Fallen off the keto wagon? Wondering how to get back on Keto? Ten easy tips to get back on the Low Carb diet once again.
First, a disclaimer. I am not a medical, or health care professional so you definitely want to consult what my sons call "a real doctor, not a Ph.D. like my Mom".
If you plan to adopt a ketogenic/ low carb way of eating for the rest of your life, there will definitely be times when you will fall off the wagon. In my case, that's usually off the wagon and face-first into cupcakes.
For those of us who follow keto for serious health issues, this can be dangerous, and the consequences are beyond my professional ability to discuss so I won't touch those.
But for those of us who follow keto for weight loss/overall wellbeing reasons, I think this is not unusual. This happens to the best of us.
The difficulty often is that one cupcake leads to another, followed by other high-carb things, and before you know it, you're slowly drifting back to your old, bad-for-you eating habits.
Over the last 5 years, I've definitely had to take myself in hand and get back on Keto or low carb again.
What Are The Basics Of The Keto Diet? 10 Tips And Tricks To Get You Back On Track
1.Learn To Distinguish Real Hunger From Mouth Hunger
- We eat for a lot of reasons other than hunger. You have to discover your own reasons for why you eat. I know I tend to munch if I'm happy or bored, and I am easily bored and often very happy so that's a problem. I'm a lot less likely to eat mindlessly when stressed, so if I wanted to be skinny, I'd just have to stress myself out a lot I guess. But I've found an easier and healthier way than this.
- I've learned to distinguish between real hunger and mouth hunger, where I just want something good tasting to munch on. I do this by asking myself two questions:
- Are you hungry enough to eat a piece of dry chicken breast? (which is the least exciting thing I can think of to eat). If the answer is yes, then I'm really hungry.
- Are you craving something in particular to eat? Or will you eat just about anything reasonable? If it's a particular craving, I'm not really hungry, I'm just wanting to munch. If I'd eat just about anything reasonable, then I'm truly hungry. So when I say, “I need to eat something now”, I'm really hungry. When I say to myself, “Let's see, what sounds good to eat?” Yeah, not really hungry then.
- You may need to find your own hunger litmus test questions, but here are the ones that work for me. But learning why you eat is critical, not just to get back on Keto, but also to help you maintain healthy eating habits in the long run.
2. Go Back To PrePlanning and Tracking
- There's nothing worse than doing well all day, and then discovering that you ate something that had a lot more carbs than you expected–and there goes your well-planned day. It's a lot easier to just plan what you're going to eat, enter it into your tracking app, and ensure that you will be on point if you follow the plan.
- I find it also helps me to not have to worry all day about what to eat. It's already planned. I just have to eat it–which I am usually more than happy to do. Most of us have to track carbs and calories while on keto, and pre-planning helps with both.
- This pre-planning is essential for me when I try to get back on Keto.
- Use my Keto Macro Calculator to help you stay on track.
3. Drink Lots Of Liquid
- Often when I think I'm hungry, if I drink a little bit, the hunger goes away.
- In fact, for years I used what I called a “water loading” trick. An hour before I was scheduled to eat, I would drink a large glass of water. You'd be surprised how long you can feel full with a large glass of liquid sloshing about inside you.
- Fluids also do help with weight loss, so drinking adequately is essential when you are trying to get back on Keto.
4. Weigh All Of Your Food
- After you've been doing this for a while, you may think you're pretty good at being able to guesstimate food quantities. But if you go over an ounce or two at each meal, that adds up to several hundred more calories than you should be eating.
- I also know that sometimes when I've gone back to weighing my food, I've been eating LESS than I should have because what I considered a 4 oz piece of chicken actually turned out to only be 3 ounces.
- So, weighing or measuring out your portions really helps you stay on track. It also introduces a disciple around meals that I may have lost then I fell off the wagon, and is essential for me to reintroduce to get back on Keto.
5. Fast Between Meals
- NO grazing. This is critical on keto. Remember you're trying to reduce insulin and reduce spikes in blood sugar. Nothing reduces insulin secretion as well as fasting.
- I usually set my clock to 4 hours between meals. If I get hungry within 3-4 hours of my last meal, I drink something instead because it was really unlikely be real hunger. Not only does it limit calories, but it also reduces my insulin response. I have to remember that I am either feasting (eating) or fasting (going without food). And your body doesn't burn fat when feasting, so the longer I fast, the more I burn.
- I usually set my clock for mealtimes to be 8 am, 12 pm, 4 pm, and a snack at 8 pm. This also has the benefit of letting me fast for 12 hours overnight. You may prefer other times, but clock watching at first, when you have been eating at all times of day or night, is a good way to introduce some discipline into your life. Fasting is actually a great way to get back on Keto, and also helps you get into ketosis faster.
4. Identify carb levels for weight loss, weight gain, and maintenance. Then plan accordingly.
- In my case, I have to keep carbs below 20-40 gms for weight loss, and below 75 gms for maintenance. I am super carb sensitive. While others can eat a lot more than 75 gms for maintenance (after all, 100-150 gms is considered low carb by American standards), I didn't win the genetic lottery on this one.
- You will have to experiment to find the appropriate levels for you, but once you know the levels, it makes planning a lot easier.
- Typically, I give myself 2-3 weeks at a particular level of carbs to see if I'm losing, gaining, or maintaining.
- Click here to find a keto macro calculator that you can use to set your macros.
5. Eat More Protein
- Not eating enough protein is what got me in trouble in the first place. I'm a reluctant carnivore and would rather eat carbs than meat. But that doesn't work for me. I know keto is positioned as fat, fat, fat, and yes eating fat to satiety is important–but so is protein.
- I try to get my protein in first, and then “fill around the edges” with fat.
- I also find that protein fills up my stomach really fast, and stays with me for a really long time, so that's another reason why ensuring I get my protein in daily is helpful, not just for overall muscle health but also for weight loss. So when you're trying to get back on keto, it's not just fats, but also moderate protein that helps you get back on track.
- Click here to find a keto macro calculator that you can use to set your macros.
6. Accepting Hunger And Not Thinking It Needs To Be Fixed Immediately
- We believe that if we are hungry and don't eat, we will keep getting hungrier and hungrier until we just faint away like a Victorian lady. But most of us do not find that to be the case. Instead, hunger comes and goes in waves.
- Often if I am hungry and I drink something, or I distract myself with something, or if I tell myself I need to wait for 2 more hours, the hunger goes away.
- The truth is, there's no way to lose weight without being hungry. Keto makes you less hungry than just restricting calories while continuing to eat carb-laden foods, but most of us have to learn to embrace the hunger when we get back on Keto.
- When I feel like I'm starving, I tell myself my body HAS to be burning fat if I'm that ravenous, and that makes it easier to deal with.
9. Be Patient
- Rarely if ever, have I lost more than a pound every other week. Sometimes, I've stalled for 6-8 weeks. So, If I want to lose 10 lbs–the same 10 pounds that only took a week in Italy to jump onto my body-- it could be close to 4 months before I can lose them. It's not fair, but it's my reality, so I just need to get into that medium- to long-term mindset, rather than expecting miracles each time I jump on the scale in the morning.
- This is easier said than done I know, especially when the interwebz are full of people telling you how they lost 50 lbs in a month. I hate envy those people. But that is not how it works for me, and that is not how it works for thousands of other, silent sufferers.
10. Allow Yourself Some Treats So You Don't Feel Deprived--But Make Them Keto Treats
- This is where Keto Sweets, Treats, and fat bombs come in really handy. What works for me is to have something planned and ready so that when the craving hits, I can grab a quick little keto treat, and not feel deprived. Most of the keto desserts on this blog also serve as fat bombs, so you will be satisfying your taste buds, your hunger, and your macros all in one fell and delicious swoop as you get back on Keto.