You already know that there are many health advantages to following the ketogenic diet, but there are also ways you can mess it up. And starting out can be tough, which is why I wanted to share this article full of the best keto diet tips.
The most important part is getting your body to shift its metabolism to ketosis. That means instead of burning sugar for energy, it’s converting fat into ketones and using those.
You also want to eat the right keto diet foods to make sure you stay in ketosis long enough to reap the benefits. And finally, you want to make this a sustainable lifestyle by making long term shifts to your habits. Even if you don’t stay on the keto diet forever, it can be a nice springboard to maintaining healthy eating habits for the long haul.
What could go wrong you ask? Well, what if you’ve got the right balance of macronutrients down (low carb, moderate protein and high fat) but you aren’t consuming enough micronutrients to keep your vitamin stores in check?
Or you aren’t getting adequate fiber, water and electrolytes so constipation is an issue? These are two common mistakes you can make when going keto. But don’t worry, keto diet success is definitely possible.
I want you to get the most out of this lifestyle. And because of that, I’ve made a list of the top ten keto diet tips to make sure your efforts don’t go wasted.
Watch Your Nutrition
This is the cornerstone of ANY diet, but this is one of the top keto diet tips, hence the number one position. In this age of processed foods and depleted soil, getting adequate nutrition is crucial. Here are a few important elements to remember when considering keto nutrition:
– High quality fats, proteins and oils: You don’t have to be a nutritionist to understand the difference between foods that are high and low quality. Here are some examples:
A high quality oil is an organic cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil and a low quality oil might be a generic, non-organic canola or peanut blend. Anything that is hard to process into an oil should be avoided!
High quality protein would be organic grass-fed beef, preferably a fatty cut. Low quality meat would be factory farmed, gmo-grain fed chicken breast (you know, “normal” supermarket chicken.)
This is unhealthy for a few reasons but especially for keto diet success. For one, it is packed with antibiotics and gmo grain residue. And two, it’s a muscle meat with low fat content, not ideal for keto.
As you know, on a keto diet you’re focusing on eating a high fat diet, but some fats are better than others.
Examples of high quality fats are grass-fed butter, ghee or coconut oil. These all raise the good cholesterol in your blood (or HDLs) and lower the LDL which can cause build up in the arteries (1). Eating high quality fats is a keto diet tip that’s critical to your success. I’ll revisit this important tip below.
Some examples of these low quality, trans fats are processed vegetable oils like canola, sunflower or soybean oil. Another low quality fat you’ll want to avoid on keto is the hydrogenated vegetable oil found in fast food and many processed foods that are in supermarket aisles.
Keeping this in mind, a fast food burger patty is not a healthy choice for your keto diet success. The quality of protein and fat is poor, making it more detrimental than beneficial to your health.
– The other part of nutrition for keto success is not to forget about your micronutrients! This means vitamins and minerals like magnesium, vitamin A, C, and B12.
Why does this matter? Well for one thing, magnesium is crucial for over 300 different enzyme reactions in the body.
Getting enough micronutrients is important no matter what diet you follow. But when you’re on keto and staying away from carbs, sometimes you cut out the vegetables you’re used to eating too. When you cut out the more starchy, high carb vegetables you can create micronutrient deficiencies if you’re not careful. Add to this the fact that most people on keto tend to overly focus on protein and fats and you can create the perfect storm for depletion of essential vitamins and nutrients.
If you’re just learning the ropes on keto or you feel like you aren’t getting enough veggies, supplementation with a good multivitamin may be a good idea. Check out our article on the best keto supplements for more information about this.
Remember to Take Care of Your Gut
Constipation is a common side effect for those adjusting to the keto lifestyle and you’ll want to make sure that you find natural ways to avoid it!
According to Dr. Jockers, when there is too much waste in the gut, excess microbes are produced which stresses the body and has a negative effect on blood sugar. He says having anywhere from 1-3 bowel movements a day is needed stay healthy (3)!
Getting enough fiber and fats definitely helps things move along. This might look like steamed low glycemic veggies drizzled in olive oil. This should give you enough insoluble fiber to keep your gut healthy without taking you out of ketosis.
Probiotics from fermented foods are another great way to balance out gut bacteria. They support a healthy digestive tract and 2-3 servings a day is a great place to start (4).
Some examples of fermented foods are:
- Pickles (make sure they are sugar-free.)
- Kefir or yogurt (full-fat only please!)
Constipation is not to be overlooked, as it can block detoxification pathways. One of my top keto diet tips is to make sure everything is moving along nicely in your gut.
You could also try a magnesium supplement. Not only does it support healthy bowel motility (3) but it also relaxes the nervous system.
Eat Protein, But Not Too Much!
This is a biggie. One of the most important keto diet tips is to monitor your protein intake. An easy way to figure out how much protein you should be consuming is to divide your body weight by 2.2 (3).
Just because you are on a low-carb diet does not mean you can consume unlimited amounts of protein. Did you know that eating too much protein can actually keep you from going into ketosis (3)?
That’s right. The amino acids in meat protein can be converted into glucose, switching your metabolism out of ketosis and into glycogen burning mode. There is a fancy name for this called gluconeogenesis, and it can also make your insulin levels spike (4).
Going back and forth between gluconeogenesis and ketosis can bring on something called “keto flu”.
Some symptoms of keto flu are (5):
- Muscle aches
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Brain fog
First up your water intake, but if you notice you’re still experiencing keto flu after two weeks, you might be getting too much protein or there may be hidden carbs in your diet.
Track your Carbs!
I know it sounds basic, but those carbohydrates can sneak in sometimes when you least expect it. So as you’re training your body to be in ketosis, count your carbs. This one of the keto success tips that should not be overlooked, especially for beginners!
Carb count should be at about 20 grams a day for the first month. Increasing your fats will also help balance out any excess carb intake (3).
One of the least discussed keto diet tips is to read ingredients diligently and make sure there are no hidden sugars in your food. Think of yourself like a detective, you’ll be surprised at what companies hide in your food – even so called “healthy” foods!
I thought it would be useful for you to know some of the top hidden names for sugars: dextrose, maltose, barley malt, sucrose, fructose, corn syrup, rice syrup, can juice, agave, molasses and malt syrup (6). Basically, anything with an -ose on the end is a sugar.
Another sneaky way carbs can get into your meals is in low-fat dairy products, seasonings and sauces. Keep it really simple at the beginning by eating foods in their whole form, with as few ingredients as possible (7).
Eat Enough Calories From Fats
One of the keto diet tips I can’t stress enough is to get enough fat! The focus is not just low-carb, but really high fat.
There is this old idea we need to outgrow that fats are bad. Processed fats, like I spoke about earlier, are bad. But healthy fats are great, especially the kind you will find in grass fed butter, avocado, coconut oil and olive oil.
Not to mention that now your body is in ketosis and is burning fats for fuel, it needs fats to function (6). So if your energy levels are really low (after a couple weeks of adjusting to ketosis) you are probably not getting enough fat.
Another thing is calories. This is not meant to be a restrictive diet that leaves you hungry. If you aren’t getting enough calories, especially from healthy fats you could put your body into a state of stress. This can eventually lead to adrenal and thyroid problems (3).
The good thing about these keto diet tips is they often complement each other. For example: if you’re getting enough healthy fat, you’re probably getting enough calories too.
Test for Ketones
While this isn’t one of the totally necessary keto diet tips, it is a simple and effective way to make sure your body is in ketosis. And when you are working so hard to eat correctly and change your lifestyle, wondering if it’s working is not something you want to worry about.
A convenient way to test for ketones is in your urine. While urine strips are very cheap, testing for ketosis this way is only effective when you are just become keto adapted.
Once you’ve been in ketosis for some time it won’t show up, as the body becomes more efficient at burning the specific ketone that gets excreted in urine (8).
A breath ketonix meter is one of the keto diet tips people recommend and can be nice since you buy it once and reuse it. However it may not give you a reliable measure of ketones, so if you really want to test, investing in a blood meter is your best bet.
Testing your blood is by far the most effective way to test for ketones (4), but it’s not always convenient and it’s also not for the faint of heart. You have to be okay with pricking your finger and the test strips can get expensive (8). But while you are learning what ketosis feels like in your body and adjusting your diet to find the balance for yourself, a blood ketone meter is the way to go.
Remember to Take Your DHA
One of the keto diet tips that isn’t often talked about is the importance of DHA. This is kind of a nerdy subject, but have you heard about mitochondrial health? Basically mitochondria are the tiny organelles inside every cell that are responsible for turning fat, sugar and protein into energy that can be used by the body (9).
In fact, they are actually responsible for up to 90% of the energy that a cell needs to survive (9)! This is where DHA comes in, because without it, your mitochondria just don’t work like they should. DHA is a fatty acid that comes from seafood and some marine algae.
So if you want those ketones to be effective energy for your cells to run on, make sure your mitochondrial batteries are charged with DHA (10). You can get DHA into your diet from the whole food sources listed below and you can also supplement to make sure that you’re getting enough.
Here are some of the top food sources of DHA (11):
The next keto diet tips are more lifestyle focused but no less important than the rest.
Have a Little Patience
I know. How annoying is it to be told to be “patient” as an adult? But this is one of the keto diet tips I can’t stress enough. It takes time for your body to adjust to burning fat for fuel as opposed to carbohydrates. So try to wait it out.
This means stick with your protocol long enough to get through any keto flu symptoms and see how you feel after those first few weeks. We recommend sticking with the keto diet for at least 6 weeks before making a decision about whether or not to continue. It can be hard to make big changes to your diet and lifestyle, but it will be worth it in the long run. So try to choose a time that is conducive to beginning.
For example if you have a job change, a big move or other stressful life event, it may not be the best time to start keto. Pick a time when you have a reasonable shot at success, mark the start date on your calendar and follow these keto diet tips for at least a month.
Keep Your Electrolytes Balanced
This is one of those keto diet tips that anyone should follow, even those who aren’t following a ketogenic diet.
Being hydrated will help support detoxification and constipation, and like I said earlier, keto diet tips often go together. You can’t think about hydration without considering electrolytes like magnesium, sodium and potassium.
All of these are crucial for keeping your kidneys functioning well. This is especially important in keto because suppressing insulin makes your kidneys flush sodium more quickly from the body.
Drinking bone broth and eating high quality sea salt, avocados and nuts like walnuts, almonds and pecans will support electrolyte levels (6).
Remember that eight glasses of water a day rule? Well some experts actually recommend you drink your body weight in ounces, hydrating especially in the morning (3). Start your day with 16 to 32 oz of water and add electrolyte drops to that. Again, supplements can be really helpful here!
Remember to Sleep!
Remember what I said about picking a time in your life where you are more likely to achieve keto diet success? This transition could be stressful to the body and you may need a little extra TLC.
Poor sleep could throw off blood sugar stability (3) and is one of the keto diet tips that is often overlooked. Most of us push ourselves a little too hard and when things get stressful sleep can be the first thing we scrimp on.
Do yourself a favor when you’re first starting keto, let yourself sleep when you’re tired. Sleep also supports your immune system and repairs cellular damage. It does a body good.
I hope these keto diet tips were helpful to you, especially if you are just starting your journey and feeling a little daunted by all the information out there. I know it can be a lot to take in, but I truly believe that following the keto success tips here will help you reap all the benefits that can come from a ketogenic lifestyle.
If you are a woman, or already have some health issues like thyroid or adrenal dysfunction, check out our other article about women going keto. There is a lot of good information there about how to make modifications to the keto diet for women.
Now, I’d love to know if you have any of your own keto tips for beginners? Leave us a comment below and share your keto experience!
- Perfect Keto (2018). Good Fats vs Bad Fats on the Ketogenic Diet. Retrieved from:https://www.perfectketo.com/good-fats-vs-bad-fats-on-the-ketogenic-diet/
- Healthline (2015). 7 Nutrient Deficiencies that are Incredibly Common. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-common-nutrient-deficiencies
- Jockers, David, (2018). The 10 Biggest Ketogenic Diet Mistakes. Retrieved from: https://drjockers.com/10-biggest-ketogenic-diet-mistakes/
- Perfect Keto, (2018). 5 Common Reasons for Your Keto Diet Not Working. Retrieved from: https://www.perfectketo.com/reasons-keto-diet-not-working/
- Perfect Keto (2018). The Dreaded Keto Flu: Why It Happens (And How to Cure It). Retrieved from: https://www.perfectketo.com/keto-flu/
- Bodybuilding.com, (2017). The 5 Biggest Keto Mistakes. Retrieved from: https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/the-5-biggest-keto-mistakes.html
- Perfect Keto (2018). Finding Hidden Carbs on a Ketogenic Diet. Retrieved from: https://www.perfectketo.com/finding-hidden-carbs-ketogenic-diet/
- Dr. Anthony Gustin (2018). A Detailed Guide on How to Test Your Ketone Levels. Retrieved from: http://www.dranthonygustin.com/how-to-test-ketone-levels-ketosis/
- Mitochondrial Biology Unit (2018). What are Mitochondria? Retrieved from: http://www.mrc-mbu.cam.ac.uk/what-are-mitochondria
- Journal of Natural Longevity, (2017). Why The Keto Diet Often Fails And What To Do About It. Retrieved from: https://www.journalofnaturallongevity.com/2017/10/06/keto-diet-often-fails/
- Healthline (2017). 12 Foods That Are Very High in Omega-3. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-omega-3-rich-foods#section13