A simple quick start guide for following a ketogenic Diet (AKA Keto Diet). This is the bare minimum you need to get started.
This is all anecdotal, my opinion and based on what has worked for me. I’m a software engineer, not a nutritionist. You’re free to disagree with me and it’s highly possible that what works for me may not work for you.
How to start:
Figure out your calorie goal (ie, how many calories does it take to maintain your current weight, how many to lose 1 lb/wk, 2 lb/wk) (for figuring calories I like the calculator here: http://www.mydreamshape.com/keto-calculator/).
Figure out your body fat % (visual guide: https://ketogains.com/2015/09/how-to-estimate-your-body-fat-percentage-bf/)
Figure out your protein gram minimum (Good to start at 0.8*lean muscle mass in lbs = grams of protein)(Aim for at or above this to preserve muscle mass and prevent hair loss)
Figure out the rest of your macros (1g fat = 9 calories, 1g protein or carb=4 calories. Normally start at ~20g net carb, protein you figured above and then eat fat to fullness without going over your calorie goal amount.
Carb limit is to keep me from going over.
Protein limit is to keep me from losing muscle mass and hair.
Fat limit is essentially a max. If I’m hungry I’ll reach for something with fat first, but if I’m not hungry I’m not eating fat just to hit a number.
If you’re not hungry, stop eating. I don’t care if you’re not at your macro percent and still have calories left for the day, just stop.
That said, don’t cut your calories too drastically. If you cut too drastically your metabolism will slow and you will stop losing weight and have to further lower your calories. You should be able to eat near/slightly below your maintenance level without gaining weight.
Aim to drink at least 48-72oz of water per day. More is better.
Because you’re drinking so much water (and for other reasons) your electrolytes (sodium, magnesium and potassium) may get out of whack. Be liberal with your salt, and consider adding no-salt and/or supplements especially if you suffer from keto flu or frequent leg cramps.
Stalls will happen. They’re normal. Don’t panic. Trust the process.
This is a way of life, not a diet. Diets are temporary. You are on a diet or cheating on your diet. Once you go off the diet and back to “regular” eating you gain back everything you got rid of. Keto is a change to your way of eating. If you go back you backslide.
I highly recommend MyFitnessPal for tracking and attagirls. It’s free.
A keto fanatic will tell you that you have to hit all of your percentages/grams and you have to stay in ketosis to see a loss. They will also tell you that one speck of white flour/white sugar will cause you to fail and that calories are not important.
I’ll start by admitting outright that I’m a Keto heretic and I think the Keto Fanatics are wrong.
As a Keto Heretic I believe that weight loss isn’t as simple as calories in/calories out.. but you will only lose weight if you are in a calorie deficit. So if you’re a highly active person you may need higher daily calories just to power your body. If, like me, you’re very sedentary you will need to keep your calories down or you’ll see a stall/gain. I aim for ~1600 calories per day.
I’ve found keto to help me curb my nibbling urges and help me to be satisfied at a lower calorie amount. Weight loss is still a game of calories.. but when I’m staying within plan I’m not hungry, even at only 1.6k calories per day.
Eating off plan kicks me out of ketosis.. but more importantly to me, more often exceeds my calorie limit. When I “cheat” I believe the gain I see is from “too many calories” not simply “I’m out of ketosis.”
Featured image: By Hariadhi, myself (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons