I have learned over the last two years that there are some key rules that have been important for me to follow along my ketogenic journey and I am not referring to macros, blood glucose and ketone testing. I am going a little deeper than that and when you keep reading below you will see what I mean.
Too often I see people thinking something is wrong if the scale stopped moving down, or if they had something that is considered “cheating”, they let themselves completely fall of the wagon or just pure negativity towards themselves when they are starting out.
I want to share that I have been there and neither were helpful and it wasn’t until I followed these keto rules, or as I call them my keto golden rules, that I truly felt like my true vibrant self and the scale reflected that self-love.
1. Be kind to yourself
Are you aware how much power your thoughts have over you and how much negative thoughts could be what is holding you back? Too often I hear people putting themselves down when they fall off the keto wagon and can be downright nasty to themselves in speech or in social media forums. Those thoughts alone, and the stress you are putting on your body from thinking them will actually cause you more damage, even though you think it’s just a thought… what’s the big deal?
What I always say to folks when they fall off the wagon is to “don’t fret or cause yourself worry, this is a marathon not a race. You are competing only against yourself. Get back up, dust yourself off and move forward.”
It’s easy to be critical on yourself but life is hard enough as it is, we need to be kind to ourselves and give ourselves a pat on the back. I know weight has a huge impact on how we feel overall, not only how much it wears on us physically but extra fat is extra toxins in/on our body, with this we don’t generally feel our best.
Any step taken towards the ketogenic diet is a step you hadn’t taken before and you should reward yourself with a kind word at yourself in the mirror and just make an effort to have positive thoughts.
2. Cheat meal doesn’t have to be a cheat day
Just because you have a meal or a snack that is not ketogenic or puts you over your carb count for the day, don’t feel that all your progress is ruined and give yourself permission to fully indulge. Now, I should mention that if you have intention to have a “Treat” day and carb-up, that is completely a different thing. Intention is key here to my messaging.
Too often people have a cheat meal that they didn’t intend to have, which leads to a cheat day, to a cheat week and two months later they have gained all their weight back and feel worse than when they started. You are human, you are allowed to have hiccups, but treat it as that and get back to your ketogenic meals.
I also hear people say that “I’ll start over tomorrow”. You are not starting over; you are just picking up where you left off. This is an evolution, not a revolution. You don’t lose your progress to date, you just might stall for a day or two but you will recover and be back on track.
For me, if I decide & intend to have something higher in carbs or even have sugar in it, I tend to fast as long as I can before my next meal, this way my ketone levels have a chance to increase and I am back into fat burning mode.
3. Eat to nourish
The health of your body and mind is all you have, it is your vessel to surviving on this planet, why wouldn’t you want to fuel it properly. When I am referring to here is eating good quality food but also enough food.
There are lots of calculators out there that help you understand how many calories you should be eating for your age, weight, height and gender, which are helpful as a guide because regardless of what you read, ketogenic is not a free for all on your calories to eat whatever you want as long as high-fat and low-carb. You still need to eat an adequate amount of food to keep your metabolism running optimally but also able to shed extra pounds. A calculator I use is: Keto Calculator as it’s a pretty standard trusted calculator in the keto community.
To nourish your body, eat balanced whole food meals and eat until you are satisfied without over eating and try practicing intuitive eating. Click here for a definition. The most popular practice with a ketogenic diet is to intermittent fast (IF) which has many health benefits. In additional to IF, in your eating window, you can also practice intuitive eating, vs. eating at certain times set times like a routine.
4. Quality matters
No packaged foods people! There is no need for it on a ketogenic diet. Things are fairly simple as it is with putting together meals, I don’t know what packaged meals offer you other than convenience, but they don’t really do much for your health or digestive system.
Foods are cooked at high temperatures, and often have preservatives that are hard on your gut. Although a box says it has certain macro percentages, I have found in my experience that I can’t trust those numbers entirely.
I recommend spending a few hours on a Sunday and prepare meals for freezing. This is what a Sunday morning looks like in my kitchen:
- Beef Bone Broth started
- Cloud Bread & Keto Rolls baked & frozen
- Chocolate Mousse made, bottled in glass containers and frozen
- Fat Bombs made & frozen
- Bacon, placed in container in freezer to grab for salads or to quickly fry up beside eggs
- Various dishes made to pull out of freezer or refrigerator for dinners throughout the week, examples are:
- Shepherd’s Pie
- Bolognese Sauce
- Crust-less Quiche
- Soups (Broccoli or cauliflower)
5. Stop fixating on the scale
The scale is only one component of the benefits of a ketogenic diet and it can’t always be trusted. Did you know you can retain up to 5 lbs in water and for many reasons? Just weigh yourself every hour for a full day and see how much the scale will fluctuate.
Yes, the scale can be an amazing reinforcement about how much this diet is working but don’t discredit how well you feel in your clothing, or how well your digestion is, clear skin and health nails or how about when you do your measurements and although the scale may not have moved, you have gotten smaller! That is a pretty incredible feeling.
I recommend watching this video by Cindy on YouTube, clip available here: Watch on YouTube By Clicking Here
It explains what happens when our fat cells empty of fat, how smart they are and wanting to survive, so they fill up with water. Made perfect sense to me and as I would lose weight, I saw this to come true. My weight loss was not an ounce here, an ounce there. I would have 1-2 pound whooshes evident on the scale. I now understand those to be the fat cells that filled back up with water, burst and I dropped that water weight.
6. Hidden sugar will get you every single time
You might see a great product on the shelf and the carb count is relatively low and you could definitely fit it into your macros for the day, but sadly has sugar, just a little sugar, not much so you decide to go for it. The next day, although you didn’t eat above your macros, you gained weight. What? How is this possible? Well even if it’s just a little sugar, it raises your blood glucose level, creates an insulin response and can raise the cortisol levels in your body which in return causes you to retain water. Don’t panic, a day or two of going back on your diet will shed that water weight, but think back, was eating that little bit of sugar worth it?
Make sure you are reading your labels on all food and if it isn’t a plant based sweetener, I’d avoid it all together.
Summing it up
To recap on my golden keto rules:
- Be Kind to Yourself
- Cheat Meal doesn’t have to be a Cheat day
- Eat to nourish
- Quality Matters
- Stop Fixating on the scale
- Hidden Sugars will get you every single time
Not in any specific order, these have been very important as principles as I have been guiding myself through my ketogenic journey. Do you have key golden rules that you follow to keep you on track? I’d love to hear from you below.