- Understand What Keto Is And Isn’t
- Find Your Specific Macronutrient Breakdown
- Determine Your Goals for Reaching Ketosis
- 9 Essential Keto Tips for Beginners
- #1: Watch Out For Hidden Carbs
- #2: Stay Hydrated And Replace Important Electrolytes
- #3: Consider Intermittent Fasting
- #4: Include More Movement Into Your Day
- #5: Steer Clear of Eating “Dirty” Keto
- #6: Keep Your Stress Levels Low
- #7: Get Enough Quality Sleep
- #8: Try Exogenous Ketones
- #9: Eat More Fat
Keto is a very low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet that offers several health benefits, from weight loss to mental clarity and lower levels of inflammation[*][*][*] Getting into a state of ketosis means that your body switches from using glucose from carbohydrates as fuel to using fat as fuel. But getting into a state of ketosis can take patience and planning.
The biggest challenge when you’re getting into ketosis is to get through the first few weeks — also known as the fat-adaptation, or keto-adaption, phase.
Here are some foundational keto tips that will help you get into and maintain ketosis.
Foundational Keto Tips
#1: Understand What Keto Is And Isn’t
Instead of relying on what your friend or coworker told you about the keto diet, it pays to do your own research.
Here’s a quick summary of what the keto diet is:
- The goal of a keto diet is to achieve a metabolic state of ketosis
- Ketosis is a state in which your body relies on fat for energy, including stored fat, instead of glucose from carbohydrates
- To achieve ketosis, you must limit your net carbs (total carbs, minus grams of fiber) to as low as 20g per day for some people, while also increasing your dietary fat intake
You can find your unique carb requirements for the keto diet with this free carb calculator. And learn way more about how keto works in this free program.
Despite what you may have heard, you don’t have to eat a ton of fat on the keto diet. Keto also isn’t (necessarily) a high-fat, high-protein diet like Atkins.
Instead, it is a very low-carbohydrate diet that doesn’t necessarily limit protein or fat, although most keto aficionados stick to a macronutrient ratio of about:
- 70-80% healthy fats, like coconut oil, MCT oil, olive oil, and grass-fed ghee
- 20-25% protein from pastured, organic meat, eggs, and wild-caught fish
- 5-10% carbohydrates from low-carb veggies
#2: Find Your Specific Macronutrient Breakdown
A common mistake that many keto beginners make is adhering to a general guideline of eating 20 grams of carbs per day.
A strategy like that may work at first, but could eventually lead to side effects like fatigue or overeating. You may need more or fewer carbs to support your goals.
Instead, find your specific macronutrient breakdown to uncover the precise amount of fat, carbs, and protein your body needs to support your goals and lifestyle.
From there, the easiest and most effective way to hit your target macros is to prepare as many homemade keto meals as you can.
#3: Determine Your Goals for Reaching Ketosis
Getting into ketosis takes commitment. That’s why it’s a good idea to sit down and figure out your commitment level and why you want to try this new way of eating.
Is it so you can have more energy to run around with your kids? Or are you trying to focus better at work so you can finally nail that next promotion?
Or maybe you’re finally ready to take your health into your own hands.
At any rate, instead of focusing on superficial goals like “losing that last 10 lbs,” figure out the reason behind the goal.
That way, when you don’t have a keto snack handy or the keto flu hits, you can refer back to your “why” to help you power through.
9 Essential Keto Tips for Beginners
#1: Watch Out For Hidden Carbs
Carbs are everywhere.
From dressings to sauces to stewed meats — flours and high-carb thickeners hide everywhere.
The best thing you can do when you’re just starting out on keto is:
- Read every nutrition label: don’t assume you know the carb count or that you can guess. Read your labels. And if it’s not labeled, like squash or a banana, google the food name + carb content.
- Find your “go-to” keto snacks: find snacks with low carb counts and high-quality, nutrient-dense ingredients, then keep these handy at all times.
- Consider tracking your carb intake: you might want to track your carb intake for the first week or so to get familiar with what 20-50 grams of carbohydrates looks like.
Even a small amount of carbs can spike your blood sugar, raise your insulin levels, and kick you out of ketosis. It’s not worth a few bites of something delicious.
There are plenty of delicious keto recipes.
For a list of keto-approved foods, check out this keto diet plan for beginners.
#2: Stay Hydrated And Replace Important Electrolytes
When your body begins to transition into ketosis, you’ll start to burn through your glycogen stores. This just means that your body is flushing out stored glucose — and along with it — you might experience an increase in urination.
This diuretic effect is temporary, but it does make it easier for you to get dehydrated during those first weeks on keto. And with excess urination, you’ll also lose crucial electrolyte minerals.
Electrolyte and water loss can lead to headaches and muscle aches — two symptoms of the keto flu.
To avoid this, drink plenty of water during your keto transition and replace lost electrolytes with a targeted mineral supplement or by adding sea salt to your water.
#3: Consider Intermittent Fasting
Many people use fasting or intermittent fasting (IF) to get into ketosis faster. Calorie restriction will help you burn through your glycogen stores more quickly, which may mean a quicker transition and fewer keto flu symptoms.
Intermittent fasting is a great option for many people who can’t fathom the idea of going without food for long periods of time. With IF, you can choose a fasting window of 8, 12, or 16 hours — and yes, sleep counts as part of your fast.
To start out, try fasting 8-10 hours between dinner and breakfast the next day.
#4: Include More Movement Into Your Day
You may experience some keto flu symptoms like headaches, muscle aches, or low energy during the first weeks of keto.
Instead of laying low, try exercising through the discomfort. Light exercise can actually aid in the transition into ketosis by helping you burn through glycogen stores quickly.
Low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, or yoga will get your blood moving without draining your energy.
#5: Steer Clear of Eating “Dirty” Keto
The ketogenic diet limits your carb intake pretty dramatically. But that doesn’t mean you should blow your entire day’s carb allotment on a sugary treat or a piece of bread.
“Dirty keto” refers to eating as much low-quality food as you want, as long as you stick to your macronutrient ratios.
Dirty keto foods are often made with processed meats and cheeses and very few nutrient-dense foods. While they’re technically within keto guidelines, they’re terrible for you and you should only enjoy them in small amounts, if at all.
Instead, opt for nutrient-dense, natural foods that will support your system.
#6: Keep Your Stress Levels Low
Chronic high stress affects your body on a biological level.
High cortisol (your main stress hormone) can affect your sex hormone production and lead to weight gain[*].
So while you make these adjustments to your food and activity levels, don’t forget to focus on lowering your stress levels, both at home and work.
Yoga, journaling, and meditation are some simple, low-effort ways to lower your stress for the long-term.
#7: Get Enough Quality Sleep
Poor sleep quality or inadequate sleep can throw your hormones out of whack and make it harder for you to lose weight and crush cravings[*].
Prioritize your sleep hygiene for more and better sleep:
- Put down all screens at least one hour before bed
- Sleep in a completely dark room
- Make sure your room is cool — around 65°F
- Get yourself on a consistent sleep-wake schedule
- Get at least 7 hours of sleep per night
#8: Try Exogenous Ketones
Exogenous ketones are supplemental ketones that help your body transition into ketosis by raising your ketone levels — even if your glycogen stores aren’t empty yet.
This “trains” your body to start using ketones for energy instead of carbohydrates.The most popular exogenous ketones are also the easiest for your body to use — heta-hydroxybutyrate, or BHB.
#9: Eat More Fat
If your cravings are getting the best of you during your keto transition, try adding more healthy fats to your day.
Fatty acids from MCT oil (medium chain triglycerides), coconut oil, macadamia nuts, and avocados will help quell cravings and balance your blood sugar levels.
You can worry about calorie restriction and meal tracking later. When you’re transitioning into ketosis, the main goal is to stick to keto-friendly recipes, keep carbs low, and get through the first couple of weeks without too many bouts with the keto flu.
More Resources To Kickstart Your Keto Diet
Want even more ideas, tips, and tricks on how to get into ketosis and stay there?
Check out our complete guide to ketosis, the Keto Kickstart program.
It includes everything you need, from comprehensive food list print-outs to grocery guides.
You’ll also learn how to create your own keto meal plan, eat out, stay in ketosis while traveling, and how to maintain ketosis for the long-term. And it’s completely free.
Get your copy now.