So, you’ve decided to try it. What do you need to get started?
Nothing fancy, but you can prepare yourself for managing a change in your routines and habits by having the tools to do so. I would recommend:
- Weighing scales and/or measuring tape
- A decent health app that will count your steps/provide macro and nutrition info on your meals and track your weight (Fitbit and Keto are great, but the native health app on your phone should do it all, too)
- Cooking equipment – if you normally don’t cook much, get yourself a cooking set and some utensils
- Keto urine strips (you can pick some up on Amazon relatively cheaply)
Let’s talk through some of these.
Weighing Scales/Measuring Tape
Some people, when they start new ways of eating, don’t lose numbers (that is, the stuff you see on the weighing scale), especially people with an active lifestyle who may be replacing fat with muscle. That can lead to becoming disheartened when you think you’re not losing anything.
If you’re one of those people, you may prefer to measure your waist, thighs, hips and bust instead, as you may be better encouraged by the results.
Even if you’re not one of those people, you’re going to see a fluctuation in your weight from day to day. This is because your weight does fluctuate depending on how much water you’re retaining, when you last dropped the kids off at the pool, how well you’ve slept, where you are in your hormonal cycles and when you last ate. Your weight can vary by as much as 5-6lbs from day to day, so if you step on your scale one day and find yourself alarmed by suddenly putting on weight, don’t be.
What you should see over time is an average reduction in both your maximum and minimum weight. Weighing yourself every day is probably a bit more than is needed, but if you’re comfortable, do so every few days and pop the number into your app. It should give you a trend line over time, which will give you an idea of your average weight and whether it’s changing or not.
Logging Your Food
Log your food in your app honestly. It might make you feel better to say you only had one sausage, but if you had three, you need to know whether you can realistically eat three and stay in ketosis. I’ve said it before; you probably won’t get it right for a few weeks. Aim for hitting fewer than 50g of carbs per day. Once you’ve hit that target, you can adjust, if you feel like it, to under 20g.
You should also pay attention to how much protein and fat you’re eating. Keto recommends 60-75% fat and 15-30% protein.
Some people find logging their food really helpful, some find it tedious. I stopped once I got the hang of what I could manage in a day without coming out of ketosis. People have different tolerances, and some people might be able to eat 40g of carbs and be comfortably in ketosis, whilst others may genuinely have to duck down to 20g. You’ll learn where you fit, a lot of the early days is about figuring your body out in relation to the new diet.
I cook with my wife, usually between 2-3 times per week, where we will make between 6-8 servings depending on what we have available. I keep a strict control on what comes into the kitchen and have groceries delivered by Amazon Fresh once or twice a week.
Once we have cooked, we will portion out our food and refrigerate it in tupperware tubs. We then reheat. It means we can eat well around working and avoids that, “There’s nothing in and we can’t be arsed to cook…” threat.
If you live alone, it’s worth asking a friend to be your accountability buddy; maybe they could video call you whilst you’re cooking and you can chat. It ties you in to a social obligation that means you have someone to hold you to your path.
You may find the early days of keto to be a bit more expensive, as you replace old stocks with things like ghee, coconut oil and psyllium husk. After that initial outlay, your shopping bill may actually reduce as you purchase fewer expensive, high carb items.
Keto Urine Strips
Sounds weird, but they’re a really good early indicator of whether you’re achieving ketosis. The most reliable way to test this is with a blood test, which you can also buy but it’ll set you back more than a pee strip bottle will.
These strips are pretty simple, you pee on them and 15 seconds later, the more purple it is, the more ketones are detected in your urine. If you’re well-hydrated, this can show a false negative, so don’t be too disheartened if it comes back negative. Try to keep your strips to when you need a littler wee.
One last thing. There is such a thing as keto flu. It doesn’t happen to everyone, but some people can have a period of feeling a bit poorly when they first enter ketosis. This is just your body having a grumble. It should pass within a week, but if you feel particularly ill, it may be worth stopping and speaking to your physician to make sure that keto is right for you (I would suggest doing this before you undertake trying keto altogether, but if you haven’t and keto flu really hits you, now’s the time).
If you can do these things, you’re setting yourself up for success. Done right, keto can feel really comfortable and easy most days (which isn’t to say you won’t have off days – you will). You must set yourself up for that.