If I only had a dollar for every time I’ve heard the word “keto” sprinkled into casual conversation.
Keto, or the ketogenic diet, might be at the top of the modern diet craze list.
How many carbs can you eat? How much weight can you lose? There’s already mountains of content on the keto diet.
I’ve boiled it down to a handful of critical things guys need to know before they sign up to go keto and decide to gently usher carbs out the front door.
Read this list to make sure you know just what you’re signing up for and if it aligns with your goals.
7 Keto Diet Tips Guys Need to Know Before Starting
1. You might feel absolutely awful at first
Guys, anytime you make drastic changes to your diet, your body is going to respond to these changes. Our bodies are complex organisms and our stomachs are packed with billions of different types of gut flora and bacteria.
The food we eat not only dictates our digestion but also our energy levels, mental clarity, and a number of other bodily functions.
After going keto, many guys will inevitably develop something called “keto flu”.
The symptoms of “keto flu” can include drowsiness, nausea, constipation, brain fog, and a general feeling of being under the weather and lacking energy. A Harvard Health blog article says that these symptoms can begin 2 to 7 days after going Keto.
While you should always listen to the signals your body is telling you, don’t be alarmed by keto flu.
Drastically cleaning up your diet can lead to a detox flu-like state. You will also be losing a lot of electrolytes as your body loses water weight. So, be sure to consciously add sodium and electrolytes into your diet while on keto.
The same Harvard Health article says “do not give up if you are committed to a plan. You may feel exhausted for a few days, but at the end of a week, your energy level will most likely return to normal and you may feel even better.”
Sometimes it’s darkest before the light. You might feel slightly ill, but it could be your body letting go of toxins from your old eating habits and moving into a healthier, cleaner burning state.
2. You need a plan, man
Ever showed up to the gym with no idea which muscles you’d be working out, what your goals were, and how long you wanted your workout to be? I’ve foolishly done that before.
Usually, it results in me hopping on random cardio machines, banging out a couple bicep sets, checking my phone too much, and leaving without feeling like I accomplished much of anything at all.
The same goes for starting the keto diet.
If you wake up one morning and spontaneously decide to embark on this diet, you probably won’t have the ingredients in your house or the knowledge of how to pull it off successfully.
Beyond the physical foods you’ll be eating, you won’t be mentally prepared, either.
Do your research and start reviewing plans online. You’ll be eating a lot of eggs, poultry, fatty fish, and non-starchy vegetables. It’s important to find the foods you love eating within your new restricted diet plan.
Carbs will only make up about 5-10% of your diet. This is usually a drastic change for most guy’s typical eating tendencies.
Don’t overwhelm yourself, start by picking a recipe for one breakfast, one lunch, and one dinner. Once you’ve mastered these and know for sure they taste good, keep building out your keto repertoire.
3. Be prepared for cravings
If you’ve been eating something you love, especially something salty or sugary, and you suddenly eliminate it from your diet, your taste buds are going to be ticked off big time.
Cravings are a normal response to a diet change, so bear with them. Carbs are delicious, after all, and giving them up won’t necessarily be easy.
A few ways to gently nudge off cravings is by drinking more water and making sure you aren’t in a caloric deficit.
This means, you’ll eat as much food as you normally would to stay full and nourished, only with very little presence of carbs in your daily intake.
Although, I know that if you’ve got fierce cravings, someone telling you to “just drink some water” feels like a pathetic little bit of advice that helps about as much as holding a newspaper over your head in a torrential downpour.
Luckily, there’s innovative health brands making keto-friendly snacks that are outright delicious and ones I’d eat whether I was doing keto or not.
One of those is Magic Spoon, a modern cereal brand bringing back the splashy colors and indulgent flavors of your favorite childhood breakfast cereals—only without any of the sugar, added junk, or carbs.
Yep, all of Magic Spoon’s flavors only pack a measly 4 grams of net carbs. So if you’re on keto, you can munch down bowls of this stuff without breaking ketosis or running over your carb count for the day.
From Fruity to Peanut Butter to Frosted to Cocoa, this is a tasty treat that doesn’t feel like it should be allowed in a keto diet. Only, it is.
That’s a smart way to give into cravings without giving up.
The amount of protein in each serving is ample enough to pique the interest of gym-goers and guys who generally care about their fitness level and physique. This is the perfect treat to knock your sweet tooth out cold and escape with none of the standard side effects involved.
4. Don’t drop the ball on fiber
You might be giving up carbs for a while, but you certainly don’t want to be giving up fiber.
Fiber is actually a type of carbohydrate, but unlike other carbs, it’s one the body can’t digest. Not being able to digest something sounds uncomfortable and alarming. Here’s why it’s not.
Fiber actually regulates your body’s use of sugars and keeps your hunger and blood sugar in line. Fiber also softens your stool and acts as an essential factor in helping you not become constipated and promote smooth, seamless bowel movements.
If you dive into keto without assessing your intake of fiber, it probably won’t be very pretty.
Here’s a list of some fibrous foods that can and should become staples of your keto diet: avocados, pecans and nuts, chia seeds, zucchini, spinach, coconut, and cauliflower.
Foods like these will balance out the meat and fats you’ll be consuming in large quantities and help make going to the bathroom regularly a breeze.
5. Different responses, different guys
The general goal of going keto is to force your body to start burning ketones or fats as the primary source of energy instead of glucose and carbohydrates. This is achieved by shifting fats to make up about 75% of all the calories you consume followed by protein and a tiny amount of carbs.
Eating in this way, tells your body to start burning more of its own excess fat to help you lean out and get that trim look you’ve been wanting since you first saw Brad Pitt in Fight Club.
But our bodies are all different, from how fast or slow our metabolisms are to how many calories we need in a day to what type of calories we need more of.
Lucky for us guys, some studies suggest that going keto has a better effect on men than it does on women. This pertains specifically to fat loss which is most people’s goal when they decide to try keto, unless they are starting keto for medical purposes.
The standard ketogenic diet is relatively straightforward in terms of what you can and can’t eat at a macro level.
Your macros are broken down as follows: 70% of your calories come from fat, 20% from protein, and 10% from carbs. Though, some guys will need to consume an even lower percentage of carbs to achieve fully ketosis.
To determine how many calories you need in a day, you can plug your specific numbers into a simple equation called the Harris-Benedict formula.
Your calorie needs are determined by your basal metabolic rate, physical activity, and thermic effect of food. First, start by calculating your basal metabolic rate:
For adult males, this nifty little equation is as follows:
66 +(6.3 x body weight in lbs.) + (12.9 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years) = BMR
Now, to determine how many calorie needs in a day, you will multiply your BMR by the appropriate activity factor that best describes you below:
1. If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.2
2. If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.375
3. If you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55
4. If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.725
5. If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.9
Boom, now you know how many calories you need in a day to maintain your current weight. If you want to gain or lose weight, this is a good anchoring point to start determining if you want to consume slightly more or slightly less calories.
6. Water weight is real
Speaking of weight, when you first start keto, you might see a sharp drop off of weight that you end up putting back on. This could very well be the loss of water weight, not flubbery fat that’s being shed off for good.
When you drastically eliminate carbs, the glycogen stores in your muscles drop. Glycogen is responsible for retaining water in your body. So, when glycogen can no longer be created from carbs, you will naturally lose a lot of the water in your body.
This can result in the loss of a few pounds of water weight that might trick you into thinking you rapidly burned fat.
So, if you experience some fast weight loss in the first week, just nod your head and keep going. It’s safe to assume this is water weight that you will regain when you introduce carbs back into your diet after stopping keto.
After the initial water weight is gone, make sure you drink lots of water, stay consistently hydrated, and stick to your plan to get into ketosis and start burning that stubborn fat you’ve been wanting to lose.
7. How to carefully get off Keto after you’ve achieved results
The keto diet, while simple to follow, can be a delicate diet to maintain. The reason being, once you enter ketosis, your body is now favoring ketones or fats as its primary source of energy instead of glucose and carbohydrates.
This is a difficult state to stay in. If you begin eating too many carbs, your body will once more resort to burning glucose as its main energy source.
New York-based dietician Reyna Franco told Insider: “One should get off keto when they are no longer losing weight or no longer following the keto diet.”
At this point, you’re probably a little unnerved and worried that you’ll put back on all the weight and lose the painstaking progress you made to get to where you are. Of course, that’s a normal feeling to have.
To be sure this doesn’t happen, you can’t start binging carbs like a ravenous madman after finishing keto. You have to start thoughtfully integrating carbs back into your diet.
In the same Insider article, Franco goes on to advise that you should only add one serving of carbohydrates per day for the first week, then two servings of carbs per day on week two.
She also adds that “the first carbs should be fruits and vegetables to provide antioxidants, phytonutrients, and fiber. Continue to avoid highly processed, packaged foods.”
Guys, if you keep eating lean proteins and healthy fats and reintroduce good carbs into your diet, you can keep off that hard earned fat burn you achieved while eating keto.
The Perfect Keto Diet Plan for Men
I’ve pulled a simple 3-day keto diet plan you can try out to get your toes wet and see how eating keto makes you feel.
This plan isn’t hard to prepare and includes a lot of the widespread keto staples people know and love.
Breakfast: Coconut milk chia pudding topped with coconut and walnuts.
Lunch: Cobb salad made with greens, hard-boiled eggs, avocado, cheese, and turkey.
Dinner: Pork chops with pan-baked vegetables
Snacks: Almond milk with Peanut Butter and Cocoa flavored Magic Spoon cereals mixed together to mimic Reese’s Puffs.
Breakfast: 2 eggs fried in butter with sauteed spinach
Lunch: A grass-fed burger in a lettuce wrap with cheese, mushrooms, and avocado
Dinner: Coconut chicken curry
Snacks: Trail Mix and sliced salami
Breakfast: Full-fat yogurt topped with keto granola
Lunch: Steak bowl with cauliflower rice, cheese, herbs, avocado and salsa.
Dinner: Steak with cheesy baked broccoli
Snacks: Flax milk with Blueberry flavored Magic Spoon cereal.
Diets can be tricky to adhere to and cause lots of changes in our bodies. The goal is to make these positive changes that spark healthier eating habits after we decide to stop doing a specific diet.
Ketohas truckloads of content written about it. Make sure you do your research, draft up a plan, brace yourself to feel a little funky at first, and make sure you’re getting enough fiber.
Try adding delicious, keto-friendly snacks into the mix like Magic Spoon that will aid your cravings without screwing up your goals.
Mix the Cocoa and Peanut Butter flavors together and you'll never see the world in the same light again.
With a rock solid researched plan you can burn stubborn fat and reap the rewards of keto before slowly returning to eating healthy carbs and moving forward with better habits.
What should I know before starting keto?
Do your research to see how others responded to going keto. You need to know that the main goal with going keto is to shift your body’s primary energy source from burning glucose and carbs to ketones and fats. This is achieved by eating a high-fat, adequate-protein diet, with very few carbs.
What is a typical daily menu for keto diet?
When eating keto you will mainly be eating healthy fats, proteins, and minimal carbs. A typical daily menu might look something like full-fat yogurt with keto-friendly granola for breakfast, a chicken caesar salad for lunch, and steak with cheesy broccoli for dinner.
What can I expect on keto week one?
It’s normal to feel a little under the weather when starting keto. This is called “keto flu”. Because you’re eliminating carbs from your diet, you will also lose a lot of initial water weight. To counter “keto flu” and feel better, make sure you drink ample amounts of water, sodium, and electrolytes.