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 you’re 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 my keto…
“I’m cutting back on carbs, gluten, soy, additives and processed food and instead, 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”
Out some real thought into this! Its important.
Learn how to eat your macros!!
Don’t worry about calories, calories are mostly made u of three components-
Calories = Carb+Protein+Fats
if you’re counting your macros, you ARE counting calories already, just in a smaller form
Your first priority is to make sure your carb intake is low (generally that translates to about 20g daily), stop using seed and veggie oils and start implementing ‘Ingredients First’!!
Keto is ALWAYS ingredients first. If the ingredients aren’t clean, the carb count does NOT matter. It’s not keto!
In the Keto world some count total carbs and other count net. Net is carbs, minus fibre and sugar alcohols.
Fibre calculation is a little complicated- They originally thought it was totally undigestible, but recent studies are showing at least a part of it is digested…based on this, you would have to count it as a carb.
Fibre can also bind with other minerals making it harder for them to be digested, its is an anti-nutrient. and worth noting that one of the minerals it binds to is magnesium, which is an electrolyte and essential to our existence.
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.
Because we don’t really know how much of fibre or sugar alcohols are being digested we recommend using total carbs or at MOST, 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!
Keto is ONLY muscle sparing if you eat the appropriate amount of clean protein. There are essential amino acids that our bodies require for existence, and we get these from protein. IF we don’t provide our body with enough clean protein it will look internal and begin to get these amino acids from our own muscle.
This is not just applicable to keto, this applies to anyone eating a standard diet too. Eating the appropriate amount of protein is important to all humans and every way of eating.
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.
Quality matters here. Avoid shakes and processed meats and focus on eating real meat/protein. 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.
Harness Fats — Your final priority would be to learn to harness/use fats to satisfy your hunger and provide your body with a new source of energy.
The hardest part of Keto (and the source of much bad keto information) is getting your head around the high fat part. Don’t fear the fat, but don’t guzzle bacon juice!
The ‘fat’ secret —
Use fats to satisfy your hunger and provide your body with a new source of energy. Use ONLY what your body asks for, as indicated by your hunger.
Some days you will be hungrier. Picture a day of hard physical labour, hiking, gardening, or shovelling snow. You are burning more energy thee days and linked to this, you body will also require more fuel. On these days, your body will demand more food. EAT (keeping the above in check, of course) and incorporate a little more fat on these days.
Other days you won’t be very hungry at all. On your netflix and relax days, you’re not doing a lot. Your body isn’t burning as much energy, so it won’t need as much fuel/fuel/fat that day. Dial (use less then)fat consumption back on these days
If you’re hungry, know that ‘the fats’ are what keeps you feeling full. You should never be hungry on keto. If you’re hungry eat. If you’re thirsty, drink! It’s that simple
Switch out those inflammatory veggie oils and instead, opt for animal fats. Choose healthy fats like avocado oil, coconut oil, bacon fat, lard, tallow, and olive oil. 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.
Learn the difference between FOOD and Products.
Food is something grown by a farmer or harvested from the earth. Products are something manufactured by a company in a plant or commercial building.
Eat real/whole food as often as possible 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.The bigger the ingredients list, the MORE you should avoid any given food Shoot for foods with a very small ingredients list.
Also very important
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.
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.
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 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.
Avoid starches as much as you avoid sugar! Starches are like super sugars!
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. This is why we consume summer squash but not the winter varieties.
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.
Avoid starches 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, but ONLY use is as a tracking tool!
Often times the entries for these apps are user submitted. Take care when choosing your options and never rely on an app to tell you what is or is not keto. You must learn this yourself.
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!!