Updated: Feb 20, 2021
This is my experience with keto. I am writing this for anyone that wants to get into but doesn't know how or where to start. I'm sharing what worked for me. This is certainly not medical advice.
Keto has changed my life and I feel like I am happier and healthier than I have ever been. I want everyone to feel this way. I want everyone to heal and have happy and healthy journeys through this life.
I lost big amounts of weight 3 times in my life. You can see my most recent weight loss in the graph below. The first two times I was following how my body felt. I knew little about nutrition. I didn't know anything about keto back then and I'm not even sure if it was a thing. Information on the topic wasn't well explored or available at that point. My point is that experientially I arrived at the same conclusion as science and it's a powerful thing when those two things align.
I've been on this keto journey since August 26th, 2019. You can see exactly when I started keto from my weight graph above. I regularly discuss my health with my family doctor. I get blood tests periodically just to make sure that this is actually health. I keep a close eye on my health and it all looks good.
The heck is keto?
Keto is a way of eating where you consume specific nutrient profile (high fat / moderate protein/ low carbohydrate) to help improve health and as a result manage weight.
One Fundamental Rule
One fundamental rule that you need to follow for this journey:
Stop eating SUGAR and CARBOHYDRATES.
This is the single most important thing you can do for your health. It's so dang simple. The execution requires will power. You CAN do it.
Why cut these things out?
The rationale behind eliminating sugar and carbohydrates may be confusing. Why not cut FAT from your diet instead? All you need to understand is that the body can either be running off of glucose or it can run off of ketones. When you eat sugar, you spike glucose. When you eat carbs, your body breaks those carbs down to glucose rather quickly. When there is an excess of glucose in your blood and your body doesn't physically have the demand for that glucose...it gets stored as fat. There is a much more to this explanation involving insulin but I am distilling this down to barebone concepts so you can understand what you are doing and more importantly start on your keto journey.
When you stop constantly feeding your body sugars and carbohydrates your body will start to deplete your blood sugar levels to use as fuel.
When you completely stop adding sugar and carbohydrates to the system...and once your blood glucose stores are depleted your body has no other choice and will switch to burning fat as fuel. As a result, your body will start using it's fat stores for energy to sustain yourself. This is even more efficient when you combine keto with intermittent fasting which I will write about later
When you think of sugar...everyone thinks of white granulated sugar, brown sugar and stuff like that but I'm really talking about things that are easily converted to sugar by your body. When I explain keto to people most people say "I barely consume any sugar" but if you ask them what they had for dinner they will say something along the lines of "some rice and..." Or "potatoes and...'. Most people don't have a understanding of carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates may not look like granulated sugar but to your body...they are essentially broken down to the same thing. Glucose. Take a slice of bread for example. Seems like it has nothing to do with sugar....but once you eat it your body quickly breaks it down to sugar so that your body can use it as fuel. Why does this matter though? An everyday woman or man doesn't have that sort of energy demand ...we have the fuel floating around in your bloodstream but we really don't need it. So our body stores this energy. It gets stored as fat.
You don't necessarily have to count calories but you must pay attention to nutrition labels.
I counted calories in the past with the intention of losing weight. I tracked my caloric intake and also my energy expenditure but from my experience...nothing is more effective than paying attention to what I was eating. I mentioned it above I lost a lot of weight at 3 different times in my life and all 3 of those times the common denominator wasn't exercise. My most recent success I literally did no strenuous exercise.
How much carbs per day?
Aim for less than 30 - 40 grams of carbohydrates a day. Don't go eating 30 grams of sugar and think that's okay. It's not. Trust me. I tried lol. Also, say there are 30 grams carbs in a slice of bread...don't blow it on a slice of bread. If your keto food has one or two carbs in there and it's unavoidable then that's okay. Let those carbs go towards your 30 to 45.
An example, my half and half cream for my coffee has 1 gram of carbohydrates. I'm not stressing over that. I still have wiggle room for the rest of my day. Even if I have 2 coffees and 2 teas. That's 4 grams of carbs and I'm still well under 30 to 40 grams.
You need to start looking at nutrition labels.
Step 1: Serving Size Step 2: Carbohydrates Step 3: Fiber Steph 4: Net Carbs (math)
Before you even look at the actual nutrition information take a look at the serving size. Be honest with yourself on how many serving you will eat. Over time you will get better at estimating how many servings you're actually eating. It's important to pay attention to this.
Look at how many grams of carbohydrates per serving Fiber
Then take a look at how many grams of fiber per serving.
Net Carbs Total Carbohydrates - Fiber = Net Carbs
Net carbs is what you want to keep below 30 - 40 grams per day. There is more to nutrition labels but I am simply giving enough information to start on your journey. Eventually you will need to start paying attention to the ingredients because food manufactures have sneaky ways of hiding sugars. You will also need to consider sugar alcohols. The important thing is that you have the basic knowledge and that you are aware that there is more to the discussion.
What the hell do I eat?
Fats and proteins. High fat. Moderate protein.
A large majority of your intake should be from fat and then protein.
Won't eating fat make me fat?
No. As we learned earlier when you stop consuming sugar, your body becomes adapted to running on fat. Dietary fat doesn't get broken down to the same way as refined carbohydrates. Recall that refined carbohydrates are converted to glucose level by your body. Dietary fat doesn't get metabolized the same way. It takes longer to digest and must less gets converted to sugar.
What not to eat
I can't name all the foods that you shouldn't be eating but I am going to name the main things from common cuisines we would regularly encounter.
Bread, rice, pasta, roti, naan, pitas, tortillas etc.
What about fruits and vegetables?
I personally do not consume fruit. If I do, I consider it to be a treat.
I personally don't eat things like mango, pineapple, grapes, orange and banana. I'm not saying they are not nutritious because they are. These fruits have been crossbred over the decades to produce the sweetest possible fruits. These are natural sugars but sugars nonetheless and I avoid them.
If you feel like eating some fruits...grab a few blueberries and raspberries.
Ground vegetables like potatoes / yam / cassava / eddoes?
No. These are high in carbs.
Veggies! (This part is so important)
It's really important to consume cruciferous vegetables when you're on keto. I would say this step is just as important as cutting the sugar. On keto you will likely be cutting out a lot of the fruits that you used to eat and by doing this you are reducing the amount of phytonutrients we take in. We can take vitamins and trace minerals in pill form but it is much more bioavailable when you get it from eating the leafy greens. I aim for around 5-6 cups of leafy greens per day. It looks like a lot and it seems like it would take forever to eat that much but I blend it up and drink it.
I take a lazy approach and I buy a salad box and it usually lasts a good 5 or 6 days.
I get a magic bullet container and I pack in around 5 cups of leafy greens. I add sufficient water (1 1/4 cups) and I give it a good blend so that it is pretty much liquid and then I drink it down in one go. It takes like 15 seconds to drink...in this way you've already gotten a good dose of phytonutrients and you don't have to sit there laboring over a salad. Alternatively, if you don't mind eating salad you can just eat a salad!
There are things you can add to this drink to make it serve your body in wonderful ways. I'll write recipes later.
Condiments / dressings / sauces:
Be mindful of these things. There are a lot of sugar and carbohydrates hiding in condiments / dressings / sauces. This goes back to what I was saying before you must pay attention to nutrition labels:
Example: You buy some nice chicken thighs from the grocery store and you season it up and bake it and you plan on eating it with some sort of teriyaki sauce Or BBQ sauce. This will mess you up.... Why? Look at these labels:
14 Net Carbs. 13 of which is straight up sugar. Also, no one is just using 2 tablespoons.
And this one:
Same deal as the BBQ sauce. Definitely be mindful of things like this.
Example 2: You make a nice salad and you're about to go in but you drench it with some salad dressing. Most salad dressings usually have 1 or 2 carbs...sounds decent right? But that's 1 or 2 carbs per tablespoon. Who uses a tablespoon of salad dressing? The point here...be mindful.
Sometimes things look healthy but once you look at the nutritional label you will see that it doesn't fit within the framework of keto. Snacks like trail mix and granola bars seems like its a healthy choice...nuts / seeds / fruits. There are so much sugar in these things. Just remember....read the label!!
This overwhelming....walk me a basic day of eating:
Coffee, some half and half or cream and 1 tsp of xylitol or erythritol for sweetness (if desired)
I put some pictures of the cream I use in my coffee. Ideally you should choose the 10 percent cream. Sometimes it's not available but if you look at the label below...the half and half is not that bad. Better than using milk. Milk is one of those things that I didn't realize contained a decent amount of sugar(per serving) . Always look for the higher fat option.
Compare the cream to the variety of milk:
2 or 3 eggs (cook em however you like) you can chop up a little onion, pepper add some leafy greens, cheese and you're good to. Throw in some bacon or ham and you're good to go. Remember I said a few carbs here and there isn't going to break you. This is what I mean. Onions, peppers and such have carbohydrates but just keep a rough mental note of approx. how much you consumed and don't pass 30 to 40 ish carbs a day.
Bake some skin on deboned chicken thighs any way you like.
Or make some chicken curry
Or jerk chicken.
Or butter chicken. Don't bread and fry your meat. When I say "any way you like" I mean be sensible about it. Things like sweet and sour chicken or orange chicken from Hakka places isnt what I mean.
Make a tea or something if you want!
Have an avocado or and avocado smoothie.
Whip out your cast iron skillet and cook up a steak. When you go to the grocery store try to find fattier cuts of steak. You don't want it to be super lean. Baste in butter and garlic and everything is bless up.
Eat these things without rice / roti / wraps. If you really feel like you need to eat it with something then cauliflower rice is something you can look into. It's not rice by any means but it works for some people. It doesn't work for me lol.
I am going to update this with actual recipes later on.
Other meal ideas and things to play around with:
Lamb burger bowl
Lemon pepper shrimp
Garlic butter shrimp
Most of us are at home now. We have control of our diet. The influence of outside food and fast food is certainly less. Put some thought into your meals.
Give this your whole ass:
One important thing to note is that you cannot half ass this. When people ask me if keto is healthy...I say yes. But if you are half assing keto then I think it could be detrimental to your health. Here's why... Say you decide that you're going to snack on chips and then you go and eat a nice fatty pieces of steak. Your body will quickly convert the chips to glucose and use that as fuel. Chips are a refined carbohydrates. If your body is running on glucose from the chips then it no longer adapted to burning fat as fuel. Thus, the energy from the fatty steak will likely be stored by your body.
Remember, you deplete your glucose levels and then ketosis follows.
Do I buy keto supplements?
Personally, I never did and I wouldn't. Only you and your discipline can get you into ketosis a supplement cannot do it for you. Your body is not in control. Your mind is.
The one thing that makes keto easier for me is Xylosweet. It's classified as a sugar alcohol. It tastes just like sugar but it doesn't affect your blood sugar as much. If you really can't give up your morning tea or coffee then explore sugar alcohols. Two that don't taste weird to me are xylitol and erythritol. I think stevia tastes weird as hell.
How long to get into ketosis?
Normally you can get into a state where you are burning fat within 3 to 5 days of eliminating sugar and carbohydrate from your diet. During this time you may feel like rass. Fatigued foggy, low energy, irritable. This is called the Keto Flu Hang in there because there is something beautiful on the other side. It can take less time or more time depending on your lifestyle and health. Just be patient with yourself. For me, I saw my weight start decreasing after around 3 days and it was really motivating. During the first week: Its important to hydrated with water. I add a tiny pinch of Himalayan pink salt.
After around 3 weeks of daily weight loss you may experience a plateau. That's okay. Keep at it. You will still continue to lose weight. If you've done everything you can do and you're still not losing weight. Its OKAY. You might have a bit of insulin resistance to address and it will require brining in other techniques like intermittent fasting. It's easy to implement and really doesn't take too much extra will power.
Anyone reading this. If you have questions or comments just send me a message and I will help you. You can fix your health and be healthy.
If there is anything in here that people don't agree with...that's okay. This is how I got healthy. By sharing my experience with other people I have seen them improve their health. Be well my friends.