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The first week or so of a keto diet can be brutal. As your body is changing from using glucose as fuel to using fat, you’ll likely experience some major cravings, fatigue, and possible keto flu symptoms like aches and pains. That’s why it’s so important to set yourself up for success – especially during these first couple of weeks. You don’t want to get caught off guard with cravings and reach for that box of crackers you forgot to throw out.
Not to worry. Follow these 7 simple steps and you’ll be a keto diet veteran in no time.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- 1. Clean Out Your Kitchen
- 2. Meal Prepping
- 3. Track Your Macros (at least at first)
- 4. Prepare For Eating Out
- 5. Add Supplements
- 6. Try Intermittent Fasting (IF)
- 7. Experiment With Exercise
- Set Yourself Up for Keto Success
The first step to any major lifestyle change is adjusting your environment so you’re not constantly trying to resist temptation. Give away all the carb-heavy foods you won’t be eating and replace them with healthy fats like grass fed butter or ghee, olive oil, MCT oil, and emulsified MCT oil, which mixes in perfectly with any drink, hot or cold.
Making sure that you have plenty of keto-friendly snacks and healthy fats on hand is the key to keto success – especially in the first couple of weeks as you’re depleting your glucose stores. That’s the time when cravings and fatigue are at their worst and you’ll want to have plenty of keto-friendly foods available and zero temptation!
Like cleaning out your kitchen, meal prepping is all about creating a path of least resistance as you’re transitioning from a conventional diet to a more restricted keto diet. If you have to think too much about every bite of food that goes into your mouth, you’ll be exhausted by the end of the day (aka, more likely to slip up and splurge on a sandwich).
Instead, make sure you have a few staple meals on hand, like pre-cut or pre-cooked low carb veggies, grass-fed and pastured meat, and wild-caught cold water fish like salmon. For more meal prep tips, check out this article.
The keto diet depends pretty heavily on tracking your macros. That’s because it’s nearly impossible to deplete your glycogen stores if you’re eating too many carbs and not enough fat.
Macronutrient ratios may vary, but a widely accepted ratio is around 5-10% carbohydrates, 65-80% fat from healthy fat sources like coconut oil-derived MCTs, and 15-30% protein. You can play around with these ratios a little, but the main point is to keep your carbs low and rely on fat as your main source of calories.
Read more about the best macronutrient ratios for a ketogenic diet in this article.
If you’ve ever tried a restricted diet like Paleo or vegan, you know how challenging it can be to eat out. Luckily for you, keto is super simple: meat and low-carb veggies, plus a drizzle of olive oil or real butter. You can also prepare by bringing a travel-size bottle of MCT oil with you.
To make sure your restaurant of choice can accommodate your new eating plan, check out their menu ahead of time and check that they accept food substitutions. Replace any potatoes, fries, or bread with leafy greens, salad, or cruciferous veggies like broccoli and add a generous pour of MCTs to make it a truly keto meal.
As your body adjusts to the keto diet, it’s possible you will lose more electrolytes than normal. Keto is also naturally lower in things like fiber and some other micronutrients. To feel your best throughout your keto journey, you can try targeted supplementation. Get all the details on the exact supplements and dose we recommend in this article.
Intermittent fasting is an excellent tool that will help you to get into a ketogenic state faster, lose unwanted fat, and bust cravings. The practice usually consists of creating specific eating/fasting windows. Most people start with a 13-hour fasting window, then work their way up to 16 or 18 hours of fasting per day. You can read more about IF in this article.
The keto diet – especially during the first couple of weeks – is changing your body on a metabolic level. This might mean that your energy levels will change. Plus, some people have much more body fat to lose, while others will burn through their glucose stores quickly.
This means your normal workouts may stop working for you. Listen to your body during the first few weeks. If you’re exhausted, take a break from heavy training for a few weeks and see how you feel. If your energy goes through the roof, feel free to experiment with harder workouts.
Preparation is the key to success for the keto diet. And once you get through the first week or so, you’re golden. Suddenly, your appetite is curbed and cravings are diminished. You’ll have tons of energy and cognitive function goes through the roof, so you don’t need to worry about meticulous planning.
And remember – don’t be too hard on yourself. Stress is bad for digestion!
Are you on a keto diet? What are some of the planning strategies you’ve found works for you? Let us know in the comments!