Over two years ago, once I decided that controlling my blood glucose by eating low-carb, high-fat food was a good idea I did a lot of trial and error to get to where I am now. Here’s a snapshot on how I would game-plan the transition from conventional dieting to LCHF living:
- Take “before” pictures.
- If possible, take a “before” blood panel (for at least blood pressure, HDL, LDL [ask for a particle size test--worth the extra money], triglycerides).
- Make notes or keep a diary of how you subjectively feel throughout the day when eating your “before” foods (i.e. energy levels, hunger, etc…); these are just as important as the scale weight.
- Purchase a digital scale that goes to the tenths place (one digit after decimal place). Weigh yourself naked and only once a week.
- Purchase a measuring tape to record various body measurements. This is another feedback instrument equally important with scale weight. Re-measure once or twice a month.
- Purchase a blood glucose meter, research YouTube for instructions on how to use–it gets easier over time, but this shows in real-time the impact of what you eat on blood sugar post-meal and provides good indication of insulin activity. Again, this is a really good, inexpensive feedback tool considering that everyone’s degree of insulin sensitivity is different. In the beginning, test yourself 1, 2, and 3 hours after a meal to gauge what effect low-carb, high-fat foods are having on your blood glucose. Some people may have to go closer to 0g depending on how metabolically damaged they are to start with.
- Sign up for MyFitnessPal and add me (CharlieLopez2005) as a friend for support, and log food/exercise daily, or as much as possible. There’s also a Keto group within MyFitnessPal with other folks who are in different parts of their keto health journey. Always a good idea to surround yourself with positive people doing similar things so one can ask questions, obtain different perspectives, and have mutual support.
- Internet research high-carb meals and snacks one typically eats for ways or alternatives to make them low-carb. Good websites for this purpose are YourLighterSide, Maria Health, DJ Foodie, Peace, Love, Low-Carb, and of course, Pinterest. As an example, I did earlier blog posts with spaghetti, vegetable casserole, and pizza. There’s so much joyless nutrition advice out there (i.e. diet by cutting), but diet by substitution is much more palatable.
- Find two to four meals and a few snack items to prepare and aggregate a grocery list to purchase.
- Plan for 20g net carbs or less per day for two solid weeks (if one gets dizzy, add some salt–water loss weight means you deplete one’s salt stores; just don’t go crazy)
- If one is already diabetic, one should be extra vigilant about blood glucose monitoring after eating so that insulin shots can be calibrated correctly–ask your physician how to calibrate insulin shots if one doesn’t plan to jack up one’s blood sugar levels as much or anymore–otherwise, there is risk of hypoglycemic episodes.
- Prepare meals on the weekend ahead of one’s work week and section into microwavable containers, log nutrition info into MyFitnessPal ahead of time.
- Donate high-carb foods and snacks from one’s pantry either to a neighbor in need of weight gain or a local food pantry–I hate throwing away food that someone else could eat, even if it’s carbs
- If possible, plan to dine out occasionally throughout the week, like 1 to 3 times; look up restaurant’s menu online ahead of time so you know what to order in terms of carbs (doing this combo of dining in and dining out helps to provide enough variety throughout the week); if the place you’re dining out at isn’t low-carb friendly, plan to pre-eat at least 30 minutes low-carb before going out so as to feel like 70% full…this greatly changes the dynamics of decision-making in one’s favor and without having to rely on willpower too much. I love Hardee’s low-carb thickburgers, Jimmy John’s unwiches, Cracker Barrel (they have a dedicated low-carb menu…I love breakfast foods for dinner!), steak houses (obviously!), buffets are also good (the bigger the better…just be careful what sauces coat the meats/veggies). I’ll go into more detail on dining out low-carb in subsequent blog posts.
- Re-educate yourself on low-carb as it never hurts to reinforce why you’re eating low-carb, high-fat from time to time. A Facebook friend of mine, Randall, compiled a good starter list:
and watch this movie (Fat Head):
And a compendium of good info (including links to recipes and more detailed explanations of why it works) is here (although gathered by a lay person, there are lots of doctors studies links):
For a more technical background about why it works, check out the series of FAQs and blog articles posted by Dr Peter Attia:
The Reddit “/r/keto” community is very active (if you want a place to get support or questions answered), and has put together a nice FAQ as well:
Over the next few days, I’ll provide more of my own examples to drive home the point in how to plan flexibly. A large part of why it’s been almost effortless for me so far is because I plan is such a way so I don’t have to rely on willpower a lot.