What the heck is ‘keto’?
Ketosis (keto) is where you train your body to work slightly differently. Normally, your body uses carbs for its fuel because we eat a ton of carbs (pasta, bread, wheat, etc.). But when you go into ketosis and maintain a low carb, high fat lifestyle, your body transitions into burning fat instead of carbs in order to get its energy.
So what do you eat while in ketosis?
The goal with keto is: low carb, high fat/protein. The exact values you want to hit are different for each person (depending on gender, weight, height, activity level), but to give you an idea, here are my goals:
- Carbs: 20-25g per day (or less)
- Fat: 100g
- Protein: 80g
The first and most obvious thing is to cut out carbs, grains, and sugar. This means no bread, pasta, rice, tortillas, and anything with sugar. Next, you need to load up on fat. STOP buying anything that says “low fat” on it. Not only are these foods horrible for you anyway, but you won’t be getting the fat you need if you buy them. Remember, when you’re on keto, your body actually uses fat as fuel. If you don’t have enough fat, you don’t have enough fuel, and your body will start using muscle instead. That’s bad!
How do you lose weight by eating low carb?
I couldn’t survive on a calorie controlled diet
I should say that I never spent any large amount of time on just a calorie controlled diet, but I did try it a little bit. IT SUCKED!
I found it so incredibly easy to go over my daily calorie limit. Then when I “ran out”, I’d get super moody and cranky because I was hungry and wanted more food. A lot of people report that a ‘normal’ calorie controlled diet causes them to do well for a week (or a few days), then totally binge eat the next few days. This is because they’re unsatisfied and hungry, so when they ‘break’ they go wild. This was pretty similar to me.
And heck, even when I wasn’t doing any kind of calorie control, I still got moody and cranky in between meals. Even if I snacked a bit, I’d start getting REALLY hungry just before dinner (at around 7pm). My stomach would rumble, but I couldn’t eat yet, so then I’d get annoyed and in a bad mood. I kind of hulk out and I’m like FEED ME NOW!!!!!!!
Keto and fat to the rescue
Eating plenty of fat is really the ultimate key here. Fat is filling! Sure, carbs may feel filling for a while, but the feeling doesn’t last. That’s why I’d hulk out in between meals when eating carbs. The full feeling wears off and suddenly I’m starving! But not on keto.
Fat really fills you up. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I was really starving (or even just “quite hungry”) while in ketosis. I eat a small-ish, fat-filled meal and feel completely satisfied. This satisfied feeling lasts HOURS. So even when it’s next time to eat, I don’t feel super hungry. It’s more of a feeling like, “Yeah I suppose it would be nice to cook now.”
Because all this fat makes you feel full, it naturally causes you to consume fewer calories. Now I stay within my 1400 limit EASILY! Every single meal leaves me feeling full and satisfied, so I don’t feel like I’m being deprived or portion controlling. But at the same time, I’m not overloading on 2000 calories or anything crazy like that.
It feels amazing to be losing so much weight when you feel fully satisfied after every meal.
You can even have some damn good food!
There are two reasons that keto doesn’t feel like a diet. The first was that full feeling I described before. The second is that you have so many comfort foods available to you! It’s not all just rabbit food (lettuce and veg). Here are a few examples to get you started:
- BUTTER!!! I cook all my vegetables in a huge pool of butter and it’s amazing. I went from not liking vegetables much to adoring them. Now I have asparagus with practically every meal because it tastes so good bathed in butter.
- Bacon. Trust me, you’ll eat A TON of bacon on keto.
- All the meat! Meat is high in protein and most meat has zero carbs. This means you can have tons of chicken, beef, ham, sausages, etc.
- Cheese. I love cheese! And you can have practically unlimited amounts on keto.
- Cream. You need to avoid having a lot of milk on keto, but you can have cream instead! You don’t want a ton because it is high in calories, but it’s low in carbs.
Some of my favourite meals
Here are a few few of my favourite meals:
Scrambled eggs with bacon and peppers
I pretty much have this for breakfast every single morning.
Grilled Chicken Skewers
Yes, you saw. PIZZA!! I have a whole post dedicated to that low carb pizza recipe coming up because it’s one of the best things in my life right now. ♥
Treats? Desserts? Why not!
You can even make some low carb treats like biscuits and cookies!
Almond Flour Biscuits
I made some almond flour biscuits recently and they were great! It was hard to believe I was eating low carb.
Peanut Butter Cookies
Another great one is peanut butter cookies. I make them super simple: peanut butter, eggs, chunks of dark chocolate (optional), and vanilla extract. I know these look weird as hell, but there are two reasons for that:
- I used chunky peanut butter instead of smooth. That was a mistake.
- It was only my second time in the world making cookies (low carb or not!). Go easy on me.
That being said, they tasted great, and that’s what counts!
Peanut Butter Cups
I made these just the other day and OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!! They taste INCREDIBLE!! O_O Almost like Reese’s! 😛 I used this awesome recipe from screwedonstraight.net. I can’t wait to make them again! I’ll have to do a double batch and stick them in the freezer.
Just a couple cautions
Keto is a fantastic, healthy way to lose weight (and quickly!), but if you plan on trying this out there are two things you have to be very careful of:
- You need to drink like 2 litres of water per day. This is NOT optional! If you don’t drink enough water you will get kidney stones.
- You need like 3-5 grams of salt per day. This is partly because you drink so much water, so the salt keeps getting flushed out of your system. But you need salt! If you don’t have enough salt you can start feeling dizzy, get headaches, etc. Sometimes it’s useful to just drink a glass of salt water in the morning or have some chicken broth. Putting loads of salt on EVERYTHING you eat does help though.
- Get enough vitamins. Pay close attention to potassium, magnesium, and fibre, but also make sure you’re eating enough vegetables or taking supplements.
Blah blah blah… How much weight have you lost?
This is the only thing people care about, right? 😛 Cut to the chase, let’s see those numbers!
I started keto on September 4th, 2014. It’s now October 18th (six weeks later—five if you exclude vacation week) and I’ve lost 9.6 pounds. My husband has lost about 15 pounds in that same amount of time. This is with zero exercise and eating fatty foods like bacon and cheese. Yum!
There’s a pretty awesome Keo Calculator that helps you estimate your weight loss. I’m currently on track with where the calculator estimates I should be! (Actually 2 pounds ahead, thank you very much.) I should hopefully be at my goal weight of 130 pounds by early March 2015! Here’s hoping. 🙂
But isn’t all this high fat food unhealthy?
Sorry for the caps there, but it’s important that you realize everything you know about “low fat” and “cholesterol” is blatantly untrue. I know a lot of people will refuse to accept this because it goes against everything they’ve been taught, but try to listen anyway!
There are several misconceptions about low carb/high fat/cholesterol/arteries/etc.
- Fat is bad for you and it makes you fat
- Eating a lot of fat will clog your arteries
- Low fat foods are healthier for you
Those are all untrue. Rather than repeating what tons of other people have said, I’m going to link you to their posts/essays/studies. They describe it more eloquently than I could!
- Top 9 Biggest Lies About Dietary Fat and Cholesterol
- 10 Proven Health Benefits of Low-Carb and Ketogenic Diets
- Low Carb Dieting Myths — Particularly see Myth #6, where they say: “cholesterol is made in the body from the products of glucose metabolism. The more carbs you eat, the more cholesterol your body will make.”
- Fats: Myths and Truths
A few of the most important takeaways from those articles are:
- Low fat food is HORRIBLE for you. Since food without fat tastes horrible, companies substitute fat with tons of sugar or other sweeteners so they can actually sell those products. Sugar is not good for you.
- A low carb diet is NOT detrimental to vascular health.
- There are many studies that show “a high carbohydrate diet, elevated blood sugar, and insulin are highly associated with inflammatory heart disease”.
- “Cholesterol is made in the body from the products of glucose metabolism. The more carbs you eat, the more cholesterol your body will make.”
- “The best way to lower blood sugar and insulin levels is to reduce carbohydrate consumption. This is also a very effective way to treat and possibly even reverse type II diabetes.”
- “There is no evidence that low-fat diets have any benefits. They do not cause weight loss in the long-term or reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Some studies show that they may even cause harm.”
In short, the whole world is extremely misinformed and trained to believe that “low fat” diets will help them lose weight. In reality, low fat diets can actually be very bad for you. There’s nothing wrong with fats. The only thing “wrong” with fats is that they tend to have a lot more calories than their “low fat” equivalent. But since fat fills you up so well (read my earlier point about that!), you naturally eat less when you consume more fat. Therefore, it’s actually easier to consume fewer calories.