While the diet boasts tons of benefits (improved mental focus, decreased appetite, and rapid weight loss, to name a few), actually reaching and sustaining nutritional ketosis can be challenging as a keto rookie.
Temptation, social pressure, physical fatigue, and mental grogginess ("keto fog") can cause those unaware of what is ahead within the first few weeks to abruptly quit and go back to their former foods.
Here are a few ways to stay on track and kick the common "keto flu" during those inaugural weeks when the body is completely changing its primary energy source from carbs to fats.
- Your best friend invites you over to celebrate her birthday, but you're only one week into keto — clearly still in your adaptation phase. Don't panic. Having a dish that anyone can enjoy without realizing it's low carb will help you show up sweat- and cheat-free.
- Solution: Smoked jalapeño poppers topped with bacon, savory cheesecake, crustless quiche.
- Solution: Bring the usual party fare, such as chips and dip, but swap the chips for Parmesan Whisps, Moon Cheese, or sliced bell pepper or cucumbers.
- You worked late, and now you are hangry. You realize it's been at least a week since you've smelled the beyond-expired heavy whipping cream in your fridge.
- Solution: If meal prep isn't your thing, try it once more with some easy ham-and-egg cups; a sausage, arugula, and Parmesan casserole; or baked ziti. If meal prep seriously isn't for you, keep a lunchmeat or pepperoni, shredded cheese, and tomato sauce on hand — the cheese can be frozen if bought in bulk and can transform into a skillet pizza or crustless calzone in minutes.
- Solution: Find a fast-food chain you enjoy on your drive home, and look up the nutrition info while waiting in line. A cheeseburger sans bun and ketchup can be found almost anywhere and frees up your calories for extra cheese or bacon.
- After a long week of navigating the explanations of "having a weird diet" to those who are offended you're not eating the office doughnuts, you're craving a little something.
- Solution: Think about why you wanted a change, and decide if the temptation is worth it. Sometimes it may be. Before pictures of yourself are a great motivator.
- Solution: Preportion your treat of choice, such as low-carb ice cream, so you aren't tempted to eat it all straight from the box. Berries in heavy unsweetened whipped cream, low-carb bread with butter, or a rich cheese with olives are great low-carb, high-fat options that won't cause remorse. There are now low-carb hacks to make nearly anything with enough searching.
With a little advance planning for social situations, on-the-go foods, and ways to satisfy cravings without cheating, you can then focus on drinking your damn water and enjoying keto — the transition takes time, but it's worth it!