How to start the keto diet AGAIN or for the first time: learn the pitfalls that tripped you up the last time OR learn them right from the start for a successful new lifestyle! Keto doesn’t have to be hard OR unhealthy!
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How to Start the Keto Diet (AGAIN)
As the new year rolls around and lots of people are jumping on the healthy train, I wanted to revisit a topic: How to start the keto diet.
Only this time, it will be geared also towards how to start the keto diet AGAIN. Meaning, if you are starting again, it means you stopped, which implies something wasn’t working.
That is what I want to tackle so that you don’t find yourself in that position again.
BUT if you are new to the keto diet, you’ll find just as much helpful information here because the things that will keep someone from starting over are the same things that will help you successfully start!
- I miss my treats
- I don’t have enough carbs left for my veggies
- I miss fruit
- My family isn’t keto and I’m tired of cooking 2 meals
- It seems like so many things kick me out of ketosis, why bother?
- Keto is not sustainable
- Everyone says keto is bad for your health
These are just a few and there are plenty more. I picked the above ones because these are things that are going to plant the seed for failure or, rather, allow it as a possibility.
You see, when we determine something is “hard”, our brain uses every excuse it can to alleviate that hardship. Our brain wants to keep us safe and operating at a pace that is EASY.
Literally, our brain wants the easy way out and doesn’t want us to struggle or be in pain or face something that is hard. Thanks, brain. No, I mean really – thank you brain. I appreciate you and love you.
Now that we’ve affirmed our thanks for our brain (because the root of why our brain does this is survival and we should be thankful for that), it is time to reprogram things a bit.
It’s like an addiction and feeding the addiction. Most of us go through sugar withdrawal when we start keto. We have 2 choices: stay the course or feed the addiction, feel better momentarily, and then start all over again.
We also have 2 choices when our brain starts making noise about keto being hard and not sustainable. We give in to it or we stay the course.
Let me give you a silly, yet all too real example. The 3rd thing I listed was “I don’t have enough carbs left for my veggies”. If we are struggling with keto and have this on our mind – do you know what our wonderful brain will start doing? It will start whispering in your ear “This isn’t healthy. You need your veggies. Maybe you should stop”.
Why is it saying this? Because you are feeling strained and finding difficulty so it is using ANYTHING, ANY EXCUSE to ease the pain and it knows you already have this on your mind.
So what is the truth? The truth is your bad food choices left no room for veggies. Period.
If you have no room for veggies, that was a choice. That is not dictated by the keto diet, that was dictated by your desire to have packaged keto snacks that have higher carbs than to have 2 cups of broccoli. Plain and simple.
I know, I know, I’m harsh sometimes, but hey – you all are used to it, right?
So for those brand new to keto, let’s go over a few basics!
What is Keto?
The keto diet is a lifestyle that involves eating high fat, moderate protein and very low carbs.
The goal of the keto diet is to restore our bodies and reach a state of ketosis. Along with this generally comes weight loss and many other health benefits!
What are Macros?
The term “macros” is short for macronutrients. Macronutrients are fat, carbohydrates (carbs) and protein.
There are general macros guidelines and then specific ketogenic macros guidelines. According to generic keto guidelines, your macros will be somewhere around 5% carbs, 20% protein, and 75% fat.
Macros are specific to each individual though. To calculate your specific macros, I suggest using a reputable keto macros calculator to figure out your specific macros.
How to Start?
Isn’t that the 64 million dollar question! This is individual to everyone. It really all depends on your current state and patterns of eating.
The quick and easy approach is to identify the obvious offenders: bread, pasta, pastries, etc… Slowly (or quickly) remove these from your diet.
Sugar and gluten are going to cause a headache. Literally. You will most likely feel withdrawal symptoms that will coincide with what is termed the “keto flu”.
An option is to move more towards a paleo way of eating as that will remove sugar and gluten (among other things) and then continue on towards keto which involves lowering the carbs.
Always remember to be mindful of your vitamin and mineral intake.
So let’s go through the 7 things I listed above as those are the most common things that will cause a disruption for failure.
I miss my treats
I get it. We are used to sweet treats. Here’s the kicker though – you can still have yummy sweet treats on keto. In fact, I’m writing an entire keto cookbook that will provide all the yummy treats you are used to. You don’t have to give anything up. You just have to switch the recipe.
I mean, just look at these amazing Keto Caramel Swirl Brownies
Or what about these Keto Chocolate Chip Cookies!
Now, if you had disordered eating patterns and ate cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner – I don’t recommend this. So, enjoy your treats, but at least make sure you eat them as treats and not as your main course.
I don’t have enough carbs left for my veggies
If I hear this one more time I just might scream. As I just talked about, if you don’t have room for veggies it was due to your choices, not the diet parameters. The Keto diet does not give you a free pass to skip out on your veggies!
I did an entire podcast about this called “Are Veggies Optional”. Go check it out if you haven’t already – episode 28 or you can read it here: Are Veggies Optional?. It is one of my favorite episodes/blog posts so I’m not going to spend the next 10 minutes recapping it – go listen or read it! Let’s move on to the next one!
I miss fruit
This one I cannot empathize with since I happen to hate fruit. BUT that doesn’t mean my dislike for it gives me a free pass.
Most fruits are very high in naturally occurring sugar. And unfortunately, at the most basic level, sugar is sugar in terms of how the body processes it. So eating fruit and staying under 20g of carbs per day can be a challenge.
In my humble opinion (and quite a few others) veggies are more important than fruits. If you are eating enough veggies then you are mostly covered.
However, you can throw in a ¼ cup of blueberries each day or something along those lines. This roughly equates to about 5g of total carbs and 1g of fiber, so 4g net carbs. Not the end of the world. So if you miss fruit, rotate small portions each day or eat them on your carb up day.
My family isn’t keto and I’m tired of cooking 2 meals
Girlfriend – why in the world are you cooking 2 meals to begin with? You are the cook, right? I mean, obviously, otherwise this wouldn’t be a complaint. I have a husband and 5 kids who do not participate in keto. I cook one meal and they eat it or starve! Ok, so I’m not quite that harsh, but pretty close!
I cook one base keto meal and then throw on some healthy carbs if needed, like sweet potatoes or something like that. I don’t always do this.
I have a Type 1 Diabetic son who often does not take any short-acting insulin for my meals. I only take insulin on my carb up days now as well. The less insulin, the better in my book!
Keto meals are delicious and healthy and there is no reason that your entire family cannot partake. It doesn’t mean they have to eat keto because we all know our kids are going to trade away their keto lunch at school for a donut or something.
But seriously, you cook it, they eat it. Period.
It seems like so many things kick me out of ketosis, why bother?
Personally, I think this is a cop-out. When I hear someone say that something kicked them out of ketosis when it was like 1g of carbs, I often think “Hmm… I wonder what they ate along with it”.
There ARE things that can kick one out of ketosis but this is often used as a crutch to excuse something else. And if it DID kick you out, then if you are eating the same as normal then you’ll pop right back in so who cares anyway?
I go in and out of ketosis on a weekly basis on purpose. It is actually quite healthy to do so. So when people complain about briefly getting kicked out of ketosis, I’m over here thinking “Cool, they just helped their thyroid and metabolism”.
Keto is not sustainable
Here is the biggie. This is the one that will make or break it.
Let me state the obvious that I’m sure you’ve heard many times: Keto is not a diet, it is a lifestyle.
You probably rolled your eyes at that, but ingrain it in your brain. Now, I don’t mean that STRICT, macros counting keto is a lifestyle because it is not. THAT is primarily for initial weight loss. But keto, in general, IS a lifestyle.
I was strict keto for about 3 months, then lazy keto for the last 9 months. Lazy simply means I don’t track my macros anymore.
I don’t think that strict, under 20g of carbs is sustainable as a lifestyle for everyone and it doesn’t have to be.
I think people have this misconception that if they eat 40g of carbs that they’ve failed and then the baby goes out with the bath water. Where the heck did that phrase even come from? It is downright horrible if you think about it! Squirrel…..
I bet you’d be surprised how many carbs you can eat once you are fat adapted. Right before Christmas, it took me a solid week to get out of ketosis. I tried and tried and it just wouldn’t happen. There were days I was consuming like 75g of carbs and my body was like “nah girl, we are gonna stay in ketosis, but thanks for trying”.
I have one major tip that makes keto become a sustainable lifestyle: carb up days. I talk about this weekly and I am a firm believer in it. And my support of it isn’t due to the fact that it makes keto sustainable, but it has to do with the health of your body.
It is HEALTHY to pop out of ketosis often. If you are scared of going through the keto flu again, that doesn’t happen. You get so efficient and going in and out that you don’t even recognize it after a while.
RELATED – Healthy Keto Carb Up Meal
A carb up day of healthy carbs does many things, especially for women. But health reasons aside, it will help with real life as well. If you are at your goal weight and simply sustaining OR if you are doing this for health reasons like I am, then having a cheat day on occasion isn’t the end of the world – unless you are a closet sugar addict and are prone to addiction.
You know who you are. I have an addictive personality so I feel ya. My vice is not sugar though, it is wine. Ah, wine…..
So if having a cheat day is not going to derail you, then whatever – have one. There is no reason not to. I mean, if you are going to chow down on a bunch of gluten then you will probably feel horrible afterward. This is why I tend to minimize cheat days and instead have healthy carb up days. If I am craving real bread, then I’ll have a piece of gluten-free bread on my carb up day. Gluten-free products like bread send my blood sugar through the roof. Way more than the gluten counterpart.
BUT I don’t crave bread often since these UHHH-MAZING keto rolls do the trick!
Anyway, the point here is that the thought of macro counting strict keto for a lifetime is daunting. It is daunting for a reason and that is because it is not meant to be that way.
When you are at a stable point, then you make keto flexible. Regardless of what the keto police say.
I know more than most people about keto and nutrition and I still have those well-meaning folks tell me how I can’t ever go above 20g and blah blah blah. I simply ask “why not?”. The answer is normally “because you aren’t supposed to”.
This is when something becomes a bandwagon something for health. Don’t blindly follow the lead of someone cracking a whip and quoting things they heard on the well-meaning internet. Do your own research and see for yourself.
My normal week is 5 days of 20g keto and 2 days of 50g keto. Sometimes I pop out of ketosis and sometimes I don’t. I never really know or care anymore. As long as I am accomplishing my health and weight goals – it doesn’t matter.
Everyone says keto is bad for your health
This is one that many people get tripped up on. Someone will say “I hear keto is bad for you” and then another well-meaning person will say “Go watch The Magic Pill”. I kind of cringe at that because it is just a documentary and there are documentaries that can support anything.
I’d rather see them refer someone to peer-reviewed studies with concrete information vs a documentary or mom blog.
You have to take everything with a grain of salt. Many people are programmed to believe anything they are told. And you have to remember that back in the 70s fat was demonized and sugar was propelled forward and won the battle of fat vs sugar based on faulty research. And it has come out that it was faulty research but have you seen any changes in the dietary recommendations? Have you seen an attitude change on saturated fat? Nope, neither have I.
Most likely these are people who just blindly believe that our government is doing the best for us and that the food they allow on the market won’t kill us.
Do your own research folks. If someone doesn’t like keto – so what? Let them eat their way and you can eat your way!
So whether you are starting again or starting for the first time, please take these to heart.
The Keto groups on Facebook are horrendous, most of them anyway. Some of them will kick you out if you even mention a cheat day. I encourage you to surround yourself with others like yourself for support. I run an easy going keto group on Facebook. Request to join and have some fun! I also have a FREE recipe subscription and you can sign up for that too.
Anyway, try to keep an open mind as you start keto or start again.
Give yourself grace and figure out what works for you and doesn’t stifle you. ON the flip side, keto is not going to be easy to get in the groove with. It takes work and discipline. Easy does not equate to GOOD. Just like hard does not equate to BAD.
Put the work in and then make it work for your lifestyle.