Get started on the keto diet the right way: 5 steps for success

  • 4 Minutes Read

You've done your research and want to get started on a keto diet, but aren't sure where to begin? Follow these five steps to maximize your success.

Get started on the keto diet

1. Set your health goals before you get started on the keto diet.

What is your goal for starting keto, and how will you measure your success on the plan? Your goal may be solely weight loss, or you might be looking to improve other areas of your health, such as blood sugar lowering. Setting your goals early will help you stay focused and minimize downsides.

If you have diabetes

You may choose a keto diet to lower your blood sugar. If you take diabetes medicine, talk to your doctor before you begin this plan. Low blood sugars (hypoglycemia) can be dangerous.

Your doctor may recommend that you decrease your diabetes medicine to avoid low blood sugar. You may need to monitor your blood sugar more often, and have your medicine changed if your blood sugar goes too low after you get started on a keto diet.

If you have high cholesterol or blood pressure

While your blood cholesterol levels may not change after you start a keto diet, some people do see a significant increase. Ask your doctor if you should have your cholesterol or other labs tested after starting the diet.

It is also important to talk to your doctor if you take blood pressure medicine. Significant weight loss (on any diet plan) can cause blood pressure lowering. While this is a good diet result, you may need to decrease your blood pressure medicine to avoid your blood pressure dropping too low.

Decide if you will monitor ketones.

You may choose to monitor your ketone levels to see if you are in ketosis and to fine-tune your carbohydrate goal. You can monitor blood, urine, and breath ketones in your MyNetDiary tracker.

2. Set your nutrition targets

Carb targets

You can customize your carbohydrate target by setting a percent carb (usually 5-10%), or by setting a carb gram goal. Many keto plans allow for 20-30 grams of "net carb" per day to begin.

Net carb is total carb minus fiber. For example, 12 almonds have about three grams of total carb and two grams of fiber. Subtract two grams of fiber from three grams of total carb to get one gram of net carb. Tracking net carb will allow you to include more healthy vegetables, nuts, and seeds in your plan.

Protein targets

Keto diets are moderate in protein, about 20 percent of calories. While it is essential to eat enough protein to avoid muscle loss, avoid getting too much protein. A high protein diet can keep you from reaching ketosis since your body can make glucose from protein.

MyNetDiary Premium keto plan will help you set your individual protein goal as you get started on your keto plan.

You may choose to monitor other nutrients in your MyNetDiary tracker, including calories, fiber, sodium, potassium and magnesium.

3. Stock your kitchen

You might feel like your eating habits are turned upside-down when you get started on a keto diet. Take some time to plan for your new lifestyle. Remove tempting high-carb items from the kitchen to stay on track, and stock your kitchen with keto-friendly foods to further increase your success.

Here are popular keto foods to choose from:

Vegetables Leafy green veggies such as spinach, lettuce, and kale are very low in carb and full of nutrients. Asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and zucchini are examples of low carb veggies allowed in moderation.
Fats and Oils Used in large amounts in a keto diet. Include olive oil, avocado oil, walnut oil, and flaxseed oil for heart-healthy options.
Meat and Protein Foods Chicken, turkey, beef, pork, eggs, and even tofu are allowed on a keto diet. Choose fresh meats, poultry and fish more often than processed meats (such as sausage and bacon).
Fruit A small serving of raspberries or blueberries may be allowed, as well as lemon used for flavoring. Avocados and tomatoes are technically fruits, and are allowed on a keto diet. Most other fruits are too high in carb to include.
Dairy and Dairy Substitutes Cheese, butter, sour cream, cream, coconut milk, and unsweetened almond milk are all allowed on the keto diet. Some provide a good source of calcium.
Nuts and Seeds Allowed in moderate amounts; provide a source of healthy fats and important minerals.
Spices and Seasonings Most herbs and spices will fit in a keto diet if used in moderation.
Beverages Water, sparkling water, coffee, tea, and broth.

Looking for some great meal ideas? MyNetDiary's Premium Recipes contain over 200 keto-friendly recipes.

4. Punch up your nutrition

Choose your fats and oils

A keto diet doesn't have to be all about sausage and cream. While a keto diet is by nature high in fat, make sure you include healthy sources of fat, including olive oil, avocados, avocado oil, nuts, and seeds.

Drink more fluids and increase sodium if needed

A keto diet can increase your fluid losses, especially during the first two weeks. Dehydration can be a factor in many side-effects of starting a keto diet. Keep up your fluid intake by keeping a water bottle at hand, sipping on tea, or other carb-free drinks. A common goal is drinking half your body weight (in pounds) in ounces. For example, if you weigh 192 pounds, aim for 96 ounces (12 cups) of fluid. Explore more detailed information about fluid needs here.

Your sodium needs may increase during the first few weeks on the keto diet. You may need to increase your sodium intake temporarily to avoid common symptoms such as headache, fatigue, and dizziness, often called the "keto flu." A cup of broth can quickly replace both sodium and fluid. Other low-carb, high sodium foods include pickles, olives, and condiments such as soy sauce and salad dressing.

Have a plan for fiber

A keto diet is usually low in fiber, due to the strict limits on fiber-containing carbs. Include as many vegetables as you can within your net carb allowance, and include chia seed and flax seed as low-carb fiber boosters. Consider taking a fiber supplement if needed.

Take a multivitamin/mineral supplement

Even a well-planned keto diet can be low in certain vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. A multivitamin/mineral supplement will help fill in the gaps. You may require additional calcium depending on how much calcium you get in your diet. Tracking in MyNetDiary will help you monitor your intake.

Make sure your supplements are low-carbohydrate. For example, some "gummy vitamins" and calcium chews can eat into your limited carb budget.

5. Find Support

A solid support system can make all the difference in your success. Let your friends and family know your goals and how they can support you. Engage with our MyNetDiary community on Facebook or our Community Forum. We have a team of Registered Dietitians to answer any questions you may have.

Summary

If you are ready to get started on the keto diet, do it the right way to increase your success and maximize your nutrition. MyNetDiary has the tools to help!

Other articles you may find helpful:
These are the top 10 keto foods to include if you're on the diet.

Still new to MyNetDiary? Learn more today by downloading the app for FREE.

May 30, 2020
Sue Heikkinen
Sue Heikkinen, MS, RD, CDE, BC-ADE, ACE-PT - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator

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