Despite the success many have found with the ketogenic diet, correctly using the diet and sticking to it can sometimes pose a challenge. Everyone could use a few tips to succeed on the ketogenic diet. Below you will find 12 tips to succeed on the ketogenic diet.
See, the ketogenic diet requires that you eliminate almost all carbohydrates and in doing so, quite literally changes how your body uses nutrients and provides energy. To achieve this change, you’ll need to follow the guidelines of the diet, which can prove to be difficult.
Fortunately, there are a few specific tips and tricks you can use to make the ketogenic process both easy and practical.
1.) Track Your Calories And Macronutrients
Tracking calories and macronutrients on a ketogenic diet is essential for avoiding accidental weight gain while also ensuring that you’re consuming the right amount of carbohydrates and fat to remain in ketosis. If you’re not interested in tracking your food, it’s recommended you do at least when you start.
Dietary fat is energy dense, coming in at nine calories per gram meaning accidental overconsumption can significantly increase your calorie intake. If you’re overconsuming calories relative to activity level, you’ll gain weight regardless of your food source or diet.
Tracking your intake also provides greater command over how much of each macronutrient you consume. This gives you the ability to troubleshoot your food choices if you’re unable to reach ketosis with relative ease.
Until you become familiar with how you respond to the ketogenic style of eating and become acclimated to choosing the right foods, tracking calories and macros is strongly advised.
2.) Regularly Test Your Ketones
The ketogenic diet revolves around being in a state of ketosis. Quite literally, if you’re not in ketosis, you’re wasting your time. Fortunately, there are methods of ensuring that you’re in ketosis, but you’ll need to determine the level of scrutiny you desire.
In the ketogenic realm, there are two methods for testing ketones, which both have advantages and disadvantages.
Urine Ketone Strips
Urine ketone strips are the most accessible and economical of the two choices since they’re easy to use and quite cheap. They are an excellent option for someone who is in the first few weeks of their keto journey or if you’re someone who finds themselves entering in and out of ketosis on a regular basis. They work by measuring levels of ketones in our urine. For someone who has been in ketosis for an extended period, the body will adapt to using ketones more efficiently (keto-adaptation). Once keto-adapted the body will not waste as many ketones, and the strips become less effective. At this point, blood meters are a better option.
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Blood Ketone Monitors
Blood Ketone monitors are far more accurate but come at a price. Ketone monitors aren’t the cheapest devices, and they also require a blood sample, which can be a bit intrusive. The tradeoff is you get a more accurate reading of ketones in the blood, which is a more precise assessment of ketosis.
3.) Stay Hydrated
Maintaining proper hydration is always a good suggestion, but on the ketogenic diet, it’s essential.
Carbohydrates help your body retain water. In fact, after being converted to glycogen, each gram stores roughly 3 grams of water with it in muscle and the liver. When you remove almost all carbs from your diet, the amount of glycogen you retain diminishes and so too does the water you’re holding.
On top of that, when you eliminate carbs from your diet, you also drastically reduce the amount of insulin being produced; the hormone that removes sugar from the blood. Typically, this is a good thing, but unfortunately for those using the keto diet, low insulin levels cause the kidneys to excrete extra water, leading to dehydration.
When practicing keto, make sure to consume water regularly otherwise you risk severe dehydration.
4.) Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise provides many different health benefits, but it can make the ketogenic experience much more enjoyable.
Exercise is unique because it can simultaneously increase ketone levels while reducing glycogen. This is a fantastic combination for getting into and staying in ketosis and can also make your transition to a ketogenic diet seamless.
As you exercise, focus primarily on full body compound movements that use a significant amount of muscle mass at once, such as the squat. When you do, make sure that you’re sticking to higher rep ranges, anywhere from 15-30 reps, as this will ensure that you’re tapping into muscle glycogen stores.
5.) Use Intermittent Fasting
Did you know that the ketogenic diet originated to mimic fasting?
Similarly to what happens in the ketogenic diet, consuming no food for extended periods of time increases fat burning and thus, increases the number of ketones produced.
Regular, intermittent daily fasting can help you get into and stay in ketosis with little effort. Not to mention, using this technique can also speed up your transition into keto by allowing you to quickly and efficiently enter ketosis.
6.) Use MCT Oil
MCT oil, otherwise known as Medium Chain Triglyceride is a keto dieter’s best friend because they can provide quick energy while significantly raising ketone levels.
Traditionally, fatty acids require proteins to be transferred into cells to produce energy. This can take time, and it’s also possible for these fats to be stored as body fat, which no one wants.
MCTs on the other hand function differently. In fact, MCT oils are digested almost as quickly as glucose, yet yields nearly double the energy. And since they don’t require transport proteins, they immediately get used for energy. It’s a win-win situation for someone on the keto diet.
Do take special care to keep dosages to around one tablespoon per sitting or 15 grams. Otherwise, you’ll quickly learn just how fast MCT oils are digested.
7.) Try Meal Prepping
Everyone knows that eating a ketogenic diet requires a certain level of scrutiny over which ingredients you consume. If you’re trying to figure out what’s acceptable and what’s not on the fly, you’ll end up frustrated and maybe even leave the diet.
Meal prepping solves this issue immediately. By either physically prepping meals ahead of time or pre-determining the meals you’ll make, the process of eating ketogenic foods becomes much less of a chore.
Try prepping out your meals for a couple of days or at least begin writing down ideas for the future and see how much easier it makes sticking to the diet.
8.) Turn Your Favorite Foods Keto
The ketogenic diet requires that you remove most carbohydrates from your diet and this can be an issue for many, especially if you love foods that have carbs. The best way to get around this is to make keto-friendly versions of your favorite meals.
For instance, if you’re a burger lover, try having the burger on top of lettuce or use portobello mushrooms as bun alternatives. You can even make pizza crust out of cauliflower and top with keto-friendly cheese, pepperoni, and bacon if you want.
Attempting to turn your favorite foods keto will make the process much more comfortable while opening up a whole new world of keto-friendly food options.
9.) Monitor Your Protein
Protein is excellent for muscle building and appetite suppression, but too much protein can throw you out of ketosis, ruining your progress.
If you overeat protein while in ketosis, this triggers a process in the liver that transforms protein into glucose, known as gluconeogenesis. Unfortunately, this is the equivalent of just eating carbs and can throw you out of ketosis just as quickly.
A good starting point is to keep protein to around 20% of your total calorie intake, but know that everyone will require differing amounts. Some people can handle more and some less. Knowing what’s right for you will take a bit of experimentation.
10.) Use Electrolyte Supplements
Unfortunately, water isn’t the only thing that you’ll lose when practicing the keto diet.
Electrolytes like sodium, magnesium, calcium, and potassium are all at risk of becoming depleted when you lose excess water. This puts you at risk of experiencing unwanted side effects like issues with muscle contraction, how your body extracts and uses energy from food and how hormones are produced and function.
The best way to combat electrolyte loss is to use an electrolyte supplement when you drink water, essentially killing two birds with one stone. Just as with sports drinks, electrolyte-infused water will help you reach and maintain proper hydration with ease.
11.) Pre-Plan Restaurant Meals
Going out to eat when you’re on a ketogenic diet can feel stressful, confusing and just downright frustrating. But if you pre-plan what to eat, you’ll have no trouble making a decision that will allow you to stay in ketosis.
Try searching websites of restaurants that you frequent and take a look at their menus. Chances are, you’ll find dishes that are “keto-friendly” or you’ll be able to find meals that you can modify to fit your dietary needs.
Even though it might be a bit tedious, preparing ahead of time is superior to panicking before a meal because nothing fits within your dietary restrictions. As they say, if you fail to plan, plan to fail.
12.) Use A Ketone Supplement
Even though the ketogenic diet has been around since the 1920’s, only recently has it become one of the most popular diets around. Since keto became popular, companies have begun selling ketone salts as supplements to allow you to reach ketosis even faster.
Using ketone supplements like Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) can help you reach ketosis without even restricting carbs. When you’re using these supplements alongside a ketogenic diet, they can help you get into and maintain ketosis with almost no effort at all.
Ketone supplements can also help reduce the severity of the keto flu. Since you’ll be able to reach ketosis quickly, your body will have a fuel source other than glucose, which might help alleviate symptoms, making the transition much smoother.
Tips To Succeed On The Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet does come with its own set of challenges, but there are quite a few ways around most of them. Your goal with the ketogenic diet will be to make the process as easy as possible to stick to.
Using the tips and tricks here in addition to carefully monitoring your carb and fat intake will ensure that your ketogenic journey is easy and practical.