I have been doing the keto diet for the past 2 months now and wanted to provide a master thread on how I did it, some tips, and offer a post for our guru community members to jump in. The benefits have been nothing short of INCREDIBLE.
When I am in Optimal Ketosis (1.0-3.0 mmol/L), I feel a profound drug-like feeling. The clarity, focus, and overall impact on my body and brain are well worth the initial annoyance in diet. I have never felt healthier, I am sleeping even better than before, and have significantly lowered my Body Fat %. I have so much energy, and I NEVER crash.
[WHAT IS KETO?]
If you want a description of what keto is, start here: https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/ketosis.
In summary, glucose (found in carbs) is the default fuel for your body/brain. When you stop eating carbs/glucose, your body seeks glucose stored in your body fat.. when that runs out… it eats body fat itself ! This final process produces ketones in the liver.
The most common
rule of thumb to be in ketosis is “less than 20g NET carbs per day”.
However, this depends on your exercise, body type/weight, etc. It is
just a general rule. The term “net carbs” simply refers to carbs that
are absorbed by the body.
To calculate the net carbs in whole foods, subtract the fiber from the total number of carbs on packaging. Because fiber is a carbohydrate that your body cannot digest, it does not raise your blood sugar levels or trigger an insulin response. This also applies to sugar alcohols like erythritol.
Side note – Keto is different than paleo in that paleo strictly tries to remove complex / processed carbs and promotes eating foods presumed to have been available to humans during the Paleolithic era (meats, fish, nuts, leafy greens, regional veggies, and seeds). Keto is similar in that it is also low carb/good carb, but is stricter because of the <20g Net carbs/day requirement.
1. No/low carbs in diet– body fights to find glycogen in body fat (converts to glucose)
2. No/little glycogen in body fat – body produces ketones
3. Ketosis + incredible energy endurance!
Stage 1+2 can cause lethargy, emotional instability, etc. Fasting can help power through. Ketone esters or salts can be helpful in these stages for energy as you become fat adapted, though remember they are a short-lived version of Ketones (3-4 hr).
[THE BIG QUESTION]: “So if I don’t eat carbs – what do I eat?”
[THE BIG ANSWER]: Protein, fats, and *low carb* vegetables.
I am going to provide some of the best resources for the foods to eat, because that is the most often asked question. This will help significantly as you can still get a variety of foods to fulfill any of your wildest cravings. :P Eventually, cravings go away entirely.
Additionally, I HIGHLY recommend a blood meter.
Even though these are not 100% accurate, I believe they give a fair baseline to test in the beginning. Once you get into “Optimal Ketonic State”, you won’t need to keep testing – you’ll feel when you’re in it. Also, the urine strips suck and are not easy to use.
Precision Xtra meters
One good thing to do is to just go to Amazon, type in “Keto” in foods, and just spend around $300 on random snacks. Also try not to keep much food at home. Get rid of all carbs. Eat them all or donate/throw out. Rice, bread, etc. The less they are around, the less you will eat them. A common phrase I have heard – you will realize “sugar is more ubiquitous than Starbucks!” 😜 it is seriously in everything.
Keto snacks are great when you have urges – but FATs are key to controlling your satiety. Make sure to always have the Trader Joe’s coconut oil packets (or similar) on you, and drink a ton of water, of course!
I love these things.. many varieties, often found at Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s.
Its just baked Parmesan.
Cheese is your friend.
Find 100% Cocoa for lowest carb
(Lily’s are good chocolate bars. Do the net carb math here)
*Very high in sodium* drink lots of water
I like the EPIC brand – Venison Steak bites are great and 0 carb.
** Eating salt raises the amount of sodium in your bloodstream and wrecks the delicate balance, reducing the ability of your kidneys to remove the water. The result is a higher blood pressure due to the extra fluid and extra strain on the delicate blood vessels leading to the kidneys. Too much sodium will increase your risk of stroke, heart failure, osteoporosis, stomach cancer and kidney disease. Summary Health authorities recommend between 1,500 mg (1.5 grams) and 2,300 mg (2.3 grams) of sodium per day for heart health — much less than Americans consume on average.
Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder, 100% Whey Protein Isolate, Keto Friendly, Flavor: Cookies & Cream, 3 Pounds (Packaging May Vary)
[GRANOLA] (shout out to @Jessi Cushenberry who I met at FitCon, this is her Company)
High Fats for FUEL! *These are critically important**
MCT (Medium Chain Triglycerides – the best fat for energy, comes from coconuts)
Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Keto Organic MCT Powder
(Since I travel, I use this one, which comes in powder form. Liquids are a bit hard to carry on planes, etc. This one also includes a dietary fiber and probiotic which is awesome. I have had stomach issues before!)
Coconut Oil packets by Trader Joe’s – (14) in a box –
*They are $3.99/box at Trader Joes directly. I generally have 2-3 of these/day, while in Keto.
Avocado oil packets
FBOMB is also a good brand, they have travel-sized Coconut Oil, House Blend, MCT Oil, Macadamia Nut Oil, Avocado Oil, Olive Oil. Have not tried all of these. A bit expensive.
I also am a big fan of breakfast foods – eggs, bacon, sausage, and lots of cheese + hot sauce.
Whole Foods/grocery store buffet lines are great as they often have a
‘deli’ like section where you can find plain chicken, turkey, ham,
I will add some greens, every type of cheese, and hot sauce to create some awesome great salads.
When going out, always ask for sauce on the side, and that you only eat Protein+Veggies. Most of the time in USA servers/cashiers are familiar with Keto or Paleo. Find this to be more difficult in Europe. Hamburgers have also been a good choice for me – substituting the bun for a lettuce wrap, and fries for a side salad.
If you become constipated, you’re likely not eating enough Oil – and too much Protein. If you become the opposite, too much oil!! Once your body is fat adapted, you will be shocked at how much oil you can take down with no issue.
Make sure to drink LOTS of water. Fiber protein.
Keep an eye on your cholesterol, too. Check with your doctor.
Ultimately, I go a lot by how I feel, and I am very in tune with my body.
Reminder, I am not an expert. Take it for what it is worth. You should always cycle Keto – 3 weeks on/1 week off.
Please add comments below, links, food items you like, etc.
Would love to hear experiences with Paleo or Carnivore diets, too.