Things You Should Know Before Starting the Keto Diet

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Should I take supplements?

People on a keto diet can develop a nutrient deficiency. dr. Salter says sodium and magnesium deficiencies are possible with a keto diet, because many carbohydrate-rich foods are the largest sources of these nutrients.

“Vitamin D, calcium, B complex in particular can be beneficial,” says Adrienne Youdim, MD, an associate professor of medicine at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. “Fiber supplementation can also help with digestion.”

You may want to have a blood test and only supplement the vitamins you really need. Find out why nearly half of all multivitamins don’t do what they say.

Fresh raw Prime Black Angus beef steaks on a wooden board: Tenderloin, Denver Cut, Striploin, Rib EyeDavidchuk Alexey/Shutterstock

Do I need a meal plan?

Creating a formal meal plan is a great way to prepare yourself for success. Make sure you have variety in your keto diet so you don’t get bored. Keto meals are high in fat, moderate in protein and low in carbohydrates.

“This diet is great for carnivores and those who like high-fat foods,” says Keith-Thomas Ayoob, RD, associate professor emeritus at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “However, the focus is on fat, not protein, because high fat keeps your body ‘ketotic’.”

What is not allowed? Experts agree that you want to avoid processed foods and most packaged foods, sweet desserts, and plain starches. And you want to watch your carbs. Healthy sources of carbohydrates include non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, leafy greens, cauliflower, asparagus, and cucumber, says Dr. Slater. “Most of your diet includes red meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, avocado, coconut oil, bacon, butter, and cheese,” says Derocha.

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Is the keto diet hard to stick to?

Weight loss results may come quickly, but other physical changes — constipation, stomach problems, depression, mood swings, fatigue — can accompany the shrinking waistline, warns Dr. youdim. These unfortunate side effects can test your stamina on the keto diet.

Not to mention the lack of “wiggle room” in your everyday food choices. Extremely restrictive diets like keto can be too unrealistic for some people because it requires strict adherence. Fancy a cake for your colleague’s birthday? A small slice is more carbohydrates than you should eat in two days.

However, smart strategies, including meal planning, can help you navigate social situations that test your will to stick to the keto diet.

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