Over the years I have done much research on the keto diet on how to improve my keto lifestyle over the years.
I want to make you a list to either improve your keto lifestyle whether you are already on keto or things to keep in mind if you are just starting out.
Keto has been wonderful for me. I have lost about 26 pounds, I have less back pain, more energy and just feel overall better.
I am going to be real a say that is has not always been easy. Even though my cravings have subsided by about 90%, it is when we are emotional that the 10% creeps up. After a fight, or making up after a fight (you know what I mean), after a bad day at work.
I would honestly say that if keto was making my life miserable I would not have stuck with it for over two years.
I love food, all kinds of foods including carbohydrates. Like the feeling it gives me when I do decide to eat some.
The 10 must do on keto to maximize your results.
- Don’t eat keto friendly sweets every day.
- Educate yourself on ingredients.
- Eat more sodium.
- Don’t eat keto friendly sweets every day.
- Focus on omega 3 fat vs omega 6 fats.
- Don’t be afraid of saturated fats.
- Eat more protein.
- Stop snacking.
- Be prepared.
1. Daily motivation.
This is what many of us forget to do when starting anything that requires personal change. Especially int the beginning. Notice how great and awesome a new change feels when you are first starting out. But make no mistake about it, your motivation will gradually but surely fade away. It happens to us all.
When I first started the keto diet I used to watch YouTube videos every day on this topic. This is how I got all my information and at the same time kept at it.
We all want to change but quit as soon as we get uncomfortable. We make up all kinds of excuses why we cannot do it anymore. Most of us have been brought up this way, don’t beat yourself up.
Find yourself two or three YouTubers that are giving daily information on keto and watch one or two videos daily it will help you move forward.
My favorite YouTube are:
- Dr, Eric Berg
- Thomas DeLauer
- Primal Edge Health
Each of them have a unique way to information on the keto diet. They keep me motivated to be better and better on keto.
You can also join a keto group or something like that to motivate each other to keep going. As you progress and lose more weight you will need less motivation as it is going to be part of your daily routine.
I still find myself watching and learning about keto every day.
2. Educate yourself on ingredients.
By educating yourself you will likely make fewer mistakes in the beginning. Take it easy, when I first started I did also not know much either on how what ingredients do what. It takes time and dedication to learn about them. So don’t feel bad if you have never read the nutritional information. Not only the macro’s Carbs, fat, sugar, protein, etc) but the actual ingredients.
There are a lot of new keto friendly grab and go items flooding the market right now. Knowing the right ingredients is the difference between stalling or keep losing weight. Some keto Gurus are all against any processed foods, even if they are keto friendly.
Knowing what oils, hidden sugars and other ingredients that are actually not keto friendly to eat will save you a lot of frustration. Just because something says sugar free or keto friendly does not mean that it is. This is why self-education is so important.
Where I live keto is not popular at all and I only have whole foods to work with, the only exception being almond and coconut flour.
I personally am a fan of primarily eating whole foods. The reason for this is that you get better quality nutrition every time from eating straight from the source and also I do not want to get lazy by getting comfortable eating ready to use items.
Getting used to my daily cooking routine and meal prep was not easy and do not want to get lazy again.
That being said I will try an item here and there.
3. Eat more sodium.
Salt on keto is your best friend.
When we are in ketosis we need to eat more salt because our bodies lose more water with all the minerals within it.
If you do not take extra salt you will start to feel weak and just not right. You can feel lightheaded and out of whack.
The best salts to eat are Himalayan salt and Sea Salt, not table salt. The reason is that table salt does not have the high nutritional value as the two other salts.
Two very important minerals that you lose on keto are potassium and magnesium. These two are responsible for the contraction and relaxation of the heart muscle.
Take 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon of extra salt daily.
Symptoms of low intake of salt can be:
- Leg Cramps
- Muscle Cramp
- Heart palpitations
- Head Aces
Salt can also help curb cravings.
4. Don’t eat keto friendly sweet every day.
This is where I learned not to eat that keto mug cake or Almond flour waffle every day.
These low carb sweets did have an impact on my cravings in the long run. I ate about 2 to 3 keto desserts a week, and after a month or so I had almost the same cravings for sweets that I had before going on keto.
They are low carb, but they are high in calories. Beside revamping my sweet tooth, it also made me gain some weight. You can easily overeat on keto sweets.
I did tone it down to two a month, so every other week and this made my cravings go away again and quickly lost the weight gained.
Keep in mind that heavy cream is used in many keto desserts and it does contain carbs even in small amounts.
5. Focus on eating more omega 3 fats.
When you start out on keto I would not worry much about this until you are fat adapted.
Omega 3 fatty acids are great for improving your bodies inflammation. Inflammation is also the cause of most metabolic syndrome diseases.
I do have an extensive and comprehensive article on omega 3 vs omega 6 fats here.
Try to keep your ratio of omega 6 to omega 3: 4 to 1.
The best sources of omega 3 fatty acids are:
- Grass fed beef
- Wild caught Salmon
- Grass fed butter
- Pastured eggs (cage free, range free, organic)
As you can see, most of the foods on this list are seafood. If you do not like seafood or are allergic, try a supplement.
6. Don’t be afraid of saturated fats.
Saturated fats are actually healthy for you in contrast of what we all have been taught.
You will not raise your cholesterol levels by eating more saturated fats. This is a FACT! Our bodies make more than 3000 mg of cholesterol every day. Our cell membranes are made up out of cholesterol.
In the beginning of keto I have been very hesitant to eat more fat. As I got fat adapted and felt better eating more fat.
The problem with saturated fat is when you combined carbs and fats, then you can get in trouble.
Best sources of saturated fats beyond meat are:
- Palm oil
- Cacao butter
- Pili nut (butter)
- Coconut oil
Other sources of saturated fats:
- Fatty beef (ground beef)
- butter Cheese
Do not be afraid of eating enoughs of these saturated fat sources, as they will be beneficial to your overall health.
Be sure to also choose wisely when it comes down to cooking oils. You can check it out in an article here (best cooking oils).
7. Eat more protein.
When I first started keto in the year 2017, protein was not something you could overeat on. It was taught not to eat more than 20% to 25% of protein per day.
The last year that has changed with more studies being done on this topic.
Recent studies has concluded that protein does turn into to carbohydrates by the means of a process called gluconeogenesis.
The great thing that they found out is that gluconeogenesis is demand driven. So basically, your body only converts proteins to carbs when it is needed by the body.
Eat more protein without worries. If you are also interested on this topic I do have an article on it here (keto update 2019).
8. Stop snacking.
When you are just starting out on keto you are encouraged not to reduce the quantity of food that you consume. The reason being that you will already be in a bad place in the beginning. Keto flu, feeling weird and on top of that hungry.
Just eat until you feel full. Whenever you feel hungry just eat. Snacking in the beginning is going to be very helpful. Eat nuts, cheese, deviled eggs and other high fat low carb foods. Eventually your body will balance itself out after a while when you become fat adapted.
If you have lost weight but still want to lose more and you have hit a stall, just stop the snacking and see the rest of your unwanted weight go away.
I used to snack a lot on peanuts. I really love peanuts but was gaining weight when I snacked daily on them. What I do is snack maybe once a week.
9. Be prepared.
Try to plan your meals and snacks during the beginning of the week. If you are hungry and do not have something on hand or prepared when you arrive at home, you will most likely grab the first thing that you will encounter.
There are many easy to make ahead recipes on the internet. I use them all the time.
Everyone always ask me to make them a meal plan. The problem with making a meal plan is that I first need to know what that person does and does not like in order to make a meal plan that suites him or her. I personally do not like onions and green peppers. You can make a lot of recipes with those two foods and I would not eat them.
So do your research on what foods you eat and try making someone’s recipe your own. At first, I had only a few recipes, now I have a bunch to mix up my menu.
10. Cheat !!
Don’t you dare cheat on keto!!! Just kidding.
In life there is always two sides to everything. Some good some bad. It just comes down to what you are comfortable with. You know who you are and what you want.
I don’t like the word “cheating”, I do like “rewarding” more. But for the sake of this article I will use the ugly word “cheating”. The fitness and keto guru’s eat the same day in and day out, but for normal people like you and I, one way of eating is not how I intend to live the rest of my life.
The benefits of cheating on a keto diet.
Let’s start with the good news shall we. I like to “reward” myself once in a while. By rewarding yourself for a job well done, you get the sense of accomplishment. I usually cheat once or twice a month on keto.
Whenever I do decide to “reward”, it will be a meal and not a “reward” day. This is because if I do eat non keto the whole day I get very groggy and sleepy. I lose all my energy and just want to go to sleep. My wife on the other hand stays the same regardless :(.
We plan out our reward days. Sometimes, a little too much. We try to keep it fun and by doing this you have something to look forward to. We discuss what we are obsessed to eat that month that is not keto, set a date and wait for the day to finally arrive. It’s like waiting for a small vacation or honeymoon. I do not “reward” myself with healthy carbs. I go all out with bread, ice-cream, doughnuts, pizza, burger’s and…you get the idea. When you can get it out of your system it feels great, just don’t get carried away! Being able to eat non-keto once in a while keeps me sane and drives me personally to keep going on keto. Eating the carbs are great, it’s how I feel after is what I do not like. That being said, getting it out of my system is very important to me.
Downside of cheating on keto.
As with everything in life there are some downsides. My wife and I wife are OK with them. If you are too, go ahead, live a little. Old cravings can come back and make you want to keep eating. My wife goes through this, I don’t. Once she gets the taste of sugar she becomes the cookie monster in real life. But she was always the sweet tooth. So if you are too, look out. The problem is that your blood sugar will drastically rise and fall like it did, give you the “hungry” feeling again. It will stop you from making progress. Your muscle will store glycogen again and your body will start burning glucose again instead of ketones. It will stay for this a couple of days and in some cases even longer. Bloathy and dizziness can occur, I do get them. I get very gassy and it sounds like my tummy is talking to me. You will regain water weight, this in its own is not that big of a problem and will freak you out if you weigh yourself (don’t do it). And if you just got into that shirt and short that you have been waiting to try on, it’s going to be a little tight, but only for a little while. So don’t go eating carbs and go to the mall shopping for clothes the following days.
What to do after a cheat?
Just take it easy and begin to eat a normal keto diet again. You did it once before so don’t even worry about it. You’ve had your carbs now it’s time to get back on it and keep losing weight. Be grateful that you had a reward meal/day and move on.