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Perfection is the enemy of action – you’ll never be able to achieve a goal if you wait until the “time is right” or until all of the circumstances align. At some point, you just have to jump. That applies in your relationships, hobbies, and in keto, too!
But don’t jump without doing any research.
I always say that there are 3 things you need to have when starting keto: research, supplies, and a good support system. That’s it. You don’t need gimmicky 28-day challenge subscriptions or BHB salts (ketone powders from MLM companies) or even meal replacement shakes. If you do WANT those things, that’s your decision to make. But what I’m telling you is, you don’t need them.
See, when I started keto, I was on a tight budget. I’m talking <$150/month for groceries budget. While I have a little more flexibility now, I think it’s important to dispel the rumor that keto is an expensive diet to start. The building blocks of keto are (mostly) free!
- Research: Free
- Supplies: Not Free*
- Support system: Free
*In this post, I’ll outline the bare minimum supplies I recommend to have on-hand when beginning keto. They’ll help you to avoid the keto flu and get started on feeling your best with this way of eating. And don’t worry, I’ll help you keep your costs down on these supplies, too.
If you don’t already know of the importance of electrolytes on a keto diet, you need to learn (hello, research!). The Diet Doctor blog has a great post about the importance of managing your electrolytes on keto. READ IT HERE >>>
Ultima and Key Nutrients are two great brands that offer low/zero carb electrolyte powders to supplement your diet with. While the values of magnesium/potassium in the Key Nutrients powders are a little higher than Ultima, I prefer the taste of Ultima drinks
Here are some links to Ultima powders, which not only taste delicious, but are incredibly versatile! You can put them in water, fruity teas, gelatin gummies, popsicles, and so much more! I recommend the sample pack (which is a little pricier per serving than the canisters) because you’ll be able to find the flavor you enjoy the most and want to buy more of!
If you want to save some money on electrolyte products, you can keep checking Amazon for the flavors that go on sale (raspberry, lemon, orange, and grape seem to be discounted the most often) OR you can check your local walmart for tablets of magnesium/potassium in the vitamin aisle.
If you do go the tablet route, please note that magnesium and potassium have a tablet size limit recommended by the FDA, so you’ll end up taking several of each every day. Check that Diet Doctor article above for recommended daily amounts of magnesium/potassium so that you’re supplementing correctly.
The pyramid of essential keto electrolytes includes magnesium, potassium, AND sodium. If you forget to include the last one, keto flu is going to kick you square in the ass. Mark my words. When I started keto, I decided to go on a few shorter-than-usual runs while I got adjusted. My stamina quickly tanked on each run because I wasn’t getting enough salt, which meant that my body wasn’t retaining enough water to sustain that workout intensity.
Salt is one of my favorite things (it might as well be a food group for me) but for other people, it may be hard to incorporate more into meals.
Easy ways to add a little extra sodium into your keto diet are…
- Add 1/4 tsp into your glass/bottle of water. It isn’t enough for you to taste it, and if you’re drinking an appropriate amount of water, this will significantly help.
- Add 1/4 tsp into your coffee. Salt takes the bitter edge off of coffee, so you may enjoy the boost it gives to black coffee.
- Drink some pickle juice. It’s delicious and if it’s cold, it will help post-workout tremendously.
- This one’s a “dirty keto” suggestion, but try adding a cup of bouillon broth into your day! You don’t have to use a bunch (in fact, I recommend just one cup with one cube while you’re getting started with this so you don’t overdo it).
- Take a shot of it off the back of your hand tequila-shot-style and chase with water.
You can also check on Amazon for fancy flavored salts, flaky salts, and chunky himalayan pink salts. I do not recommend using iodized table salt for this. Use sea salt or pink salt. It tastes better and contains trace minerals that will aid your health.
Honestly, this is one of those “nice to have it” products, but I highly recommend that you have some on-hand just in case.
Do you need this when starting keto? Absolutely not. But collagen provides some extra protein into your day. For beginners on keto (and any diet for that matter), it is super important to eat enough protein so that your body does retains muscle mass and hair/nail health. If you struggle with meeting your protein macro, throwing a little bit of collagen into your coffee will help you reach that goal.
I’ve tried collagen from Vital Proteins and Zammex Nutrition (both unflavored), and Perfect Keto (flavored). My favorite for quality/price is Zammex nutrition, but you can try pretty much any brand to start. I like Zammex collagen powder because it dissolves really well in coffee and makes it extra delicious in the morning. Make sure to check the nutrition label to ensure it doesn’t have any added sugars or fillers!
Here’s a link to Zammex collagen on Amazon. I’ve never seen it over $30 for this tub, which has 60 servings in it. At $0.50/serving, that’s a really cost-effective protein source to have in your diet (especially if you’re on a budget).
Note that if you’re intermittent fasting, the protein in collagen will break your fast!
A lot of keto guides are going to recommend that you try to avoid snacking in the beginning, and I’m not going to do that. Here’s why.
When you start keto, you’re going to drop some water weight. That’s probably encouraging, if you’re trying to lose weight. What is discouraging, however, are the “hunger” growls you’re going to get while you’re weaning yourself off of carbs. It might sound a little scary, but if you’re feeding yourself a healthy amount of calories/fats/proteins throughout the day, you’re going to be fine.
Throwing some fatty snacks into your day when you’re starting keto isn’t bad. I think it’s good, because you should never starve yourself on a meal plan. Even feeling hungry when you know you’ve eaten can take a toll on your mental health. Some of my favorite snacks include the following:
- Fat bombs (search recipes on google/instagram)
- Bulletproof coffee
These things will help you feel satisfied and keep your mind off the change that your body is going through. Some of these items are easy to over eat (nuts, especially) so make sure to do a mental check-in after eating. Ask yourself if you’re satisfied, and if so, then go about your day.
If you’re starting keto for the very first time, I highly recommend getting a food tracker. I like to use the CarbManager app (iOS), but you can also use Cronometer, MyFitnessPal, or just a paper food journal.
I highly suggest tracking your macros when starting keto because your net carbs can get out of hand really easily! If you’re used to the Standard American Diet (SAD) or a High Carb Low Fat (HCLF) diet, then you’re going to have a rough time adjusting. I know that’s hard to read, but it’s the truth. Learning keto will involve some amount of training your reflexes to reach for fatty foods instead of carby foods.
If tracking your food stresses you out, don’t worry! You don’t have to do this forever (or at all, for that matter), it just greatly helps to learn which foods are red/yellow/green light for keto.
After about a year of keto, I got into the habit of using the same recipes and meal preps again and again, which meant that I didn’t have to think about the exact macros of the foods. These recipes became muscle memory and since I’m in maintenance mode, I don’t have to devote as much thought to the exact macros I’m putting into my body.
So, did I cover all of the bases here? If you’re on keto and recommend another supply in your keto arsenal, comment below and let me know!
Until next time,