Disclaimer: As with any big change in lifestyle or diet you should always consult your doctor for whether these changes are appropriate for you and to monitor you throughout the change. The following information is not medical advice and only my experiences with the ketogenic lifestyle.
First things first
In my opinion, the most important thing to remember is that you aren’t going to be perfect on day one. Nobody is. Even after years of living a ketogenic lifestyle, I am still learning more every day! So go into it with a positive mindset and allow yourself some grace to mess up. You’ll be much happier in the long run if you have the realistic expectation that it isn’t going to be perfect every day. As I always say, aim for progress, not perfection!
One of the easiest ways to get started is to be prepared! You’ve already taken the first steps of learning about keto and the foods you get to eat. Now take that knowledge, and get rid of the things you have that aren’t allowed and will be a temptation for you. The first week or so can be rough with cravings. So if you’re going to struggle seeing that package of Oreos in the pantry, then get rid of them and replace them with keto friendly foods you like from the list on my previous post.
Don’t cut the fat
One of the advantages of keto is that you get to eat a wide variety of foods and make them even more flavorful by adding healthy fats. You don’t have to choke down plain boiled chicken and salads without cheese or dressing! So stock your fridge and pantry with not only foods you like, but healthy fats to accompany them. Remember, keto is low carb, HIGH FAT so use that to your advantage and don’t be scared of fat! The healthy fats help control your appetite by keeping you fuller, longer and they taste delicious so you are satisfied when you do eat! When you have carb cravings, and you will, especially in the first week or so, grab something high in fat to help satisfy the craving.
Worry about carbs
One thing I always tell people is that when you’re first starting, don’t worry about your counting calories, protein, and fat. Use the fats to make food taste good and satiate your appetite, but don’t worry about counting them right at the beginning. Instead, worry about your carbs and keeping them under 20g net carbs per day. If you’re hungry, eat something keto approved. If that means you eat 5 meals a day for the first few days, then so be it. Just make sure your carbs are kept low enough to get in ketosis. Once your body transitions to a fat burning machine instead of a glucose burning machine, the cravings and hunger will subside.
You can absolutely make complicated recipes but if you have a busy life like me or just don’t want to live in your kitchen prepping food and cleaning up after it, following the acronym KISS is not only an easy method, but also an effective one. KISS stands for: Keep It Super Simple (or Keep It Simple Stupid, depending on which way you want to think about it). Since your goal is to replace your carbs with healthy fats and proteins, that means you’ll keep your meals simple by concentrating on eating healthy fats and proteins! I do this by picking a protein as my main course, adding a keto friendly vegetable as a side dish, and then adding healthy fats to it.
Focus on eating whole, natural foods from the perimeter of the grocery store instead of processed foods. Unfortunately, processed tends to mean they’ve added fillers which are usually high in carbs. No matter what food you buy, get into the habit of reading the nutrition labels for everything. Check for the carb counts as well as ingredients to make sure they haven’t snuck in something bad. It’s common to find hidden carbs in things you would never have suspected! There are tons of keto friendly recipes that take KISS into account and allow you to eat a variety of delicious foods while staying in ketosis. Many can be found here on my site so be sure to check out the recipes section and check back often!
A day in the life of eating keto
A common question I get is: “What does it look like to eat keto for a day?” Luckily, there are many food choices, but a sample daily menu for me is as follows:
- Breakfast: Bacon, eggs, avocado slices, and coffee
- Lunch: Salad topped with chicken or shrimp, cheese, nuts for crunch, and dressing
- Snack: Salami and cheese slices
- Dinner: Steak with a side of vegetables topped with cheese
- Dessert: Strawberries with whipped cream
Starting out can be daunting. But the best thing you can do is arm yourself with knowledge, prepare yourself by having foods you can eat by your side and jump in, learning as you go. Soon enough, you’ll be in ketosis and a fat burning machine. Check back next week for my post about just that… how to tell if you’re in ketosis.