Showing posts with label losing weight. Show all posts
Showing posts with label losing weight. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

The Best Advice to Maintain Your Keto Diet Weight Loss

 Losing weight is a piece of cake (so to speak) compared to keeping those pounds from coming back. If you are following a mostly clean ketogenic weight loss diet for an extended period, figuring out how to maintain your successes after you reach your target weight can be even more challenging.

This time last year, after celebrating the one-year anniversary of the start of my successful keto diet weight loss journey, I shared my best advice for preparing to succeed on a keto diet

Last week marked my second keto-versary, In honor of this important milestone in my transformational journey toward better health and wellbeing, I am sharing what I’ve learned during the past year about how to maintain the significant weight loss I achieved on a ketogenic diet.

image collage of woman at different weights between 2017 and 2020

The Best Tips to Maintain Your Keto Diet Weight Loss Success

In part one of my post about preparing to succeed on a keto diet, I shared my belief that there is no “one-size-fits-all” ketogenic weight loss diet that is optimal for everyone, that dirty, lazy and strict keto are not your only options, and that designing a personalized approach to this way of eating that best fits your unique needs, lifestyle, and priorities can improve your chances of success. Based on my own experience so far, I think it’s just as important to design a personalized plan to maintain your keto diet journey wins after you reach your target weight.

For the past 12 months or so, I have been working on and refining my long-term strategy to maintain not only my new, healthy weight but also the other profoundly positive changes that resulted from my switch to a mostly clean ketogenic diet. Although I will likely continue to experiment, evaluate and make further tweaks over time, I have gradually figured out a viable “new normal” that is meeting my needs, for now. 

The best advice I can share is to learn as much as you can from people who have transitioned from a keto weight loss diet to a healthy, sustainable maintenance diet and kept those pounds from coming back. Use whatever aspects resonate with you to help you design your own personalized plan, tailored to your needs, priorities, and preferences.

To help you get started, here are the seven strategies that have helped me maintain my nearly 60-pound weight loss so far. 

3 side-by-side photos of same woman before and after losing weight and keeping it off with a ketogenic diet

Make Small, Incremental Changes to Your Diet at a Time

Increase your carbs and calories very slowly, then wait at least a week or two to see how your body responds before deciding whether, what, and how much to change next. You also may want to try gradually decreasing your fat intake somewhat and evaluating the effects. I increased my carbs by 5 grams and added 50 calories every three weeks,  very small changes to my calories and macros roughly every 3 weeks so my metabolism would adapt to each minor change without overreacting to a perceived food surplus or famine. 

Use Most of Those Extra Carbs and Calories to Add Nutrients and Fiber

It’s okay to reserve some of your extra maintenance carbs and calories for a keto-friendly cheddar cheese and chive biscuit or a square or two from a healthy, sugar-free The Good Chocolate bar, but try to invest most of your carb and calorie “raise” into a broader range or slightly larger portions of nutrient-dense, fiber-rich foods, such as berries and root vegetables, especially if you plan to continue with a modified keto or low carb diet as part of a healthy lifestyle. You can also try introducing small amounts of high-fiber beans and legumes and see how they affect your blood sugar, insulin, energy level, mood, and mental clarity. 

Pay Attention to How Your Body Responds 

If you have (or had) a lot of weight to lose, start experimenting with very small, gradual increases to your calories and carbs when you are within three pounds of your target weight, even though it means waiting a bit longer to reach your “magic number” on the scale. Finding your personal nutritional “sweet spot” to maintain your new, healthier weight will require navigating uncharted territory. Switching your focus from losing those last few pounds to figuring out how to keep them off for good will give you a good head-start on testing the effects of those dietary changes and fine-tuning them by the time you  reach your weight loss goal. 

Don’t Revert to Your Former Bad Habits

To paraphrase Henry Ford, if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten. So, if you go back to eating the things that caused you to put on weight and made it hard to lose—especially sugars, refined starches and highly processed foods—you will soon put back any pounds you dropped on keto, and probably a few more, too boot. 

Keto cookbooks and baking books

Build On Your New, Healthy Lifestyle Habits

If you have been following a "dirty keto" approach, consider eating fewer highly processed foods and buying healthier, fresh, whole, or minimally processed foods, such as organic fresh berries and vegetables and grass-fed (and, ideally, grass-finished) beef and dairy products.

If you your meals have relied heavily on fast food restaurant chains or packaged foods, try cooking more of your meals and eating out less to help you control the quality and quantity and enhance the flavor and nutrition of the foods you consume. (You will probably also save some money in the process.) To expand your repertoire of quick and easy, delicious and nutritious breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks, I highly recommend Carolyn Ketchum's cookbook The Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen: With More than 150 Inspirational Low-Carb, High-Fat Recipes to Maximize Your HealthMaya Krampf's The Wholesome Yum Easy Keto Cookbook: 100 Simple Low Carb Recipes. 10 Ingredients or Less, Kyndra Holley's Craveable Keto: Your Low-Carb, High-Fat Roadmap to Weight Loss and Wellness, Natasha Newton's Southern Keto: 100+ Traditional Food Favorites for a Low-Carb Lifestyle, and Maria Emmerich's Keto Restaurant Favorites: More Than 175 Tasty Classic Recipes Made Fast, Fresh, and Healthy

If you miss traditional baked goods and have been disappointed by the keto recipes or packaged versions you've tried, invest in a couple of cookbooks with reliable recipes from a keto baking expert, such as Ketchum's The Ultimate Guide to Keto Baking: Master All the Best Tricks for Low-Carb Baking Success or Hilda Solares' Essential Keto Bread: Sweet and Savory Baked Goods to Satisfy Any Craving.

If you haven't been getting much exercise, look for ways to build a more active lifestyle.

Bagged piles of women's clothing to donate or sell

Get Rid of Clothes That No Longer Fit You 

Don’t sabotage yourself by holding onto this safety net in case you gain back the weight you worked so hard to lose. Try on every piece of clothing you own and sort it into the appropriate pile: throw away, give away, donate, sell, or bring to a tailor to be altered to fit your new size, depending on the style and how much would need to be taken in. If you’re having trouble letting go of some favorite pieces that would require too much alteration, think about how much good you will do by donating them to someone in need.

Digital body weight scale and tape measure

Keep Paying Attention (for the Rest of Your Life)

Body weight can fluctuate frequently for many different reasons, so stepping on the scale too often when you’re on a reducing diet can be frustrating, demotivating and even misleading. However, once you are close to your goal, more frequent weigh-ins can provide important feedback as you experiment with and fine-tune changes to your diet to develop a successful eating plan to maintain your target weight. 

Even after you have developed a maintenance diet framework that appears to work for you, it’s important to weigh yourself consistently, at the same time of day, at least twice a month. This is even more important if you stop tracking your calories and macros with nutrition tracker app such as Carb Manager after you reach your desired weight. 

The longer it has been since you reached your weight loss goal, the more likely it is that you will start taking your ability to maintain that weight for granted. I learned this the hard way after Carb Manager’s initial poorly implemented redesign of this popular keto and low carb diet tracking app early this year forced me to stop using it for several months. Recording and tracking everything I ate or drank against my daily calorie limit and macros in the Carb Manager app had been one of the keys to achieving my target weight and maintaining it for the next eight or nine months. So, when the initial launch of the redesigned app made it too time consuming and frustrating to keep using, I was nervous about losing the main tool I had come to rely on to help me keep my weight and my healthy eating on track. But it didn’t take long to become confident in my ability to maintain my weight without tracking every bit and sip. Then, a few weeks ago, I noticed that my tummy wasn’t as flat as it had been a year ago, and the scale informed me that I had gained back four pounds. I realized it was time to start learning to use the new version of Carb Manager and get back to tracking my calories and macros. I have already shed two of those four pounds and returned to weighing myself every two weeks, so that if my weight creeps up a pound or two, I can nip that trend in the bud and return to my ideal weight quickly and easily, simply by cutting back on the carbs for a week or two.


The Best Advice to Maintain Your Keto Diet Weight Loss by Margaret Schindel


Posts In This Series About My Keto Diet Journey

My First Year on The Keto Diet

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part One

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part Two

Low Carb Muffins & Cupcakes: Treats to Enjoy on a Keto Diet

Low Carb Keto Chocolate Yogurt Granola Chip Pudding Recipe

Good Dee’s Keto Cookie Low Carb Baking Mix Review

Hamama Microgreens Growing Kit Review & Success Tips

My Favorite Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilt Accessories

Keto Cheddar Cheese Biscuits With Chives Recipe

The Ultimate Keto Hot Chocolate Recipe

The Best Low Carb Keto Gift Ideas: Keto Gift Guide

The Best Low Carb Keto Cinnamon Muffins

Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix and Yeast Bread Recipe

The Good Chocolate 100% Organic No Sugar Dark Chocolate Review

The Best Advice to Maintain Your Keto Diet Weight Loss

My New Irresistibly Delicious Keto Cheese Crackers Recipe

Luscious Low Carb Keto Triple Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies Recipe

Reviews of the Keto Diet by Barbara C. (aka Brite-Ideas)

My Personal Keto Testimonial

How I Stayed Committed to the Ketogenic Way of Eating


Read More Reviews About Health and Wellness by Our Review This Reviews Contributors






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Sunday, March 7, 2021

Hey Keto Warriors, Have You Seen the Ad for Magic Spoon Cereal?

A Personal Review of Magic Spoon Cereal

The advertisement for Keto Magic Spoon Cereal lands on my Facebook feed almost daily. Here's my review.

It looked and sounded delicious, but I didn't jump in to buy it. Honestly, I rarely buy from Ads on my Facebook feed (unless endorsed by someone I know) because I've been disappointed several times in the past.

A Delivery to Our Door, and a Surprise From My Son

One of my sons also saw the Ad, but I believe it was on his Instagram. He said, "I thought of you, mom, and had to buy it for you." So thoughtful!

How Does It Taste?

I have to admit, it's delicious.

Being on Keto, I miss cereal and am never hungry enough to make special Keto recipes. 

I eat basic Keto foods; meat, some veggies, good fats, and low healthy carbs. Reaching for treats while on Keto can be tricky when you rarely purchase or make any keto-dessert-related. Sometimes I'll end up munching on a piece of dark chocolate or peanut butter to satisfy those rare cravings.

This cereal fills my snack and dessert void.

The Magic Spoon Cereal Flavors

The four flavors are cocoa, frosted, fruity, and peanut butter.

Here's a photo of the boxes.


This cereal is high in protein, keto-friendly, gluten-free, grain-free, soy-free, wheat-free, with nothing artificial. It really is a childlike cereal for grown-ups.

Here's another photo from the Magic Spoon Cereal Box:



I devour Magic Spoon cereal with Almond Milk or Coconut Milk. I sometimes add a couple or three tablespoons of table cream as well. All I can say is, "double yum."

Another way to eat this cereal; straight out of the box as a snack.

Which Flavor is My Favorite

Here's my personal opinion on the best to the least favorite flavor according to my taste buds. Your tastes could be entirely different.

In this order, from best to least best (according to me):
  1. Frosted (yum! - has a vanilla taste)
  2. Fruity (Tastes like fruit loops)
  3. Cocoa (Not as chocolatey as it should be, but still good)
  4. Peanut Butter (Not my fave)

Here's the Nutritional Information

How Good is It, What's the Downside, and Where Can I Get This Cereal?

My son, a weight-lifter/workout maniac, loves the cereal and devoured most of it! Next time I'm hiding a box. Oh, and he's certainly not on Keto! The kid is fit.

The only two negatives are; it's a bit pricey, and the cereal may cling to your teeth a bit after eaten.

I've checked Amazon and don't see Magic Spoon Cereal available there yet. 

However, Magic Spoon has its own website where you can order directly. The link to order Magic Spoon Cereal is here. By the way, I'm not an affiliate and do not receive anything for this endorsement. 

In summary, five stars from me.

Note:
A Bonus Recipe for Fellow Keto Warriors - Chocolate Yogurt Granola Chip Pudding by Margaret Schindel

If you're interested, here's more on my personal Keto journey. I've lost over 60 pounds and have been following the Keto way of eating since May 4th, 2019. Still going strong.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part Two

Main image: More Ways to Prep for Success on a Keto Diet

This is the third in a series of posts in which I will be reviewing my experience and insights after following a very low-carb lifestyle for more than a year.

Quick update: Since my previous post on the importance of preparation in setting yourself up for success on a ketogenic diet was published 2.5 weeks ago, I was surprised to discover that I have lost another pound. So, my total weight loss since May 25, 2019 is now 58 pounds.

Choosing a Start Date

I was highly motivated to begin my new keto lifestyle, thanks to a medical scare that forced me to face the serious health risks of being both postmenopausal and obese, and of continuing to consume added sugar and highly processed foods. I understood the urgency of getting down to a healthy weight, and I was anxious to start lowering my risk for developing cancer, heart disease, diabetes or another serious illness as soon as possible. It was hard to resist the urge to just get started on keto as best I could, and figure things out as I went along.

At the same time, I knew how difficult it was going to be to overcome my food addictions, particularly to sugar and baked goods; cut out all grains, rice, and beans; and severely restrict my consumption of roasted carrots, parsnips, beets, white or sweet potatoes, and other root vegetables, which had been a staple of our weekly menus for years.

So, as impatient as I was to "get the show on the road," I understood the importance of preparing myself mentally, emotionally, and environmentally before committing myself fully to the radical changes that would be required—especially at the beginning, when my starch and sugar cravings would still be at their strongest.

Last but not least, I understood my need for a clear framework and road map to help me stay on track and make consistent progress toward any type of goal.

So, ultimately, I made the wise decision to choose a start date a few weeks out, so I could have the time to prepare myself properly and give myself the best chance of success.

When choosing the date for starting your own keto diet, I encourage you to consider your own fears and challenges, decide how best to prepare yourself to overcome them, and pick a start date that leaves you enough time to complete the preparations that will help set you up for success.

Deciding Whom to Tell, and When

The ketogenic approach to eating is widely misunderstood, remains controversial, and tends to provoke strong responses, whether positive or negative, whenever the topic arises. I knew that switching to this radically different approach to eating was going to be hard enough without the added stress of dealing with unsolicited, well-meaning, but unwanted opinions, advice, or criticism about my decision to follow a ketogenic diet.

I chose to keep that decision private for as long as possible.When I started, no one except my husband (and my surgeon) would know. Once I became fat-adapted and overcame my cravings for high-carb foods, I would tell a handful of other people if, and when, they needed to know, e.g., telling my brother shortly before we flew across the country to stay with him for a week-long visit.

Down the road, when I was noticeably slimmer and people began to ask about how I achieved my weight loss, I would need to decide what, and how much, I wanted to share about my new approach to eating. But I would have at least a month or two to make that decision.

Unless you live alone, the other people who live with you—your spouse, partner, children, roommates, etc.—will likely be affected by your decision to radically limit your food choices and, obviously, will need to be told.  If you tend to be very social, you may prefer to tell your friends, family members, and co-workers up front about starting keto diet and ask them to cheer you on and help you through the rough patches. 

The important thing is to take a little time to think about and decide on a communication approach that will suit your individual needs and preferences.

photo of "ASK" sign hanging from brick building
Image by Dean Moriarty from Pixabay

Soliciting Support From Family and Friends

To achieve my health and weight loss goals, I knew I would need help from my nearest and dearest. What I couldn't be sure of was how my family, friends, and colleagues would react to my decision to adopt a moderately strict ketogenic lifestyle, especially given how anti-keto I used to be before I became better educated about this way of eating.

Fortunately, when I gradually shared my news with more people, as situations arose when they would need to know, they were surprisingly supportive, especially after I explained the medical necessity for me to lose my excess weight safely but also expeditiously. Here's the approach that worked for me.

Think about the people whose support, or lack of it, could potentially bolster, or threaten, your commitment and progress the most, especially during the first few months, when you will be battling your cravings for sugar, baked goods, chips, candy, pizza, etc. before your taste buds adjust to enjoying and, perhaps, even preferring healthy, keto-friendly foods. In my case, my husband would be my entire support system (other than online groups) during most of that crucial initial transition period. But since we also would be spending vacation weeks with my brother and, later, my husband’s parents, as well as joining my sister and brother-in-law for dinner from time to time, and going out to lunch or dinner with friends, when the time came, I would also need to enlist their support—or, at least, understanding—about my dietary restrictions.

Think about what types of support you might want to request from each of the people in your inner circle, and be as specific as you can about the actions they could agree to that would help you the most. For example, if you have a friend with whom you go out often for brunch, and your favorite restaurant serves a brunch buffet featuring pancakes, waffles, French toast, bagels, and other tempting, off-limits foods you would find hard to resist, you might choose to ask whether they would be willing to change up your routine and meet for lunch instead, and suggest trying a different restaurant (one whose menu you’ve already vetted first so you know it includes a variety of keto-friendly options). If you need to tell someone that you’re following a ketogenic approach to eating and anticipate a negative response, you could try to explain up front that you have done extensive due diligence, educated yourself about the potential risks as well as benefits of this way of eating, and spoken with your doctor before choosing this path, and that it would mean a lot to you if they would accept your decision without challenge or criticism and, if they can, support your efforts to lose weight and improve your health.

Considering Ways to Get My Needs Met and Their Impact On Other People

Deciding to adopt a keto approach to eating also means accepting responsibility for making sure you have access to the types of foods you need to keep your commitment to yourself. At the same time, to quote Oliver Wendell Holmes, “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins." So, throughout this journey, I’ve tried to think about ways to minimize the impact of my limited food choices on other people who had no say in my decision.

As an example, six months after I started keto, by which time I had lost 50 pounds and my entire family knew about my ketogenic diet, my sister and brother-in-law invited us to their house for Christmas dinner. She asked me to help her understand my dietary restrictions so she could tailor the menu accordingly. After thanking her for her thoughtfulness, I asked what she would make if my diet weren’t a consideration. I was able to suggest fairly minor changes that would make most of those dishes keto-friendly, such as serving the salad dressing on the side, making a marinade for the pork that didn't contain any fruit juice, ketchup, barbecue sauce, sugar, honey, or molasses, and replacing one of the two high-carb side dishes with grilled, roasted, or sautéed asparagus or broccoli with butter and herbs. I told her I would bring my own keto-friendly salad dressing and dessert. When she expressed her reluctance to serve foods she knew I loved but would no longer eat, I explained that it was important to me that my decision to severely restrict my own food choices had the least possible impact on what everyone else was eating, and that it would give me pleasure to see my nearest and dearest savoring one of her decadent desserts while I enjoyed my keto-friendly sweet treat. The dinner was delicious, and a wonderful and festive time was had by all. A win-win!

Unless you live alone, minimizing the day-to-day impact of your dietary restrictions on the people you live under the same roof with can be significantly harder. Our household consists of just my husband and me, and when I was considering the keto diet as an option, I discussed the idea with him at length, and he said he would be willing to help me in any way he could in my efforts to get down to a healthy weight. I told him about the challenges and potential obstacles that concerned me the most, and we worked together to come up with solutions that would work for both of us.  For example, I worried that having baked goods, chips, and other addictive foods in the house would be an unnecessary temptation, and we agreed that he would try to keep and eat those foods mostly at his office or outside the house without me. We also designated the lowest drawer of our refrigerator and the cabinets above the fridge as food storage “for John’s eyes only,” and he agreed to consume those foods out of my sight for as long as necessary, until I could see them—and especially, watch someone else eating them—without craving them.

I’m blessed to have a very loving and supportive spouse, who was as invested in my success as I was. Many other people may have additional challenges, such as an unsupportive partner or having the primary responsibility for feeding the entire household, especially if it includes picky eaters, young children, or other people with different dietary restrictions. So, if you’re considering starting a ketogenic diet, it’s important to give some thought to what is and isn’t likely to be doable within the limitations of your individual situation, and to develop an actionable plan for how to get your own food needs met.

It’s worth explaining to your family members how important it is to you to lose weight, give up sugar, lower your risk for developing a serious disease, or whatever other goals you have for starting keto, and ask the rest of the family participate in brainstorming ideas with you on what they can, and are willing, to do to help you succeed, including agreeing to changes in how their own food needs have been met until now. You might be able to negotiate making meal preparation a shared responsibility, for example.

Be prepared for the possibility, or even the likelihood, that some or all of the other members of your household may be unwilling to inconvenience themselves or adapt to changes in the status quo to support your weight loss efforts. By the same token, they also might surprise you with willingness to help you achieve a goal that matters to you so much. your goals. Either way, accepting full responsibility for your own food choices will be the most important determinant of your long-term success.

Exploring Online Keto and Low Carb Diet Support Communities

Since I had decided not to tell anyone about my lifestyle change who didn’t need to know, at least at the beginning, I checked out various keto support groups on Facebook. During the next few months, I joined eight or 10 of them, most for only a short time, and eventually winnowed those down to a handful that I still participate in roughly a year later, even after having met and surpassed both my original and "stretch" goals for losing weight. Searching for "keto group" on Facebook will return a dizzying number of choices. I recommend looking at the ones that have been around for a while and have successfully grown their membership, which is one indication that a lot of people have found the community to be valuable.

Screenshot of Facebook search results for "keto groups"

If you’re active on Facebook and are considering joining one of the many keto groups and communities, I suggest you start by thinking about which types of support would be most helpful to you. Are you most interested in:

  • Learning more about this way of eating to help you decide whether to try it? 
  • Asking for and offering encouragement and help and celebrating success milestones?
  • Being with other people who are just starting out, or with a mix of newbies and people who have been following a ketogenic diet for a while? 
  • Getting meal planning or recipe ideas? 

Being clear about what you hope to get by participating in one or more Facebook groups will make it easier to find ones that might meet your needs. Reading the rules or membership guidelines as well as the "About blurb for a group you’re considering can provide helpful insight into its culture as well as its focus. Plan to try out at least a few different groups, and don’t hesitate to leave any that turn out not to be a good fit for your needs.

Tip: Don’t assume that, just because a Facebook group is sponsored by a brand or other business, it will be less helpful and more self-serving than peer-run groups. When I began my keto journey 14 months ago, it really bothered me that the groups I found most helpful, informative, positive, engaging, and worthwhile were created or sponsored by companies and entrepreneurs whose primary business was to produce, sell, and/or promote keto-related products or services. My perspective has changed significantly since then. 

I am grateful that the people and brands behind many of my favorite keto-related cookbooks, websites, blogs, and products have chosen to invest financial and other resources to build, grow, and nurture a vibrant community of people sharing a common interest, create a continuous flow of new, informative, fun, and helpful content and activities, and provide knowledgeable, active, and helpful admins and moderators to vet posts, ensure compliance with the community guidelines, respond to questions and comments in a timely manner, and troubleshoot customer service issues. For example, Maya Krampf, the author of one of my go-to cookbooks, The Wholesome Yum Easy Keto Cookbook: 100 Simple Low Carb Recipes, 10 Ingredients or Less, and whose Wholesome Yum website is chock-full of helpful information and reference resources, as well as great recipes and keto-friendly products she has developed (including her Besti line of sweeteners), sponsors two terrific and very active Facebook groups.

Screenshot of Keto Low Carb Support & Recipes - Wholesome Yum Facebook Group

Cleaning Out the Refrigerator, Freezer, Pantry, and Other Food Stashes

I systematically went through our kitchen cabinets, shelves, refrigerator/freezer, and pantry, the huge chest freezer in our garage, and anywhere else where there might be a snack, pack of gum, cough drops, hard candies, a chocolate bar, crackers, dried fruit, etc., including the pockets of my coats and jackets, my handbags, my bedside chest of drawers, the bottom drawer of my desk, and even the glove compartments and center consoles of both our cars. Then, my husband and I decided what should be done with each of those items to make sure they would be out of both my sight and my reach before my keto start date.

Looking Ahead

Here's a peek at some of the topics I plan to address in future posts in this series:

  • My favorite keto-friendly food products and ingredients
  • My favorite keto cookbooks and recipe sources
  • Delicious ways to get enough fiber on a very low carb diet
  • Meal planning and grocery shopping lists
  • Avoiding the “keto flu”


Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part Two by Margaret Schindel


Posts In This Series About My Keto Diet Journey

My First Year on The Keto Diet

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part One

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part Two

Low Carb Muffins & Cupcakes: Treats to Enjoy on a Keto Diet

Low Carb Keto Chocolate Yogurt Granola Chip Pudding Recipe

Good Dee’s Keto Cookie Low Carb Baking Mix Review

Hamama Microgreens Growing Kit Review & Success Tips

My Favorite Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilt Accessories

Keto Cheddar Cheese Biscuits With Chives Recipe

The Ultimate Keto Hot Chocolate Recipe

The Best Low Carb Keto Gift Ideas: Keto Gift Guide

The Best Low Carb Keto Cinnamon Muffins

Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix and Yeast Bread Recipe

The Good Chocolate 100% Organic No Sugar Dark Chocolate Review

The Best Advice to Maintain Your Keto Diet Weight Loss

My New Irresistibly Delicious Keto Cheese Crackers Recipe

Luscious Low Carb Keto Triple Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies Recipe


Reviews of the Keto Diet by Barbara C. (aka Brite-Ideas)

My Personal Keto Testimonial

How I Stayed Committed to the Ketogenic Way of Eating


Read More Reviews About Health and Wellness by Our Review This Reviews Contributors






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part One

On June 4, 2020, I kicked off a new series of posts reviewing my experiences during My First Year on the Keto Diet and sharing some of my insights and lessons learned over the course of my successful journey so far. Since that post was published, I’ve lost another pound, even though I’m no longer actively trying to lose weight, bringing my total weight loss since May 25, 2019 to 57 pounds. I am healthier and feel better than I have in decades. (Oh, and being able to wear shorts and sleeveless tops this summer without feeling embarrassed feels pretty amazing, too!)

Text "Set Yourself Up for Ketogenic Diet Success" on a background photo collage of keto-friendly foods
©2020 Margaret Schindel. All rights reserved.

Last spring, after a serious medical scare when I learned that being obese and post-menopausal had put me at significantly higher risk for endometrial cancer, among other life-threatening diseases, my doctor stressed the importance of losing my 50+ pounds of excess weight. I had tried many times to strictly limit my consumption of the foods I constantly craved—sugars, grains, and other foods that are high in carbohydrates or highly processed—and failed just as many time.

After reading a lot about what causes those types of food cravings and how to lose weight without giving into them, I realized that I and many others with an obesity problem had become psychologically, emotionally, and in some ways, almost physically addicted to those foods, and in my case, it probably dated back to my childhood. Note: If you're interested in learning more about this phenomenon, the journal articles, "Food Addiction: Implications for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Overeating," Nutrients, September 2019, and "Sugar Addiction: From Evolution to Revolution," Frontiers in Psychiatry, November 2018, discuss it in depth.

The good news: I finally understood why all my previous efforts to lose weight and keep it off had failed. The bad news: Losing enough weight to meaningfully lower my risk for developing cancer and other life-threatening illnesses—and keeping it off—wouldn't be as simple as just cutting back on calories, sugar, and flour, and getting more exercise. Achieving those goals would require an all-in commitment to overcoming my roughly 60-year-long carbohydrate, processed foods, and sugar addiction for good.

Preparing for Success on the Keto Diet

From personal experience, I knew that no matter how badly I wanted and needed to succeed, or how hard I tried, desire and effort without the proper preparation would not be enough to make that success a reality. To quote legendary former college football coach Bobby Knight (who won 902 NCAA Division I men's college basketball games and knows a thing or two about critical success factors), "The will to succeed is important, but what's more important is the will to prepare."

Choosing to spend a few weeks preparing myself mentally, psychologically, socially, and environmentally before giving up the foods I was addicted to "cold turkey," whether temporarily or for good, was one of the best decisions I made.

Following the most important things I focused on during those weeks of preparation that helped me be successful on my keto weight loss journey.

Making a Serious Commitment to Losing Weight and Eating Better

I was overweight and, yes, clinically obese, for decades, and it made me miserable. It badly eroded my self-esteem. And as a former clotheshorse who worked in the fashion industry in New York City for many years, it was painful to try on beautiful clothes and see how bad they looked on me (or how bad I looked in them). In retrospect, even that constant pain and shame must not have been enough motivation to make the dramatic, long-term changes to my eating habits needed to lose the excess pounds, since my many attempts at dieting over the years had all failed.

This time, my serious medical scare provided a powerful enough motivation to make me commit 100% to fundamentally change my way of eating, and choosing better quality, more nutritious, and less processed foods. Without that kick in the butt, I doubt I would have succeeded this time, either. I encourage you to think about what your motivation is to commit to this much more restrictive way of eating.

Many people boast that they have lost a lot of weight following their own version of a ketogenic diet that includes "cheating" on a regular basis, or even a planned rotation schedule of being "on" and "off" keto. Others might lose weight using a less restrictive variation of the classic keto diet approach, such as so-called dirty or lazy keto. If that works for them, great!

I can only share what has worked for me, an approach that I chose based on my own situation, goals, and self-knowledge based on past experience. Everyone is different. As always, your mileage (and your choices) may vary.

Researching the Keto Diet and Understanding Its Basic Concepts

Keto is a low carb, high fat, moderate protein approach to eating, often referred to as LCHF (low carb, high fat). Regardless of whether you follow this dietary approach or what foods you eat, losing weight requires a calorie deficit, i.e., you need to eat fewer calories than your body uses. On a ketogenic diet, most of your calories should come from healthy fats, a smaller percentage should come from from proteins, and very few calories should come from carbohydrates (and, ideally, mostly from low-carb vegetables and berries).

That's a very simplified overview, and I had to do weeks of extensive research and reading before I had a good grasp on all the most important aspects of this way of eating. Here are a few of the many resources that helped me educate myself on this subject.

Helpful Online Guides and Articles

  • "The Ketogenic Diet - A Keto Guide for Beginners" on ruled.me is one of the best places to start familiarizing yourself with the keto or low carb approach to eating. It contains lots of helpful, actionable, easy-to-understand information and advice, including explanations of macros and net carbs.

Here are a few other articles I found helpful in understanding the benefits and risks of this type of diet:

Recommended Books

Although I focused primarily on cookbooks, some also contained helpful information, explanations, and inspiration for anyone interested in living a low-carb lifestyle, like these:

I also own two wonderful cookbooks by well known, highly respected keto diet author and expert Maria Emmerich. I'm also looking forward to adding this book, which she co-wrote with her husband, to my growing collection:

    My Favorite Keto YouTube Channels

    Strict vs. Lazy vs. Dirty Keto

    As I explained in my previous post, there is no such thing as "the" keto diet (or ketogenic diet) outside the context of certain medical treatments. There is only "a" keto/ketogenic diet, which is a low carbohydrate, moderate protein, high fat approach to eating based on achieving a metabolic state called ketosis the majority of the time, which enables the body to become fat-adapted.

    Despite this, there are countless self-proclaimed "keto experts" (aka "keto police") who have lost weight using this approach and are on a mission to "educate" (i.e., lecture) everyone else on the "rules" about what they (or another keto "expert") are convinced is the right or wrong to follow a ketogenic diet. They often will argue passionately with other self-appointed "keto police" about whose rules are the "real" rules, which is ridiculous and, more important, extremely confusing for newbies to this way of eating who are trying to figure out whom to trust as a reliable source of information and advice.

    People often break out the high-level differences in ketogenic diet strategies into three groups. (Again, what each approach is called and how those labels are defined can vary, depending on who is doing the labeling and defining.) Most commonly, these three approaches are:

    "Clean Keto" aka Strict or Classic Keto
    The "clean keto" approach focuses on high quality foods and optimal nutrition to support a healthy lifestyle.

    "Lazy Keto"
    Lazy keto" usually refers to tracking carbohydrates and limiting them to 20-25 net carbs per day, without calculating/tracking macros or calories or eating specific types of foods. However, some people use this term to mean simply eating only keto-friendly foods—no calculating or tracking macros or calories.

    "Dirty Keto" aka IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros)
    "Dirty keto" is basically eating anything you want, as long as it fits within your daily carbs and calorie limits, protein target, and fat allowance. This approach focuses exclusively on weight loss, simplicity, and freedom of choice, without concern for nutrition or food quality.

    Choosing and Personalizing an Optimal Ketogenic Diet Strategy

    "Lazy keto" and "dirty keto" would have taken less work and were tempting options. Ultimately, however, I decided that the best strategy to help me kick my food addiction and lose the weight I needed to at a reasonable pace would take a mostly "clean keto" approach, but slightly less strict. I would focus primarily on cutting out all added sugars and refined carbohydrates, eating more whole foods, choosing grass-fed, organic, and/or non-GMO foods whenever possible, cutting way down on processed foods, and increasing my daily consumption of fresh, low-carbohydrate vegetables.

    I also decided to track my dietary fiber intake and supplement what I was able to get from food with a safe, gentle, osmotic laxative like MiraLAX, which an endoscopy nurse I met during my most recent colonoscopy visit told me she takes daily to stay "regular." Sometimes I buy an equivalent product from a different brand, such as Member's Mark ClearLAX or Amazon Basic Care ClearLax, that has the same active ingredient (polyethylene glycol 3350) but costs less per dose.

    With so much weight to lose, and a powerful and urgent motivation to do lose it and also lower my health risks, I decided that I didn't want to "cheat" when eating out, or for holidays or special occasions, or when I was under a lot of stress. To support that goal over a long period of time, I knew I would need to be proactive in preventing myself from feeling deprived, and decided to plan homemade or purchased keto-friendly treats, made with high-quality, nutritious, and some minimally and, occasionally, moderately processed ingredients, into my daily menus.

    When I chose to get started on keto, my short-term goal was to lose the weight I needed to in a way that I could sustain as long as necessary. I made a commitment to myself to do whatever it took, for as long as necessary, to achieve that goal. The strategy I chose to follow turned out to work extremely well for me, based on my individual needs, challenges, and goals. Someone else might do better with a significantly different approach.

    I encourage anyone who is seriously considering a ketogenic approach to losing weight to be brutally honest with themselves about how much, how, and for how long they are willing to change their eating habits, and then define their own personal guidelines/rules for their unique keto journey and modify them over time, if needed, as they discover what is and isn't working well for them.

    Consulting With a Doctor

    When the surgeon explained that my being both obese and postmenopausal were the most likely factors in my developing cervical polyps, she also told me that losing my excess body fat was one of the best ways to reduce my risk for developing either additional polyps or uterine cancer. During my pre-op follow-up visit, I told her that I had family members and friends who had lost weight successfully on keto, and that I was considering a "clean keto" diet, with a focus on making healthy, nutritionally sound choices and losing pounds at a moderate rate. She said it sounded like a reasonable approach and one worth trying, at least for a period of time. So, I was fortunate to have her support. Clearly, the risks of obesity appeared higher than any risks associated with such a restricted diet.

    Some medical or nutrition experts, however, are not in favor of a ketogenic diet for weight loss. Some also have misconceptions about keto, and many advise against it because it is so restrictive. But most support adopting a low-carb diet as a permanent lifestyle change. In fact, I don't know of any medical or nutrition professional who would not encourage patients to either cut out or restrict sugar, refined carbs and processed foods from their diet.

    It's also important to understand that keto is not always the best option, or even a good one, for every person. If you have a health condition, eating a very low carb diet might help, but it also could make it worse. So, it's best to have this conversation with your doctor, and to discuss what things should be monitored, how often, and whether you can monitor them yourself or will need a medical professional to run periodic tests.

    Note: If your doctor isn't aware of recent evidence-based studies and their findings regarding the potential health and medical benefits of a keto or LCHF approach to eating, you might consider sharing either of both of the following articles published in professional journals:

    Determining a Daily Calorie Target and Calculating Macros

    Like many other people, I found the not only the concept of macros but also how to calculate what mine should be extremely confusing. 

    In the context of keto, "macros" is short for macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fats. A person's macros refers to 1) the relative percentages of their target daily calories allocated to each of those macronutrients, and 2) the number of grams of net carbs, protein and fat that person can/should eat daily. 

    One of the most common macronutrient ratios is 5/25/70, i.e., 5% of the person's daily calories come from "net carbs," 25% come from protein, and 70% come from fat. To clarify a common misconception, this does NOT mean that for someone who chooses a 5/25/70 macro ratio, 70% of the amount of foods they eat on keto will consist of fats. Fats have 9 calories per gram, while proteins and carbohydrates each have only 4 calories per gram. So, allocating 70% of your daily calories to fat translates to a much smaller percentage in terms of weight (in grams). 

    For daily tracking purposes, what matters is the daily number of grams of carbohydrate, protein and fat consumed, as well as your total calories.

    Net Carbs vs. Total Carbohydrate Grams

    Most people on keto base their macros calculations and tracking on net carbs, rather than total carbs. The reason is that dietary fiber, most sugar alcohols, as well as two of my favorite keto-friendly sweeteners, Allulose and pentose (e.g., BochaSweet brand sugar replacement) are not digested, so they aren't metabolized and used by the body for energy. This means they don't affect achieving or sustaining a metabolic state of ketosis (which is the core of a ketogenic diet approach). 

    The most common way to calculate "net carbs" (and the formula I use) is: 

    Total Carbohydrate - Fiber - (most) Sugar Alcohols - Allulose or pentose (e.g., BochaSweet) sweetener = Net Carbs 

    Some people only subtract the dietary fiber. Others subtract only half the sugar alcohols and/or Allulose or pentose (e.g., BochaSweet). Still others track total carbohydrate grams rather than calculating net carbs, which is much more restrictive (or is based on a higher percentage of carbohydrates).

    Keto Calculators / Macro Calculators

    When I was preparing to get started on keto, I had no idea how to choose a ratio for my macros, how many calories my body burned, how to decide on a calorie deficit percentage, or how to calculate how many grams of net carbs, protein and fat to eat each day. Fortunately, there were lots of articles and calculators to help.

    Ruled.me's ketogenic macro calculator is one of the most user-friendly of those I've tried. It's a good tool to help you figure out your daily calories target for weight loss and your starting macros, both the ratio (as a percent of calories) and, most importantly, the number of fat, carbohydrate and protein grams and calories you will consume daily on keto).

    Downloading Carb Manager or Another Good App to Track Calories, Macros, and Other Key Nutrients

    The thing I resisted most when starting my keto diet journey, and also the one I knew would be critical to my success, was committing to track every bite of food and every sip of drink that went into my mouth before I consumed it. Lots of people lose weight on keto without doing this. I can only share what was important to my weight loss success on this diet.

    There are a number of good apps for tracking your macros and calories. Some can also help you track other key nutrients. If you have high blood pressure, for example, it might be important for you to track your sodium intake. For me, tracking my fiber intake was a high priority, since many foods that are high in fiber are also high in carbohydrates and/or calories, which makes it hard to get enough dietary fiber daily for gastrointestinal health (and to avoid constipation!).

    My favorite tracking app, which I use every day, several times a day and recommend highly, is Carb Manager. The free version of this app has everything you need to track your macros, other nutrients of your choice, and calories. (I subsequently upgraded to the paid, premium version because it offers additional features I find helpful, but it's absolutely not necessary for keto.)

    Carb Manager has a huge library of foods (many of which were entered by other users, so I always check user-entered nutrition data against the manufacturer's nutrition data from the package label). You can make a custom entry for any food, either by manually entering the nutrition data from the package label or manufacturer's website, or by pointing your camera at the barcode on the packaging, if available, to see whether the data for that product can be imported into the app automatically (or has been entered already by someone else).

    Note: Carb Manager automatically calculates net carbs by subtracting fiber and sugar alcohol grams from the total carbohydrate grams. However, it doesn't yet include Allulose, which is a relatively new keto-friendly sweetener, in its calculations. Also, the USDA doesn't require manufacturers to list Allulose in the nutrition data, so it's not always clear how many grams of Allulose are in some products that use it. Fortunately, when you enter or edit the nutrition information for a food in Carb Manager, you have the ability to choose to enter carbohydrate grams as net carbs or total carbohydrates. Net carbs are often printed on the packaging for foods containing Allulose.

    One of the things I love about Carb Manager is that it has a macro calculator with adjustment sliders that can help you see in advance how changing your macro percentages would affect your daily fat, protein and carbohydrate grams, or how increasing or decreasing your desired calorie deficit percentage would affect the number of calories and net carb, protein and fat grams you can eat and the estimated length of time to reach your weight loss goal.

    Another great aspect of the Carb Manager app is its "Smart Macros" feature option that, if you turn it on, will automatically adjust your daily macros and calories over time, as your weight changes. The app also allows you to enter and track your body measurements, BMI, and other types of metrics to gauge your progress, a feature that I use and find extremely helpful, since the numbers on the scale can (and usually do) fluctuate regularly, often for no apparent reason, but a tape measure doesn't lie.

    This terrific app has many more features and capabilities than I can go into in this post, but the website has a very robust database of articles that explains each feature and how to use it. You can also take a brief tour of the Carb Manager app to get a sense of how it works and what the user experience is like before you download it.

    We're only halfway through the list of things I did to prepare myself for success before starting my keto diet journey. I'll cover the rest in my next post, Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part Two.

    "The best way to predict your future is to create it." 〜 Abraham Lincoln


    Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part One by Margaret Schindel


    Posts In This Series About My Keto Diet Journey

    My First Year on The Keto Diet

    Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part One

    Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part Two

    Low Carb Muffins & Cupcakes: Treats to Enjoy on a Keto Diet

    Low Carb Keto Chocolate Yogurt Granola Chip Pudding Recipe

    Good Dee’s Keto Cookie Low Carb Baking Mix Review

    Hamama Microgreens Growing Kit Review & Success Tips

    My Favorite Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilt Accessories

    Keto Cheddar Cheese Biscuits With Chives Recipe

    The Ultimate Keto Hot Chocolate Recipe

    The Best Low Carb Keto Gift Ideas: Keto Gift Guide

    The Best Low Carb Keto Cinnamon Muffins

    Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix and Yeast Bread Recipe

    The Good Chocolate 100% Organic No Sugar Dark Chocolate Review

    The Best Advice to Maintain Your Keto Diet Weight Loss

    My New Irresistibly Delicious Keto Cheese Crackers Recipe

    Luscious Low Carb Keto Triple Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies Recipe


    Reviews of the Keto Diet by Barbara C. (aka Brite-Ideas)

    My Personal Keto Testimonial

    How I Stayed Committed to the Ketogenic Way of Eating


    Read More Reviews About Health and Wellness by Our Review This Reviews Contributors






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