Sticking to a ketogenic diet can be pretty simple once you have the right routine set in stone.
When I first started the keto lifestyle, there was a crap ton of trial and error I had to go through in order to find the right systems and foods to eat before things really started to click.
Here’s the thing, anything is going to be hard when you first start but, as time goes on, things get easier, you begin to systematize your daily habits, and before you know it, you’ll be eating a keto lifestyle without having it feel like you are dieting.
Rules That I Live By
I’m going to start off by saying that there are a few key principles that I almost always follow regardless of if i’m trying to lose weight and/or gain muscle on the ketogenic diet.
By following these simple core principles, it makes it infinitely easier for me to stick to a keto style of eating.
If you haven’t heard of intermittent fasting before, it is simply the act of restricting your eating window to an allotted time period followed by a period of time where you can’t eat or drink anything that contains calories.
In my case, I am currently following the 16:8 intermittent fasting protocol.
This means that I won’t eat or drink anything with calories until 12PM. I then allow myself to eat until 8PM that same day. Once 8PM hits, I won’t eat anything until 12PM the next day.
By doing this, it becomes much easier for you to eat at a calorie DEFICIT. This means eating less calories than your body is burning. This is the only way to really lose weight.
Keep in mind, I usually only follow an intermittent fasting protocol when I am in a cutting phase (trying to lose weight) or if I had excessively eaten too many carbs and I’m looking to get back into ketosis as fast as possible.
At the moment, I am currently eating at a very slight calorie surplus in order to gain some weight and build muscle.
As mentioned above, I’m currently in the process of gaining weight and building muscle. I am utilizing a targeted ketogenic diet in order to build more muscle.
A targeted ketogenic diet is simply targeting a specific amount of quick carbs (such as candy), before your workout to fuel your muscles with glycogen in order to improve your lifts and gain muscle faster.
You might be wondering why I follow a ketogenic diet if i’m trying to gain weight. Isn’t the main purpose of the ketogenic diet to lose weight?
I’ve found a targeted keto diet protocol to be most effective because I am still gaining muscle while keeping fat off my body. I am also very energetic.
Whenever I try to gain weight and muscle by eating additional carbs – I end up bloating, being tired all the time, and gaining way too much fat.
By timing my carbs right around the time I work out, I’m still gaining muscle and virtually no additional fat is being added on.
Keep in mind, this is not what I do when I am in the process of trying to lose weight.
When I am strictly trying to lose fat, I try to consume the least amount of carbs possible. This means NO carbs pre or post workout. The only carbs you should be getting when trying to lose weight on the ketogenic diet is from vegetables.
This is another huge rule that I follow every day. You’ll never see me snacking on random things during the day.
There are a couple reasons for this:
- Snacking can turn into a bad habit in which you start eating just because you’re bored.
- Your metabolism is never given a break from frequent snacking – your body needs time to be in a fasted state.
- You’re eating excess calories and you won’t feel full after eating small snacks.
The whole idea that snacking is supposed to help your metabolism is a crock of bullshit. I’m a firm believer that this ideology was created just so the snack / cereal industry could profit more.
There is no concrete evidence showing that snacking in between meals or having 6 small frequent small meals is good for your health.
In fact, the complete opposite is true.
You should be eating 2 maybe 3 larger meals a day and give your body a break in between meals. This way your metabolism isn’t working the whole time – by doing this, your body actually goes through a process called autophagy where your body hunts dead cells and gets rid of them.
Eat Fibrous Veggies with Every Meal
A lot of people claim to not have to take a dump after going on a ketogenic diet. This is NOT something to brag about. If you find yourself not going number 2 at least once a day, then you need to be adding more fibrous vegetables in your diet.
Every time I get a client or friend who has gone on the ketogenic diet and they begin to tell me that they aren’t experiencing the benefits that everyone talks about, it always turns out that they aren’t eating enough vegetables.
Here’s the thing.
While it may seem appealing to eat fatty cuts of meat, bacon, eggs, cheese, and other foods that other diets don’t allow, it is more important to be eating a lot of vegetables as well otherwise, you aren’t getting the proper micronutrient intake that you should be getting every day.
Breakfast is different for me depending on a couple different things. Like you, I’m busy a lot of the time and simply don’t have the time in the morning to cook myself a nice keto breakfast.
I usually have to be up and out of the door by 7am to get to work by 8am on the weekdays.
If i’m trying to bulk and gain muscle, I will either hard-broil 4 eggs for breakfast or eat canned sardines and avocado. This is also paired with a bulletproof coffee that I sip on while driving to work.
A bulletproof coffee is blending (in a blender!!) coconut oil, MCT oil, and ghee or grass-fed butter into your coffee. It’s a great way to boost your energy and will help yourself reach a state of ketosis and begin to feel tremendous amounts of mental clarity.
I know I sound like I’m trying to sell you on the bulletproof coffee but it really does make that much of a difference in my day.
If I’m trying to strictly lose fat, I will skip breakfast altogether and simply drink a cup of black coffee and hold off on eating until later on in the day.
Weekends can range widely depending on what i’m in the mood for. I also like to use my weekends to destress from the week and make myself something tasty.
Obviously, my go to is eggs and bacon. If you take a look at any keto dieters instagram or news feed, you’ll see that a lot of the meals they eat will be flooded with eggs and bacon.
Honestly though, who doesn’t love eggs and bacon in the morning?
I always pair that with bulletproof coffee as well.
No matter what day of the week it is, I will almost always drink a cup of bulletproof coffee unless I am trying to lose fat quickly which is never the case anymore.
I also make sure to drink psyllium husk caps immediately afterwards. This will give you the proper fiber you need to keep the machine running smoothly if you get what I mean.
For both weekends and weekdays, I also drink a green smoothie with my breakfast. This consists usually of spinach, kale, unsweetened almond milk, maca, and a greens superfood powder.
It’s very important to get your greens. If you are someone who doesn’t particularly LOVE vegetables, then I highly recommend making the smoothie that I mentioned above. You can get a little more creative with it and add more veggies but I found this to work well with me.
As I’ve mentioned above, you should be eating veggies with every meal. But, if you aren’t then it’s even more important to drink a green smoothie at least once a day.
Unless there is a special occasion, this is my usual breakfast routine.
In between breakfast and lunch, I also sip on exogenous ketones if I feel that i’m not in ketosis. In the beginning, this was a huge help for helping my body convert into a state of ketosis and crave carbs less.
Depending on availability, I usually opt for a salad OR pack a lunch that consists of fatty cuts of meat as well as any sort of fibrous veggies. Again, I always practice what I preach and I make it a habit to have a decently large portion of vegetables with each of my meals.
My typical lunch will be 80/20 grass-fed beef paired with riced cauliflower and/or broccoli. This is my go to lunch because its very healthy for you and the riced cauliflower/broccoli goes great with ground beef.
The food store near me actually sells riced cauliflower/broccoli so all I have to do is microwave it. It’s also very easy to make yourself. Riced cauliflower/broccoli is essentially just vegetables that are ground up so that it looks like rice.
Remember when you are making a lifestyle change like restricting carbs, it’s so important to find ways to trick your brain. In my case, eating riced cauliflower / broccoli mimics eating rice. It’s a perfect alternative.
As time goes on it gets easier and easier. Before you know it, you won’t be craving carbs at all and you will have your own tricks up yourself to stay on the keto lifestyle.
Besides the grass-fed beef and riced cauliflower combo, I eat salads equally as much.
Anytime there is a salad place around me, I opt for a create-your-own salad.
My go-to salad toppings and dressing consist of:
- spring mix & spinach
- Olive oil & vinegar
- Banana peppers
- Buffalo chicken
This is what I get most of the time because it is a healthy combination of fats, protein, and the essential electrolytes you need to stay in keto.
I always make it a habit to eat foods that are high in potassium, magnesium, and sodium.
Remember, when adopting a ketogenic lifestyle, your body begins to flush out electrolytes. It’s important to consume foods that will help nourish your body so you avoid the keto flu.
My dinners vary the most. A lot of the time, I like to go out to eat or pick something up on the way home from work.
It is actually relatively easy to find keto-approved meals once you have been doing it for long enough.
What I found to work best is to focus on finding quality sources of protein when you’re eating out.
By doing this, you can get mitigate any carb-heavy meals such as spaghetti with meatballs or something.
Here’s an example – you can go to McDonalds and ask for two double cheeseburgers and simply take off the buns for each.
By focusing on how you’re going to get your protein in, you’ll be able to reach your proper macronutrient goals for the day and still stay in keto.
My personal favorite to-go dinner is a fast food place where I live called Chipotle.
It is a mexican fast food restaurant that serves decently healthy food.
They have a salad bowl option that consists of salad (duh), a choice of meat, then guacamole, hot sauce, and their vinaigrette dressing.
Go to most restaurants and they will have a lot of keto friendly options such as:
Do you see a pattern here? Most of the meals you should be looking for should consist of fatty cuts of meat. Obviously stay away from any pasta bowls or meals with tons of rice / bread.
If you don’t eat out often, it will be even easier to stick to a ketogenic lifestyle.
Cooking meals at home allows you to make the perfect balance of keto meals.
There’s a ton of recipes that I won’t dig too much into but you can find a lot of savory keto meals – here.
- Stick to basic meals at the beginning. It can get distracting looking at some of these complex keto recipes and want to try them all. When you are first starting out, make sure you choose a select few meals as your go-to. This way, when you’re hungry and don’t know what to eat, you can always go back to your most basic of meals.
- Find substitutes to satisfy carb cravings. Riced cauliflower/broccoli and zucchini pasta are low carb alternatives that will help you greatly when you feel like you want to binge out on carbs.
- Exogenous ketones are crucial. These have helped me significantly especially in the beginning. By using exogenous ketones, your body enters a state of ketosis in under an hour. This will mitigate any carb cravings as well as any symptoms of the keto flu.
- Try to have one green smoothie or salad a day. I make it a rule to myself to have one large portion of a salad or a green smoothie to make sure i’m getting the proper micronutrients and fiber to have my body performing like a well-oiled machine.
- Drink seltzer water. For those who are obsessed with soda, drinking seltzer water is a good alternative. Diet coke is okay once in a while but you shouldn’t make it a habit to drink them. Not good for you.
This is what a typical day in the life of my eating routine looks like.
Once you have been on the keto lifestyle for a while, you will develop your own techniques that fits your needs and way of life better.
Remember that it’s not going to be easy at first but, if you follow a similar format to what I have explained above, there is no doubt in my mind that you will enter a state of ketosis relatively fast.
A key takeaway that I recommend to people is to invest in exogenous ketones. The difference is night and day when you incorporate them into your daily routine.
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