Thinking about jumping on the keto bandwagon, but not really sure what it is or how to begin? Well it’s been just over a year since I started my keto journey, so I’m sharing a few tips. 😉
Following a keto lifestyle essentially means eating a diet high in healthy fats, a moderate amount of protein, and a limited amount of carbohydrates, leading your body into a state of “ketosis,” where you burn calories from stored fat, rather than from empty carbs. It gives you more energy, promotes healthy brain function, and satisfies your appetite without leaving you hungry or feeling deprived. You can read article after article on how it works, why it’s the best, why it’s the worst & everything in between. All I know is that it’s been prescribed by doctors since the 1920s & it’s the easiest “diet” I’ve ever followed. I lost 10lbs in the first 6 months, have kept it off for another 6 months and still going strong!
If you’re seriously considering giving it a try, here are a few things I recommend to get you started…
1. Download a food tracking app. I was already a “Map My Run” user, so I stuck with the brand & went with “My Fitness Pal” which worked perfectly for me. You’ll need to set a calorie limit & then adjust your macros to fit a Keto lifestyle (generally 70% healthy fats, 20% protein & 10% carbs). In the beginning, you’ll need to enter every morsel you put in your mouth to find those “hidden” carbs, and determine what you need to eat to meet your macros each day. To determine your daily calorie allowance, try this calculator or one of the many others you can find online.
2. Hit the grocery store. Keto is as much about what you can eat, as it is about what you should avoid. You’re trying to eliminate sugars from your diet, especially those coming directly from carbs, but there are tons of foods you can still enjoy! And you don’t need a fancy grocery store or spend a million dollars…. I find most everything I need at Aldi, and the more specialized items I get right from Amazon.
3. Make the commitment. For the first couple of weeks, it’s important not to “cheat.” It’ll take 3-4 days of following a strict low carb, high fat diet for your body to enter into ketosis and any big dose of carbs will start you all over again, so you’ll need to stay on track. Eventually, a little cheat here & there won’t affect your numbers, but in the beginning, your goal is to get your body into that fat burning state as quickly as possible.
The internet is full of keto-approved food lists, but here are the items I try to keep on hand. I could go on & on with recipes, substitutions, etc, but I wanted to start by keeping it simple. These are my “go tos” plus a few bonuses I’ve discovered along the way…
Grass-fed butter (Kerrygold)
Meats (Beef, chicken, turkey, pork)
Try to buy grass-fed & organic when possible, and include fattier cuts like chicken thighs & highly marbled steaks. When buying meats like cold cuts, pepperoni or bacon, I try to find nitrate-free varieties as a healthier option.
Fish – Tuna & salmon are my staples, but I also splurge on lobster, shrimp & scallops!)
Most all seafood & shellfish are keto-approved.
Eggs – a great source of protein. I do buy organic/cage-free when possible 🙂
Cheese – Full fat, all varieties
Other Dairy – Heavy whipping cream, sour cream & plain greek yogurt
Veggies: Greens, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cucumbers, Zucchini, Celery, Peppers, Onions, Eggplant, Brussel sprouts, Cabbage
Fruits: Blueberries, Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries
(Top these with whipped cream for a great dessert!)
Dressings & Condiments:
Salad Dressings/Mayo (Look for olive oil or avocado oil based – I love Primal Kitchen)
Mustard, Salsa, Hot sauce, Vinegars, Sea salt, pepper & all seasonings
Almond Flour (for bread doughs, pizza crusts, bagels, cookies
Monkfruit Sweetener (a natural, low glycemic sugar)
Cacao Nibs (use in place of chocolate chips in cookies or add to yogurt)
Pork Rinds (take ’em or leave ’em, but it’s nice to have a crunchy snack & something to use as a “dunker” with your favorite dips & spreads.
Water is essential to making this lifestyle work. At least half your body weight, in ounces, is recommended, but more never hurts! Plain water can get a little boring after a while, so I use these 2 products to spruce things up:
Stur: These all-natural, sugar-free, zero calorie sweeteners come in awesome flavors & use stevia instead of the chemical sweeteners found in MIO & others.
True Orange (& Lemon… & Grapefruit!): Love these little all-natural packets to flavor my water (and also my favorite low carb beer!)
Coffee & tea (unsweetened of course) are also regulars for me. Coffee prepared with grass-fed butter, MCT oil (or coconut oil) & heavy whipping cream provides a great breakfast alternative & will keep you full right up until lunchtime! You know I love my coffee and you know my fave… Keto Coffee from It Works 😉
One last word on drinks… Alcohol. The good news is that Vodka has 0 carbs & is just under 100 calories per 1oz shot. It’s the mixers you have to watch out for… no fruit juice, no flavored sodas, no syrupy cordials. But you can have all the club soda & seltzer you want, topped with a squeeze of lemon or lime, so that’s a winner in my book! Dry wines are also allowed, in limited quantity. New brands like FitVine Wine, a low carb, lower sugar variety have helped keep me on track. 🙂
So Should You Try It?
I’m not a doctor, a health professional or even a nutritionist, and I don’t think this way of eating is for everyone, but if you’re trying to reduce your sugar intake, need to lose weight, want more energy or are simply trying to eat healthier, it’s worth giving it a try!
Need a little push? Here are some of my “keto-friendly” meals… I’m definitely not missing anything!
Follow me on Instagram @tripsandtastes for recipes and more! And please feel free to post any questions below. Thanks!