What are macros?
All foods are made up of PROTEIN, FATS, and CARBOHYDRATES, these are MACRONUTRIENTS or MACROS. A ketogenic diet is a specific ratio of these macros. 15-30% Protein, 60-75% Fat and 5-10% Carbs (Typical keto carbs are 20 grams, but everyone has their own limit).
I recommend using a keto calculator to find your macros and a keto friendly tracker to track your daily intake. Your macros (in grams) equal your calorie limits/goal. Fats have 9 calories per gram and protein and carbs have 4 calories per gram…so technically if you follow your macros, your calories will take care of themselves.
You do still need to be in a calorie deficit for weight loss to be efficient. The deficit is easy to maintain because people tend to be less hungry and eat less because of the fat intake.
How do I know how much to eat?
Use the macros calculated for you to determine your intake, then weigh your foods and log them BEFORE consuming. 1 serving of almonds is a whole lot different than a handful. Adjust your foods and meals to meet your macros, as you adjust to this way of eating you will get better at judging your portions.
When you go to a restaurant and order a steak, it is usually 8-12 ounces…a serving of beef should actually be 3-4 ounces. Things like this are one of the reasons why we are unhealthy and overweight, our sense of portions are so very skewed.
TIP: Don’t eat if your not hungry. Eat only until satisfied and if you’re feeling “snacky” try a glass of water or chewing gum.
What are zero carb foods?
There are very few foods that truly have zero carbs. Everything has carbs except pure fat like MCT oil and SOME meats. Even if the package says zero, it has carbs. HWC has carbs, lemon juice has carbs, eggs have carbs…. The USDA allows rounding, this means that anything that has half a carb or less can claim zero. HWC has 0.4 carbs per Tbsp, but that adds up to 6.6 carbs per cup…it ALL adds up. You will see a lot of recipes or lists that say “zero carbs”…they just aren’t true.
Read every label and ingredient lists, and on fresh foods, look up nutrition info on your tracker or the USDA website. There are hidden sugars and carbs everywhere. Did you know that liver, clams, and oysters have carbs? Or that onions have about a carb per tablespoon?
If you are looking at 2 similar products and one has sugar and one doesn’t, it’s usually better to choose the one without sugar
TIP: Read every label….just because it says “keto” or “low carb”, doesn’t mean it is.
Should I count net carbs or total carbs?
Total – Fiber – Some Sugar Alcohols = Net Carbs. The difference between total and net are the indigestible carbs…if we don’t digest them, then they can’t affect our glucose level. The only thing that affects our ketosis is glucose.
There is no reason to count the carbs that don’t affect us. Besides, we can eat more vegetables if we count net carbs, giving us more fiber and nutrients that we need. Some people don’t count veggie carbs at all, I count every carb (net carbs)…if you were to eat too many carbs of greens, it would kick you out just as easy as too many carbs of bread or pasta. A net carb is a net carb and they will turn to glucose if you have too many. Veggies won’t make you fat, but if your goal is to stay in ketosis, then they count.
How important are the fats?
Fats are important on many levels. Everyone (keto or not) needs a minimum of 50 grams of fats per day to function properly. So that’s a starting point…now, when doing keto fats are our fuel. Pre keto we relied on carbs (glucose) for energy, now we need fats to replace it.
Everyone will have a different limit, your macro calculator will usually give you an amount around 120ish….you don’t have to eat that much, it’s not a “goal” Some people believe that after we are fat adapted we can cut our fats and our bodies will use our fat stores (that belly we’re trying to get rid of) for energy…but for most of us, if we cut too much we can stop losing.
The key is finding your happy place, the amount you need to consume without eating too much. Quality of fats are also important, stick to healthy, naturally found fats; like eggs, dairy, meats, nuts, avocados and MCT oil.
Besides fuel for energy, fats also keep us from being hungry. If you are always hungry you probably need more fats…if you are never hungry and having a hard time getting your necessary calories and proteins in; you might want to eat a little less fat. It’s all a balance.
It all seems so hard, so much planning and cooking, how do I make it easier?
It doesn’t have to be difficult, stick to the simple food to begin with. Eat meats, veggies, nuts, seeds, eggs and some dairy. You don’t need to bake or make “fancy” recipes to begin with…or ever.
Bacon and eggs for breakfast, leftovers or salads for lunch, chicken thighs or steak with veggies and a cream sauce for dinner. Make your favorites, just without the breads, pasta, potatoes and sugar. It doesn’t have to be any harder than your pre-keto life.
What is the keto flu and how do I avoid it?
Keto flu is nothing more than an electrolyte imbalance. It can happen on day 1 or day 101….or you can avoid it completely by getting all your electrolytes in. Electrolytes are no joke while doing keto, they are mandatory. Carbs hold water, so when you don’t eat carbs, fluid run right through you…taking the electrolytes with it. If you don’t replenish them you will be miserable and can actually end up in the hospital.
Electrolytes are Sodium, Magnesium and Potassium…you need all 3, not just the sodium to feel better.
Why do I have a killer headache and muscle cramps?
It’s the keto flu (see above) and you need your electrolytes. Quick fixes include a shot of pickle juice, a tablespoon of mustard and a mug of broth/bouillon
TIP: Not every symptom or ailment you have after starting keto is keto related
How do I measure my progress?
Do not rely on one form of measurement. Use the scale, inches and how your clothes fit. Before you start, weigh yourself, measure yourself and take pictures (you don’t ever have to share them, they are just for you). Sometime you will see your progress in inches instead of pounds…it ALL counts.
There are also the non scale victories (NSV), a towel wrapping around you, clipping your toenails and breathing at the same time, no seat belt extender on an airplane or getting off a medication.
Don’t wait too long to replace your clothes, losing your pants during a staff meeting or while walking up the stairs can make life difficult. I’ve heard many stories of people losing their pants and underwear at the most inopportune times…it might be funny; when it’s not you!
TIP: A day or 2, or even a week or 2 without a loss doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. Our bodies go through healing phases and a true stall is 6 weeks or more.
Are hair loss and loose skin real issues?
For some people, yes. The hair loss is temporary and can be prevented or reversed with biotin and collagen supplements. Keep your protein up, too little can make the problem worse.
Biotin and collagen can also help with loose skin, if it is a real problem look into intermittent fasting and “autophagy”…it is also very helpful for loose skin.
Do I need more carbs if I’m going to work out?
Don’t add carbs for workouts. Keto is all about teaching your body to burn fat for energy instead of carbs. Carbing up defeats that purpose. Keep your electrolytes in check and don’t skimp on protein.
How do I know if If I’m in ketosis?
You can test using your urine, breath or blood. You can also just trust the process, your body runs on glucose or ketones, that’s it. If there is no glucose (carbs) then you are running on ketones. No matter what your test says, if you are 100% sure you are within your carb limit and nothing is spiking your blood sugar, you are in ketosis.
If you do test and your numbers go up and down, you are not in and out of ketosis, your levels fluctuate throughout the day based on food and activity. In 2 years I have never turned a strip pink, breath tests also don’t work for me…but blood shows I am in ketosis. The urine strips just don’t work for some people.
Urine sticks only test for acetone, the waste product of ketones. We want BHB’s, that’s what our bodies use. BHB’s can’t be tested with urine strips. Also, once you are fat adapted and using your ketones efficiently, you will not have much acetone left to test. Only blood can be used to test BHB’s.
TIP: Besides testing, there are symptoms of ketosis, breath, body and urine odors (like acetone), excess energy, and lack of appetite.
I’m in ketosis and I’m not losing, why?
Ketosis itself will not cause weight loss, it’s only a metabolic state that can help you lose weight. You can just as easily maintain or gain while in ketosis. You still need the correct macro ratios and calorie deficit to lose weight. Adjust your macros. Track everything.
I keep hearing “that’s not keto” or “you can’t eat that”…What can I eat?
My opinion may differ on this one, everyone keto’s differently. I don’t believe keto is a list of ingredients, keto is a metabolic state reached by restricting carbs and anything I eat that doesn’t kick me out is keto. To me, the people that will argue ingredients to death are doing keto PLUS clean eating, an elimination diet or an anti-inflammatory diet. I see them as 2 different diets than can go together well for those who choose to do it, but I am just as keto as they are. I am doing this for life (about 2 years, so far) and eliminating too many things makes this un-sustainable.
Clean eaters or “strict” keto’ers avoid even the smallest, negligible amounts of all grains, sugar, soy, dairy, vegetable oils (besides avocado and olive), artificial sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame and some will even avoid tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and other “sweet” vegetables (I know some of those are fruits). They look at every ingredient, even if the carb count is zero.
No single food or ingredient will kick you out of ketosis. The only things that can kick you out of ketosis are too many carbs or a major glucose spike. Ketosis is caused by the lack of carbs, if there are no carbs we are automatically in ketosis…The process only stops if there are carbs (glycogen) to burn instead.
I miss fruit, am I really not allowed to ever eat it again?
Fruit has sugar and therefore carbs….but we are allowed 20-25 carbs a day. There is no reason you can’t have a little fruit here and there. Most people stick to berries, but if you have the self control to keep the portions very small, there is no reason not to have half a kiwi or a slice of apple. I would not suggest doing this every day, but if it’s the worse thing you eat, you are still doing pretty well. I would also suggest waiting until you’re fat adapted, your ketosis is a little more flexible at that point. This also applies to carbier veggies like carrots or a small amount of sweet potato.
I honestly eat most fruits….very small amounts, a bite or 2 from my husband or kids plates or from a salad bar. It’s not enough to cause a problem and it keeps the cravings away. I plan on eating like this for life and am not willing to never have another bite of fruit. It can be done!!
Everyone has different opinions, who do I listen to?
I suggest you do your own research because everyone does it different and everyone swears it’s the “right” way. Once you understand the science behind keto, you know what information is real or not. Find what works for you and as long as you are in ketosis, you are doing keto “right”.
Don’t listen to other people…research the science, and listen to YOUR BODY. Try one thing for a week or 2 and see if it helps, if not…move on. Calories are number one, fats and electrolytes are very important for most people. Do what works for you, but only try one thing at a time.
. Never trust other peoples calculations on recipes either, you don’t know what app they are using or what products…always figure out your own. I find too many that are miscalculated.
Can I drink alcohol?
Alcohol is not forbidden on this diet, but there are a few things you might want to know.
Lots of alcohol has carbs and some is sugar filled. If you’re going to drink stick with dry red wines, low carb beers and unsweetened spirits like vodka, rum and whiskey…flavored alcohols may be sweetened. Typically, anything over 80 proof will be carb free.
Drinking can also stall your weight loss and possibly kick you out of ketosis (temporarily) because your liver can not process ketones and alcohol at the same time. Some people are fine to have a drink here and there others find that one drink will stall them for up to a week.
You will not have the tolerance you normally would while eating keto, and you will likely have one hell of a hangover the next day. Heavy or frequent drinking is not recommended. Know your new limits and be safe.
Is dairy ok on keto?
Milk (dairy) will not kick you out of ketosis, the sugar (carbs) in it can, if you consume too much. Ultra -filtered milk or yogurt made with ultra-filtered milk has HALF the sugar (carbs) as unfiltered milk. Unless milk or dairy is inflammatory to you, you can consume it, in moderation with no problems. Because of the process used to make cheese, cream cheese and sour
cream….some of the sugars are “eaten” by the cultures and are no longer a problem.
If you want milk on occasion, try Fairlife milk. It has less carbs per ounce than HWC does and tastes great. If you are looking for yogurt I suggest YQ (plain), it’s the lowest carb full dairy yogurt available at 2 carbs per 5.3 oz serving. It has nothing in it but milk and yogurt cultures and the added bonus of being lactose free.
Unless milk or dairy is inflammatory to you, you can consume it, in moderation with no problems.
I don’t like _______, how do I eat it?
Stop trying to eat what other people tell you to eat..if you hate eggs, don’t eat them…if you hate avocados, don’t eat them. Eat what you like, just keto-fy it.
You are not a six year old, you are allowed to eat how you want. I eat tacos, pizza, hot dogs, burgers, sloppy joes, chicken thighs, steak ….I eat the veggies I love. This is not a diet full of disgusting “diet” foods, this is a new way of eating that you can make your own.
I eat at all my favorite restaurants, I go home and eat my favorite cakes and cookies. Eat what you love, you will make this “diet” sustainable.
What is MCT oil and do I have to use it?
MCT is short for Medium Chain Triglycerides, it’s a part of coconut oil. MCT has health benefits beyond just adding healthy fat to your diet.. It can improve brain function, promotes weight loss, fights bacteria and yeast in your body, heart health, and it lowers blood sugar. It can also raise your ketone levels for a more efficient fat burn. You don’t have to use it to be successful, but it does have benefits.
Do I have to drink Bulletproof Coffee?
No. It can be a good way to get fats in, but it has the macros of a full meal. I would prefer to eat my macros rather than drink them. Some people find that it add too much fat and calories and stalls their weight loss. If you would rather drink this rather than eat breakfast, it works for a lot of people.
Are sugar free candies ok?
This depends on a few things, will they trigger cravings for you? What is the sweetener? Some people can eat a SF candy and it will stop a craving, others will eat one, only to slide down a slippery slope of too many. You can buy SF candy made with stevia, erythritol and monk fruit…these are “safe” for most people…but a lot of the easy to find SF candies are made with maltitol.
Maltitol can raise blood sugar just like real sugar…and will kick most people out of ketosis. Sugar alcohols can also cause bubble guts and bathroom visits. I suggest ordering candy online that is made with good sweeteners and eat in moderation, or make your own very simply by melting chocolate (Lily’s) and adding good things like nuts or coconut. Watch for stalls and blood sugar spikes.