Do you want to try the keto diet but are uncertain of how realistic it is for you to maintain a ketogenic lifestyle this year?
The simple steps and tips in this article will give you a better understanding of why the keto diet is the way to go for optimal weight loss and long-term improved health. The even better news is the ease in which you can maintain this lifestyle rather than chase fad diets. You’ll never feel deprived again!
What is a keto lifestyle?
The keto lifestyle (otherwise referred to as the ketogenic diet) is a low-carb, high-fat way of eating, focusing on consuming unprocessed whole foods that are nutrient-dense. In recent years, it has become more and more popular as people are enjoying eating real foods, losing weight and seeing their energy levels soar.
Following a keto diet in the truest sense means limiting your daily carb intake to 20 grams net carbs (total grams of carbs less fiber).
Apart from the efficient weight loss the keto diet provides, many people follow it for the numerous health advantages, including improving blood sugar control, better cholesterol profiles, the reduction of high blood pressure, increased insulin sensitivity and being able t finally control their appetite and reach their weight loss goal.
These can be achieved by being in a state of “ketosis” (a process by which your body transitions from using carbohydrates as fuel to burning fat as fuel).
How to start keto FAST?
The easiest way to start keto is by taking a good, honest look at your eating habits. You don’t have to go cold turkey! Instead, start by making simple swaps:
- Reduce sugar – particularly refined and processed sources
- Add more protein – unprocessed meat, fish and other quality sources of protein
- Choose healthy fat – swap refined processed oils for healthy fats like olive oil
- Choose non-starchy vegetables over the starchy variety – instead of sweet potatoes, grab leafy greens!
- Remove all high carb side dishes – (yes, even whole grains such as bread, pasta and rice). Banish the beige!
How many carbs can I have?
It is still possible to lose weight just by reducing your carb intake even if not within the 20g parameters of keto. Although you may not reach optimal nutritional ketosis which promotes optimal weight loss, you may begin to experience the amazing additional health benefits straight away.
Starting at a carbohydrate restriction that is optimal for YOU, may mean in the long term this is more sustainable for YOU.
Always balance speed vs sustainability. Lower does not always mean faster weight loss. Remember the hare and the tortoise race? The same applies here. Slow and steady wins the (weight loss) race.
Can you be on a keto diet for life?
There are numerous advantages of a low-carb diet. Research is being published almost daily to support the use of a low-carb or ketogenic lifestyle for a number of health conditions.
Although there is still much debate about the keto diet, there have been two recent studies done on mice. They were fed a keto-based diet, and the conclusion was that a keto diet and intermittent fasting may increase lifespan.
Longevity for humans remains to be definitively answered. However, for now, at least, many Low-Carb Practitioners agree that as long as your weight remains within a healthy range with appropriate bloodwork levels, there is nothing wrong with following a ketogenic diet for the long term.
The ketogenic diet is indeed a suitable lifestyle choice for those seeking either weight-loss, weight maintenance as well as improved and maintained overall metabolic health.
Unfortunately, people deviate frequently through a lack of planning or a lack of support from friends and family. They run the risk of “yo-yo-ing” with their weight which gives a bad name to any diet.
To set yourself up for long-term success, here are the 5 EASY ways to maintain a keto lifestyle this year.
How do you maintain a keto lifestyle (in 2021)?
You’ve probably heard the naysayers of keto ridicule the diet for its restriction on carbohydrates and reduction of sugars. They say it’s unsustainable, you’ll be deprived and risking your health with all the saturated fat. You may be wondering how on earth it’s possible to maintain a keto lifestyle. Especially in 2021!
After all, hearing that you can longer enjoy comforting carbohydrate-rich foods, sweet treats or your favourite alcoholic beverages paints quite a bleak picture. But is this an accurate description of the ketogenic diet? I think not! There is plenty of good news when it comes to the keto eating plan such as:
You can still enjoy alcohol – just make smarter choices.
Hard liquors and other low-carb drinks are definitely keto-approved. Just watch how much and how often you drink and if alcohol is stalling your progress. Avoid sweet drinks and any mixers with sugar. Always choose low-sugar alcohols, dry wines and spirits with sugar-free mixers.
You can still enjoy baking and sweet treats – just use low-carb ingredients with approved sweeteners.
If you enjoy sweet treats like baked cakes and cookies, you have the option of using sugar alcohols (such as erythritol or xylitol) as a sugar substitute. These provide very little calories while still giving you the satisfaction of a sweet-tasting treat.
You can make super easy low-carb swaps – there is no deprivation.
In the beginning, these handy 31 easy low-carb swaps help you decide what to enjoy. You can still enjoy pancakes, bread, pasta and granola. Just low-carb versions.
You can easily swap short-term comfort for long-term health.
Comfort foods such as bread, ice cream, cookies and cakes may provide short-term comfort, but what about the angst and built you feel for hours and days later. In fact, most people who join me in Ditch The Carbs PRO have felt guilt and anguish for DECADES!
You can enjoy takeout.
With so many keto-friendly copycat recipes online to replace any of those fast-food addictions that you will love, possibly even prefer. Have a look at these 29 Low-carb Keto Copycat Recipes.
Eat carbs – just spend them wisely.
While restricting carbohydrate-dense foods, this is mostly in relation to processed carbs found in white flours and other simple carbs. Seeing as there is no nutritional value in such foods, why would you even want to waste your daily calories grazing on these anyway?
Knowing that following a keto diet is not an unsustainable lifestyle, ridding you of all food pleasures in life, let’s now turn to some extremely helpful tips that will further assist you in maintaining this low-carb, high-fat lifestyle with relative ease so that you can reach the benefits both now and long-term:
5 EASY ways to maintain a keto lifestyle this year
Tip #1: Buy Easy Quick Meals (when you don’t want to cook)
Let’s face it, some nights you just don’t want to cook. Those are often the nights that you end up buying takeout and going completely off the rails.
Instead, there are plenty of quick and easy prepackaged keto foods at the grocery store or a restaurant such as snap kitchen. Here are some foods you can grab when you are on the go:
- rotisserie chicken (avoid sweet sticky sauces)
- salad kits filled with leafy green vegetables
- ready-made meal kits
- deli meat and cheeses
- boiled eggs
- seeds, nuts, nut butter
- creamy coffee to go
Get the list of prepackaged keto foods that can be found at your neighbourhood grocery store.
Tip #2: Find Substitutes for Your Favourite Non-Keto Treats
I’ll say it agin, there is no deprivation when following a low-carbohydrate diet.
My mission is simple, to make low-carb and keto easy and affordable for the entire family. You can start to make low-carb cakes, ice-cream, pizza, bread, chicken dinners, and other delicious desserts or treats. These make it easy for you to transition from high-sugar treats to their healthier alternatives which will definitely satisfy those taste buds!
Tip#3: Get The Family On Board
Having positive support from your family or close friends when making the transition to the keto lifestyle will make the process that much easier and enjoyable.
Reach out to your family and friends and let them know in advance of any upcoming social gatherings or holidays about your dietary preferences and goals so that they can better understand and support you.
Even better, offer to bring a low-carb or keto dessert so you can control the largest area of sugar in the family meal.
Apart from this, if you have a family at home that you are used to cooking for, try out some of my family-friendly weeknight meals and get your kids involved by letting you know which of the dishes you make are their favourites. Putting a list up of various favourite meals is fun and helps to get buy-in from the family!
Tip #4: Invest Time In Meal Planning, Meal Prepping and Pantry Organisation
Meal planning and pantry organisation are absolute life-savers, especially when you are trying to maintain a diet.
Meal planning saves you time and money and many of my recipes can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer for those busy days so that schedule doesn’t trump diet!
Pantry organisation ensures that you stick to keeping healthy keto-approved ingredients and staples in your house so that you aren’t faced with unhealthy temptations. It also makes meal prep a breeze!
Tip #5: Learn To Read Food Labels
I can’t stress enough how valuable it is to understand how to read food and nutrition labels on packaged foods!
It makes it so much easier in the long run to know exactly which brands of food you can buy, and which ones to leave on the shelf.
Don’t be fooled – just because something says “low-carb” or “keto” doesn’t necessarily mean it is. Always check the ingredients for hidden carbs and added sugars. And if in doubt, choose packaged goods that have a list of ingredients you recognise (i.e. you didn’t need to be a chemist to understand) or stick to whole foods that don’t have packaging and labels.
BONUS TIP: Keep Track of Goals and Reward Yourself
This past year has been extreme, and you sometimes need to reward yourself.
Keep up your motivation, especially when you are still new to a keto diet, by tracking your weight-loss efforts. The best way to do this is by measuring yourself at the start and keeping a weight-loss journal. Use the scale sparingly as water retention fluctuates and can skew your perceived progress.
When it comes to rewarding yourself, think outside the box. Do all rewards need to be food-based? No, definitely not!
Why not treat yourself to a day at the spa when you’ve reached a certain amount of weight-loss or buy those pair of jeans or shoes you’ve been eyeing for some time? This is particularly great as a way of starting to break any unhealthy emotional connection to food. Allow other self-care practices and rewards to make you feel good.
Will I gain weight if I stop keto?
To answer this question, you’d need to first ask yourself why you would want to stop following the ketogenic diet.
If you’ve experienced fat loss, reached your goal weight and feel done with your weight loss journey, you may want to increase the number of carbohydrates (complex and unprocessed carbs) in your diet. There’s nothing wrong with this approach as long as you do so gradually and in small increments.
When you do so, make sure to keep track of any changes (good or bad) so that you can adjust as necessary to ensure that you don’t gain any unwanted fat.
On the other hand, if you stop keto and go back to old habits such as eating a high amount of carbohydrates, processed foods and sugars, you will definitely see an increase in weight and (as with any diet), you risk gaining all, if not more, of the weight that you had when starting out.
Any yo-yo dieting has the effect of slowing your metabolism down and increasing your body fat percentage. Added to that is the negative impact it has on your mental well-being.
All in all, I wouldn’t see any reason to abandon the ketogenic lifestyle! Rather than seeing it as a strict diet, embrace your new lifestyle!
Is it bad to go in and out of ketosis?
As with any diet, it is not recommended to be in the repetitive practice of starting and stopping and starting again. Both for your health and mental wellbeing. Saying that, give yourself grace and forgiveness as and when it happens. Just don’t make a regular habit of it.
Regularly having meals off-plan (or cheat meals) is terrible for your metabolism. It also hinders any weight-loss success that you were hoping for, making it easier for you to give up in the future. This begins the negative and unhealthy cycle of yo-yo dieting!
Apart from this, you are likely to experience the “keto flu” by going in and out of ketosis. The symptoms are closely associated with normal flu and are common among those new to the keto diet or those who have been in ketosis and then get kicked out and return at a later stage.
Although not all will experience the keto flu, it is definitely an increased possibility should you be going in and out of ketosis on a regular basis.
Should you want to learn more about the keto flu, have a read of What Is Keto Flu And How To Avoid It.
Embrace the Keto Lifestyle!
Starting and maintaining a keto lifestyle certainly doesn’t need to be difficult, despite what those who are unfamiliar with it may think.
The ketogenic diet advocates a focus on nutritional whole foods while reducing processed and unrefined carbohydrates so that your body is able to burn fat for weight loss and energy instead of burning excess carbs that you never needed.
With these 5 ways to maintain a keto lifestyle, you’ll be well on your way to reaching your weight-loss and health goals while still being able to enjoy delicious food that feeds your body the way mother nature intended!