We have all been there. Trying to get your head around a new way of eating. All that new terminology and the dos and don’ts out there. Wanting to make sure you are doing the ‘right’ thing so you can reap the benefits. The great thing about the low carb high fat (LCHF) way of eating is that you really can tailor it to suit your lifestyle and goals. There is no one size fits all. We are all leading different lives, in different bodies, with different goals. We hope our Keto Approach series can help you with finding the best version of keto for you.
When we first started with keto in July 2016 we initially cut out all simple carbohydrates and sugars and increased our fat intake and followed a more LCHF type approach. After a few weeks of adjusting to this new WOE, we then started tracking our macros in My Fitness Pal and aiming to keep our total carbs under 20gms per day. We didn’t test our ketones at all or worry about any other macros or calories at this stage. Once we were fat adapted (after 1-2 months) we gradually introduced intermittent fasting as our hunger naturally decreased. We find it easy to regularly intermittent fast (16:8) and restrict our carbohydrates to 20gms per day, this is a comfortable place for us to stay.
After about nine months Erika’s weight loss slowed down and she began fine tuning things by tracking all her macros more closely and keeping a close eye on protein and total calories. She also introduced extended fasting of up to 3 days combined with OMAD on other days. Mentally and emotionally all this restriction really started to negatively affect Erika due to her history of dieting and disordered eating. The shift came when her weight loss goals became less important and her new goals were more around feeling great physically and emotionally and not restricting herself as much. This was an important step in her weight loss journey as the previous focus on the scales definitely had a negative impact on her.
Flexibility in our approach has been the key to making this a sustainable lifestyle change. If we tried to push something that didn’t feel right, we may not have been able to make this way of life the “new normal”. This flexibility allows us to adjust things when travelling or when life throws us curve balls.
When we are travelling we do not count any macros or worry too much about specific ingredients restaurants may use, we just try to make the best low carb choices we can. A big part of travelling for us is trying local food and eating out, so we follow our When in Rome philosophy so we can relax and enjoy new places. Feeling like we are ‘restricted’ on holidays by counting carbs and enquiring about every meal we purchase would negatively impact our holiday, so we choose to relax and go with the flow somewhat. We know when we get home life goes back to our normal, so there is no need for concern there.
We move between the different approaches depending on our goals and how we are feeling. For example, when travelling we don’t want to be counting carbs and testing ketones, we want to have a more relaxed approach when on holidays. This would be a time we would focus on the LCHF approach. At other times, we may want to fine-tune things and focus on health goals and improved mental clarity so we would use the fine-tuning approach. For us, it’s fluid, it’s about what works for us long term and switching it up works for us. Check out our About Us for our before and after photos.
We have a couple of friends that are keto/LCHF and they both approach this lifestyle differently to us. Check out how they make keto work for them below –
Ashely is 37 and lives in country Victoria with his wife and 2 young kids. He started keto in 2016 after losing some weight with Optifast, but finding he couldn’t drink those shakes any longer and was struggling with hunger. Ashley found the approach that worked best for him was a strict monitoring type approach. He checks his ketones regularly, keeps his carb intake as low as he can and keeps his diet fairly simple. His main go to foods are bacon, eggs, bulletproof coffee, cheese, spinach and avocado. Ashley has found it is really important for him to have strong restrictions around what he eats to avoid temptation. He also loved that eating this way dramatically decreased his hunger levels. While following this approach Ashley lost around 40kg.
Maya is 38 and lives in Sydney with her husband. She has been type 2 diabetic for 7 years and was also diagnosed with PCOS . She was struggling to keep her blood sugar under control with diet and then medication. Maya wanted to lose weight and manage her diabetes better as she was trying to conceive. Maya’s approach is more LCHF than strict keto. She focuses on not eating simple carbs like bread, pasta and sugar. Maya doesn’t focus on restricting vegetables or fruits and she doesn’t count her carbs. She does monitor her blood glucose levels due to the diabetes. Her readings have dropped to a much more manageable level since adopting her keto approach. Maya and her husband love to eat out and she has been able to continue to do this using her more flexible approach. Maya has lost 27kg since starting her keto WOE and she has also reversed her PCOS.
It is really important to find the keto that works for you. Keto is a lifestyle, not a diet. It’s not about “doing it right”. Many people that are just starting out feel they are doing it wrong, or are concerned with being super strict. The key focus needs to be what approach works for you long term. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Just because a social media group you are in is promoting one way doesn’t mean it’s the only way. Finding what works for you can be a challenging and frustrating process, but give it time.
Check out part 2 of the keto approaches series, LCHF.
- Keto Approaches Part 4 – Fine-tune
- Keto Approaches Part 3 – Experiment
- Keto Approaches Part 2 – LCHF
- Keto Approaches Part 1 – Overview
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