Here's the thing, changing your diet is hard. You find a weight loss or fitness story you relate to, read up on everything they did to get where they are, and mentally commit to it. Then you start researching recipes, food options, planning it all out and suddenly you're already overwhelmed.
As if working full-time, maintaining a house, chipping away at the endless mound of laundry (how many times have I run that load through the washer?), and mom-ing the shit out of your little ones wasn't enough, now you have to find time to make yourself separate meals? There's not enough time in the day! Ope (I'm a midwest girl, it's what we say) there's your excuse to quit before you even started.
But, guess what? It doesn't have to be that way. I recently posted about my first transformation into a healthier version of myself, you can read that here, where I touched on how a keto lifestyle transformed both my mental and physical health. So what is keto? Why does it work so well? First, let me give you a quick crash course on what it is, then, I'm going to give you my tips for starting.
Being in a ketogenic state is basically depleting your body of carbs to the point your body metabolizes stored fat to function.
Following a ketogenic diet is as simple as this: low carb, moderate protein, high fat. FAT!? Yes, fat. You want ALL the fats. Girl, you can get your Paula Deen on with that butter. Keep in mind, there are also healthy fats (avocado, eggs, seafood, cheese), which are most important. This high fat intake is actually your saving grace, this satiates you, which means you almost NEVER feel hungry, if you're doing it right.
So how low is low carb? Typically, you want to get roughly 75% fats, 20% protein, and 5% carbs. I know, this is totally against everything you grew up hearing, but I promise, it works! Now, when I say carbs, I mean net carbs. Let me explain. Net carbs is the total carb count MINUS the fiber. The number that remains is your NET carb. THAT is what we want to keep track of. That number, net carbs, needs to be around 20 grams or less each day. Make sense? Following these numbers will kick you into ketosis within the week, and so the fat burning begins!
Now you know the basics, it's all making sense. But where to begin? Here are some tips when starting out.
Download a Tracking App
I know, I know, it sounds so tedious, but honestly, it isn't. It takes up a lot less time than scrolling through pinterest or facebook catching up on your high school besties latest family vacation. I use MyFitnessPal. It's super easy to use. You can input the amount of calories you want to hit each day, the macro percentages (which we already talked about, win), plus you can input your weigh-in's and get an awesome visual of your progress if you choose to track it.
Know and Measure Your Portions
Listen, we all know we have a portion control issue in America. Our views and ideas on portion size are so incredibly off, it's difficult to stay on track with any meal plan without measuring things out, at least in the beginning. Even your protein sources and "carb-less" choices should be measured, just because something doesn't have carbs, doesn't mean the calories don't count. You can get a food scale for as little as $10 on Amazon.
Drink Your Water
Initially, there is typically a dramatic drop on the scale the first couple weeks. While this is part of what is so encouraging, know that while some of that may be fat loss, a lot is water weight as your body adapts to its new ketogenic state. It is important to make sure you're getting at least two liters of water daily. Not a great water drinker? Doctor it up a little with sugar free flavorings! I am a huge fan of using these to mix it up throughout the day.
Increase Your Sodium Intake
While we're increasing water to make up for the fluid shift, this fluid shift also causes a change in your electrolytes. This is why salt intake is crucial. I keep pink Himalayan salt by the stove and sprinkle it on top everything on my plate before eating. It's just a pinch, but this, along with your water intake, will save you from the dreaded "keto flu" you will hear about.
Don't Waste Your Carbs
What I mean by this is use them wisely. It's okay to have a keto friendly treat (I use Atkins Endulge line to curb a sweet tooth), or even use some keto approved condiments, but most of your carb intake should come from green or carb friendly veggies. If this sounds difficult or boring to you, remember, you can still use butter, cheese, and BACON with said veggies. I will be the first to admit, I'm not always good with this, but with this post-partum keto transformation, I have found some awesome alternatives to my starchy favs! Most shocking, BY FAR, is sauteing radishes as a potato replacement. Right!? Literally, you can't even tell the difference! Who knew?
Limit Your Dairy Intake
While many dairy products are either zero carb or very low carb, that doesn't make them limitless. I typically stay around 2-3 ounces of cheese daily, this includes cream cheese. Some people notice that dairy impacts their ability to lose, so if you feel you've hit a plateau in your weight loss, decrease or omit dairy for a bit.
Take some time to read up on it. Find some instagram accounts of avid keto followers, a lot of these people post their meals and snacks, SCORE! Now you have ideas for yourself. I also find it important to check what your calorie intake should be based on your size and activity level (obviously, you need to be at a caloric deficit to lose weight). These things can be done so easily online, and take virtually no time (this coming from a working mom of four). You can do it!
Don't Make it More Difficult Than It Should Be
Listen, keto doesn't have to be difficult. Fast food run? Order that burger with no bun and no ketchup, wrapped in lettuce. Same goes for a grilled chicken sandwich. Keto is even easy at Qdoba or Chipotle (order a bowl, no beans or rice, throw on fajita veggies, cheese, lettuce, sour cream - girl, that guac? Not so extra when it comes to carbs. It's almost all fiber and healthy fats). There are literally SO many options when you are out to eat with friends and family to ditch the carbs, yet still enjoy the same meal. In fact, I recently had my first "girls day" since baby number 4, and even enjoyed a Michelob Ultra (2.4 carbs) while catching up with some of my favorite people.
At the end of the day, it isn't about the number on the scale, it's about finding something that can realistically become a lifestyle change for a healthier you, not a fad. What's most important is your health and happiness. Weight loss doesn't equal happiness. Learning to love yourself throughout your journey to a HEALTHY lifestyle, however that looks to you, equals happiness!
Enjoy the journey, and don't forget to update me on your progress! I live to see other people find their happy!
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