Let’s talk about keto for beginners and how to even start this optimal lifestyle. I’ll be honest and tell you that there is a lot of information out there on keto and a lot that will contradict each other. The Keto lifestyle had got a bad rep. from day one because when people hear “high fat” they automatically think of dripping bacon and juicy burgers, not to say you can’t have these things but the healthier way to live this lifestyle is by eating healthy fats.
I found that out the hard way, but I’m here to tell you it does not have to be complicated. Keto in the simplest form is the best way to start in my opinion.
When starting keto the most important thing to remember, is that this is a high fat, moderate protein, low carb diet. As I discussed on my post “benefits of the keto diet” keep your macro nutrients or macros in the range of 15-20 grams of healthy carb foods, protein moderate at around 80-120 grams and healthy fats at 150-200 grams per day, this will give you a great start. There are many apps that can help you manage your macros like MyFitnessPal and My Macros. Or you can do it the old fashioned way with pen and paper, whatever is easier for you.
The scale is not your friend
The scale is not always your friend, and I would suggest taking measurements when you start. You can measure weekly or bi weekly as well as weigh, but I do not suggest weighing yourself daily. Sometimes when you step on the scale and you expect to see results, just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean you haven’t achieved them. I call these non scale victories and was surprised when I first saw this for myself. I was a weigh myself every morning kind of girl and sometimes I still catch myself wanting to do that. I would suggest against this because a lot of the times it is just water weight, but if you stick to a strict keto life style you will lose this water and so much more.
Carbohydrates in our body store water hence “hydrate”. As we cut out unhealthy carbs and lower our daily intake to 20-25 grams our bodies try to hang onto these carbs longer. Your body is still trying to use sugar for fuel, we are hard wired that way. Unhealthy carbohydrates like grains and starches convert to sugar in your body especially when you have depleted all other sources. As we lower our carbs we are lowering the water we hold onto. So there is a lot happening within your body until your actually into Ketosis and burning fat for fuel.
If your wondering, how will I know when I’m in ketosis? There are many ways, of course weight loss, focusing better and having more energy, not as hungry, feeling cold, bad breath…don’t worry too much about this one, its not as bad you think. If your like me though you want to know for sure and there are blood ketone meters, breath meters and urine strips all to measure if your in ketosis and how far in. In my article “understanding ketones in your body” I go into further detail with how each product works.
Another thing that happens when we cut out our sugar intake, as we’ve discussed is that were now using our fat for fuel. As our fat cells empty the body tries to refill them but we are using the fat so instead it fills up with water. Once these cells are full they collapse and out comes the water weight. The Keto term for this is the “water or fat whoosh”, when this happens you can lose anywhere from 3-7 pounds according to the scale.
Everyone is different and are bodies will respond differently. So just because Jane Doe down the road has lost 10 pounds in a week and you have only lost three, there’s no need to panic. Just stay the course and you will succeed in not only weight loss but so many other health benefits.
Don’t let the label fool you!
Label reading is of great importance. Just because the front of a product says it is “sugar free” does NOT mean it is. Another lesson I found out the hard way. As I have progressed on the keto way of life, and my understanding of why this works. I’ve realized reading nutritional information and the ingredient list is key.
Not only important but very eye opening as well. I can not believe how many of our foods have sugar in them. When I started I would just grab any meat thinking I was safe, then realizing that a lot of meats like bacon, hot dogs, sausages and even hams have sugar in them. They might not be indexed on nutritional chart but check the ingredient list and see for yourself, if there isn’t any sugar on the nutritional chart but when you read the ingredient list and there is some form of sugar there. Its usually because they are not required to put it in the nutritional chart if its under 1 gram of sugar.
This was very frustrating to me at first until I realized there are meats that do not contain sugars, and why do meats need sugar in the first place? Most uncured or smoked meat do not contain sugars and if you have the option of getting grass fed meat this is your best bet. Some people buy straight from the source at local farms, then you know what you are getting.
I love the french vanilla coffee creamer, and when I saw a sugar free option that tasted great I was over joyed. That is until I read the nutritional facts and ingredient list, where I found maltodextrin and then corn syrup on another brand. I since then have found a great alternative that is really sugar free and tastes great in coffee and making keto desserts. Torani Syrups and Skinny syrups really put the love of my morning coffee’s back in perspective.
For some not being able to have their coffee is a deal breaker and I think might have been for me had I not discovered the coffee syrups. I put mine in heavy whipping cream 1/4 cup of Torani or Skinny syrup per pint of whipping cream. I also make keto desserts out of these two ingredients as you can whip up the cream to a thick peaky texture, you can eat it as is or put in the freezer to eat later. Some people might add in some liquid stevia or other sweetener to taste, or some cocoa powder but really there’s a variety of combinations you can throw together to ease your sweet tooth.
One thing you will notice though as you progress on the keto lifestyle is that your taste buds will start to change and eventually you won’t crave those sweets. A couple of times I had fallen of the keto wagon, when I tried a chocolate bar it really wasn’t that satisfying.
Even though the nutritional info might not list sugar always check the ingredients because if there is less than 1 gram of sugar they do not have to list it as a nutritional value. You might think that just a couple undercover sugars won’t make much of a difference but they add up quick. Our goal is to enter ketosis and burn fat for fuel not sugar, so if your still feeding your body sugar even in small amounts it will try to utilize it.
Tips & Tricks I learned along the way
- Drink lots of water
- count full carbs not “net” carbs
- get your rest
- meal prep/plan meals
- don’t focus on calories
- prepare for munchie attacks
- fruits are not keto friendly
- If you experience a lot of heart burn, 1 tbsp. a day of Bragg organic apple cider vinegar is what you need. I put mine in an 8 ounce glass of water. If you find its not working have one in the morning and at night. I know what your thinking…vinegar to combat heart burn. Same thing I though but surprisingly it works. A lot of the times when we experience heart burn we think we are too acidic when in fact we are too basic. If you don’t believe me try it for yourself.
There are many other benefits that come with taking apple cider vinegar daily. Such as listed in this image I got from the Bragg.com
Healthy way of life
personally I don’t like calling this keto lifestyle a “diet” because to me it is a life long commitment. You will see why once you start reaping the benefits of the keto way of life. I’m going to be candid with you and tell you that yes the first two weeks will be challenging but what great lifestyle change isn’t. Once you overcome the initial shock to the body, you will feel better than you have in a long time. I have had many hurdles in my life and have been in places I never should have been, these actions set me back health wise. Thanks to Keto I am feeling the best I have felt in years.
There will be obstacles you will face such as sugar cravings and withdrawal symptoms, these are normal. Some refer to this as the “keto flu”.
I realized from experience that it is just your bodies way of telling you it is been dependent on sugar and bad carbs. Just like any dependency or addiction, you will experience withdrawals when you take it away. Anything worth fighting for is definitely worth it, fight through whatever craving or mood swing that arises and you will be better for it.
Just remember it will pass, I found drinking plenty of water hurried the process. Your body most likely has been taking in sugar and unhealthy carbs for a long time, it takes longer than overnight to remedy that. Myself I really didn’t experience much in the way of “keto flu” or adverse effects. I got the occasional mood swing, felt a little week and tired the first week. After lots of water and getting the rest my body needed I dug my way out.
Trust the process and one of the best piece of advice I ever got was to “eat when your hungry and stop when your full”.
Food for thought
Think about how our ancestors ate years ago, before sugar was implemented unhealthy carbs or what I like to call “fillers”. We ate whole, real foods that were grown naturally without pesticides and chemicals. Obesity and many of the diseases we have today were not as prevalent as they are now. Really the keto lifestyle isn’t much different from the way we lived 100 years ago.
Another thing to add in for beginners are the common abbreviations people are using, this one stumped me many times in the beginning and I still sometimes have to revert back to the terminology:
AS – artificial sweetener BPC – bullet proof coffee BG – blood glucose
LCHF – low carb high fat IR – insulin resistant BS – blood sugar
HWC – heavy whipping cream MCT – medium chain tryglyceride CICO – calories in, calories out
WOE – way of eating SF – Sugar free IF – intermittent fasting
WOL – way of life ACV – apple cider vinegar NSV – non scale vitory
SAD – standard american diet