So, you want to get started on the Keto diet and you’re not sure where to start. Nine chances out of ten, you’ve already gone through a ‘Pay to play’ diet plan and realized that those aren’t really sustainable, unless you want to pay for the rest of your life. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
The trouble is, every keto web page brings up conflicting information and the more you read, the more it confuses you. I know that’s where we were at the beginning, totally confused and wondering if this would work for us, if it was healthy and how to get started.
**Places like Pinterest, Tik Tok and YouTube are fine for later down the road when your keto informed and can tell bad advice from good. Until you are on steady keto footling, find a source/website that you feel you can trust and stick with them.
Our first advice would be to check with your health care provider. It’s important to check with your doctor before starting any new regime. Keep in mind that depending on how up to date and recently trained your GP is, will depend on how supportive they are of this way of eating.
There are no essential carbs! Our body needs amino acids, we get them from eating quality protein. We need fatty acids, our body gets those from eating healthy fats. Our body can exist quite happily without carbohydrates! Carbohydrates are not essential in any way.
Right off the bat, learn to define your keto, especially when talking to your doctor. The word keto means a lot of different things to a lot of different people..you don’t want your doctor (or your family) to think you’re drinking the poison (That’s NOT real keto!) koolaid! Instead of just using the term keto, define your keto! This is how I would define mine…
“I’m cutting back on carbs, soy, processed food and additives and focusing more on eating real and whole foods, like real meat and green/leafy veggies. I’m not eating any more fat. In fact, I’m eating less fat than before, I’ve just switched to a cleaner fat source”
Did you know?
Over 60 years ago, the sugar industry launched a VERY successful ad campaign, they paid ‘sponsorships’ to scientists to have them tell governments and the public that sugar was good for you and fat was bad.
They did such a good job of this that everybody got scared of fat. And companies around the world responded with low fat and diet formulas. BUT, the diet foods lacked flavour without the fat, so they added sugar and chemicals to give them taste. That’s when people really started to get fat.
Everything you’ve learned about nutrition is based around this. Fat is good, sugar is not. Imagine it’s like a scale of what’s best and what’s worst. At one end you have fried, processed carbs, cakes, sweets, ice cream. At the other end, very little carbs, real natural foods, and no processed or packaged food. Right now, you’re somewhere in the middle.
Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products. Grains turn directly to sugar in our body! Starches should be considered super sugars and avoided.
We think the best approach is to start simple and smart. Don’t try to start perfect, that can be overwhelming. Just do the best you can and each step that you make is a step closer to optimal health. Every step you can take to reduce your carbs is fantastic.
We recommend that you slowly start to ease back on the carbs that you consume, instead of going cold turkey all at once. This will not only ease you into this change mentally, but it will also prepare your body for the things that are about to come. Maybe start with cutting out pasta, or potatoes, or bread. Once you’ve conquered that change, move on to the next carb, and so on.
Skip the bread replacements and almond flour treats for later! First timers to Keto usually make the mistake of jumping on the ‘fancy recipe’ bandwagon. Fat bombs, almond flour breads and sweets, keto snacks are all things for further down the road. When you’re first starting out, its all about keeping it simple. Your whole life, you have fed your body chemicals, overloaded it with sugar and likely never learned to listen to what it’s trying to tell you. It’s time to detox, give your body a break and cut the crap.
The time between starting ketosis and fat adaption is THE most crucial time in the life of a Ketonian. Its the time that you reset your metabolism and help it to learn how to heal itself. Eat as clean as you can now! Stick with healthy fats, protein and green leafy vegetables. Stay away from the fancy Keto recipes and snacks.
Trust me, those cravings are 100% superficial and you CAN get past them. The idea of cravings never played a part in the life of humans. The idea of cravings originated with pregnant women, who just ‘had’ to have a certain food. It’s theorized that these cravings might be used to replace nutrients lost during morning sickness.
Cravings (also called selective hunger) is the desire to consume a specific food and is different from hunger. They stem from your ‘sugar fuel days’. When you eat sugar or glucose, your body quickly uses that (read insulin spike and then crash) your body wants more, much like an alcoholic. You have conditioned your brain to release ‘happy hormones’ every time sugar is present.
Cravings are not a sign of hunger, if anything, they are a sign of boredom. An old habit of stuffing food in your face, just for the sake of eating and taking emotional comfort in your food. Read our article on emotional eating HERE. It will help!
The next time you feel a craving, ask yourself – Is this a mental or a physical hunger? If it’s mental, give yourself a gentle nudge to move on. If it’s physical, give your body the nutrients it needs, not empty calories.
Pro Tip –
It really helped me when I made the realization that all those carbs have zero taste, they are filler only. French Fries/potato have no flavour at all, you’re craving the fat they’re fried in and the salt. Pasta or pizza? It’s the sauce, spices, and cheese. Bread/ flour is totally bland, but the butter and sandwich fixin’s you put on them have the taste.
You can still have the cheese, sauce, spices, fat, and butter. These are the tasty things. Just spoon them up instead of putting them between slices of bread.
Think of it this way, if you eat 3 meals a day and maybe 3 snacks, that equates to 42 opportunities to improve weekly. If you make a small change and start by just changing your snacks, you’ve already improved 21 of your food choices each week. You’re halfway there.
Once you’re comfortable with this, now work on your breakfast. That part is easy, who doesn’t LOVE bacon! You’ve now improved 28 out of 42. Step by step, choice by choice you will get there and we will help you along the way!!
–Learn to recompose your plate! That bed of white filler (cauliflower, shirataki rice/pasta, or faux-tatoes) is just too much! Opt instead for at most 1/3 of your plate for these foods. Even though these carb replacements are keto friendly they are still carby! Your plate should always be mostly protein and green/leafy veg!!
Some basic tips to get you started
-Slowly cut carbs. Don’t try to do it all at once. Start with the basics, bread, pasta, sugar. Eat mostly from the veggies and meat/fish sections of your supermarket.
-We recommend to low carb (50g and under) for a week or so and then Keto (20 g and under), unless you want to follow a low carb way of eating and stay there. Easing in gets your body and your head used to the fact that your diet is changing.
We support a ketogenic lifestyle, meaning low carb, moderate protein and healthy fats. This is a cleaner eating, lower carb version of low carb.
You can lose weight eating low carb while not focusing on clean eating, but you will never reach the full health benefits of ketogenic living this way. You just can’t get healthy with a belly full of chemicals.
There are many beliefs on how to keto properly. Keto means something different to most people. Our version of Keto is the standard accepted Keto and is as follows –
Keto is low carb, moderate protein and eating healthy fat.
Learn how to eat your macros!!
Don’t worry about calories, if you’re counting your macros, you ARE counting calories already, just in a smaller form
Calories = Carb+Protein+Fats
Your first priority is to make sure your carb intake is low (generally that translates to about 20g daily), start cutting chemicals and stop using seed and veggie oils!
In the Keto world some count total carbs and other count net.
Net is carbs minus fiber and sugar alcohols.
In regard to sugar alcohols there are two schools of thought. Some subtract them all and others only subtract half if the amount is over five.
20 Total Carbs
-6 Sugar Alcohols
7 Net carbs
20 Total Carbs
-6 (1/2 Sugar Alcohols Is 3)
10 Net carbs
You just have to figure out which works best for you.
Personally, I’m a net carb girl and I use caution with sugar alcohols so I measure using half the count.
Your next priority after carbs would be ensuring you’re getting enough clean protein. Generally from 60g to 110g. This is important!
There is a myth in the Keto world that if you eat too much protein it will take you out of ketosis. This should not be a concern, unless you eat massive amounts of protein daily. You would have to eat a huge amount of protein for that to be a factor. Use fattier cuts of meat (look for marbling in the meat) and add a pat of real butter if you are eating lean meats such as chicken breast.
Your final priority would be to use fats to satisfy your hunger and provide your body with a new source of energy. The hardest part of Keto is getting your head around the high fat part. Don’t fear the fat, but don’t guzzle bacon juice!(as described above!).
Choose healthy fats like avocado, coconut, MCT and EVOO. Stay away from low quality vegetable oils. They are inflammatory and aren’t really made from vegetable at all, they are made by processing seeds with chemicals and heat. They are not your friend.
Eat real whole food and stay clear of packaged or processed food. The more a food is processed, the more you should stay away.
Check all labels, not only for carb counts but the ingredients list as well. Shoot for foods with a very small ingredients list. Learn the many alternate names for sugar and starches, and be prepared to find them everywhere.
If they took sugar and hidden sugars from your local grocery store, over 80% of the stores food would be gone.
-The general rule of thumb for vegetables is, if it grows below the ground it is starchier and not Keto friendly. The longer a veggie stays in the ground the more starches develop, especially as the weather turns cold. Vegetables that grow above the ground are Keto good. An exception to this would be peas, they are high in sugars and they are not recommended on a keto diet.
Starches are like super sugars! Avoid them at all costs
No grains or grain products! This includes gluten! Gluten is NOT keto! Consuming gluten will cause unstable blood glucose levels.
-Berries or very small portions of lower carb fruit in moderation only. This means only a few berries at a time! If you eat a cup of berries in one sitting it would be too much natural sugar at one sitting. This would spike your blood glucose and break ketosis .
In Ketogenic living, our goal is to keep a low and even blood glucose level all throughout the day. Higher carb foods cause a blood glucose spike which in turn triggers an insulin response (Your body recognizes high blood glucose levels are not good and tries to correct it with insulin). The insulin brings your BG levels down too low, thus creating an unstable and dangerous yo-yo effect every single time you eat.
– Milk is full of sugar (lactose). If you use milk in your coffee and feel that you can’t go without, try bulletproof coffee instead. Add whipping cream, butter and sweetener to your coffee and blend it in your bullet or blender. Many people use this as a meal replacement for breakfast or lunch. It’s delicious and a great way to get extra fats in.
-Get used to reading all nutritional labels and ingredients and educate yourself on all the different names for sugar.
Keto is ALWAYS ingredients first. If the ingredients aren’t clean, the carb count does NOT matter. It’s not keto!
Use an app for counting. Download a tracking app that helps you track your food on a daily basis and figure out how to set your macros. You should be somewhere around 5% carbs, 75% fat and 20% protein. We use My Fitness Pal. It tracks what you’re eating, in particular it tracks carbs. Lots of people do lazy keto and don’t track. Our recommendation is to start off tracking until you get a sense of what your goal day looks like. Then decide if you want to track long term or not. Find our video on setting up My Fitness Pal HERE.
-Take pictures and measurements. You don’t have to share them with anyone, but take them. You can’t always depend on the scales to give you an accurate picture, but one glance at a side by side comparison can give you a better picture of your progress.
Don’t expect a steady downward trend on the scales! There will be many blips on the keto radar. This is normal! It doesn’t mean your body is getting fat, or that keto isn’t working for you. It usually means your body is working hard behind the scenes to get healthy! If you are cutting carbs and eating clean, keto will work for you. See our video explanation of this HERE.
Get ready for Keto Flu. Nip it in the bud before it happens by following these steps.
-You will need to supplement Magnesium Glycinate or Bisglycinate. Do not use Citrate, it is not recommended for long term use.
-Eat potassium rich foods, don’t supplement potassium without checking with your Doctor and having blood panels done first.
-Get some pink Himalayan or sea salt for increased sodium. Your body needs salt! Keto is a diuretic and your body is used to a certain level and will revolt if it doesn’t get the amount it needs. Your body is used to getting extra salt in all the processed foods you used to eat. Salt is good for your body!
–Drink to thirst only! Do not force water into your body. Learn to listen to your body, it will tell you when you need to up your intake.
Remember that you will stumble and falter, that’s normal, its something we all do. The mindset that we need to adopt is one of ‘If you stumble 7 times, you get up 8 times’. The main thing is not to wallow or beat yourself up during these times. Pick yourself up and dust yourself off and get right back on that horse. You are making good choices for yourself, you are making progress.
You CAN do this. Keto on.
That’s it for this time! Thanks for joining me for another East Coast Keto Life Lesson. There’s still a lot to learn and we’re glad you’re along for the ride!
Keep Keto-ing with one foot in front of the other. Keto seconds lead to keto moments, Keto moments lead to keto days. Keto days will take you on a successful keto journey life time. We’ll meet you THERE!!