Must-Know Tips Before Starting a Ketogenic Diet


The ketogenic diet has boomed in popularity for its proven weight loss results and health benefits. However, drastically reducing carb intake to reach ketosis is an immense metabolic shift. 

Without understanding the effects of low-carb, high-fat eating, people often quit keto quickly due to side effects. If you're considering embarking on the keto diet, arm yourself with this essential knowledge first. 

Learning how your body adapts, which symptoms may arise, key nutrition principles, and practical strategies will set you up for keto success. 

Use these must-know tips before jumping head first into ketogenic eating.

Must-Know Tips Before Starting a Ketogenic Diet

Expect an Adaptation Period

When you rapidly reduce carbs and calories, your body isn't going to be happy at first. Shifting from using glucose for fuel to burning fats and ketones for energy requires metabolic flexibility. This transition period is known as the “keto flu.” 

For several days to a couple weeks, you may feel tired, mentally foggy, moody, dizzy, crampy, or nauseated. Headache, difficulty sleeping, sugar cravings, and reduced exercise tolerance are also common as your body adapts. 

Stick it out by resting, drinking electrolytes, especially sodium, and eating keto-approved foods. The discomfort means it’s working! Once past this hump, energy soars, cognition improves, and keto clarity sets in. 

Test Your Ketone Levels

Testing your blood, breath, or urine ketones with a monitor lets you know definitively if you’ve achieved ketosis. 

Optimal ketosis for most people is between 0.5 - 3.0 mmol/L blood ketones. Higher numbers indicate your body is burning fat-for-fuel efficiently. 

Without testing, you won’t know if carb restriction is sufficient to induce ketosis. Checking ketones provides accountability and helps troubleshoot plateau. 

Invest in a basic monitor to quantify your state of ketosis.

Prioritize Sleep

Your body needs ample quality sleep to adapt to keto. Insufficient sleep spikes cortisol and blood sugar leading to carb cravings. 

Avoiding electronic devices before bed, creating total darkness, keeping your bedroom cool, taking magnesium, and adopting a nightly wind-down routine can all help improve sleep. 

Consistency is key. Chart your sleep hours to ensure you get 7-9 hours nightly during the keto adjustment phase. Proper rest makes achieving and maintaining ketosis much easier.

Understand the Impact on Exercise

Initially on keto, your body hasn’t yet adapted to tap into fat for fuel. Glycogen depletion reduces quick energy reserves for intense exercise. 

Simultaneously, lowered insulin levels cause potassium loss through urine. This can decrease performance and cause muscle cramping. Expect to slog through the first 1-2 weeks of workouts as your body learns to fully utilize ketones and fats. 

Adding extra salt, potassium, magnesium and hydrating well will help counter symptoms. 

After adaptation, ketones provide steady energy for both high-intensity exercise and endurance activities without hitting “the wall.” Incorporate carb cycling around workouts if needed.

Curb Cravings with Fat 

Craving carby comfort foods, sweets and sugar is common initially when glucose levels drop. Before reaching for empty carb calories, try uptaking your dietary fat first. 

Adding extra olive oil, avocado, nut butter, cheese, fatty meats or smoothies boosts satiety, balances hormones and kills cravings. 

If you feel hungry between meals, eat more fat from whole food sources. Once fat-adapted, hunger and cravings typically stabilize. Beware of keto versions of sweets triggering overconsumption.

Monitor Macros, Don’t Just Cut Carbs 

To succeed with keto, you must restrict carbohydrates, moderate protein, and eat enough fat. Simply eliminating carbs without calculating macros won’t necessarily keep you in ketosis. 

Use a macro calculator to find your individual protein, carb, fat and calorie goals based on your height, weight, gender, activity level and goals. 

Tracking macros using an app helps guarantee you eat within the optimal ketogenic range of roughly 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% net carbs. 

Ensure sufficient calories for your needs; too severe a deficit can cause metabolic issues. Setting macros reinforces healthy keto eating versus overly restrictive fad dieting.


Ketosis provides incredible benefits from swift fat loss to boosted mental output and more. However, the keto diet represents a significant metabolic shift that your body must properly adapt to in order to reap rewards. Avoid frustration by first learning key nutrition principles for keto success. Expect an initial adjustment period. 

Test ketones to ensure you’ve achieved ketosis through carb-restriction. Prioritize sleep and moderate activity levels at first. Curb cravings with dietary fat versus carbs. 

Carefully calculate macros – don’t just eliminate carbs. Entering ketosis requires patience and diligence. 

But the profoundly positive impacts on your health, body composition, and vitality make your efforts worthwhile. Use these tips to set yourself up for keto victory.