Thinking About Keto for the New Year?

IMG_20180507_212017_216Thinking 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…

HEALTHY FATS
Grass-fed butter (Kerrygold)
Olive Oil
Coconut Oil
Avocados
Nuts

PROTEINS
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

OTHER FOODS
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

For Baking/Cooking:
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)

Snacks:
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.

Whisps (Baked cheese snacks)
Moon Cheese (Another delicious cheese snack)

Drinks:
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!

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Follow me on Instagram @tripsandtastes for recipes and more!  And please feel free to post any questions below.  Thanks!

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Don’t Be Afraid of That Crazy Wrap Thing!

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Network marketing, direct sales, even pyramid scheme… whatever you want to call it, if you believe in the products that you’re using, and they’re positively affecting your life, why wouldn’t you want to share it???

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Last month, I joined an exciting health & wellness company called, “It Works” as an independent distributor. This 16-year old, debt-free company, is best known for their body contouring wraps, but they truly offer so much more. I had been looking for a way to lose some weight & also incorporate a healthier lifestyle that I had embraced while training for my 1st half marathon this past spring. I’d also been looking for a new side business, so when the 2 opportunities came up together, it certainly caught my attention.

I’ve sold other health-related products in the past with this same sales format. I signed up with Arbonne, but only truly loved a few of their items, which wasn’t enough to “tie me” to the company. I sold Silpada Designs for 5 years, & despite my love of jewelry & their beautiful pieces, a combination of the “home party” sales model & their inflated sterling silver prices just didn’t create the formula I needed to really succeed.

20170610_132401But this time around, something seems different. I want to get my hands on every single product! And I’m actually experiencing my own amazing results! I’ve lost 5lbs in my 1st month & and I have this new-found energy that’s empowering! In addition, I have an amazing team leader who’s there for me day or night, answers all my questions & sometimes even talks me off the ledge if need be! I feel lucky that she found me & was patient with me while I tried the products and slowly decided to dive in & become a distributor.

20170626_172150The It Works product line is diverse, but not overwhelming. The products are all-natural, plant-based, and designed to help in various facets of your life. Stress, weight gain, joint pain, trouble sleeping, wrinkles, stretch marks – all the things we always want to fix! And they’re affordable… nothing crazy that’s going to break the bank. To check out the company and the products for yourself, here’s the link to my web site: www.kristinmatteo.itworks.com

My personal “Triple Threat” is a combination of 3 products that I’ve been using since I started. They’re helping me to gradually lose weight, while gaining energy & providing my body with the nutrients it needs.

IMG_20170630_112741_587Greens on the Go – This is my favorite of all the It Works products! Each individual packet contains 8 servings of fruits and vegetables and a combination of over 52 nutrients & superfoods. Simply empty the little packet into a bottle of water, shake & go! I drink mine mid-morning or in the afternoon if I need a little boost. The Greens are available in 3 flavors: Berry (my favorite), Orange, & Chocolate (great mixed with milk or in a smoothie!) and come with 30 packets per box.

IMG_20170611_191548_734I recommend using the next two products together in regard to weight loss:
Ultimate Thermofit – This tablet, taken twice daily, boosts your metabolism with the super antioxidant, acai berry and a red hot pepper blend called Capsimax®. I take one with my breakfast & one with lunch to get my metabolic rate going!

Fatfighter – This carb inhibitor & fat blocker utilizes prickly pear cactus to naturally absorb some of the fats & carbs from your “less healthy” meals. I usually take the Fatfighter with dinner, as that tends to be my heaviest meal of the day and the one that could cause me the most damage 😉

20170606_170119Other products I love are the gentle, 2-Day Cleanse, the WOW – Wipe Out Wrinkles Cream, the Protein Powders (in Chocolate or Vanilla), and of course, the original Body Contouring Wraps & Defining Gel.

The best part of this business is that you can work it from anywhere… all you need is a cell phone!  So check it out, contact me with ANY questions, and start thinking about what you’d like to try.  And I promise not to stalk you… I’m just excited to share what these products, and this business opportunity, could potentially do for you!

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And don’t worry, my love & passion for all things food-related has not gone astray… it’s just about finding the right balance & enjoying everything in moderation!