Restrictive diets like the ketogenic diet have the potential to not only confuse, but scare away potential dieters looking to lose weight or establish a new and healthier lifestyle. While it may seem like there’s a lot to it, it’s actually fairly simple and not as restrictive as you might think.
In this article, we’re going to cover all of the bases so you can succeed at the keto diet and replace those bad habits with newer, healthier ones.
Keto Diet in a Nutshell
The ketogenic diet focuses on restricting your carb intake so your body will ultimately switch to burning fat for energy instead of glucose. When glucose is normally used for energy, this means your fats are not needed and they’ll be stored in your body.
By cutting down the number of carbs you eat, this pushes your body into ketosis, which is a metabolic state that enables your body to make ketones. Ketones are made from the breakdown of fats in the liver.
The principle objective here is to keep your body in this state through the extreme limitation of carbs, which can prompt numerous health benefits, such as enhanced cognitive abilities, increased mental focus, and more energy .
5 Tips for Keto Success
Successfully navigating the ketogenic diet is always tricky at first, but with some ingenuity and a dash of creativity, you can easily succeed!
1. Tasty Alternatives
Let’s be real, the hardest part about any diet is the restriction of your favorite foods. On the keto diet, this includes anything with carbs, dairy, processed foods, alcohol, and more. Here are some alternatives to turn to when the cravings come:
For many people, rice is a staple food. It’s versatile when it comes to cooking, inexpensive, and goes well with plenty of dishes. While it has no place in the keto diet, there are a few great rice alternatives you simply must try:
- Cauliflower rice—the most popular rice substitute. It’s mild in flavor, healthy, versatile, and shares a similar texture to rice.
- Cabbage rice—tastes good, it’s packed with nutrients and has even been shown to help in cancer prevention.
- Miracle Rice (Shirataki Rice)—this one is made from Japanese yams. While they’re technically noodles and not quite as similar in texture to rice, they are high in dietary fiber and low in calories.
Bread is probably the number one food everyone misses. Luckily, there are ways to keep those carb cravings at bay.
- Low-carb bread
- Low-carb tortillas
Opt for one of these choices instead of regular bread so you can still enjoy things like sandwiches.
Alcohol isn’t totally off-limits when it comes to the keto diet, you just have to know how to do it right! The key takeaway here is to avoid sweetened drinks. Studies even show that a ketogenic diet actually suppress alcohol withdrawal .
- Wines—Go for dry and unsweetened wines, which contain the fewest amount of carbs
- Beers—You can get away with choosing lighter varieties, like Bud Select, Michelob Ultra, or Miller 64
- Cocktails—Opt for an unsweetened and unflavored mixed drink, like a vodka tonic rather than a passion fruit martini.
When is coffee or tea ever complete without that sweet, sweet creamer? Try switching to coconut milk or cream. It’s just as creamy and even more delicious than what you’re used to. You can also use it in recipes that call for milk.
Other great milk alternatives include almond milk, cashew milk, or hazelnut milk.
2. Get a Food Scale
Investing in a food scale is absolutely the best way to keep track and monitor what you’re eating. Accuracy is key, so instead of “eyeballing” that handful of almonds, take to the scale so you stay within your daily carb and calorie allowance.
There are all kinds of scales you can buy. When searching for the perfect one, these are some features to look for:
- Removable Plate—You won’t want to use a scale that’s a pain to clean. Make sure the plate is removable so you can easily clean it.
- Conversion Button—Having a gram to ounce conversion button will make your life a whole lot simpler!
- Tare Function—This option allows you to place an item on the scale and revert back to 0 so it only weighs the contents of, say, a bowl or plate rather than the bowl or plate itself plus their contents.
3. Eat Enough Fat
While this may sound pretty obvious, a lot of people on the keto diet hold back on eating too much fat in an effort to lose more weight. Don’t! Consuming a good amount of fat and protein has the benefit of suppressing your appetite, which can go a long way when you’re cutting carbs.
Here are the kinds of healthy fats your body can’t get enough of:
- Saturated—ghee, butter, coconut oil, eggs, lard
- Monounsaturated fats—avocado, olive oil, macadamia nut oil
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids—fatty fish and fish oil, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, sesame oil
- Natural trans fats—grass-fed animal products, dairy fats like yogurt and butter
4. Keep an Eye on Protein
Be mindful about how much protein you’re ingesting on a daily basis, as some people can go a bit overboard. Protein is certainly an essential part of the keto diet because it is the macronutrient that will help keep you sated, but too much can also work against you and keep you from succeeding in your diet.
When your body takes in too much protein, the excess amounts will convert into glycogen and could potentially disrupt ketosis. Keep in mind, you would have to be eating a lot of protein or even taking protein supplements to get to this point. 10-15 extra grams won’t do much though.
5. Look for Recipes You’ll Enjoy
This is the part where you you’ll have to get creative! Sure, there are tons of foods and dishes you can no longer indulge in, but it’s time to explore all of the keto-friendly recipes out there to find your new favorite dishes.
Remember, you aren’t in this alone. The internet is chock full of ketogenic resources, including delicious recipes you can indulge in, guilt-free. From low-carb pizza and stir fry to fluffy keto-pancakes, when does the internet ever disappoint?
There are lots of ways you can fail in your keto diet, but there are also plenty of ways you can succeed. It doesn’t have to be as hard nor as restrictive as your carb-eating friends might lead you to believe.
Start thinking outside of the box and find those great food alternatives to keep you on the healthy path.