The Ketogenic diet is heavily reliant on a diet that’s rich in monounsaturated fats, moderate amounts of protein, and very low in carbohydrates. While the first two seem obtainable, cutting out carbs is often where most struggle when trying to trigger ketosis for the first time.
To keep your body running on ketones instead of glucose and similar sugars, carbs need to be either outright eliminated or kept below a commonly recommended fifty carbs a day. Cutting your carb intake will need to come from each of your three daily meals, and going about it the wrong way can cause fatigue and other symptoms of the much-dreaded “Keto flu.”
If you’re looking to avoid Keto flu and stay healthy while still eliminating carbohydrates, try the following four tips and get on the right track with ketosis.
1. Drink More Water
Whatever your typical daily intake of water is, you may need to bump those numbers up.
Drinking water comes with two caveats—first, water in replacement of certain carb-heavy beverages will keep your daily carb limit as low as possible. Secondly, drinking water is crucial to all of our following tips.
Maintaining proper hydration is one of the most difficult aspects of nutrition even for people who aren’t on a Ketogenic diet, however, cutting out carbs has severe biological implications to your water reserves.
Generally, your body relies on water to help store excess glucose and fats. As you begin to prepare your body for ketosis, these storage centers are depleted, and anytime you run a deficit on your daily water intake, there’s no reserve to draw from.
This is one of the many reasons why ketosis is not recommended for children, and why adults attempting to trigger ketosis need to drink at least a gallon of water a day to supplement for the lost reserves.
The increased water intake should also help with hunger pangs and increased irritability, as well as help you ward off a bad case of the Keto flu.
2. Stop Eating Bread
Bread is a staple of many meals, especially in American culture. Sandwiches and hamburgers reign supreme at any backyard barbecue or game night. Toast is an excellent breakfast meal, and several dessert treats rely on bread and grains to help make a filling conclusion to any dinner.
That “filling” nature, however, can pose a real threat towards your pathway to ketosis.
We know from the National Institutes of Health that bread and other grains tend to run high in carbohydrates. Eating just four slices of bread in a day will put you over your limit to trigger ketosis, so it’s best to just avoid this food group entirely.
If you find it difficult to go the entire day without grains or baked goods, consider meals and snacks created for ketogenic diets or keto chocolate chip cookies to keep under your limits and to satisfy your sweet tooth.
3. Control Your Dairy Intake
Diary, much like bread, is another staple of a typical American diet that permeates every aspect of a daily diet.
A glass of milk at breakfast aids in protein and calcium buildup and several pasta dishes rely on cheeses to add flavor and texture. Sandwiches and burgers also rely on cheese to contract an often hardy meal, and ice cream can bring about a sweet ending to any day.
Much like with grains, we’ll need to be careful with our diets to avoid an excessive amount of dairy. Dairy products are naturally high in carbohydrates, but also tend to remain high in fats. Since we need to balance out a high-fat meal with a low-carb diet, it won’t be necessary to eliminate dairy products from your day.
At the same time, the excess diary will hurt you more than it will help.
To eat dairy on a ketogenic diet, make sure you’ve chosen a fat-heavy dairy product and eat sparingly. Avoid sugary substances like ice cream entirely to force your body to burn ketones as opposed to glucose.
4. Stop Eating Dessert
While on the subject of deserts—if you’re not eating a ketogenic version of a popular evening treat, its best to fight off your sweet tooth and cut out desert entirely.
Much of the problem with sugary foods comes not only from a place of ketogenic problems but that of an issue with the entire American palate.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) makes note that 15% of the daily diet of Americans comes from added sugars. This excess will not only prevent your body from entering ketosis but generate a litany of issues from hypertension all the way up to heart disease.
Whether or not you’re going on a Keto diet, limit your added sugar intake to 10% or less of your total caloric intake. If you are trying to enter ketosis, that number needs to be as close to zero as possible.
To satisfy your sweet tooth, try to eat small amounts of fruits and vegetables high in natural sugar. In trying to trigger ketosis, you’ll want to make sure this amount is low, so only reward yourself with an orange or grapes during special occasions or once per day. Doing so will both allow you to keep enjoying the taste of sugar while still triggering ketosis.
Cutting carbs is easier said than done. Rigorous tracking will be required to make sure the number of carbohydrates per day is low enough to trigger ketosis. Once ketosis is triggered, any adverse effects or Keto flu should subside.
If you’re experiencing issues long after ketosis is triggered, be sure to check in with a medical professional to make sure there are no gaps in your daily nutrition. Drink plenty of water as you begin this journey and remember that, once ketosis is triggered, you’ll be able to eat more of the food you want to eat without worrying about the number on the scale. Perseverance will pay off, and soon enough, you won’t even be thinking about the carbs you’ve cut.
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