The Ketogenic Diet.
If you live in America and have paid any attention to the internet in the past few months, I’m sure you’ve heard of it. The diet that promotes high fat, medium protein, and low carb intake. Some doctors refuse to admit that there are many health benefits of the diet, while others are doing it themselves. All this controversy makes it pretty difficult for some people to start, especially when they lack the support of their friends and family.
When I initially began loading my food up with butter, bacon, eggs, and a side of leafy greens, I think quite a few people were hesitant. As usual, there was at least one troll on Facebook who was determined to prove that the diet was not good for a person’s heart (false – see why here) and that it wasn’t a feasible way of eating (again, false). Luckily, though, I had a bunch of friends and family supporting and encouraging me and, eventually, almost everyone realized that I was making some huge healthy strides in life.
So now I sit here, over fifty days into this supposedly infeasible way of eating, I can confidently say that there at least 10 things that everyone should know while starting their keto-journey:
1) Eat veggies. I don’t think I’ll ever forget one of my friend’s reactions when she found out that I planned on starting to eat in a keto-friendly manner.
“No, you don’t need that. What you need is more fiber in your diet!”
Was she wrong? No, not at all. Was she fooled by the false accusations thrown at the ketogenic diet daily? Yes, absolutely. Before I started eating keto, I think I ate about 1-3 cups of veggies per week (that may even be an over exaggeration). Now that I’m following a ketogenic diet, I eat at least four servings of vegetables (I’m talking cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers, leafy greens, onions, peppers – all the non-starchy veggies) per day.
If you’re just starting keto, eat your veggies. They should be where the majority of your carbs come from! So throw that spinach in your eggs, eat leafy salads, do whatever you need to do! If you’re counting net carbs, you won’t go over in carbs! If you aren’t, you didn’t get fat from eating vegetables!
2) Eat berries. This is one thing that I can’t find a clear answer about anywhere online. Some people encourage the consumption of berries on the keto diet, while others insist they have way too much sugar. I personally love berries and what they provide for the body. They are stacked full of minerals, vitamins, and fiber.
I eat one cup of berries per day, almost every week, and I’m in a steady state of ketosis. The sugar they offer is enough to eliminate the annoying craving for sugar I had at the beginning of my keto journey. Now, they’re my favorite treat! I log them into my tracker and I still stay well below my carb count for the day. Stick with raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries! Otherwise, check out this blog to see what kind of fruits are “safe” on keto!
3) Drink water. One of the most important, yet least mentioned, aspects of ketogenic eating is the need to drink water, constantly. The the keto way of eating restricts the intake of carbs drastically, so besides diet soda (which is generally not recommended) and sparkling water, you don’t have many choices besides actual water. Every person will tell you something different – drink 2-3 liters, drink at least 1 gallon, drink half your body weight (in ounces) – but the general consensus is you need water. Without it, you will most likely stall in weight loss, overeat, and feel like crap because your dehydrated.
I personally keep a 32 oz water bottle with me at almost all times and I drink out of it constantly. To make sure I’m keeping up with it, I downloaded the My Water app, which helps me track and make sure I’m drinking enough water daily. It even allows the user to set a two-hour reminder!
I’m not sure about everyone else, but when I don’t drink enough water, my weightloss stalls.
4) Give in to your cravings. The most restrictive part of the ketogenic way of eating is the lack of ability to “cheat”. I mean, you can have binge days but the following morning you will experience something that feels worse than a hangover. So, don’t binge!
If you really have a killer craving for something that you know isn’t keto friendly, but you can’t get it off your mind, then give in. Take one or two bites. Odds are, it won’t taste like you remember it tasting and you won’t even want to finish the rest. If you haven’t started keto yet, then you won’t understand the amount that your taste buds can or will change. Sugary foods will literally repel you, salty foods will become your favorite treat – even if you hate them beforehand (in my case, olives).
The thing is, if you restrict yourself completely from the things you want, by the time you have them you will be ravenous! You’ll want every crumb – and carb – of that thing that you’ve repeatedly told yourself you cannot have. So, once you finally have it, you’ll have it all. Then, you’ll wake up the next morning feeling like total shit and completely regretting it.
I promise you, regret tastes just as disgusting when your leading a keto lifestyle as it did before.
5) Be careful with protein. What? Be careful with protein, but you thought you were allowed to eat that – in endless amounts? Unfortunately, you’re not. While protein is essential to maintain and increase muscle mass. Increased muscle mass is essential for an increased metabolism. So, yes, you absolutely need 15 – 30% of your calories to be from protein. The issue is, essentially, that excess protein is converted to sugar, which is BAD because excess sugar equals ketosis.
I sincerely admit that I have no idea how to actually manually calculate my macros, but I do frequently check them at the following websites:
Generally, the results are pretty similar. If they aren’t, feel free to research how to manually calculate them or find your own favorite calculator.
6) Keto is not a “diet”, it’s a lifestyle. Will you gain weight if you stop keto and eat a crap ton of carbs? Yes, you probably will. Just like a calorie restricted diet, if you go back to your old way of eating, you will gain weight.
Does that mean you will never be able to eat or drink any non-keto foods again? No. It means that you have to learn how to eat properly, get yourself in great shape, and then enjoy “naughty” foods occasionally, while readily maintaining a ketogenic lifestyle. I know this sounds rough, but after you achieve fat adaptation, you won’t want to go back to your old way of life again.
7) Do not expect to eat your favorite carb-loaded snacks in a keto-friendly variety. Unless it’s switching from store bought cream of chicken soup to the kind you whip up on your own, odds are the recipe is going to taste different. But, no, radishes do not taste like french fries, zoodles aren’t macaroni flavored, and no strand of stevia extract tastes just like sugar. Thinking otherwise will leave you feeling disappointed.
Healthy food does not taste like crappy food, it just doesn’t.
8) Count calories. I think one of the most annoying things I’ve heard about keto is that you don’t have to track your calorie intake. Technically, in order to obtain or maintain ketosis, you don’t. Yet, to lose weight using the keto way of eating, you do.
Calories are not the primary focus on keto; eating good fat is. Consequently, your calorie limit may be higher than a regular, low-calorie diet. Still, you do need to count the calories because if you’re eating too much of a good thing, it becomes a bad thing – you can still gain weight and maintain ketosis.
9) Accept the changes. As you continue leading a ketogenic lifestyle, you will start to notice odd changes. They aren’t coincidences and, yes, they are linked to your new way of eating. What are some of these changes?
- You’ll like new foods that you’ve never liked before. I have spent my whole life hating mustard. My family can tell you stories about how much I hate mustard. Guess what I suddenly love! Mustard.
- You’ll have so much energy. The first week is groggy, to say the least. Soon after, though, you’ll start waking up early, staying up late, and getting things done on the weekend instead of sleeping. Crap, I had so much extra energy that I started working out willingly!
- You’ll feel better. Of course, when you see the weight falling off, you will feel excellent. Before that, though, you will just feel healthier.
Enjoy the benefits of these changes. Trust me, keto will change your life if you let it!
10) It’s not always easy. Sometimes, it sucks to have to plan out your meals at restaurants to make sure they fit in your macros. Other times, you will get sick of explaining to people why you can eat one thing and not another. You might stumble, you might fall right off the wagon; climb back on. Just do yourself a favor and don’t give up.