8 tricks for doing the keto diet without driving yourself crazy

zjuzjaka/ShutterstockThe keto diet has strict guidelines — say goodbye to bread.
  • The keto diet is the latest diet to captivate health professionals, celebrities, and the tech workers of Silicon Valley.
  • Not only can the keto diet help you shed a few extra pounds, but it can potentially help treat symptoms of conditions like depression and PCOS.
  • Despite the benefits, the low-carb, high-fat keto diet has strict guidelines and can even result in “keto flu” transition symptoms.
  • If you’re looking to start the keto diet without driving yourself crazy, here are 8 tips to help you out.

What doSilicon Valley tech workersand celebrities likeKourtney Kardashianhave in common? They’re fans of the ketogenic diet – the high-fat, low-carb diet that is making waves in the health and wellness world.

Not only can the keto diet help you shed a few extra pounds, but some research indicates thatthe keto dietmay help prevent ageing-related diseases, reduce “brain fog,” and boost energy.

“Ketosis is the goal when eating a ketogenic diet – to shift your energy source from carbohydrates (glucose) to fat (ketones) which helps burn fat,” McKel Hill, registered dietitian and founder ofNutrition Stripped,told Business Insider. “This might look something like a diet made up of about 70-75% of your daily calories from fat, with about 20% from protein and just 5% from carbohydrates.”

The keto diet is known as one of the toughest out there, largely because the standard American diet tends to rely on a heavy dose of carbs and sugar. And if giving up your daily whole-grain bagel isn’t enough, there’s also the keto flu – the withdrawal or transition symptoms some people experience shortly after starting the keto diet.

If you’ve heard about the potential benefits of the keto diet and want to give it a shot, here are eight tips for doing the diet without driving yourself crazy:

1. Don’t plan on eating three meals a day

Melia Robinson/Business InsiderThe initial stages may decrease your appetite.

People eating a keto diet can expect an overall decrease in their appetite once they get into ketosis and should not plan on their usual three meals a day, Kristen Mancinelli, MS, RD and author of “The Ketogenic Diet” told Business Insider.

“Ketones dampen your appetite. So if you’re doing the ketogenic diet correctly you probably won’t want to eat a full meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” Mancinelli said. “Don’t make yourself crazy trying to plan for three meals a day, you’ll probably only be interested in two.”

The appetite suppressant effect can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the individual’s genes, activity level, and how they were eating before starting the diet, Mancinelli said.

2. Always top off your plate with a drizzle of olive oil or avocado oil

Africa Studio/ShutterstockOlive oil is high in healthy fats.

One common reason many people fail or get frustrated with the keto diet is that they’re not getting enough fat (or enough of the right kinds of fat).

“You really have to vary your fat intake on a ketogenic diet. So a mistake that people will often make is that they just go to saturated fat, which is animal products and dairy,” Mancinelli said.

One way to prevent that from happening is by adding a generous dose of olive oil or avocado oil to your meals, Mancinelli said. Olive oil is high inmonounsaturated fatty acids, which are healthy fats, according to The Mayo Clinic.Avocado oilis rich in similar fatty acids, Healthline reported.

“People are going overboard on the wrong types of fats, think bacon, deli meats, sausage, fatty meats, butter and lard,”Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD, told Business Insider. This isn’t good for heart health or blood pressure, and can even cause digestive issues, she said.

3. Cut your protein portions in half

jeffreyw/Attribution Licence/FlickrMany falsely presume that the keto diet is a high-protein.

One common misconception about the keto diet is that it’s a high-protein diet – which isn’t necessarily true. Many people get frustrated with the diet because they think they’re eating few enough carbs to get in ketosis, but don’t realise it’s actually an overconsumption of protein that’s keeping them from achieving ketosis and losing weight.

Mancinelli recommended that the average person attempting the keto diet cut protein portions in half. “The average person eats an eight- or 10-ounce steak. You should be eating maybe four ounces,” Mancinelli said.

4. Listen to your body

Andrey_Popov/ShutterstockTry not to get caught up on numbers.

Because the keto diet is so restrictive, it’s common to get hung up on all of the numbers and tools out there. Mancinelli said there are a few threshold numbers to stick to, but overall it’s more important to pay attention to how you feel.

“What I generally recommend to people is to start with consuming less than 20 grams of net carbs. And then you wait for the transition symptoms, and most people will start to have them within a few days. And when they’re done you’ll feel amazing,” Mancinelli said.

“You’ve got to pay close attention to how you feel, your energy levels, and your mental clarity. Because you’ll be foggy in the beginning and then all of a sudden it will be like a cloud is lifted,” she said.

5. Master a few go-to dishes and fat-rich sauces

A common trap of dieting is having trouble sticking to it because you get bored of eating the same things over and over.

As much as you may like avocados and eggs now, you can get tired of that really fast. This is why Mancinelli said that anyone starting the keto diet should master a few go-to dishes as well as some fat-rich sauces, like pesto or lemon-cream sauce.

6. Know how many carbs are in your favourite veggies

Bridget Coila/Attribution Licence/FlickrAvocados are a good low-carb option.

Veggies – even green ones – are not a free-for-all on the keto diet. It may feel a bit weird to measure out your spinach, but Mancinelli said it’s important.

“Most vegetables are only carbohydrate, even though they’re little carbohydrates for the volume of food that you would eat. Think about the five or six green vegetables you eat most often and go look up the carb counts in one serving. And that will be always in your mind and you’ll know how many cups you can have,” Mancinelli said.

Essentially, in order to get into ketosis, you still need to count the carbs in your veggies.

7. Do what’s best for your health

Pormezz/ShutterstockIf the keto diet making you miserable, maybe it’s not the best choice.

If you’ve been trying the keto diet and feel miserable or that things are getting out of hand (i.e. you’re overly obsessing about food and macros), it may be time to reconsider whether the keto diet is right for you.

“Because keto is newsworthy and celebrities are doing it, doesn’t mean that it is right for you,” Beckerman said.

“I’ve seen clients start keto because their friend recommended it or they watch Kourtney Kardashian successfully do it and suddenly realise that they are forming a negative relationship with food,” Beckerman said.

8. Know the risks

Monkey Business Images/ShutterstockIf you’re pregnant, ask your doctor if the keto diet is the right choice for you.

Someexpertsare hesitant to fully endorse the keto diet, while others say it’sperfectly safefor the right person if monitored carefully. As Business Insider previously reported, in some cases theketo dietcan increase the risk of kidney issues.

Additionally, if you’re trying to getpregnant, you might want to reconsider whether keto is right for you. “On the keto diet, you’re also at an elevated risk for missing essential nutrients such as folate, a vital nutrient for women trying to get pregnant or who are pregnant,” Beckerman said.

Bottom line, if you’re interested in trying keto and are concerned about your health, it’s best to consult a pro first. “If you are thinking of doing this diet, it’s important to talk to a registered dietitian and your health care provider to learn more about the potential risks before jumping on the keto diet ship,” Beckerman said.

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