Starting the Keto Diet is about embracing an entirely new way of cooking, eating, and even thinking about food! As Keto gains popularity, marketers are pushing more and more "must have" products to entice newbie Keto-ers with taglines like "Get into Ketosis faster!" The reality? Most of these are marketing ploys. In fact, you don't really need much to set yourself up for success (good news, right?). We broke it down into the 5 Keto Essentials you need to get started:
1.) Almond Flour (available on Amazon)
Seriously, we go through a giant bag of this stuff every few weeks. It’s so versatile and will open up SO many Keto recipes to you! A few that will make a big difference for you include:
-Fathead Dough: This is what you will use to make pizza crusts, hamburger/cheeseburger buns, even the “blanket” for Pigs in a Blanket!
-Cookies: As you cut insulin-spiking sugar out of your diet, your body is going to crave it. Your first few weeks of Keto will be much easier if you have a delicious Keto-Approved dessert on hand, like chocolate chip cookies or muffins or even banana bread.
-90-Second Microwave Muffins: These little guys take about 2 minutes to prep and cook in 90 seconds in the microwave, then voila! You have a perfect little savory muffin (reminds me of an English muffin). A perfect vehicle for your eggs at breakfast or bread for a sandwich at lunch!
2.) Food scale (available on Amazon)
Knowing exactly how much you’re eating gets insanely easier when you have a food scale! We use this in our cooking every day, and it saves us so much time while removing all the guesswork.
Want to know exactly how much steak you’re about to eat? Put your plate on the food scale, zero it out, add the steak. Want to add 1 ounce of parmesan to your salad? Set the salad on the scale, zero it out, add parmesan until it reaches 1 ounce. Want to know exactly what a single-serving of brussels sprouts (85 g) really looks like? Place a bowl on the scale, zero it out, then start chopping your brussels sprouts and adding them to the bowl until it reads 85 g.
Having a food scale to measure out your portions makes everything SO much easier!
We use the Amazon Basics food Scale,
3.) Electrolyte Sources and Supplements
Perhaps you've heard of the dreaded "Keto Flu." Associated with symptoms like fatigue, headache, low-energy, nausea, foggy thinking, it's a common side effect of starting a Keto diet. But we have good news: the effects of the Keto Flu can be drastically reduced or even eliminated if you make sure to maintain your electrolyte levels!
To ensure you're getting enough Sodium, Potassium, and Magnesium, we recommend:
- Sodium: Himalayan Pink Salt (available on Amazon)
- We highly recommend replacing your table salt with high-quality sea salt. Table salt is highly processed, whereas Himalayan Pink Salt is delicious, real salt plus minerals and micronutrients that help to support your body. And did we mention that it just tastes so much better?
- Potassium: Meats, avocados, and herbs
- Thankfully, many foods on the Keto diet are rich in potassium. However, if you are experiencing symptoms of low potassium (dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramping, heavy legs), consider looking for a potassium supplement.
- Magnesium: Nature Made Magnesium Supplement (available on Amazon)
- Unfortunately, many foods that are naturally high in Magnesium are also high in carbs. So to ensure you're getting enough of this little powerhouse, we recommend taking a daily supplement.
There are also a few great products to supplement your electrolyte intake, which can be so crucial in avoiding the Keto Flu. My personal favorite is LyteShow (available on Amazon) Disclaimer: This product is not focused on taste, which they even admit right in their description. It is simply concentrated electrolytes with no additives, sweeteners, or calories. It has a salty, mineral taste. I find it best to add a serving to 10 oz of water and chug it right before my workouts.
We also take a daily Multi-Vitamin (available on Amazon) to ensure we're not missing any other key vitamins or minerals.
Just because you’re cutting out sugar doesn’t mean you’re cutting out sweets! (crazy, right?) Thankfully, there are multiple sugar-alternatives out there that won’t cause your blood sugar to spike, meaning they are perfectly acceptable for Keto. Make sure you invest in one or more, because when that sweet-tooth strikes, you want to make sure you have something on hand to satisfy your cravings.
Liquid Stevia Extract (available on Amazon): This concentrated sweetener is great because a little can go a long way! Just a few drops is enough to sweeten up any drink or recipe. Plus, because it’s so concentrated, it will last you a long time. As in, we've had a single 2 oz bottle for 5 months and aren't even half-way through.
Truvia (available on Amazon): Stevia sweetener in powdered form. These are great because you can throw a few in your purse/pocket or store them at the office so you always have a Keto-approved sweetener on-hand.
Erythritol (available on Amazon): Such a great, all-purpose sweetener. Most often used in baked goods, it’s also great to use in lattes or bulletproof drinks. This is our most-used sweetener.
Note: You’ll notice Erythritol says it contains 4 grams of carb per serving, which makes it seem unsuitable for Keto… but because these are sugar alcohols, they do not cause your blood to spike, meaning we don’t actually count them in our net carbs.
Confectioners Swerve (available on Amazon): Swerve is a combination of erythritol and oligosaccharides, and this confectioners version is great for baking, frostings, puddings, etc. Note: you could also use a blender to turn your granular Erythritol into a powder, but sometimes, it's nice to have it already done for you.
5.) MyFitnessPal Premium Account
Last, but certainly not least… in fact, this may be the most important one on the list! The key to success in the beginning of Keto is to track exactly what you’re eating to ensure your Macros (Macronutrients, aka Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrates) are on track.
The free version is nice for calorie-tracking, but the Premium version is what allows you to track your Macros and set Macro goals. This is the only way to get a clear picture of what you’re eating and how to balance your meals to get the best possible results!
Could you technically “Go Keto” just by keeping a mental account of your net carbs each day? Sure… but by not tracking your foods and controlling your macros, you risk slower progress and more difficult plateaus. Low carb intake is the most important part of the Keto Diet to be sure, but balancing your fat and protein ratios is also extremely important for your health and your progress.
(Had a bad experience tracking your food in the past, or skeptical about learning how to do it? I’ve been there... Check out our Step-by-Step Guide to Using (and Loving) MyFitnessPal. It’s easier than you think… and it’s kind of fun!)
Bonus 6.) Costco Membership
I’m calling this one a “bonus” because based on where you live, it may not be possible… but if you live within an hour of a Costco, we highly recommend a membership!
Our closest Costco is about a half an hour away (to put this in perspective, we both live within a mile of our work and can get to Downtown Cleveland in less than 10 minutes, so relatively speaking, we consider Costco kind of far). We take one big trip to Costco every 4 to 6 weeks where we stock up on all our meats, cheeses, almond flour, La Croixs, snacks, really EVERYTHING we need for a diet. Then, week-to-week, we just run to the grocery store for our produce needs. While a singular Costco trip will run us a few hundred dollars, we can easily keep our weekly grocery-store runs under $20. This saves us a ton of money on groceries.
So, if you have a Costco near you, we strongly recommend a membership. It will make your life easier and save you money in the long-run.
And that's it!
There you have it… the 5 Keto Essentials (+ 1 bonus) you need to start a Keto Diet. Nothing too crazy, right? You can easily make these simple switches to get you started. Then, as you run into new ingredients or items in recipes or other Keto guides, you can slowly add them to your list and build up your Keto resources over time.
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