How to be Successful at Keto

successfulI’ve been eating a keto diet for about eight weeks now, so it might seem a little bit rich for me to be preaching to you about how to be successful at this as it’s still early days, relatively speaking. However, when I went keto I went HARD keto, going from eating what I wanted every day to limiting myself to less than 20g of carbs straight away so my learning curve was steep to say the least. I’m not claiming to have all the answers or a world of experience, but there are a few things I wish I’d known before starting keto that would have made life a lot easier. Here’s a few things that I think would really help anyone planning to start a ketogenic diet and to be really committed to it:

Clear Your Cupboards

It’s a fact that the vast majority of Western diets are heavily geared towards being based on some sort of carb. Before I went keto, EVERY SINGLE MEAL would have had some sort of bread, potato, rice or pasta with it, which means that when I started my cupboards were packed with bags of pasta, bags of rice, various bread products and frozen potatoes in every form. None of this was of any use to me anymore, so aside from the things that I kept for my daughters I got rid of everything. Clearing the way like this was not only a symbolic binning of my old lifestyle but also a way to allow me to see my eating habits for what they SHOULD be. Where I’d once stored unhealthy carbs, now I stored things which were carb free and on-plan.

Plan Your Meals

When I say “plan”, I mean really PLAN. Research keto recipes, have an idea of meals you can eat and what you need to buy to make sure you aren’t left hungry when you get home. Standing in a supermarket with an empty trolley and no idea of what you want to buy is a massive pain in the bum and makes eating keto harder than it should be. Write a list of meals and snacks, break them down by ingredients and be prepared when you get to the shops.

Have Keto Snacks to Hand

This is kind of an extension to the point above, but being hungry and discovering there’s nothing keto friendly in the house is so annoying, especially on days when you’ve exercised and you’ve got that REAL hunger going (Tell me I’m not the only one who wants to eat my weight in food on deadlift days?!). All of the suggestions in my keto snack post are great, and there are LOADS of suggestions around the internet of things you can snack on which are low carb.

Use MyFitnessPal

You may prefer a different app for calorie and macro counting, but for me MyFitnessPal is an absolute essential. As well as allowing you to track your macros religiously, it allows you to enter recipes to calculate the carb count, keep track of your weight, your exercise and even how much water you’ve drunk (I don’t really use this feature but I’m sure it’s handy if you’re someone who forgets to hydrate). It’s been indispensable for me since I started counting carbs and I think I’d be totally lost without it.

Know Your Carbs

As I mentioned above, keto has been a learning curve and never more so than when I’m thinking about meals. There have been loads of times that I’ve cooked and eaten something only to discover that it had a MUCH higher carb count than I realised. Add your meals to your app BEFORE you eat them if you aren’t sure and really acquaint yourself with every nutritional information section on food packaging because there are hidden carbs in SO many things!

BONUS REMINDER:

Remember Calories

Not everyone who eats keto counts calories but if you’re trying to lose weight then you probably are. A couple of times, I’ve eaten a variation on something I often eat and found myself completely scuppered by the difference in calories. For instance, I often eat prawns in a seafood sauce that I make from mayo and low sugar ketchup and this comes in at around 200 calories. Last week, I was rushing around and grabbed a pre-made pot of crayfish tails in dill mayo, thinking it would be much of a muchness with what I already eat, gave the carbs a cursory look and forgot the calories. To my shock, this pot contained almost SEVEN HUNDRED calories and basically left me nothing for the rest of the day! All I’m saying is, pay attention to ALL of the macros!!

Tips for Dealing with Keto Flu

Tips for Dealing with Keto FluIf you’ve decided to start eating keto, there’s a good chance you’ll come across the expression “keto flu” whilst doing your initial reading about it. But what is keto flu? Well, this refers to the transition your body makes when it starts to burn fat instead of glucose (and your body starts excreting ketones in your urine). For many people, keto flu is no big deal and a lot of people report not having any issues with it at all, but for some of us keto flu can make you feel pretty rough for a few days.

I’ve gone in and out of ketosis twice now, once when I initially started and again after I had my cheat day, and because I knew what to expect and how to deal with it the second time around it was far less awful to deal with. The first time I went into ketosis, I really felt like I had flu for a couple of days. My stomach would turn over even at the thought of eating food and I felt on the verge of vomiting the whole time, even though I never actually did. I felt tired and achy, and generally quite irritable, as well as having a horrible headache. Here are a few things which helped me:

  1. You want to keep your fluid levels up, but don’t drink TOO much as this will deplete your salt levels. Providing your pee is almost  clear, you’re probably well hydrated enough
  2. Invest in some rehydration drinks which contain electrolytes. Lack of electrolytes is one of the main reasons for feeling rough, so opt for Dioralyte, High 5 Zero or other zero-sugar rehydration drink to keep your electrolytes up.
  3.  Eat plenty of fat. Remember, with keto you’re supposed to replace the carbs you’re not eating with fat, so try eating some butter or coconut oil, avocado, cheese, prawns or something equally as fatty to bring your macros into line. These foods all contains electrolytes too.
  4. Try eating something salty, like peanuts. I found that a handful of peanuts REALLY helped with the nausea and churning stomach, plus they contain lots of good fat and salt.

Another way of avoiding keto flu is to go into ketosis gradually – something I didn’t do! Depending on how low you’ve decided to go (I eat below 20g of carbs a day, which is a lot lower than some people but still not truly ZERO carb which is what some people aim for), it can be a good idea to cut carbs slowly, over time. Cut carbs by 10g per day over the course of a week and the transition into ketosis shouldn’t be such an extreme one.

Here are some foods to eat which contain electrolytes and will help you to avoid keto flu:

Potassium avocados, nuts, dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale, salmon, plain yogurt and mushrooms
Magnesium nuts, dark chocolate, artichokes, fish and spinach
Sodium salt, soup broth, bacon, pickles and sauerkraut
Calcium cheese, leafy greens, broccoli, seafood (sardines!) and almonds
Phosphorus meats, cheese, nuts, seeds and dark chocolate
Chloride most vegetables, olives, seaweed and salt

Please feel free to leave me a comment with your own tips for avoiding keto flu below.