Finally, I am sharing my Beginner’s Guide to Keto. I have been spurred into action by four beautiful women at Keto Queens Unite telling me they want to give keto eating a go, but needed a beginner’s guide to keto. Now there are many ways to begin keto, but I will share the way I started, plus what I know now that would have helped back at the beginning.
My Beginner’s Guide to Keto has three basic premises and then some specifics to help you on your way. Plus, a little bit on mindset and then a thought on intermittent fasting and how that has been instrumental to me. This includes:
- Everyone is Different
- Everyone losses Differently
- Expecting Setbacks
- Giving up Gluten + reducing Carbs
- Carbs, how low can you go?
- Uncomplicating Keto
- The Keto System
- Find Your Tribe
BASIC PREMISE ONE – EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT
Everyone is different, but general rules or guidelines can apply to most people. When I do keto I am wanting my body to use up my fat stores as energy. Therefore, when I take away the carbs from my diet, my body uses the fat I have stored around my body. When I eat a lot of carbs, I am very good at storing fat and when I take away the carbs from my food, then my body is very good at using the stored fat I have. Fat does not make me fat, it’s carbs that make me fat.
BASIC PREMISE TWO – EVERYONE LOSES DIFFERENTLY
Keto takes a few weeks, or sometimes a few months to show real returns. Yes, I lost water weight in week one. But my real returns came from week four onwards. Therefore, I think six weeks is a fair crack of the keto whip when it comes to giving keto a go. Men tend to lose faster than women. Younger women lose fasted than peri or postmenopausal women. If you have other conditions, like I did with autoimmune diseases, then it takes longer still. Cruel and unfair, but life’s a biach right, so no whinging, just get on it.
BASIC PREMISE THREE – EXPECT SOME SETBACKS
Week one on keto I felt AMAZING, then for week two and three I felt like crap. That’s because I had the keto flu, not the real flu. I didn’t know to increase my water and my electrolytes. So be prepared and read more information on the keto flu here. Week four till now has been surprisingly fabulous.
In weeks one to four I also had some food slip-ups. Like sushi in week one, then ice cream in my ice coffee in week two. But I didn’t dwell on these fails, as I was still progressing. Just know the food habits of a lifetime and the associated pitfalls of eating crappy food cannot be unwritten overnight. Stick to the plan. I had good days, bad days and now mostly better days.
In case you need it here’s a reminder of what I lost, aka 25kgs / 55 pounds and all my autoimmune issues, fatigue, 3pm slumps and sugar cravings. The five things I gained from keto, besides weight loss might surprise you. They surprised me. In a good way.
BEGIN BY GIVING UP GLUTEN + REDUCING CARBS
I think the beginner’s guide to keto would not be complete without a focus on giving up gluten. It’s a double win, because once you exclude gluten you exclude soooooooo many carbs along the way. Be gone carbs and gluten, you are no longer welcome.
Excluding gluten just makes my digestion work better.
I am sure it has contributed to my weight loss and a reduction in inflammation. Therefore helping my autoimmune issues. A word of warning, don’t be a sneaky Pete or Patrica and start adding in gluten free baked items. Nope, as the carbs still live there. Instead, use substitutes for wheat flour like almond flour and coconut flour. In Australia, I have found that Aldi has the cheapest almond flour. Here is my favourite baked scroll recipe to get you going. There are great low carb keto safe recipes everywhere. Try here to start with and then google search your little heart out. Two of my favs are Katrin at Sugar Free Londoner and Tara’s Keto Kitchen. Check out Tara’s bread recipe, I use it every week.
Next, find a sugar alternative. Sugar is carbs. That means all sugar, honey, dextrose, maltose, lactose and any other ‘tose’. Lucky for us keto queens there are now heaps of low carb and zero carb sugar alternatives out there. Even Woolworths (Countdown) and Coles (New World) have sugar substitutes on the shelf in the sugar section.
Here is a really, really great post from Kartin at Sugar-Free Londoner on alternative sweeteners. My preference is 100% monk fruit or stevia when I bake for the family. This is because one of my sons is sensitive to erythritol. When I just bake for me I use a monk fruit erythritol blend as it’s cheaper.
FOCUS ON CUTTING THE CARBS – HOW LOW CAN YOU GO?
Eating in a low carb and keto way is different, but in no way is it extreme. As a beginner, I felt it was easier to go hard and cut out as many carbs as possible. So feel free to cut your carbs as low as you like. When I started I did 20 or less grams of carbs per day. Now I still do the same, but I don’t count carbs anymore as I know what works for me.
Choosing not to eat sugar is not extreme, it’s just not mainstream, yet. Not eating excess carbs is not extreme, it’s just not the food triangle or pyramid we learnt in school. I still eat carbs. I don’t think it’s possible for me to eat zero carbs and still get the variety of food I want. Vegetables have carbs, berries have carbs, therefore I eat carbs. But I am selective about which carbs and how many I eat on any one day. Let me say it again, I eat carbs, but it’s not at the base of my food triangle, nope. It’s right at the top, in the teeny, tiny point.
I think some folk call it extreme because you wanting to change what you eat can trigger their own insecurities. Stick to your path.
All processed foods have a label on the back that show the amount of carbs in the food. Look at two things, one how many carbs in 100g. Use 100g so you have a base for comparison with other similar products, like comparing Greek yogurts. Choose the Greek yogurt with the no added sugar and the lesser amount of carbs.
Then check the carbs in the serving size. When you eat the recommended serving size, then that’s how many carbs you are eating. If you are an app person then there are quite a few free keto apps, like KetoDiet (yellow background, white swirl, blue fish) that can help you find carb counts for non-labelled foods, like fresh fruit or veg. Here is a great article on reading food labels that also shows the difference between Australian food labels and food imported from the USA.
You can grab my basic food guides from here. They look like this. There will be more to come, so make sure you subscribe to Le Plus Three so you get those too. I like these as they are my little cheat sheets that help me make great low carb choices every day. Keto is about consistency of effort. I also have a keto shopping list. You can get that when you subscribe, or you can get it when you join Keto Queens Unite, in the files section.
A comment I get is that keto is complicated. WRONG! Keto is not complicated and I hope that you find the beginner’s guide to keto the opposite of complicated. I say this, because it’s true, keto is not hard, nor complicated. Yes, I believe there is a system to keto that you want and need to understand. Then you will be successful at keto. Yes, you can complicate the system, if you try and cheat the system.
But, when you stick to the system, then I think keto is basic.
Keto in one sentence … eat good fats, eat protein, reduce carbs, including removing sugar and no gluten.
BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO THE KETO SYSTEM
- Minimise the carbs – don’t eat them on purpose or by accident – keep under 20g net carbs as your daily goal
- Good fats are good for you – eat more – my food group guide #102 includes which fats are the good guys and which are the toxic free radical icky fats you want to avoid, hint avoid seed oils
- Protein is the basis for every meal – find your protein, add your good fat and a leafy green and you are pretty much there
- In the early days keep it simple – as in don’t get sucked into gimmicky ‘keto safe’ branded products, because you know they slip crap into those things to, wait for it, make a profit, so just leave them out until your understanding grows. Mostly I find it easier to stick with real food and home baking, it’s cheaper and easier. In the early days I pretty much only ate eggs, meat, seafood, cheese, nuts, berries, avocado and leafy green.
Just to help sort some meals for you that are basic and easy, here is my Easy Everday Foods Keto Meal Plan.
Find three meals in a meal plan and just stick to them, and achieve your goals, rather than getting all fancy! Fancy can come later, when you’re a pro, or not.
DRINK MORE WATER + GET YOUR ELECTROLYTES
Keto loves it when you drink a lot of water. In fact, water can be your go-to beverage on keto. Just water from the tap is fine. Another add in has to be salt. Pink salt is the preferred keto salt as it has more minerals than plain ole white salt. I eat pink salt from the palm of my hand.
Pro tip … salt stops hunger pangs, and sweet cravings. Eat your salt.
Add in magnesium and potassium to help too. Cream of tartar is potassium and a super cheap source. Mix it in water or eat it off the spoon. I take magnesium as a tablet or as a powder in my water. My preferred brand is Ultima as it has potassium and a few other minerals too. Here’s a review on Ultima. Plus I also like Ethical Nutrients Mega Magnesium, which most chemists stock. At about $1.17 a serve, a worthwhile the investment for me.
Electrolytes become important when your body is adjusting to less carbs, helps with keto flu too.
One slip up, does not a failure make. Read what I think about fails here. As we progress we have have a few fails. That’s called being human. Just step away from the fail. There is nothing to be gained from a personal beat up.
You may have fallen off the path, but you still know where it is and you can get right back on it.
I fell off the path quite a few times. I did take a moment to examine why. A little self-reflection showed me that going shopping hungry was a dumb move. Another time I realised that I had stopped eating enough fat. A third time I realised that talking with a person gave rise to stress. My response to stress has always been to eat. I decided not to talk to that person for a month. By then my keto had stuck and now I don’t get food triggered when I talk with them. I still think they can be a douch, I just don’t eat my feelings now.
Change your mindset to one of kindness to self, allow room for setbacks and face the next day like the brave little warrior you are. Don’t let those turkeys steal your joy. In fact, it’s no one’s business what you are up to, so don’t feel you owe anyone an explanation. Remember your choices are for you, not them.
INTERMITTENT FASTING – IF
My beginner’s guide to keto would not be complete without a mention of intermittent fasting, or IF. From day one I did both keto, an eating style and IF, a way to time my eating. I love love love IF and I have talked about it here. Plus, I have a couple of If Basic Guides here and here.
In short, I love the easy routine of IF. For me, eating from 11am to 7pm compliments my keto eating style. Giving my body the opportunity, from 7pm to 11am to use up my fat stores is so appealing. It’s your choice. Lots of people do keto without IF and some do IF without keto. It’s your pathway, make it your own with your choices paving the way.
FIND YOUR KETO TRIBE
Of course I want to be in your keto tribe. I want you to love Le Plus Three and Keto Queens Unite, our private Facebook support group for women. But if I don’t do it for you, or you want more, then there are heaps of keto bloggers and vloggers out there. Explore YouTube, here’s my channel. I’m a bit chatty, have lots of conversation with my cooking and I don’t take things too seriously. There are plenty of other choices too and I recommend exploring them and supporting them. I love Thomas DeLauer for IF and plans, Kristi Davis for dirty keto, Dr Ken Berry and his wife Neisha for keto heading towards carnivore and Tara’s Keto Kitchen for great recipes and advice from health coach Tara.
GET ON IT – NOT ONE DAY – TODAY
Today is the day, make it so. Keto won’t start without you. As I mentioned, if you are wanting the keto grocery guide please subscribe and it will be sent to your inbox. As always, just a gentle reminder that this is my pathway, and it may not be yours. A second reminder that I am not a medical professional, so if you want to seek your own medical advice and do your own research.
I’m sharing to add value to your journey. Said with love, kindness and zero judgement. Big squeeze, Le xox