People have been asking me this question many times over the past few months as its popularity has increased. While it is a 2017 trend, Keto has been around for years. The Ketogenic Diet has been administered to Epileptic patients since the 1920’s to help manage seizures and has even been used to help cancer patients. But let’s begin with the basics.
#1 How to get into Ketosis
The main goal of the Keto diet is to get your body into a ketotic state. And now your mind has started wandering…but wait I will explain more. When your body is in ketosis, or a ketotic state, it starts burning stored fat as an energy source instead of glucose and insulin created by carbohydrates. If you have done an Atkins or South Beach diet, this probably sounds familiar to you.
At its core, the Ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet. Similar to the Atkins or South Beach diet, you manage your carb intake. Unlike the those diets, you have to be strict with your carb intake eating 20 grams of net carbs a day. If you go to your kitchen right now and find a nutrition label, you might faint when you see how many carbs are lying around in your pantry. I about died when I opened my cabinet doors, turning to the nutrition facts and imagining how I was going to eat 20 grams a day. But, there was a catch. “Net” carbs is calculated by taking the total carbohydrate grams and subtracting the dietary fiber grams. Let me show you.
Below is a nutrition label for an Avocado, a great choice on the Keto diet. As you can see, the total carbohydrates are 12 grams. When I first saw this nutrition label I cringed because I was not educated on how to calculate net carbs. There was no way I could stick to the diet if one Avocado had 12 grams of carbs. But, when I learned that I needed to calculate net carbs, I calmed down a bit to better understand the concept. By subtracting the total carbohydrates (12 grams) and dietary fiber (10 grams), one Avocado represents 2 grams of net carbs. That I could do!
|Total Fat 21 g||32%|
|Saturated fat 3.1 g||15%|
|Polyunsaturated fat 2.7 g|
|Monounsaturated fat 14 g|
|Cholesterol 0 mg||0%|
|Sodium 10 mg||0%|
|Potassium 708 mg||20%|
|Total Carbohydrate 12 g||4%|
|Dietary fiber 10 g||40%|
|Sugar 1 g|
|Protein 2.9 g||5%|
Now some people say that they can be in ketosis eating upwards of 50 grams of net carbs a day. This is true for me and I try to stay around 30 to 40 grams a day but have fluctuated up to 50 grams and have still been in ketosis. Every body is different and the way we metabolize food is different. As we get older, metabolizing carbohydrates becomes more challenging so sticking to 20 net carbs a day can help us stay in ketosis. Being young, our bodies are more apt to changes and that’s why I believe I have more flexibility with net carbs.
If you are new to the Keto diet, first reach out to your physician before you begin and make sure that this is a good diet for you. Second, start by being strict (eating 20 grams net carbs a day) and getting a feel for your what body is like in ketosis. Third, experiment and see what your body can tolerate. In the beginning, I liked to use these Ketone test strips to see if I was in ketosis and how far into ketosis I was. There are varying levels and this was a simple, inexpensive way to monitor those levels of ketosis. Finally, enjoy eating all the fat you have ever wanted and more.
#2. Managing Your Macros
Macros stand for the macronutrients found in your food items. There are three main macronutrients which consists of 1) fat, 2) protein and 3) carbohydrates. By carefully managing and watching the make-up of your food, these macronutrients will help you get into ketosis and stay in ketosis.
As I stated before, each body is different and the macronutrient level is different. I used this calculator to get a better idea of how much fat, protein and carbs I should be eating and then calculated for my husband. I was allowed 25 grams of net carbs a day (although I decreased it to 20 grams net carbs in the beginning) and my husband, being 6 feet 7 inches tall, was allocated 45 grams. I like this calculator because it allows you to adjust your own numbers depending on your lifestyle and how much weight you want to lose.
While the macronutrient levels are different for everyone the general make-up falls in the range of:
Fat: 65% – 80%
Protein: 15% – 25%
Again, as you become more familiar with the Keto diet play around and see what levels make your body feel the best. A great tool to help you manage your macros is the “My Fitness Pal” app. Click here to read about it.
#3. Stick to Fatty Foods + Low Carb
Here are some of my tips and tricks that I have learned while eating Keto.
Bulletproof Coffee is a mixture of:
8oz of coffee
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp coconut oil or MCT oil
1 tbsp heavy whipping cream
Mix them all together and you get a little bit of heaven. If you are trying to imagining how it taste, it is amazing. Liquid gold is what I call it. This generally consists of 300 calories and has a macronutrient breakdown of 99% fat, 0% protein and 1% carbs. Sometimes I use this as my breakfast because it is a great way to get my fat levels up and I usually am not hungry again until noon.
For me, they often include sliced meats and cheeses. Because a large portion of your diet should include fat, these are easy places to find fats that also have low carbs. An average serving of sliced meat consists of 12 slices and has a macronutrient level of 77% fat, 19% protein and 4% (2g) carbs. For an serving of cheese, I stick to 1 slice and the macros are 77% fat, 23% protein and 0% carbs.
A very popular Keto ingredient used often to replace rice because of the similar texture. It has become a staple in our house but making your own cauliflower rice is hard and time consuming. My trick is to purchase 10 bags of Cauliflower Rice stockpiling it in my freezer for a quick easy side dish.
This is tricky for me as a busy, working mother of three. More often than not my headspace is not where it needs to be when I am jumping from call to call. So on those tough days when I don’t have the time or creative ideas, I make a Keto Cobb Salad:
1 cup spinach
6 slices of salami (or 4 slices of bacon)
1/4 – 1/2 cup shredded cheese
5 cherry tomatoes
1/4 sliced avocado
8 slices of cucumbers
Green onions to taste
2 tbsp of ranch dressing
Sometimes I like to add a hard-boiled egg to my salad to mix things up. The macros for the salad are 80% fat, 14% protein and 5% (6g) carbs. Again, it is an easy meal that is high in fat and low in carbs.
Thank goodness I don’t have to do this anymore. It was a common practice of mine. Concerning myself with sticking to 1,435 calories a day, I wasn’t focused too much on the types of foods I was eating. I was left feeling hungry even though I was eating a well balanced diet. Now on keto, I don’t count my calories but instead focus on how I feel. When I feel full, I stop. Many times I cannot finish my salad simply because it contains so much fat.
Now, I am not saying that you can eat recklessly because eating too many calories will cause you to gain weight. Instead, I don’t put so much pressure on the calorie counting which has allowed me to find more joy in my eating. For kicks and giggles, I tracked the number of calories I eat in a day and, ironically, I eat less on a keto diet because I am more full from the fat that on other diets. A nice perk.
If you can’t tell, I LOVE this diet. It has been an amazing change to our eating habits and something easily managed. Getting started can be tough but I hope that these tips and tricks can help you jump start your journey on keto.