What to Do BEFORE You Start a Keto Diet (and Printable Keto Diet Planning Checklist)
Thinking of going keto? This post will show you what to do before you start a keto diet to give you the best chance of success.
The first step to any project, dieting or otherwise, is PLANNING. But most diet books or programs miss the mark. They tell you what to eat, what not to eat, and how much to eat. They may give you recipes, and amazing success stories. But how do you translate a diet plan into something that works for your real (i.e., busy!) life?
I gotcha covered.
In this blog post I'll share 11 simple things to plan BEFORE you start your diet so you will stick with your keto diet and to everything possible to get the results you want. I even have a free printable planning checklist to help you out. Just click the image below and I'll send it right to your email. Now, let's get started.
What to do before you start a keto diet.
1 - Choose a keto diet plan to follow.
When I first started researching the keto diet I was super excited. I read blog posts, testimonials, and, of course, browsed Pinterest for recipes. I was getting a mish mash of information from all over the internet.
And then I dove in.
Taking action is great, and I have no regrets. But I soon realized that there was more to learn than just fat, protein, and carb macros. There were tips and tricks of those who had gone before me. Some people ate dairy and processed foods. Some keto dieters didn’t.
I wanted to understand WHY I needed to limit my carbs and eat more fat.
While you can definitely wing it like I did in the beginning, I really recommend following a plan. Choose an online program or book that explains keto in detail, so you understand why you are eating this way and what the benefits are. The program you choose will help answer common beginner questions and just make you feel more confident when beginning this eating lifestyle.
I really like The Keto Bundle, which is an eight week keto program complete with meal plans, recipes, and shopping lists. It's a digital download so you can get started today. Check it out: Healthful Pursuit Keto Bundle
There are also lots of "how to eat keto" books on Amazon. These all have very high ratings:
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2 - Pick your start date.
This is easy... just pick a date to start your plan and commit to it. Write it in your calendar or planner.
To be super prepared, you may want to give yourself a few days or a week before starting. However, if you are a person who will eat everything in the world containing sugar and carbs before you start because you know you'll never, ever eat another carb as long as you live (like me!!), then choose your official start date but tell yourself you are practicing now to avoid the last supper eating mentality.
3 - Order supplies.
Using your keto program as a guide, are there any supplies you need? How will you test to see if you are in ketosis? Will you be supplementing with MCT oil or bone broth?
Make a list of what you need (keeping in mind that the simpler, the better), and order those supplies. I always use Amazon just because Amazon is my favorite way to shop and I'm a prime member, but there are lots of online sources.
Here's a sample supply shopping list: (Please note these are not necessities! See your particular program for what is recommended or start simple with a pack of keto sticks.)
My Keto Journal (to track everything)
weekly meal plans and shopping lists (if you want meal planning done for you)
4 - Be super clear on your reason WHY (and write it down).
When I started eating a high fat, low carb, moderate protein diet I was really excited about some of the benefits:
stable blood sugar levels
healthy brain function
more energy throughout the day
But a list of benefits doesn’t help when your teenager offers to bring you a McDonald's hot fudge sundae.
When starting a keto or any type of diet, or beginning a new project or goal, it’s important to have a clear reason WHY you are making a lifestyle change, what your expected results are, and how to measure those results. And you must write down your WHY and review it often.
Make your WHY as specific as you can. “I want to fit in my size 4 jeans” doesn’t cut it. Think about what in your life will change when you eat this way. For me, it’s about stopping some of my auto-immune symptoms, healing my leaky gut, making the cravings disappear, and, yes, fitting into my size 4 jeans again.
Most importantly, write down your reason WHY. I use a 12 week printable keto journal to track everything in my keto life, but you can use an old notebook if that makes you happy.
5 - Set goals for your keto diet (and write them down).
Goals are different from your WHY. The WHY is the motivation, and the goals are the results you want to see. It's important to be very clear on your outcome, otherwise how will you know if keto is the right way to eat for you?
This is where the benefits of keto, and I listed some of them in the previous section, come into play. What do you want to change by eating keto? Do you want to lose weight? Stop cravings? Heal leaky gut?
When creating your goals be very specific. Using weight loss as an example, you might say "my goal is to lose 20 pounds in three months." This goal is specific, measurable, and has a time deadline. Random goals like "I want to feel better" are too vague.
This blog post talks about goal planning in more detail: How to set health and fitness goals.
Once you have a goal (or two) be sure to write them down and review often... at least weekly. You can use the goal setting worksheets in My Keto Journal or a plain notebook.
6 - Know your keto guidelines (and write them down).
Whether you are following a specific keto program or doing it on your own, it's important to be very clear exactly what "eating keto" means for you.
This is where you decide:
what macros to shoot for
what foods are off limits
what foods to include in your diet
do you have a calorie goal?
do you have a daily carb limit?
how will you track your meals?
will you intermittent fast and, if so, how often?
will you use any supplements, such as bone broth or exogenous ketones?
If you are unclear what eating keto will look like on a daily basis, how can you expect to be successful?
Review your program or keto diet book (if you are using one) and write on a piece of paper (or in My Keto Journal) what your guidelines are. This way you can access them at-a-glance without googling or thumbing through a book.
7 - Record your starting weight and measurements, and take progress photos.
This is pretty simple, yay! Get on the scale and weigh yourself. Grab a tape measure and take your measurements. Do a full body selfie or have someone take some photos.
Obviously be sure to write down these numbers and save them where you can review often!
8 - Create an inspiration board.
An Inspiration Board is simply a visual scrapbook to motivate and encourage you. It's a lot of fun to create one! You essentially compile motivational quotes, doodles, photos to keep you inspired on your journey. I suggest starting one at the beginning of your keto journey and then adding to it on a weekly basis.
Your Inspiration Board can be either digital or physical. I use the printable Inspiration Board in My Keto Journal. You can also create a Pinterest board to serve as your inspiration, or design one in a photo app. THIS is a very old blog post that describes how to create an Inspiration Board in the free program Picmonkey.
9 - Embrace meal planning.
Aaaaah meal planning. We all love to hate it, right?
Meal planning doesn't have to be time consuming or complicated. I've written on lots about meal planning (the definitive post is here: How to Master Meal Planning in 7 Simple Steps
You don't have to plan in advance what to eat for every single meal or snack, just have a general idea of what you will eat during the week so you can go to the grocery store and stock your fridge with food.
Keep it simple af. I highly discourage wasting hours on Pinterest finding elaborate keto meals, unless you are a gourmet chef or love to cook. For the rest of us, simple is best.
The My Keto Journal has a complete meal planning section, but you can always use an old-fashioned notebook and pen, try online meal planning software (I love Plan to Eat), or even have keto meal planning done for you.
10 - Create a system to log your food, macros, and if you are in ketosis.
Remember all the keto guidelines you set up back in Step 6? Now you need a system to track these things.
How will you track your macros? Will you use an app like MyFitnessPal or pen and paper? Will you test to see if you are in ketosis? How often?
The nuts and bolts of tracking is a topic often overlooked in keto programs.
You are given macros and meal plans and suggested amounts of water to drink, but how the heck do you keep track? Here is where you need to put on your thinking cap and create your own system. Or use one already created.
That's why I love My Keto Journal. It tracks EVERYTHING. You can log not only your food and meals, but macros, calories, and check off if you are in ketosis each day. Track what you ate and how it made you feel, if you so choose. Use the Evening Reflection to see how you are doing each day, what has worked, and what hasn't. What foods made you feel good, etc.
Whether you use My Keto Journal or create your own system, do have a plan for tracking your daily eating, exercise, water, etc.
11 - Create an accountability system.
Accountability is often a missing piece and yet accountability is an incredible motivator! You can have a friend be an accountability buddy (because dieting is often more fun with friends!), you hold yourself accountable through social media posts, or blogging. Or, you can be accountable to yourself, in the privacy of your own home.
This is what I prefer. I don't want to take the time to snap perfect pics of my keto meals and post them on Instagram each day. (And waste another 45 minutes scrolling through my feed.) I don't want to be in yet another Facebook group (again spending another hour looking at people's kids and funny cat memes).
I like being accountable to myself. Lots of ladies, and myself, use My Keto Journal to be our personal accountability BFF. Tracking food, mood, water, macros each day holds you accountable. Following a weekly checklist to get yourself organized for a great keto week holds you accountable. Setting and reviewing goals weekly holds you accountable.
No embarrassing Instagram selfies or unappetizing food pics required.
Whether you are thinking about starting keto, or need a redo, knowing what to do before you start a keto diet is super important. I hope these 11 planning action steps help you become more organized and prepared for your keto journey. If you haven't already done so, download the keto planning checklist.
And, if you want to learn more about my favorite Keto workbook and accountability tool, My Keto Journal, click on the image below: