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Craig on October 19, 2013

5 Steps to Transition into a Keto Diet

Ketogenic Diet Tips > Ketogenic Diet

Living a low carb lifestyle can be difficult, but only if you make it that way. Most “cheat” foods have alternatives, and we’ll go over them later on. Be sure to check out some of our recipes if you’re stumped on ideas for what to eat! I’ll go over some tips for making your transition to a keto diet easier, successful, and more importantly – work. From eating out to eating on the go and everything in between, we’ll cover some foods you should and shouldn’t eat.

Carb Counting

Calculating your carb intake is very important and should never be overlooked. Don’t slack at first because eventually you’ll start to get the hang of things, and it will become second nature. Always read the label on foods you’re eating, and make sure that you can fit the carbs into your daily allowance. If you go grocery shopping, make sure you read the labels on everything you buy. Sure it might be difficult at first, but it will pay off in the end. When determining the carb count in food, we calculate what’s called net carbs.

Net Carbs = Total Carbs – Fiber
Try to avoid sugar alcohols if you can.
Low Carb Nutrition Label
Roughly, you will want to eat around 20 net carbs per day. It’s okay if this fluctuates, but the general rule of thumb is to keep yourself at 20-30 net carbs per day. If you’re working out you can eat about 20-30 carbs before you start as your body burns the glucose off during the exercise, and returns to using ketones afterwards. Having a small “carb up” before you exercise is a great way to get some fast energy into your system so that you can push your workout to the max.

At only 1 net carb, this would be a great choice (image to the left).

Make sure that in the first few months, you keep a log of what you are eating. Sometimes it can be a simple mistake or a forgotten snack that pushes you over the carb threshold. We’ve put together a guide for counting carbs to help you out!

Clear the Kitchen Out

Most people fall to the temptation of food easily – don’t let yourself fall so easily. Clean out your kitchen of any and all foods that are high in carbohydrates. This includes any candy, chocolate, sugary drinks, breads, pastas, and rice. Go to the grocery store, implement your new label reading strategies, and restock your kitchen with some low carb alternatives to eat and snack on. Trust me, you’ll feel a lot better about this once your temptations are gone for good!

Keto Diets and Restaurants

When you first start a ketogenic diet, be weary of what restaurants you are going to. You may want to check out an online menu beforehand, so you know exactly what you’ll get – and better yet, know the carb count. As time goes by, you can start picking things from menus in restaurants you’ve never been in before because you can estimate the net carbs in each meal you have.

Here are some go-to meals I can find at almost any restaurant:

  • Breakfast – Go for the eggs! Eggs are a fantastic source of protein and fats, while leaving carbs in the wind. Omelets or scrambled eggs and bacon is a great solution.
  • Lunch – Chicken Salad. I like to keep my lunches pretty light, so a juicy chicken breast on top of a bed of greens is always a favorite. If you go this route, be careful about the salad dressing. I always ask for it on the side, or sub it out for vinaigrette. I didn’t always enjoy salads nor was I always satisfied with them, so if you’re the same way you can always settle for a filet of fish with vegetables.
  • Dinner – Meat, meat, meat! Always go for a hearty piece of meat with some green vegetables as an entrée. Steak and broccoli, hamburger without the bun, or a seared chicken breast is always a keto dieters dream. Fat, protein, and no carbs? Nothing wrong with that!

I know you can find low carb tortillas or pitas, but you should always assume restaurants don’t use these alternatives. Any type of wheat product is most likely going to contain a lot of carbohydrates. Most places you dine at will allow you to sub out side items that come with your food. If your side includes french fries or a jacket potato, sub a side of broccoli in there instead.

Eating Low Carb On-the-Go

Fast food, snacks, and random strikes of hunger will always be in our lives. Be sure to have your fridge stocked up with some snacks to eat if you’re ever in a rush or in an emergency hunger situation. If you have work, make sure you pack your lunch with some sort of snack to cover yourself – just in case! I’ll give you some of my favorite, easy to make snacks for when I’m hungry.

  • Peanut Butter Celery Sticks – A classic childhood snack coming back, but this time we are ramping it up a bit. I take 2 Tbsp. of natural peanut butter and mix it with 1 Tbsp. of cream cheese. Sprinkle half a packet of Splenda in there, and you’re good to go. Dip it or spread it on your celery sticks and you have a fast and easy snack for when you’re running late.
  • Walnuts or Almonds – Nuts are a great source of fats and fiber. Make sure when you buy them that they are the only ingredient on the list. You don’t want any hidden sugars, salts, or oils added to them.
  • String Cheese – It can’t get any easier than this. Grab some cheese sticks from the grocery store next time you go, and carry one (or two) around with you wherever you go.
  • Kale Chips – Drizzle a little olive oil over a bag of kale leaves, sprinkle a little salt on top and bake them for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees. They’ll be crispy, delicious, and full of nutrients.

Am I In Ketosis?

I’m sure when you start a keto diet you’ll be asking this question over and over. Grab yourself some Ketostix from a local convenience store (Walgreens or CVS usually carry them), and use them on a weekly basis. It might seem a little funny, but peeing on a stick isn’t so bad, and it will give you a good indicator on how high your ketone levels are. They’re incredibly useful when you are working your way toward ketosis, and they’re extremely useful for monitoring a healthy ketone level.

Deep dark purples indicate a very high level of ketones in the urine, and usually you want to stay away from that. In between a light purple and a dark pink is the best bet for weight loss and energy. When I’m testing my urine for ketones, I always make sure that I haven’t drunk too much water.

Ketostix

You don’t want to have too much dilution – otherwise the ketone readings will be unreliable. Being dehydrated can also concentrate the amount of ketones in your urine and give a false positive, so keep that in mind.

It’s a relatively simple process, but I’ll talk you through it.

  • Pass the ketostick through your urine.
  • Shake off excess urine drips from the stick.
  • Wait 15-20 seconds for the chemical reaction to happen.
  • Compare the strip to the color array on the bottle.

All in all, these are some pretty easy steps to take in order to help you achieve your goals. Making sure that you are calculating net carbs, rather than total carbs is a big mistake new people to the keto diet make.  Clearing out your kitchen and stocking up on low carb food will definitely help you have a successful diet. If you’re going out for a bite to eat, try to plan in advanced – sometimes carbs hide where you least expect them! If you don’t have the time, always go for meat and green vegetables. And remember, keeping Ketostix handy is always a sure-fire way to find out if you are in ketosis or not.

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