After almost a year and a half of doing keto, I STILL don't feel qualified to really answer this question. I am constantly learning new things every day. So I've crowd-sourced this post. Thank you to everyone who helped me!
Firstly, the best place I can recommend is Reddit. If you have never used Reddit before, it's an online forum dedicated to thousands of different subjects. The keto subreddit is a great source of information for people starting out. Go read the FAQ and if you have any questions you can search the sub, because chances are, your question has been asked before. Ketoscience is a great place to go if you want to get to the scientific stuff regarding low carb and ketosis.
1. Everything you know about food/nutrition is [probably] wrong. Educate yourself. This is a big one. So many people put their health in the hands of others. This is so obviously not working. We need to start taking responsibility for what we do to our bodies. Your doctor cannot prescribe a magic pill that will make you healthy in 20 minutes. When I started doing keto I read everything I could get my hands on. Then I started being able to filter the good from the bad.
Suggested reading list:
- The obesity code - Jason Fung
- The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet - Nina Teicholz
- Good Calories, Bad Calories - Gary Taubes
- The case against sugar - Gary Taubes
- The wicked good ketogenic cookbook - Amanda C. Hughes
- The Salt Fix - James DiNicolantonio
- The art and science of low carbohydrate living - Jeff Volek & Stephen Phinney
- Cholesterol Clarity: What The HDL Is Wrong With My Numbers? - Jimmy Moore
- The Primal Low‑Carb Kitchen - Kyndra Holley
- Quick & easy ketogenic cooking - Maria Emmerich
- The 30 day ketogenic cleanse - Maria Emmerich
2. Learn to cook. Keto is not impossible if you can't cook but it's a lot harder. Cutting out processed foods and eating more whole food is much easier if you are willing to spend some time in the kitchen. My husband and I use our cooking time as couple time - we listen to audiobooks or music while we cook. It becomes something you look forward to.
3. And then the next thing would be RECIPES RECIPES RECIPES. Start collecting as much as you can. Google/ Pinterest/ Facebook/ Keto Recipes on Reddit. Bookmark them, print them, save them in notebooks - if you are an organisation nut like me, you will enjoy this.
Good blogs to visit for recipes and general info (I use paleo blogs as well because they often have amazing recipes that you can just tweak to lower the carbs):
- Maria Mind Body Health
- Ruled Me
- Keto Connect
- Paleo Bailey
- Keto Diet App
- Diet Doctor
- Caveman Keto
- Livin la vida lowcarb
- Nom nom paleo
- My keto kitchen
- All day I dream about food
- Butter is not a carb
- I breathe, I'm hungry
If you have any other suggestions for blogs to add to this list, please leave them in the comments
4. To cold turkey or not to cold turkey. Everyone has a different opinion on this and everyone reacts differently to certain things. I asked for suggestions about how to start keto and a lot of people said "start slow" but my personal approach was to rip that damned band aid off. I dived in head first. I know myself and I have never succeeded at anything I tried "slowly". So my personal advice is to get rid of all the carbs in your house and get the cold turkey over with. Now, I realise that not everyone can do this because maybe your husband/roommates/parents/kids still eat carbs. Carve your own space out in the pantry. Have your own shelf. Keep the carbs somewhere else. And if your husband REALLY NEEDS those chocolate bars, ask him to keep them at work or in his own space where you don't need to see it each time you make food.
If you feel that you want to start slow: go for it. A lot of people say that they started slowly, cutting out sweets and added sugar first, then grains and potatoes and finally, reducing your carbs to less than 20g a day. Some suggestions were also to try Whole 30 first as a way to ease yourself into eating more nutritionally.
5. Work out your macros - this is an important step for keto because you need to make sure you are not low on protein, and you cannot know what your body needs unless you know your macros. Check out the OKL chart here. Download My Fitness Pal (MFP) - this will make your macro counting much easier.
7. There is no "perfect time". Don't say you will start tomorrow, or Monday. Just start now. You have to make this decision and stick with it.
8. Don't do it half-heartedly. Jumping on and off keto will make you feel terrible! You need to pick a side.
9. Find a community. Support is important, it's never easy to do anything when you feel alone. I strongly recommend Instagram, it is a much more welcoming space than any other keto-related communities. Be careful with keto Facebook groups - people tend to push their own agendas and have very black and white views. Either/or... There's often no wiggle room and people get very aggressive about their views.
10. Don't be scared to talk about your lifestyle. You will get some negative feedback but you might be surprised. I've recently discovered that I have three neighbours who all do low carb, simply because I talked about it.
11. Ignore the haters. Other people can be awful. Not everyone will support you and some people will even fight with you about your choices. This sucks but no one else can tell you what to eat, you are the only one who can decide how to live your life.
12. Keto is not a magic fix, nor is it something you can just "use" to lose the weight then "go back to normal". I mean you probably could but it won't work in the long run. Think about why you want to start doing keto, whatever your motivations... your current diet got you here in the first place. Why do you think going back there will work?
13. It's going to take time. You did not put on the weight in two months, you will NOT lose it in two months - this takes time and commitment. Weight loss is not linear.
14. Don't think about what you CAN'T eat, rather focus on what you CAN eat. Don't constantly say/think "Oh I can't eat that". Focus on changing your views about what food can be, change your comfort food to something on keto that you enjoy.
15. Avoid sweeteners for the first three months. I stopped drinking coke zero/ diet soda and avoid all sweeteners for a few months. This doesn't have to be forever, just to reset your taste buds and help control cravings.
16. Meal prep will be your best friend. If you can, invest in a chest freezer. We have a fridge/freezer combo as well as a chest freezer and being able to make meals ahead of time and freeze them has saved us a number of times. Sometimes you really don't feel like cooking, and instant meals in the freezer are going to make your life so much easier.
17. Not everyone has the same keto experience. Don't let someone tell you that you are obviously doing it wrong just because you feel differently than they do. I got a surge of energy at three months but everyone is different. You need to learn how to listen to your body and find the best balance for yourself.
18. Don't chase ketones! Ketostix may be all the rage for people starting out with keto because "PROOF!" but don't waste your money. Ketones in your urine are simply what your body is excreting/not using. The longer you do keto, the less ketones you pee out because your body uses them. Letting the colour of a pee-stick demotivate you is a bad idea.
19. Work within your budget and make keto fit in YOUR life. If you can't afford grass-fed-whatever, then don't buy grass-fed-whatever. There are a lot of ways to eat low carb without bankrupting yourself. No one said you HAVE to use coconut oil, drink organic coffee or use MCT in every meal. The only limitation with keto is "don't eat more than 20 - 25g carbs". The rest is easy - you need to find what works for you. This also applies to keto treats as well. There are many different opinions on whether using sweeteners is "real keto" but if you think that having the occasional dessert will make your life more enjoyable then as long as it fits your macros, there is absolutely no problem with it.
20. Don't overcomplicate your keto. Keep your meals simple. There's no need to create "low carb beef wellington" in your first week/month/ever. Basic keto meals will save you time. Meat and vegetables. Once you have a better handle on what you enjoy eating, then you can start experimenting. Your old way of eating should be easily adjustable to work for keto...just remove the carbs or replace them with low carb vegetables.
21. Don't be scared of eating veggies. Yes, you can eat vegetables. Yes I recommend a fair amount of them. Just make sure you eat the low carb ones as your prime source of veg.
22. You don't need to fast for 2 days, say the magic words or sprinkle salt around your bed to enter ketosis. I mean, you can if you want to, but it's not a requirement. The best approach is to simply limit your carbs to 20g a day and you will be in ketosis within 24 hours.
23. Stay away from keto Facebook groups. Here you will be told that you HAVE to drink your bullet proof coffee or you aren't doing keto correctly, that you can only eat one meal a day, that you have to hit your fat macro or you might die. For some reason Facebook groups attract the crazy keto nazis. I'm generalising here but I've received a lot of messages from people on instagram and had to talk them off the ledge because they were told that if you eat green beans on keto you are going to displease the keto gods and turn a weird shade of blue (or something else ridiculous). Do your own research. Don't listen to the weirdos.
Some other helpful links:Health How_To Keto_Basics Starting Out Starting+Keto