My approach to keto is possibly a bit different to some, I am quite strict with what I eat but I am quite lazy when it comes to counting everything, The reason for this is that if its too much of a faff you will not stick to it and for my health, I need to stick to this way of eating. So for me and my family, this is how we eat now, and that is the lovely thing about keto ,once you are on board with why this plan works you adapt it to suit you, one of my motivations for doing this blog was the amount of angst on the the various forums I’m on about their macros, what calculator they should use, what app, how much protein, etc. and I can’t be doing with all that.
August 2016 I was a sugar addict,I realise that now, I was drinking coffee with condensed milk in it several times a day, I would fall asleep mid afternoon and often feel I had no energy, I would wonder into the kitchen and graze on things in the cupboard.I also thought I ate healthily, I cooked just about every meal from scratch, including all the family favorites like pizza, in fact I love pizza so much we bought a pizza oven. The thing is I was eating what everyone else in the family was eating and they wen’t fat like me. I was on the lipoedema forum and they announced that there was anecdotal evidence suggesting that a ketogenic approach was reducing our pain and and reducing our fat deposits better than most other diets.( I will say that I am of the opinion now that not one diet works for everyone, some people do very well on slimming world,weight watcher etc, some people do well when they reduce their portion sizes from huge to regular, for some people its about cutting out the extra empty calories in alcohol. )I watched with interest and started reading up, I had been following the RAD diet since January – a gluten free, no red meat, limited this and that diet which was devised by the leading expert on my condition. Like most diets before I had lost about a stone in 6 months, I was disappointed because my daughter was getting married and I had tried to very hard, followed the instructions to the letter and lost as much I usually did. Then went on holiday after the wedding, ate what I wanted and gained it all back in a 2 week period.
16 September 2016 I started the keto plan. I did track with my fitness pal, I did use the calculator tho find out what my macros were and they were 20g carbs 60g protein and 120g fat, I soon came to realise that MFP is unreliable and because everyone put in something and they may have read the packaging wrong or misweighed some thing and that just leads to major frustration. and anything that is too difficult means that you will give up. The funny thing was that I was now eating more than I did before and lb by lb the weight was coming off, so I got to thinking, I never used to weigh and measure anything,Its not usual behavior, my weight had crept up slowly at a rate of 1/2-1 stone a year for the last 15 years and so I knew this was always going to be a marathon and not a sprint.
The first week was hell and I wanted to give up, sugar withdrawal is, I imagine like any drug withdrawal your body wants you to resume a normal state of affairs , this is what happens on a day to day basis, your body tells you to eat something,to maintain its glucose supply. I wasn’t prepared for that, I thought I could skip the electrolytes because I thought they weren’t that important, how wrong was I? I now know that not only are electrolytes-magnesium, potassium and salt- not optional but if I had taken them from day 1 then my keto flu would not have been so bad.
I would recommend jumping in and fully commit from day 1, I would say that 98% of my food has not been modified . By that that I mean I eat bacon that has had a curing process, or cheese wich has been through a process and If I am stuck I will eat salami but that is what I mean by processed. I will not buy anything pre-made, no protein rolls /wraps, no protein noodles, no carb bars,no protein shakes.They have gone through a lot of processes to end up on the shelf. It is just a marketing ploy by people who care about profits over your health and well-being, and most things are not too tricky to make, and actually most of the substitutes that you think you want ,after a while you realise it easier to eat real food,like we always used to do. Meat and 2 veg, like I was brought up on, with a healthy helping of lard,dripping or butter on the side.
This is what I do, I can not tell you what is right for you, I know there are plenty of people who eat protein rolls etc and do a If it fits my macros approach, but to me that is just cheating the plan, and in doing so you are cheating yourself,and if one day you have a protein roll then another day you might say oh I don’t have any protein rolls in the cupboard but I’ll have a regular one,it won’t do any harm. Before you know it you have woken the carb monster. I am not that disciplined. I know this because that was me 20 years ago when I followed a similar plan and thought I could handle a pizza, and a bit of toast. I couldn’t.
Your plan will be as individual as yo are and if its not working change something, some people find they cant have too much dairy, some people eat too many nuts.
my golden rules
- Remember your body always knows the right thing to do. To your body all food is just a load of chemicals that it uses to run your engine, if you feed it enough it will use it all , it it needs more fuel than you give it, it will take it from the fat store. given a choice your body prefers to burn glucose as a fuel and is always on the look out for the easy option.
- learn to tell the difference between thirst and hunger, have a glass of water if you are not sure.
- Only eat when you are truly hungry- do not eat for the sake of it, not because of habit,( but I always have crisps/popcorn/family sized bag of maltesers while watching a film) break habits and make new associations, not because its someones birthday, not because grandma went to a lot of trouble and it would be rude not to. You would not overfill your car with petrol and neither should you overfill your own fuel tank.
- No sweeteners( they are all bad news even the ones from plants, your body cannot tell the difference between sugar and sweeteners and releases insulin to counteract it, when there is too much insulin and not enough sugar your body will start to crave sugar and derail you), in fact nothing sweet, no berries,chocolate dark or otherwise until you are fat adapted,-you will know when this happens because your breath will stink, and your wee will smell funny. this is caused by extra keytones that you have made but don’t need being got rid of. This is a transitional process, your liver makes the keytones and in the early days it makes to many while its adjusting.
- No shop bought processed foods especially with ingredients you do not recognise a lot of things contain maltodextrin-sugar or it will contain grains of some sort.If you look at a label and it has more than 1 ingredient it has no place in your body.
- Make the best choices you can when eating out and enjoy them. Order the smaller portion of meat, not the mixed grill.Usually the fillet steak is the smallest cut and so I have that and feel like I am getting my share of the bill, avoid dessert, offer to drive to avoid the alcohol.Don’t be afraid to ask for the salad dressing on the side or for the potatoes to be swapped for extra salad/veg. Try to choose food that you know will be freshly cooked like a steak rather than a casserole that you will not know what in it.
- Avoid alcohol until fat adapted and for as much of the time as you can. your body treats alcohol as a poison and suspends all fat burning production and diverts all its resources to getting rid of the poison, this means that you will feel quite drunk, quite quickly and your fat burning will stall for up to 2 days, until it recovers.So for the most part its not worth it. if you do drink to celebrate something have a dry wine and mix with sparkling water, or alternate wine and water. drinks like champagne have 1 carb per glass. Neat clear spirits are carb free. Personally I wouldn’t have a slimline tonic with my vodka because it contains aspartame, and causes the insulin spike and when you have the alcohol your judgment becomes impaired and you are more likely to say what the heck and give into the kebab/chips/McDonalds on the way home.
- Eat slowly and be aware of when you are full, it takes about 10 minutes for your brain to register that you are full, by chewing your food well and eating slowly you will avoid having more calories than you need.
- If you find yourself in a situation where you have no control over the food, a wedding. do what you can and be sensible about it, one bad meal will not spoil the whole plan, make sure on bad meal does not become a bad day, a bad week or a bad life. take responsibility, own it and get back on plan as soon as you can.
- Eat as many green foods as you can, they contain so few carbs per portion that you will find it difficult to eat too many.
- If you get stuck assume meat to be 25% protein and aim to eat the equivalent size of 2 small chicken breasts this will give you about 50-60g protein, this is a good amount for most people and allows for extra protein in things like cheese,bacon
- Fat can be consumed freely,it helps you to feel full and is important in the beginning because it stabilizes your body and helps it to know that food is in good supply and this helps it switch on all its processes to full capacity, these are the ones that when on a low calorie diet, it tries to conserve. so you may find that in the past you will have felt the cold, or have been grumpy.cook with it, dress salads with it. use full fat double cream rather than skimmed milk. But avoid using vegetable oil, rapeseed oil or sunflower oil as these bare no resemblance to their original state and have had to have undergone an industrial process to create them. instead use butter, olive oil, coconut oil. Once you’re fat adapted you will probably need to modify your fat intake to ensure your own fat is used for fuel instead of the fat you are giving it, but you should still continue to cook with it.
- Don’t get into the habit of making fat bombs to maximise your fat intake, they will generally contain more fuel than you need. If you use a calculator to work out exactly how many grams you need remember that although the guidelines are twice as much fat as protein they are not numbers set in stone and it is not obligatory to have all your fat allowance.
- If fasting happens,(not everyone can or wants to ) go with it, by only eating when you are hungry and eating as much as you need in that meal to take you through to your next meal. The primary aim of this WOE is to reduce the amount of insulin production, and that is produced each time you eat something so grazing on 6 small meals is not the way you want to go, but skipping breakfast is a easy thing to achieve.
- There are plenty of ideas to make you part with your money, I have yet to be convinced by MCT (medium chain triglyceride )oil, its used in bullet proof coffee, and is said to be the beneficial part of coconut oil. I have not had any reason to use it in the last last year so I wouldn’t bother spending the money.
- Electrolytes are not optional.this woe is diuretic and washes out your minerals very easily so they need to be topped up. Magnesium is used in every cell in the body to help it perform vital functions. Magnesium malate is the best option, Magnesium oxide is the worst choice. Its best absorbed with food and you need 400-600mg a day but its easy to make and spay on if you dont want to take tablets. Salt- almost every issue you may have on a ketogenic diet is as a result of not enough salt. you need 2 teaspoons every day, it helps to release fluid so if the scales are not moving have more salt, it helps to avoid cramps. Potassium is also needed for cell health, up to 1000mg a day, you may not need a potassium supplement and there are suggestions that it is best got from avocado,mushrooms and green veg rather than from tablet.
- Eat food grown above the ground, not below it.
These are the rules I live by and so far I have lost 4.5 stone and my husband has lost 1.5 stone ( he didn’t need to lose any more!) I still have away to go but it tooke me 20 years to get this big and it wont take that long to lose it. don’t stress the numbers every once counts.