When I started my keto journey, I had no idea what I was doing, I didn’t know a thing about Macros or electrolytes.
I wished that someone had written answers to my questions somewhere I could quickly refer to. So here it is my list of Frequently asked questions whilst on the Keto diet.
What is Keto?
The Ketogenic diet (Keto) is a low carb diet that puts your body into a state of Ketosis. This requires a diet very low in carbohydrates, moderate in protein and high in fat.
You will need to eat real wholesome foods such as meat, fish, eggs, vegetable and natural fats.
A rule I always stuck to in the early days was eating food that contained below 5g of carbs per 100g
You can read more about the Keto diet here
What is ketosis?
When your body is completely fuelled by fat it is in Ketosis. This is normal during fasting or on a low carb diet such as keto.
Ketosis has many benefits including fast weight loss, increase in physical performance, better sleep, more energy and reversal of some health conditions.
You can read about ketosis in more detail here
How long does it take to get into Ketosis?
A keto diet is not one that you can just go in and out of when you feel like it. It can take anything between 2-7 days to get into ketosis and this usually depends on your body type, activity levels and carbohydrate consumption.
The quickest way to get into ketosis is to restrict your carbohydrates to less than 20g, exercise on an empty stomach and be mindful of your water intake.
Is the Keto diet safe?
The keto diet is normally very safe if however, you fall into the following categories it would be wise to speak to your doctor to make necessary adaptations.
*On high blood pressure medications
*Pregnant or breastfeeding (you can read more on keto and breastfeeding here)
If you don’t fall into the above categories then you should be fine to get going.
What are Macros?
Macronutrients commonly referred to as macros are fat, carbohydrates
Tracking your macros helps you keep a close eye on how much you are eating.
I was so shocked when I realized how much a 30g serving of Brazil nuts looked like, I could easily have eaten half a packet thinking that was what a ‘serving’ would have been.
Watching your macros also helps you make sure you are eating enough as sometimes being on Keto really can kill your appetite.
When tracking your macros try and stick to grams rather than percentages. Grams give a far more accurate indication of what you are eating.
Do I need to count calories?
On a keto diet, you very rarely have to worry about calories. The good fats will keep you satiated for a longer period of time.
However, you need to be mindful that you aren’t filling up on too many calories as you still need a deficit to lose weight.
Is it possible to eat too much fat?
Yes, and it becomes even more important to be mindful of this the closer you are to your goal weight.
It can become easy to snack on cheese in between meals or drink 8 cups of coffee with cream.
While some people struggle to go over their calorie allowance on a low carb diet it is still possible to eat too much fat.
Can I have Dairy on Keto?
Dairy is one of those things that is dependent on your personal response to it.
Dairy is allowed on keto and should be from healthy sources. Such as;
It is important you stay away from low-fat options on keto as they tend to be higher in carbs due to the addition of lots of sugars.
Also, try not to snack on cheese in between meals as this can stall weight loss.
I am unfortunately one of those people who react to dairy. It can stall my weight loss when eaten excessively.
I tend to have unsweetened almond or coconut milk in my coffee and only have small amounts of cheese with my lunch and dinner.
How much weight will I lose?
How long is a piece of string?
This is dependent on so many factors such as how much weight you have to
Adding exercise will speed up your weight loss as will cutting out common ‘stall’ causing foods such as nuts, large amounts of dairy, artificial sweeteners and identifying hidden wheat in some foods.
In the initial few days to a week you may find that you have lost a good amount of weight, this is, in fact water weight as ketosis has a diuretic effect on one’s body.
You may find that in the following weeks you may not achieve the same amount of weight loss however this is a good sign that your body is adapting to the new way of eating and the weight should start falling off losing fat rather than water weight.
What are the signs I’m in Ketosis?
Some of the most common signs of being in Ketosis are:
Short term fatigue
Increase in focus and energy
You can read more in-depth about the signs of ketosis here
I feel awful after a few days on the diet, what is this?
Your body has been used to burning carbohydrates for energy so when you start the keto diet you may feel dizzy, headachy and lethargic.
Your body is now getting rid of extra water and salt at a faster rate which will make you feel even
Keeping your electrolytes and drinking bone broth can really help alleviate the symptoms of what is known as keto flu. You can read more on electrolytes here.
Reaching nutritional ketosis which can take from 7-10 days will also help you feel better and these symptoms should go away by then. Until this time drink your electrolytes and rest if you can to help your body recover quicker.
What should I do if I have constipation?
Changes in bowel movements are fairly common in the early days, and constipation is such issue. If you are suffering from constipation you could try to do one of the following
*Keep well hydrated
*Take a magnesium supplement
*Stop eating nuts
*Eat more fibre
*Take a teaspoon of coconut oil
*Add some flax or chia seeds to your diet
If you still find that constipation is an issue see your doctor who will be able to advise you.
Why am I not losing weight?
Here are a few reasons you may not be losing weight on the Keto diet;
Are you eating too many carbs? Try and use a tracker to see how many carbs you are consuming. You should be having 20g of carbs per day.
Are you eating processed foods? Such as keto bars, sweeteners or keto baked goodies? Try and avoid these as they are high in calories and offer very little in terms of nutrition.
Are you consuming too many calories? As mentioned above it can become very easy to overdo it eating cheese as snacks, a bag of nuts or drinking large amounts of bulletproof coffees.
Ultimately you should be in a calorie deficit to lose weight and these snacks can really add up, for example, a bag of nuts alone can be well over 1000 calories.
Are you sleeping enough? Research shows that not sleeping enough releases excess amounts of cortisol a hormone known as the stress hormone.
Cortisol can encourage your body to store fat especially around the belly area. If you find that you are having issues sleeping then you can try this humidifier and this essential oil which I found to be invaluable in helping me get a better night’s sleep.
Are you getting any exercise, this will not only help kick start the weight loss but may be able to help if you are suffering from insomnia.
Try and make a plan and stick to it even if it means going for a short walk every day it’s still better then doing nothing.
What supplements if any do, I need to take?
This is completely up to you, I try and get all my nutrients from natural food sources however sometimes this is not possible.
As I became more accustomed to the keto way of eating and started to consume a much wider range of vegetables and food getting vital nutrients it has become much easier.
I’m having leg cramps since starting what is this?
Leg cramps are a common side effect when you go onto a low carb diet. It can be painful and cause night waking and is usually a side effect of losing minerals specifically magnesium.
This is something that I have suffered within the early days of being on keto, I didn’t realize how important my electrolytes were until I began getting the most painful leg cramps.
Taking an electrolyte drink with a magnesium supplement helped hugely as did using this magnesium oil topically when I got the cramps.
What effect does my menstrual cycle have on weight loss?
Here are a few points on how your period will affect your weight loss
*You will feel extra hungry
*You will still bloat
*You won’t lose any weight right before or after your period, in fact, you may even gain weight
*Don’t start experimenting with new things such as cutting sweeteners or dairy during this week
*You may find that your period is early, late or you may miss it altogether.
My hair is falling out?
Temporary hair loss can happen with any major dietary change, especially diets where you restrict calories but it can also happen when you are on keto.
This was another side effect of being on a low carb diet, the good thing is that my hair loss was temporary and it started growing back after 4 months of being on the diet. Just make sure that you are not restricting your calories too much.
What are NET carbs and how are they calculated?
To calculate net carbs in whole foods all you do is subtract the amount of fibre from the carbs to give you the net carbs amount.
For example, 100g of cauliflower contains 5g of carbs and 2g of fibre. You would therefore calculate it as 5-2=3. So, the 100g of cauliflower contains 3g of net carbs.
Will I go into Starvation mode?
No, because you are not really reducing calories and you are eating not starving. The fat you eat on keto sends a signal telling your body that more energy is coming its way. The keto diet provides enough protein to prevent muscle breakdown as well as sufficient amounts of fat so your body can make ketones for fuel.
Can keto be combined with Intermittent fasting?
Yes they can! You can read about the benefits of intermittent fasting here.
Combining the Keto diet along with intermittent fasting means that you will see even more benefits to this already amazing diet. some of the benefits include:
*Purging cancerous or precancerous cells
*A faster way of getting into ketosis
*Reduction in fat tissue
*Improved insulin sensitivity
*Enhancement in cognition
I’ve plateaued on the diet what can I do?
Everyone will go through a period of plateauing on the keto diet, for me usually it’s down to me eating too much of something or finding that there were hidden carbs in something.
When this has happened to me, I tend to change things up a little; I may do intermittent fasting for a few days in a week or I may totally change what I am eating for that week. Here is a list of things you could try to get through a plateau whilst on the Keto diet.
Cut out dairy; this is the thing that I react to the most. I tried to go a whole week without dairy to see if it made any difference at all and to my shock, it was a huge factor in my weight loss stall.
Up your fat intake; I find that when I increase my good fats I feel more satiated leading to fewer snacks and sometimes I’m not hungry for dinner.
Stop having artificial sweeteners; eating keto bars and having sweetener in coffee meant that I was never able to cut the relationship I had with sweet foods and drinks by going cold turkey.
It meant that my weight loss continued and I was finally able to break the habit I had with sweet foods. Read about how I broke my cravings for sugar here.
Stop eating nuts; I didn’t realize that both Cashews and Peanuts weren’t allowed on the keto diet. A small handful could easily turn into a whole bag of nuts which could easily be twice my carb limit for the whole day! If like me you can’t resist a bag of nuts then stay well away from them.
Cut out the bulletproof coffees.
I’m not a huge fan of bulletproof coffees but friends of mine have been known to drink up to three of these a day without actually being hungry or needing the large amounts of fat that they contain.
If you are drinking bulletproof coffees try stopping them for a few days and see if it makes a difference.
What is keto/Fat adapted?
Being fat adapted means that you are able to burn your stored body fat reserves for energy. Being fat adapted also means that you don’t crave carbs anymore. To become Fat adapted it can take as little as 3 weeks. A few tell-tale signs of being fat adapted are;
*Are you able to go longer between meals?
*Do you experience consistent energy through the day?
*Are you able to work out without fuelling on a huge amount of carbs?
*If you answered yes to the above questions then congratulations you are fat adapted and burning fat as your primary source.
Can keto work for vegetarians?
Absolutely! With the exception of meat and fish the rest of the options are the same. However, you may find that you need to substitute with more dairy.
Have a look at the 7-day vegetarian meal plan for some fantastic ideas on what you can eat being a vegetarian on a keto diet.
Are sugar alcohols allowed?
There are many different sugar alcohols. Some are allowed on a low carb diet however some should be avoided as they are high on the Glycemic Index.
Some of these Sugar alcohols can have awful side effects such as wind, bloating, constipation, indigestion, diarrhoea and heart burn.
Each one of us will react differently to the type of sugar alcohol we consume depending on your own gut bacteria.
A word of caution; some sweeteners which are 0 on the Glycemic index may be bulked up with other fillers or sweeteners such as Maltitol. It is worth checking the ingredients to make sure that it is compliant with the Keto diet.
I also found the more sweeteners I consumed the more I wanted, Cutting the artificial sweeteners finally broke the relationship I had with wanting sweet food all the time which was a huge achievement for me.
How do I do keto on a budget?
Keto can be an expensive way of eating if you decide to eat a massive steak every day but it can be done far more cheaply and effectively. Eggs are relatively inexpensive and buying the fattier cuts of meat that you can slow cook are a more cost-effective way of eating.
I also prepare all of my meals for a week which helps me make better decisions when I’m hungry
One thing I have realised; the simpler I eat the cheaper it will be.
How do I do Keto at work/college?
As I mentioned above the easiest way for me to eat on keto when I am out is to take a meal that I had prepared with me to work. This is where batch cooking was the single reason, I was able to stick to keto for so long. It was all in the prep that I would do over the weekend.
Is alcohol allowed on a keto diet?
Alcohol is discouraged on the Keto diet. When the body is processing alcohol, it stops burning fat which is the whole point of the diet.
The good thing is that when the body stops metabolizing the alcohol it immediately goes back to burning fat so having alcohol on very rare occasions should be ok.
Be sure to read the nutritional labels on the alcohol you are thinking of consuming. Beers are laden with carbs and cocktails are full of sugar. The best type of drink on the Keto diet would be pure spirits as they contain zero carbs.
Also, be weary of the effect that the drinks may have on you. Many people find that they cannot tolerate anywhere close to what they could before being on Keto and the hangovers are so bad that you may find you never want to drink again!
Is fruit allowed on Keto?
Unfortunately, most fruit is high in both carbs and sugar so they need to be avoided on Keto.
However, a small number of berries are allowed. Strawberries, Blackberries and raspberries contain 5g of carbs per 100g. You need to be cautious of blueberries, although they come under the banner of berries, they actually contain up to 3 times the amount of carbs then the berries mentioned above.
Berries do not provide anything extra nutritionally then what you can get from vegetables so they are entirely optional but if you are insulin resistant then you may be better off sticking to the veggies (read about the best keto veggies here)
Are nuts allowed on Keto?
Yes, in moderation, but the problem here is that its far too easy to overeat. When I eat nuts, I measure out the amount and try not to top up! Try and stay clear of cashew nuts and peanuts as they are very high in carbs some would even claim that they are a legume and not allowed on keto. Just 20g of cashews is the equivalent amount of your daily carb allowance. Macadamia and pecans are a better option if like me you love nuts!
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