Many people on a ketogenic diet report sleeping much deeper, says Pamela Ellgen, a personal trainer and author of Sheet Pan Ketogenic. However, during the adjustment period (the first three to five days after you start keto), you may experience insomnia or difficulty staying asleep. This will end once your body adjusts to ketosis and burning stored fat. Then, you may find you're able to sleep longer, sleep deeper, and feel more relaxed and rested when you wake up. Here are 15 things you need to know before starting the keto diet.
Take a break from breakfast: If you’re not hungry, feel free to skip breakfast and just have coffee (with some milk if you want it). Many people find that within a few days of eating low-carb, high-fat meals, cravings and hunger decrease significantly. This can make it easy to skip a meal, perhaps especially breakfast. Skipping a meal is cheap, fast, and might increase the diet’s effectiveness for weight loss and diabetes. See intermittent fasting
Low-carb diets may help prevent or improve serious health conditions, such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. In fact, almost any diet that helps you shed excess weight can reduce or even reverse risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Most weight-loss diets — not just low-carb diets — may improve blood cholesterol or blood sugar levels, at least temporarily.
The studies done on ketosis and endurance sports performance paint a pretty clear picture – it helps. One of the most detailed studies on fat utilisation and performance (compared to a standard carb diet) was named the FASTER study - the results found that those who were on a ketogenic type diet had more mitochondria than the control group, lower oxidative stress, lower lactate load and that the fat adapted and fuelled athletes could function off fat for a much higher intensity than the non-fat adapted counter parts.
For decades we’ve been told that fat is detrimental to our health. Meanwhile low-fat “diet” products, often full of sugar, have flooded supermarket shelves. This has likely been a major mistake, that coincided with the start of the obesity epidemic. While this doesn’t prove causation, it’s clear the low-fat message didn’t prevent the obesity increase, and it is possible it contributed.
There is extensive evidence for the benefit of the Mediterranean style low carb diet, including cutting your risk of heart disease and diabetes. It has even been found to reduce risk the risk of breast cancer, compared with those on a low-fat diet. Consuming extra virgin olive oil (the fresh squeezed juice of olives) seems to be particularly beneficial when it comes to cancer, perhaps because it contains compounds such as polyphenols which are known to be anti-inflammatory.
If you want to cut costs even more you can replace the avocado in the tuna salad (if you are not lucky enough to find avocados on sale) with more vegetables. A drizzle of some extra olive oil on the salad will compensate for the reduction of fat from the avocado. You can also substitute any of cheeses in the recipes for other types of cheese that you may find on sale.
Low-carb diets, especially very low-carb diets, may lead to greater short-term weight loss than do low-fat diets. But most studies have found that at 12 or 24 months, the benefits of a low-carb diet are not very large. A 2015 review found that higher protein, low-carbohydrate diets may offer a slight advantage in terms of weight loss and loss of fat mass compared with a normal protein diet.
Although it’s true that your brain has high energy demands and requires some glucose, when you’re in ketosis, there are plenty of ketones to supply a good portion of its fuel. Fortunately, your liver will always make the small amount of glucose your brain needs, even under conditions of complete starvation. This process, known as gluconeogenesis (literally “making new glucose”), can also provide glucose for other structures that need it, such as the red blood cells and a portion of the kidneys.
In general, a low-carb diet focuses on proteins, including meat, poultry, fish and eggs, and some nonstarchy vegetables. A low-carb diet generally excludes or limits most grains, legumes, fruits, breads, sweets, pastas and starchy vegetables, and sometimes nuts and seeds. Some low-carb diet plans allow small amounts of certain fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Use our premium meal planner tool (free trial) to access tons of weekly meal plans, complete with shopping lists. You can adapt the diet plans to your liking, skipping any meal, choosing how many people you’re cooking for, and the shopping lists adapt. You can even start a new plan from scratch (of from pre-existing ones), tailor them completely and save them.
Appetite regulation: One of the first things people often notice when they’re in ketosis is that they’re no longer hungry all the time. In fact, research has shown that being in ketosis suppresses appetite. One study looked at people who lost weight by following a ketogenic diet for eight weeks and then reintroduced small amounts of carbs. The researchers reported that levels of ghrelin (the “hunger hormone”) were suppressed in those who remained in ketosis, whereas those who were no longer in ketosis had higher ghrelin levels.
Another option is to decrease the intake of carbohydrates slowly, over a few weeks, to minimize side effects. But the “Nike way” (Just Do It) may be the best choice for most people. Removing most sugar and starch often results in several pounds lost on the scale within a few days. This may be mostly fluids, but it can still be great for motivation.
Low-carb diets may improve high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and triglyceride values slightly more than do moderate-carb diets. That may be due not only to how many carbs you eat but also to the quality of your other food choices. Lean protein (fish, poultry, legumes), healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) and unprocessed carbs — such as whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy products — are generally healthier choices.
Basic no-cook plates: Away from a kitchen or not wanting to cook for a meal? Sliced deli meats, cheese, and vegetables with dip make an easy lunch. Or boil up a dozen eggs and keep them ready in the fridge to grab for lunch or snacks. A can of tuna or salmon, with some full fat mayonnaise and vegetable crudités, is a simple lunch. Smoked oysters, sardines, herring with raw veggies or a salad are other easy no-cook choices.
Try to be patient. Although some people get into ketosis relatively quickly, it may take others a while. Unfortunately, people who are insulin resistant often seem to have a longer journey. Put in a solid month of consistent keto eating, and try to ramp up your physical activity, if possible. Within four weeks, you should definitely be in ketosis and experiencing its benefits.
As per heartburn, studies done have shown that a ketogenic diet can have beneficial effects for those who have Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. A 2006 paper published in the Journal of Digestive Diseases and Sciences found that ‘Six months of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet led to significant weight loss and histologic improvement of fatty liver disease’