Starting the Ketogenic Diet: A How-To Guide For Beginners
How do you begin a Keto Diet?
The beginning of the keto diet depends on where you’re starting. Do you eat over 200 carbs a day? Maybe 300 carbs per day?
Slicing those carbs from over a 100 to less than 20 per day can be a rough transition. Most of my patients eat an enormous amount of carbohydrates before switching. They usually consume their Standard American Diet and have never counted carbs. Slamming their carbohydrate intake down will undoubtedly cause side effects.
Side effects lead to failure of starting on the ketogenic diet. Let’s walk through what I recommend.
For That Reason I Recommend The Following Weekly Plan For Starting the Ketogenic Diet:
Week 1 – Start by consuming no calories in your drinks
That means that your liquids should be limited to tea, black coffee, or water for the first week. No soda pops. No juice. No milk. No protein shakes. With this simple rule, the daily intake carbohydrates drop as dramatically as 70 to 150 carbs per day. This one rule will step you closer to the goal of 20 carbohydrates per day. But will do it in a way where your body adjusts without serious side effects.
Week 2 – Remove All Starches
Think “white foods.” In general, these are the carbohydrates that are easy for patients to pick out. They include potatoes, rice, pasta, bread, pastries, and cereals. Step one removes calories that you drink. Step two removes the white, starchy foods. This approach has successfully transition hundreds of patients. The average blood sugar of most patient is higher than they think. Their blood sugar quickly drops when they slam their daily carbohydrates to 20 per day. It “hurts” if their usual intake is over 200 carbohydrates per day. The adjustment is drastic and causes a significant chemistry shift within their system. SLOW DOWN. The faster you make a change. The faster it goes away.
Patients interested in how to start on the ketogenic diet usually are chasing the weight loss. That‘s great, but the keto diet is so much more. Slow down. Make changes that will stick. This 2-step process gradually shifts their blood chemistry and allows for their system to adapt. Give the body a week to adjust before stepping into the next level of change. Changes that happen suddenly fail suddenly.
Those who suffer the most when transitioning into starting the ketogenic diet are those with blood sugars that are above 100 in the mornings. That means nothing to most of you, but if you have tried to go keto and felt awful, I’d wager a bet that your morning fasting blood sugar is above 100. Unbeknownst, these high blood sugars hold onto lots of extra water. Drop your carbohydrates too quickly, and a tidal wave of change happens in your kidneys and blood vessels.
These high blood sugars will quickly correct when you improve your eating. Step through these two critical transitions and avoid the keto flu. If you don’t succeed at seven consecutive days of calorie-free-drink, keep going until you get seven days in a row. Some patients take up to a month to find their groove. Once you graduate with seven days of calorie-free drinks, move to WEEK 2. Remove starches. This transition is meant to last a lifetime. If you eat a lot of starches, this could be tough. I encourage patients to start with breakfast. No cereal. No toasts. No oatmeal (that is cereal, folks.) No pastries. Try out the no-calorie-drink rule at home, then at church, then at the restaurants. After proving to yourself that you can hold that change, make the next move.
Remove All Temptations When Starting The Ketogenic Diet
If you’ve ever helped an alcoholic throw away their hidden stash of alcohol, you might grasp how unsettling it was for us to dispose of all sorts of food. Grandma Rose’s pantry looked like every other farmer’s wife in the county: stuffed with enough processed carbohydrates to survive a famine of biblical proportions. Floor to ceiling, her shelves were filled with ketosis-killing food. We quickly filled trash bags with cans of corn, peas, green beans, black beans, and lots of canned fruit. We tossed Bisquick, crackers, cornmeal, oatmeal, and rice. Out went wheat flour, white flour, rice flour, brown sugar, powdered sugar, white sugar and farm-grown honey. We purged her fridge of carbohydrates hiding in ketchup, mayo, BBQ sauce, peanut butter and low-fat milk. All the low-fat stuff like salad dressings, coffee creamers, and low-fat cheese got chucked as well.
Next, we removed all baking goods like chocolate chips, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and cornstarch. Gone. All of it. When we were done, we had three boxes of canned goods for the local charity and four trash bags full of food that no human should eat. The pantry and storage shelves in the basement went from overflowing to barren. What was left? Beef bouillon, pecans, and macadamia nuts. Pickles made the cut. So did green olives in oil. We filled her shelves with coconut oil, cans of sardines, olive salad in a jar (my favorite is Muffuletta), almond butter, and liverwurst. Grandma Rose bought the biggest carton of heavy whipping cream she could find, five dozen eggs, sour cream, cream cheese, and butter. We also grabbed ketone urine strips from a pharmacy as we headed back to the farmhouse.
Build a Tribe: Start with ONE Person
When starting the ketogenic diet and getting ketosis to work, my parents needed to change so many habits. My folks had over seventy years of food patterns to unwind. “Do or Die.”
I knew Grandma Rose would fail without a wingman for support. We recruited Dad into this high-fat-frenzy with a can of sardines. Apparently, years of mom denying him sardines was enough. “If you are telling me I can eat sardines AND liverwurst-and you say this is healthy; I am not going to argue with that you.” I set their daily carbohydrate goal at 20 grams of carbs per day. Every morning, they peed on their ketone stick and compared results.
By the end of the week, both Grandma Rose and my dad crossed the ketosis threshold. Like kids, they called me to share their excitement. Seeing the positive results on their ketone strips strangely empowered them both. We were all pumped up by their initial success. So far, so good.
Use my FOOD GUIDE to help you make these changes. Behavior change happens in the “steady-as-it-goes” fashion. Use the guides to help you succeed.
Learn more about the ketogenic diet by checking out the book ANYWAY YOU CAN on Amazon or Audible by Annette Bosworth, MD.