How to get started on a ketogenic diet, part 1
Transitioning to a ketogenic diet can be quite daunting!
Not only are you changing the way you eat, but the nature of this diet requires a long-term commitment. You cannot do it half-way, you cannot mix and match it with something else. Specially not if you’re doing it for healing purposes. You have to be all in for at least a few months.
The ketogenic way of eating literally goes against everything that we have been taught for decades. So why choose this diet if it contradicts what is being pushed as healthy in mainstream health education?
Firstly, and most importantly, there are the thousands of testimonies of people who have not only lost weight, but healed from all sorts of illnesses thanks to this way of eating. The proof is in the keto pudding!
Secondly, there’s no product to buy – so no corporate gains to be made by promoting the ketogenic way of life, just consciously making good choices, and of course there is also a lot of science to back this up, but I’m not going into any scientific explanations here – Google can help you with that.
If you’ve googled and chatted to ketonians online or in person, done your research and been convinced this is something you want to do, then this post is for you. My hope is that this post will help you to make this transition to keto as straightforward as possible.
In this series, I aim to provide a simplified step-by-step guide to getting started on the ketogenic diet. My goal is to help those with chronic illness to make the transition easily since many, like me, will suffer from brain fog which makes cognitive function and learning new things quite difficult at times.
The good news is that the ketogenic way of eating will improve cognitive function and it will all become easier.
Once you’ve made the decision to commit to this way of eating for at least 3-6 months, you need to start off by deciding what your goals are.
1. You are happy with your current weight and are only doing this for the health benefits.
2. You’re doing this for health benefits, but you’d also like to lose some weight.
3. You’re not interested in health benefits, you just want to lose weight.
There are other reasons for doing Keto, but I’m not well-informed enough in bodybuilding and such to be giving advice here. We will focus on setting yourself up for healing and weight management in this post.
Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional, the information on this blog is purely from personal experience and personal research and must be taken as testimony and friendly advice only. Please consult your doctor if you have any doubts concerning your medical conditions. I take no responsibility for your decision to follow this way of eating, but I do suggest you consider it seriously.
My reasons for doing the ketogenic diet
Please note that I am not doing the ketogenic diet for weight loss, but for health purposes. I am using it to reduce symptoms of quite severe ME/CFS. My methods were never motivated by an urgency to lose weight quickly, I simply made a commitment to do this for at least 6 months to see if I would benefit and I have. I have had great success so far! (read more here)
Calculate your macros
The first thing I suggest doing, is using a keto calculator online to work out what your ideal macro-nutrient intake should be for your personal goals. This calculator will tell you how many grams of carbs, proteins and fats to include in your daily calorie intake.
This is super helpful because the results will tell you the carb limit that will keep you in ketosis, the protein goal to keep you healthy and the fat limit will tell you up to how much fat you could include in your meals daily to reach your goals and keep you satiated.
It might sound complicated, I know because I avoided these tools for years, I did’t want the hassle and now I wish I hadn’t waited so long to use them. In reality the tools I’ll discuss here make the whole process very easy and help you keep track of things in a very straightforward way.
There are many calculators you can use to work out your goals, here are a few popular ones:
- Ruled.me (very straightforward and easy to use)
- Ankerl.com (I initially used this one, slightly more complicated)
- Ketogains.com (has a few more options regarding exercise and calories burned daily, if you’re more active)
You can use just one, or try them all and find a happy medium, they shouldn’t be too different. Make a note of the results they give you for calories, carbs, protein and fat at the end of each calculator – you will need those numbers to continue. These are known as your macros.
Will my macros change?
Your macros won’t necessarily always stay the same if you are aiming to lose weight, but generally if you are losing weight with these macros, then it’s working and you don’t need to change anything.
If you start stalling for an extended period, or you’ve lost a significant amount of weight quickly, you might want to recalculate with your new weight and body fat % to make sure you’re still giving your body the right nutrition. Other than that, these macros should remain in place.
My personal aim is maintenance, so if I start losing weight, or gaining weight, then I will adjust them again. This will depend on my activity levels, as my health improves with this way of eating and I manage more activity, my body will require more fuel.
My personal macro results are currently: calories 1452, fat 117g, carbs 20g, protein 78g, but I am housebound and not very active at all, so I only burn around 1400 calories a day, these macros are perfect for keeping my weight stable and I feel satisfied. I was consuming less initially, but as I improved and became more active, I increased my intake.
Once you’ve calculated your macros, it’s time to install an app on your phone that will help you keep track of your daily macro intake and save you a lot of guesswork. Part 2 of my How to Get Started on a Ketogenic Diet series can be found here.