As you begin your keto lifestyle, you may encounter a few stumbling blocks along the way. Knowing what they are and what to do when you encounter them will make your life so much easier. These are common things you might encounter in the first 1-2 weeks after changing your lifestyle and eating habits.
When you transition from a standard diet, which is usually high in carbohydrates, to a very low carb ketogenic diet it is common to lose a lot of fluid. You may notice in the first week or two that you drop a lot of weight quickly and this is usually excess fluid you have been carrying.
Along with this drop in weight can also come along some unpleasant symptoms commonly known as the ‘keto flu’. This is caused by the electrolytes you are losing along with all that fluid. Some common symptoms experienced as part of the ‘keto flu’ are;
- General fatigue
- Muscle cramps or muscle fatigue
- Irregular heartbeat
If you are experiencing any of these keto flu-type symptoms, we would encourage you to focus on supplementing your keto diet with electrolytes. This can be done by increasing your intake of foods that are high in electrolytes or taking an electrolyte supplement.
When we began our keto lifestyle we both experienced the keto flu and at that point, didn’t know about electrolytes. Understanding and supplementing with electrolytes may have made the keto flu symptoms less and the first couple of weeks much easier for us.
Electrolytes are minerals found in your body fluids such as blood, sweat and urine. They are essential in many of the functions of our bodies, including nerve and muscle function, as well as ensuring we are adequately hydrated. The most common electrolytes we will be looking at are sodium, magnesium and potassium.
Electrolytes can be obtained from the food you eat, and some great sources of electrolytes are sea salt, Himalayan pink salt, Lite salt and bone broth.
However, even with a healthy nutrient-dense low carb diet, you may still require an electrolyte supplement, particularly at the start. When looking for an electrolyte supplement, choose one that is sugar-free and contains sodium, magnesium and potassium.
Here are the electrolyte blends that we prefer;
- Ultima (we like the raspberry flavour)
- Bulk Nutrients (unsweetened & unflavoured)
- Keto Chow (USA option, unsweetened & unflavoured)
If you would like more info then check out our practical guide to electrolytes on a ketogenic diet here.
You will hear a lot of talk about macros as you journey through your keto lifestyle. Macros stands for macronutrients. There are 3 macronutrients in our diet. They are protein, fat and carbohydrates. Some people living a keto lifestyle will eat to specific macro targets and some will focus on eating foods off the green food list and not worrying about macros.
Our advice for someone starting out on their keto diet is to focus on transitioning from your previous diet by focusing on only consuming foods on the green food list for the first 1-2 months. As you become more confident, you may want to consider investigating macros then.
If you are now at a point where you would like to consider the macro nutrients you are consuming, the first thing you will need to work out is what macro targets you will need to meet based on your goals. There are many factors that go into calculating your macros and we recommend using a macro calculator for this. We would recommend using this macro calculator, which will provide you with a gram amount to meet each day for your protein, fat and carbohydrates.
Once you have your macros calculated you will need to track all the food you are consuming, so you can see your macro breakdown each day. This is easiest using a tracking app. There are lots of tracking apps out there now and we prefer cronometer. You can download the app on your phone or use the desktop version, which I love. You can create your own recipes and the macros will be calculated for you and you can save that recipe for multiple uses.
When tracking your macros, carbs should be a limit, so stay under the carb target, you don’t need to meet the target. Protein should be a target, so you want to try and consume close the the protein target and then eat fat to satiety. The fat macro does not need to be a goal as your body can also use body fat for fuel. Our advice here is if you are full, or not hungry, don’t worry if you haven’t met your fat target.
Tracking your macros can be a little confusing at first. Check out the video below to see a step by step guide on how to use cronometer and track your macros.
Now, this may be a controversial topic but we really think it is important to try and minimise your snacking if you are getting started on a ketogenic lifestyle for weight loss. We have always been told to eat 3 meals and 2-3 snacks a day and this is just not really necessary or healthy for our bodies. We want to make sure in our day there are times when we are eating (our meal times) and times when we are not eating, rather than grazing all day long.
Start by aiming to eat 3 meals a day. If you find you are hungry in between your meals it may be that you are not eating enough protein or fat as part of your meal. Now, we don’t want you to be hungry, so if you are truly hungry have a snack between your meals, but perhaps make a note that the meal you had previously was not satiating enough. Over time as you adapt to a ketogenic lifestyle this will definitely become easier.
Following a ketogenic lifestyle is a really great way to learn your true hunger signals. We can be hungry and want to eat for many reasons; boredom, tiredness, loneliness, happiness, sadness etc, but these are not true hunger signals. So next time you reach for something to eat between your meals, ask yourself if you would eat a boiled egg or a steak. If yes, then you are truly hungry. If no, but you want some keto-friendly chocolate or roasted nuts, then you are not truly hungry.
You may even get to a point where you are not hungry when your normal meal time comes around and guess what – you don’t have to eat! A lot of people find they can easily skip breakfast after following a low carb diet for a while. Intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating is very popular at the moment, and most people find when they stop eating carbohydrates it is much easier to fast due to their reduced hunger.
You can read our in depth article on intermittent and extended fasting if you are interested in learning more. Remember though, you do not need to fast if you are following a ketogenic diet, so don’t worry if it is something that is not for you.
Now you have overcome the initial stumbling blocks, the next step is making this a lifestyle. Click on the link below to find out how to make keto a lifestyle and truly change your life.