These tips and tools can make it easier to stick to your keto diet.
The keto diet is a health craze that's gaining lots of popularity, primarily as a weight-loss plan. It's based on a high-fat, low-carbohydrate formula. By severely limiting carbohydrates, you force the body to burn stored fat for fuel. Many people report seeing results in the ever-challenging spots that tend to hold onto fat, such as the waistline, hips and thighs.
People are seeing transformative results, but keto life can be difficult. This diet involves thinking ahead and careful meal prep and planning at home, in the office and while dining out in restaurants. But with the following tips, you can make it easier on yourself. Check out the ideas below to help you stay focused and make the transition from pasta, grains and high-sugar fruit to fat-laden foods and proteins.
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Enlist support! Working one-on-one with a wellness coach or dietician can help you stay on track. By connecting with a professional, you may see stronger results because a pro can assist you with accountability and motivation on a daily or weekly basis.
"Health coaching is the use of evidence-based skillful conversation and strategies to engage with clients in healthy behavioral change," says Health and Wellness Coach Emily Whipple of Aspen Elevated Health, based in Aspen, Colorado. "A health coach teaches you how to work with your body, instead of against it. Changing your habits is not easy and not something that has to be done alone."
If working with a professional isn't in your budget or bandwidth, partnering up with a friend can help, too. Finding and identifying a peer can help you stick to your keto goals -- and doing something together can enforce a friendship and be fun. Think of this as a run club with a bestie. Only with keto, you can enjoy a high-fat, mouthwatering rib-eye steak after you work up a sweat.
If you want accountability, motivation and keto resources in the privacy of your own home (which may feel more comfortable to some) or on demand on your device at all times, downloading a keto app, such as Carb Manager or Keto App, may help you stay on track.
Most apps begin by registering your weight, height and health-related goals to create a personalized keto algorithm. Many apps allow users to track daily food and beverage intake and exercise. Logging in meals, snacks and beverages also creates personal accountability and gradually educates the user on the right foods for the best results. Many apps also include recipes for inspiration, and some even produce shopping lists to make your grocery runs a breeze.
Thanks to the internet, finding hundreds of keto-friendly recipes just got a lot easier. Chowhound has published several guides, including on how to throw a keto tailgating party, keto BBQ recipes and even cozy and romantic keto Valentine's Day recipes.
Of course, if you're old-school and prefer tangible recipes, you can always purchase keto cookbooks.
Simply Keto by Suzanne Ryan outlines easy keto recipes for those who are new to the diet. The author herself lost 100 pounds in just a year, so readers may feel extra inspired by Ryan's tried-and-true recipes. She outlines shopping lists, dos and don'ts and delectable recipes such as BLTA lettuce wraps; goat cheese, rosemary and mushroom-stuffed pork chops; and macadamia nut-crusted tilapia.
The Easy 5-Ingredient Ketogenic Diet Cookbook by Jen Fisch consists of simple, weeknight meals that only use five ingredients. So it's perfect for anyone with a busy lifestyle (aka, everyone). Learn how to make the cult-favorite bulletproof coffee, bacon and egg cauliflower hash and broccoli cheese soup in minutes.
Because keto may involve more advance meal planning than you're used to (thanks to the dietary restrictions involved), it's essential to get organized for each day or week. Once you have your weekly recipes outlined and selected you can start to do some serious meal prep, which will help you stay on top of your game. Make sure to create a shopping list once you've identified your meals, as it will streamline grocery shopping. Prepping foods -- steaming vegetables, making tuna salad or shredding chicken in advance -- can help make mealtimes a snap.
If you don't have time to shop for groceries, or cooking on the regular isn't your jam, the market is filled with various meal kits that will suit your dietary needs, even on keto.
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Planning meals outside of the home can also eliminate any unneeded stress. If you know you're going to be on the road, thinking about what you may eat in a pinch, such as what to order at keto-friendly fast food spots, will help you make informed decisions.
Same with dining out. Researching a restaurant's online menu before going out with coworkers, friends and family can alleviate last-minute food ordering scrambles, and keep you on the road to ketosis. Just like dairy- and gluten-free menu options have become commonplace, many restaurants are now catering to keto- and low-carbohydrate eaters.
If you're in a bind, most restaurants offer salads to which you can easily add a protein like chicken, steak or salmon, plus cheese -- just watch out for carby croutons, and sugar in the dressings.
You may not absolutely need additional equipment and tools to eat keto, but the right ones can certainly help out in your kitchen. Investing in an Instant Pot, for instance, can help streamline cooking, and allow you to make meals in minutes -- perfect for prepping and for busy days when takeout is most tempting. Check out these 17 keto Instant Pot recipes for inspiration.
Food storage containers can also help you prep and organize meals in advance. Glass food storage containers are not only more environmentally friendly than plastic containers, but they instantly make your refrigerator look more organized, and are microwave- and dishwasher-safe -- and in some cases, oven-safe, which makes reheating a breeze.
A strong blender like a Vitamix or NutriBullet is essential for crafting rich and filling smoothies that are perfect for breakfast or snacks.
If you're just starting to cook more in your quest to go keto, other kitchen essentials you'll want to have on hand include measuring spoons and cups, a sharp chef's knife for all of that meat cutting you'll be doing, a cast iron skillet and a sturdy nonslip cutting board.
With a little planning and organizing, accomplishing your keto goals can be easier than you think -- even fun. And while you can't have your cake and eat it too on keto, you can certainly have your steak!
This story was written by Marisa Olsen, a Boston-based writer and founder of Girl Loves Food. Follow her on Instagram at @marisaolsen17.