At the beginning of your keto journey, you might need to invest a little bit more energy into truly starting to eat low carb. A good idea would be to follow a 7-day keto meal plan to get a feeling of what it is that you can eat. Also, meal plans can give you a good structure to your diet. That’s especially important if you’re just starting out! Also, you never have to follow the plan exactly, that’s the beauty of it. Experiment and find out what it is that you like. That will make it much easier for you to eat low carb and finally start losing weight.
If you’re new to the keto diet, using regular flour has probably been your every week thing. A lot of dishes taste great with a little bit of flour – be it fish, fried chicken, pancakes, or anything else high in carbs. Completely getting rid of flour when it comes to eating is hard. Thus, it’s much better to change the regular flour to either almond or coconut flour. So, do get them when you go on your next keto shopping trip. Here are some of the nutritional details (for 100g of the product) that you might want to take into consideration:
If you are sleeping poorly, you will elevate stress hormones and cause blood sugar dysregulatory problems. Be sure to set yourself up to go to sleep at a good time (before 11pm) and sleep in a completely dark room. I recommend sleeping 7-9 hours each night depending upon your stress levels (more stress means you need more sleep) and the amount you feel as though you need to feel good and mentally alert throughout the day. Keep your room cool (60-65 degrees is usually ideal) with an overhead fan providing circulating air. I also recommend using a sleep mask to block out more melatonin disrupting light. If you are extremely sound sensitive or in a louder area then using ear plugs can be extremely helpful! Here is an article on advanced tips to sleep better Here is a video on proper sleeping postures to use
Chronic stress will shut down your ability to be and stay in ketosis. If you are going through a tough period of your life, then maintaining ketosis may not be the proper goal. This doesn’t mean you should begin carb loading, but instead reset your goal to simply stay on a lower carb, anti-inflammatory diet. Stress raises up stress hormones who function to elevate blood sugar so you can fight or flight from the chronic stressor. This is fine when it is for very short periods of time, but when it is prolonged, it drives up your blood sugar and lowers ketones. Devise some strategies that will help you lower your stress load and be able to create more peace and relaxation in your life. Read this article on stress resilience for some advanced strategies.
Using a high quality medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil is perhaps the most important thing one can do to get into ketosis and maintain it. That is because the use of a high MCT oil based diet allows one to consume more protein/carbs and maintain ketosis. A diet that consists of long chain fatty acids, depends upon 80-90% of calories coming from fat. Adding in lots of MCT oil brings this down to 60-70% fats (9). This is because MCTs are immediately metabolized into ketone bodies and used for energy quickly in the body (10). Many people, including I for many years, believe that coconut oil is the same as MCT oil. This is not true. Although MCT oil is made from coconut oil, it contains 100% pure medium chain triglycerides (capric and caprylic acids), while coconut oil contains about 35% long chain trigylceride (LCT) and 50% lauric acid which is classically considered a MCT but acts more like an LCT. That means that coconut oil is only 15% MCT and only 1/6th as ketogenic as pure MCT oil. You can cook with MCT oil, add it to protein shakes, green drinks, coffee/tea, etc. throughout the day to keep your ketone levels up. I recommend using our Keto Brain MCT oil which is C8 caprylic acid that is the most ketogenic MCT on the market.
We all know that a ketogenic diet is a low-carb plan but I recommend consuming nutrient rich carbohydrate sources such as non-starchy veggies and small amounts of low-glycemic fruits like lemon, lime and/or a small handful of berries in a protein shake. One of the ketogenic diet tips I often recommend is cycling in carbs from time to time, such as once per week. When you cycle out of ketosis once a week, you increase your carbs on that particular day by adding in nutrient dense sources such as more berries in a shake or a sweet potato with tons of grass-fed butter and cinnamon. On low carb days, avoid the sweet potato and keep berries down to a small handful at most. 6 Low carb days with no more than 1 serving of fruit (other than lemon/limes) and no starchy veggies and keeping net carbs (not counting fiber) to 40 grams or so. 1 higher carb day with 2 servings of anti-oxidant rich low-glycemic fruit and 1-2 servings of starchy veggies (pumpkin, yam, sweet potato, carrot or beet) and allowing yourself to go up to 80 grams of net carbs.
Many people doing a ketogenic diet consume too much protein. If you consume excessive protein then your body may turn the amino acids into glucose through a biochemical process called gluconeogenesis (8). This is the least important of all the ketogenic diet tips in this article. For some individuals, they can eat tons of protein and stay in ketosis while others cannot so you have to experiment and get to know your body. If you notice yourself coming out of ketosis then see how you are responding to the amount of protein in your meals. Some people need higher protein levels, while others can do just fine on lower protein levels. The key variables include your level of exercise intensity and type of exercise (resistance vs aerobic) and your desire to gain muscle or lose weight. Someone who does intense resistance training in order to gain muscle will need more protein than someone who is the same size and is doing aerobic or resistance training to lose weight. Another person who weighs the same but is only walking for exercise, will need even less than the other two.
Constipation is one of the biggest challenges people have on a ketogenic diet. If you are constipated, you will not be able to remain into ketosis as it drives up stress hormones and blood sugar. Constipation is often due to one of the following:
We could talk all day about ketogenic diet tips focusing on nutrition but quality movement is essential. Regular, high intensity exercise helps to activate the glucose transport molecule called GLUT-4 receptor in the liver and muscle tissue. The GLUT-4 receptor acts to pull sugar out of the blood stream and store it as liver and muscle glycogen. Regular exercise doubles the levels of this important protein in the muscle and liver (5). This is a very important adaptation for maintaining ketosis because it will allow the individual to handle a little bit more carbohydrates in the diet because the body wants to store them in the muscle and liver tissue. Large compound exercises that use multiple muscle groups have the greatest impact on GLUT-4 receptor activity (6). This includes squats, deadlifts, push-ups, standing overhead presses and pull-ups or pull-downs or bent over rows. Incorporating a regular exercise program that includes these resistance training exercises along with running sprints and low-intensity exercise such as walking helps to balance blood sugar and improve the ability to get into and maintain ketosis. Just be sure not to overdo it. Small amounts of high intensity training go a long way. If you overtrain your body, you will secrete higher amounts of stress hormones that will drive up blood sugar and pull you out of ketosis (7). Here is a Sample Exercise Program to Help: Monday: Upper Body resistance training for 15-20 mins Tuesday: Lower Body resistance training for 15-20 mins Wednesday: 30 minute walk around the block Thursday: Upper Body resistance training for 15-20 mins Friday: Lower Body resistance training for 15-20 mins Sat/Sun: Recreational activities and walking *If you are a high level athlete or do regular intense exercise such as Crossfit, consult with your trainer or coach who is familiar with your goal to achieve a state of ketosis and modify the training based on that. *If you are battling a chronic disease or have stage III adrenal fatigue then I would recommend not doing any intense exercise and instead focus on stretching and breathing exercises such as yoga and tai chi and low impact movement such as light walking or elliptical exercises.
We are told in our society that it is important to reduce our sodium intake. Many individuals in our society struggle with a high sodium/potassium ratio. This is due to the fact that when we are on a higher carbohydrate diet, we naturally have higher insulin levels. Insulin effects our kidneys in such a way to retain sodium which can lead to a higher sodium/potassium ratio (3, 4). When we are on a low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet, we have lower insulin levels and therefore our kidneys excrete more sodium which can lead to a lower sodium/potassium ratio and a greater need for sodium in the diet. On a low-carb diet you should look to get an additional 3-5 grams of sodium from natural foods and through the use of a pink salt like Himalayan sea salt. 1 tsp of pink salt is equivalent to 2 grams of sodium. Here are the ways I recommend adding in additional sodium and you will find these are vital ketogenic diet tips: