As much as it pains me to add the picture of me at the heavier weight (175lbs) I feel it’s necessary to share.
My hope is to create more movement away from old school dieting methods and towards a life filled with eating and cooking and lifestyle choices that suit you. You don’t have to be strict Keto or a massive gym rat to get healthy.
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Life changing in every way
The diet that changed my life did not come over night, nor on the first, third or twelfth try. Clearly something was NOT working and I needed a change. A lifetime of yo-yo dieting and a major surgery sent me on a journey to find the diet that changed my life. I like to say the my best thinking is what got me here…so if something is not working then I need to look at things a different way. When I found Keto and Intermittent Fasting it was a light bulb moment that changed EVERYTHING.
In 1977 I was the chubby half of a twin set. My brother and I were born in 1970 at a time when there was no ultrasound, so mom and dad had no idea they’d get two babies instead of one. I was always the chunkier of the two of us. It was just the way we were born and while most people would not characterize us “the fat one or the skinny one” I saw us in the likeness of Laurel and Hardy. He was a super skinny and wiry speed demon and I was just round and happy.
While I was never ever ever considered a “fat”kid there was a movement going on America in the ’70s and I was keenly aware of the push to be wafer thin. Thus started a four decade long search on how to be the healthiest version of myself.
Old School Science
We have been taught for decades that if we want to lose weight and be healthy we better eat less and exercise more. It has been hammered into our brains that counting calories in vs calories out is the only way to optimal health. And while calories do matter, there is a much more intricate equation happening inside each and every one of us. Old school science from the early part of the 1900s, while it may have made sense at the time and taken as 100% correct, has proven over the last 60 years to have been based on flawed scientific models and studies and, quite frankly, very thin (pun intended) on exact calculations and evidence.
As a nation we are fatter and sicker than ever. We have been packing on the pounds for decades while trying to follow the US government guidelines of a low fat and whole grain diet. We are at the dawn of a new age, and although we have known for hundreds of years to just eat real food, we are now just starting to again embrace the quality of our food, where it comes from and how it’s prepared.
I found Keto and IF
When I first started a Low Carb High Fat/ Ketogenic diet it sounded so science-y and complicated. But very quickly I realized that eating this way, in the most basic form, is just like eating the way my Grandma Dolly used to cook…nothing was packaged and everything was fresh from scratch. Gosh, did she make the BEST pies. Cooking can be a lot of work, however you will save money and be able to better portion out your food intake. Below I included a survival guide to help get anyone streamlined pretty quick.
Keto Quick Start Survival Guide
One of the things I hear most is that you don’t want to have to give up bread and wine FOREVER…which for some would be totally unpleasant and not sustainable. The second thing I hear over and over is that you just feel just awful during the first few weeks….which leads you to give up and gorge on carbs. The last thing I hear, (and totally untrue), is that eating this way is no fun, terribly difficult and expensive. Wait…eating real food is no fun and too hard? I completely disagree, and will argue to the contrary, til the day I die.
Low Carb or Keto…What works for you?
A Keto Friendly diet is amazingly delicious and super easy to follow, I mean come on…guacamole and mexican chicken cheese tacos with a dollop of full fat sour cream…..or how about slow roasted pork ribs with a dry rub on the barbie with a tomato mozzarella caprese salad on the side. Not to mention my stevia sweetened chocolate covered roasted pecans with a sprinkle of coconut-H E L L O!!!
I’d like to point out that there does tend to be a learning curve to learning how to live a Low Carb or Keto Friendly lifestyle. And during the ramp up phase you may feel tired and yucky…but these side-effects can be avoided mostly by following my guide, using the survival kit, and referring back frequently to my survival tips below:
Tip 1: Fat is your friend
One of the most common misconceptions about diet is that if you eat fat you will get fat. That is soooooo far from the truth and now we have REAL science to disprove that egregious claim. When making the switch to a ketogenic diet (Keto) aka low carb high fat way of eating (LCHF WOE) I have seen that the majority of people are very good at recognizing obvious carbohydrates to avoid but often are afraid to add in fat to their diet. With the decades long vilification of fat we have this almost knee-jerk aversion to a generous drizzle of olive oil on a salad, adding butter to steaks, and avocado with anything.
Fat is satiating
Trying to take in 75% FAT in your daily food intake is the main goal with a Ketogenic diet and helps give our bodies the fuel it will need to optimally function. Be mindful in the amount of fat you add to your meals. Adding oil to your salads and butter to your meats and vegetables are great ways to increase fat content. Sometimes I’ll add heavy cream and butter to my coffee and I always add avocado and olive oil to my greens. Nuts and full fat cheese are a great way to get your fats in too…just watch the carb content on the nuts as it sneaks up on you.
Tip 2: Broth and Butter and Cream
One of my staple kitchen items is chicken stock…my favorite is a brand called Kettle & Fire that I keep in the fridge. When you’re starting out on a very low carbohydrate lifestyle and Intermittent Fasting most likely your body will be in a bit of shock. When carbs are severely reduced we tend to lose a bunch of water. One gram of glycogen (a storage form of carbohydrate) holds about 3 grams of water. So as we go through some of our glycogen stores our bodies release excess fluids it’s been holding on to. You can expect extra trips to the restroom in your first few days.
The Potential for Keto Flu
With the increased urination our electrolyte balances may become a bit off balance. I call this the sugar crash flu, but it’s more commonly known as Keto-flu. The side-effects can be quite uncomfortable and you can expect nausea, diarrhea, headache, exhaustion and body aches. Quite frankly it’s not fun, however this can be treated with some hot broth from Kettle & Fire. When you up your sodium and fat intake this can help you from feeling so sick. I make my broth taste even better by adding in some butter and heavy cream. Bonus points for the extra fat.
Tip 3: Clean out your Pantry and Fridge
Starting with a clean slate clears your mind and takes away any unnecessary temptation. Clean it OUT!!!! Donate the food to those in need, take it to the office, do whatever you need to, but get rid of the junk before getting started. If you have family members that refuse to get on board and demand oreos then set the precedent that they will be buying them and they will be eating them. When YOU stock the kitchen YOU decide what gets served.
Your guests mean well
Check it out…..Did you ever notice that when guests come over they bring over bags and bags of chips and ice cream and sodas and wine? Or maybe you feel compelled to buy a bunch of carby foods to feed a crowd (because you know that’s what they want) The worst of the well-intentioned party goers contribution is the leftover bags of chips in my pantry. The extra bottles of wine I can deal with by re-gifting them at the holidays, but those chips linger on the shelf just staring at me with disdain.
Tip 4: Plan Plan Plan and Cook Once Eat Many Times
I highly recommend that you meal plan and meal prep meals in advance. Having food at the ready will help when you feel like you could eat the entire house, but know that’s not productive. It will also help from spending a small fortune on eating out and buying ready prepared takeout meals from a restaurant. Every time I cook I ALWAYS make extra for leftovers. Having several items full prepared in my fridge helps to protect against the urge to grab donut from the office lunch room when you’re in a pinch.
Turn snacking into a small meal
Pre-proportioned macadamia nuts or almonds are always good to have on hand. I’m not a big proponent of snacking, however I’d rather have you turn a moderate sized snack into just a small meal and then skip the next big meal time depending on your hunger. There are so many delicious and easy recipes available and I always have new ones to share. You don’t have to be a Michelin Star Chef to be able to feed yourself and your family well, but you must be willing to try to cook or at least assemble….and if you are not willing to do that then be prepared to pay someone well to do it for you.
Tip 5: Honest tracking and feedback
If you’re really being honest with yourself then there’s no harm in writing down everything you put in you mouth for the first few weeks. I absolutely abhor writing down what I eat, but it works to get me back on track. I don’t want to journal every morsel of food that goes in my mouth. However, sometimes my eyeballing methods are off from the truth. I’m not trying to cheat, but if there is a stall or for some reason my pants are starting to get tighter then something has gone awry..and I need to get honest.
A handful of roasted pecans can sometimes be 1/4 cup and other times that same generous handful is closed to a full cup. That 1/2 cup of roasted Pecans difference is the equivalent to 351 calories, 37g of fat, 5g protein and 2g net carbs. I’m all for eating more good fats but sometimes I personally don’t need more calories or fat grams in my life.
My hands are bigger or smaller than your hands
When you’re standing there with a handful of nuts in your hand it may look like ¼ cup of almonds, but if you were to pull out a measuring cup odds are that it’s more like ½-¾ cup…and that could make all the difference. For me, eating LCHF or Keto does NOT mean you can eat as much as I want. I don’t know anyone, besides Michael Phelps, that can eat thousands and thousands of calories in any form and not gain weight.
We think we know sizes, but we can be lazy
I’ve found that most people are not intentionally lying about their food and beverage intake. More often than not we are just not really aware. They don’t look as closely to the ingredients, they estimate because they are lazy. There is a time and place for guesstimating…but that place is not in the beginning. To get to your optimal best you need to start with being HONEST. Tracking is where the rubber meets the road and where we can truly see what’s working for you and what’s not.
Food journaling for a little bit keeps us honest
Tracking will help identify any sneaky carbs too. Quick story…my office started to stock a jumbo container of dry roasted and sea salted cashew nuts. I was happy to have a healthy alternative to the usual pretzels, candy and doritos. I would help myself to a few handfuls of cashews around 11am, then later another few handfuls around 4pm. Then my pants started to get a little tighter and my weight went up a pound or 3. I thought “oh no…what’s going on?” Until I really looked at the carb content of each serving of my “healthy snack” containing a whopping 20g carbs PER SERVING, I was innocently lying to myself. Now……I no longer unknowingly indulge in the cashew nuts.
I have found that when we get honest with ourselves we end up getting to our goals faster and start reaping benefits earlier. Read the labels and measure for yourself to really know whats going on.
Tip 6: AVOID White and Beige foods
Really the only thing that is white or beige that is keto friendly would be cauliflower or dairy. Meaning that if it’s bread, chips, tortillas, pasta, rice, potatoes, wraps, pita bread, naan, cookies, muffins, cakes YOU SHOULD AVOID. Even if it’s whole grain or whole wheat or gluten free-AVOID. That kinda goes hand in hand with any crunchy snack, too. The only crunchy things you should be consuming are vegetables or nuts…..otherwise avoid the crunch. If you miss the crunch then we can make some keto crackers or roast some zucchini chips.
Another key component in the diet that changed my life was learning about intermittent fasting (IF). We do not need to be eating all day long, especially when we have fat to lose. IF is not starving. IF is the strategic timing of when you eat a meal. Harvard wrote a piece on why it’s so beneficial and I’m more inclined to listen to the scientists at Harvard than any old yahoo on the internet.
Since the dawn of all ages we have been fasting. Whether for religious reasons or possibly quantities of supply or simply food prep and storage issues…fasting is not a new concept. However, in the past 100yrs marketers, farmers and the government subsidized programs have pushed the “eat for health” “eat for weight loss” “eat more and eat cheap” for their benefit.
But I don’t need to lose weight
I hear all the time that someone doesn’t need to fast because they don’t need to lose weight. That’s great except that I don’t need to lose weight either, yet I find tremendous benefits in strategic timing of when I eat. I don’t need to be eating all darn day. If I have one to two glorious meals per day I get in plenty of calories to maintain my muscle mass, bone density and overall balance in weight and health.
Eating more BUT less often
The more we eat the more these companies sell….it’s a vicious cycle of cheap food in large quantities that are easily accessible. It sounds like a win-win for everyone, right? Wrong….look at us. We are fatter than ever. The diet industry is making billions trying to help people eat less….and the food industry is making food cheaper and cheaper in larger quantities…it’s just absurd.
It’s all about the timing
Intermittent fasting is not a type of diet, it’s a cyclical pattern of the timing of your eating. There’s window of time usually from around 11am or noon to about 7pm every day. For example, when you wake you will skip breakfast and only have water, black coffee or tea until your first meal at noon or 2pm. Then you will have dinner around 6:30 with the last bite of your meal crossing your lips no later than 7pm. Intermittent fasting doesn’t change what you eat, it changes when you eat.
So, I say skip breakfast….how dare I say that out loud!!!! It’s sacreligious to even utter the words “skip breakfast” in polite society. However…if you look at the history behind the meal of morning breakfast it’s fueled by the food and farming industries. They want you to believe that eating breakfast is the most important meal of the day…they say that! “It revs your metabolism”, they say. “Kids need a balanced breakfast to do well in school”….studies show that’s total hogwash!
The studies actually have proven that your brain focuses more when it’s not working in digesting and breaking down the gallons of sugar laden breakfast cereals, juices and pastries the kids are stuffing in their sleepy little mouths.
I eat my first real food/keto-ish meal at noon and then I might have a handful of nuts or a piece of cheese at 3:30pm then a real food/keto-ish dinner around 7:30pm. Then nothing til the next day at noon again. Does that make sense?