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Intro

How to Keto-fy in (Less Than) 10 Days

NOTE: Do not attempt ketosis if you have impaired liver function.

Keto is a low-carb, high-fat diet without calorie restrictions, because if you're eating enough dietary fats to hit your macros it'll be impossible to eat "too much".

Macronutrients = Fat, Protein, and N-Carbs (Net Carbs = Total Carbs - Fiber)
"Hit your macros" = Eat according to your desired macronutrient profile

Initial thoughts:

  • Diet is almost entirely the determinant of your fat loss - exercise helps, and builds muscle
  • Fat is good: dietary fats do NOT directly cause body fat - carbs are much more directly linked to body fat
  • Dietary cholesterol does NOT directly raise blood cholesterol
  • Low-carb, high-fat diets have been shown to cause increases in LDL, however it's the type-A (good) large/fluffy kind, not the small/dense kind (bad)
  • Use "Net Carbs" to determine carb intake (Carbs - fiber) since fiber's not digested
  • Hit your fat macros or your body will catabolize your muscle and protein intake into glucose and kick you out of keto

  • Don't eat unless you're hungry - "starvation mode" is a myth
  • Do what feels good - if it feels better when you eat a certain way, keep eating that way
  • Any Atkins-friendly recipes are keto-friendly, as Atkins is more restrictive than keto

  • After keto-flu, expect to be more energetic and clear-headed - it's an amazing feeling!
  • To avoid keto-flu, up your salt intake
  • Drink lots and lots of fluid - helps the ketosis process

  • Caffeine will help kick-start fat-burning, so you don't have to quit (black coffee is best)
  • Sugar alcohols are tolerated differently by everyone (e.g. in sugar-free gum and diet sodas), and give some people the runs
  • Buy cheap ground beef - 80/20 and 73/27 are good for you - and don't feel like you need to drain the fat
  • Save your bacon grease for adding fat to lean meats and veggies (yum!)

Resources:

My tips and tricks:

  1. Full-fat cream instead of milk
    Milk has much more sugar in it than you would expect, and the more fat they remove, the more sugar they add in its place

  2. Butter instead of margarine
    Margarine is manufactured - we're trying to stick with less-processed foods
    Butter is a great way to add fats to meals centered around lean meat, so douse your steak, chicken, or vegetables in olive oil or butter!

  3. Pepperoni and string cheese are great no-carb snacks
    Most cheeses are awesome in general - usually about a 9:7 Fat:Protein ratio and 0-1 g carbs, so they're a staple
    Pepperoni is a great way to make up your fat intake over protein

  4. Salt everything
    Considering the extra water you'll be drinking for keto, adding a bit of salt will help keep your electrolyte balances normal
    If you get a headache, sprinkle some salt in your palm and lick it; this will often halt keto-flu and headaches
    "Lite" salt is half potassium salt, another important electrolyte

  5. Make vegetables the bulk of your carb intake
    Iceberg lettuce is basically chewable water

  6. Supplements can help
    Caffeine (tea, diet sodas, or coffee with heavy cream) will help boost fat loss and metabolism
    Fish oil capsules are often recommended; keep them in the freezer if you get and dislike fish burps
    B complex vitamins can help prevent migraines

Numbers:

By calories, your intake should be around 65/30/5 percent Fat/Protein/N-Carbs.

By weight, this is approximately 0.96g Fat per 1 gram Protein.

Determine your body fat % by calipers or with a measuring tape.

Protein intake
  1. Convert total weight to kg (0.45359237 kg/lb)

     Intake Level
    Kg body weight multiplier
     Low (Minimum)
     1.0
     Med 1.2
     Target 1.5
     High (Maximum)
     1.8

  2. Minimum level is 1.0 g protein per kg body weight - if you eat less than this, you'll lose muscle mass (lbm - lean body mass)
  3. Maximum level is 1.8 g protein per kg body weight - if you eat more than this, unless you're a weight lifter, your body will start converting protein -> glucose and kick you out of ketosis
Fat Intake

This one is easy: eat at least (0.96 * daily protein intake) g fat. Yes, this means bacon, eggs, cheese, etc, is all good for you.

N-Carb Intake
 
Almost everyone will enter ketosis in a matter of days by eating sub-50g carbs. Low-carb is considered somewhere under 100-150g carbs per day, so keto is considered ultra-low-carb.

After entering ketosis, each person has a different 'set-point' where they'll remain in ketosis - mine is about 65g and Alex's is about 80g.

Entering Ketosis (Induction)

Keto-strips
You'll sometimes see reference to "keto-strips" or testing strips that detect ketones in urine. You can find these in the "diabetic supplies" section of most pharmacies, but they're not necessary. If you use them, it's not necessary to get them to a deep purple where your urine has lots of ketones. The presence of ketones at all indicate that you're in ketosis, and if you drink enough water they probably won't become concentrated enough to hit deep purple.

There are some unmistakeable signs that you've entered keto: you'll have an acetone-like smell in your breath and urine (yes, you're peeing out your body fat); extra clear-headedness; more energy. I find that now when I'm out of keto, it feels like I have a brain-fog.

Enter the dragon

To enter ketosis, merely eat sub-50g N-carbs for several days. The fastest way to get in is to stop eating carbs, then the next morning do some HIIT (high-intensity interval training) to exhaust the muscle glucose, or glucose that hangs out in your muscle for its use. There are usually about 1-2 lbs of muscle glucose in your body, which you'll use naturally over the first several days. As for HIIT, either sprints or strength training is best, but even going for a walk will help exhaust it.

Keto Flu

You'll often hear about the dreaded keto flu. About 3-5 days in, just when you're finishing exhausting all your muscle glucose, you'll start feeling flu-like symptoms: headache, achy joints, tiredness/exhaustion. I got it so badly that it felt like a migraine. However, there's a really easy fix: salt everything. Turns out, the extra water you're drinking and the change in your eating habits to less-processed foods is robbing your body of the sodium (and other electrolyte) intake that it's used to.

If it's really awful, take a small glass (I have a measuring shot-glass) and put about a teaspoon of sea salt in it (don't use iodized salt unless you're desperate because it tastes awful). Then, add water, and drink the whole glass. You should feel better within 15 minutes. If you do more than 1.5 Tbsp, you'll almost certainly end up vomiting seawater profusely. If you're near an ocean, go swimming - you'll get salt replenishment just from unexpected submersion.

I also recommend Powerade Zero - it tastes good and has a lot of electrolytes. We prefer the grape and strawberry flavors, but orange and blue raspberry were okay too. The fruit punch and lemon-lime were pretty awful, but tastes may vary.

Make sure you keep taking vitamins, especially the fat-soluble ones. Some people recommend taking fish oil twice daily with 2-4 capsules at a time. Potassium will help as well. If you have problems with energy, try adding Vitamin D3 - it really helped Alex's SAD to take a mega-dose (~30-50k IU) once a week.

Steady-State Ketosis


Once you're past keto-flu, you may lose as much as 0.5-1 lb per day. Track your body fat percentage and other NSVs (non-scale victories), because total weight doesn't mean much (muscle is denser than fat, so you can lose volume and gain weight simultaneously).

Initially, you may lose weight a lot more rapidly, depending on how far you have to go and water weight. If you feel like it, weigh yourself daily (I felt like I was on a game-show every day, "How much did I lose today?"), or weekly, or not at all if you don't like it.

Get most of your carbs from leafy greens and vegetables, but eat whatever you want as long as you remain in your target level. Strawberries on keto are heavenly, and it's fairly easy to budget in the carbs for 2-5. Berries are some of the best fruits due to fiber.

A great resource on low-carb recommended foods is this list.

What next?

When you're happy with what you are at, start eating more carbs. Phase back in pasta occasionally.

If you get tired with strict keto, you can start to play with variants like CKD (Cyclic Keto Diet), where once a week you have a carb-up day. On that day, you can pretty much pig out on any food you want - pasta, bread, anything. It's best to start off with a healthy meal.

Let me know if you have any questions or would like a section fleshed out! This is very much a work in progress.

Now, go check out my recipes!

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