Alasdair Adam March 2021
Ketogenic Diet: Your guide to the first three weeks of Keto
Many people have heard of the Keto or Ketogenic diet by now, but not everyone knows what it is. Given the amount of low-carb type diets, hacks and tips that get bandied around these days, it's not surprising things can get confusing. SO, let's keep things nice and simple, and show you the best way to start a keto diet.
WHAT IS A KETOGENIC DIET?
A ketogenic diet involves drastically reducing the amount of carbs you eat and replacing them with fats.
The aim is to get your body into a state of ketosis where your body starts to produce ketone bodies and burns fat for fuel instead of carbs.
When starting Keto LOW-CARB is initially what you want to aim for: ideally 20g of carbs a day, but you could start with 50g if that sounds too radical. (Please note, we use the term diet but this is not to infer a restrictive way of eating.)
What do you need to cut out from your diet when starting keto?
Bread, potatoes, milk, pasta, rice, sugar, fruit, some berries, oats, cereals, and granola.
Why? Because They all contain carbs in one way or another (lactose, fructose, grain, starch).
But, as a compromise, here’s what’s in: Mayonnaise, eggs, cheese, butter, meat, avocado, some berries, nuts, yogurt, oils, bacon, cream, green veggies, fish.
To kickstart your way into Keto / low-carb and get you into ketosis, we recommend this easy to follow 3-week plan It shows you what to do and what to expect.
INTRODUCTION TO KETO WEEK 1
• Don't count calories. You are taking on a new way of eating not a restrictive diet. Hardly anyone eats as much fat as they should when they start a low-carb diet. This is because we are conditioned to believe fat makes us fat – you have to learn to trust the process.
Even if you aren’t aiming for a higher fat diet, you still need to learn to stop being scared of fat. See fat as your friend, not your enemy.
• Be prepared for some changes, both physical and psychological. You may feel restless, tired, possibly anxious. You may have cravings, you may get emotional, angry or even experience low moods. You may not. But if you do don't worry, it's normal.
• Expect to do a lot of Google searches – is “xxx ok on keto?” From sauces to snacks, fruits and berries to yogurts, luckily there's lots of information out there.
• Expect your libido to take a bit of a dip – this too is perfectly normal. Again, don't fret, it will return – and like the Terminator, even stronger and more determined than before!
Want the good news? You can lose 6lbs or more in week 1! Okay, most of this is water, but who wants a a body bloated by water anyway? As we lose carbs from our system water is expelled as well, because it takes water to hold carbs.
Healthy fats are your friend – b sure to include enough of them in your low-carb diet.
INTRODUCTION TO KETO WEEK 2
• You may start to feel those cravings disappear. You'll start finding it easier to avoid the very sweet things like chocolate and soda. Don’t worry if the cravings haven’t gone totally though, they will. Patience is key.
• You may feel like you have increased mental clarity. The great thing about ketones is that the brain loves them, you may feel on top of the world, lighter and more energetic.
• Equally though, you may start to feel tired, even a bit ill – this is what’s called the Keto flu. This reaction isn’t unusual, although it can be pretty horrible for some people, even to the point of not wanting to get out of bed. This is just your body’s way of telling you it’s changing, so stay in bed and take it easy. The main thing at this point is to not give up. Remember, behind the scenes your body is going through massive changes.
• By now glycogen is out of your liver and your brain is starting to run on ketones, not glucose. Your body is starting to use its own fat reserve as fuel, and you may find that without trying you are eating less calories.
• Hunger will start feeling different. Some people are used to feeling hunger like an alarm going off in their head, making them swerve into the nearest garage or drive through, only to feel rubbish afterwards. Once you are in ketosis hunger won’t feel like that anymore. It's more like a gentle reminder, a whisper from your stomach that you’re hungry. A welcome relief from the all the exhaustive mental obsession with food some of you have been used to.
• Feeling full feels different. Gone are the uncomfortable feelings or light headedness, you just aren’t hungry after eating. Your relationship with food is starting to change, as are your eating habits, but this also means some emotional issues may come to the surface – eating can be an addiction some people use to ward off emotional pain, some of it may be longstanding. Don’t underestimate this side of eating as it can drag you back. There are ways to deal with this and we suggest you speak to someone if it becomes an issue.
• You may feel bored. Our minds can often be rollercoasters, propelling us from one snack to the next. This gives us something to do mentally so don’t be surprised if you feel a little bored when you first switch to low-carb cruise control.
There’s a certain comfort in the drama of sugar addition, get used to life without that drama.
INTRODUCTION TO KETO WEEK 3
• WOOHOO! You are now burning fat for fuel. (Most of you will have been for a while.) Give yourself a pat on the back for making it this far.
For some of you it will have been a breeze, others will have had a tougher ride. Whichever, you should start to have an idea of what is Keto food and what's not.
• Your brain is clearer and the cravings are history or they will be very soon. The cravings should be no more than a passing fancy, but that doesn’t mean you wont miss a few things. The bakery still smells as good to those of us on Keto as it does to anyone else, but your addiction – if you have one – will be well on its way to being dealt with, and remember there are sweet alternatives.
• You’ll notice your clothes are hanging a little looser. Obviously this depends on where you started from. Keto isn’t just for weight loss, it's a healthier way of eating for many people. Some of you may have lost a stone by the end of week three. Yes, it can be that quick! Don’t worry if you haven’t, you should still be seeing and feeling some of the benefits.
• The 80/20 Rule. OK, so here’s an important thing for anyone starting Keto and getting over addiction to sugar. 80% of the time you’ll feel great 20% of the time you may feel like you’re missing out. That's better than feeling bad 80% of the time for that 20% of eating comfort foods.
• What if I mess up? We aren’t going to say it's alright to eat carbs every now and then, and we aren’t advocating messing up, but don't worry it happens. It’s not a be-all and end-all diet, like life it's an upward bumpy line, just keep on eating Keto afterwards as you were before – put it behind you, don't use it as an excuse to fall off again but don’t beat yourself up either.
Some terminology and tips for when you're on Keto
Dirty Keto: eating processed non-clean products such as store-bought mayo, processed meat and cheese, any old oil or loads of bacon. Basically anything low-carb with no attention to nutrition.
Clean Keto: eating good healthy fats, grass fed butter, nuts, vegetables, good cuts of organic meat etc. It is more expensive.
Lazy Keto: not counting Macros (carbs, protein, fat intake), basically guesswork. Many people do lazy Keto. It’s an idea to try keeping track as so many people fall short on fat intake, but don’t not do it just because you aren’t the sort of person who keeps track (we do lazy Keto, but we’ve done a lot of research).
The important thing is to keep going and you’ll get there, don't throw the baby out with the carbs because you aren’t the sort of person who can or likes to keep track of every morsel, just remember we are all different.
Tips and advice, pitfalls and upfalls for Keto
Opinions: Everyone has an opinion, some people will tell you Keto is bad for you (after all a high fat diet isn't everybody's cup of coffee). Others will say XY and Z are better. Amazing how no one has an opinion when you're in the burger drive-through or bakery.
It’s not convenient: To be straightforward, no it's not, and soon your eyes will be open to just how much carbs are forced down our throats. In garages meat-sticks and cheese is about the best you can get. Forget about a bakery or coffee shop as there's nearly nothing there either. The good news is an almost full English is in. Be prepared for this one, motorway services generally have something but garages are generally pretty sparse. It’s a downside to Keto, we aren’t going to lie. But the good news is you will find it much easier to avoid picking at the shelves when waiting in the queue to pay for fuel.
Sweeteners: Another minefield, and some low-carb bars and snacks are simply not low-carb. Maltitol and xylitol are both not particularly good Keto options, so stay away from them or at best count half the polyols from these as active carbs. Stick to stevia, erythritol and monk-fruit sugar – dare we say Sucralose is OK but it's nasty, we’ve tried it, and discarded it quickly.
Net Carbs: This is a big one that confuses many, so don't worry you are not alone. But what do they mean? Well net carbs refers to the active carbs, fibre is effectively a carb but doesn’t count as one on Keto, nor do polyols.
Polyols are sugar alcohols which the body does not metabolise (meaning they are purely for taste and bypass the liver) though read our note above. In the UK and EU the fibre is taken from the carb count and counted separately, so you only need to subtract polyols from the carb count. Like in our BERRY SMOOTHIE BOWL for instance, you don't count the polyols towards your carb intake. Just to confuse matters in the USA fibre is not subtracted from the total carb count, so you need to subtract the fibre to get your net carbs.
Vegetables: Rule of thumb, above ground is fine, below ground isn’t. This isn’t gospel but it's generally a good indicator. Hence broccoli and cauliflower feature heavily in Keto, spinach and kale are other healthy options. But that doesn’t mean you can't have a few carrot slices with your Sunday roast.
Desserts: This is where we love Keto, desserts are great fun. The internet is awash with ideas, and if you haven’t got time? Well just mix a smoothie bowl with yogurt and let it set for a few hours in the fridge. This is a real win on Keto.
Restaurants: At the time of writing, eating in a restaurant seems like a distant memory whilst we're locked down. But they will appear again. Don’t be afraid to ask for carbs to be removed, even if it means eating a burger patty with cheese and veg with no bun – if it's staring you in the face its harder to avoid.
Can get a bit “samey”: This is a complaint with some people on Keto. Since we are talking about the first three weeks you shouldn’t feel this way so early on, but it’s worth covering. Keto can get a bit samey because of the seemingly lack of convenience, and you’ll soon discover how much bread you were probably eating before. Pasties and pies are both out. You’ll soon know what chaffles are (and they’re great), and yes you may have to get inventive. But here’s the thing: you’ll feel great, you’ll be losing weight, you wont be hungry and your relationship with food will change.
Isn't it worth the sacrifice for all of this? Only you can answer that question. For us the answer is a resounding YES.
Ketonika Products on Keto
So where do our products fall into Keto? First and foremost they are low-carb food and drinks.
Our coffee is based around Keto coffee, or Bulletproof coffee. It's a creamy butter coffee that is mostly fat rather than lactose (a sugar), and the great news is that collagen is very effective for those on a low-carb diet because sugar has a way of interfering with collagen production.
Our Keto-friendly smoothie bowls are portioned out so that you have a good source of fibre. It's harder to reach the RDA of fibre on Keto and it's easy to overeat berries as well. Whilst the Cinnamon Swirl Smoothie Bowl has a few more carbs than the Super Berry Smoothie Bowl mix with Acai and Raspberry, they are good carbs, but don't worry about that for now.
We advise keeping under 20g carbs a day as a target. If you eat three meals that's about 6-7 grams of carbs per meal. But you don't have to spread it out. We feel that if you are going to have a heavier carb meal, make sure it comes with a good amount of fibre.
Importantly they all have MCT oil added. MCT oil is great for boosting ketones for those in Keto and for anyone wanting a quick mental clean boost.
KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK AND YOU'LL KEEP BURNING FAT FOR FUEL!
1. Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets
2. Interest in the Ketogenic Diet Grows for Weight Loss and Type 2 Diabetes
3. The Ketogenic Diet: A Detailed Beginner’s Guide to Keto