Many have become fascinated with the surprising health benefits “Keto” or ketogenic diets can offer. Beyond helping you lose weight, keto offers many mental and physical benefits. Yet, despite the proven successes of keto, really understanding how to start a keto diet –– or how to get into ketosis –– often remains a mystery to those who want to explore the keto lifestyle. In this article we’ll detail a keto guide for beginners so you can prepare to begin your full keto journey.
Getting Started with Keto: Do Your Research
The potential success of a low carb, high fat diet on your overall health has made starting a keto diet attractive to many. However, most people simply don't know where to begin. If you look online, you'll find many documents described as a beginner's guide to keto, but all too often these resources are not actually that helpful –– especially if you don't understand the process of ketosis or how to keep yourself healthy as you get started on keto.
Consequently, the best way to learn how to start a keto diet is to do your research at every step. This will help you understand what you need to do before beginning keto and what you’ll need to do to maintain your results after achieving ketosis.
Before you start a keto diet, it is important to understand the different terms associated with keto. As you learn more about how to start keto and how to jump-start ketosis, you will come across terms like ketosis, ketogenesis, ketones, and keto. Although they all sound similar, each word means something different, and it is important to find a comprehensive explainer that clearly defines these core phrases.
How to Get Into Ketosis
The first question people often have when starting a keto diet is how to get into ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body burns stored fat to create ketones, which are clean fuel for your brain and body. This happens when you reduce the number of carbs you consume each day, which is why the keto diet primarily relies on healthy fats and proteins.
Restricting carbohydrates to trigger ketosis will allow you to access the benefits of ketones. Fueling your brain and body with ketones may allow for improved athletic, cognitive, and overall performance.
It is important for someone just learning how to start a keto diet to understand ketone levels. You can test for ketones using over-the-counter strips or9 other metering devices. Although it may take a few days to naturally get into a state of ketosis, ketones will appear in the blood and urine within the first week of following a keto diet. The optimal range for nutritional (healthy) ketosis is between 0.5 and 3.0 millimoles per liter.
What Are the Main Rules of Keto?
There are a variety of methods to elevate your ketone levels. Below we outline some of the best ways to get into ketosis.
- Reduce Carb Consumption
Intermittent fasting is a particular method of eating where you fast (i.e. do not eat) for a set number of hours each day. There are several common intermittent fasting regimens, some of which are easier to follow for beginners.
Intermittent fasting can be helpful when used on its own, or alongside a low-carb diet as it further forces your body to use fat stores for fuel. To learn how to start keto through fasting incorporate fasting into your keto diet, simply consult your medical provider and be sure to read up on all of the most popular forms of intermittent fasting.
Exercise is another way to kick start ketosis. Because ketosis only occurs once glucose (sugar) stores in the body are depleted, it can sometimes take a few days for your body to enter ketosis through diet alone. However, incorporating exercise is one of the quickest ways to burn glucose and glycogen.
Using intense to extended moderate exercise such as a HIIT program will quickly activate anaerobic and aerobic glycolysis. The "ideal" routine will vary by individual, but maintaining a heart rate above 70% of max (where you're breathing too hard to hold a conversation) is ideal for most people.
- Exogenous Ketones
Finally, perhaps the quickest –– and easiest –– keto tip for jump starting ketosis and preventing side effects is to drink exogenous ketones. Incorporating exogenous ketones is often the most convenient option for jump starting ketosis because it allows most people to achieve ketosis anytime, anywhere even while still eating carbohydrates.
Plus, exogenous ketones can help your body adapt to using ketones more efficiently. As your body learns to rely on ketones, it will undergo a process called keto-adaptation. Incorporating exogenous ketones may help some people speed up initial keto-adaptation, and harness ketones more effectively from the get-go.
Have a Game Plan
For beginners, keto can feel challenging. The majority of quick, convenient food options are not going to align with your new keto diet, and the initial transition away from carbohydrates may leave you feeling uncomfortable. However, it’s important to remember that these feelings are temporary –– and totally normal. Figuring out what to eat on a keto diet gets easier over time.
Starting a keto lifestyle means retraining your body to run on an entirely new fuel. As a result, it’s normal to feel a little discomfort as your body learns to switch from running on glucose and carbohydrates to clean, energy-packed ketones.
What Should I Do in the First Week of Keto?
There’s no need to pummel through those first days or weeks of ‘going keto’ full speed, and quitting carbs cold turkey may not be the best game plan as it can lead to more severe keto flu symptoms. Instead, consider slowly adjusting your diet to cut out carbs over a few weeks to avoid any unnecessarily harsh discomfort.
Then, the first step in any keto guide for beginners will be to plan your meals and exercise times. The easiest way to make sure you stay on track with your eating is to meal plan for the week ahead. Meal planning will ensure you can shop effectively and meal prep in the days preceding the workweek. Meal prepping and carving out specific times for exercise will ensure you can quickly grab your keto-friendly meal options and snacks without having to make every single meal individually. Likewise, it will also ensure you have keto-friendly snacks on hand whenever carb cravings occur.
The time it takes to get into ketosis and start feeling progress on your keto journey will vary from person to person. In general, it can take 1-2 weeks or more to begin to feel the mental clarity, higher energy levels, and improved mood that typically comes with a keto diet. That said, this timeline can be expedited by cracking open a bottle of Kenetik!
For many, drinking exogenous ketones twice a day can help your body adjust to running on ketones more efficiently. So during this initial period of switching from carbohydrates to keto-approved meals and snacks, make sure to prep your body with a steady flow of exogenous ketones through a ketone drink. The more your body is exposed to them the more efficient it will become at using them as a replacement for carbohydrates, and using fat for fuel.
So while you focus on slowly expanding your fasting windows, exercise regimen, or fine-tuning your diet, make sure to tap into clean ketone fuel to more quickly get a taste for the benefits of exogenous ketones to successfully start keto.
It’s also wise to consider changing just one thing about your routine at a time. Going from couch potato to gym buff can stall a lot of planning if done too quickly, so make sure you’re setting yourself up for ongoing, realistic success.
Tips for Keto: Starting – And Maintaining – Your Keto Diet & Lifestyle
It is not uncommon for people who are new to ketogenic diets to wonder how to jump start ketosis and move beyond the early, sometimes challenging days of getting started on a keto diet.
Planning for the First Five Days of Your Keto Diet
Figuring out what to eat on a keto diet can be challenging. During the first three days of your ketogenic diet it’s not uncommon to experience discomfort or distracting ‘carb-cravings’ during an initial period of ‘carbohydrate withdrawal’. To combat these feelings, make sure to center your new diet around foods that are rich in fiber and fat, and avoid going long periods without eating. Additionally, any attempt to carefully plan your meals (menus and meal times) or avoid unnecessary stress will help you work through these early pain points.
After those first three days, it’s also not uncommon to experience a sort of “carb-crash”. This response can be triggered as your body adjusts from running on glucose to primarily drawing energy from fat and protein. Some have even referred to this experience as “keto flu”, and the period can be marked by general feelings of fatigue or irritability. To protect against these side effects make sure to stay hydrated and try to maintain healthy levels of potassium.
Planning For A Long Term Keto Lifestyle
As you begin your journey towards a long term keto lifestyle, consider the following keto tips for success:
- Monitor your carb intake
- Consume enough proteins and fats
- Stay hydrated
- Consider incorporating intermittent fasting
- Get enough sleep
- Be sure to drink plenty of electrolytes
- Trust the process and be patient
- Incorporate exogenous ketones
Keep in mind that everyone achieves ketosis in different ways and at different rates. As you begin to slowly adapt to limiting carbs, it may help to research the keto lifestyle to better understand how a ketogenic diet can help you achieve your goals.
The early days of keto can be challenging, and there may be times when you wonder if you can stick with keto. Nevertheless, hydration, remembering your goals, referring to keto guides, and including delicious ketone energy drinks can help you progress along your keto journey.