Getting Started With Keto: 12
In this episode, I chat about how to get started with keto without overcomplicating it! For a more detailed version on how and why to get started with keto, be sure to check out our beginners guide. If you want to know more about how to get into ketosis quickly, what to eat to get into ketosis, how to get into ketosis quickly after cheating or how to get started on keto, you're in the right place!
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Hey everyone, welcome back to the Heal Nourish Grow Podcast. Today we're going to discuss how to get started on keto. We're getting close to the beginning of a new year and what happens every single year is people set New Year's resolutions. Quite often, that revolves around getting healthier in some way, or losing weight, or changing habits. So I wanted to give this to you as a resource so if you're not doing keto or low carb yet, you'll hae some more information on why it might be something to try, some of the benefits, some of the things that it can do for you.
If you already are low carb or keto, you might start getting questions at the beginning of the new year from your friend that might want to lose a couple of pounds or change some of their habits. They might ask you how they should get started and quite often, that is a difficult position to be in because you can tell them sort of how you do it or how you think that they should approach it, but sometimes it's just easier to hear these things from somebody else.
So I thought I would just give you this resource so that you have it and share it with anybody that's interested in starting to live a lower carb lifestyle. This will give them a good idea of how to get started on keto.
How to Get into Ketosis Quickly
So I've talked about this subject multiple times in the past and getting started on keto really comes down to wo ways to approach it. There is the “Rip It Off Like a Band-Aid” and go all in approach. With this method you start really restricting your carbohydrates very strongly from the very beginning. This is how to get into ketosis quickly. Although I might argue there is no real reason to get into ketosis quickly, this is one way to do it.
Then there's a more gentle approach and that is really the approach that I recommend. Getting into ketosis with this approach means going lower carb in a slow manner. It gives your body more time to adjust. It gives you time to adjust your mindset and it gives you time to make some changes in your household. For example, planning what types of foods you'll have in the house.
Those are the two approaches to getting into ketosis. Either one you choose, you'll get into ketosis eventually and the difference is really only a couple of days to a week. The end game is to go lower carb. Most people would be so much better off if they just got rid of as many processed foods as possible and started eating more whole foods. If that still included up to 100 carbs a day, that would still be a much, much better diet than what most people are currently doing, even thought for most people, that's too many carbs to be in ketosis.
How to Get Started With Keto
You can consider low carb really anything up to about 100 grams of carbohydrates per day. Ideally, if you're going to eat that many, you'll want to spread them out throughout your meals. That way you're not getting a big hit of insulin multiple times a day You should eat carbs with protein and fat so that they're more slowly absorbed. That's just a much healthier way to approach eating carbs no matter how you eat on a day to day basis.
Technically, ketosis or “keto” for short is a metabolic state. It's not a food, it's not a lifestyle. It's not any of the things that we like to call it for short. I quite often say, “Yeah, I'm keto, or I do Keto,” or something like that. That's just shorthand. Ketosis is a metabolic state. So if your goal is to truly be in ketosis most of the time and there are some reasons why you might want to do that which I'll follow up with that here later in the discussion.
What to Eat to Get into Ketosis
If you want to be in ketosis then you're going to want to limit your carbohydrates to under 30 grams a day. For most people, this is a pretty big change, from what you might have been eating up to this point. Some people find it very challenging to eat that few carbs. There is nothing else you can eat specifically to get into ketosis other than restricting carbs. However, a slightly higher amount of fat (particularly MCT) can facilitate ketone production. Exogenous ketones (only high quality, there is a lot of garbage) can also be very useful in the transition as they give your body extra ketones to utilize when your body isn't very efficient at making them yet.
How to Get into Keto Fast
If you were going to cut it down to that of few of carbs a day right away, you'll probably need to track your carbs for a little while until you start to learn more about which foods have the most carbohydrates and which ones might affect you more strongly. Cronometer is a great tracker and you'll just start to track the food that you eat. You'll have to start paying attention to labels a lot more, but here's the rundown of the things that you're basically not going to want to eat much of at all if you're going to be keto. However, I will say this, being this low carb every single day is not necessarily a permanent state of affairs. You can also use our free keto calculator to get your macros.
How you eat all the time depends on your goals. It depends on if your goal is weight loss or if your goal is that you know that you're not quite metabolically healthy and you're working on that, or if you have pre-diabetes or diabetes. All of these are different goals and your diet might look very different based on these. Let's just take the case of somebody that wants to lose some weight, change their habits and start eating healthier. You'll want to cut out the most obvious sources of carbs. For most people, bread is the big one, pasta, rice, fruit, potatoes French fries, all that kind of stuff, that's going to be off the table for a while if you want to lose weight with keto and get into keto fast.
Here's where it helps to know what kind of person you are if you want to get started on keto or want to get into keto fast. If you're going to attempt this and if you're the person that just likes to go in and go straight for it and cut your carbs down really low from the beginning, you can do that. I look back on how I did it, I really did it the very slow approach. I was low carb for almost an entire year before I went even lower carb and down to keto. I think it's a healthier and easier adjustment if you do it that way.
However, you can do it the other way and if you know your personality is something like, “Hey, I'm just going to go for it because that's how I know how I am.” Then that's a fine approach too. It'll just be a little more challenging in the beginning. When your body is used to a very high amount of carbs and you go to a very low amount of carbs, your body will want to go into ketosis because you're restricting carbs. After a couple of days, you'll deplete all your glycogen stores. It also depends on how active you are. If you're exercising as well, your glycogen stores will be depleted more quickly and you'll get into ketosis faster.
So if you want to get into keto fast, that's pretty easy with a combination of carb restriction, exercise and/or fasting. However, just know that getting into ketosis very quickly if you've never been there before might not be all that pleasant.
Preventing the Keto Flu
But what happens, when you first get into ketosis is that your body has to take some time to upregulate all the processes that it needs to function effectively on ketones. This takes time. In the very beginning, those processes haven't been upregulated yet, so if you go into ketosis very quickly, you might encounter something that we call the keto flu. This is not a true flu, you're not sick, there's nothing wrong, but you might feel like crap for a few days. You can read more about keto flu here.
If you want to know how to get started on keto without experiencing the keto flu, you really need to focus on electrolytes.
The best way that you can counteract keto flu is to really watch your electrolytes. What happens when your body goes into ketosis, and your insulin levels start to lower and your body starts flushing salt. Your electrolyte balance will change and that quite often just makes people feel really run down, really tired, headache-y, that's all from a lack of electrolytes. So the first thing you want to do when you decide to get into keto fast is to get a high-quality electrolyte.
Almost nothing that you can buy in a general grocery store is going to fit this bill. Things like Gatorade are not only full of sugar, number one, but they're also not that strong of an electrolyte, they barely have any sodium at all, no potassium, no magnesium, so they're not really a true electrolyte. That is not what I recommend. Anything that you can get in Kroger is probably not going to help.
Electrolytes on Keto
Even Pedialyte or something with a few more electrolytes still has a lot of sugar. Even it is not really the quantity of electrolytes that you're going to need to counteract the keto flu. So I will list my favorite brand in the show notes, there are a couple that I like. There's some newer ones that have come out on the market that are very popular in the keto community. There are plenty of high quality ones to be had, you just need to plan ahead a little bit and order them ahead of time before you really get into this.
Like I said, you don't want to start feeling terrible from the beginning because that is going to make you feel like you want to give up or that you want to quit or that you will affect your willpower because you may not feel good. It might be more challenging to stay the course and keep making good food decisions.
So that's the one scenario, if you're just going to get into keto fast, electrolytes are necessary. Otherwise after several weeks when your body upregulates the processes necessary to effectively use ketones then you'll start to feel really good.
Getting Keto Adapted or Fat Adapted
The other thing that you might want to notice, in the beginning, and I certainly noticed this when I first went keto, is that if you do any kind of endurance activity like running, even just walking or cycling, any kind of cardiovascular activity that generally would generate a need for glucose, you might find your performance suffering for just a little while.
Exercise on Keto
For me, that lasted about three months. I've heard other people say more like eight weeks, I've heard some people say six months, it just depends. In the long run, once your body is fully adapted and trained to use fat, it's actually really wonderful. You now hear about endurance athletes that have gone keto, and it frees them up because they no longer have to have all these GU packs and drinks and carbs while they're exercising. They simply rely on their body fat, which is an almost infinite store, even for smaller people, fat is a large store that you can call upon as you exercise.
So those are just some things to be aware of if you're going the all-in route in the beginning. Even having been significantly lower carb for a year leading up to going keto I still felt some of these effects when I started going into even lower carb. Since we're coming into 2022, if you're listening to this later, in January of 2022, I will have been practicing the ketogenic diet for five years, and lower carb for six years. I was around 100 carbs a day for a year and then I quickly reduced it down to 30 in 2017.
So I guess in a way, I did do it a little more quickly. How I recommend that people do it now, I'd like to see people do to negate some of these effects from going lower carb is to really titrate it down. So for example, if you're starting at a pretty high carb level, for a month or two, you might just try to get it under 100 grams of carbs per day, and then the next week go down to say 80, and then the following week, 60.
Once you start to get under 60, that's where you're more likely to start feeling some of the effects of keto flu, so the slower you go into that last part, the better off you'll be. Maybe spend a week at 60 grams of carbs per day, and then spent another week at 50 grams of carbs per day, until you're finally down to that much lower level, and you will notice that it's a much easier transition if you do it that way.
Now, for some people though, they're just thinking, that's going to take too long, they really want to get into weight loss mode and want to know how to get into keto quickly. I can tell you though, even if you do it slow, and you're making these changes that we're talking about, cutting out bread, cutting out pasta, cutting out rice, cutting out sugar and soft drinks, you're still gonna get a lot of the benefits of weight loss.
Here's the thing that sometimes confuses people: they think that being in ketosis is some kind of magical weight loss thing, and in some ways it is, and I'll go into that in a minute, but it's still about consistency and making better choices. At the end of the day, it's consistency, over time that will lead to success with weight loss or getting into ketosis.
Consistency and Reducing Carbs Slowly to Get into Ketosis
If you've been around my content for a while, you've heard me talk about consistency a lot. I was actually thinking about this earlier as I was listening to another podcast where they were talking about exercise. I've exercised almost daily now for 30 years, which is crazy for me to think about. It's that consistency pattern that you create that's really going to do you the most good.
Being consistent with lowering your carbs over time and cutting them down slowly, is the same. You're still going to have success with weight loss just by changing your diet, because you're also going to start making healthier choices. If weight loss is the goal, you probably will start watching your calories somewhat, but by the nature of cutting out those types of things, you're naturally going to start eating a little less and you're going to feel more satiated with the foods that you are eating,
There's somebody else that I listen to that always explains it this way about carbs and fat. Both carbs and fat are just energy and protein is the building block for your muscles. Protein is absolutely the thing that you should prioritize the most.
What to Eat to Get Into Ketosis
You want to get your right amount of protein every single day, no matter what else you. Then you're adding fat to satiety and maybe a few carbs here and there incidentally from vegetables. Carbs are really just from vegetables, because that's what you end up eating once you go keto, you're pretty much eating meat and vegetables. So if you lower carbs slowly, again, I really think that that just going to make you be more successful. You're also less likely to give up, you're less likely to binge, if you reduce carbs slowly.
So these are the things I want you to think about as you decide to start changing your lifestyle. Again, you will benefit greatly just from going low carb. Just by reducing your carbs and trying to get to around 100 a day, which far less than the standard American diet will do you a world of good.
I'm never saying everybody needs to be in ketosis all the time, it's certainly not the only way to lose weight. Plenty of people have lost weight on any number of kinds of diets, the Twinkie diet for example. There was actually a guy that did a study where all he ate was Twinkies, I don't know for how many weeks, but 1200 calories of Twinkies a day, and he did lose weight. So there are plenty of ways to do it.
Now, just to be clear, I would not recommend anybody do the Twinkie diet because you're not getting the nutrients you need. You're not getting the protein that you need. The point is what you really want to focus on is not just weight loss by whatever means necessary. What you want to focus on is fat loss. You don't want to lose lean mass.
Benefits of Keto
So here's where we get into some of the benefits of keto and why it might be easier over other types of diets. Now, initially, it might be more challenging for you, because we're used to eating a lot of carbs. It is just something that people have become accustomed to in the standard American diet even though as little as 200, 300 years ago, we were eating nothing like this amount of carbs.
We didn't have drive-throughs, we didn't have huge grocery chains, we didn't have access to all of this easily accessible carbohydrate. Instead, we had things that grew in the garden or we had our cows and our pigs and those are the things that we ate because that's what we had. So the idea that this diet is in some way too restrictive or not healthy in some way, is just kind of crazy to me. IF you look back at what we've been eating the last 50-10o0 years, we didn't have any of these kinds of foods that are causing everybody such trouble now. It just makes no logical sense; it's not how we evolved to eat. So when you start eating this way, and again, if you do it slowly, you'll just have a much easier time of it. It can take some time for your habits and taste buds to adjust.
There was this other popular thing when I was growing up about how the bodybuilders ate and how fitness people ate. There was this idea that you needed to eat every couple of hours to “keep your metabolism going.” Well, this idea is complete garbage. So what you really do when you're eating every couple hours, particularly if you are eating carbs, is you are raising your blood sugar, and raising your insulin, every couple of hours. And what does raising insulin do? It signals your body to store fat. That is one of the benefits of being in ketosis. Your blood sugar and your insulin is much lower and regulated, so your body is not getting a constant signal to store fat. When you eat carbohydrates or sugar, and they're basically the same thing, just to be clear on that, carbohydrates turn to glucose in your body, so it's like if you're eating table sugar or you're eating a piece of bread, it's virtually the same as far as the physiological effect.
How Keto Works to Reduce Hunger
So when you eat carbohydrates, your insulin goes way up and your blood sugar goes up. As it comes back down to baseline or normal, sometimes it actually even goes a little lower, but as it goes down, that's when a hunger signal start to kick in. So you'll notice sometimes, for example, if you can think back to the times where you ate a pizza. You're eating it, you're loving it, but you get so full because it's just all that bread and you're thinking you can never eat again. Then a couple of hours later, you're actually feeling hungry again, even though you had plenty of food. That's the hormones at play and your body is getting signaled that you need to eat again, even though you just ate. That sugar crash coming back down makes you hungry again.
In addition, there's also this idea that your body might start to have hunger signals again of because what you ate. You didn't actually get the nutrients that you needed. So if you take the example of pizza, when you eat a pizza, there might be a little meat on it. However, in general, it is not the amount of protein that you would need in a meal to feel satiated and to provide you the proper nutrients. That could also cause you to be seeking out another meal to try to get more nutrients even though you just ate.
So you get rid of that up and down signalling all the time and start eating more nutrient-dense foods and start eating more fat, you'll start to feel more satiated. A lot of people have become accustomed to not eating as much fat. However, fat is very satiating and it's wonderful for your brain. Pretty soon you'll start to see that if you've ever been a person (and this was me) that was hangry, and you know what I mean when I'm talking about hangry, right? It's because of that blood sugar crash, you just feel like you're going to die if you don't get food, it's really intense. That hangy feeling goes away when you stop constantly spiking insulin and blood sugar.
Now I can go for hours and hours without feeling hungry and not eating if I don't need to or want to, but also longer fasting is much more accessible because you don't have that constant hunger. That's one of the great benefits of keto, particularly for weight loss. Another benefit of eating the way that you eat when you eat a ketogenic-type diet…here's a good place where I should make a distinction.
The Classic Ketogenic Diet vs the Modern Keto Diet for Health
The traditional ketogenic diet was designed to prevent seizures in children. If they had drug-resistant epilepsy or before we had good drugs to treat epilepsy, one of the ways that they were able to treat it was with a very high fat and low carbohydrate diet so that the body produced ketones. Ketones cause neuroinflammation to go down and can control seizures, that was what the diet was originally designed for.
Some of those early studies on these children, and this is where some of the people that are against keto get their data, because there are plenty of studies showing some nutrient deficiencies, showing some negative effects from a ketogenic diet. But the kind of ketogenic diet that those kids were on to control seizures is very different from how we practice eating a ketogenic diet just for general health and weight loss. So those diets might be 80-90 percent fat, that high, if you can imagine. Where now, for a weight loss or health protocol, most people will end up being around somewhere between 55 and 75 percent fat and might vary day-to-day. Again, you're always prioritizing protein and then because you're not eating carbs, you do eat fat to make up the rest of that. However, is very different than the kind of ketogenic diet that's considered traditional for seizure prevention. So I would call this kind of a modified ketogenic diet, just to make that distinction, we're doing this for health, for weight loss, for other things, it's much different than for seizure control.
Ketosis is Muscle Sparing; Muscle is Protected from Being Broken Down
So with a modern keto diet for health, hunger is more controlled. You're producing ketones, which is muscle sparing, and so that's a benefit. If you do calorie restriction or other methods for weight loss, you can tend to lose muscle mass at the same time you're losing fat. We don't want to lose muscle. In fact, the older you get, the more focused you have to be on actively trying to maintain your muscle. There's two ways to do that, it's eating the proper amount of protein every single day, stimulating muscle protein synthesis to the extent that it makes sense if you're trying to gain muscle and resistance training. Those are the ways that you're going to work on getting more muscle. The reason you want more muscle is not that we want to look like bodybuilders or Arnold Schwarzenegger or anything like that. It's all about function as we get older and being able to do the things that we want to do. Plus muscle is an expensive tissue. It uses more energy and more calories to maintain it. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you're burning while you're at rest. To reiterate, the ketogenic diet is muscle sparing.
Getting Started with Keto and Metabolism
There's also this idea and there is at least one piece of research to back this up, that there might be a slight metabolic advantage to being in ketosis to the tune of 300 calories a day. Now, I've heard different people talk about it in different ways. Part of it might be because you're eating more protein. There's the thermic effect of food when you eat protein and it's about a 30 percent difference. So for example, if you eat 100 calories of protein, what you're netting from that is only about 70 calories because it takes the body that much energy to break down protein to extract the amino acids. To do all the things that your body needs to do to process protein takes more calories than when it processes fat or carbs.
So you're eating keto know and you're not hungry all the time. You're not hangry, you're not feeling these wild energy swings, you're feeling the effects of ketones on your brain, which makes you think more clearly. So many people say that they get rid of the brain fog when they're in ketosis and they get rid of the carbs. So there are a vast number of benefits to practicing this way of eating outside of just weight loss! The brain effects are wonderful, the effect that it can have on body composition is wonderful.
Keto and Sarcopenia
Even if you're not trying to “lose weight” you do want to focus on your body composition, like we were talking about with the muscle mass. So for example, you could be… 2hat do they call it? TOFI, thin on the outside, fat on the inside. That has a number of metabolic health problems and long-term, so if you are looking thin, but meanwhile you're 40 percent body fat, it's not a very healthy state to be in for metabolic health. Not only that, but again, the ida that we continue to lose muscle mass as we get older. Sarcopenia, which is basically, just loss of muscle mass is become a real epidemic in the aging population and makes people frail. If you're more frail, you're more prone to accidents. Sarcopenia has a lot of long-term health implications outside of just how you look. So for all of those reasons, keto is a really wonderful way of eating to try.
Is Keto Good for Weight Loss?
Now, let's get to the point. Do you need to do it forever? This is a valid question, because I think a lot of people, especially when they come to this for weight loss, they think, Okay, well, I'll lose the weight and then I'll just go back to eating carbs.
Well, if you think about all the things I just said, I'm not really sure why anybody would do that, because I think for a long-term health it is really critical to restrict your carbs in some way. I'm not saying you have to restrict them all the way down to ketosis levels, but I do think you want to make the amount of carbs that you're eating match your metabolic health and match your activity level. The more active you are, the more your body can tolerate carbs because the activity not only burns calories, the muscles are a “glucose eater.” So whenever you're active, you're getting kind of a double bang for your buck as far as burning off some calories and having your muscles dispose of glycogen. That's one reason it's really good to take a little walk after you eat so that you can kind of help circulate some of that glucose out of your blood by being active.
However, if you are pre-diabetic or diabetic, you might need to be more strict keto for a much longer amount of time. When you are metabolically healthy again, you might consider selectively including some other carbs, whole foods based carbs back into your diet or the occasional carby treat, if there's just something that you really, really love.
How to Get Started on Keto by Knowing Your Tendencies
Again, I think this comes back to knowing yourself . Are you the kind of person that can literally have just one chip or ten chips, or do you have to eat the whole bag? Are you the kind of person that if you eat a piece of cake on a Monday, you think, “Well, I already screwed up, maybe I'll have some pizza for dinner, and then I'll start again tomorrow”? But then tomorrow comes, you're like, “I already screwed up, I'll start again Monday.” And the next thing you know, it's a year later and you've been down that slippery slope and you never got back to your healthy eating habits? So I think it's really knowing yourself and whether you can have carbs on occasion. This could be some trial and error, you might experiment sometimes. You might need to think through if you have some carbs again and you know you'll have cravings after that and you know you're going to be hungrier for a couple of days after that, if that something you really want to do? Those kind of things you'll learn by experimentation. Then you'll just be able to decide, is it worth it to you? Is that something that you want to include in your day-to-day way of eating? Or do you realize you're better off without them?
Keto Diet or Keto Lifestyle
I hate to call it a diet because that always seems to imply weight loss. Keto is just a way of eating, a way of eating healthy that is a lifestyle change. In my opinion, I think that it's great if people want to get healthier and as part of getting healthier or just want to feel better in their body that they want to make weight loss part of that. However, you can be metabolically healthy and not be at the “perfect weight,” whatever we wanna call that. Everybody probably has their own personal perfect weight, but there is no question that if by most standards on a height weight chart, you are overweight, in particular, if you get into the obese category, that comes with a whole lot of health problems. So I definitely understand the desire for people to want to lose weight. However, approach it in a way that making this change, eating this way, as a permanent lifestyle change. If that means you can't go down to 30 carbs a day, you can only go to 100, and that's how you can make it sustainable in the short term, I think that's fine. Giving yourself that time for your body to adjust, for your mindset to adjust, it just becomes what you do. Doing it in this way is much more sustainable for most people than worrying about how to get into ketosis fast.
How to Get Started on Keto with New Habits
If you're looking to change some of your habits and start eating a different way or start creating any kind of habit is to just kinda ask yourself anytime you're having trouble with making this change or struggling, craving carbs or there's just something you really want even though it's not very healthy for you…just ask yourself, “What would a healthy person do?” And then eventually making these better choices becomes your way of being, your way of thinking. You are then that healthy person. That makes making some of those decisions and challenges a little easier once you identify as “the healthy person.” So it makes the decisions easier. Like say your co-workers bring in some donuts to the office, it would be really easy to just grab one without giving it much thought and think, “Oh, it's just one, it's not a problem.” For a lot of people, that becomes a very slippery slope. Or if you are diabetic or borderline diabetic, that one donut is really doing nothing but deteriorating your health every time you eat it. So until you've done this process long enough to get some of your metabolic health back then I would not do that. I would stay fairly strict with yourself until you've been keto for a couple of months.
Can You “Cheat” On Keto?
If you're a generally healthy person, you're just trying to lose some weight and you know yourself…if you know that you can literally eat one piece of pizza once a month and get right back on it and not worry about it, then I think that's wonderful. I think it's a process of learning yourself, and I certainly think also that the longer term you do this, the more metabolic flexibility you have. The more ability that you have to make some higher carb choices on occasion and not have it affect your health or your weight. This is a little bit rambling, I didn't write down a bunch of bullet points about this, but I just want you to start thinking in this way.
If you're really going to make these changes, I hate for people to approach it as just a way to lose weight quickly. And that's what people will think, where in reality, what I've seen over the years, and what I've observed is in the beginning, people will lose a lot of weight, particularly if they go all the way down to keto macros. When you get rid of all the glycogen in your body, every molecule of glycogen that's being stored in your muscle is also storing along with it three grams of water. So when you make that initial change and clear out the glycogen, you get a big whoosh of weight loss in general. But if you start it and you don't get that, don't be worried. Maybe you're just hydrating properly, maybe your electrolytes are just still a little off. If that initial water weight loss doesn't happen, that doesn't mean anything is wrong.
How Fast Do You Lose on Keto?
However, quite often, people do experience that. It can be good in a way because it's very encouraging. So you at least see the scale move quickly in the beginning. Then a few weeks later kind of things stabilize out. Then it generally comes to a healthy weight loss rate, which this is true of any diet. If you're highly calorie restricting or you're exercising about, or you're doing this whole traditional calories in calories out thing, then it stabilizes to somewhere like one to two pounds a week for people that are smaller. People that have got a lot of weight to lose can kind of sustain that really high initial weight loss for longer.
Let's just use myself as an example. Middle age, particularly any woman that's got 20 or 30 pounds to lose, you're probably going to see six, seven pounds go off pretty quickly, and then you're going to be back to that slog where you're thinking keto doesn't work, keto doesn't work for me. It's not that it doesn't work for you. It's because your expectations of weight loss are distorted by the media. Expectations are also distorted by headlines you'll see like, “I lost 150 pounds on keto.” Well, meanwhile, the person started out at 400 pounds or more. That's a very different scenario.
For a person that's 400 pounds, losing 150 pounds in nine months versus a person that is 150 pounds and their ideal weight is 130, that last 20, 30, 40 pounds for most people, goes far slower. So I hate for people to focus on, if they're just about weight loss that they don't see it come off quickly or they give up, because they say it doesn't work for them. In the meantime, all these health things you should be focused on, like your metabolic health and your blood pressure and your insulin sensitivity, all of these other wonderful things that are happening in your body and improving even when the scale is moving slower or not at all.
Get Some Bloodwork Done Before You Start Keto
Which by the way, I should have said this at the very beginning…if you are thinking about getting started with eating lower carb, or getting started with keto or making healthier food choices in general, it's good to get a baseline. Get a baseline weight, even though weight is not very useful. It would be much better if you can get an accurate body composition measurement. The most accurate one you can get is hydrostatic weighing. You submerge yourself in water, it's difficult to find. Some big cities with universities that do a lot of metabolic studies will have them. Hydrostatic weighing is really the gold standard. The second is a DEXA scan, most cities will have that, but not all of them focus on using a DEXA for body composition. They're generally used for assessing bone mass. So you have to make sure that you ask for a body composition DEXA and make sure that the facility that you're going to actually does that before you schedule it. And then the third best one would be a bod pod. I'm in Cincinnati, it's a larger city but not a huge city and we do have a bod pod and we have plenty of DEXAs.
The last one would be skin calipers. Those are the most inaccurate, but if you get somebody that's been doing it for a long time that's really good at it, it can give you at least a pretty good ballpark and you'll see a trend. If you see a downward trend over time, then you know that you're doing well with that. Same thing with body fat scales. They use bioelectrical impedance, which is not very accurate, but it can show you a trend over time.
The reason I say get these markers in the beginning is because you also want to maybe get your cholesterol and get an insulin test. Mot a lot of doctors will run that, but luckily, they're very inexpensive. I have a great source for that, it's called Life Extension, I believe. I'll put the link in the show notes. You can get an A1C, which is your three-month average of your blood sugar, your fasting glucose, and your insulin number for 30 or 40 bucks, it's pretty inexpensive. I wish I would have gotten my insulin tested before I did this, because it would be very interesting to see if I was actually healthy in that way before I started this or not, but I didn't.
My most recent insulin test was like 3.8 or 4.2, something like that. Basically, the lower the better, that shows you how much insulin is circulating in your body. If it's low, it's a really excellent marker of metabolic health. If it's high, you need to start worrying. And when I say worrying, I mean start worrying about pre-diabetes or diabetes. If you really look at the outcomes long term for diabetes and what the incidence is in this country, it's scary. I think people forget the really severe outcomes from diabetes, you can end up having limbs amputated, you can go blind, you can have heart disease. There are serious implications of letting your diabetes or prediabetes go uncontrolled.
So I would say those are some really important things that you want to measure before you get started with keto. It can be very helpful because if they happen to be bad, and I hope that they aren't, but if they happen to be bad, then it can serve as motivation. Then you really stay consistent with your new way of eating, a new way of living, and a new way of choosing your health everyday. If you see that you're numbers are bad that might be more motivating.
Keto is Great for Inflammation
If your numbers are good, that's also something to consider. Maybe it means you don't need to make significant changes in your diet. Or maybe it means that you make even healthier choices just to get your numbers that much better, or to just feel better or to feel that mental clarity. I can tell you this, as a person that writes all of the time, for me, that's one of the biggest benefits of eating in this way. Particularly when I fast, my brain is just lit up and it makes everything so much easier and you just feel better on a day-to-day basis.
I forgot to mention one of the other benefits. The keto diet is an anti-inflammatory diet. So if you happen to have autoimmune disease or a high levels of inflammation in the body that is starting to cause artery damage and joint pain and all of those things, that is another reason to eat like this. It's a very anti-inflammatory diet. Inflammation serves a purpose, it is a good thing in the body when it's doing its job, but when it's in overdrive and there is too much, it's like too much is too much. That's inflammation. So if you can get that under control, it just really has any number of benefits, and I think that people that focus on looking at the diet as a weight loss diet really miss out on all of that kind of stuff.
So anyway, again, maybe I should have made some bullet points so that I stayed on track. But I talk about this stuff all the time, I think about it all the time. So I know if I keep going, anything I forgot will eventually come out, right? But if I did happen to forget anything or if you need clarification on any of this please let me know.
How to Get Started on Keto: Cleaning Up Your Kitchen
Now, let me just give you, to wrap this up, a couple of practical tips. If you are getting started on keto or just a lower carb diet, one of the best things that you can do, regardless of if you're doing that more slow move down or the more abrupt move down to lower carbs, is to clear your house of anything that you find particularly tempting. So if it's bread, if it's Cokes, if it's cookies, whatever it is that you have on hand, that you know is going to tempt you, get rid of it, donate it, throw it away. Maybe don't even donate it because I don't even know if we should be encouraging others to make those kind of choices either, right? But do whatever you need to do with it to get it out of your house.
If you live with other people in your house, if they're adults, you might consider that they may not get on board with you. You'll just have to serve as an example over time. What I found useful in the beginning was, I cleaned out the pantry and I kind of made sections. We had young kids at the time and I basically took the section of the pantry that I wanted to have the stuff that was kind of just for me, or things that I knew that others wouldn't eat or that they weren't interested in that yet. I made myself my own little cabinet. And so particularly if you have your electrolyte supplements or your little things that you're using to help you transition or any kind of keto-friendly treats or snacks or something like that, put those in one place so that you just have one place that you go. So if you get a little snacky or you're getting tempted, you go to that cabinet and you have what's in there. Then have everybody else's food somewhere else.
If you live alone, this becomes much easier because then you really can clear out everything. When it's not around and this has been the truth over the years, no matter how I've eaten, if it's something that's too tempting to me or if it's just there, I am much more likely to eat it if it's right there in the cabinet or right there in the refrigerator. I will eventually go get it at some point. However, if I just never let it come in the house, if I don't buy it at the store, I might have one of those days or one of those times where I had this inkling like, Oh, I wish I just had whatever it is, but if it's not there I'm probably going to be too lazy to go get it. If I'm not too lazy to go get it, then maybe it's one of those times where you do just have your one thing that you're craving and then move on with your life. That's okay too, try to make as much as possible to make these decisions intentional.
How to Get Started with Keto for Health
That's how I've talked in the past about finding your why for doing these kinds of changes. If you find your why making these big health changes in your life will be easier. If it's just, and I don't want to say “just” weight loss beause weight loss is really important to a lot of people. It could be very important for health as well. If your reason why is weight loss, that's a very different reason why than some more serious health issues or wanting to be around for your grandkids or wanting to have a different goal, like maybe running a marathon or whatever it is. Finding some of those goals and reasons why in your life that are kind of more of a big overarching life goal than just a short-term weight goal, I think you'll find that that will make changes easier for you.
I created a guide. It's a written guide getting started with keto guide over on the website. So if you go to gettingstarted.healnourishgrow.com, you can download the guide and it gives you some more of these practical tips. It lays it out in a more cohesive way. There's also our more in depth Beginner's Guide to Keto to read it anytime you want.
So hopefully that helps. If you need any clarification, if you have any questions, always feel free to reach out. And in the meantime, if you do decide to make some of these changes and implement some of the things I suggested, or if you just want somebody to share it with that will appreciate it, always reach out to me and let me know! I would love to hear your successes, I would love to hear your struggles. Anyway I can help, I will try my best. So anyway, have a great rest of your day or evening or whatever time it is wherever you are, and I will see you again next time.