Now, what should you eat? There are endless combinations of food and it really depends on your personal preference. I put together a simple 3 day keto menu plan to get you started. This is what works for me, and because my body knows the drill, I can actually get back into ketosis in less than 2 days on this plan. If you are new to low carb, it may take you as long as 4 to 5 days. Don’t despair, it will happen.
In addition to burning fat reserves and super charging weight loss, ketosis produces a clean burning metabolic fuel that has many benefits. Ketones lower production of reactive oxygen species (ROS),1 enhance mitochondrial biogenesis,2 3 and induce positive epigenetic expression.4 Because of its neurological benefits, I went on a Keto Diet in 2014, and it has been helpful in moderating my MS symptoms.
On a ketogenic diet, you’re generally eating a diet that’s high in fat (roughly 70 percent of your total calories come from fat), moderate in protein (about 20 percent of your calories), and low in carbohydrate (about 5 percent of calories). By limiting carbohydrates (to usually less than 45 grams for the average person), your body lacks the glucose (from carbs) that it normally uses for energy, so it eventually switches over to burning fat as its primary fuel source instead; through a metabolic process called ketosis, the liver converts the fat into fragments of fatty acids called ketones, which power the brain and other organs and tissues.
"Plenty of people jump right in, thinking all they have to do is cut carbs and increase fat. All of a sudden, they hit a wall and get 'keto flu.' They feel tired, lethargic, and experience headaches," Wittrock says. "The primary reason they get these symptoms is lack of the three primary electrolytes: sodium, potassium, and magnesium. If you're deficient in any of these, you'll suffer mentally and physically. This is the single biggest reason people fail on the keto diet."
The first signs of ketosis are known as the “keto flu” where headaches, brain fogginess, fatigue, and the like can really rile your body up. Make sure that you’re drinking plenty of waterand eating plenty of salt. The ketogenic diet is a natural diuretic and you’ll be peeing more than normal. Take into account that you’re peeing out electrolytes, and you can guess that you’ll be having a thumping headache in no time. Keeping your salt intake and water intake high enough is very important, allowing your body to re-hydrate and re-supply your electrolytes. Doing this will help with the headaches, if not get rid of them completely.
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that in medicine is used primarily to treat difficult-to-control (refractory) epilepsy in children. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. Normally, the carbohydrates contained in food are converted into glucose, which is then transported around the body and is particularly important in fueling brain function. However, if there is little carbohydrate in the diet, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. The ketone bodies pass into the brain and replace glucose as an energy source. An elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood, a state known as ketosis, leads to a reduction in the frequency of epileptic seizures. Almost half of children and young people with epilepsy who have tried some form of this diet saw the number of seizures drop by at least half, and the effect persists even after discontinuing the diet. There is some evidence that adults with epilepsy may benefit from the diet, and that a less strict regimen, such as a modified Atkins diet, is similarly effective. The most common adverse effect is constipation, affecting about 30% of patients—this was due to fluid restriction, which was once a feature of the diet, but this led to increased risk of kidney stones and is no longer considered beneficial.
Great post! I’ve been following Maria Emmerich’s keto plan for a few months now. Ketosis is AMAZING! The energy, focus, and lack of hunger are what make this plan so easy to follow, and maintain long term. I would love love love for you to do 7 day meal plans. I love your recipies and implement them in my keto lifestyle already, but meal plans would ROCK! Great job.
First off I just want to say thank you for the 3 day meal plan to get started. I stumbled across Keto about a week ago and I have been reading and reading and reading and then essentially got super confused and though that this was not for me! But then I came across your website and my my you break it down for people like me who are just looking for guidance to get started. I am hoping to start soon as I do go on a business trip begging of next week and I am afraid to start and then boom off the band wagon. My goal is to start next Thursday…..(fingers crossed this works) everything else has failed and dieting has been a struggle since I had a hysterectomy due to cancer. Now my weight is out of control and I am the biggest I have ever been! 251 pounds and I am 5′ 2″ and none of my clothes fit!! Makes it hard to get excited in the morning when getting ready to endure the day!
In a recent study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, Weiss and his colleagues found that participants performed worse on high-intensity cycling and running tasks after four days on a ketogenic diet, compared to those who’d spent four days on a high-carb diet. Weiss says that the body is in a more acidic state when it’s in ketosis, which may limit its ability to perform at peak levels.
What's more, it's especially important to make sure your diet is well-planned when you're eating keto-style, because the foods you can choose from are limited. In addition to checking in with a dietitian if you're able, Stefanski recommends that you "talk to your doctor and make sure she or he is aware that you'll be starting a diet that completely changes how your body metabolizes energy." You might also want to check your most recent bloodwork levels for things such as cholesterol, vitamin D, and other indicators of health because these can change while on keto. That's because for some people, a prolonged keto diet can result in certain nutritional deficiencies or even high cholesterol. But most experts will tell you that the ketogenic diet is not a permanent lifestyle change (as could be the case for something like the 80/20 approach to eating or a Mediterranean eating style).
I too started Atkins years ago- back in the ‘80’s. I did well as long as i stuck to it. But, it’s a tough road and restaurants and snack food companies are not very low carb friendly. It’s all too easy for me to grab something quick & the donuts in the break room do me in everytime!!! I read your post this morning & It inspired me. I also am 57 and have been discouraged lately with my weight and lack of ability to stay away from carbs. But, I am going at it again – and this time with a vengeance. Thanks again for your post – very inspiring & appreciated. By the way – I found that Mellissa’s website the best for keto. Her recipes are simply delicious and not over complicated or time consuming. She also has a great sense of humor. It’s nice to know she goes through the same trials we do – and what it’s like to mess up !! !!. Thank you Mellissa for your articles, recipes, humor and your perseverance!!
Keeping your tastebuds entertained while following a keto diet does not have to be a struggle. Some low-carb, high-fat dieters find that they have the most success with their diet when they eat consistent meals on a regular basis and do not deviate from their plan. Others find that if their diet has too much repetition it will get boring and difficult to stick to. Whether you choose to stick to a set of staple meals that you eat every week or you’d rather spice things up, there are plenty of amazing food choices on the ketogenic diet.
Yes your are totally right, I meant to take off 500 calories a day to lose 1 pound a week (7 days/week x 500 calories/day = 3500 calories/week = 1 pound of fat/week) or take off 1000 calories to lose 2 pounds a week (7 days/week x 1000 calories/day = 7000 calories/week = 2 pounds of fat/week). Thanks to you, I fixed this little typo 🙂 Thanks a lot!
Advocates for the diet recommend that it be seriously considered after two medications have failed, as the chance of other drugs succeeding is only 10%. The diet can be considered earlier for some epilepsy and genetic syndromes where it has shown particular usefulness. These include Dravet syndrome, infantile spasms, myoclonic-astatic epilepsy and tuberous sclerosis complex.
Love the set of instructions and advice; this will be what I point people at now when they want to know how to start. I avoided most “keto flu” symptoms by getting just 30 minutes a day of gentle exercise. Somewhere deep in “The Art & Science of Low Carb Living” it explains why. The Atkins books don’t mention it because their approach is to position fitness as an entirely optional thing.
I just found your website through Pinterest and bought every thing for keto kickstart and week one. While I havent made everything on plan to a tee, I have been strick low carb. I am excited to say as of 6 days in I am down 4 lbs!! That is motivation enough for me to keep going. I did low carb back in 2009 and lost 30lbs. Over th past 4 years it has slowly crept back on. I am excited to use youe menus as gude to my future weight loss. Thank you
People use a ketogenic diet most often to lose weight, but it can help manage certain medical conditions, like epilepsy, too. It also may help people with heart disease, certain brain diseases, and even acne, but there needs to be more research in those areas. Talk with your doctor first to find out if it’s safe for you to try a ketogenic diet, especially if you have type 1 diabetes.
Hi. Loved the article. I ran across this article when I found your pancake recipe. I am going on a cruise in 18 days. I started eating a high cal low carb diet a couple of days ago and noticed how similar it was to the Keto diet. So I said why not since I’m already kind of doing that. Then, I saw that you mentioned unusual periods and I am extremely worried that if I start the keto diet today, I might have my period while on my cruise and that is not going to be fun. What are your thoughts?
So, in regards to #9….(guys, look away now) I have been keto for about a month and a half now. Shark week came and went as normal….Normally if I even get cramps, it’s for the first day or two of my period and they are never that bad. About a week later I started getting really really bad cramps…to the point they were waking me up in the middle of the night. Someone suggested constipation but I didn’t think that was it because I was still going…just not as much, which is normal on a keto/paleo plan. 9 days after my normal period ended, I started again and it was just like the previous when it came to flow. After the first 5 days which is when it should have ended, it started getting heavier and has stayed that way since. I am now on day 13 of this second period with no indication of an end in sight. I have not had this experience in years and that was due to birth control that I was taking at the time. I am miserable and in more pain than I have ever experienced. I have energy thanks to the keto but I am in far too much pain to even think about working out and it sucks! I know you said you went thru some irregularity yourself but was it anything like this? Do you know people that have experienced this? I have tried searching the web but everything that pops up talks about their periods disappearing or getting 2 in one month at most, not what I am experiencing which is probably going to be closer to a month before I end.
By the way, I love your blog. I started following you on Pinterest probably about 2 years ago when I started in on the Paleo WOE. I only survived about 3 months of that before I fell off the wagon but I am back now and more ready than ever to finish losing this weight and be truly healthy! Anyway, I saw the name of your site on Pinterest and it made me giggle because that is so me. Your Jalapeno Chicken Wings are on my menu for tonight.
So, I started the 3 day kick-start a week ago and am still following the plan! I went out and purchased the cookbook on Thursday and have been pouring over it since. Made the cauliflower mashed potatoes last night and they were awesome. A keeper for my household. Even hubby liked them. I feel great and am feeling the effects of weight loss and no carbs in my system…in a good way. Passed on the carb flu- probably because I had cut way down on the carbs before starting this. I dont miss them a bit…I keep thinking I should increase my carbs, LOL but I m not sure I want to ! Thank you for your book and thank you for your humor and thank you for your motivating spirit!
"The keto diet is primarily used to help reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures in children. While it also has been tried for weight loss, only short-term results have been studied, and the results have been mixed. We don't know if it works in the long term, nor whether it's safe," warns registered dietitian Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.