New year, new you, right? As we all think about how to live our best 2019 and beyond, I’ve had several friends reach out to share that they’re considering keto but want to know how to start and what to eat. I LOVE this topic so will answer anyone’s questions, any time, but I thought it might be helpful to put together a more comprehensive response to share with you.
Since starting keto in June of 2018, I’ve lost 22lbs, (but gained a few back during the holidays), going from 138lbs to 116lbs (at my lightest). I have more energy than I have ever had my entire adult life and for the first time since becoming a mom, I feel like my brain works like it used to. I heart keto.
Disclaimer: What’s below is simply what worked for me… I am not preaching or telling you that you should or shouldn’t do or eat this or that, it’s just the path that worked for me. Also, while my brain works much better these days, I’m still not a doctor, so keep that in mind.
My Keto Story
Me: I am a mom of three kids four and under. I work full time in a sales job that requires me to travel. I’ve been eating generally healthy food and have exercised with various degrees of consistency for as long as I can remember. With each year and each babe, my new “regular” weight crawled slowly upwards. While I never reached a level of being overweight, I didn’t like how I looked. I did not feel like my exterior matched the way I felt on the inside, so I was not in alignment with myself.
The Decision: There was a day in June when a friend of mine invited me out for a girls night. It was a day when I was feeling particularly pudgy and didn’t like my outfit (the worst, right?). We went out for blowouts followed by dinner. I ate all the things at dinner and came home looking bloated to the tune of seven months pregnant. I looked in the mirror with defeat. That feeling, that night, was what did it for me. I made a decision to never feel that way again.
My husband, Alex, had been doing keto for over a year at that time and he was all in. He felt great, energy and brain function wise and he’d been encouraging me to try it. I’d read at some point that keto isn’t recommended for pregnant or nursing moms so I dismissed the idea of trying it myself because at the time he suggested it, I was still nursing baby #3. Plus, it was a diet idea from my husband and if you’re a wife and your husband has ever suggested a diet to you, you know how well that goes.
After my “I feel so fat and ugly” night, I decided to give it a go. (You were right, babe. There, I said it).
How I Started
The beginning of keto is not easy. But! Don’t lose heart, it’s short. To start, I downloaded the Carb Manager app to help guide me. I filled out my height/weight/etc and my goal weight in order to determine my macros. It suggested 13g of net carbs, 80g of fat and 64g of protein per day for me to reach my goals. In full transparency, I typically ended up around 20g of net carbs per day and I didn’t pay as much attention to the other macros but looking back at my app, I usually ended up close to the target.
The app helped give me a perspective on how many carbs certain foods had. After a few weeks, I had an idea of what I could eat and how much of it so I found that I didn’t need to log everything anymore.
As my body started adapting to burning fat instead of glucose, I didn’t feel great. You can google “keto flu” if you want to understand what I am talking about but I definitely had some symptoms of it. Once I got over that initial hump, the process was much more enjoyable.
During the first few weeks, I was drinking bulletproof coffee for breakfast, eating a salad with protein for lunch around noon and a similar meal for dinner.
I’ve never been a big breakfast person. I used to drink black coffee until lunch so not eating breakfast was not a big change for me. If the thought of giving up breakfast breaks your heart, don’t fret, keep eating breakfast (you do you!). Don’t drink bulletproof coffee AND eat food on the same morning though, because that’s a lot of calories (my BPC has a few hundred calories).
On the rare occasion that I do eat breakfast, I stick with pasture raised eggs, avocados and veggies. We eat a clean keto diet (because long term, optimal health is the goal for us) so while you’d still lose weight if you traded your carbs for bacon, sausage, etc., it’s not the way we went about it.
Sometimes, a girl wants bread. So, if like me, you have days when you don’t want to give up your avocado toast, try this super easy recipe for keto bread. I like to toast it right before serving.
Even in the first few weeks, the weight started falling off.
The more my body became adapted to burning fat for fuel, the easier keto became. I stopped craving sweets (seriously), became less hungry (more on that later), and had more energy and power to give at the gym. I call what I do now, level II keto sort of jokingly, but I think it would be hard to start keto this way, without giving your body time to adapt.
Here’s a typical keto day for me food wise now:
I drink bulletproof coffee when I wake up, unless I am going to the gym right away, in which case I drink black coffee and then have bulletproof when I get home. We love the official bulletproof brand coffee but you can use what you like.
I am generally not hungry in time for lunch so most days, unless I have a work or social lunch, I delay this meal until about 2 or 3pm (not kidding that I am full until then!). Around 2 or 3pm, I have a salad. Two of my go to favorites are:
- Raw, curly or Tuscan kale tossed in organic olive oil and sea salt, topped with goat cheese and/or avocado.
- Arugula tossed in olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt, topped with parmesan cheese.
At 6pm-ish, we sit down as a family (or, the kids sit down, Alex feeds the baby and I act like a waitress) for dinner. Dinner looks a lot like lunch but we usually have a source of meat too. Our favorites include:
- Organic Chicken Thighs
- Organic, grass-fed, rib-eye
- Organic, grass-fed, ground beef
- Wild caught fish
Because I’ve reached my goal weight, I’ve added some additional carbs to my diet, typically in the form organic jasmine rice. I love the Whole Foods store brand one.
We are very simple eaters and we aim for a whole foods version of keto (so more greens and avocado rather than bacon wrapped burgers). I don’t go hunting for complicated keto recipes too often (because, life) but here are two that I love:
- Nom-Nom Paleo Instant Pot Korean Short Ribs
- Dr. Axe’s Bone Broth (after its made, we toss in some veggies, avocado, lime and cilantro)
There are a zillion (actual figure) recipes for keto meals out there so happy hunting and send me any easy ones you find!
I do love to experiment with fat bombs (treats!). These tend to be bite sized, keto friendly delicacies that deliver a dose of fat and joy. These Cheesecake Keto Fat Bombs are my favorite!
While technically not a fat bomb, I also enjoyed this chocolate pudding (tastes better after being in the fridge a while). Alex’s favorite keto dessert is almond butter topped with cacao nibs and blue berries.
We also add collagen to our coffee and keep good, raw nuts (macadamias!) and some other sources of fat/calories around.
I know there’s a lot of fancy food words up in my descriptions (organic, pasture raised, grass-fed, etc.). Along with keto, we’ve been on a journey toward overall wellness and as part of that we’re hoping that spending more money at the grocery store will mean spending less money at the doctor or pharmacy. It’s an investment we’re making intentionally.
Intermittent Fasting/Timed Eating
I consume most of my food between 2pm and 7pm. This means most days I am in a fasted state for 19 hours. I think fasting has been one of the biggest game changers for me. I feel fantastic in a fasted state. It takes all of the above mentioned benefits of keto to the next level. Doing a quick google search on intermittent fasting yields countless results on the benefits of it but you can start with Dave Asprey’s view on it.
In case there are any keto-pros reading this- I recognize that since I still consume the bulletproof coffee for breakfast, it may not be considered a “true” fast, but for now, I am choosing to be in the camp that believes BPC doesn’t break your fast.
After Christmas and consuming roughly 2,500 cookies (also actual figure), I felt gross so I decided to reset by doing a longer fast. I went about 40 hours and it was awesome.
I work out in a fasted state too. I did sprint triathlon back in October without eating breakfast and I did not feel like I ran out of fuel.
We love to consume keto/wellness related media (podcasts, blog posts, Instagram posts, etc.). Here are some of our favorite peeps:
- Dave Asprey: We’re also low key into all things bio-hacking, which is Dave’s thing and I can’t wait to read his new book, Game Changers.
- Peter Attia
- Naomi Whittel
- Keto Connect
- You can also watch my Instagram Keto Stories where I highlighted my Top 5 Tips for someone starting out.
I hope this all helps! Feel free to ask any questions or to share your favorite tips with me!