After my past few posts about losing weight and not fitting my costumes anymore, a few of you have asked about keto, and how I stick with it. So read on below for all the info from my perspective.
While I will try to keep this blog as factual as possible, it may still come down to my opinion. This is my interpretation and what works for me and should not be taken as advice.
What is Keto?
Keto is the shortened form and the nickname for the ketosis diet. It is a low carb diet where the body produces ketones as energy rather than glucose and insulin. Basically, your body is transitioning to in-taking more fat to burn fat, rather than carbs. For a more in-depth explanation, check out this article.
TIP: This website will be your guide if you choose to start keto.
Why I Started Keto
I've wanted to try the keto diet for several months, but never committed. My parents had started it after Christmas on advice from their nutritionists. They both saw significant weight loss and I was so proud of them. Mom was sharing great recipes and I began doing more research and learning more about the keto diet.
I suggested it to Riley knowing I couldn't do it unless he was committed too. He was on board so we packed up all our carbs and sugars and gave them to Riley's mom. It was basically like moving into a new place and you have no food except some ketchup and weird old cans of beans you planned to give to the food bank but never did.
How I Started Keto
After my research I knew it would be hard to balance macros, but I basically picked and chose what I was excited to eat - basically salami and cheese and spinach. Our first grocery haul looked so tasty!
We grabbed some protein including tons of bacon, ground pork, chicken thighs, a flat of eggs and protein powder. Veggies we grabbed included fresh bag of spinach, avocados, asparagus, and frozen broccoli. Other misc items we got was salami packs, cheese blocks, parmesan cheese, butter, pepperoni, and pickles! All pictured, all from Costco.
As we put the groceries away I made a list of all the food and serving portions and the macros. It was a quick way to access information as I was making a meal. The first week was a lot of trial and error as we learned what we liked or not, and what fit best into the macros. Getting more fats than protein was really hard for me!
About three weeks into the diet I more or less gave up with tracking macros and just used my instincts. I mentally kept track of my net carb intake, not worrying about my fats or proteins.
How I Manage Keto
Remember that picture from above? Here's some notes:
Keto doesn't mean you have to make a home cooked meal every single day. If you find yourself out and about, feel free to eat out smart. Craving chicken? KFC chicken is low carb and high fat. Burgers? You're in luck! Just order a burger from your favorite chain without the bun or ketchup. Some places even offer an option to give you the burger in a lettuce wrap. Going to a sit down restaurant? Wings are always a great starter option, and stick to meat main courses with vegetable sides.
Since our first haul, our staple groceries include eggs, heavy whipping cream, bacon, butter, cream cheese, STEAK, almond flour, coconut flour, coconut oil. Bulletproof coffee or bacon and eggs for breakfast, salami and cheese or leftovers for lunch, lean meat with veggies for dinner and ALWAYS a dessert and a midnight snack of pork rinds or whisp chips.
You'll find what you like, and you'll be able to roll with it. Just find ways to keep your sanity and create an easier lifestyle change.
A Day in the Life of a Keto Girl
I decided to take some photos of a typical day of meals for Riley and me, and this is what it looks like, with recipes!
I can't start my day without coffee, so I usually postpone my breakfast and have a classic keto staple - bulletproof coffee. It's coffee with butter. I add heavy whipping cream and sweetener.
Some days I'll do a little meat and cheese platter for lunch, or I'll go for breakfast at lunch. Nothing beats some classic eggs and bacon. Cook it in butter for extra fats and don't you dare pat the grease off that bacon.
For dinner, we had pretzels and pork bites with cheese dip. YUPP! I said pretzels! If you can't survive without carbs, then you definitely need to try fathead alternatives. Here's the pretzel recipe. Just google fathead dough for other recipe ideas including pizza crust!
And what's a good day without dessert! I'm a total sweet head and cannot survive without something sweet. Riley and I have tried a bunch of great recipes, but for this day in particular we had lime mousse and gooey chocolate chip cookies.
How I Survive Keto
Keto is hard. It's not easy, but it's a lot easier than any diet I've ever attempted. I definitely don't eat vegetables as frequently as I should, and I usually eat more processed foods than fresh, but I'm still seeing results and that means something to me. That's my motivation to not give up.
It really helped to spend a few weeks getting acquainted with the macros. It made it easier to freestyle afterwards and to know if I was getting a good balance of proteins and fats. My carbs are usually under 20g per day. You need to stay under 35g net carbs to remain in ketosis.
Wine! Certain dryer wines have low carbs so you can indulge. The best part? Once you're in ketosis and your body doesn't run on carbs, there's nothing to cushion the alcohol and you get drunk SO FAST. It's fun. I remember being on keto and getting a bottle of wine, pouring a glass, and half way through feeling super tipsy. One glass in and I was a drunk little Bree.
I have cravings A LOT and luckily there's alternatives for carb and sugar filled favorites. If you ever feel a craving coming up, simply google keto + your craving (ie: keto cinnamon buns) for some great recipes!
A huge recommendation on keto is to cut out sweeteners and only use certain types, but personally I don't like the taste and find some of them bitter. I use the non-recommended sweeteners as well as aspartame from diet drinks and I still see results. I would suggest doing keto properly for 1 week minimum to judge how your body reacts to different sweeteners. I basically live on Diet Coke Mango right now. Carbonated water is also a good alternative.
My biggest survival note is to cheat once in a while!! On average, I break and cheat about once a month. In February, it was half of a chocolate donut a coworker brought into work... and then the other half because I have no self control. It was also the first day I checked the scale since starting and I was down 8 pounds! I definitely felt ashamed like I had wasted all my results.
In March we had Easter dinner, as well as one night I really wanted mac and cheese. Eating that entire box of mac and cheese all by myself was a turning point. Yes I ate the entire box. I have a weakness. Later that night I felt bloated and my stomach didn't like it. I had a realization that I haven't had that feeling since going on keto and that my body clearly doesn't like carbs. It made me feel great about my decision to stay on keto.
In April, I broke for the entire Calgary Expo weekend. I started my road trip with a French Vanilla from Tim Horton's. I could barely finish it because I found it overly sweet! I used to live off those and now my body told me it was too sweet. Another win! Eating pizza and crackers and chips was a nice break for the weekend, but I really loved going back to keto when I spent the week with my parents. We exchanged favorite recipes (cheese buns and jello) and I loved trying some of their favorites (whisps!).
It's now May, and I've cheated a few times mostly for financial reasons, partly for being sick and weak and whiny.... Also I think Riley might be over the keto diet because he really likes slurpees LOL! So trying to be keto when your partner isn't is hard, but I plan to get back into it, even if it means getting strict with my macros again. I'm 20 pounds down and going for 20 more before Edmonton Expo!
This was a really long read, and if you stuck it out to the end, I commend your strength and will power to commit. I wish you the best success in any lifestyle choice you make. Thanks for reading!