10 Tips for Starting Keto
Considering the Ketogenic diet? I thought the whole concept was totally crazy when a friend first told me about it. While I’ve given up sugar for months at a time and done several rounds of Whole 30, I have never been a fan of giving up food God made, like apples and potatoes. However in June 2017 I hit a low with my health and a high with my weight. My naturopath recommended I eat a dairy-free Ketogenic diet. I was already gluten-free and dairy-free but it was not enough to restore my health. I was consuming too much sugar and carbs, and combined with mold exposure in our home, I had developed major gut and candida issues. Blood tests also showed I had several markers for insulin resistance and I was constantly fatigued.
I am SO thankful for her because keto has changed my life. As of December 2017 I have lost over 50 pounds and most importantly I FEEL so much better. You can watch my whole story HERE on my Facebook page. And now here are my best tips for starting keto …
What is keto?
Keto is a way of eating where you eat low carb (20 or less net), moderate protein and high fat. When you eat higher amounts of carbs your body converts them to glucose which it then uses for energy. But when you keep the carbs low it forces your body to burn fat instead of glucose – YOUR fat. When this happen you are in “ketosis”. Eating enough protein keeps you burning fat and not muscle so you don’t lose muscle mass. Getting enough fat keeps you satisfied and gives your body fuel for energy and since our goal is health and not just weight loss I only recommend eating fats like avocado, coconut oil, avocado oil, etc. Done right this is a healthy, whole foods based way of eating that can heal reverse diabetes, lower blood pressure and rescue you from obesity*.
*Please consult your doctor before beginning a ketogenic way of eating. Educate yourself first so you can answer questions and objections. Note that being in ketosis is NOT the same as diabetic ketoacidosis which is life threatening.
Here are my 10 tips for starting keto!
If you have spent years eating the wrong foods you can’t expect yourself to change overnight. Food addiction is more mental than physical and there is a lot to learn too. Get the junk food out of your house and give yourself time to learn about this way of eating and what your body needs. Don’t give up if you make a mistake because it will happen. I made big changes quickly but I gave myself grace as I got used to eating this way. Every positive change helps.
Get an app where you can track every bite you eat. I know that sounds overwhelming but trust me, it’s KEY to being successful. If you are overweight chances are that you have an issue with food and reality. We get such warped perceptions of what we eat and tracking is the only way to know the facts. I use the Keto Diet app ($6.99) and many also use MyFitness Pal. I tracked my food religiously for 10 weeks until I could very accurately mentally keep track of my carbs and know I was getting enough protein.
Use a keto calculator to get the idea “macros” (fat/protein/carb guidelines) for your weight and activity level. Here’s an easy one from KetoDiet app. Make sure your carbs are set to 20 grams max (net – after fiber is subtracted): Keto Macro Calculator . For example, right now mine looks like this: 20 net carbs, 90 grams protein, 90 grams fat, about 1200 calories.
Know your motivation
Some days will be easy and some will be hard and you will have to trust the process. You have to keep your eyes on your long term motivation. For me it was avoiding the type 2 Diabetes that runs in my family and healing from my exposure to mold. I REFUSE to be an American obesity statistic and seeing myself heading that way freaked me out enough to change. Like my naturopath told me “this is a marathon, not a sprint”. It was discouraging at first but in the end it drove me. True health is a long term process. The desire to look good for a special event was never enough for me. Go deeper and find what really matters to you.
Have realistic expectations of yourself and for weight loss.
If you are like me it took years to get to the unhealthy place that’s motivated you to make big changes in your diet. You cannot undo these years of abuse in a few weeks or even a few months. Do not get expect nor get discouraged if you don’t lose 20 pounds the first month. Do not get discouraged if its hard to break old habits. Of course it is! One mistake does not ruin everything. Keep your long term goals in mind and let them motivate you. Everyone responds differently to a ketogenic diet. There are months I’ve lost over 10 pounds and months I only lost a couple and the more you lose the slower it comes off. You have to trust the process and stay the course.
Cheating is not worth it. For most people one cheat turns into days or even weeks off plan. Some people can cheat and then go on and be fine and not be kicked out of ketosis. But for some it can take days or weeks even to get your body back to burning fat instead of glucose. That said – personally I have chosen to have one cheat meal a month. It never makes me spiral downward and eat all the things but sometimes it’s hard for me to get back into ketosis. And it’s usually sushi because I miss sushi. Knowing that once a month helps me be very strict the rest of the time (yes I know there are healthy versions – they are good but not the same) There are a lot of delicious keto-friendly “treats” that wont throw you off track to stick to those when you need one (see #6)
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Do not go in planning to find keto replacements for your favorite junk food. Meat, eggs and vegetables are what you need to focus on. Remember the goal is to be healthier, not just to lose weight – if you put good, healthy food in you will get good health out. Keep meals simple, with simple ingredients so this way of eating is not overwhelming. Covering everything in cheese or making a lot of keto junk food replacements can keep you from hitting your goals. They are great occasionally, Ive had some great waffles, cookies, etc that helped me curb those cravings in a healthy way – all in moderation.
Listen to your body
Going keto can be a big change for your body. In the beginning I had a lot of dizziness and it took me some time to figure out why. The answer? (see #10) You may need to tone down exercise in the beginning while you adapt. Rest when you need to, make sure to drink if you are thirsty and eat if you are hungry (the right foods of course). Be gentle with yourself.
Choose your sweeteners wisely.
Avoid artificial sweeteners – especially aspartame and splenda. They may have zero carbs but for some they still spike blood sugar which can kick you out of ketosis. There is also a lot to suggest they may be harmful to your health. Read labels carefully as Splenda is often listed as “sucralose”.Which are safe to use? Stevia and erythritol which are plant-derived. Xylitol is made from corn or birch and is safe but is not carb-free like stevia and erythritol. If you use xylitol make sure to choose one that is non-GMO like this one. I use Stevia to sweeten my tea and added to sparkling water (even better with a few drops of essential oil!)
Ditch the comparison …. and dependence on the scale
Don’t be discouraged if someone else is losing weight faster. This is YOUR health journey and it’s not the same as anyone else’s. Just stay on course and stay consistent and you will lose and improve your health.The scale is a fickle thing. Sometimes we lose quickly because of water weight loss. Sometimes the scale doesn’t move at all but yet my clothes get looser. Focus on eating good healthy foods within the keto framework. Focus on taking good care of your body – drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, etc. Sometimes I’ve gone 2 weeks without losing and other times I lose 5 pounds in a week. I’ve averaged about 2.5lbs per week overall.
Electrolytes are not optional
Less inflammation = shedding water weight = losing magnesium, potassium and calcium. You will lose these vital minerals as you lose water weight and you have to replace them or you will feel like total crap! Green leafy foods, avocados and sometimes supplements are needed to replenish these critical minerals. I use these mineral drops in my water:
This buffered magnesium supplement:
And I also take doTERRA’s Bone Nutrient Supplement which has Calcium, Magnesium and D2 an D3 to help your body absorb them.
Tips for starting keto: What is a woosh?
Fat cells contain water. When you become fat adapted and your body is burning fat for fuel the water from those fat cells is left behind. The body will hold onto it for a time then suddenly release that water. You will have a sudden drop in weight, usually several pounds, and suddenly be very thirsty.
Here are some typical foods that I eat:
Tips for starting Keto Breakfast ideas:
I don’t eat breakfast every day. Often I practice intermittent fasting (see below) But when I do eat breakfast I often have eggs – plain, over easy or scrambled with onions, leftover meat, bacon, peppers, spinach etc. I also eat a lot of nitrate-free bacon, local or organic chicken sausage (make sure it doesn’t have carbs) and of course – avocado. I love mashed avocado with a little lime juice (or this), salt and onion powder with my eggs or used as a dip for bacon.
Tips for starting Keto lunch ideas:
In the beginning I ate a lot of Wild Caught salmon/tuna (canned from Costco) salad made with homemade mayonnaise. I added chopped red onions, slivered almonds and celery seed. I still love this for lunch, served on sliced, raw zucchini rounds or bell pepper. If I’m fasting breakfast then I’ll often eat “breakfast foods” at lunch time. Today I had lettuce wraps with fresh crab (Costco again) and a homemade garlic aoli – mayo, lime juice, chopped cilantro and garlic powder. It was delicious! Other lunch options are roasted non-starchy veggies like brussel sprouts, peppers, onions, etc. Just make sure to measure and count the carbs. There is nowhere better to get your carbs than vegetables!
Tips for starting Keto snack ideas:
I don’t snack most days but if I’ve missed a meal or am extra hungry these are some of my favorites. Macadamia nuts are always in my car and/or purse for emergencies. Almonds are another options but cashews are higher in carbs so avoid those. Just a quarter cup is enough to stave off hunger. I (shockingly) have come to love gourmet pork rinds with guacamole – it’s a satisfying treat if you are craving something crunchy. These are the only type I like.
Tips for starting Keto dinner ideas:
Most of the time dinner at our house is a meat of some sort and a vegetable, usually broccoli or green beans. I love roasting and grilling veggies too.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is when you don’t eat for a set amount of time a day. Most people do 16:8 so 16 hours not eating and eight hours within which you can eat. For me this looks like finishing dinner at 7pm and not eating again until 11am. I usually eat two big meals on that day. Here’s a complete guide to intermittent fasting.
I usually keep things simple. But here are some of my ….
Favorite Keto Recipes:
- Instapot hard boiled eggs – easiest eggs to peel ever! Great for a quick, healthy snack
- Blendtech homemade mayo recipe – nothing is as good as homemade mayo! I add garlic and sub Avocado oil (do NOT use canola)
- Creamy broccoli salad with bacon – this is amazing. Reduce or omit cranberries
- Roasted brussel sprouts with bacon and onion (use white onion for lower carbs)
- Bacon-wrapped Asparagus bundles (are you picking up on the bacon theme??)
- For a special treat: Low Carb Keto Almond flour Donuts I use this silicone donut mold
My Keto staples, tools and favorite snacks:
Stevia liquid and/or Stevia glycerite for tea, sparkling water, etc.
Erythritol for baking and bulletproof coffee
KNOW foods chocolate chip cookies (4 net carbs!!)
Pork clouds pork rinds
Instapot pressure cooker – ribs, pork loins, stew, soup, hard boiled eggs, etc.
Beef based paleo protein powder – Ive only tried the vanilla and it’s AMAZING!
Dandy blend – this is a great coffee replacement. I use the above protein powder, collagen and erythritol and blend. Delicious!
Collagen – I use the Great Lakes brand because it’s from grass fed cows. This type blends easily even in cold beverages.
DoTERRA Slim and Sassy gum – my life saver when I crave sugar!! I chew this every day. It contains an essential oil blend from doTERRA called Slim and Sassy with Grapefruit oil, Peppermint, Ginger, etc It is great for controlling sugar cravings and supporting a healthy metabolism.
Have you tried eating keto? How did it go? Share below!
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Have questions? Need help deciding whats best for you?
Email me [email protected] and I’ll be in touch very soon. Happy oiling! I look forward to working with you!