One of the less discussed aspects of taking up the keto diet is how difficult the first three weeks can be. Everyone setting out on their keto journey has to endure the transition from a ‘standard’ carbohydrate heavy eating regimen to one based on fats and leafy greens. Gaining a state of ketosis can be tough for some people (and a breeze for others!) and there’s simply no way of dodging the discomfort should you be one of the unlucky ones. However, there are numerous tips that can help to make the passage considerably smoother. Over this article, we’ll discuss how to survive those essential and unavoidable first three weeks.
Research & Plan Ahead
Most people who fall by the wayside during the early days are those who just dive into their keto diet head first. For ketosis to work, you need to understand not just the physiological changes that your body will experience but also – crucially – what foods must be drastically reduced. Fortunately, there are vast amounts of resources which can guide you on this. Starchy carbohydrates are obvious (rice, potato, pasta, quinoa, etc) but others such as beans, legumes, and all sugar based products (including alcohol) less so for those new to keto.
People who succeed with this diet will not just understand what they need to do in order to succeed but will also time it appropriately. Most people will feel ‘Keto Flu’ two or three days in which will cause either mild or pretty severe side effects depending on your body chemistry and luck. Usually it only lasts a couple of days but of course, it is a bad idea for this to coincide with urgent deadlines or significant dates. A lazy weekend is the best possible combination, which is why many people choose to start their keto midweek.
Use Online Recipes & Resources
It can come as quite a shock after the first few days how difficult it can be to eat properly with next to no carbohydrates on the menu. Fortunately and thanks to the growing popularity of keto (because done properly it really does work) there are huge amounts of resources available. Keto recipes can be easily found online and it may be helpful to look at keto forums on the likes of Reddit for support and advice.
It is evident that there are great tips out there you can use to remain on your keto diet. But you are not limited to researching every little bit of information separately about this topic, which can be quite time-consuming.
One shortcut that I’m always recommending is to check out some programs to determine which one will fit you best and begin on this life-changing mission. You’ll have all the vital information packed in one place. In no time at all, you will notice outcomes that other diets didn’t give you and you’re going to feel and look incredible!
One well-written and comprehensive program I always recommend is The 28-Day Keto Challenge.
A highly popular program that provides you with many different easy daily recipes as well as uncomplicatedly written information about the keto diet.
Stock Up On Keto Friendly Foods
Cravings for carbs and sugar are near inevitable during the first three weeks. While it may be impractical to remove all such products from your pantry – after all not many people stay on keto long term anyway – simply boxing them up and placing in a loft, garage or so forth helps keep them out of arms reach.
Stocking up on keto approved foods ought to be the next step. The diet depends on replacing a high carbohydrate intake with a high – and unlimited – fat intake. Many people mix up keto with the protein-based Atkins diet. While most people will eat plenty of meat with keto, the objective is to do so with fattier cuts instead of an endless procession of grilled chicken breasts. Oils are also an important addition to the shopping list with coconut highly recommended unless you suffer from a pre-existing cardiovascular complaint.
Understanding The Figures
One of the great aspects of keto is that unlike many diets there are pretty reliable guidelines that if followed carefully will almost certainly result in fat burning ketosis. As mentioned above, fat is king and at least 70% of your daily calorific intake needs to come from these sources. While it may sound a lot after the first three weeks this can be lowered a little, but it essential to follow at the beginning.
Oils, plenty of cheese, butter, fatty meats/fish, and plenty of eggs (fried) are all recommended to achieve this. One good tip is natural peanut butter with no added sugar as it contains not just masses of fat and calories but also lots of fiber. Why is fiber important? Simply because in the case of peanut butter the fiber can reduce the impact of the carbohydrates from the peanuts.
During the first three weeks of keto, carbohydrates must be kept to no more than 25 net grams. In order to follow this get used to precisely weighing food and calculating from the nutritional information on packaging. All you need to do is subtract the fiber content from the carbohydrate total. This provides the net carb total – and while it may not be anywhere close to what you normally eat, it does allow for a very slight increase on the otherwise minuscule allowance.
As for protein, try to keep it no more than 25% although most people tend to inevitably eat more than this to begin with due to the diet being so restrictive. The reason why eating too much protein is discouraged is that fat is a much richer energy source and too much protein can make you feel slow and lacking energy. When the body feels this way, the biological impulse is of course to crave carbs – and nobody wants that!
Keep Your Electrolytes Up
One of the more problematic aspects of ketosis is that the kidneys will naturally excrete considerably more water than usual. Needing to visit the bathroom more frequently is a minor inconvenience, but the issue is that the more water you pass the lower your electrolyte levels will become. Salt and potassium deficiencies can lead to serious problems if left unaddressed so be sure to drink lots of water, season food heavily and eat plenty of potassium-rich green vegetables (avocados are also good) that retain water. This solution is the most simple and natural, but you may also wish to use sugar-free sports drinks reinforced with additional electrolytes.
Cheating Is Disastrous
Three weeks may not sound like a long time but when entering ketosis there are going to be times when you will crave sugar and carbohydrates. All it takes is one can of soda to entirely withdraw your body from ketosis. The problem, unfortunately, is that you cannot buy willpower in tins, so if this is likely going to be an issue it may be advisable to try different routes of support. Quite a good number of people who have failed this way find eventual success by adopting mindfulness techniques. Others tend to find it easier to attempt ketosis alongside other people to share mutual support and encouragement. It really depends on what is going to work for you.
Starting out on keto can be daunting at first but be assured that it does get easier after the first three weeks. Once past that milestone, many people look to adapt their eating to be a little more permissive and few people choose to stay on it for long periods of time. In fact, the more you practice going in ketosis the easier it will become to do so successfully at appropriate times over the year. Whatever route you choose to take long term, following the above pointers will go a long way towards making keto work for you.
Good luck on your journey!