Changing your entire way of eating is a big step, and for me it involved a very steep learning curve. I devoured articles and forum threads and youtube videos trying to learn how to do this to get the results I wanted.
When I first started, the result I was after was simply weight loss. However, one of the incredible things about eating keto is just how much you learn about your body, your health and your state of mind when it comes to food.
As time progressed and I was getting the weight loss I wanted, my focus changed, and I wanted other things like freedom from thinking about food all the time, the ability to eat intuitively without measuring macros constantly, and just that energy and health of someone who is balanced and happy.
I’m still on the keto journey, but there are a lot of things I feel like I have accomplished now. Looking back there are a few points that I’m sure would have made my journey easier if I’d known them at the beginning – and here’s my top 5.
It’s Absolutely Worth It, and it Works
There were times in the beginning when I was dealing with keto flu, or weight loss plateaus or feeling deprived because I couldn’t stuff myself with cake (haha) when I wondered if I was a bit crazy doing this.
I just didn’t know if sticking with this style of eating was going to be worth it or whether I was just jumping on to yet another diet fad and essentially kidding myself. If I could have fast forwarded to how I feel and look now, I wouldn’t have had any doubts. And I probably would have fallen off the wagon a lot less!
You Need Far Less Protein Than You Think You Do
Nowadays I eat a small palm sized piece of protein at two meals, and my other meal might involve a couple of eggs or 3 strips of streaky bacon which amounts to around 50g-60g of protein tops. To put this into context, if I’m eating out and order a burger, I will only eat 2/3 of it max in one meal.
It took me a good few weeks to get into full blown ketosis, and I believe this was because I was eating close to 100g of protein a day and sometimes more. If you’re a woman eating keto and not exercising like an athlete, you just don’t need that much.
I was essentially drawing out that keto-flu/ no man’s land period where you have yet to reap the benefits despite seemingly being strict with yourself. If you eat too much protein, your body converts it into glucose and bam – you stop producing as many ketones. Tip: always go for the fattiest meats possible – there’s less protein in them and, of course, lots of lovely fats so you can have bigger portions if you want to.
Sleep is a Key Component to Keto Adapting
Now, I’ve got three kids, so sleep hasn’t been my strong point for quite a while now. However, if I’d known just how vital sleep is to getting keto-adapted, I would have taken steps to get this sorted sooner.
The levels of ketones that I produce on a daily basis are markedly higher when I go to bed and get up with the sun (as far as possible). So in the summer I’m in bed by 10pm at the latest and up at 6am. If you’re a bit of a night owl, you are just going to have a much harder time keto-adapting – that’s just how it is.
Relaxing is As Good As a Work Out for Keto Adapting
I used to get a little bit fanatical about making sure I was working out, you know to burn off glycogen stores and calories and all that jazz. One of the weight loss plateaus I reached had me perplexed for a while. I was doing so much exercise, and it just didn’t seem to make any difference.
Then I read about how over-exercising increases your cortisol levels, and this, in turn, makes your body break down muscle and turn it into glucose ready for your fight or flight reaction.
This is the same as what happens when you are too stressed – cortisol increases and you are kicked out of ketosis. I backed off the exercises and instead started literally lying down, and deep breathing and relaxing, and what do you know… the pounds started to come off again!
Don’t Try to Eat the Same Calories Every Day
To begin with, I tracked everything obsessively and set myself a daily calorie allowance. This meant that some days I was forcing food down when I didn’t really want it, and on other days I was hungry and denying myself food.
This is no way to live!
The truth is on some days you’ll need less to eat and on other days you’ll need more. This is why I had such a breakthrough with Leanne Vogel’s Fat Fueled Program and Meal Plan which teaches you how to eat intuitively on keto. There’s just no need to make yourself miserable with food, like, ever. If I’d trusted my body’s hunger signals right from the start, I believe the whole process would have saved myself a lot of stress. (The kind of stress that kicks you out of keto!)
So those are my 5 things I wish I’d know about keto right from the start. I hope some of this helps you if you are beginning your keto journey. Let me know in the comments below if there are any things that you wish you’d known when you started!