You are going to need a set of scales. I use a good quality set of domestic scales. They have a body composition function. I may report some values at some point. The main thing is that the scales are fairly accurate. Mine weigh me as 800g less than the unbranded ones at the gym. That doesn’t matter too much as it’s about change.

You’ll also need Ketostix. These are urine test strips and are very easy to use. Pee on the end, wait 15 seconds and compare the colour to the chart on the bottle. They’re available on line at a modest cost. Without them you are wasting your time especially in the early stages.

Get a simple weight tracking app for your phone. There’s loads out there. I use the Monitor Your Weight app on the iPhone.


One thing you have to do is do your research, and there a lot of mixed information out there. Nutrition appears to be a field in tumult! Diet advice seems to be a field particularly riddled with cranks and fads and the big thing that seems to be going on at the moment is a growing (although by no means new) challenge to the orthodoxy of low fat diets based on carbohydrates as being healthy and anything else as being unhealthy.

I think the most important thing about the ketogenic diet is that there is actually a body of long term medical research and significant real world trials behind it because it is used as a treatment for epilepsy. Please read that page yourself. Then read this page on Paleoleap and get across the whole ketosis/ketoacidosis thing and have a look at their references. I am not Type 1 diabetic, I really didn’t feel there were any risks for me in the dietary change but there were a whole load benefits, so I decided I would do it.

Getting ready

As with so much in life, the key is thorough preparation. I didn’t do enough research at first and just tried to reduce my carbohydrate intake without much forethought. That didn’t go so well. I lost some weight, maybe 2kg, but I ate far too much protein and not enough fat.  I think this led to significant gluconeogenesis and definitely some unhelpful blood sugar oscillations which were totally counter-productive. Then I went on a climbing holiday in the first week of February 2016, lost control of my food; ate too much carbohydrate and ended up feeling ill or tired or unfocussed as my body swung between states of under nutrition and carbohydrate glut. That was stupid.

When I came back I was injured so I focussed on getting the diet right.

I listened to a couple of podcasts at this point. Neely Quinn’s podcast on the subject is great and a good sobering counterbalance to some of the hyperbole out there. Dave MacLeod also talks about it a bit here, but he’s a bit more cagey which has a similar effect. I think what come across from these two pieces is that this is quite a serious thing. It’s about as close as you can get to using a powerful drug for weight loss without taking a drug for weight loss.

Key points

  • If you get it right you are going to feel like you have flu coming on for up to two weeks. For me this was ok. It was not as bad as it sounds. It helps if you are someone with a more detached or objective attitude to your body and its sensations. If you are someone who really can’t separate then you are going to find it a bit tougher.
  • Get your scales and Ketostix
  • You need to plan your meals really well. You need to engage in detail with what you are going to eat and when. You need to think about how you will deal with:
    • social situations
    • alcohol – I would suggest it’s not compatible with this diet
    • family meals
    • holidays
    • the concerned resistance to what you are doing from those around you

Mental health

I think it’s important to mention this and low calorie diets can affect mood and its important recognise this for what it is. Getting enough calories on board is important for normal brain function and this diet is about calorie intake, so watch that.

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