My keto journey has been a lot of trial and error yet widely successful. I’ve been posting about keto for a while now so thought it was time to give almost a quick start guide. I am not a medical specialist or a nutritionist, but I’ve done a lot of research. Encourage everyone to do their own research and reach their own conclusions.
In previous post, it was discussed what is ketosis in more depth. To recap, a ketogenic diet is where you re-teach your body to use fat energy versus glucose energy. Yes, emphasis on re-teach. Our ancestors most definitely did not live the glucose filled lives we do today.
When I consider the macros the human diet digest (carbohydrates, fat and protein) and how the body uses them, my logical conclusion is that most of us should be living a keto lifestyle. At least part of the time, if not most of the time. If you eat too many carbs or glucose, how does your body store them? It turns them to fat. Why? Because we were never made to store glucose. It is not an ancestral genetic trait we have been handed down. If you look at history, diabetes (sugar sickness) started with only the wealthy who could afford rich sweet food. As sugar industry made its way into everything packaged in American society, we are now a country full of diabetes and diseases.
Why do we store fat? Our body’s energy source is called ATP (Adenosine triphosphate). Fat is your body’s preferred energy source because 1 molecule of fat = 140 molecules of ATP. Research the mitochondria and how it works. One molecule of glucose can only make approximately 38 molecules of ATP and that is only when the glucose makes it to the mitochondria. Our bodies are so full of glucose thanks to the advised America diet that a lot of our glucose is converted in the cytoplasm of the cell and doesn’t even make it to the mitochondria (1 glucose=2 ATP). Who eats an apple and is starving a few minutes later? I am certainly.
Conclusion – My body stores fat as back up energy. My cells can get the most energy from a molecule of fat than anything else. Why don’t I eat more fat???? Why am I consuming so much glucose (breads, pasta, sugar, fruit, etc.)?
Note – This is not the atkins diet, though that will also put the body into ketosis. Consuming only animal fat and nothing else could still make you sick. Aim for a well-balanced diet of good fats, meats/proteins, veggies and occasional fruit. Ketogenic is not eliminating all carbs, but choosing them wisely.
Step 1 – Accept that you’ve been lied to your entire life.
I feel appalled by the American food pyramid and what it teaches. Let’s reverse it!
American Food Pyramid
Keto Food Pyramid
*These images were found online and not created by yours truly
Step 2 – Now what are you going to do about it?
There is so much information about going Keto that it is hard to tell you where to begin. So I’ll just tell you were I began.
I don’t consider myself a big eater… by that I mean I don’t typically over eat. I’ve always ate what’s considered relatively healthy, but I work a desk job and seem to never get enough exercise. I do consider myself to have a sweet tooth, but I really don’t think I over indulge. Since having my 3 kids I’ve done the following with varying results:
- Went Vegan for 4 months and lost maybe 3-4 lbs. I was hungry, miserable and had low energy. I do love watching fullyrawkristina and all her amazing ideas on vegan food.
- Ate well and exercised twice a day for a year. In the mornings, I did work out videos like T25, Brazilian butt lift, etc. and in the afternoon, I walked. I got my fitbit that year and made sure to get 10k steps every day. Within the entire year I might have lost 10-12 lbs. I firmed up some, but it didn’t seem like much progress for the amount of effort I was putting into it.
- I went strict gluten free for 8 months and lost approximately a pound a month. I did see my energy levels improve, my skin clear up and general stomach discomfort disappear. From those results I was sure I was gluten sensitive. I try to stay away from gluten in general always now.
- I’ve juiced for weeks at a time and may have lost 1lb if any during those durations.
- I’m a huge fan of intermediate fasting (IF). I started this a few years ago and it has promising results. A good book to read is The Fast Diet. There is so much research on fasting and illness. This doctor does 5 days on and 2 days off. I usually pick days when my schedule is so packed it is hard to get a bite in anyways. With Keto, IF is amazingly easy. I don’t recommend starting this right off. Take your time and listen to your body. I typically now just fast a dinner once or twice a week depending on schedule. Because that gets me an extended fasting period with no misery.
So where to begin?
Start slowly and remember how you want to begin is up to you. You don’t have to do everything at once. You don’t have to buy everything I use to start.
I started with a 3-day detox. I really like Danette May and her programs. She has good information and a lot of her recipes can be made fully keto (most of them are already). This cut carbs from my diet (at least the bad ones) and I still enjoyed some fruit and detox benefits while starting transition.
With any significant dietary change, I would recommend keeping a notes in whatever means suits you (paper, phone, computer, etc.). How are you feeling? Energy high or low? How hungry are you when you eat? If you do any detox there are usually some bowel elimination affects so don’t be worried.
What I believe is key to my success is the bulletproof or butter coffee. Yes, it sounds gross. But it isn’t. Everyone does his or hers a little different. Google or youtube it and look at the different recipes. Even if you don’t like coffee, I still recommend this. I have friends who started doing this just because it fuels their day and they feel so great (even though they don’t like coffee). This is what I like in one cup of coffee (can have up to 2 cups a day):
- 1 tsp Ghee. I like SurySpa, but it is pricey. Trader Joe’s has one for $10-15. Go for grass fed, organic. Ghee has a very caramelized nutty flavor (doesn’t taste like butter). Kroger and walmart have options. You can even make your own ghee. I love my homemade ghee so much better than all I’ve bought I’m debating selling it!
- 1 tsp Coconut oil – can get any brand, but go organic.
- Sprinkle turmeric (for all its many health reasons).
- Sprinkle cinnamon (for taste) or any other flavor you like.
- Sprinkle cacao powder (100% dark chocolate powder – get organic, no sugar).
- 1 tsp Collagen – Collagen and hyaluronic acid can be bought separately or you can buy together from your favorite supplement brand. This is completely optional. Both are good for skin and to prevent sagging skin with excessive weight loss.
- 1/8 tsp hyaluronic acid
- Note – the above works for me, but your taste buds might need something else. I mix it up by using different flavor extracts (vanilla, coconut, almond, etc.), any seasoning you love (pumpkin spice, cardamom, etc.), unsweet coconut or almond milk, etc.
- BLEND IT – It is most delicious if you put in a mixer and make it frothy. Just stirring it does not have the desired blend. Drink hot! If you want cold coffee, go with MCT oil so easily combined.
Try it for a few days. How does it make you feel? Do you feel amazing, have more energy and feel full and have to try to remember to eat lunch? Does your hair and skin already feel better?
If just adding some fat to your diet feels that good, then start cutting the carbs. I think it is important once you make this decision to go all in for a few weeks. You want your body to understand it is completely transitioning and not getting the glucose. It needs to know fat is the source of energy so don’t be cheating and tricking it.
Also realize with sugar and carbs being cut out you are now doing through a sugar detox. You may feel sluggish the first week or so and the more carbs you cheat with the worst you will feel (call this carb flu or keto flu). Don’t go over 50 grams of carbs in this transition period. Better to stay under 20 g. You can do it! And if you feel tired, up your fat intake. Pinterest fat bomb recipes and see all the madness that’s been cooked up for sugar free indulgence.
Decide what works for you with other food. I do dairy free except for cheese. Maybe some day I’ll want to cut this out, but it hasn’t happened yet. See what works for you.
When I first started, I tracked my food (and exercise) to get accustomed to the new way of eating. I use MyFitnessPal app since it already has all the food ready for adding plus the nutrition option shows the macros (bonus it syncs with FitBit).
If you are unsure what you should be eating for your macros, calculate them with this trusty calculator (or search for one online). Know that the more you work out the more protein you will need. However, if you aren’t working out then you will need less protein. Your body is smart. If you have tons of extra protein, it will try to turn it to glucose to get rid of it fast (because it can’t store excess protein either). I’ve tried a bunch of different protein powders. Isopure has zero carbs, but has Splenda (can order from amazon). Slap Nutrition has carb free and stevia sweetened protein powders and well as Jay Robb protein powders. We get a lot at Costco. Protein bars I’ve found with low net carbs (can subtract fiber and erythritol from total carbs) are Quest, B-UP and D’s Naturals. Find what works for you.
Will eating Keto cost me a fortune? No, I probably save money even with the ghee and protein power. I don’t have to buy myself any carbs, breads, pastas… Quest bars are at Walmart. I buy a lot from amazon and jet.com. Ordering is just easier for me with the kids.
What do I eat?
- I start every day with bulletproof coffee. If you are caffeine sensitive, do decaf or try in your favorite tea or in a warm cup of water.
- I don’t eat breakfast often, but if I do it is usually later and big. I do 2-3 eggs and 1-2 bacon/sausage.
- I try to work out daily and frequently have a protein shake. My favorite recipe:2 cups unsweet coconut milk
- 1 tbsp MCT oil
- 1 tbsp unsweet coconut flakes
- ½ cup ice
- 2 scoops vanilla protein powder
- What do I snack on when I need a quick fix? Pepperoni, string cheese, pickles, nuts…. All make you full fast.
- Typical dinners are meat with veggies. Or salad with veggies/meat. Do fresh or frozen. No meats are off the table. Do full fat ranch and cheese.
- Add as much avocado and coconut to your life as you can stand. I love them so much I’m not sure I can get enough!
- You will not feel deprived. You will feel fuller than you probably ever have. It’s a different full. Satisfied and not miserably bloated.
- After a while consider some practices of carbing up and intermediate fasting.
- MCT Oil is a good fat you can throw in foods. Shakes, etc. to up the fat content with no taste.
- Drink hot tea. Seriously, Oolong tea takes you more calories to burn than it has in it. There are so many deliciously flavored teas that have very little to zero calories. These are like desserts to me. Some of my favorites:
- Good Earth Sweet and Spicy (at Kroger and probably the best tea I’ve ever had)
- Yogi Green Tea Blueberry Slim Life
- Stash Oolong Chocolate mint
- Bigelow Salted caramel (yes – salted caramel!)
- Skinnymint has two detox teas that taste good.A morning boost
- A bi-daily night cleanse. Any tea with senna leave will invoke a cleanse of the bowels. Zija has a version that my system can’t handle, but the skinnymint is very mild.
- Lily’s chocolate – this chocolate is most cacao powder (dark chocolate) and sweetened with stevia. Don’t go crazy for there are some carbs, but a little goes a long way when you are just throwing a little in coffee or making fat bombs or just need a bite of chocolate.
- Before bed do a warm cup of water with half a lemon, up to two tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (with mother root) and pinch of cayenne pepper.
- Well after a while you won’t crave sugar at all. Which I find strange. I loved sweet tea and it is weird that I don’t even care about it. Unsweet all the way.
- Your taste buds get super sensitive to any sugar. I had cottage cheese the other day and it was so sweet I almost couldn’t eat it. I have never enjoyed fruit in my cottage cheese. I had to put in hot sauce just to stomach it.
- Your insulin and hormones will regulate.
- You may no longer have heavy periods with lots of cramping or your periods may regulate.
- Some people who cut too many carbs for too long have some hair loss issue. That’s why it is important to listen to your body. It was four months with very low carbs in my diet before I saw this affect. This is fixed by Carbing up Or Carb Loading.
- Insulin causes your kidneys to hold sodium. If you are on keto, your insulin goes down and so does the storage of salt. SO EAT SALT! I’ve just been doing table salt and Himalayan Pink Salt comes highly recommended.
- I do take a supplement for zinc and magnesium. I’m taking ZMA.
- Electrolytes can go low on keto. There are MIO’s with electrolytes too but I try to stay away from Splenda when possible. My favorite is Ultima Replenisher.
- Recommended to drink an ounce of water a day for every pound you weigh. Stay hydrated.
Carbing up Or Carb Loading
If you are living in prolonged state of ketosis, then you can start carbing up. This means once a week add more good carbs to your diet (more veggies or fruit). Do it around a hard work out or for dinner to help with melatonin production for a good night’s sleep. I love to do a Detox Pina Colada Smoothie, a green drink, fruited chicken salad (grapes, green apples, walnuts) on spinach leaves with strawberries as ways of carbing up. Walmart has a Purely Inspired Organic Green powder that is not expensive and has a good taste.
How to know you are in ketosis?
There are breath test, blood test, urine test…. The cheapest of all is the urine strips. You do not have to check. However, when I was first starting I was not sure if I was in ketosis or not so I wanted to test. I got some cheap test strips from amazon. Recently, I ordered a keto mojo. I’m starting to track ketones in blood to see the difference with fasting, after a long run, etc. I’ll post the results. I love keto mojo.
They can be expensive, but I have and will continue to try them. Keto OS is amazing. I’d like to get more for pre-workout. It ups the amount of ketones in your system so can burn even more fat during a workout. I am trying to be better at posting all things keto I find and enjoy on my instagram. I’m going to do blood test after next try to see ketone changes.
Do your research. There are mixed reviews on if you are truly already in ketosis then adding articifical ketones can actually slow ketosis. However, if you eat a high carb diet these are more than you would be getting otherwise (or have a cheat meal).