Eliminate Sugar and Carbs
I’ve watched a number of Netflix documentaries like Hungry for Change and Food Inc and some of the underlying messages are to avoid sugar and processed foods. If you get the chance, I suggest you watch them to get an idea of how our western based diets are centred around foods that are made to be addictive. Therefore, my first step on my keto journey was to stop using sugar and stop eating foods that contained sugar.
You can’t eliminate sugar completely because some ingredients naturally contain small traces of sugar (e.g. peanut butter and cream). The important thing is to check the nutritional information to ensure that sugar levels are minute.
Unfortunately it also included cutting out nearly all of the fruits I loved. At work my boss provides fruits and nuts for everyone to eat. I loved eating them as a healthy nutritional snack between meals. Even though fruits are a good source of vitamins and nutrients they are also stacked with the natural sugar fructose. Fructose has the same effect as sugar. I also ditched cow’s milk due to its sugar levels and replaced it with coconut milk. I also cut out starchy vegetables like potatoes and pumpkin.
The next step was to cut out the high carbohydrate foods like breads and pastries. This would have to be the number one sacrifice that I made food wise. I love the smell of walking into a bakery with hot fresh bread, the smell of fresh hot cinnamon donuts as you pass Donut King, or the burst of sweetened fresh cream as you bite into a spongy donut dusted with icing sugar. It was time to say goodbye.
Start Intermittent Fasting
I also started intermittent fasting. I decided to ditch breakfast and moved lunch forward to 10am. Then after a week moved it to 11am, then the next week pushed it later to 12pm. Until eventually I was able to move lunch to 1pm. This was a real challenge at first, fighting the hunger pains to have a snack before my first meal. But strangely enough, over time my body adapted to having no breakfast and I was having my first meal at 1pm.
Depending on when I had dinner the night before my longest fasting period over night was about 14-18 hours. I also stopped having snacks in between meals which meant I was fasting in between meals too. It’s important to note that it isn’t a dry fast, you can drink as much water as you need. In keto it’s really important to stay hydrated through the diet so drinking lots of water and electrolytes is important.
Eat Your Greens
Eating loads of salad on the daily was next, something I wasn’t accustomed to. Dr Berg suggests having five to seven cups of greens and vegetables a day. That’s a lot of salad, so I tried to make sure that my two meals include salads. Initially everything I ate included a bed of salad consisting of a simple combination of spinach leaves, tomatoes, avocado, cheese and seasoned with salt, olive oil and apple cider vinegar. The only variation to my salad would be the protein that would accompany it.
Something I noticed in the first couple of weeks I was lacking an extensive keto menu. My meals lacked variety because basically everything I ate was just salad and meat. Thankfully eggs are good to go on keto and I love eggs. To mix it up I would have a bed of salad with a very basic omelette filled with spinach, tomatoes, mushroom and cheese.
I also made lettuce tacos filled with spicy mince, tomatoes, avocado, cheese and sour cream. Everything I ate was just salad, meat and eggs. I needed some more inspiration to improve the variety of the foods I ate before I would get bored with it.
Need Keto Recipes
Once again I started trawling Youtube again for keto recipes. First it has to be said that I am not a great cook. I only looked at recipes that had basic ingredients and were quick and easy to make. There are plenty of keto recipes out there, but these are some of my favourites:
Jason Wittrock’s Fat Bombs
Say hello to some sweet chocolate like yumminess. This was my first attempt to make a sweet keto treat. It has only a few ingredients but it’s so easy to make and easy to devour them all. There are plenty of fat bomb recipes out there but this is one I thought was super easy to make. As a note, Jason uses almond butter which can be pretty pricey, so I just substituted it with peanut butter. Just make sure it’s the 100% peanut versions, not the cheap and nasty ones. I’ve used Bega 100% Nuts or Mayvers peanut butters.
This has to be my favourite keto food channel. It’s hosted by a humorous rocking heavy metal Indian named Demonstealer (real name Sahil) – say what? I know, it seems like such a strange combination but it works so well. He even uses his heavy metal tracks as background music to his videos and its cool. I love his videos for a lot of reasons, he’s funny, his videos are simple but instructive, he gives a great taste test, and the foods he cooks are yummy. My favourite go to recipes are the vanilla mug cake, the chocolate peanut butter mug cake, mascarpone berry mousse, keto oyakodon and almond flour waffles to name a few.
Ditch the Carbs
I have made a keto bread recipe but unfortunately it was very eggy in flavour. The recipe used six egg and you could really taste it. Recently though it was suggested to me to try the Ditch the Carbs fathead pizza dough recipe. It was not only simple to make but super yummy. It’s the closest answer for one of my favourite foods. Not only that but you can use the dough to make other bread based variations. So bread lovers watch and behold this awesome keto baking answer to your prayers:
- Dr Berg’s Recipes – With the help of his wife he has a lot of keto friendly recipes and videos.
- Keto Support – Facebook Group – A friend of mine who also found keto, invited me to this closed Facebook Group and I found it a useful resource to hear other people’s experiences, share food recipes, and to ask questions. The group is based in New Zealand so some of the events or products will be specific to their location.
- Keto Connect – This couple do a great job of not only showing you how to prepare keto foods but also do a lot of informative videos about living the keto lifestyle.
Cooking Keto With Variety
There are plenty more out there but you just need to be wary of some low carb recipes. Reason being is that although they are lower in carbs they still use ingredients that don’t fit the keto philosophy. For example, a low carb chia jam recipe I found used rice malt syrup as a sweetener which isn’t keto friendly. If you have any favourite keto food YouTube channels or websites please let me know and I’ll check them out.
Even after I found these new recipes, daily leafy salads were still the priority. It was awesome that I now had some variety and sweet treats that I could now make to break up the monotony. For example, Headbanger’s almond waffles is one of my favourites because the batch is big enough for four waffles, two to make a sandwich/burger with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, mayo and a meat of your choice. Then the last two waffles to top with cream and low-carb chia seed raspberry jam. Killed two meals with one recipe, dinner and a dessert treat all taken care of. Eating keto was now much easier to maintain and enjoy!
Another thing about keto is that I cook a lot of my food. It’s a challenge to buy keto friendly meals from fast food restaurants. For lunch, if I don’t make my own I normally buy a salad from Botanica Real Food, a salad take away just up the road from work. Or I pick up a take away lunch salad from Woolworths with a BBQ chicken quarter. So a lot of times you end up making or cooking your food because you control exactly what ingredients go into your meals.
Protein From Food or Protein Supplements
On exercise nights I might have dinner after it but specifically have an omelette dish. The omelette usually contains 3-4 eggs and eggs are a great source of protein. When I started keto I also stopped taking post exercise protein shakes because of high carbs and sugar levels. I know there are low carb no sugar options out there but I’ve found that I was getting enough protein from the foods I was eating. I watched this documentary that questioned whether people needed protein supplements for muscle growth. However, if your workout routines are geared for gaining muscle and size then maybe a protein supplement would be necessary.
Click the following link to read how for me keto was a success.