It seems several friends are ready to give the LCHF/Keto thing a try but don’t know where to start given all the articles I’ve been posting and advice I’ve been throwing out there. So I’m going to tell you how I got started. It may or may not work for you, but it’s working for me.
- I’m not 100% Keto nor am I 100% LCHF. I’m working to get there, but I don’t claim to be in a constant state of ketosis (learn more about ketosis).
- I know I will hit a plateau at some point – especially if I cheat and have a few forbidden carbs. I’m ok with that. I may get frustrated, but I’m not frustrated with the process – I’m frustrated with my inability to truly stick to LCHF full-time.
- I’m not a doctor or medical professional.
And start with BABY steps. Just introduce ONE thing. Don’t throw out all the carbs and packaged products in your house and join a gym and buy workout clothes and all that. Just start with ONE thing and slowly add stuff as you feel comfortable. Take it slow.
Step 1: Make a Decision
It seems like a no brainer right? You’re not reading this unless you’ve made the decision to give it a go. But really? Have you really decided you’ll commit to this? Just try it is what I say, but the most important thing is you need to make the decision that you will stick to it and not cheat for at least 2 weeks.
Step 2: Commit to No Snacking Between Meals
This was HUGE for me. I can’t tell you how many nutritionists and experts told me – eat 6 small meals a day! All that grazing does is maintain a high level of insulin resistance in your body. Your body needs time to process and recover – grazing all day never gives it a chance.
I started out deciding to eat 4 meals a day with NO snacking in-between – not even a piece of fruit. They were:
- Breakfast around 7-8am
- Lunch around 12-1pm
- GOOD snack around 3-4pm (by “good” I mean lots of protein and good fats)
- Dinner between 7-8pm
I did this pretty much my first 2-3 weeks, but I started dropping that 3pm snack early on and having only breakfast, lunch and dinner. I found I didn’t need the snack anymore.
Step 3: Commit to NO PROCESSED CRAP
This one is hard too. We’re all busy. Processed foods – even so-called healthy and good processed foods make our lives so much easier. I don’t know what to tell you, but you have to get rid of the processed stuff.
My rule of thumb is – If the total carbs is above 15g, I don’t eat it. Even if I am on the go.
But here’s a happy thought. Once you get going and are getting into a state of ketosis, you will find you are not hungry all the time. Do this right and eat the right things, and you won’t be hungry.
My mantra throughout, that I got from Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt at DietDoctor.com is: Eat real foods until satiety. This is key. Finding your satiety is difficult at first, but you’ll get there. This does not mean you can hit the “all you can eat” buffet and eat until you pop. It means eating until you are satisfied – not full and bursting at the seams.
Tip: All that processed crap is just making you hungrier and making you crave more crap. It’s truly a drug.
Step 4: Eat Real Food
Learning what you can eat is half the battle. As it’s no secret, my go-to for all this information is DietDoctor.com. They have some awesome photos on their site that show you quickly what’s good and not-so-good for a particular food group. For example:
The membership is worth it just to have these images. I go back to them ALL THE TIME. It’s where I learned my favorite adult beverages (gin, brandy, and whiskey) are all LCHF-friendly. I need to ultimately give up alcohol all together when I have the bariatric surgery, but it’s not forbidden on LCHF. You’ll also notice you will have less desire for the alcohol over time and it will affect you sooner than it did prior to starting LCHF so keep that in mind.
You want to eat real foods on the low end of the carb scale. It’s really that simple!
Step 5: Weigh Yourself Daily (if you’re doing this for weight loss)
Yup. I said it. The scale is still here, but you know what? Weighing every day helps me identify when something is off. For example, I was eating snacks of beef sausage, cheese and olives pretty much every day for my 3pm snack. Yummy! When the scale was really not moving, I looked at my food intake again. Everything looked good I thought. Then I decided to apply mindfulness to what I was eating. My guess was I was eating beyond satiety and making my 4 meals a day thing habit. Soon I realized I really didn’t need that 3pm snack at all (yay! more time in the morning by cutting out one more item to prep!). I made sure my lunch was big enough to fill me but not overfill and stopped the 3pm snacks and boom, scale started moving again.
So, don’t be afraid of the scale. You don’t have to do this, but being the gadget queen that I am, I bought a really cool scale that measures BMI, body fat, etc and sends the data to an app on my phone so I can track my weight over time. Because I know someone is going to ask, I got a Yunmai Premium Smart Scale.
Step 6: Incorporate Intermittent Fasting
I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about the vast amount of information out there on fasting, but essentially, fasting helps bring down your body’s “set weight.” I’m paraphrasing Dr. Fung here, but your “body set weight” is the weight at which your body thinks it should be. This set weight goes up over time as you eat more carbs (especially sugar) and other factors (like taking prescription drugs for conditions caused by obesity – high bp, cholesterol, thyroid, etc and hormonal changes – like hysterectomy). It causes you to be insulin resistant. Your body thinks it needs more than it does because of this poison in your system. This is why you can lose weight but always seem to stall at or around your previous “good” weight. No amount of starving yourself and exercising will get you below that. Sound familiar?
Intermittent fasting helps you reset that body set weight. It helps you tell your body, nope, go lower.
I started simple. I did 12 hour fasts including sleep. My last food intake/meal was 8pm and my next wasn’t until 8am.
Then I started doing 16 hour fasts – last meal at 8pm and next not until lunch the next day. It’s surprisingly easy once you flush your system of carbs and cravings. I do 16 hour fasts fairly regularly now – 4-5 times a week.
I do the occasional 24 hour fast. I plan these for days I know are going to be bad (like traveling or being at the zoo all day). They are easier than you think.
Fasting is healthy. Fasting is something we humans have done since time immemorial. Somewhere along the way, we lost that ability.
Because I know I will hit a plateau and will need to shake things up a bit, here are some of the steps I’m planning to implement at some point in the future. Just so you know, the above will get you part of the way, but if you have as much to lose as I do, you’ll have to do more. But the above works well and, best of all? You are going to feel better than you have EVER felt.
- Truly commit to giving up sugar. I’m pretty much there, but giving up sugar also means giving up artificial sugar (even the “good” stuff like Stevia, honey, agave, etc.). Sugar of any kind triggers cravings.
- Really commit to keto. I’m going to get the Ketonix – the reusable breath ketone analyzer – to monitor when I’m below, at, near or above ketosis. Join DietDoctor.com and there’s a great video presentation on this on the site for members. (Before someone asks, the pee sticks and blood glucose monitors don’t measure ketones accurately over time). Also, really committing to keto means I will become much more diligent tracking carbs.
- Longer fasts. I want to try to do a monthly 36-48 hour fast. I’m not there yet, but I’m confident I will be.
Notice What’s Missing?
Have you noticed a few tried-and-true things are missing from my steps?
I’m not really exercising. This is NOT to say you don’t need to exercise. It only means that exercise isn’t really going to make a difference if weight loss is your goal. Yes, exercise is good for your overall cardiovascular health and bone and joint issues, but it’s not really a contributing factor to weight loss. Lots of data on this I can share in another post if people are interested.
I’m not counting calories. Nope. Throw away the counting tools! Journaling (just writing down – not listing calories or macros) is great at the beginning just because over time you can’t remember the little things that you ate that might be stalling the process (like my beef/cheese/olive snack). But I’m not counting calories. I’m sorta counting carbs, but only mentally noting the carbs and not eating anything that’s super high carb (total carbs above 15g).
The whole “eat less, move more” method simply does not work. It’s not about starving yourself. If you do this right, you will NOT be hungry and you WILL lose weight all without counting a single calorie.
But always listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, stop. I’m not a doctor. This just works for me and I think it could work for a lot of other people too.
I’ll list a few resources below. I get no kick-back from anything on this site so it’s all just my personal journey. But these are things I’ve done or read that I’ve found invaluable.
- My bible for this entire journey has been The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss by Dr. Jason Fung. Read it. It was life changing for me.
- For more info on fasting, read Dr. Fung’s The Complete Guide to Fasting.
- Subscribe to Dr. Fung’s blog – Intensive Dietary Management. Very science-driven. Not fluffy stuff!
- Become a member at DietDoctor.com. It truly is my go-to place. Dr. Fung is on there as is Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt. Lots of videos and courses. I am still working my way through the content there.
- For recipe ideas, check out ruled.me – thank you Adrienne for the suggestion! Love this site!
Finally, read real science. Go to the sources. Stop sharing non-science-based non-peer reviewed articles. Bad science and for-profit-driven-science got us to our state of obesity and poor health. Low-fat is KILLING us. Literally and figuratively killing us. It is based on no real evidence.
I hope this helps. I’m not a doctor, nutritionist or any other medical professional. This is just what I’ve been doing.