Keto Diet Must Haves | A Beginner's Guide
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If you've been following along with me on my journey to get unschooled with the traditional American diet, you've probably heard enough about this new fangled keto diet LOL You'll be happy to know I'm wrapping things up today (yay!) with some keto diet must haves and then I'll be taking a keto breather. At least here on the blog.
Note: I say these are must haves, but you decide. You can do the keto diet without these things, but they make your experience easier and better!
(PIN ME and read later :)
Keto Diet Must Haves
1. Keto Strips
There are several ways to test to see if your body is producing ketones--a sign that your body is starting to burn fat for fuel.
There is a blood test, a blunt test, and a urine test using strips like these. I chose the keto urine strips because they are super cheap and easy (albeit awkward) to administer.
These SmackFat Ketone Strips are only $8 for 100! You need maybe a quarter of that much. Once you get a week or two into the keto diet and you are consistently reading for ketones in your urine, you won't need to rely on these strips. You'll just be living your new awesome life!
2. Macro Tracking Program/App
Tracking your macros--or tracking your protein, fat, and carbohydrate intake--is imperative especially at first and especially if you are trying to lose weight.
I used the My Macros+ app, but you could also use a free service like FitDay to track what you're eating and if you are "hitting your macros" which just means you are staying within the 70% fat/25% protein/5% carbs ratio in relation to the number of calories you want to take in on any given day.
Honestly? I've been eating low-carb for so long, it only took a day or two of tracking my food for me to recognize what I should be eating. This won't be the case if you are a beginner to the low-carb/Paleo lifestyle and this is new to you: you really need to track your food and these apps make it easy.
3. Food Scale
Another important tool if for beginners of the keto diet is a food scale. Especially if you are looking to lose weight.
I love this Etekcity Digital Kitchen Scale Multifunction Food Scale with Removable Bowl because the bowl is separate from the scale, so you are using less bowls = less clean up! It has nearly a perfect 5 star rating with over 2,100 reviews!!
Food scales are handy to have around the kitchen, regardless, but they are important if you don't have a good handle on how much food you need to meet your macros.
I don't know the science as well as some of the other sites I've listed in this post, but what I've read over and over is that you should be supplementing with a few things--especially if you encounter the keto flu.
This handy infographic is from Ketogasm:
If you are a beginner keto dieter, eating a high-fat, low-carb diet may be a shock to your system and you may get the keto flu. On day three or four I had an unsettling dizziness and disorientation. I was like F-This. This keto diet is WHACK. I was ready to cut bait! (#typical)
But then I got myself together and remembered it was probably keto flu. I had a cup of chicken broth and that was really the end of it.
To prevent the intensity and length of keto flu, it's recommended that you drink water, get enough salt, take digestive enzymes, take magnesium, and get some whole food potassium.
My buddy Melissa introduced me to this magnesium supplement, Natural Vitality Calm Suppplement , that she and her husband take every night. It's supposed to reduce anxiety while upping your magnesium. I've definitely noticed more leg cramps since going on keto and reviewers said it helps with those symptoms. I ordered the lemon :)
My chiropractor introduced me to take digestive enzymes for when I eat out. I can't always control every single ingredient that might be in the food. I usually take one when I eat out at a restaurant to ease potential digestive woes.
However, Leanne from Healthful Pursuit also recommends using a digestive enzyme if you are doing the keto diet. She says she takes one with every meal, so I may have to start incorporating them into my regular routine.
I've been trying out the Enzymedica - Digest Spectrum, Multiple Food Intolerance Formula.
You could also encounter constipation. I definitely had/have this problem and while upping my water intake and taking probiotics helps, sometimes you need an intervention.
Enter: Smooth Move tea. Nice name, right? The full name is Traditional Medicinals Organic Smooth Move Peppermint Tea . And this stuff works. And not in the holycrapIhavetoruntothebathroom kind of way. Of course, I don't drink the entire cup. Just enough to get things moving the next morning.
5. Keto Diet Cookbooks For Recipe Inspiration
The keto diet is definitely having a "moment" right now and there are a lot of informative books and cookbooks available to keep you going when you don't know what to eat!
Check out my list of the best keto diet cookbooks here!
6. Coaching Program Or Mentor
If you are serious about your health and feeling uncomfortable or overwhelmed by the thought of eating a high-fat, low-carb diet, I recommend taking an online course or finding a coaching program!
I purchased the coaching program from KetoDash. If you are interested, check out their free amazing primer on the keto diet here. It has so much great information about the keto lifestyle and its benefits.
I really like the tone of the writing and the way they simplified everything. The program itself is put together so well. There is a 5-day bootcamp to get your mind and body prepared to eating keto. This step is vital if you are a beginner to the keto diet.
Plus, they want to make sure you have your macros tracking program and anything else you've ordered to make your process smooth and easy.
image: Healthy Pursuit
Leanne from Healthy Pursuit also has a lot of books and coaching programs. I haven't been through them, but she's pretty freaking awesome and knows her keto diet stuff. If her coaching is anything like her youtube videos, it'll be fantastic and high quality.
7. Crock Pot/Slow Cooker
Batch cooking or cooking ahead is a great idea--especially if you are just starting out on your keto diet journey. There's nothing worse than feeling famished and there's nothing on hand for you to quickly eat. Check out my post on easy keto meal plans!
This Crock-Pot 6-Quart Programmable Cook & Carry Slow Cooker is Amazon's choice and I love that it has a timer--we have two, so it would be frivolous to get a new one. But if I were in the market, this would be my choice!
Last weekend I made crockpot country pork ribs and I grilled 15 chicken thighs to have as a base for the week. I can't tell you how helpful it is to have our proteins cooked and measured out for lunches and dinners.
I personally don't like to make breakfast ahead of time. Reheating eggs just doesn't satisfy me LOL So I always make time to make a hot breakfast in the morning.
8. Support Group/FB Group
Having access to other people doing the keto diet, or to veterans of the keto diet can make or break your experience. I was feeling light headed on day four of keto and I immediately started second guessing myself that the keto diet was right for me.
Turns out, I was experiencing keto flu. It's common to be low in sodium on the keto diet because you are (should be) drinking a lot of water to flush out your system. But in doing that, you can deplete your sodium to the point that you feel dizzy or light headed.
Going through something new and/or challenging is always easier when you have other people in the trenches with you.
9. Body Weight Scale
This one is controversial. I'm a big believer in how you feel and how your clothes fit over what the number on a scale says. However, that number may be important to you. And I did buy a new scale (our old one was analog and always off by 3-4 pounds in one direction or another!).
And I step on it almost daily. Why do we do it? I admit it's been kind of fun to see the number go down, even if only a little.
But really, the most important result from the keto diet to me has been my mid-section. It has almost halved in size and puffiness. It's remarkable. In hindsight I wish I would've taken a 'before' picture, but I didn't think I'd have the guts to post it. Now, I don't know. I think photos are very motivating to people!
Anyways, you decide. If you want a scale, here's the one I bought: Etekcity Digital Body Weight Bathroom Scale . It's a sleek, black scale that will fit our new bathroom, perfectly.
10. Supportive Family and Friends
I remember when I was on like day three of a Whole30 four-ish years ago and I got pressured into going to a group dinner with the ladies. It totally put me off track. Obviously, I had no one to blame but myself, but it's easier if your friends are understanding.
And family support goes without saying. Joe and I have done 'diets' before together and it's been hit or miss (crankiness x 2 makes for a dark home environment haha).
The keto diet makes it easier because you don't get cranky and hangry--you're eating amazing full fat meals and it doesn't feel like a diet. We tried the Fat Smash diet before I found the Paleo/low-carb lifestyle and I remember some cranky monkeys (me and Joe LOL).
Try to get on the keto diet train around a time when there aren't a lot of holiday parties and potlucks. Get your footing and once you learn what you can eat and how your body reacts to it, you'll be able to navigate those situations when you're not in control of planning the menu so much better.
Life is so good when you're nourishing your body and feeling great! And maybe you'll get some new recruits :)
BONUS: Keto Diet Pinterest Board
Looking for more keto diet inspiration? Follow my Keto Diet Recipes and Tips Pinterest board! I'm always pinning awesome recipes and ideas to keep you going :)