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Venturing out on a new ketogenic diet plan can exciting. But adjusting the way you eat—especially when the adjustments go against conventional wisdom—isn’t always easy.
Getting through those growing pains, however, can get you to the glorious other side where positive benefits of ketosis abound (including improved mental clarity, increased energy, and rapid fat loss).
To help you master a new ultra low-carb lifestyle, consider the following five tips which can make your dietary change all that much easier to tackle.
1. Bring. Water bottles. Everywhere.
We’re challenging you to make the commitment right now: never leave your house without a water bottle handy. Here’s why:
As your body switches from burning glucose to burning ketones (derived from body fat), you may experience some unpleasant symptoms, like fatigue, dizziness, intense food cravings, difficulty sleeping, and irritability. This so-called "keto flu" generally lasts about a week, and while uncomfortable it’s perfectly normal and will go away.
One of the most effective ways to mitigate the effects of this "detox" period is by drinking plenty of water (with an added a pinch of sea salt to maintain your electrolyte balance). Keeping yourself well-hydrated can ease nausea, headaches, and the like.
How much water should you be drinking? Aim for around one third to one half of your body weight in fluid ounces per day, give or take. For a visual aid, look at your urine: it should be plentiful and a pale yellow color.
2. Bulk cook and prep some staple foods.
Meal preparation allows you to do what you often can’t—that is, resist temptation. By having tons of healthy keto-friendly foods on hand, you’ll be less likely to give in to convenient but non-ideal options.
The best way to utilize this hack is to keep things as simple as possible. No need to double or triple complicated 20-ingredient recipes. Instead, prepare a few days worth of staple items—like hard boiled eggs, ground beef, and sliced veggies, so you always have something on hand to whip up into an easy snack or fancy meal.
3. Keep a general running count of daily net carbs.
For most people, keeping their daily net carb intake to under 100 grams, and ideally between 30-50 grams, will help them maintain an optimal state of ketosis.
What is a net carb exactly? It’s pretty simple to find out: just subtract the total grams of fiber per serving from the total grams of carbohydrates per serving of any given food. To help you meet your goal, just keep a tally in your head or jot it down somewhere handy.
To be perfectly accurate with how many carbs you’re ingesting (which should account for around 10% or less of your daily caloric intake), you’d technically need to weigh and measure out your food. If you’re not so inclined (we don’t blame you), giving it your best guess will likely suffice. Assuming you’re eating mostly keto-friendly green veggies anyway, you likely won’t run the risk of accidentally overdoing it.
Nuts and berries on the other hand—beware. While these offer great health benefits and are allowable on the ketogenic diet, they can definitely take you over your net carb max if you’re not mindfully consuming them. Just 1.5 ounces of mixed nuts contains around 6 grams of net carbs (9 grams of carbs – 3 grams of fiber), and 1 cup of blueberries has over 17 grams (21 grams of carbs – 3.6 grams of fiber).
On a related note, another thing you may like keeping track of daily is your overall mood, energy, skin quality, post-workout recovery. It’s not always easy to see the changes that’s going on in your body real time. But having some sort of log or diary to look back on can really help you see how far your ketogenic diet has taken you.
4. Bookmark your favorite keto resources.
If you’re going to be putting into practice the basic how-to’s of a ketogenic diet, then having some sources for inspiration and education can seriously bolster your buy-in. One sustainable tip is to spend five to minutes daily reading and learning about ketosis. Go-to sources may include websites, books, videos, or even social media accounts. Surround yourself with like-minded people, even if it’s just on your Instagram account!
Of course, you don’t need to know the science behind ketosis in order for it to work for you. But if you’re not worried about getting bogged down by the details or if you’d like to have some solid info to help you answer well-meaning questions and doubts from your loved ones, then keeping some fave resources handy can be an ideal strategy.
5. Consider experimenting with intermittent fasting to boost your ketosis—but keep it reasonable.
In addition to eating a high fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrate diet, intermittent fasting can also help your body enter ketosis. Interestingly, one of the benefits of ketosis is decreased appetite, since your body is so efficient at converting body fat into fuel for energy. This can make the idea of a prolonged fast much less intimidating, if you’ve ever thought of giving it a try.
Our recommendation? Feel free to experiment with a 16-24 hour fast, but use common sense. Consult with your doctor first, especially if you have chronic health disease or if you’re interested in fasting longer than one full day.
Got any other suggestions for becoming a keto master? Let us know about it in the comments, and remember to share ths article with anyone else joining you on a ketogenic lifestyle experiment!
About the Author Nate Arnold
I started this website because it was hard to find trustworthy, evidence-based information about the ketogenic diet. Information that was published and peer reviewed by respected scientific journals. After years of research, I'm sure you'll achieve great results in a healthy way following my advice. I do my best to translate scientific research jargon into plain English. Remember, it's always a good idea to consult a doctor before starting a new diet!