The keto diet has become a popular choice in the health and wellness community due to the plethora of health benefits associated with it. Like most diets, sticking to this low carb high-fat meal plan can be exceptionally challenging, especially if you aren’t equipped with the right knowledge or tools. But before you jump ship, you should know that once you have successfully reached true ketosis, it is smooth sailing from there. If you are ready to start the journey to health and weight loss or just need extra help sticking with the keto diet, here are a few tips on how to get into true ketosis easily.
A Breakdown Of The Keto Diet
For all you keto newbies out there, here is a quick recap of the diet:
Similar to the popular Atkins diet, the keto diet is also a low carb high fat diet with one major difference – you don’t gradually increase your carb intake as you would with the Atkins diet. Instead, with the keto diet, the main goal is to limit carbs to around 50 grams per day. In addition to low carbs, healthy fats should make up at least 75% of your diet with the other 20% reserved for protein. By limiting carbs and increasing fats, you are forcing your body into a natural state of ketosis where the body starts using ketones for energy instead of glucose.
By default, the body uses glucose, also known as blood sugar to fuel most of our activities and inner workings of the body, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that this is the most efficient or sustainable source of energy. The reason why the body favors glucose as the main source is because of how easy it is to break down and convert. Unfortunately, this is where the problem lies for most. Too much glucose can have devastating effects not to mention the various stressors the body goes through when trying to convert blood sugar glucose into energy.
By depleting glucose reserves with a limited intake of carbs, the body enters into a state of ketosis where it starts to burn fat that has been converted into ketones as fuel. This energy source is far more efficient when compared to glucose and does not cause as much oxidative stress during the conversion process. In addition to supplying most of the body with fuel, ketones are the preferred source of energy for major internal organs such as the heart.
There are multiple health benefits associated with the keto diet due to the effects it has on blood sugar and insulin levels. Some of these benefits include:
- Weight loss and maintenance.
- Increased insulin sensitivity, which is beneficial for those with prediabetes and type two diabetes.
- Reduces the risk of heart disease by lowering blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
- May slow down the progression of degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
- Reduces the frequency of seizures in epileptic children.
- May aid in slowing down the growth of cancerous tumors.
- Reduces symptoms and severity of polycystic ovary syndrome.
- Improves symptoms associated with metabolic syndrome and glycogen storage disease.
- May help improve behavioral patterns in children with autism.
- Reduces the severity and frequency of migraines.
- Improves athletic performance.
From all these health benefits listed above, it is easy to see why the keto diet is a popular choice for most. However, as we mentioned earlier, it can be challenging to stick to the diet. It’s not just about limiting carbs, there are so many other factors you need to consider to get into ketosis and stay there. But the main thing to note is that it is possible to reach your goals without hitting a keto plateau or falling off the wagon entirely. Let’s take a look at a few tips that will help you with the keto diet and make your weight loss journey easier.
Tackle The Keto Flu
The first and most important tip that will help with sticking to the keto diet is tackling the keto flu head-on. If you haven’t heard of the keto flu yet, it is something you should look into and inform yourself about before starting the diet because it is one of the main reasons why most drop off the diet so early in the game.
The keto flu is not like the regular flu although it does have some similarities in symptoms apart from the fever, coughing, and sneezing. The keto flu is a result of your body adapting to the reduced number of carbs in your diet. Much like a smoker who is craving nicotine, your body goes through the same withdrawals from carbs and can result in one or a few of the following symptoms:
- Muscle cramps and soreness
- Sugar cravings
- Difficulty sleeping or insomnia
- Stomach cramps
- Poor concentration
- Lack of energy
- Irregular bowel movements (constipation or diarrhea)
These symptoms usually last for roughly 7 days for some, however, they can be debilitating enough to make someone throw in the towel. Fortunately, there are some ways to help kick some of these symptoms to the curb.
Rev up Hydration
Drinking enough water throughout the day can help with the keto flu and it’s associated symptoms. During the first few weeks of the keto diet, you may notice a drop in weight, however, this is not fat loss but rather water loss. As your body becomes more fat-adapted, it excretes more water because there are not enough glycogen (carbohydrate reserves) for water to bind to. But water is not the only thing being flushed down the drain. Precious electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, and sodium are flushed along with it and can lead to dehydration, muscle cramps, and fatigue. Drinking ample amounts of water will help replenish lost electrolytes and can help alleviate some of the symptoms listed above.
Take It Easy When Exercising
Exercise is extremely beneficial for maintaining a healthy weight and optimizing overall health, however, you don’t want to overdo it in the first few days of the keto diet. Your body is already trying to adapt to a new source of energy and strenuous exercise can bring on or worsen muscle cramps and soreness. Instead of pushing yourself to the max, try doing a few light exercises during the first few days. Yoga, walking, or some light cycling are some good options and will help keep you active but also won’t cause your energy levels to plummet.
Take Exogenous Ketones
Taking a high-quality exogenous keto supplement can help with the keto diet and get you into a state of ketosis faster even if you have gone a carb or two over the limit. By choosing the right supplement half the battle is won! So what is an exogenous (made outside of the body) ketone? Simply put, these are synthetic ketones that mimic the exact function of endogenous (made inside the body) ketones with a few added benefits.
The most common and most beneficial type of exogenous ketones is BHB or Beta-Hydroxybutyrate salts, which also happen to be the main ketone body naturally produced by the body. BHB compounds are bound to various mineral salts like potassium, sodium, magnesium, and calcium. Once ingested the BHB salts start to initiate the natural function of ketones by increasing blood ketone levels and shifting your body into a state of ketosis. But that is not the only thing these tiny compounds do.
Since exogenous BHB compounds are bound to salts that produce ions in water like potassium and magnesium, they also help increase electrolyte levels. As we mentioned before, well-balanced electrolyte levels are extremely important for staving off dehydration and other symptoms of the keto flu. In addition to that, exogenous ketones are also useful for fighting off fatigue, improving cognition, reducing inflammation, increasing athletic performance, and suppressing appetite.
While these supplements are not the be-all and end-all of melting fat away instantly, they are a very helpful tool in mastering the keto diet provided you choose one with the right formulation.
Approved Science Keto is a scientifically formulated supplement that contains Beta-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB) ketones that are bound to the four most important salts – magnesium, potassium, calcium, and sodium. The formula also contains keto-approved ingredients like MCT oil, which research confirms helps to rev up energy levels, natural ketone levels, and curb hunger for longer. The Approved Science formula also includes BioPerine®, a patented black pepper extract that is clinically proven to boost absorption and increase the efficiency and potency of the BHB salts.
Keep An Eye On Your Protein
Most traditional diets call for higher protein intake, however, with the keto diet, it is best to eat it in moderation. Unless you are following a high-protein ketogenic diet that calls for 35% protein, 60% fat, and 5% carbs; it is best to limit protein to 20% when following the standard keto diet.
The reason for this is gluconeogenesis – a metabolic process that turns amino acids found in protein-rich foods and converts it into glucose. The body still needs glucose in order to function so when carbs are restricted, it makes its own glucose reserves using this metabolic process to regulate blood sugar levels and provide energy for the red blood cells and liver. A moderate amount of glucose will help the body to run at an optimal level, but when too much protein is introduced on the keto diet, it could revert back to running on glucose instead of ketones for fuel. By getting your macronutrient ratios right, the body will convert just the right amount of glucose it needs without kicking you out of ketosis.
Include MCT Oil In Your Diet
MCT oil is a great tool in helping with the keto diet. Medium-chain triglycerides or MCT’s are derived from coconut oil and are processed by the body in a fascinating way. Due to the molecular structure of MCT’s, which contains fewer carbon atoms compared to long-chain triglycerides, the body is able to break down and utilize them much faster. When the body has broken down MCT’s, it is absorbed directly into the liver and is utilized for energy or converted into ketone bodies instantly.
When you are feeling fatigued or need a quick boost of energy, MCT oil is a great way to rev up ketone blood levels to help fuel the body. But that is not the only benefit of MCT oil. Studies reveal that Medium-chain triglycerides are effective in increasing ketone levels in those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and other disorders related to the nervous system and aids in both the prevention and management of symptoms.
A few other benefits of MCT oil include:
- Preventing lactate buildup during exercise.
- Promoting weight loss.
- Suppressing the appetite.
- Providing instant fuel for the brain.
- Aids in the management of epilepsy and autism.
- Combats bacteria such as Candida albicans (yeast infections) and Clostridium difficile (inflammation of the colon).
- Aids in reducing risk factors for heart disease.
- Aids in managing blood sugar levels.
Include More Healthy Fats In Your Diet
Healthy fats are the key to unlocking true ketosis. One of the main reasons most fall off the keto wagon is because they are not getting enough fat in their diet or that they are not choosing the right type of fat. Since most of your calories come from fat on the keto diet, it is important to include a variety of healthy fats like saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. Most make the mistake of using saturated fats like dairy or meat as the predominant fat in their diet, which can lead to other health conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease. Instead of turning to butter, bacon, or sausages for every meal, try incorporating more sources of monounsaturated fatty acids into your meals such as avocado oil, olive oil, and coconut oil.
When it comes to fat, it is also important to make sure that you are not going overboard with the calories as this can cause your weight loss efforts to come to a standstill. Healthy fats should only make up 70% of your daily calories.
Try Intermittent Fasting
Another beneficial trick to help with the keto diet is to try intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is a practice that involves restricting calories for a certain number of hours. For most, the preferred ratio is eating for an 8 hour period and restricting all calories for the following 16 hours. The reason why this meal plan is so beneficial for reaching ketosis is that it imitates the exact premise of the diet. The body naturally produces ketones when it is in a fasting state. This means that you are naturally in a state of mild ketosis from the time you go to bed until you have breakfast in the morning. The body does this to maintain energy in order to fuel the brain, heart, and other important organs and pathways.
Since long term fasts are not sustainable, intermittent fasting can help jumpstart your body into ketosis safely. Intermittent fasting also helps to boost metabolism due to its thermogenic effect. Various studies reveal that the 8/16 method improved weight loss by 14% in resistance-trained men compared to those who did not fast at all. Another study showed that those following the 8/16 method lost 3.3kg more fat than those who were following a restrictive diet.
Monitor Ketone Levels And Adjust Accordingly
When it comes to the keto diet, there is no one size fits all manual. Everyone’s body is different and yours may require a unique ratio of macronutrients to get into ketosis and stay there. Testing your ketone levels can be helpful in finding the correct balance for you and achieving the ultimate goal – weight loss! Ketone levels can be measured by blood, breath, or urine. All three methods can be used to test the levels of the three main ketone bodies we produce – Beta-Hydroxybutyrate, Acetone, and Acetoacetate.
A ketone breath meter can detect the levels of acetone in the body and is an effective tool in monitoring whether or not you have reached ketosis. A blood ketone meter, which is similar to a glucose meter works by placing a small drop of blood onto a strip. The strip is usually inserted into the metering device and will display the amount of beta-hydroxybutyrate present in the blood. While this device is accurate, the strips are quite expensive and can cost a small fortune if you are testing your ketone levels regularly. The final way to determine ketone levels in the body is by using urine strips. This test indicates if acetoacetate is present in the body. Once the strip is dipped in urine, it turns different shades of purple and pink. A darker color means higher levels of acetoacetate in the body.
Using these tests can help you determine whether or not you’re eating too many carbs or haven’t eaten enough healthy fats. This way, you have an accurate way of knowing that your macronutrients need to be adjusted.
Trust Your Body
The main thing to remember when it comes to the keto diet is to listen to your body. Your body knows what it needs and when it needs it so it is important not to fixate on the numbers or the scale too much. To help make the keto diet easier, it’s best to set realistic weight loss goals and listen to the signs your body is giving you when it needs a boost. It is easy to think you are doing something wrong when you start comparing yourself to others in the keto community. There is no doubt that seeing the weight melt off is extremely motivating, but if you haven’t, don’t get discouraged. Instead of focusing energy on how quickly it took someone else to get into ketosis or lose weight, shift that energy into making adjustments to your diet, lifestyle, and personal goals.
Another important thing to remember is that it is a slow process. Forcing your body into being fat adapt too quickly can land up taking more effort to maintain in the long run. The trick is to focus on losing weight sustainably without putting your body through too much at once. Gradually easing into carb restriction and losing weight at a steady pace will do more good for you as time goes on.
When signs of the keto flu start rearing their heads, try to do everything you can to address the symptoms instead of pushing yourself further past the limit. Hydrate, rest, and eat adequate amounts of healthy fats to get yourself through the slump. Don’t focus too much on the numbers of the scale or the circumference of your waist in the initial stages. Rather track these every second week until you are comfortable enough with the minimal carbs. If you haven’t noticed any results in two weeks, try adjusting your macronutrients in a way that is sustainable for your body and lifestyle. If you are losing too much weight too quickly, try incorporating bigger snacks into your diet.
Tips To Help With The Keto Diet – The Bottom Line
Since the keto diet can be so restrictive, it can prove to be difficult at times. While the keto flu may be a slight bump in the road for some, once you have addressed the symptoms by hydrating and supplementing with Approved Science Keto, it is smooth sailing from there, and the benefits you reap are well worth the effort. By keeping an eye on macros such as protein, exercising regularly, including a variety of healthy fats, it won’t be long until you have reached keto success without too many obstacles in the way. Ultimately it’s about listening to your body and changing your lifestyle to a healthier, more energetic one!