If you’ve been anywhere on the internet in the past couple of years, you’ve most likely heard of the keto diet. Often portrayed as the eat-nothing-but-butter-and-bacon diet, it’s extremely popular with everyone from your grandmother to Khloe Kardashian.
The gist of the keto (short for ketogenic) diet is that you don’t eat many carbs (usually 20 or less grams per day), but eat a bunch of fat and a moderate amount of protein. The lack of carbohydrates forces your body to burn fat for energy rather than glucose. This fat burning state is called ketosis.
In June 2018, I got on the keto train, too. I was 39 and pre-diabetic. I knew it was time to make a huge change to my lifestyle if I wanted to live a quality life in the future. So, I jumped. And I have never looked back. Here are my best tips if you’re planning to go keto in 2020!
Study up before you jump.
Get a good beginners book about what keto is and how it works. I recommend this one. This takes some commitment. Then, rip off that carby band-aid and just do it. There is no perfect day or time to start this way of eating. Plan out your first week of food so you don’t get caught unprepared.
Get a membership to Costco.
You’ll need it. You’re going to be buying so much food and meat that you’ll want to buy it in bulk. Plus, Costco has awesome deals on almond flour, avocado oil, sugar free peanut butter, Lankanto sweetener, and organic butter.
Be prepared to cook…daily.
And meal prep once per week. Do yourself a favor and buy some good knives to save the frustration. You’ll get used to the cooking and before long, it will become therapeutic.
Quit counting and just eat.
We’ve been taught all our lives to count calories. Some keto folks will tell you to track your macros and/or calories. I honestly don’t think that is required. Watch your portion sizes and eat when you’re hungry. If you need a snack, have one. Also, many will tell you to practice intermittent fasting. (Intermittent fasting is when you cycle between periods of fasting and eating on a set timetable.) Fasting is not required to be in ketosis and isn’t the best way for some of us. Do what feels right for you and your specific goals.
Find keto recipes online.
Or buy a couple new cookbooks. Your favorite foods probably have low carb alternatives. I’ve had to joy of making chocolate cake, beef stroganoff, and fried chicken with low carb makeovers! And they’ve been delicious. My most favorite and most used cookbooks are by Carolyn Ketchum. You can see her blog here. She is amazing.
Try new things!
Whether it’s new veggies (what does jicama taste like?), a new clothing style since you’ve lost weight, or a new activity because you can actually climb stairs without getting winded now, do it. Set aside your fear. Reach out towards a dream. Buy a bike. Go on a date. Cut your hair short. Run a 5k. Wear a two-piece. Or whatever that thing is for you.
Cauliflower really can turn into just about anything.
It’s a magical food that can be rice, potatoes, bread sticks, nachos, and pizza crust. Just because it sounds weird doesn’t mean it will be weird. Take a chance on this tasty food.
You don’t need any special tools or pills to follow a ketogenic diet.
Ignore all of those exogenous ketones. You don’t need them; your body will make plenty on its own. You don’t need to test your urine or blood to see if you’re in ketosis. You may not need to even weight or measure yourself. Instead, consider how you feel. How are your clothes fitting? How are you sleeping? How’s your skin looking? These are better gauges of your overall health.
Cook bacon in batches so you always have it on hand.
Making bacon in the oven is super easy, and you’ll love having it available for breakfast or a quick snack. This is my favorite method. Or, if you have an air fryer, you can use that. Remember to save some of the drippings to roasting veggies.
Remember your “why” when the bread basket is nearby.
You’ll be tempted to eat your old favorite carb-loaded foods. I mean, who doesn’t want popcorn at the movies or funnel cake at the fair? When you’re faced with the choice of eating something that is high in carbs, consider if it’s worth it. Sometimes, it may be. Other times, focus on your why and pass. Better yet, have a back up plan in place. Buy a giant pickle at the movies and take your own snack to the fair. Don’t spend time beating yourself up if you do eat something that isn’t “on plan.” Just pick yourself up and keep going. The path to goals is rarely straight. We each have our own zig-zag road.
The biggest gift that keto has given me is freedom from food.
I used to be driven by food, hungry and cranky, craving sugar all.day.long. Now, I’m free to really enjoy eating and enjoy cooking, knowing that what I’m putting in my body is helping me live the life I want. And I’m the one in control, not the food. It’s been a very liberating 18 months for me since I went low carb. And here’s to many more low carb years in my future!