Have you heard amazing weight loss results from people doing this keto thing?
Are you thinking maybe you want to give it a try, but you don’t know how to start?
I know how you’re feeling, because I’ve been there!
I’ve been living a keto/low carb lifestyle for a couple of years now … and I’ve lost over 160 lbs doing it too.
The most common question I get, after how did you lose so much weight, is how do I start keto for weight loss?
This article will discuss how I started, plus provide some knowledge and experience I’ve gained along the way.
What I’m going to talk about has definitely helped me lose weight while making this a sustainable, and enjoyable, way of life. I hope it does the same for you.
Here’s my take on how to start keto for weight loss!
So … What is this keto thing really all about?
The main idea behind the keto/low carb way of eating is to switch the body over to using fat as the primary fuel source instead of carbohydrates (glucose). The body will use carbs for it’s primary fuel source when they are present. If you eat minimal carbs, the fuel from carbs is used up quickly, forcing the body to convert fat to fuel to meet your daily energy demands.
One of the by-products of the conversion of fat to fuel is a ketone. When your body is producing ketones you are in “a state of ketosis” … and this is why it’s called the “keto” diet.
A large amount of the confusion around keto for weight loss is because most people don’t realize that the “ketogenic diet” originated in the 1920’s to treat epilepsy . Following this medical diet required strict compliance to target macros for carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
Eating to get your body into a state of ketosis for the purpose of weight loss is entirely different from ketosis to prevent epiliptec seizures!
For weight loss, you don’t need to feed yourself fat to meet a macro number. You want to use the fat from your body for fuel, not the fat that you’re eating.
One more thing about carbs … most of the carbs we eat, especially highly processed carbs, have two results that contribute to weight gain/energy storage:
1) Carbs are converted to glucose when metabolized
2) Glucose (aka sugar) causes a high spike in the hormone insulin
For weight loss, you want to keep your insulin levels low to allow your body to access your stored fat. Think of insulin like a light switch. If insulin is high/on, there is no access to fat stores.
If insulin is low/off, there is access to fat stores, (and without glucose around to use for fuel, the body will access that fat and convert it to fuel)
Keto for weight loss is about controlling, healing, and optimizing your hormones.
Personally, I use the KISS method (Keep It Stupid Simple) of keto for weight loss:
I keep my net carbs at 20 gms or less. (this is the only macro I worry about)
I eat plenty of protein (1 gm per pound of desired body weight is my daily goal)
I don’t go out of my way to add fats, they exist in the foods I eat.
(Remember-For weight loss the idea is to use fat from your body for fuel, not the fats you eat)
I don’t snack between meals to control my insulin level.
(Low insulin levels allow your body to access stored body fat and convert it to energy. This is how you lose fat!)
I avoid eating anything white (except cauliflower).
I avoid eating anything that comes out of a box, a bag (except frozen veggies), or through a window!
This simple method has led me to a total weight loss of over 160lbs … so far, and hopefully what I’m about to share with you will lead you to similar success!
The first thing you need to do is get ready.
Get ready by determining why you want to do this. I believe this is the absolute key to positive results, success, and long term sustainability (this really applies to all areas of your life).
Your why’s should be extremely meaningful, personal, and emotional, not just “I want to lose weight”. Why do you want to lose weight? Get specific!
Don’t skip this step! Your why’s will help you with challenges along the way.
When I started, I wrote a list of all the negative ways being morbidly obese was affecting my life. I wrote all the things I couldn’t do because of my weight. I wrote all the things I could do if I lost weight. I wrote about things I hoped to do in the future that were only possible if I lost weight. This created some very meaningful and personal why’s.
Once you know your “whys”, pick a date to begin your new lifestyle … and take note that I intentionally said lifestyle.
This is not a quick weight loss trick. If you don’t continue to eat low carb, the weight will come back. This should be a complete and lasting change to your life, and if you stick with it, and discover how great you feel eating this way, you’ll never want to eat the foods you ate before.
If you need one last weekend to eat yourself into a junk food coma, go for it. (I did!) Say good-bye to all those foods that helped get you where you are now. They may provide comfort, or joy, in some way, but they’re not your friends. In your mind, make this a permanent break-up. Bye Felicia!
The second thing to do is to arm yourself with some knowledge. Information is abundant and free, all over the internet, if you just take the time to search it out. I suggest doing a little bit of research. Google will be your best friend when it comes to finding any information you need, and I’m always here to help too, just leave any questions in the comments below!
What really helped me was researching the how’s, what’s, and why’s … like the science behind how eating low carb works, what keto means, what foods are on plan, and what foods are off limits.
I also found some low carbers to follow on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
I still try to learn something new about this lifestyle every day, and for me, it helps keep me going in the right direction on a daily basis. Knowledge really is powerful.
Being properly ready will set you up for long term success. There will be challenges along the way. If you’re ready for those challenges, they’re easier to manage, and you can learn from them.
The last part of getting ready is downloading an app to your phone to track what you eat and drink during the day. You need to make sure you are not going over your carb limit, and logging what you eat is the easiest and best way to know. You don’t have to log forever, but I suggest doing it for at least the first 90 days.
Tracking what you eat helps you learn and remember carb values too, which will help you come up with a list of your go to foods and meals off the top of your head. This keeps it really easy.
There are two apps, both free, that many people like to use; MyFitnessPal and Carb Manager. I use MyFitnessPal. I found it easy to setup and it’s pretty easy to use. I suggest loading the app and playing around with it before you start so you have an idea of what you need to do when you start logging.
You may even want to log what you eat before you start doing keto. You’ll be surprised at how many carbs and calories you eat a day on your normal diet.
The main goal of getting ready is to make this transition easier. Change is hard. Low carb is hard, at first, because it’s a huge change for most of us. But, it’s a change that will lead to so many fantastic benefits … it will seem like pure magic!
Now you’ve got yourself ready and your start date is coming up soon.
It’s time to get set! Time to get set for success!
Get set by getting rid of all the highly processed carbs and sugary foods in your house. Why? To remove the temptations. Recovering alcoholics don’t keep booze in their house for a reason.
When you cut all of the processed foods out of your life, there is a pretty good chance that at some point you’re going to have some strong cravings. Food addiction is a real thing!
Highly processed foods are created in a lab and engineered for maximum bliss. These foods literally make you want more of them. Addictive hooks are purposely built into this crap, by design and for profit!
Take Lay’s Potato Chips for example. Why do you think they had an entire ad campaign centered around the phrase “No one can eat just one”? Addiction engineering!
(I’m sure somebody could eat just one, but you know damn well they wanted another one!)
It wasn’t possible for me to dump all the carbage in my house, since I have kids still living at home, but I was able to get rid of most of the foods I loved to eat that weren’t low carb.
It was harder to fight off the temptations knowing there were still foods in the kitchen that would satisfy my cravings, but I got emotionally attached to my why’s. My why’s help me deal with the mind talk and keep me from giving in to the cravings. I learned to own my mind.
If you can give up all of the thoughts, feelings, emotions, and beliefs you have tied to food right now, just see them as not being real, and instead think about the real reason we eat, you can own your mind! The only reason we need to eat is to provide our body with nourishment and energy.
Food is fuel. Fuel for our body. Fuel for our brain. Fuel for our spirit. You want to operate on the best fuel you can get, right? Well, that’s exactly what you do when you eat low carb.
The next part of getting set is searching out some low carb/keto recipes. This way of eating is only going to be as difficult as you make it. Don’t restrict … replace!
Don’t think of this way of eating as restricting what you eat, think of it as finding healthful replacements for the foods you enjoy … and there are replacements for all of them!
Find some low carb recipes that look good to you. Write down the ingredients of different recipes you might like to try. This will help you when you create your keto shopping list.
I have a pretty strong addiction to sweet treats. I’ve been able to find low carb/keto recipes for all of my favorite sweet snacks. They don’t taste exactly like the high carb, high sugar versions, but they are good enough to act as a replacement and satisfy my urges … and that’s what I need.
I like to use Pinterest myself. Here is a link to my Pinterest boards. I have them organized into categories to help you find what you need. Pinterest is my numero uno resource for recipes, but a Google search will find good recipes too.
After getting yourself some recipes and becoming familiar with the various ingredients, it’s time to make a shopping list. You want to set yourself up for success by surrounding yourself with good low carb foods and real foods.
There are some basic low carb options you should have on hand at all times. Do a Google search for Keto Shopping List if you want to see all of your options, but it’s not really that hard to determine what you should eat. You want foods that come from nature, as close as possible to how they exist in nature.
Here is a list of foods we always have on hand in my house … and we never buy low fat.
Don’t fear the fat that occurs naturally in food!
Cheeses (mozzarella, cheddar, monterey/pepper jack)
Butter (never margarine … that stuff is crap!)
Heavy Whipping Cream (HWC)
Eggs (free range if possible)
Meats (Bacon, sausage, hamburger, steak, lamb chops, pork chops, chicken)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Apple Cider Vinegar (I use Braggs with the mother in the bottle)
Pork Rinds (Hot & Spicy and regular)
Nuts (Almonds, pecans, walnuts)
Pink Himalayan Salt
For Sweet Treats:
Swerve Sweeteners (granulated, brown, and powdered)
Dark Chocolate (At least 75% cocoa)
Lily’s Chocolate Chips
Almost every item I listed can be found at Costco or Walmart. If you can’t find it there, Google it to see if a store near you has it in stock. If no stores near you carry it, you can always get it from Amazon. Amazon is also great if you’re into convenience, they literally have everything!
Learning to read product labels is a skill you’ll need to develop too.
When I look at a label, the first thing I check is total carbs and total fiber. I subtract the fiber value from the carb value to determine “net carbs”. For example, if there are 8 grams of carbs and 5 grams of fiber, the net carbs is 3.
Once I know the net carbs I look at the serving size to figure out what these values are based on. Sometimes the serving sizes are ridiculously small, like ⅓ of a cup. To figure out the net carbs of 1 cup you will have to multiply the total net cabs by 3, for the total net carbs per cup.
Next I check the ingredients. I try to stay away from added sugars, processed seed oils, vegetable oils, trans fats, wheat, and grains because they can really screw with your metabolism and your overall health.
Ingredients are always listed in the order of most to least. If the first ingredient is water, there is more water than anything else in that product. If the first ingredient is sugar, put that crap back on the shelf and find a better choice!
Buy what you can afford. This way of eating doesn’t have to be expensive. If you can afford grass fed beer, go for it, but if you can’t, that’s OK.
Unfortunately, I found that eating real food does cost a bit more than eating laboratory created food like substances, but isn’t our health worth it? I think it’s better than spending the money on prescription drugs to treat the symptoms caused by eating highly processed “foods”!
The goal here is to get set for success by making sure you always have low carb options readily available so you’re not tempted to make a poor choice and sabotage your progress.
If you have a busy life, and eat most of your meals at restaurants or on the go, there are always low carb options available, even at fast food restaurants. You just have to be a little creative and focus on your goal of low carb.
For example, if I were forced to eat at McDonalds, I would order something like two quarter pounders with cheese, no ketchup, no bun, with a grilled chicken salad.
I might add the burgers into the salad and eat it that way, or maybe turn the burgers and their toppings into a burger salad. Still delicious and satisfying without all the unnecessary carbs.
If it were breakfast, I’d probably order a reverse sausage McMuffin … tell them to hold the muffin.
Go for two sausage patties with the egg and cheese in between the patties. The patties replace (there’s that word again!) the bread and now its a low carb, high protein breakfast. Stupid simple right?
In the first few months, while you’re getting your hormones healthy and finding your way through this process, I strongly recommend you do your best to stay away from restaurants and fast food joints. There is a ton of temptation there.
There is an an old saying in the rooms of 12 step recovery programs … If you hang out at the barbershop, eventually you’ll get a haircut.
And Go … It’s The First Day of YOUR New Life!
Alright, it’s day one!
Is this the day you’ve been waiting for … or the day you’ve been dreading???
Your mindset is going to have a direct association to your success.
Your diet (noun) should make you happy, it should be enjoyable, and you should feel good about nourishing your body with healthy and delicious foods!
Celebrate this day! You’re starting a new life that is going to have benefits you can’t even imagine right now, and to receive those benefits you just have to keep making good choices and doing the next right thing.
Go get on the scale. Look at that number hard and write it down, because it’s the last time you’ll ever see it! Make sure to add it to your tracking app too.
Take some photos of yourself today, as you are now. You don’t have to show them to anybody if you don’t want to. Nothing will light you up more in a few months than looking back at where you started and actually seeing the difference.
Take some measurements. Measure your neck, chest, waist, hips, thighs, calfs, and upper arms.
Again, knowing where you started makes every bit of progress that much more satisfying.
If you don’t see the number on the scale moving, but your losing inches off your waist and hips, that’s a NSV (non scale victory). Fuck the scale! It’s important to celebrate every victory on this journey … especially ones like not eating one of those donuts a co-worker brought into the office!
Now … just do it!
I strongly recommend you find your version of stupid simple. Make it easy.
Maybe start by only changing what you eat and when you eat. Exercise is not a requirement for weight loss! Making several extreme changes at the same time is the number one reason people fail.
When I started keto, I only made two changes. What I ate and when I ate. I only ate low carb and I worked hard to only eat at meal time. My biggest challenge was not snacking after dinner.
I lost over 140lbs before I started doing any exercise, and the only reason I started exercising was because of research I kept running across showing increased brain health due to exercise.
My exercise is just a brisk 30 to 45 minute walk a few times a week with some squats and stretches thrown in here and there. Again … stupid simple.
Enjoy the foods you have available to you and don’t feel deprived. Don’t restrict, replace. It’s a choice!
To keep things stupid simple, try do the following:
Establish some easy, fast, “Go To” meals
Eat when you’re hungry (Don’t worry about calories for the first 30 days. As you continue to eat this way your appetite will naturally decline and you’ll find yourself naturally eating less calories)
Don’t rush into fasting (let it happen naturally after you get your appetite under control)
Eat until you’re full
Try not to eat between meals (Every time you eat there is an insulin response)
Drink water (it’s easy to confuse thirst and hunger … learn the difference)
Drink green tea
Track everything you eat/drink in your food app (every bite counts)
Weigh once per week
Track your progress in your app (My Fitness Pal shows a nice graph of my weight loss over the last 2 years)
Celebrate every success no matter how small!
Remember that food is only fuel (Don’t listen to the mind talk or cravings)
So there you have it. A simple plan for how to start doing keto for weight loss.
I gave you some tips for getting your mind right, getting your house right, getting your pantry right, as well as some examples of how I live this lifestyle and how you can too.
If you would like to read my top tips for success, click here.
The number one thing to remember is that we are all biologically unique. Don’t compare your journey to other people. I encourage everybody to experiment. Experiment to find what works best for you!
Become aware of how certain foods make you feel, effect your energy, and effect your weight loss. Listen to your body and learn from it.
Keep at it for at least 90 days and see what happens.
I’m sure you’ll be surprised by how many positive changes happen besides weight loss
If you have any tips that helped you start keto for weight loss, please leave a note in the comments so we can help others with the struggle …. and thank-you!