The keto lifestyle is a proven weight-loss tool. Unlike difficult-to-maintain, low-calorie diets, you don’t have to battle deprivation on keto. By making the switch from high carbs to low-carb high fats as your main source of energy, you cut hunger out of the equation completely.
Did we mention you’ll only be eating real food?
What’s more, the keto lifestyle comes with other impressive benefits. It’s been known to send triglyceride levels plummeting while increasing HDL or “good” cholesterol and keeping blood pressure down. The bottom line? The keto lifestyle is good news for your heart.
As if that weren’t enough, keto can also prove useful to people who’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Drastically reducing carbs help to keep both blood sugar and insulin in check. And that’s not all. When it comes to neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, keto has been shown to have a protective effect.
All things considered, the keto lifestyle can do a whole lot for your overall well-being. There’s only one tiny thing standing between you and the healthy lifestyle you want to make for yourself.
In the society we live in, carbohydrate consumption is totally ingrained. What’s the one thing this country’s most popular foods have in common? They all contain carbs.
If you’ve never tried to cut down on carbs before—or if you have but haven’t been successful—the pervasiveness of carbs is most likely what’s standing in your way. Late getting home from work? Throw a frozen pizza in the oven.
Looking for a healthy lunch option? Wraps, sandwiches, and deli salads all contain carbs. Feel like ordering in? Good luck finding a carb-free option.
Most people who set out to eliminate all those pesky carbs from their diet start with a series of questions. Without bagels or pancakes or muffins on the menu, what do you eat for breakfast? Do you have to stop eating sandwiches for lunch? And what about dinner? How can you possibly give up the convenience of staple starches, like potatoes, pasta, and rice? And what about dessert? Do you really have to cut out your favorite sweets when you go keto?
If these questions pretty much sum up your concerns with going keto, not to worry. With a little commitment and creativity, you can easily work around carbs. Start with these ten carb-reducing hacks, and you’ll find that the keto lifestyle is a lot easier than you think!
EGGS ARE YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND AT BREAKFAST
On a keto lifestyle, eggs should be your go-to low-carb breakfast item. Fatty and filling, they’re super easy to make and make the perfect companion to other breakfast favorites—ahem, bacon.
Not to mention, they’re versatile: fry them, boil them, scramble them, poach them, or make an omelet. Make your eggs portable by baking single-serve quiches in a muffin tin, as in this delicious spinach and feta filled recipe.
WHEN BAKING, REPLACE REGULAR FLOUR WITH LOW-CARB FLOURS
If you love to bake, you might be at a loss trying to figure out what—if anything—you can bake that’s keto-friendly. While you can still use butter and eggs, you’ll need to find low-carb or no-carb substitutes for flour and sugar.
Some tips? Look for recipes that use coconut flour, ground flaxseed, ground almonds, or almond flour. Recipes with reasonable amounts of flour are easier to adapt than those that have a lot of flour. Sugar is a bit harder, but you can always opt for low-carb fruits, such as raspberries, to sweeten up muffins or other baked goods.
LEFTOVERS MAKE LUNCHTIMES EASY
If you’re the type of person who tends to rely on simple, easy-to-prepare lunches, like sandwiches, leftovers are ideal. Make extra portions at dinner—you can even pack them ahead of time—and bring them to work the day after.
NO LEFTOVERS? OPT FOR A SALAD
For the times when you planned on leftovers but they disappeared, make yourself a salad. Think big, here. Add your favorite vegetables, cheese, and a source of protein, such as hard-boiled eggs, tuna, nuts, or leftovers from the previous night’s meal. Don’t forget a fatty and delicious dressing.
AT DINNERTIME, IT’S ALL ABOUT THE SUBSTITUTES
If you’re coming at keto as a carb-dependent eater, you might be surprised at the many delicious carbohydrate substitutes out there. Try replacing rice with grated cauliflower, vegetable-based pasta, zucchini noodles, or squash in the place of starches.
GO COLD TURKEY ON THE SUGARY DRINKS
It’s time to cut the sugary drinks. Soda, juice, energy drink and flavored milk will not only send your blood sugar through the roof, they’re also full of preservatives and artificial flavor. If a glass of water doesn’t cut it for you, give it some zing with a slice of lemon or lime, or add herbs such as mint.
DITCH THE PROCESSED SNACKS
Chips, microwave popcorn, crackers, pretzels, cookies—basically all snack foods that come in a package—are all brimming with carbs. Choosing real foods instead of packaged and processed snacks are your best bet on keto. Try cubed cheese, olives, sliced prosciutto, pâté, yogurt, or anchovies. Swap crackers for a vegetable, such as celery or cucumbers.
CRAVING SOMETHING SWEET? EAT FAT INSTEAD
If you have a sweet tooth, cutting down on carbs can be difficult. When you get a craving, try eating something fatty instead. Butter, cheese, eggs, bacon grease, coconut oil, raw cream, and Greek yogurt will leave you feeling satisfied—at the same time tricking your brain into forgetting about that quick sugar rush.
GET TO KNOW YOUR SAUCES AND CONDIMENTS
Don’t forget about sauces, dressings, and condiments. Even though they’re not part of the meal, they can be a pesky source of dietary carbs if you’re not looking out for them.
Unfortunately, on keto you’ll have to say goodbye to condiments such as ketchup, honey mustard, and barbecue sauce, which are filled with sugar. Hot sauce, dijon mustard, and vinegar are all fine to add flavor to a keto diet. Fatty sauces, like mayo, hollandaise, and béarnaise sauces are ideal.
When it comes to dressings, olive oil and some type of vinegar is a simple option that you can whip together quickly. And as always, remember that herbs and spices are a good option if you want to add taste without compensating with carbs.
EATING OUT? BE PREPARED TO GET CREATIVE WITH THE MENU
It’s reasonable to expect to eat out once in a while on a keto diet. Unfortunately, you won’t find a lot of low-carb or carb-free options on restaurant menus. While there are some obvious things to watch out for when ordering a meal—i.e. bread, pasta, and rice—other ingredients are less easy to pick out.
When it comes to eating out, it’s all about the substitutes. If you’re ordering an entrée, ask to swap the starch out for veggies or a salad. Sandwich bread, hamburger buns, and wraps can sometimes be substituted for a lettuce wrap. Of course, if the restaurant doesn’t accept substitutes, simply ask to eliminate the main source of carbs from the meal.