Chapter 2.

What is the Keto Diet?

ketogenic diets

So... what is the ketogenic diet? Well, now that you know keto 101, let’s look into the specifics of what a ketogenic diet is and how to get started on a keto diet. Here are simple tips that can make the difference between starting well and giving up on day 1.

Keto diet explained

Ketogenic diets have been around for a long time. I won’t take you back to some caveman story; however, it has been used in modern dieting for quite a long time, predominantly for athletic performance or treating chronic illnesses such as heart disease.

Athletes would use it to give them an energy advantage, just like a camel. They could go for a whole event without needing to eat/refuel, as when in ketosis their body is burning fat for energy. As well as the health benefits of eating a low-carb diet, it would also give them a focus and clarity advantage, as with a ketogenic diet you avoid the low blood sugar slumps and keep a consistent energy flow.

Keto Diet Explained

Now translate this to the everyday parent, career person, or student who wants longer, consistent energy without the slumps of fatigue due to lack of blood sugar. A Ketogenic diet is a great solution.

It’s easy to see why the keto diet is the No. 1 weight loss diet in the US, for its ability to eliminate body fat and fight heart disease. It is fast becoming the No. 1 trusted health diet solution in Australia due to its overall improvement of lifestyle, mindset and health benefits.

The key of a ketogenic diet, however, comes from what we call fat adaption. It’s where your body no longer searches for its energy from carbs like a traditional rapid weight loss low-carb diet, but is now adapted 100% to fat as a long-term energy source.

Once you become fat adapted, your body will no longer crave carbs, have headaches, mood swings or low blood sugar due to not having enough carbs – which is typically related with dieting because it now operates on a much higher level of energy from ketones – “your fat”.

Starting Keto

Just like starting anything new, it’s best to have a strategy; as the 5Ps say, Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. This is even more so when starting a ketogenic diet, as dieting has a way of pushing every emotional and physical button.

I found that while learning how to eat a ketogenic diet, planning ahead was extremely important, as 99% of fast food outlets focus on quick, high carb intake solutions. You’re left very limited when eating on the fly, especially if you are inexperienced. So to avoid wasting the effort you have already put in by eating something you shouldn’t, it’s best to plan ahead.

Starting Keto

Here are some great tips when starting a keto diet, so forget getting complicated – if you can follow these steps then you will have a greater chance at sticking out the first 1-4 weeks.

#2 Get Prepared

Taking the time to understand what you will face when starting a keto diet will give you the best head start and prevent you from getting caught off guard.

I often get emails from concerned ketogenic diet followers. The emails range from people in shock wondering if their symptoms are normal to people freaking out wondering if they are dying. Some of them are probably overdramatic; however, there is truth to the fact that you will face a detox period. The extent of this depends on what your eating was before starting and how prepared you are entering into the keto diet.

Most participants just face a standard detox phase: 1-4 days of headaches, being moody and tired, just like any other diet. However, there are a few that experience what is called the ‘keto flu’ – this is generally 24-48 hrs of flu-like symptoms ranging from entry level to severe.

I have included in this article tips on how to overcome the detox phase and the keto flu; however, they can be prevented if you get prepared and follow the below steps:

Step One of being prepared – get in the right mindset

Getting in the right mindset and understanding what the first 7 days of a ketogenic diet will be like, will either give you the stubbornness to persevere through those days or the willpower to, as 85% of people give up during the first 7 days due to the fact of not getting in the right mindset, and so when things get hard they throw in the towel. However, if you are in the right mindset, every time you feel terrible, you can stand up to it and declare the suffering will be gone in 2 more days … 1 more day, when I wake up … then before you know it you have crossed the detox line and feel amazing.

Get in the right mindset

Step Two of being prepared – adjust your calendar

This is a point I can’t stress enough. In our culture, we are always wanting more, over-committing and demanding too much from our bodies by thinking we can do everything all at once. Don’t make this mistake when starting out on a ketogenic diet plan. My advice is clear your calendar for the first 7 days. If you don’t, you will become stressed and stress builds emotions and we know what happens under stress and emotion; we look for comfort, which is most of the time, food. You might think – well I have to work late, I have all my kids sporting events on, I have friends coming over, I can’t push all that aside for dieting. Well truth be told, if you can’t push everything aside for 7 days to focus on your health, then you need to forget dieting and do either a values, priorities or personal development course and build some values first.

adjust your calendar

Step Three of being prepared – make room for sleep

As simple as it sounds, I truly believe wars could have been prevented if people just slept. I can’t even put a figure on the number of clients that have come to me for help to lose weight, paid a lot of money for private consultations, and I have discovered all they need is sleep. To their amazement after a couple of big nights’ sleep and a few weeks of sleep hygiene adjustments, their stress disappears, cravings subside, blood pressure drops – their joy came back, and life seemed so much easier.

Aim to have a good night's sleep; at least 8 hours, and if you can nap over the weekend during the first 7 days, do it. Just like sex, sleep starts before you hit the bed, so establish some sort of sleep hygiene plan to make going to sleep earlier easier and to give you a better quality of sleep.

Make room for sleep

#1 Be Prepared

Now that you are in the right mindset, you want to ensure the practicals are laid out before the week starts, so that when your week starts you’re not running around putting it together while the day is happening, like a master builder from the Lego movie. You want to walk into situations in control, at least for the first 7 days while your energy and emotions are low. Remember when emotion rises, intelligence falls.

Here are some practical tips to help you get prepared:

Meal planning
Before the week starts you want to know what meals you will be eating. We have included some great keto meals in this article. Never leave meal planning to the night before or day of needing them, and never try and wing it/eat on the fly while starting a ketogenic diet. Always have a meal plan in place (times and meals).

Shopping list
Create a shopping list and buy all you need before the starting day. Nothing is harder than walking up and down the supermarket aisle feeling like you want to eat everything you see. I always use the rule of laziness when starting the diet – if you have nothing in sight or in your house, then you have laziness off your side, as you have to get out of your house, drive to the shops and walk all the way in to give in to your craving.

Eating times
Lock your eating times into your diary. You never want to leave eating until you’re hungry. Set a reminder on your phone if needed, but always eat before you are hungry. That way you won’t feel like eating too much, you will get full quicker, and you will avoid energy lows which makes everything look good.

Cooked meals
If you are time poor, like most of us, then cooking meals the night before or in the morning helps. This little tip means you come home to a prepared meal, so you can leave cooking tomorrows meal until later in the night once you have eaten and relaxed. I know in my house when my wife or myself are dieting, the hardest time of the day is dinner time – kids have turned into animals, you’re low in energy and emotionally unstable, which is a mixture for disaster as you are hungry and foggy.

Here is a free Meal Planner & Shopping List to help you implement what we have just discussed.

Free KETO meal plan

Want to make getting prepared easier?

Then download this FREE Keto Meal Planning Template. Contains all you need to plan out your week, meal times, snack times, drinking times and shopping list.
Free KETO meal plan

Want to make getting prepared easier?

Then download this FREE Keto Meal Planning Template. Contains all you need to plan out your week, meal times, snack times, drinking times and shopping list.
The Ultimate Keto Diet Guide

Don’t have time to read the whole guide right now?

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The Ultimate Keto Diet Guide

Don’t have time to read the whole guide right now?

No worries. Let me send you a copy so you can read it when it’s convenient for you. Just let me know where to send it (takes 5 seconds):

Meet the Keto Guide Authors

Jaxon Calder
Jaxon has been one of Australia’s leading health and weight loss coaches for the last 11 years, he is a second-generation personal trainer, director of Lean for Life which is ranked in Australia’s top 3 weight loss companies ad founded KetoLean Australia's first Keto Product Range.
Grant Schofield
Grant Schofield is Professor of Public Health at Auckland University of Technology and Director of the University’s Human Potential Centre (HPC), Grant lead's Australia and New Zealand in science-based healthy living and specialises in Keto dieting.