to be a concern. And, if you are staying within your calories, odds are you won’t be doubling your protein. However, it is extremely important to meet your protein macro every day if possible. Even if you only meet the lower end of the suggested range. Protein is necessary to help maintain your lean muscle mass. Loss of muscle is not something you want. If you struggle to hit your protein macro, you can find protein powders or drinks to help. Just watch the carb content on them. Another reason to hit that macro is that it will give your body what it needs if you are exercising. Muscles need protein to repair themselves and to grow. If you are staying within your carb and calorie limits and hitting your protein macro each day, your fat macro will take care of itself. Generally, you only need to increase your fat intake if you are struggling with hunger. Otherwise, let your body consume the stored fat you want to get rid of.
Congratulations! You are now on the Keto path. But, I know it can feel overwhelming, even with this simple guide. So, if you want additional help, including a 21 day meal plan to jumpstart your progress, I’d like to share: Ultimate Keto - 21 Days Into Ketosis Full of all the information you need to successfully navigate the keto journey.