So I’m writing this post today as much for me as I am for you. As some of you know, I’ve been doing the low carb and gluten free thing for 2 years now, with great success. Over the Summer though, I got a little lax and the weight started creeping on. I got serious for a bit, then lax again, then serious, then lax, etc.

Since then I’ve been gaining and losing the same 12 pounds for about 6 months – a cycle I really, really need to break. In the last couple of months the situation has reached Defcon levels, because the 12 pounds has grown to about 18.

This is UNACCEPTABLE, people!!!

I need to start walking the walk, not just talking the talk! So I’m buckling down, getting serious, and hitting the Keto HARD from now on.

I’m guessing many of you are in a similar situation, since blog traffic has about doubled since January 1st! So I thought I’d share some of my tips for getting into ketosis in three days or less. Then we can rock the low carb thing together and lose the weight for good!Some of you may be new to low carb eating, and whether you are following Atkins, Keto, or another low carb plan, there are a few basic things you should know. The following are some things that I’ve found to be true by my own experience with low carb/keto dieting:

The IBIH Keys to Success on Keto…

1. Eat less than 20g net carbs per day if you want to get into ketosis. Net carbs are calculated by subtracting the fiber grams (or sugar alcohols in some cases) from the total carb grams. Don’t guess – you’d be surprised how many grams of carbs there are in things you might have considered “free” like onions, garlic, tomatoes, and kale, just to name a few.

2. Purchase some ketostix – they aren’t expensive and you can even cut them in half to get double the strips. Some people say they don’t matter, but when you are suffering as much as you will be in the first few days, it’s nice to get the validation that it’s working.

On average it takes most people about three days to get into ketosis.The sticks will confirm that ketones are being excreted through your urine. That’s all. They won’t change color at all for no ketones, then there is trace (light pink) and it goes up from there to dark purple. The darkness of the stick doesn’t matter. As long as you are showing even trace amounts, then you are in ketosis and good to go. In fact, if you are showing really dark on the stick, you may be dehydrated and need to drink more water (see #4.)

3. Eat enough salt! I’m going to say that again so pay attention.

EAT. ENOUGH. SALT.

When you eat low carb your body doesn’t retain water the same way, so sodium and other important electrolytes get flushed out quickly. You need to replenish these or you will feel awful – it can even lead to heart palpitations, panic attacks, and other scary things.

Salted bone broth or stock is a great way to replenish your electrolytes. In addition, you should supplement potassium (I use a light salt which is half sodium and half potassium – works great and you can find it in your spice aisle) and magnesium to avoid lightheadedness, cramps, headaches, etc. Vitamin C is also good.

4. DRINK LOTS OF WATER. THEN DRINK MORE WATER. THINK YOU’VE HAD ENOUGH? I DON’T CARE, GO DRINK EVEN MORE WATER.

You should slosh when you walk and be pee-ing every 10 minutes like you’re 9 months pregnant with an 11 pound baby bouncing on your bladder like a pogo stick (you moms know what I’m talking about).

This is important. I don’t want to hear any whining about how you don’t like the taste of water, etc. You can throw of few drops of mio in there if you need to, but put your big girl pants on and drink it.

Aim for at least 100 ounces a day – especially in the first couple of weeks until your body adjusts. Then you can lower it to 99 ounces a day if you’re feeling confident.

Just kidding. DRINK MORE WATER.

(Necessary internet disclaimer: Use your heads people – there is such a thing as too much water so don’t get crazy about it and drink 5 gallons a day, but do aim for a minimum of 100 ounces a day – maybe more if you have a lot of weight to lose.)

6. If this is your first time doing low carb you may be blindsided by the detox symptoms. I’m not going to lie, depending on how carb heavy your diet is when you start, you may wish you were dead by day three.

DON’T PANIC.

Headaches, bone deep fatigue, irritability, dizziness, and more, depending on your body. Hang in there, it’s worth it! The first three days are the hardest. Some of you have done it before and know to just ride it out and it will all get better soon.

Those of you who may be new to what they call “keto flu” might panic, thinking your death is imminent. I can assure you that it is highly unlikely that you will die from sugar/carb withdrawal – but just to be sure it’s always wise to consult your doctor before you embark on any new eating plan, or if something feels truly off it’s better to be safe than sorry – seek medical attention if you feel it’s necessary. Most symptoms can be alleviated by supplementing and drinking enough water (see #3 and >4.)

Your body is going to be like an angry child having a tantrum – IT WANTS SUGAR AND CARBS NOW, but you aren’t going to give it any are you? ARE YOU??? Just like with children, the key is to distract, distract, distract (oooh shiny!). Give it something else desirable, (bacon, cheese, etc.) even if it isn’t what it really wants. Don’t give in thinking you’ll feel better if you just eat a little bit of carbs – there is no compromising!

20g net carbs or less a day. LEARN IT!

It’s tough love time people, trust me on this.. Don’t obsessively plan everything and overwhelm yourself so it feels harder than it has to. This may be controversial for some, but I’m here to tell you not to worry about calories, or nitrates, or Omega 3 vs Omega 6, or if the meat you’re eating skipped about on acres of lush pastureland, while being hand fed organic vegan feed by the tiny perfect hands of 1000 virgin milkmaids.

SIMPLIFY FOR SUCCESS.

Get into ketosis. Give your body time to adapt to it so you can function. THEN you can worry about fine tuning and all the other stuff. Seriously.

Along the same vein, some of my recipes on the blog include hemp seeds, coconut flour, almond flour, and other not so easy to find ingredients – IGNORE THOSE RECIPES (for now). The focus here is, again, simplicity. You will likely be irritable, fatigued, and not feeling awesome during the first three days to a week. Trust me on this – the last thing you are going to want to do is make complicated meals.

The basic strategy here is to a) never get too hungry, and b) to stuff your face full of delicious, high fat, very low carb foods often. Once you open the door to hunger, your resolve can fly right out the window and you’re back to square one (sadly, I speak from experience on this.)

7. WARNING! This is not a high protein diet! Your body can convert excess protein into glucose and we don’t want that. You want your body to learn to use fat for energy – that is the secret to unlocking your fat stores and losing weight almost effortlessly on a low carb plan.

Keto is a Low Carb / Moderate Protein / High Fat Plan.

Don’t think you’re going to cheat the system and lose faster by restricting carbs AND fat – you will feel (even more) awful, and after the intial water weight drop your weight loss can be inhibited by eating a lot of protein.

To find out how much fat/protein you should be getting for your body, try this handy keto calculator.

If you’re going to do this thing you have to commit to eating fat – throw your old ideas about fat = bad out the window and embrace it.

EMBRACE THE FAT!

If you have anxiety about that, here is a list of links to some great resources on the science of low carb, how and why it works, testimonials & success stories, etc.

Cholesterol Clarity (Book)
Everything about Keto (Reddit Forum)
Keto FAQ (r/keto)
Living La Vida Low Carb (Website)
Keto Video Compilation (collection of free videos from around the web)
Low Carb High Fat for Beginners (website)
Guide to Ketosis (website)

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So I’m writing this post today as much for me as I am for you. As some of you know, I’ve been doing the low carb and gluten free thing for 2 years now, with great success. Over the Summer though, I got a little lax and the weight...