Keto Quick Start Survival Guide
One of the things I hear most is that you don’t want to have to give up bread and wine forever...which for some would be totally unpleasant and not sustainable. The second thing I hear over and over is that you just feel just awful during the first few weeks….which leads you to give up and gorge on carbs. The last (and totally untrue) thing I hear is that eating this way is no fun, terribly difficult and expensive. I completely disagree, and will argue to the contrary til the day I die. A Keto Friendly diet is amazingly delicious and super easy to follow, I mean come on…guacamole and mexican chicken cheese tacos with a dollop of full fat sour cream…..or how about slow roasted pork ribs with a dry rub on the barbie with a tomato mozzarella caprese salad on the side.Not to mention my stevia sweetened chocolate covered roasted pecans with a sprinkle of coconut-H E L L O!!!
I’d like to point out that there does tend to be a learning curve to learning how to live a Keto Friendly lifestyle. And during the ramp up phase you may feel tired and yucky...but these side-effects can be avoided mostly by following my guide, using the survival kit, and referring back frequently to my survival tips below:
Tip 1: Fat is your friend
One of the most common misconceptions about diet is that if you eat fat you will get fat. That is soooooo far from the truth and now we have REAL science to disprove that egregious claim. When making the switch to a ketogenic diet (Keto) aka low carb high fat way of eating (LCHF WOE) I have seen that the majority of people are very good recognizing obvious carbohydrates to avoid but often are afraid to add in fat to their diet. WIth the vilification of fat we have this almost knee-jerk aversion to a generous drizzle of olive oil on a salad, adding butter to steaks, and avocado with anything.
Trying to take in 75% FAT in your daily food intake is the main goal with a Ketogenic diet and helps give our bodies the fuel it will need to optimally function. Be mindful in the amount of fat you add to your meals. Adding oil to your salads and butter to your meats and vegetables are great ways to increase fat content. Sometimes I’ll add heavy cream and butter to my coffee and I always add avocado and olive oil to my greens. Nuts and full fat cheese is a great way to get your fats in too...just watch the carb content on the nuts as it sneaks up on you.
Tip 2: Broth and butter and cream
One of my staple kitchen items is chicken bouillon...my favorite is a brand called Better Than Bouillon (1tsp per 1 cup super hot water) that I keep in the fridge. When you’re starting out on a very low carbohydrate lifestyle most likely your body will be in a bit of shock. When carbs are severely reduced we tend to lose a bunch of water. One gram of glycogen (a storage form of carbohydrate) holds about 3 grams of water. So as we go through some of our glycogen our bodies release excess fluids it’s been holding on to. You can expect extra trips to the restroom in your first few days. With the increased urination our electrolyte balances may become a bit off balance. I call this the sugar crash flu, but it’s more commonly known as Keto-flu. The side-effects can be quite uncomfortable and you can expect nausea, diarrhea, headache, exhaustion and body aches. Quite frankly it’s not fun, however this can be treated with some hot broth from bouillon. When you up your sodium and fat intake this can help you from feeling so sick. I make my broth taste even better by adding in some butter and heavy cream. Bonus points for the extra fat.
Tip 3: Clean out your pantry and fridge
Starting with a clean slate clears your mind and takes away any unnecessary temptation. Clean it OUT!!!! Donate the food to those in need, take it to the office, do whatever you need to, but get rid of the junk before getting started. If you have family members that refuse to get on board and demand oreos then set the precedent that they will be buying them and they will be eating them. When YOU stock the kitchen YOU decide what gets served.
Check it out…..Did you ever notice that when company comes over they bring over bags and bags of chips and ice cream and sodas and wine? Or maybe you’re drawn to buy a bunch of carby foods to feed a crowd (because you know that’s what they want) The worst of the well-intentioned party goers contribution is the leftover bags of chips in my pantry. The extra bottles of wine I can deal with by re-gifting them at the holidays.
Tip 4: Plan Plan Plan and Cook Once Eat Many Times
I highly recommend that you meal plan and meal prep meals way in advance. Having food at the ready will help when you feel like you could eat the entire house, but know that’s not productive. It will also help from spending a small fortune on eating out and buying ready prepared takeout meals from a restaurant. Every time I cook I ALWAYS make extra for leftovers. Having several items full prepared in my fridge helps to protect against the urge to grab donut from the office lunch room when you’re in a pinch. Pre-proportioned macadamia nuts or almonds are always good to have on hand, too. I’m not a big proponent of snacking, however I’d rather have you turn a moderate sized snack into just a small meal and then skip the next big meal time depending on your hunger. There are so many delicious and easy recipes available and I always have new ones to share. You don’t have to be a Michelin Star Chef to be able to feed yourself and your family well, but you must be willing to try to cook or at least assemble….and if you are not willing to do that then be prepared to pay someone well to do it for you.
Tip 5: Honest tracking and feedback
If you’re really being honest with yourself then there’s no harm in writing down everything you put in you mouth for the first few weeks. When you’re standing there with a handful of nuts in your hand it may look like ¼ cup of almonds, but if you were to pull out a measuring cup odds are that it’s more like ½-¾ cup...and that could make all the difference. Eating LCHF or Keto does NOT mean you can eat as much as you want.
I’ve found that most people are not intentionally lying about their food and beverage intake. More often than not we are just not really aware. They don’t look as closely to the ingredients, they guestimate because they are lazy. And there is a time and place for guestimating...but it’s not in the beginning. To get to your optimal best then you need to start with being honest. Tracking is where the rubber meets the road and where we can truly see what’s working for you and what’s not.
Tracking will help identify any sneaky carbs too. Quick story...my office started to stock a jumbo container of dry roasted and sea salted cashew nuts. I was happy to have a healthy alternative to the usual pretzels, candy and doritos. I would help myself to a serving of cashews around 11am, then later another single serving around 4pm. Then my pants started to get a little tighter and my weight went up a pound or 3. I thought “oh no...what’s going on?” Until I really looked at the carb content of each serving of my “healthy snack” containing a whopping 20g carbs PER SERVING, I was innocently lying to myself. Now…...I no longer unknowingly indulge in the cashew nuts.
I have found that when we get honest with ourselves we end up getting to our goals faster and start reaping benefits earlier.
Tip 6: AVOID White and Beige foods
Really the only thing that is white or beige that is keto friendly would be cauliflower or dairy. Meaning that if its bread, chips, tortillas, pasta, rice, potatoes, wraps, pita bread, naan, cookies, muffins, cakes YOU SHOULD AVOID. Even if its whole grain or whole wheat or gluten free-AVOID. That kinda goes hand in hand with any crunchy snack too. The only crunchy things you should be consuming are vegetables or nuts…..otherwise avoid the crunch. If you miss the crunch then we can make some keto crackers or roast some zucchini chips