Keto is all the rage as the latest weight loss phenomenon. It works and can have relatively rapid results. This makes it a desirable proposition.
Eating ‘keto’ is, at its most basic, eating the correct ratio of carbs, protein, and fat. This puts your body into ketosis, and if you maintain ketosis, lose weight.
It’s straightforward to read some positive posts where people rave about their success and jump into looking up recipes and think you’ve got this one and done.
But being successful at weight loss, and maintaining that loss, takes so much more. Mindset is an essential part of the process before, during, and after.
It may be a cliché, but the only way to take the weight off and maintain that loss is to understand that it usually takes a lifestyle change.
A change to doing what you’ve been doing/eating that got that weight on.
How can you expect the weight loss to be permanent if you don’t make the change permanent?
There is no magic pill, article, or the person who can make that change; it can only come from your discipline and desire to do things differently.
The best way to approach such a significant and very often tricky change is to be fully prepared by understanding what will be required of you.
What is ketosis?
- Ketosis is a normal metabolic process. When the body doesn’t have enough glucose for energy, it burns stored fats instead; this results in a build-up of acids called ketones within the body.
- Depriving the body of sugars and carbohydrates/starches creates this lack of glucose and encourages ketosis.
- In short, the body uses your fat for the energy it needs, so if you keep your body in a state of ketosis, lose weight.
- You probably think changing your eating style will be enough work, but nothing good comes easily.
- If you’re undertaking what could be a significant change to what you put into your body, arming yourself with information will give you the best chance of making it work.
- Instead, wouldn’t you put your emotional energy into embracing this tremendous change rather than wondering if you know what you’re doing or doing, right?
Strict or Lazy?
- Eating Keto will have you cutting out sugar and cutting way back on carbs while maintaining an intake of good fats and protein.
- Following a strict ketogenic diet, you will need to calculate the number of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in your daily food and drink and keep to a strict ratio. These are called macros (macronutrients).
- This can be quite an involved process and has to be done for everything you eat and drink daily. You can download various apps for calculating macros to help you with this.
- Reading the nutritional info on the backs of packets gives you the stats, then factor those into your daily macros.
- The calorie ratios for reaching and maintaining ketosis are 60-75% fat–15-30% protein 5% carbohydrates daily.
- There is some flexibility in these ratios, and it may take a little while to get the balance that works best for your body.
- As sugar and starch are the significant elements in carbohydrates, eliminating these from your diet is how you get your carb intake down. So, it’s goodbye to things like potatoes, pasta, rice, cakes, biscuits, products made with grain flour, sugar, and most fruit.
- High-fat food like this gives you the energy you previously got from carbs; it also makes you feel more satisfied (total) and curbs your appetite. Win-win! On the upside, it’s hello to high-fat foods like unprocessed cheese, heavy cream, dark chocolate...
- But it does not mean you now live on nothing but fat. Your daily protein intake needs to be balanced with lower-fat foods, like vegetables and eggs.
- If you don’t have the time or the inclination to calculate macros or want a bit more flexibility with your carb levels, lazy Keto is a great option.
- The aim is still to eat higher levels of good fat and moderate protein but be vigilant about carb intake to stay at around 20% carbs daily. You might even get away without counting the carbs if you’re sensible about what you’re eating.
- The weight loss mightn’t be as quick or dramatic as on strict Keto, but it’s still effective.
Is it easy to fall out of ketosis?
Yup. Your carb intake will affect your ketone levels and potentially take you out of ketosis. It might even happen unintentionally if you miscalculate your macros. Even one ‘fall off the wagon,’ one pizza dinner, one good night at a birthday party.
It’s not the end of the world, but it may take you a few days to get back. Put it down to the part of the journey, a path we’ve all been down because we’re all human.
Is this going to take up my time?
Initially, yes. It would help if you researched what you’ll be buying and eating. What meals you’ll be cooking. What snacks you might want.
What new food and pantry items you’ll be buying? You are finding a support group online. Learning anything new takes time. It will be time well spent.
If you find you’ll be cooking separately for yourself, your cooking time will increase. This can cut into a busy day, so pre-planning is essential, and finding quick and easy recipes (these abound on Pinterest and Google) and creating weekly menus will save your precious time.
Once you become used to your new shopping list, you’ll find your actual shopping time decreases.
You’ll no longer be cruising the aisles and giving in to temptations or impulse purchases. You’ll only be picking items you know you can have, knowing where they are.
As I did, you might even find that there is a sense of satisfaction in just bypassing the aisles where the carbs and sugars live.
what can I eat?
Rather than thinking about what you can’t have, get excited about what you can have.
- Fresh meat
- Low carb veg cabbage, zucchini, Brussel sprouts, asparagus, cauliflower, peppers, cucumber
- Butter and cream
- Dark chocolate!
If you’re a strict keto, you’d be looking at purely organic produce, but you’ll never go hungry whether you go organic or your local supermarket.
There are also many online sources for buying keto-friendly food and pantry supplies.
What can I drink?
As with anything in this lifestyle, you need to know the carb intake per serving.
- Water is obviously carb-free! You’ll need lots of it. Ketosis increases the amount of salt your body excretes, which leads to less water retention, so you will need to keep your water intake up to avoid dehydration.
- Cold or room temperature, as it comes, or with a slice or squeeze of lemon or lime. Water is a daily essential.
- Sparkling Water – unflavoured.
- Artificially sweetened soda is sweetened with natural sweeteners like stevia, monk fruit, xylitol, and erythritol.
- Clear liquor, vodka, whiskey, gin, scotch, and rum. Drunk straight, these are carb-free. The danger comes once you mix it with juices or flavored sodas.
- Unsweetened tea or coffee–milk is ok in moderation, but it’s better to use heavy cream if you like it very white. Check out ‘bulletproof coffee’ (with butter/fat added), a staple for many keto followers.
- Milk if it’s more than just for your coffee, then use coconut or almond milk. It may be a gained taste but persevere.
- Wine obviously has carbs, but dry has the least.
Do I have to fast?
- Fasting isn’t required to lose weight when you’re eating Keto.
- However, some people find that intermittent fasting (IF) helps boost loss if they’ve hit a plateau or feel it’s good for their body.
- The most common way to IF is not to eat between 5 pm and 11 am; once you’re comfortable with IF, look at more extended fasting not eating for up to 18 hours.
- Just go with what your body tells you to be good for you. It may well say they don’t bother with fasting.
- You’re not doing anything wrong if you choose not too fast. It’s just an option to consider.
What positives can I expect?
- A body that is shedding weight. Not only a morale booster but a definite health benefit. More energy. Who doesn’t need more of that?
- A reduced need to snack. Eating Keto will most likely decrease your appetite, so the desire to grab something carb or sugar-loaded should diminish.
- A sense of achievement. When we set a goal and smaller goals/steps towards it, and we reach them, it feels fabulous. It’s inspiring to know we are looking after ourselves (not to mention fitting into smaller clothes).
- Potential reduction in the need for medication for issues associated with being overweight, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol.
What negatives can I expect?
There is a range of symptoms that some people report. You may or may not experience some or none of these. As with anything, if the symptoms persist, it’s best to consult your doctor.
- Keto flu—short-lived fatigue, headaches
- Keto (bad) breath
- Keto rash—may be an actual rash or just itching.
- Frequent urination
- Muscle cramps
Online groups offer a variety of potential solutions if you suffer from any of these side effects.
- Unfortunately, not everyone you tell about your alternative lifestyle might be as positive as you. Whether it comes from ignorance, jealousy, or a reason they’re not even aware of, they might question or even put down your choice.
- This may even come from your doctor. Many doctors agree there are definite health benefits to keto eating; you may need to find one who agrees with your choice.
- You don’t have to justify yourself to anyone, but it’s not always easy to brush it off or ignore the negativity. Having information (about Keto and yourself) will let you give your side knowledge and confidence.
- Know when it’s most accessible, not even to argue the point; believe in yourself and your choice.
As with any significant change in your eating, you need to check in with your doctor, particularly if you have issues like diabetes. But be aware that you may not meet with approval or even an understanding of Keto and may be told it’s dangerous.
As with any medical opinion, it’s your right to seek another one and if you meet with resistance from your regular doctor, don’t feel obliged to buy into their negativity.
Many doctors support this way of eating because they’ve seen the positive results with things like blood sugar level and blood pressure reduction that come with weight loss.
We’re all different, and we all react differently to situations. Being aware of how you respond in certain circumstances will help you cope with the inevitable bumps that you will encounter.
We hope to help your keto journey go as smoothly as possible with this article.
The first step is to make sure you’re entering the diet with a proper understanding. Next, plan out your meals and snacks in advance to minimize temptation and cravings that can derail your progress.