10 Things to Know About Keto

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 Fresh-baby-spinach-leaves-in-a-bowl-on-a-wooden-table-640x479cauliflower, 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. background-2277_960_720.jpgI 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 glass-1206584_1920will 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).

8143215572_aaa192f850_kThe 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.

protein (1)

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 diet-vs-lifestyle1back 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.DIJON-MUSTARD-600x303 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.

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Day Nine: 9 Things Everybody Needs To Know Before Starting Keto

The Best Side Effects

To begin, I’ve tried a lot of different methods for not only losing weight but also a447a303b7533ba246d78936e03d87e9maintaining. Today is my ninth day eating a ketogenic diet and this is by far the best dietary choice I’ve ever made! Since I started keto:

  • I’ve been around sick people and – for the first time in a really long time – I haven’t gotten sick.
  • I went an entire weekend without having to take nap.
  • I can stay up past ten p.m. and still feel amazing in the morning.
  • I wake up in the mornings feeling refreshed.
  • I have no heartburn (and before I started, I was taking Zantac every day).
  • I have regular bowel movements and my stomach doesn’t twist anymore.
  • I save money because I make the majority of my meals at home, from scratch.
  • I actually know what’s in the food I eat.

I feel better and, if I keep feeling better, I will never want to stop living a ketogenic life.

Nine Things You Need To Know Before You Start

Before I started living a keto friendly life, I read so many different blogs an articles because I wanted to know, for a fact, that I was making a healthy decision. I mean, it didn’t sound legitimate that – if I cut back on my carbohydrate intake and increased my fat and protein consumption – I’d actually lose weight.

However, while you’re surfing the web and checking out info, you most likely will run into recipes with foreign ingredients, worries about the keto flu, and many other concerning things. Then you might start questioning whether you can even do this. The answer is: Yes, you can. So, before you start freaking out about spending too much money and feeling lousy, check out these nine things you need to know:

Number One: The “Keto Flu” is very real, but also very preventable. On my first day, I literally had a meltdown in my car because all I could think about was a turtle sundae from Culver’s. My head was pounding, I was so tired, and – I swear – if anyone had so much as looked at me the wrong way, I would have attempted to attack them. So, yes, the “Keto Flu” is a very real thing.

Keto-fluPerhaps it’s a combination of your body going through sugar and/or carb withdrawals and dehydration, but you also have to remember that you are essentially “reprogramming” the way your body works – so your body is confused. It’s been burning certain fuels your entire life and suddenly you’re telling it to do something different.

So, to help curb the effects of the “Keto Flu”, drink a lot of water (I was pushing 96 ounces per day, using my Contigo water bottle), get the excess sleep your body is craving, and up your sodium intake (it’s okay, you need extra salt to retain water).

Number Two: There are some weird ingredients that you will eventually need. Unfortunately, this is true and the special ingredients aren’t always the most affordable – actually, normally they are just plain outrageously priced. That’s totally okay, though, because you don’t need them all right away. In fact, I haven’t needed any yet, but I keep purchasing them – one at a time – because I know that I might need them one day.

meme10A few of these weird ingredients that I’ve run across, so far, include cream of tartar, almond flour, guar gum, and xanthan gum. Together, buying these four ingredients will add about $45.00 to your shopping trip. However, if you buy one at a time, you can survive at least four weeks without need any of these ingredients and you add maybe $10.00 to your grocery total.

In case you can’t live without bread, some of the keto-friendly “bread” recipes – like Cheddar Garlic Biscuits – don’t even require any “fancy” ingredients. 

Number Three: Your ketone levels do matter, but don’t make them a primary focus. If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t even buy a box of Ketostix until my fifth day of maintaining a keto-friendly diet. I should note that I did invest in a Keto-Mojo for blood ketone testing last Friday (ordered it online, so I bought the Ketostix for initial testing). This was mainly due to the reasoning that – in accordance with basically everything I’ve read – the test strips for a blood monitoring device range from $3 to $5, on average; but if you by a Keto-Mojo Founder’s Club package, you get test strips for $.99 a piece – for life.

Back to the point of number three: yes, your levels matter. During the first week, keto-funny-memethough, you will most likely feel your body shift out of “Keto Flu” mode and into ketosis. You’ll suddenly just feel better and will probably have a gross, metallic, sweet taste in your mouth. Do realize, though, that people progress into ketosis at different paces; so, the speed that your friends obtain the goal may be different than the time it takes for you to do the same. Trust the system and don’t get discouraged.

Number Four: You need fiber so, for the love of God, eat veggies. Depending what version of the keto diet you are personally embarking on, there may be different “carb limits”. However, right now I’m eating less than  30 grams of carbohydrates per day and I can confidently say that the majority of those carbs are from natural sources of fiber – aka vegetables.LC-BG-veggies3_good_2400px_3 (1)

If your wondering why eating a lot of vegetables – and fiber – is important, just think about what happens if you accidentally eat too much cheese and then evaluate how much cheese you might add to your diet if you increase fat and protein intake. You don’t want to be constipated, do you?

Number Five: At first your friends might not understand, but they’ll come around. We live in a society that has lived of the premise of fat being bad since the 1960s so when you’re friends suddenly see you layering on the cream cheese and 732d3dc0114a1c788a1eadb5c53e2452butter, they might not completely understand. In fact, if they care about you, they’re likely to try to talk you out of it – especially if they don’t know someone who has tried to maintain a keto diet.

While this might be annoying or discouraging, let your results show them that it is working. If they’re concerned that you’re going mess up your health, check out my blog Keto & Cholesterol to scientifically argue with their reasoning. I have people in my life who don’t believe in – or understand – how the ketogenic lifestyle works, so you aren’t alone.

Number Six: Join a support group. It doesn’t have to be an in-person group. In fact, Facebook is loaded with groups of specific “types” of people – whether you be a veteran, woman, male, or powerlifter (or just about anything else). You might be thinking, “Oh, I can do this on my own!” You also might be right, but I can honestly tell you that, if you’re experiencing something that you might categorize as weird, someone else has experienced it too and the only way you’re going to find them – as well as their magical solution – is by searching for them. What better place to search than a keto specific group with thousands of members?

Number Seven: Know you’re likely to succeed. Did you know that the success rate for people sticking with a low-calorie diet is roughly 50%, versus the nearly 75% success rate of ketogenic eating? That means that, if you’ve tried different diets before and failed, you’re more likely not to do it again. I mean, three-out-of-four people succeed in maintaining a healthier life by committing themselves to the ketogenic lifestyle.

All you have to do is not be “the one”, cause we all know there’s always one.

Number Eight: Keto is a lifestyle, not a diet. While researching and planning on starting the keto “diet”, I saw this fact everywhere. Leading a ketogenic friendly life isn’t really a diet. Sure, when you start it, you might want to lose weight. Yet, while your on it and so many aspects of your health improve – from mental health to lower blood glucose levels – you’ll realize that you always want to feel energetic and better than before. Does that mean you’re committing to not eating bread for the rest of your life? Nah, not really. Take a break from keto, re-evaluate your macros (especially if you’re starting it for weight loss, those will change), eat some carbs – which will likely make you feel horrible – and then, bounce right back into your keto lifestyle.

Number Nine: Get creative! Here you stand, at the edge of a cliff that can change fab0740a556f064096e929b6614b4475your life from what it is to what it could be. The only thing is that you have to maintain a low-carb, high fat, and high protein diet. So, take those requirements and change them into stuffed chicken breasts, tasty salads, and delicious desserts. Recommendations for new recipes are everywhere and most of them are free. If you want some ideas, check out the Keto Recipes I’m Dying To Try!

Recipe Review: Bacon-Wrapped Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Chicken

This week, I tried out three new recipes. One of them was for Bacon-Wrapped Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Chicken, originally posted by Ashlyn on “Belle of the Kitchen”.

Modifications

I did modify the recipe, ever so slightly. First, the original recipe called for 4 large chicken breasts, sliced in half. This was modified because let’s be honest, Ashlyn and I probably have very different understandings of the term “large”. So, instead, I purchased 1.55 pounds of Organic Chicken Breast, which turned out to be two very large breasts. After that, I sliced them in thirds. I then used a tenderizer to make sure all of the slices were about even in thickness. Furthermore, I adjusted my recipe on MyFitnessPal to reflect 6 servings, as I only had 6 breast slices to use. (Note: I did not modify any of the other ingredients amounts to do this, I just stuffed my slices with a little extra deliciousness!)

The next modification I made was substituting the 10 ounces of frozen spinach with 2 cups of chopped, fresh spinach. This wasn’t actually intentional, but I forgot to buy the frozen spinach and my stellar roommate has some fresh stuff left over!

The final modification I made was to the cook time. I should warn everyone that I am super neurotic about not eating undercooked food, so I used my meat thermometer and cooked all of the breasts until they were cooked to 175° Fahrenheit (it took about 70 minutes).

Prepping It

I was actually surprised by how easy this recipe was to prep! Furthermore, it was also really fun to make (I mixed the creamy artichoke and spinach mixture with my hands).

I was cooking a few other things at the same time, but I would estimate that it took about fifteen minutes to prepare all of the stuffed chicken breasts, wrap them in the bacon, and shove them in the oven.

How’d It Taste

In the end, all of the “hard” work paid off. The meat was thoroughly cooked and so tender. Mix that with incredibly creamy spinach artichoke dip and slightly crunchy bacon and you have a gold mine! I know that I will definitely be making this recipe again. Overall, I’d say it deserves a definite five-star rating! Thank you to Ashlyn for posting this incredible recipe!

 

Bulletproof Coffee

If you’ve checked out the keto lifestyle at all, you’ve probably run across the term “Bulletproof Coffee”. Honestly, there are a million different recipes out there; I think this is mainly because you can kind of modify it to meet your needs. Check out the recipe I use below!

Bulletproof Coffee
2011 Creative Commons photo “Latte Art” by Kenny Louie.

Bulletproof Coffee

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: However long it takes you to brew the coffee and mix it!

Makes 1 Serving! (I normally prep 3 servings (of the mix-ins) at a time and store them in my refrigerator using the Rubbermaid TakeAlongs On-the-Go 2 Cup Twist & Seal Food Storage Containers)

 

Ingredients

Mix-Ins

Coffee

Directions

For Prep

  1. Scoop the coconut oil and heavy whipping cream into the larger container (not the cup insert).
  2. Pour the syrup into the cup insert.
  3. Close the containers and throw them in the fridge until you’re ready to use them.

For Use

  1. Place either the contents of the premade cup or the coconut oil, heavy whipping cream, and syrup into a coffee mug.
  2. Pour in the freshly brewed coffee and stir (or use a frother – I recommend the PowerLix Milk Frother.)

Calories: 363 – Fat: 38g – Carbohydrates: 0g – Protein: 0g

I am not a nutritionist or doctor! For precise nutrition facts, I recommend you calculate your own!

IMG_0686If you enjoy it as much as I do or if you just want to try out my version of bulletproof coffee, I have the recipe listed on MyFitnessPal (username: cfawley89)!

Also, like I said earlier, a great aspect of Bullet Proof Coffee is that it can easily be modified to meet your goal macros!