HOW TO KETO
Keto can be difficult, especially in the beginning. Not only does it require educating yourself, but you also have to be able take the information you learn and implement it into your daily life, diet, and routine. It's easy to forget that certain foods contain an excessive amount of carbs, or how incredibly important it is to consume your fat intake requirements. That's where niKETO comes in: our goal is to educate everyone that is interested in pursing the keto diet so they understand, in the clearest and most concise way possible, how to execute the keto diet safely and effectively. So, here is how to keto.
Getting Started On Keto
“How do I begin my keto journey?”
How to start keto is the second most asked question we get, behind only, “What is keto?” And this is how it should be. Your first step in starting keto is understanding keto. Know what you’re committing to and know why it’s worth it. Educating yourself is the first step in beginning keto.
To get a real world education and experience with keto, come by the niKETO restaurant, the first restaurant dedicated to the ketogenic way of life. Having a meal at niKETO will prove to you how delicious keto can be and how simple it really is to follow.
From there it’s an easy progression to get going:
Step 1: Know Keto
Once you understand how keto works and why it works so well, it’s just a matter of dedicating yourself to the keto lifestyle and jumping in feet first.
Step 2: Calculate your macros
Use our calculator to figure out your daily calories from fat, protein, and carbs based on your goals for keto. Plug these numbers into your favorite diet tracking app and you’re most of the way there.
Step 3: Prep
Go through your cupboards and ditch the carbs. Get rid of any temptations and leave only the keto approved foods.
Part of being ready for keto is realizing that you are likely going to be doing a lot more cooking at home. Make sure the blender is dusted off, cooking implements are easy to access, and your kitchen is ready to work.
Having to make food rather than rely on the convenience of a quick, carby bite to eat means you’ll probably want to employ a standard keto strategy of pepping meals. This is where food containers with sealable lids can save your life. Fancy glass containers or the disposable plastics all work the same. Pick them up on your trip to the store.
Which leads us to…
Step 4: Shopping for keto
Further down we have a comprehensive list of keto approved foods, including all the meats, cheeses, and fats that make keto so enjoyable. We also cover how to satisfy your sweet tooth on keto and other carb work-arounds. Our recommendation when you are first getting started is to stick to the basics: meats, cheeses, butter, bacon, leafy greens, nuts, eggs. Things that are simple to make.
Take a trip to the grocery store and get everything on your keto shopping list. Fill your fridge with keto and your keto life will be much easier.
Step 5: Focus
Now that you are set up, you can make keto a daily goal. Eat right, follow the game plan, and in no time you’ll be in ketosis, with fat adaptation not far behind.
Once you are in keto and feeling the benefits, you can branch out and try our niKETO recipes to add some variety to your keto journey.
Or, you can come by the niKETO restaurant for 100% ketogenic meals when you don’t feel like cooking or need a night out.
It really is that simple: research, prepare, stock up, focus. Congratulations, you’ve just begun a healthy new lifestyle that will help you feel and look better.
The rules of keto are rigid, but you don’t have to worry, we have everything you need to know. Even if you can’t find answer here to a specific question, feel free to contact us and ask.
what to eat on a keto diet
Once you have your macros figured out and your diet tracker set up, it’s time to go to the store and fill your kitchen with healthy, keto-friendly foods and lots of healthy fats.
Let’s begin with basics:
Keto Approved foods
Pork, Beef, White meat Chicken, Lamb, Fish, Dark Meat Chicken, other poultry, Bacon, Eggs.
All of these are filled with healthy fats. They are listed in this specific order because there is a hierarchy of keto meats based on protein. Pork has the highest amount protein and fat, but also the most calories. Eggs only contain about 6 grams of protein each. This is important to consider when buying meat, because too much protein will result in gluconeogenesis and prevent ketosis.
HIGH FAT, LOW-CARB DAIRY
Cheese, Butter, Heavy Cream, Full-fat Yogurts.
All of these dairy items offer good amounts of healthy fats. While milk is a dairy food, it’s full of lactose which is a sugar. Milk is a no-no on keto. Try heavy cream instead
NUTS & SEEDS
Macadamia, Walnuts, Almonds, Sunflower Seeds, Flax Seed, Brazil Nuts, Pecans, Chia Seeds, Hazel Nuts.
All of these nuts or seeds are high in healthy fats and nut oils. Nutritional info for nuts and seeds will show them as having high carb counts, but they are packed with fiber which is a non-soluble carbohydrate that doesn’t count. Only consider Net Carbs when counting nuts and seeds. But be sure to check nonetheless, some nuts are still high in net carbs: pistachios and cashews for example.
Kale, Spinach, Romaine lettuce, Beet Greens, Chard, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Zucchini, Mushrooms, Asparagus, Celery, Bok Choy, Cabbage, Tomatoes, Sprouts, Peppers, Olives.
The rule on keto is that the darker green and leafier the better. Those deep green veggies carry the electrolytes you’ll need to stay functional and avoid the keto flu.
A special Note: Cauliflower is the most versatile keto vegetable and when it’s time start jumping into more in-depth keto recipes, cauliflower will play a central role. It’s a favorite of the niKETO restaurant.
Coconut, Avocado, Most Berries (but not blueberries), Star fruit, Lemon or Lime Juice
Fruit, for the most part, is high in sugar and not approved for keto. Luckily, berries have a low impact on blood sugar and can be enjoyed on keto in moderation. Star fruit is also low on the glycemic scale.
Coconuts have great keto benefits and deliver MCT oils that help with ketone creation. Avocados are also a big plus on keto as they carry a ton of healthy fat.
Lemon or lime juice is good for helping with electrolyte absorption but must still be used sparingly.
HIGH QUALITY FATS
Salad dressings, Olive oil, Coconut oil, Nut oils, Nut butters, Palm oil
Oils, butters, and dressings
All of these can deliver healthy saturated fats into your keto diet. They are great to cook with or add to foods to give them extra flavor. Just be diligent in checking the nutritional info on their labels, not all oils and dressings are created equal.
Stevia, Xylitol, Erythritol, Monk Fruit, Dolcedi, Swerve, other sugar alcohols
Be careful with sweeteners. It’s best to try and avoid sweets if you can in order to break the addiction. Once in a while, some sweet might be the thing to keep you going, and for that there are sugar alcohols and sugar derivatives. The sweeteners listed above are the best options, but click here to jump to the section on keto sweeteners to see how they work and rank.
Foods to Avoid on Keto
They are chemically altered fats that only lead to health problems. Anything deep fried or any product that lists hydrogenated fat is full of trans fats, avoid them!
Rice, Wheat, Corn, Oats, Barley, Flours
Grains are all carbs and not keto appropriate. So, no bread, no pastas, no cakes, no oatmeal, no beer, no corn on the cob or anything made with corn. Be vigilant, check those labels because companies like to sneak grains in where they don’t belong.
White sugar, Honey, Agave nectar, Syrups
This is a no-brainer. Avoiding sugar is the name of the game on keto. Don’t get kicked out of ketosis because one of these sugars in hidden in your food.
Apples, Bananas, Citrus Fruits, Melons, Kiwis, Plums, Apricots, Blueberries, Peaches
All of these fruits carry huge amounts of sugar that will knock you out of keto in a hurry. If you’re craving a fruity dessert, grab a basket of strawberries and hit them with a dollop of heavy whipping cream.
Potatoes, Yams, Onions, Ginger, Carrots, Leeks, Pumpkin
These vegetables are full of starchy carbohydrates and will end your ketosis immediately. No go.
Beans, lentils, peas are all very high carb and very unfriendly to keto.
Avoid them and anything made with them, like soy that comes from beans, to stay in keto.
Now you know what to get and what to avoid. Most importantly, when you’re at the grocery store picking up your keto foods, read the nutrition labels. These will give you insight into which kinds of food use hidden sugars or transfats. Be prepared to have your mind blown.
what to drink on a keto diet
Many ketoers tend to over simplify what to drink on keto. The standard answer is to just drink water. Lots of it. While it is true, on keto you should be drinking much more water than you were before you started keto, variety is what keeps keto fresh and new. One of the biggest factors leading people to quit keto is boredom with their food.
Keto is strict and the adjustment can be difficult if allowances aren’t made to spice things up. Drinks are a bigger part of our dietary enjoyment than we realize… until they’re gone and all we have is water.
Here’s how to stay keto safe while enjoying your liquids.
First, you should drink a few extra glasses of water every day. Keto’s diuretic effect can leave you dehydrated and open to the keto flu if you don’t replenish those lose fluids. Set a water goal and stick to it to ensure your transition into keto, and the subsequent fat adaptation, are smooth sailing.
Most of us can’t live without coffee. We’d be formless blobs dragging ourselves down the street aimlessly without our morning coffee. The good news is coffee is totally fine on keto and it’s actually been made into an enjoyable fat-delivery system.
Buttered coffee is a blended coffee you can make at home that will kick start your fat intake for the day and even add to your energy. Dump a cup of coffee, a tablespoon of grass-fed butter, some MCT oil, and some heavy whipping cream in your blender and mix smooth for a perfect buttered coffee.
The niKETO restaurant knows how important coffee is and has created several flavors of ketoccinis to satisfy those gourmet coffee craving.
Flavored Sparkling Waters
A tough habit to break is soda. The sugar rush, the effervescence of the carbonation, and the sharp flavor are all addicting and refreshing. But with most sodas around 40 grams of sugar per can, not only is soda not keto, it’s not even close to healthy.
Sparkling waters come in just about any flavor these days and they can help wean you off of soda while still delivering the flavorful, carbonated, refreshment you’re used to.
A word about diet sodas: While they are sugar free, many diet sodas use sweeteners that can still have an impact on your blood glucose and mess up your ketosis. Some will still use actual sugar but get around the nutrition label laws by using such a reduced amount that they aren’t required to put it on the label.
Hot or iced, teas are carb free and come in many delicious flavors. As an added benefit, young teas, like green tea, can help you burn fat.
Powerade has a sugar free version of their sports drink that comes in just about every flavor. And to show you how far the keto, no-carb movement has reached, Gatorade has announced a no carb, high electrolyte formula due out next year called Gatorade zero. The best part about these no-carb sports drinks is that they will keep you in keto and help up your electrolytes, staving off the dreaded keto flu.
For simplicity, squeezing a lemon in your water will add a zing of flavor, but lemon is also helpful on keto as it helps up your citrates. Citrates help to prevent the formation of stones in your gallbladder and kidneys.
This is the big one. It’s a common question, “can I drink alcohol on keto?” Yes, but… Distilled spirits like vodka, whiskey, tequila, etc. will not kick you out of keto on their own. What distilled alcohols will do is put your ketosis on pause. Your body must burn off the alcohol in your system before it can get back to the business of creating ketones. So know that you can drink, but it will put ketosis on hold.
The caution with alcohol is to avoid sugary mixers that will interrupt your ketosis, stay away from most beers as they are brewed with grains rather than distilled, and to be careful when drinking wine. Some wines are acceptable and have a low keto cost, and some wines, like whites and the dessert wines, will knock you out with one glass.
Click here to go to our list of approved alcohols, click here to get a more in depth explanation of keto and drinking, or click here for our list of keto cocktails.
recommended keto sweeteners
The keto lifestyle and sugar don’t get along. Giving up sugar is a necessity on keto and a hurdle many people new to keto can’t always get over. When asked, a majority of first-time ketoers who gave up on keto sited their unfulfilled sweet tooth as the reason for their abandonment of keto. This isn’t surprising, and it’s not something we here at niKETO consider a failure, rather it’s a relapse.
It may sound strange, but sugar is an addictive chemical not unlike a drug. And like drugs, sugar tells your brain to release serotonin that makes your happy and more alert. Chemically, your brain loves sugar because it signals the start of happy times… just like a drug. The problem for many new ketoers is that stopping cold turkey can lead to intense cravings that seep into your subconscious and even force you to dream about pigging out on candy and sweets.
Like they say in rehab, it takes 28 days to break an addiction. So how do you power through those first 28 days of keto when your body wants sugar but you don’t want to give in? You trick it with sweeteners and sugar substitutes that deliver the sweet zing without jacking your blood glucose and kicking you out of keto.
Because we want you to succeed on keto and achieve a healthy, happy lifestyle, we’ve compiled a list of the best, worst, and in between sweeteners for keto.
GLYCEMIC INDEX SCORE – GLYCEMIC IMPACT
What is a glycemic score or G.I. score? The glycemic index of a food measures its impact on your blood sugar and the effect it will have on spiking your blood glucose. You’ll notice on the chart above that glucose has a G.I. score of 100, making 100 the highest score and all other scores a percentage of glucose’s blood impact. For the purposes of keto, the lower the glycemic score the better, as lower scores will not impact your blood sugar as much and will not kick you out of keto.
5 CATEGORIES OF SWEETENERS
SUGAR – Sugar is natural and found in many foods, such as fruits, vegetables, milk, and grains. Sugar carries 4 calories per gram and will kick you out of keto. Common sugars are:
Sucrose, Glucose, Dextrose, Lactose, Maltose, Fructose, Galactose. You may notice a pattern here… the –ose suffix means sugar. Look for this on nutrition labels to make sure you aren’t getting an exotic, renamed sugar.
Honey and most syrups are technically forms of sugar but they have lower G.I. scores, Dolcedi is one keto acceptable syrup we’ve found.
NATURAL NO CALORIE SUGARS - These sweeteners are typically derived from plants and other natural sources that have a natural sweetness. These are some of the very best sweeteners for keto as they score the amazing ZERO on the glycemic index and usually have little to no calorie count. They typically carry sweetness levels one to three hundred times that of sugar, so a little bit goes a long way; be careful when using them as most cannot be substituted 1:1 with real sugar, with the exception of allulose and inulin. Natural no calorie sugars in this category are:
Stevia, Allulose, Monk Fruit, Inulin, Tagatose
SUGAR ALCOHOLS – Sugar alcohols can be tricky. Erthyritol is a keto staple sweetener and can be a lifeline when those early cravings kick in. But Maltitol is almost as bad as actual sugar. These sugar alcohols will add to the net carb math you’ll need to do when choosing food products that contain them. The same way you subtract fiber from total carbs, you’ll need to subtract sugar alcohols from total carbs as well to get a true, net carb count. Sugar alcohols include:
Erythritol, Isomalt, Xylitol, Maltitol, Sorbitol, Lactitol, Mannitol
MODIFIED SUGARS – Let’s begin by saying stay away from these. They are processed sugars that have high G.I. scores, wreak havoc on your teeth, and are just generally bad for your body in ways science has only been able to guess at so far. These modified sugars include some of those scary sugar names we’re hearing about:
High Fructose corn syrup, Refiners sugar, Modified corn sugar, Caramel, Golden syrup, Inverted sugar.
SYNTHETIC/ ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS – These lab-made sweeteners have the plus side of being very low to zero impact on the glycemic index and most are zero calorie. They are technically fine on keto as they don’t impact your blood glucose levels and won’t kick you out of keto, but their ongoing study and other possible health effects mean you need to keep an eye on how much of these you use. Typical synthetic sweeteners are:
Aspartame, Saccaharin, Sucralose, Neotame, Cyclamate
niKETO’S RECOMMENDED SWEETENERS AND CAUTIONS
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that is naturally derived from fruit or corn. It’s great to use in baking because it’s close to sugar in sweetness at about 60% as sweet. Using just a little more is all it takes to match sugar in recipes. Sugar alcohols are actually good for your teeth so it has that as a plus along with the fact that it’s relatively inexpensive. A 1 pound bag is typically around $9.00.
The only drawbacks of erythritol are that some people notice a metallic aftertaste with it and, because it’s not absorbed by the body, it can cause gastro issues when used in larger amounts causing gas and even having a laxative effect.
Stevia is great: it’s natural, it’s inexpensive, and it has been shown to have other health benefits like lowering inflammation and blood pressure. It comes in both powdered and liquid forms depending on how you want to use it. A word of caution, stevia is 300 times sweeter than table sugar so a few drops or a light dusting is plenty. It’s easy to ruin a recipe or a good cup of coffee by overusing stevia. It can have a pungent aftertaste that sticks around if you use too much.
While Dolcedi isn’t the lowest on the G.I. scale or in calorie count, it doesn’t take much to be effective. A quarter teaspoon is plenty. Because Dolcedi is made naturally from apples and is super concentrated, it packs a powerful sweet punch and it doesn’t have the aftertaste issues that some of the other sweeteners come with. The concentrating process also prevents an overpowering apple flavor from mixing in, leaving Dolcedi a neutral-flavored sweetener that can be used in nearly any way.
Allulose is the newest discovery when it comes to sweeteners, but it’s showing great promise. So far only Quest protein bars have picked up allulose for use in their products, however, many other health conscious food brands are experimenting with switching over to an allulose sweetener. You can buy allulose online or in some health food stores and it’s not expensive. Most ketoers who we’ve talked to love allulose but have mentioned that of all the sweeteners out there, allulose is the hardest on gastro tracts. So be careful.
Inulin can be a good option since it’s G.I. is low and its net effective carb count won’t hit you. The only real problem with inulin is that it comes from chicory root and ketoers with ragweed allergies have reported that inulin can exacerbate their allergies. Inulin is also in the gastric distress category if overused. Inulin is a fine sweetener, but it might be better to mix it with another sweetener on the list to cut down the possible uncomfortable side effects.
Monk fruit is great and belongs in the stevia, dolcedi group of sweeteners that are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar. It’s a great helper for diabetics and has less of an aftertaste than some of the other sweeteners. The problem with monk fruit is that it’s very hard to find. Most monk fruit products for sale online are mixed with other sweeteners or fillers that contain a G.I. hit and carbs. If you do find 100% monk fruit sweetener, it’s likely going to be on the highest end of the price scale.
Aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin are all low on the G.I. and sucralose is even carb and calorie free, but the additional health risks being studied when it comes to synthetic sweeteners is enough to give us pause. If you are going to use synthetic sweeteners, use them sparingly. We include them on this list because many keto friendly products will use these, especially aspartame. They won’t kick you out of keto and they can help you transition into a state of no longer craving sweets, so use them as a means to an end, not as a habit.
Xylitol, Isomalt, Mannitol are all in our midrange because they have high carb counts, elevated G.I. scores, and high calorie counts. Combine that with their gastro side effects and aftertastes and it becomes obvious that they’ll do in a pinch or a sprinkle in the morning coffee, but there are better sweeteners out there.
Maltitol deserves a special warning. There are ketoers out there who claim that because maltitol is a sugar alcohol it’s fine to use, just like erythritol, xylitol, isomalt, or mannitol. It’s not. Malitol will raise your blood glucose level and it will kick you out of keto with surprisingly small amounts. Avoid it, despite what some may believe.
Pick your favorite and use it to help wean your brain chemistry off of a sugar dependence. In no time at all you’ll be rid of those cravings and can enjoy sweet treats in moderation again.
cheating on the keto diet
You know what we’re going to say about cheating. It’s called cheating because you’re being unfaithful to a promise. Don’t cheat!
Okay, now that that’s out of the way let’s discuss why cheating on keto is so bad, how to keep it from happening, and what to do if you slip up.
WHY IS CHEATING ON KETO WORSE THAN CHEATING ON ANY OTHER DIET?
With keto, the consequences of cheating can have far reaching effects. Cheating on typical, calorie restricted diets is just a bump in the road and can be compensated for by adjusting and eating fewer calories. But because it can take a few days to weeks just to get into ketosis, cheating on keto can set you back to square one, restarting your progress and negating the investment you put into achieving keto.
Reintroducing glucose through an abundance of carbs means you’ll have to completely wash your system of the carbs and glucose again before getting back into keto, costing you another few days.
Fat Adaption Delay and Reset
The other problem with keto cheating is that is can derail one of the biggest goals of keto which to become fully fat adapted. Fat adaption usually occurs around the 30-day mark and brings with it all of the amazing keto benefits: the skin clears and glows, mental acuity is razor sharp, energy is high, the waistline trims at a noticeable pace, and your cravings have all but gone away. Fat adaption occurs when all of your stored glycogen has been pulled out of your muscles and burned off, it’s like ketosis times two. Cheating resets the clock on fat adaption and delays all those wonderful benefits.
Return of the Cravings
Cravings are the number one reason people cheat to begin with, but the further you go without caving to them the less you’ll feel them. Eventually, the dimming light bulb of cravings will shut off completely and you won’t even find sweets appetizing. It’s a good place to be. But if you cheat and reintroduce that sugar glucose into your system, your brain is going to get those chemical signals again and the craving lightbulb will go back to glowing full power. Then you’re at the mercy of the cravings once more.
If you cheat and have to restart your journey into ketosis, you’re risking the pitfalls of not feeling good. The keto flu, the exhaustion, the muscle soreness are all real possibilities if you cheat enough to kick yourself out of keto and try to restart right away. You’ll have to go through the whoosh again and if you don’t stay on top of your electrolytes you can tailspin into keto sickness very quickly.
HOW TO CHEAT YOUR CHEAT MEAL
Cravings are real and very powerful. Sugar has a chemical hold on your brain chemistry, very similar to drug addiction. It can overpower your thoughts and crumble even the strongest of us. Instead of playing mental tug-of-war with your cravings and trying to willpower your way through, try cheating within the rules of keto. If you’re craving sweet, have some berries or make a dessert with a keto approved sweetener. Feeling starchy and dying for potatoes, have some cauliflower mash with cheese. There are ways to punch your cravings back that fall within keto.
IF YOU FALL OUT, HOP RIGHT BACK IN
We get it, keto can be difficult. You’re not bad for wanting to cheat or even following through. It happens. If you do get knocked out of keto, through a cheat meal or by accident, you can get back in relatively quickly be being disciplined:
Return to keto, cut the carbs.
Try fasting to burn off the cheat glucose
Exercise to force your body to burn calories and blood sugar quicker.
Get more sleep
Water, water, water
If you’re lucky, you can get back into keto within a day.
The important part to remember is that if you do cheat and cave into your cravings, you’re not alone, we’ve all had a backslide. Forgive yourself, double your efforts, get back into keto and keep an eye out for those cravings the next time around.
Don’t let the cheat meal win by allowing it to grow into a cheat day, then a cheat week. The reason cheat meals spiral out of control is guilt. Don’t feel guilty for cheating, simply move on and rededicate to keto, stop the tailspin before it starts.
And as always, we’re here for you.
When trying keto for the first time it can seem like trying to figure out an overly scientific alien language. Ketones, gluconeogenesis, autophagy, healthy fats, these aren’t words that are used in every day society. Ketones don’t come up in conversation. Discussing urine color and frequency would make most folks blush. But all of this is part of a ketoer’s everyday life.
We refer to keto as a journey because it’s something you commit yourself to. No one just gives keto a shot on a whim, or if they do they don’t see any success. Keto takes dedication and should be the poster child for the phrase ‘you get out what you put in.’ Keto takes a lot and in return it gives a lot.
This is why seasoned ketoers seem to have their own language, they discuss bathroom habits without embarrassment and they know the nutritional value of foods off the tops of their heads.
Keto is a way of life and from the outside looking in ketoers seem obsessed, but once you’re on the inside you find out it’s not obsession, it’s focus. Focus driven by results. The rewards keto delivers are amazing and have improved the lives of many, many people.
That laser beam focus that drives ketoers can be hard to understand when you’re first starting and trying to transition into keto yourself. All of that to say keto is an investment and it’s a total change in mindset. Transitioning into keto from your normal diet habits will require a total reboot of how you see food and how you eat.
Here are our tips to help you transition into the keto lifestyle:
1. EDUCATE YOURSELF
If you’re here reading this then you have this one figured out already, good job. But there’s a lot of information about keto and how to run it the right way. There’s one right way to do keto and a million wrong ways. Make sure you understand everything about it before you begin so that you aren’t having to restart and you’re not hitting road blocks. Here at niKETO we pride ourselves on covering every aspect of keto down to the smallest detail. We are constantly searching for new keto approved foods and staying on top of helpful supplements and tricks to help you succeed in keto.
Like we said, keto isn’t just something you read about in the paper and decide to try that night. Keto is more of an organized attack on the unhealthy parts of your lifestyle than a quickie, fad diet. As such, you need to map out your objectives and go into keto with all the support you’ll need to make it a success. Making sure your kitchen is keto friendly by dumping carbs and filling the fridge with healthy fats is essential. Talk to your closest confidants and ask them for their support in your decision to improve your life with keto. Anything you’ll need to plan for keto victory happens before you even eat your first bacon-wrapped, butter steak.
3. DO THE MATH AND TRACK THE NUMBERS
Don’t try to wing it on keto. There’s too much technology out there now making keto infinitely easier than it was before smart phones. Use our keto calculator to figure out how your keto macros break down. It’s one thing to read 70% healthy fat, 25% protein, 5% healthy carbs, it’s another thing to know what that looks like for your body. The calculator will breakdown your macros into calories and base it on your specific needs. Once you have your numbers, track your daily macros with a calorie tracker app or even a pen and paper. However you do it, keeping a record of your daily calories will show you your progress and will keep you moving forward with positive strides.
4. FIND YOUR FAVORITES
One of the biggest aspects of finding success in transitioning into a keto lifestyle is finding your own, personal comfort spot. At first, try everything keto has to offer. There are some amazing keto friendly foods out there these days, find the ones you love and make them your staples. Having a keto friendly food at hand any time you need a snack is a great way to ensure you can comfortably transition into keto. Once you find your favorites, you can start experimenting with recipes and meal plans. You’ll quickly find favorite dishes that will make keto all that much more enjoyable.
5. USE THE KETO COMMUNITY
Once you’re in the keto game, you’ve educated yourself, prepped yourself for success, you’ll begin to understand the language of keto and the mindset of ketoers. You’ll see that it’s not an alien language, it’s just a group of like-minded people who want to improve their quality of life. Once you understand that, and the amount of focus and determination it takes, you’ll be ready to reach out to the keto community. When you’ve found your focus and you’re dedicated to the keto life you’ll find other ketoers and realize that they are happy to have you in the club. Experienced ketoers love to share success stories, food ideas, encouragement, and education. You will too once you’ve seen and felt the difference keto makes. So use the ketoers who’ve been where you are, ask questions and advice, I promise you, the community of ketoers will help. We here at niKETO are a wonderful resource to help you get to the pulse of the community, so use us!
The key thing to remember when transitioning into the keto lifestyle is to not let keto intimidate you and to not get discouraged. There is a lot to learn about keto in order to do it the right way, it can be daunting, but that’s why we’re here. We want to make all of the keto information easily accessible. We want to strip away keto’s mystic and make it available to anyone who is serious about improving their quality of life.
Don’t get flustered, don’t let it make you anxious, keto is simple and fun once you get the hang of it.
The dreaded keto flu. The horrible keto flu. Keto flu, the villain of keto. Scary. Booga-booga!
Don’t fear the Keto flu, it’s just a shadow on the wall. People talk about the keto flu like it’s a flesh eating bacteria, like it’s going to ruin their lives. Don’t get us wrong, keto flu is real and it can feel like the end of days, but it’s so easy to avoid and even fix if you do get it that you might feel kind of silly for getting all worked up worrying about it.
WHAT IS THIS KETO BOOGEYMAN KNOWN AS THE KETO FLU?
The keto flu is a list of symptoms you can get if you don’t take the proper precautions when first entering into ketosis. It’s so feared because the symptoms are uncomfortable and play off of one another to make the keto flu experience all the more miserable. It can feel like an actual flu bug, and it can put you down. Add to that the embarrassment factor of having willingly done this to yourself in the name of, ironically, better health and it all snowballs into a huge problem.
So what is this list of possible symptoms?
Lack of focus, foggy brain
Severe sugar cravings
Yes, that is quite a list and getting even just a few of them at once can be wretched. Getting the keto flu is bad, but our point is, you don’t have to get it. It’s not something that you’re required to push through to achieve keto. You can avoid it in such a simple way.
STOP THE KETO FLU FROM STARTING
All of these nasty symptoms are the result of your body quickly losing electrolytes and a rate that out paces replenishment. Couple that with the hormonal changes taking place during the keto transition and it’s no wonder your body won’t respond kindly.
Keto’s diuretic effect flushes your system. This flush has been dubbed the Whoosh effect by most ketoers and it’s responsible for that immediate few pound-drop you receive when first entering keto. Unprepared ketoers don’t realize that this rapid fluid loss resulting from keto takes a lot of your body’s sodium, magnesium, and potassium with it. Those three minerals are known as electrolytes because they conduct electrical charges when mixes with water. And because your brain controls your muscles through electrical impulses, it shouldn’t be any surprise that not having enough connectivity to run your systems will leave you feeling cruddy.
The simple fix
Knowing why the keto flu happens is 2/3 of the battle. The remaining third is acting on it. Replenish your electrolytes by eating foods higher in sodium, magnesium, and potassium; add table salt to meals, focus on green veggies, and eat some nuts. Then drink lots of water. Try to drink at least 64 ounces per day, more if you can manage it.
Supplements can also help stem the keto flu. Add some niKETO MCT oil to your diet to promote the ketone production transition and take niKETO hydrate to help your cells retain the water they’re losing during ketosis.
Some ketoers swear by bone broth to up their sodium, still others will drink zero carb sports drinks designed to replenish electrolytes.
However, you chose to get your sodium, magnesium, and potassium the important thing is you get them into your system in abundance. This will prevent the keto flu from afflicting you and it can stop it dead if you do start to feel the symptoms.
So no more fearing the keto flu now that you know how to fight back. Feel free to contact us if you have questions.
finding your macro requirements
What are my macro numbers supposed to be on keto? Good question. We wish we could just give you a static number, but everyone’s body is different and requires different things. By now you know the macro ratios, keto is 75% health fats, 20% protein, and 5% carbs from beneficial sources. That’s all well and good, but how do those numbers breakdown for you?
Luckily, we have the perfect tool to help you figure out your body’s ideal caloric breakdown by macro nutrient.
Our calculator will help you determine the number of calories you’ll need to consume per day to achieve your goal of either weight loss, weight maintenance, or to pack on gains.
Below we will walk you through the niKETO macro calculator to help you determine your most accurate macro numbers and help you get started on keto the right way.
IMPERIAL OR METRIC
Imperial is the United States standard for measurement, and choosing imperial will ask you for your information in feet/ inches and pounds. Metric is the standard measurement for the rest of the world, and metric will set your measurement information to centimeters and kilograms. Chose the measurement system that you are the most familiar with so you can fill out the calculator with the most accurate information about yourself.
FEMALE OR MALE
For the purposes of determining your best macro distribution, gender is being used in the sense of genetic sex. Your calorie usage is based on a formula that takes into account hormones and sex because men and women lose fat and gain muscle differently according to their biology.
The niKETO calculator uses the industry recognized standard for the most accurate formula when determining macro calculation, the Mifflin St. Jeor formula that looks like this:
Mifflin St. Jeor Formula
Men: 10 x weight (metric - kg) + 6.25 x height (metric - cm) – 5 x Age + 5
Women: 10 x weight (metric - kg) + 6.25 x height (metric - cm) – 5 x Age – 161
It takes genetic difference into cconsideration in order to prevent a one-size-fits all approach that would lead to inaccuracies for both sexes.
Your height is an important part of the formula as it helps determine your overall size which correlates directly to caloric need. A taller person typically carries, or can carry, more weight which equates to a higher calorie demand.
Another key factor in the Mifflin St. Jeor formula, weight is necessary in order to calculate the number of calories needed based on your goals. If you are overweight for your height, and your goal is weight loss, the formula will account for that by determining how much of a caloric deficit you must eat to drop pounds. For gains, the formula will calculate in a caloric surplus to make sure you are getting the additional calories you’ll need to feed muscle growth or to fuel heavy athletic performance.
The answer to this is crucial to finding your ideal caloric and macro intake. Take your time with this one and really consider how much actual exercise you get in an average day. Desk jobs with a lot of sitting burn very few additional calories, which means you’ll need to make up for that by eating fewer calories to begin with, if your goal is weight loss. If you work a physically demanding job, your calorie allotment needs to be higher to ensure you have the energy you need to move all day while still shedding pounds.
If your goal is to gain, and you work out frequently, your results will return will a much higher calorie count as you’ll be burning a lot of calories to work out, but you’ll need to eat more than you burn in order to put on the weight you’re looking for.
BODY FAT PERCENTAGE
Because all body weight isn’t created equally, the calculator needs to know what your body fat percentage is so it can assess how much of your weight is muscle that you obviously want to keep, and how much of it is fat you can shed.
Here is our body fat calculator that help you determine your body fat percentage.
Body fat percentage isn’t the easiest thing to determine without a special machine or a pair of body fat calipers, which you can order here. But another good way to get close to figuring out your body fat percentage without using tools is to use comparison sites. They will have pictures of women and men of all body fat percentage and you’ll do your best to compare your physique to the one that most closely matches you. It’s not the most scientific nor accurate, but it will get you close enough to get started.
DAILY NET CARBS
The niKETO calculator allows you to choose a custom amount of daily net carbs that are calculated into your final results. The standard practice for keto is to keep your carbs below 5% of your daily calories which typically equates to 20 net carbs per day or fewer. But because keto is a versatile diet, used to accomplish different goals for different people, our calculator allows you to customize your daily net carbohydrate intake as part of your calculation results.
If you find that 20 carbs per day is not enough due to a demanding workout regimen or difficulties transition into keto, you can set your net carb allotment a little higher. It’s recommend that if you need to raise your carb allowance, it’s best not to exceed 40 net carbs per day as any more than that can prevent ketosis.
If you decide to practice keto with fewer than 20 net carbs per day, be aware that you’ll need to make up the minerals and nutrients that you’ll be missing out on from under-eating leafy greens and keto friendly carbs.
This is particularly important as your goal will determine your calculation’s daily caloric intake.
WEIGHT LOSS: If you chose weight loss as your keto goal, the numbers returned by the calculator will have a lower calorie count to ensure you lose weight with the calorie-in being less than calorie-out model.
WEIGHT MAINTAINENCE: If maintaining your weight is your goal, the calculator will figure out your body’s daily calorie burn based on the answers you’ve already provided and it will match your daily calorie allotment to that number as closely as possible so that your weight neither goes up nor down.
WEIGHT GAIN: If gains are your keto goal, the calculations will return a daily caloric number based on your activity level, which is essentially how many more calories you’ll be burning by working out. The calculator will account for the extra calorie burn plus it will add the additional calories you’ll need to put the weight on. For gains, you can also up your daily net carb intake to help with exertion. Start with 30 and go up or down based on how you feel as you progress.
Once you’ve filled in the calculator with the most accurate info about yourself and your desired keto results, it will give you the specific numbers you’ll need to hit every day in order to optimize your keto journey.
Take these new numbers, specific to you, and plug them into your tracking app of choice and let technology keep track of your daily macro numbers for you. Tracking takes time and diligence, but once you get the hang of it you’ll see how helpful recording your macros will be to your keto progress.
how much protein should I eat?
Protein intake on keto is like the baby bear’s porridge from Goldilocks and the three bears, it needs to be juuuuuuust right. In truth, there is a little wiggle room with how much protein you can eat on keto as long as it fits into the acceptable range, but that wiggle room isn’t much.
Of the three major macronutrients that make up our diets, protein is responsible for muscle growth and repair. It also helps strengthen your bones, keeps your hair and nails healthy, assists in hormone and enzyme production, and it keeps your blood healthy. So protein is important, got it. Meaning we should be eating as much protein as we can? No. Not on keto.
You absolutely need protein on keto. You can’t have too little protein or you’ll lose muscle and bone health (retaining muscle while losing weight is actually a huge benefit of keto, so absolutely make sure you get your 25 % in every day). But you also can’t have too much. Yes, it’s possible to have too much protein. And while it’s true that other diets praise protein and advocate getting as much as you can, on keto eating a lot of protein will sabotage ketosis and interrupt your ketone production, negating the benefits of keto.
Here's how. Gluconeogenesis is a metabolic process that occurs in your body when glucose stores are low but protein is in abundance. Those same enzymes that protein provides to help with hormone production can raise your blood’s insulin levels because the amino acids provided by protein can by metabolized into glucose by the liver.
For those fluent in the language of ancient Greek, the word Gluconeogenesis is a perfect explanation of the process:
Gluco – Sugar (glucose)
Neo - new
Genesis – creation
The creation of new sugar.
That’s what eating too much protein will do when there is a lack of glucose in the blood. Since keto is the purposeful exile of the carbohydrates that make glucose, eating keto automatically sets the stage for protein’s metabolism into sugar.
We have more on gluconeogenesis here.
The main point about protein consumption while on keto is that you must keep it within the acceptable range: too little will cost you precious skeletal muscle, and too much will kick you out of keto and stop ketone production.
We know what you’re thinking, “that explanation of why protein is important to get right was great, but it still didn’t answer my very specific question: how much protein should I eat on keto?”
The answer is, it depends. It depends on your body, your goals for keto, and your activity level. The best place to find the specific answer about how much protein, specifically, you need is to use the niKETO calculator. You’ll answer a few questions and the calculator will give you your daily keto protein requirements. You can then plug those numbers into your diet tracking app and it will keep you within the acceptable range.
If you like numbers, the daily protein consumption ranges look like this:
SEDENTARY LIFE STYLE: 0.5-0.7 grams of protein per pound of lean body weight.
LIGHTLY ACTIVE LIFE STYLE: 0.8-1.0 grams of protein per pound of lean body weight
MODERATELY ACTIVE: 1.0-1.2 grams of protein per pound of lean body weight
VERY ACTIVE (keto for muscle gains): 1.5-2.0 grams of protein per pound of lean body weight
When first beginning keto it can be difficult not to overdo your daily protein macro. One of the reasons people love keto is the food, but the problem you can run into is that meat and cheese are keto staples and they tend to carry high protein values. Choose meats and cheeses with a higher fat to protein ratio to make sure you can hit your 70% fat macro without going over your protein allotment.
Once you’ve been on the keto journey for a little while, your protein range won’t even be something you need to think about. You’ll get your diet dialed in and you’ll figure out which foods work best for you to hit all of your daily macros with almost no effort at all.
getting into ketosis
Ketosis is the name of the game, quite literally. Keto is short for ketosis. The metabolic switch from glucose to ketones is ketosis and it’s the ultimate goal of all this education, planning, prep, and eating of healthy fats.
Achieving ketosis is pretty simple. Follow the keto rules and in 2 to 10 days your body will deplete its glucose stores, triggering your liver to produce ketones for fuel instead of more glucose.
Ketoers often call this getting into keto. When you begin the keto lifestyle, your first goal is to focus on getting into ketosis. It’s a process that takes time, and until you’re actually in ketosis your body isn’t getting the keto benefits yet.
A big misconception the keto-uneducated have about the keto diet is that is begins when you eat your first cheese, egg, and spinach omelet cooked in the fat from your side of bacon.
It takes time to burn off all the glucose in your system so the ketones can flow. The nice thing is, you can help speed the process along with a few tried and true tips so you’re closer to the 2 day transition than the 10 day.
In order of importance and effectiveness, here’s how to hit keto hard and fast:
CUT THE CARBS
This is the most fundamental building block of keto. Cut out the carbs and be diligent about not letting them sneak back in. Use the niKETO calculator to find your macro numbers, use a diet tracker to keep track, and read nutrition labels to ensure there are no sneaky carbs getting in to ruin your progress.
WATCH YOUR PROTEIN
This is another must for keto. It’s really easy to eat too much protein on diet that utilizes lots of meats and cheeses. Having too much protein in your system will kick you into another metabolic process called gluconeogenesis that turns protein into the glucose you don’t want. Keep the protein in the 25% range to ensure it doesn’t sabotage your entry into ketosis.
FOCUS ON FATS
70% of your daily calories need to come from healthy fat from here on out. It seems counterintuitive based on all the misinformation we’ve been given our entire lives, but this is how keto works. Eat fat to promote the production of the ketones that will become your new fuel.
Those 3 are more rules than tips. You must pay attention to all 3 if you want to make ketosis. What follows are the tips to help speed the process along.
Water and hydration are a big part of keto. Once in ketosis, you’ll find yourself urinating a lot more often and you’ll need to keep up with the loss of fluid. But water will also help you achieve ketosis in the first place. Water helps speed metabolic function along and can assist in the usage of stored glucose.
Get moving. Raise your heart rate and burn those extra calories. Exercising forces your body to burn calories faster, meaning you’ll go through your glucose stores even faster. And with only fats there for calorie replacement, your liver will be kicked into creating ketones. Try anaerobic exercises for best results, short burst of high effort with rest in between.
Some ketoers will do a 24 hour fast to kick their metabolism into high gear and force it to use only the stored glucose for energy, thereby burning it off faster. Feel free to try that, or, if that’s a little too intense, try intermittent fasting where you eat your keto foods inside an 8 or 6 hour eating window. This too will promote glucose burn off to compensate for the lack of additional calories coming in.
Medium-Chain Triglyceride fats are the best way to ramp up ketone production. Supplementing your diet with a dedicated MCT oil supplement or by adding coconut oil to meals will help rev your ketone production into a higher gear because they are so easily absorbed into the liver.
That’s it, three musts and four tricks for getting you into ketosis quickly and safely.
A word of caution. With keto’s popularity on the rise due to its amazing effectiveness, there are a lot of people out there who want to jump on the keto train. Not all of these folks provide the best information. These seven steps listed above are really the only ways of getting into ketosis and doing it in the fastest way possible. There are no real short cuts, ketosis will take a few days, just be patient.
Be wary of folks trying to sell you a quick fix or single pill that will magically change your metabolism within minutes. Ketosis takes work and time. Trust the process, track your macros, avoid magic beans (all beans for that matter) and keep on ketoing on.
how to know if you are in ketosis
When you achieve keto for the first time, and you know for sure you’re in, the sense of accomplishment is overwhelming , like getting into fraternity or sorority where not everyone could withstand the hazing.
It’s at this point, when ketosis is happening in your body, that eating keto feels like putting money in the bank; everything you eat is paying off in big ways. It’s a good feeling.
But how do you know definitively if you are in?
There a few ways.
The least expensive, lowest tech way to know you’re in keto is to pay attention to the ketogenic effects.
THE WHOOSH. When you first enter ketosis your body will get rid of water quickly and often. This is keto’s diuretic effect and it accounts for the rapid loss of 5 to 10 pounds you’ll likely experience right at the beginning of ketosis. This is commonly called the Whoosh, and while the weight you just dropped like a bad relationship is sadly just water weight, it is a sign that you’ve enter ketosis.
KETO BREATH. It sounds strange, but when you’re in ketosis your breath can smell like over ripe fruit or nail polish remover. We wish that were a joke, it’s not. One of the ketones created in during ketosis is acetone. Yep, the same acetone you’d use to strip paint off your barn. It comes out in your breath and can be overpowering. The nice thing is, it means you’re in ketosis. And if you can’t smell it, the people you talk to will kindly help you figure it out when the hold their nose. Don’t worry, it goes away and minty gum is a good mask.
DRY MOUTH. When it feels like you’ve been dragging your tongue across Death Valley all day, you’ll know you’re in keto. This relates back to the diuretic effect of keto, your fluids are being dumped, leaving your mouth dehydrated. This is your cue to up your water intake and to make sure you’re getting plenty of sodium, potassium, and magnesium so the keto flu doesn’t strike you.
ENERGY BOOST AND MENTAL CLARITY. This is one of the benefits of ketosis and luckily it tends to hit right after achieving ketosis. When you no longer get the afternoon fuzzies and day dream about taking a nap, you’ll know that your body has switched over a ketogenic fuel source. This doesn’t affect everyone the same way and in the same timeframe, so if you aren’t feeling pepped up but you are experiencing the other effects, you’re still likely in keto.
LACK OF HUNGER. Forgetting to have your afternoon snack or looking at your snack drawer and not even wanting to dive in is a pretty good indicator that you’re in ketosis. Ketosis levels out your insulin levels and slows the production of the hunger chemical ghrelin, leaving you sated longer.
how to measure ketosis
How to Measure Ketosis
When beginning the keto lifestyle for the first time, it can be difficult to avoid some of the common pitfalls. Some of these hard to avoid issues will even prevent the ultimate goal of keto, which is to get your body’s metabolism into a state of ketosis. It’s unfortunate, but one small oversight can turn all of your research and hard work into a giant ketogenic zero, stopping your body from switching over to a ketone-based fuel and getting you away from the harmful effects of sugar and carbs.
Getting into keto, as ketoers call it, is the end result of a process that occurs over multiple days as your body burns off its existing glucose stores in preparation to start producing ketones instead. Being in ketosis means your body has completed phase one of keto and is now running on those ketones created by eating an abundance of healthy fats and very few carbs. But how do you know when the transition has taken place? There’s no magical indicator to let you know that you’ve made it through the gates of ketosisland and are now firing on all cylinders as fat-burning, super-efficient machine.
The typical markers that you’ve made ketosis are keto breath (when your breath smells either like over ripe fruit or has a slight nail polish remover scent), the Whoosh effect when you suddenly drop 5-8 pounds of water weight all at once due to keto’s diuretic effect, dry mouth that comes from the quick drop in body fluid levels, a lack of hunger brought on by keto’s satiating effects, or a sudden boost in daily energy.
All of those are good physical indicators that ketosis is occurring in your metabolism and you’re on the right track. Unfortunately, each one of these indicators can occur as a false positive and fool you into thinking you’re in ketosis. Nothing is more heartbreaking that believing yourself to be in a ketogenic state based on these physical makers only to find out that you’re not in keto and haven’t been because of some small miscalculation or misstep. A few too many hidden carbs in foods you thought you could trust, a little too much protein every day, not enough healthy fat in your daily diet are all common mistakes that first time ketoers can make based on a tiny math error and the perpetuation of the problem caused by false positive physical signs of keto.
Sometimes you need hard evidence that keto is in fact happening in your system. For that, there are 3 fairly trustworthy options.
1. BLOOD KETONE METERS
Ketone meters measure the amount of Beta-hydroxy butyrate (BHB), the specific ketone that becomes the fuel in your new ketone-powered body.
You’ll poke your fingertip to get a single drop of blood that you’ll put onto a test strip. Insert the strip into the reading meter and in seconds a number will pop up on screen telling you how many ketones are in your blood per millimolar unit.
Typically, a reading of 0.6 millimolar or more on the ketone meter screen means you have entered into nutritional ketosis and your body is producing ketones for fuel. Keotgenic weight loss has begun.
Some meters use different measurements, so be sure to read the instructions that come with your meter.
Here at niKETO we use the Keto mojo. The meter itself is relatively inexpensive and the test strips are some of the most affordable on the market. On Amazon, the Keto mojo, with 10 lancets and 10 test strips is only about $60.
Measuring blood ketones with a meter is the most accurate and definitive way of knowing you’ve made it into nutritional ketosis, and later to know you’ve made it into optimal ketosis. The only real drawback when it comes to blood meters is getting the blood. Some folks have a hard time pricking their finger over and over. Blood meters take a tiny blood sample and examine it for the presence of ketones. This is the most accurate at home test, but it comes with drawbacks. The meter is expensive and the tester strips, that are single use, are about five dollars a pop. And once you’re fully fat adapted and your ketones level out to normal, the meter won’t return correct readings as you’ll be using your ketones more efficiently.
2. KETO BREATH METERS
Breath measuring keto devices detect the amount of acetone leaving your body via your breath. Acetone is a gaseous ketone created when your body achieves and adapts to nutritional ketosis. However, acetone is not one of the ketones your body uses for energy. It’s a byproduct ketone that’s breathed out as waste. The presence of acetone is a good indicator of the BHB ketones in your blood because they are both created at the same time by the same metabolic process in the liver.
The good parts about breath measuring is they are reusable without having to buy new strips as with the blood and urine measuring methods. It’s a fairly quick process that requires no bodily fluids and doesn’t make a mess.
Drawbacks include the price of most breath meters. The least expensive breath meters we’ve found are still north of $100, and the most trusted breath meters from ketonix are between $215 and $270. They are an investment.
Breath meters can also be inconsistent. Your breathing changes throughout the day as does the acetone exchange in your lungs. It may be necessary to measure your levels a few times a day to formulate the most accurate number.
3. KETOSTIX URINE STRIPS
Ketones can only be measured though avenues that leave the body: blood, breath… and urine. Keto urinalysis test strips are not designed for precision. You won’t get a number score like you will with blood or breath. With ketostix, you’ll get a simple yes or no answer to the question, “am I in ketosis?”
Excess ketones are not filtered out by the kidneys, instead they are deposited directly into the bladder for removal. Ketostix take this knowledge and use a treated test strip to determine if ketones are present in your urine. If there are ketones present, and you are in fact in ketosis, the small pad on the end of the test strip will react with the ketones and change color. You then compare the color of the strip to the color scale on the side of the bottle to get a rough idea how many ketones you’re excreting and how deep into ketosis you are.
The upside is the strips are cheap, $5-$10 on amazon depending on brand. They are easy to use and quick to respond.
Unfortunately, the negatives outweigh the positives for some ketoers. The strips can be an inaccurate representation of your ketogenic state. Using them first thing in the morning only proves that you were in natural ketosis overnight which occurs for everyone no matter how many carbs they eat. They can also read false positives if you are dehydrated.
The biggest frustration people have with keto urine strips is that they are only useful when first getting into nutritional ketosis. They cannot help you keep track of your progress into optimal ketosis. If it’s worth a few bucks just to know if you’ve hit ketosis and to find out your journey is off on the right foot, ketostix are fine. Otherwise, the keto blood meters are really your best option.
Truthfully, if you don’t have intentions of keeping track of your ketones and progress into optimal ketosis, you can just pay attention to your body and it will let you know when you’ve entered the beginning stages of ketosis as long as you are very diligently following all of the keto guidelines.
how to read ketone levels
Blood ketone meters are the number one most accurate way to test and track your ketones. Unfortunately, breath meters and urinalysis strips don’t offer the dependability and level of certainty that comes from testing your blood.
Many people do just fine on keto without testing their level of ketosis at all, and that’s okay. Testing your ketone levels isn’t a requirement of keto. But there are advantages to knowing your ketone levels when it comes to running keto in the most efficient way possible. By consistently testing and keeping track of your ketone readings, you can make real time adjustments to your diet and activity levels to ensure you stay in optimal keto, the zone of keto that offers the most benefits over the course of your keto journey.
Testing and understanding how to read your ketone levels will let you know when you enter ketosis for the first time, your progress into optimal ketosis, and how to stay in the best keto range for your goals, even as your body adapts and changes.
The biggest issues we hear about blood ketone monitors is the difficulty in interpreting the numbers. It’s all well and good to see a number on a screen, but you have to know how to apply that number to get any use out of it. Here we will discuss what your monitor numbers mean and how to use them to make your keto journey as easy and fruitful as possible.
READING YOUR BLOOD METER RESULTS
Blood ketone meters test the amount of BHB in your blood. BHB is the sweet, sweet ketone fuel that powers our newly adapted keto bodies, and receiving confirmation through testing that you are indeed creating BHB is like a shot of electricity, it peps you right up!
So the higher the number on the blood meter the more BHB and the more BHB the better, right?
Not exactly. A higher number does mean a higher level of BHB ketones in your blood, but it’s possible to have too much BHB and push yourself out of optimal, beneficial ketosis. If eating carbs knocks you back and drops you out of ketosis, think of too much BHB as pushing you too far forward, knocking you out on the other end of the spectrum.
Your blood meter will come with instructions, if for some reason it doesn’t or you lose them, each device’s instructional sheet can be found online. READ THE INSTRUCTIONS! Not following the instructions can lead to a lot of wasted time, test strips, and unnecessary finger poking.
The first thing you need to look for is the measurement unit you device uses. Most American made meters will use millimolar (mmol) per liter (L). Some meters though, will use the unit milligram (mg) per deciliter (dL).
We know, it’s getting a little high-school-sciency, but stick with us, it’s important.
If you get a meter that measures mg/dL just take your result number and divide it by 10.4 to convert it to mmol/L so you can use our chart below. The keto mojo is an easy, pretty inexpensive American made meter that uses mmol and it’s the one we prefer here at niKETO.
Your readings will be anywhere from 0.0 to 3.0 to 10.0+. By themselves it’s hard to know what those numbers mean, even if you read the instructions. That’s why visuals are the best and why we have this chart.
As you can see, nutritional keto -getting into keto- kicks in right around a 0.6 and this is the point at which your body has depleted its glucose stores and your liver is now making ketones.
The area marked Mental Performance is considered the Optimal Ketosis range. This is the stage of keto that typically happens around the 1 month mark and is achieved when all of your muscle glycogen is completely used up. At this point you’ll have no glucose in your blood and no stored glycogen in your muscles, you will essentially be a sugar-free machine. This is where you want to lead your keto journey: into optimal. Here you’ll achieve the mental clarity, energy boost, even quicker weight loss, and all of the major keto benefits.
Anything above the 3.2 to 3.5 range and into the 6.5 range is therapeutic keto and is used to treat epilepsy and other, more serious health ailments. This is also considered starvation keto and is not what you’ll want from keto no matter when your goals are.
Readings above 6.5 typically mean the ketone blood saturation point is reaching levels of ketoacidosis. If you are a type 1 diabetic and you get a reading in this range, go see a doctor immediately.
Ideally, you want your blood ketone meter to read in the sweet spot between 1.5 to 3.2. Below that is nutritional ketosis that will see you lose weight but not achieve the other keto benefits. Higher than that means you are entering starvation keto and you won’t be getting enough nutrition to maintain muscle and peak function.
Now that you know how to interpret your blood ketone levels, you can use them to stay in the optimal keto zone and make keto work hard for you instead of having to work hard to stay in ketosis.
And as usual, if you have any questions or concerns, contact us for help.
what is optimal ketosis?
Keto is a versatile way of life. You can use it to accomplish just about any health goal you can think of. That’s why many people begin keto as a weight loss journey then adjust it to adapt to a fitness, exercise regime once the fat pounds have dropped. But keto is also versatile in a different way. There are three versions of ketosis that accomplish different things, and they are each based on the amount of ketones being produced.
This range of ketones being produced and utilized for energy can be measured using your blood. (A simple blood ketone meter like the keto mojo can tell you how many ketones are in your blood in under a minute).
The ketosis spectrum begins with nutritional ketosis, the point at which your body shifts to using ketones as your fuel and the weight loss benefits of keto begin to work and show. On a blood meter, nutritional ketosis begins when your reading shows a blood ketone level above.5 mmol. This is considered “In Keto.” The available glucose in your blood has been used up and your high-fat diet has switched your liver into creating ketones for fuel.
Many beginners are happy to reach nutritional ketosis -as they should be, it’s an accomplishment- but what a lot of uninitiated ketoers don’t know is there is an optimal ketosis range. Optimal ketosis is the perfect saturation of ketones in your blood and it signals the start of all of the wonderful, long-term keto benefits that go beyond just weight loss or muscle gain.
Optimal keto typically takes about a month to achieve.
We hear you, “it just took a few days to a week to get into keto, now it’s going to take longer to get into optimal keto?” Yes, because achieving nutritional ketosis was all about burning off the glucose in your blood. Optimal ketosis occurs when the overabundance of Glycogen stored in your muscles and cells is released and subsequently burned off.
Glycogen is a protection that the evolution of our human machine has developed in order to better survive. Glycogen is glucose that’s stored in your body’s tissue in case there’s a situation where food is scarce. Glycogen can be used to run your muscles or it can be called on to be released as glucose when there is no new source of nutrition coming in.
Optimal ketosis typically occurs when then minimal amount of glycogen is left in your body’s tissues. We need some glycogen to function, but staying on ketosis for 30 days or more depletes the reserves of glycogen that have been steadily releasing into your system and keeping your ketone saturation lower.
Once all extra glycogen is gone, ketones can be produced and utilized in higher amounts. On a blood meter, optimal ketosis occurs when your blood reads a ketone saturation of above 1.0 to slightly above 3.0 mmol. Anything in that range means your body is running on optimal ketosis and the additional benefits are flowing.
Energy is at a peak
Sleep is more sound and restful
The skin is clearing and brighter
Appetite is under your control
Weight is now visibly shedding (if you are eating keto for fat loss)
Mental focus is sharper
Plus, there’s an entire battery of benefits happening that you can’t see:
Insulin level correction, no more blood sugar spikes and drops
The cancer starving effects have set in
Body inflammation has receded
Digestion is more regular
And tons more
So if more ketones equal more optimal ketosis and keto benefits, why is there a top of the optimal ketosis range at 3.0 mmol?
It’s true, ketosis ketone levels are a bell curve: it starts low and slow, rises into optimal ketosis at about 1.0 mmol and around 3.0 mmol it dips back down to the lower levels. The reason for this is that anything above 3.5 through 6.0 mmol is considered therapeutic ketosis. Therapeutic ketosis was created to treat children with epilepsy and actually has a much higher fat intake percentage, around 90% and an even lower carb allowance. This ensures a higher ketone count to help control epilepsy and other neurological disorders.
If you drop into the therapeutic range of keto, the results of your keto eating will not be in the fat loss or muscle retention and growth area you’re looking for. Too many ketones will actually slow fat loss.
And if your ketone levels are above 6.5 into the 8 mmol or higher range, you’re in danger of ketoacidosis. It’s difficult to produce enough ketones to actually get into the ketoacidosis range unless you’re a type 1 diabetic. But this illustrates how and why there is an acceptable range of ketones.
Optimal keto will happen at around the 1 month mark whether or not you measure your blood, so testing is not a necessity. Simply taking note of your energy level jump and recognizing the other benefits will let you know you’re there, and if they wain you’ll know you need to adjust.
The hardest part of keto is the month it takes to get into optimal ketosis. But once you’re there, it feels like crossing a finish line. You’ll feel better, look better, and you won’t have cravings any more. It’s a great place to be. So circle the 30th day of your keto calendar and set your mind to getting optimized. You can do it and we’re here to help if you need us.
tips for achieving optimal ketosis
Optimal ketosis is the ultimate goal of keto. The same way optimal anything is always the ultimate goal of whatever you decide to dedicate yourself to. Why begin a journey only to stop halfway? No one takes a cross-country road trip just to stop in Kansas, that wouldn’t be cross-country. Your keto journey is the same. Don’t sell yourself short of becoming an efficient, fat-burning machine and enabling your body to unlock all the of the amazing keto benefits.
It sounds counter intuitive and strange, but many ketoers, especially newer ones, either quit keto before hitting optimal ketosis or they get close to optimal but never quite reach it because they aren’t following the best keto practices.
This problem extends into the many supposed studies of the keto diet that claim keto doesn’t deliver on its promised benefits. These studies are done in such a narrow window of time that the test subjects aren’t given the opportunity to hit optimal ketosis where the body becomes fat-adapted and fully keto adapted. As we know, it takes longer than a single day to get into nutritional ketosis, and it takes around one month to hit optimal ketosis. No wonder these half-hearted studies return poor results.
The point is, keto is journey, it’s a dedication, it’s a lifestyle that will improve your life. Don’t abandon keto before you see the true power it has to make positive changes. And while weight loss and muscle retention will begin within those first few days when you enter ketosis, the biggest benefits come from optimal ketosis. Stay with it for the month, follow our guide to optimal ketosis, and you’ll feel the difference.
It takes about 30 days to reach optimal ketosis, ketone production, and correct ketone blood saturation of between 1.0 mmol to right above 3.0mmol, but just staying with keto for 30 days isn’t always enough. Follow our tips to achieve optimal ketosis and you’ll get there sooner than you think.
FOLLOW YOUR MACROS
The first and most obvious step to hitting optimal keto is staying true to your macros. Don’t test your carb threshold.
True, many people can eat more than 20g of carbs and remain in keto, but 20g is a baseline that’s proven to work. Stay under the 20g until you hit optimal ketone production, then you can experiment. You first goal after getting into keto is getting optimized, that’s when it’s okay to branch out your keto lifestyle.
Make sure you eat enough fat. Our life training and food labels have made us skittish around fats. You have to push that aside and eat 70% fat in order to achieve the ketone production range you need for optimal ketosis. But make sure they are healthy fats, no transfats, nothing hydrogenated. Medium chain triglyceride fat are your best allies.
Keep protein moderate. Don’t let your body slip into gluconeogenesis where protein is metabolized as glucose. Stay within your macros
HIGH INTENSITY EXERCISE
Optimal ketosis arrives when not only your blood is glucose depleted, but when your muscle tissue has surrendered all of the stored glycogen it can spare. The way to push this process is to workout hard, if you can. High intensity workouts call on your glycogen stores for added fuel when the going gets tough, so really pumping the pace will force your tissue to use up the glycogen that’s not vital to hold onto. Once the glycogen is gone, your body will produce the additional ketones needed to take its place, upping your blood ketone levels to the optimal range.
Get to bed at a decent hour and stop hitting the snooze. Rather than scroll through just 10 more posts on your phone, turn it off and close your eyes. Yes, in today’s anxiety-ridden world it can be hard to shut your brain down, but actively getting to bed at a decent hour will establish a pattern that will help you get to sleep.
Sleep is important for optimal ketosis because your body needs the down time to make adjustments and to talk to itself so it knows what it needs. This is when your liver is told to make more ketones, when glycogen is released and used up. Sleep is the regenerative state that helps ketosis happening, and the more it occurs, the closer you’ll get to optimal ketosis until you finally reach it.
This one is very important. It’s the most underrated step in achieving optimal keto. Whenever anyone complains about not hitting optimal numbers after following the diet perfectly, it’s almost always stress that plays the main villain. Your adrenal cortex produces cortisol, which is responsible for the regulation of your metabolism, and aldosterone which regulates your blood pressure. Both of these hormones are affected by stress. The more stressed you are under the more of each you produce and the more they sabotage your metabolism and your entrance into optimal ketosis.
It's far easier to say stop stressing than it is to actually stop stressing, like there’s a choice. But studies have shown that a simple timeout once or twice a day where you focus on yourself and focus on remaining calm and consciously check things off your anxiety list can drastically reduce your stress response. It’s tough to steal time away for yourself, but it can be done, and it needs to be done for your health.
We already went over carbs. But did we? Yes, don’t exceed the macro limit, try to stay around 20g. But those 20g need to come from the most beneficial sources: green leafy veggies, cruciferous veggies, berries to kill your sweet tooth. Too many times, misguided ketoers will see that 20g per day then look at the 19g of carbs in a twinkie and say to themselves, “19 is fewer than 20,” then devour a twinkie and avoid any other carbs for the rest of the day. That twinkie doesn’t have the minerals and vitamins you need. Technically, you are within your carb count, but you won’t think you’re so clever when optimal ketosis eludes you because your metabolism doesn’t have the electrolytes to power your muscle function.
Water can’t be overstated when it comes to keto. Stay hydrated. You need water to dissolve the electrolytes that send the impulses to your muscles. Not enough fluids means you will be tired and sore and far from attaining optimal ketosis.
If you want to race to optimal ketosis as fast as possible, intermittent fasting is a great way to get you there. I.F. is a scheduled feeding that sees you eat all of your daily calories in a single, restricted block of time. For example, you only eat between noon and 8p.m. The rest of the day is spent in a 16 hour fasted state. The window can be made even narrower as you become more experienced with I.F. This daily fasted state has many benefits, not the least of which is the ability to pump up your metabolism and force glycogen use during periods between feedings. A dedicated I.F. schedule will help your body achieve optimal ketosis faster.
Optimal ketosis means you are fully keto adapted and fat adapted. It is the final hurdle of keto and despite it taking a month, which can seem like a long time, it’s absolutely worth it when the keto benefits hit you. You’ll be happy you played by the rules and stuck it out.
WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING?
The concept of intermittent fasting can easily fit into that old saying about chess, “easy to learn, a lifetime to master.” Well, probably not a lifetime to master, but it does take some time to perfect and shape to your goals and lifestyle.
So what is it? It’s nothing more than a schedule of eating. A strategy really, one that limits the hours of your day in which you consume your calories.
We just felt the collective gasp and heard the under-the-breath question, “I thought I was here to learn about keto. Why are we now learning about this intermittent fasting diet?” Misconception number one that we need to get out of the way: intermittent fasting is not a diet. It can assist other diets, but it doesn’t guide you on what to eat, rather how to eat.
Intermittent fasting (also called I.F., because what IF you waste that extra half a second saying the whole thing?) is essentially a pattern of eating you design for your diet whereby you fast for a majority of the day and confine your calorie consumption to an eating window.
The most common Intermittent fast for beginners is the 16:8. The name tells you everything you need to know. For 16 hours out of the day you fast and consume only non-caloric liquids. The other 8 hours of the day are considered your open, eating window and you consume your day’s worth of nutrition in that time. You get to choose the fasting hours and the eating window and can design it around your schedule. Many beginners start with a Noon to 8p.m. eating window or 11a.m. to 7p.m. eating window. This schedule is convenient for most people who have a typical work day and who go to bed and wake up around the same times every day. But the eating window can be adjusted to fit your schedule, a night shift worker may do a Midnight to 8a.m. eating window.
Your eating and fasting window times don’t matter, their length is what’s important. As you get deeper into I.F., you may decide, like many high intensity athletes or athletes who need to cut weight quickly, that an 8 hour eating window is too long. Some choose to practice and 18:6 or even 20:4 intermittent fasting schedule to really ramp up the results and benefits.
INTERMITTENT FASTING AND KETO
Keto has been used by the medical field for over 100 years. Fasting is centuries old and intermittent fasting is not far behind. But it’s only within the last decade or so that the benefits of eating keto on an I.F. schedule has been recognized as game changing. Keto and intermittent fasting work so well together that one question we often get here at niKETO that we have to debunk is, “do I have to do an intermittent fast to get into keto.” Of course, the answer is no, you don’t have to. However, if you are trying to get into ketosis and fat adaption as quickly and efficiently as possible, I.F. is your best tool.
I.F. limits your eating hours to 8 per day or less. That means the remaining majority of your day, your body is constantly working and metabolizing. Since the main goal of achieving ketosis is to burn off glucose reserves, a fast designed to make your body work when no new calories are available means you will be burning off that glucose at a faster rate.
We understand that trying keto for the first time can seem daunting, and adding intermittent fasting rules on top of keto’s already rigid structure can make a sane person want to walk away all together. And if that’s the case, and I.F. teamed with keto seems overwhelming, then drop the I.F. and focus on the keto. Intermittent fasting can be picked up at any point along the keto journey and its benefits will be just as satisfying.
THE BENEFITS OF I.F. AND KETO
The discovery of intermittent fasting’s benefits has already won a Nobel prize and lead to amazing leaps in scientific research and human longevity.
Autophagy – The process of cellular regeneration that can increase our lives and health by removing toxins and dead cells for recycling has already been noted as a benefit of the ketogenic diet due to the restricted protein and near carb elimination. But the number one progenitor for autophagy, as discovered by professor Oshumi who won the Nobel prize for his work, is fasting. Combining fasting with a ketogenic diet low in carbs and a moderate protein consumption is the winning formula for autophagy and the life-extending benefits it brings.
Metabolic Adaptation – As your body adapts to running on fat instead of carbs, and as it gets used to an intermittent fasting schedule, the metabolic machine that is your body becomes more efficient. Studies have shown that your performance athletically will increase when your body is working in a fat-adapted, fasting state.
Muscle Retention– Studies are showing that when athletes exercise in a fat-adapted state such as keto and do so while fasting, they can eat fewer calories and retain muscle at a much higher rate than a simple carb-heavy, calorie restricted diet. This is incredibly important as we age because skeletal muscle is incredibly difficult to get back once you lose it. Retaining the muscle we have is necessary for quality of life as we get older.
Muscle Growth – It’s also been shown that eating a ketogenic diet with proper macro nutrient intake for muscle growth while working out in a fasted state increases the amount of muscle gained when resistance training compared to a typical, baseline-diet high in carbs and with no fasting schedule.
Staying with a standard 16:8 intermittent fast for as long as you want is fine and will continue to show rewards. However, some long time fasters have experienced a leveling out of the weight loss aspects of combining keto and I.F. Because our bodies are so good at adapting metabolically and becoming more efficient with the calories we provide through our diet, the fat loss that occurs as a result of a fasted-body using stored fat for fuel will plateau and slowly come to a normalized stop in nine to twelve months. The other benefits will remain, but the weight loss may halt.
Due to this adaptation, may fasters recommend periods of longer fasting. Some high-performance athletes will incorporate a 24 hour fast into their fasting cycle once a week to prevent the body from become too used to intermittent fasting. This allows them to change up their metabolism and keep it guessing just enough to keep the pounds rolling off when they purposely over eat their calories.
Another recommended strategy to accompany intermittent fasting, whether you’ve stalled or not, is the 3 by 3 fast. Some fasting experts recommend a 3 day fast 3 times per year to keep your body in top shape. We don’t recommend you try this until you are well acquainted with fasting and feel comfortable enough with your body and metabolism to try it without concern.
We strongly recommend that while you’re on keto you do not fast for longer than 4 days. Keto’s diuretic effect sees your body lose fluid much faster than on a carb-based diet. That fluid loss takes large amounts of vital minerals and electrolytes with it. This loss of minerals is the main cause of the keto flu, but during a longer fast this mineral dump can cause a dangerous syndrome called refeeding whereby your system is critically low on the mineral electrolytes needed to run your muscles and bodily functions.
A fast longer than 4 days would shift the balance of electrolytes leaving the body versus the electrolytes coming in. Since your body receives its electrolytes and minerals from food, a fast would cut those sources off, leaving your body depleted of necessary minerals by the end of the fourth day.
Any fast lasting fewer than 3 days won’t put you into a refeeding state, but if you are concerned or start to feel the keto flu creeping up during your fasting times, you can take mineral and electrolyte supplements that carry no calorie count and have no metabolic impact. Here at niKETO we have supplements designed to complement the keto diet and I.F.
Now that you know how to run an intermittent fast, you can see that fasting isn’t intimidating and should now be much easier to approach. But if you still have questions or concerns, contact us and we can help you get started.
working out on a keto diet
Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand when it comes to fitness and health. So it’s only natural that people who chose the keto lifestyle for better health and wellness also want to either begin working out or continue to perform at top level in their chosen physical activities.
However, one of the most perpetuated misconceptions about the keto diet is that you can’t eat keto and exercise at the same time. How incredibly wrong. Not only can you exercise on keto, but many high level professional athletes have turned to a keto diet to give them the performance benefits keto offers.
MMA fighters, boxers, baseball players, soccer pros, football stars, and even current NBA king, LeBron James have all joined the keto life to improve their workouts and optimize their bodies for peak performance.
THE CARB FUEL PERFORMANCE MYTH
The reason there’s such a long standing miseducation about keto’s ability to power a workout is that we’ve been lead to believe that glucose from carbs is the best fuel for pushing our bodies to their physical limits. Photos of marathon runners carb-loading with mounds of pasta the night before a race have been published for decades. This idea that loading up on carbs for muscle glycogen and quick-burn glucose energy is the best way to fuel your body for exercise has become the unquestioned norm.
Like many misunderstandings, this myth is rooted in a kernel of truth. Using glycogen from your muscle tissue does help your type 1 muscle fiber to perform as designed. Type 1 muscle fiber is referred to as fast-twitch and it allows you to sprint and give 100% effort in high demand situations. Fast-twitch muscles need and use glycogen as fuel because glycogen is a quick-burn energy source that can be accessed and used immediately.
But here’s the deal. The keto diet allows for 20g, or roughly 5% of your daily calories, to come from good carbs. Those 20g of carbs are metabolized and designated for muscle glycogen usage first, because your muscles need glycogen. There are even versions of keto that take anaerobic exercise into account and add carb refeeds in to allow for those repeated burst of maximum effort.
The key point here is, the myth that keto can’t be used to fuel exercise isn’t only wrong, it’s exactly the opposite.
KETONES ARE THE BEST FUEL FOR SLOW TWITCH MUSCLES
Fast-twitch muscles use glycogen and are effective for 20 seconds to 2 minutes before they begin to taper down, depending on your level of fitness. Even high-end athletes can’t sustain fast-twitch muscles for very long. That’s when type 2 muscle fiber, slow twitch, comes in. Slow twitch is your endurance muscle. It allows you to keep performing above your normal pace without breaking down.
That’s why endurance, aerobic, steady-pace exercise prefers ketones for fuel. They are more efficient and slower burning, meaning it will last longer and give you the edge to keep going. This process of ketone-burn for energy also means your body won’t need to tap into the protein in your muscles for additional fuel. Muscle maintenance is a major benefit that keto offers when working out. When performing longer bouts of cardio, your metabolic system doesn’t need to ask your precious muscle to break down it’s proteins for added fuel since ketones can keep the fire stoked for far longer than glucose.
KETO AND EXERCISE TOGETHER
Everyone works out for different reasons, the same way people jump on the keto train for different, personal reasons. The common factor for both, though, is better health. We all want the benefits of a happier, healthier body for a life more well-lived. Working out on keto promotes some pretty great benefits that just working out alone can’t match. For example:
Bone mineral density improvement
Boosts immunity to higher levels
Improves diabetic condition by increasing insulin sensitivity
Can reduce the risk of hypoglycemia in physically active diabetes type-1 patients
Reverses mental and cognitive decline related to old-age
Helps prevent neurodegenerative diseases
Helps prevent risks associated with cardiovascular diseases to an even higher degree
May increase life expectancy by decreasing mortality factors, such as high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, cancer, stroke, and type II diabetes.
That’s why exercising on keto is beneficial. Next, let’s look at how to do it the right way.
Here is how you exercise for best results while living the keto lifestyle. Below are the rules and tips you’ll need to follow in order to get those optimal results depending on your keto workout goals.
The first tip, that applies no matter your keto exercise goal, is it’s best to hold off on combining keto and working out until you’re comfortable with keto and feel like you have a firm grasp on how to conduct your daily diet. We recommend focusing on getting into optimal ketosis before introducing a full work regimen. Walking, biking, jogging, running, swimming, normal activities are fine along the way, but getting into optimal ketosis before really focusing on working out for a specific goal will make it much easier on you.
When working out to drop fat, it’s important to make sure you are using more calories than you’re eating. Keto is great for this as it stanches hunger and naturally sets you up to consume fewer calories.
So stay true to the keto diet and philosophy. The workout compliments the diet, not the other way around. Know your macros and eat within your guidelines before you hit the gym.
Cardio and keto get along really well. Many ketoers who perform cardio regularly report the ability to exercise for longer periods at the moderate to elevated pace recommended for weight loss or weight and fitness maintenance. Ketone-fueled, slow-twitch muscles can go longer, burning more stored fat in the process.
The best sources of sustainable cardio for fat loss or maintenance include:
Various aerobic sports
Any exercise that gets your heart rate up and keeps it at a steady pace for an extended period will help you improve cardiovascularly and burn off the fat.
If you are working out to lose weight, use our calculator to adjust your daily calories down to ensure you burn more than you take in.
If you are working out for maintenance, make sure you note that in the goal section of our calculator and then make sure you stay close to the calorie limit it returns based on your activity level. That will ensure you remain in the perfect zone to maintain where you are.
MUSCLE GAINS AND KETO
Gaining muscle mass, as well as muscle strength and power, are all attainable goals while eating a keto diet. With a few adjustments to keto, you’ll be able to lift heavier and track your muscle growth and performance.
The first thing you’ll need to do is adjust your macros in our calculator to account for the extra calories you’ll need on workout days in order to gain muscle. Muscles get bigger when they have more calories and protein feeding them. Start with a caloric surplus of 500 per workout day and go up from there as your intensity and strength grow.
Secondly, protein is a major part of muscle growth and it’s the macro that requires the most attention on keto. Eating a moderate amount of protein is the proper way to run the standard keto diet. But when your goal is muscle and strength gain, you’ll need more protein.
The benefits to upping your protein are two-fold:
First, most of your added protein will be used to repair your worked muscles, growing them and leaving very little protein left to be converted into glucose through gluconeogenesis.
Second, the small amount of protein left that is converted to glucose will be used to replace the burned off glycogen stores that result from a heavy work out. This replenished glycogen in the muscles won’t be enough to kick you out of keto, but it will be enough to help fuel your fast-twitch muscle fibers and ensure you have what you need for explosive movements.
For muscle gains, you can up your protein intake to 1.5-2.0 grams of protein per pound of lean body weight.
Lean body weight is what you’d weight without stored fat. To figure out your lean body weight, use our calculator add-on here.
But remember, your main fuel is still fat, eat it in abundance to ensure you have the staying power to finish your workouts at peak performance.
If you find that following the standard keto diet with adjusted protein isn’t giving you enough to get through a work out at full tilt, you can try the adjusted versions of keto, Targeted keto, (TKD) or Cyclical keto, (CKD) designed to help with fatigue during workouts.
TKD – Targeted keto uses simple carbs that are easy to burn off and pi-points their consumption to just before or during a hard work out. Eating a hard candy right before you start lifting or drinking a full carb sports drink as you lift will give you additional, quick burn energy in the form of glucose that can assist your type 1, fast-twitch muscle fibers for explosiveness. Read more about TKD here.
CKD – Cyclical keto is even more extreme and is only recommended for seasoned ketoers who’ve been working out at a high level for a long time. Cyclical keto is also referred to as carb back-loading and consists of a 2 day refeed where there are no restrictions on carb consumption. The remaining 5 days of the week are spent in high-intensity training to ensure those back-loaded carbs are burned off, leaving the body in ketosis. CKD is best done when the body is fully fat-adapted and is more likely to choose fat over glucose for fuel even when glucose is present. Read more about CKD here.
When designing a weight lifting program for muscle gain on keto, it’s best to focus on a higher weight, lower repetition style work out. This ensures hypertrophy and limits the frequency of explosive movements you’ll need to perform.
No matter your goal or your exercise of choice, working out just makes good sense. Don’t let naysayers make you believe that you have to choose between keto and working out. They complement each other and the benefits of practicing both together can be amazing.
If you have any questions or need any advice to get started, please contact us here at niKETO.