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In the previous sections of this series, we covered the benefits of doing keto and what you'll need before you start. Now, onto the execution. After reading this, you'll know exactly what you need to do on your first week of keto at home.
HOW TO AVOID THE “KETO FLU”
In the past, one of the largest complaints people had when going keto was developing flu-like symptoms shortly after beginning the diet. A variety of factors can play into the development of these uneasy feelings, and the best part is… the "keto flu" is entirely preventable (with proper discipline).
Slowly Lower Carbs Beforehand.
The most common mistake is rapidly adjusting carbohydrate intake. If you've been eating an extremely high-carb diet, with very little fat, your metabolism will need some time to adjust to the switching of macronutrients. Beyond the metabolic impact, the types of food you eat have a huge impact on the types of bacteria residing in your gut microbiome. The digestive issues that can arise are almost exclusively due to having a mismatched gut microbiome.
To prevent any negative side effects, gradually taper your carbohydrate intake down over the course of at least a few weeks, so that you're already on a fairly low-carb diet before you make the switch to keto. This will give your body and gut microbiome time to adjust to the changing macronutrient ratios. Eating food with prebiotic fiber (like Quest Bars) will help you produce more beneficial bacteria in your gut, as these microbes use prebiotic fibers for fuel. The more of the "good guys" you have in your gut, the easier it'll be for you to transition over to keto.
Get sufficient amounts of all essential vitamins & minerals.
Now more than ever, you must be sure to maintain a proper electrolyte balance in your body. Another mistake many people make when switching over to keto, is failing to account for food changes that result in the loss of electrolytes. If you're eating enough dark, leafy green vegetables, this shouldn't be much of an issue. But for those who struggle to get their greens in, taking some mineral supplements is a great way to make sure you're getting enough of them to function optimally.
Be sure to get ample amounts of the aforementioned minerals and vitamins, through food and/or supplementation. Zinc, magnesium, calcium, sodium, and potassium in particular are critical for keeping a healthy electrolyte balance. And depending on how much meat you're consuming, adding vitamins B6 and B12 would be a good idea, too.
Review the chart below for the daily amount of each vitamin and mineral you should take (if you’re not getting it through food) so you never get the keto flu:
TRICKS TO KEEPING YOUR FAT LEVELS UP
This section is aimed specifically at all you hard-gainers out there. Ketogenic diets are extremely satiating due to their high-fat composition, so if you have a tough time eating enough normally, this may be even more pronounced while on keto. But fear not, we've come up with some crafty tricks to keep your dietary fat levels up without making you feel overly full.
Fat Powders are your friend!
Fat powders, such as Coconut Oil Powder and MCT Oil Powder are wonderful additions to any protein shake or drink, both easy ways to take in more dietary fat. Having snacks on hand like avocados, macadamia nuts, almonds, or other low-carb nuts is also a great way to get more fat in. 1 oz of nuts typically has around 20 g fat, 4 g carbohydrates, and 2 g protein, which means that they're very keto-friendly. So stock up! You’ll need them more than you know. And top it all off with olive oil. (Just keep an eye on the carbs.)
AVOID THE KETO KILLERS
Staying in ketosis requires a complete focus on what you're eating. Be on the lookout for keto-killing foods, which are items one would think have only trace carbohydrates, but are actually carb-bombs. Take a close look at every nutrition label, on all of your foods… carb counts can be surprisingly high! One infamous example is balsamic vinegar. Sounds like it should be keto, right? Most vinegars are keto-friendly… but not balsamic! It’s full of sugar. The list continues with carrots, milk, ketchup… these all have quite a bit of carbs. If you don't keep your intake of these foods on a tight leash, your carb count can get really high, really quickly. Crosscheck your keto cupboard and shopping list to avoid items like these:
Keep these tips in mind and you're primed to make your first week of keto at home a huge success! In review: For the last few weeks of your high carb lifestyle, taper down to a low carbohydrate diet so that going keto isn't a total shock to your system. Then start your fast to jumpstart ketosis.
Eat foods with prebiotics to prime your gut microbiome for optimal digestion while on keto. Monitor your mineral and vitamin intake, supplementing when necessary (most likely it will be)… you don’t want any sort of keto flu. Having high-fat food additions on hand (like fat powders and nuts) will keep your fat levels up and help you get enough fat in without feeling overly stuffed. And, last but not least, check the nutritional labels of everything you eat to make sure you stay away from keto-killing foods! Carelessness should be the last thing hindering you along the way to your first month of ketosis.
Next month we’re getting into the good stuff: keto meals. A full week’s worth of keto goodness, seven days from dawn till dusk. Start easing up on those carbs in the meantime!