The keto diet is a great way to lose weight, reset your metabolism and kick your sugar addiction. The basic rules are that you eat roughly 80 percent of your calories from fat and about 5 percent from carbohydrates. I have had a lot of success with it, but I’m 48 and my metabolism was a mess. Since experimenting with keto I have lost 25 pounds and have never felt better. I recommend it for older people that have accumulated a lot of extra fat around their midsections. Here are the 10 things that I have found that help me be successful with the diet. Two things in addition to this list are get a blood test monitor (Precision Xtra or Keto Mojo) for tracking your ketones and use an app on your phone (myfitnesspal or macros +) to start tracking what and how much you’re eating.
- Get a lot of sleep. Lack of sleep will make you crave carbohydrates. Getting enough sleep (8-9 hours) provides a plethora of health benefits and helps you avoid cravings and keeps your metabolism functioning properly. In general, we could all sleep more. Make sleep a priority.
- Fasted Cardio. Get a workout in first thing in the morning while you’re fasted. This will accelerate fat burning for fuel and boost your ketones. 10 to 30 minutes in the morning is a good way to start off your day and get your metabolism fired up. If you want to accelerate your fat burning then do some low intensity cardio. If you’re looking to make some gains, then lift some weight. Unfortunately, I found my strength went down a little when doing keto. However, that is not an excuse not to lift, just don’t stress if you’re not hitting your previous numbers.
- Take electrolytes. When people start doing keto it will burn through your electrolytes and when they get depleted you experience the “keto flu.” It basically feels like you’re getting the flu. This can be avoided with supplementing electrolytes: sodium, magnesium, and potassium. You can get these from your food, but a little supplementation will insure that you don’t bonk. I have mixed my own electrolyte cocktail and that’s cheap but a little time consuming. I also use Nuun electrolyte tabs because they’re super convenient. However, Nuun tabs are costly. Lately, I have been experimenting with Emergen C which has electrolytes, vitamin C and 8 grams of carbohydrates. Those carbs will be fine if you time them around your workout for a little energy boost.
- Buttered Coffee (grassfed butter, coconut oil, or MCT oil) is a delicious way to start your day. On the plus side, it gives you energy through your whole morning and curbs your hunger, so it is great for when you are restricting your eating to later in the day. The MCTs in the fat are a preferred fat source for ketosis so you’ll generate more ketones if you’re trying to do a keto diet. The down side to buttered coffee is that it is a huge bolus of fat and calories. So if you’re trying to lean out, drink your coffee black. Essentially your body will choose to burn the fat you just drank instead of the fat on your ass because that is way it’s programmed. So drink responsibly.
- Time-restricted feeding window. Eating all my food for the day within a 6 to 8 hour window works very well for me. I tend to consume less total calories per day and the short 16- to 18-hour fast, allows my body to utilize more stored energy. Some people refer to this as time-restricted feeding or Intermittent Fasting. I don’t feel like I’m under eating and I don’t feel hungry between meals other than during the fasting period. This protocol also helps when I’m doing Keto because I will make more ketones during the fasting period as I am utilizing stored fat for energy.
- Frozen vegetables. Vegetables are a fat delivery system. Go nuts with butter, coconut oil and olive oil to make your veggies delicious. I hate it when I buy fresh vegetables and don’t get around to cooking them before they go bad. Therefore, I prefer to buy frozen vegetables that I can easily heat up when I choose and not have to worry about spoilage. As far as greens go, I’m not too adventurous but I tend to keep broccoli, green beans, spinach, brussel sprouts and kale in the freezer. All you need is some coconut oil, garlic, salt, & pepper to turn any vegetable into a tasty dish. Add a portion of meat and you’re all set.
- Cheap proteins. Grassfed steak is the gold standard when it comes to protein sources. Not only is it extremely nutrient dense, it seems to be the best for performance. Many of the strongest lifters swear by red meat. Organ meats like liver are also extremely nutrient dense, but hard to get used to. You’ll soon go broke if you’re only eating grassfed steaks. You need to get yourself some more cost effective protein sources. Enter Sardines! Sardines are high in protein, high in creatine, high in Omega 3 fatty acids, and cheap. If you just tried to source that much protein, creatine and Omega 3 for a shake, you’d quickly realize the value in a single tin of sardines. Additionally, you can eat tuna and oysters and other canned fish to keep things varied and interesting, but sardines are the gold standard in cheap protein.
- Nuts. Nuts are a great snack but, as the name implies, it’s easy to “go nuts” and overdo it. Nuts pack a huge caloric load because they are mostly fat. They also have enough carbs in them to make them problematic if you over-indulge. As a snack they are delicious and help to curb hunger because of the fat. However, if you’re trying to lose weight you can easily push your daily caloric intake over the top and stall weightloss. Additionally, if you’re trying to be in ketosis, you can quickly find that over indulging in nuts will push your daily carb numbers up too high. Keep them on hand but use them sparingly. Don’t over indulge.
- Pork Rinds. Pork rinds are considered gross, gas station food by most. However, they are quite delicious and have great mouth feel and satisfy that desire for something crunchy and salty. They are all protein and fat and have zero carbs (unless they are coated with some sweet seasoning). You can now find gourmet pork rinds from ethically sourced pork, so eat them guilt free. They are also perfect for scooping up guacamole.
- No carb sweeteners. If you need something sweet, consider getting some monk fruit or stevia drops to add to your coffee or desserts to sweeten them without bumping you out of ketosis. Use these sparingly.
Good luck with your keto adventures.