N=1. Which means: We are all different. We all have to find what works for ONE person: Myself. Yourself.
I don’t think what works for me will work for everyone, but I’ve had a remarkably easy 85-pound weight loss, in part because I got a lot of advice from people who shared the strategies that contributed to their success. So — since I’ve now been doing this for just about 2 years — I am passing on some of the strategies I found most useful. Your mileage will undoubtedly vary in the details, but here are a few things that might help you begin your keto journey.
- I cleaned out the kitchen. I did keep some standard kitchen items (sugar, flour, ketchup, oatmeal) because I have a lot of guests, and I don’t expect everyone to eat what I do. But all the flour, rice, pasta, cereals, sugar, honey, molasses, maple syrup (etc.) went into its own cabinet where I don’t have to look at it.
- I kept track of my carbs for the first three months, writing down everything I ate or drank and the number of of carbs. Some people also track all their macros (ie, grams of protein and fat in addition to carbs) but counting carbs worked well enough for me. I kept carbs to 20 a day at first, sometimes going up to 25 or 30. I now range from 20 whole carbs a day to 30 net carbs.
- I scoured the Web for recipes that looked like I’d love them, and found more ideas that I can use in a lifetime. Nothing makes a diet easier than loving the food and being satisfied with it.
- I bought new-to-me cooking supplies like flaxseed, coconut oil, coconut flour, xanthan gum, psyllium husk powder, nut flours, and whey protein powder.
- I stayed away from dessert substitutes. Yes, I’m human, and I had, and have, a few of them once in a while. But while “fat bombs” and baked treats are all the rage on some keto sites, many of them use sugar substitutes, which are a whole issue unto themselves. (Some create an insulin response in some people; others can act as slippery slopes.) It’s important to start thinking differently about food and let yourself develop a taste for the core foods of this way of eating. Best to treat sugar and dessert substitutes with caution.
- I weighed myself everyday, but I understood that daily weight swings of one and two pounds were normal. So I averaged my weight every week. The weekly averages showed a nice, steady downward trend. Some people advise against daily weigh-ins, but it kept me focused and paying attention. And — and THIS was a huge departure for me — I weighed myself after any days or weekends where I ate more than normal. (I used to avoid that kind of bad news; now I embraced it and met it head on.)
- I measured my waist, chest, and hips weekly. This is something suggested by folks who avoid the scale, on the theory that your body is changing but the scale sometimes doesn’t show it right away.
- I tried on clothes that used to be (or still were) too tight. I rearranged my closet by size, and got a huge morale boost as clothes that used to be too small became too big and had to be given away.
- I decided on a combination of supplements based on books I read, my blood tests, and my perception of what seems to work for me.h
- I poured olive oil on practically everything. It’s a healthy fat and it makes me feel full.
- I learned the rules and followed them. No grain, no pasta, no bread, no rice, no potatoes, no (or extremely rare and limited) starchy or high-carb (in-ground or root) vegetables, no added sugar, and very little artificial sweetener (I use Stevia). But I also realized that it was sometimes difficult to avoid absolutely all added sugar, and that tiny portions of foods with added sugar (like ketchup or steak sauce) wouldn’t undermine me — as long as I used them sparingly. (For example, a tablespoon of ketchup in a recipe that serves 6 people.)
- If I danced on the edge of the rules — starchy veggies like turnips, sugar substitutes for a desert, or a bigger than recommended portion of fruit — I made sure I kept the rest of the foods that day super strict.
- I cut back on going out to eat, because too much restaurant food has hidden carbs.
- I took low-carb goodies to dinners at friends houses — enough to share, and enough to be sure I wouldn’t feel deprived. I told people about my eating limits when invited out, and I made it clear I didn’t expect them to cater to my needs, but that I didn’t want them to feel bad if they made something I couldn’t eat.
- I kept keto snacks (mostly cheese and meat roll-ups or nuts and pumpkin seeds) with me when I traveled.
- I allowed my hunger to dictate new eating times and portion sizes, which ultimately led to eating only two meals a day: a late morning brunch and dinner in the early to mid evening hours.
- I joined online forums for recipes, mutual support, and information about supplements and nutrition science.
- I read about a dozen books on various aspects of nutrition and health… including books that challenge low-carb ideas. I wanted to immerse myself in the science and understand the pros and cons.
- If I had a weight loss stall, I went back to basics: Right now that means bacon and eggs in the morning, a medium sized portion of fish and meat with veggies and/or salad in the evening. And I keep pouring on the olive oil!
- I read labels and learned all the sneaky words for sugar.
- I bought “real” foods (single ingredients) instead of food products (multiple ingredients).
I’d love to hear what has worked for you. Please add comments.
Good luck, and remember — Nothing tastes as good as good health feels.