Keto Resources to Get You Started

Over the past 18 months, it has been amazing to receive so many messages from friends who have also lost a lot of weight using keto AND fasting.

Below, I will share some of my favorite keto and fasting resources —

“Where do I even get started?”

This website is a basic primer https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/keto

“What’s the biggest mistake you think newbies make?

1st Mistake – Newbies neglect to supplement lots of salt, some magnesium and eat low-carb high potassium foods (like avocado and spinach). Most of us have heard salt is bad for us. Well, not adding salt to your diet is bad for you on keto. Keto is very diuretic, so proper re-supplementation of electrolytes is essential or IT CAN BE DANGEROUS.

To read about keto and electrolytes, go to (note: I don’t take a potassium supplement – I add potassium-rich foods to my diet. Potassium supplements can be dangerous. https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/keto/supplements

2nd Mistake – I see a lot of newbies make keto treats like cookies, cakes, etc. Many people who are overweight have some level insulin resistance. Even artificial sweeteners can spike insulin levels, which will increase your cravings. Plus, many of us are addicted to the foods one avoids on keto. A little taste of something that tastes like the garbage that made us sick in the first place is dangerous. Also, many keto treats include nut flours. It is easy to exceed carb limits with nut flours. The first three months, I detoxed ALL artificial sweeteners and avoided ALL fruit. Avoiding all fruit and all artificial sweeteners helped my sugar addiction and insulin resistance so much.

I eat keto treats now on birthdays, vacation, holidays, etc.

3rd Mistake – MALTODEXTRIN! Maltodextrin is in tons of products that come in a package. However, Maltodextrin is more inflammatory than sugar. It always makes me gain weight and drastically increases my cravings. It’s in many vitamins, salad dressings, sugar free products. AVOID MALTODEXTRIN.

“Do you ever cheat?”

Once a month, if I feel like it, I schedule a cheat meal. One meal. Next meal I am back on track. If I have an “oops,” then that is my one cheat meal that month. But the foods I once was addicted to are no longer appealing. My taste buds have changed.

“Do you count macros?”

Early on, I think it is important to count macros because a lot of people don’t realize how carb-heavy their diets are. SUGAR IS IN EVERYTHING under tons of different names.

I calculated net carbs if it is something that grows from the earth (vegetables) and total carbs if it is a product made by a human and processed.

“How do you stay consistent?” 

Every month, I participate in a DietBet. It helps me with consistency and accountability. DietBet has been an essential part of my success.

“Why do you fast?”

Fasting has numerous health benefits. Keto and fasting are the perfect combination for weight loss success and improved health. Dr. Fung believes that every person will stall on keto without fasting. I agree.

To read about weight loss and why you should really consider fasting, read The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung. If you have Type-Two Diabetes, read The Diabetes Code by Dr. Jason Fung. Another great book is The Complete Guide to Fasting by Dr. Fung.

Dr. Fung and Megan Ramos are some of the leading experts in fasting. Watch Ms. Ramos’ video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EY3cHwOyCmw&t=1608s

“Doesn’t fasting slow your metabolism?” 

No. Read Dr. Fung’s books.

“How often do you fast?”

Each week, my fasting schedule varies so that I keep my body guessing (think the CrossFit philosophy applied to fasting). I also plan to fast around our family activities, social events, and life. For me, fasting is a health tool like exercising. I make fasting fit my life, not my life to fit fasting. I am gracious to myself and not at all obsessive about fasting. Sometimes I fast, sometimes I feast. For me, it is easy to fast at work. It distracts me. For me, I like to eat dinner with my family.

In general, I fast each week. Is this always the case? No way. Again, I am not rigid about it. When I vacation, I feast. During holidays, I feast. I don’t ever treat fasting as punishment.  For me, it is like medicine. It’s a therapeutic protocol.

“What is your typical fasting protocol?” Read Dr. Fung’s book. I read it in a day. It is a fast, easy read. 

As I said, it varies week to week. Some weeks, I fast 24-hours, three times per week. Most weeks, I fast 48 hours twice a week or 36 hours three times per week. Some weeks, I fast 60 hours once per week along with a 24 later in the week. When I eat, I eat well and I stick to keto. When I eat, I make sure to eat lots of healthy fats like butter, olive oil, real animal lard, walnuts, etc.

Once I reach my goal weight, I will do alternate day fasting for 24 hours, three times per week to maintain my weight.

So a sample heavy-fasting week might look like –

Sunday – eat lunch and dinner (begin fast after early dinner)

Monday – fast all day

Tuesday – break the fast at dinner (completed my first 48-hour fast). Begin fasting again after dinner.

Wednesday – fast

Thursday – break the fast at dinner (completed my second 48-hour fast). Begin fasting after dinner.

Friday – break my fast at lunch (completed an 18-hour fast) or at dinner (completed a 24-hour fast).

Saturday – eat three meals.

Sunday – eat two or three meals.

A sample lighter fasting week might look like —

Sunday – eat lunch and dinner (begin fast after early dinner)

Monday – fast all day and break the fast at dinner (completed my first 24-hour fast). Begin fasting after dinner.

Tuesday – break the fast at lunch (completed an 18-hour fast). Begin fasting again after dinner.

Wednesday – fast until dinner (completed my second 24-hour fast). Begin fasting.

Thursday – I often fast all days on Thursdays because I teach until 10 PM.

Friday – break my fast at lunch (42-hourish fast) or at dinner (completed a 48-hour fast).

Saturday – eat three meals.

Sunday – eat two or three meals.

“What do you eat during a fast?”

I don’t eat. I drink water with 1/4 teaspoon of salt at a time in the water multiple times per day or I drink dill pickle juice. I also drink black coffee. If I am hungry, I drink Pellegrino (UNFLAVORED). Gum or any artificial sweeteners break a fast.

If I feel sick, I break a fast with food.

“Keto is not sustainable?”

The Standard American Diet is not sustainable. It leads to infertility, Type-Two Diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.

For me, keto is the easiest way of eating I’ve done. I will avoid sugar for life. I will eat either keto or Paleo for life. I will fast for life.

But, eating a steak at a restaurant doesn’t feel like a diet. It is satisfying.

If you want to follow me on Instagram, my keto account is @watchmandyketo

Some of my progress pictures are below.

Why I Did Keto

Since May 2017, I have been following a ketogenic diet. Beginning in July 2017, I started practicing intermittent fasting (fasting either 16-20 hours daily most business days, when I felt like it). I stopped eating after a 5 or 6 PM dinner on intermittent fasting days, and did not eat until noon-2 PM the next day. I drank black coffee and water. I am not rigid about fasting. I listen to my body, and I am kind to myself. Most recently, in July of 2018, I added extended or therapeutic fasting to help reset my body’s set point and to help improve some other health concerns I have due to a family history.

 

All of this has resulted in nearly 50 pounds of weight loss.

 

Why did I start keto?

In 2011, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Though I was just slightly overweight at the time, I worked out several days a week with a trainer and ate a vegetarian diet. I was always hungry. It was a lot of work to stay at that slightly overweight weight.

 

My doctor initially did not want to test me for PCOS because, as he said, “You are not obese. Women with PCOS are usually really obese.” I insisted he test me because I had many of the other symptoms. Sure enough, he said my test results were textbook PCOS.

 

Over time, I gained weight. A lot of weight. I became obese. Though I was confident in my own skin, that excess weight started to contribute to some scary symptoms. Most of my weight was the most dangerous kind – all around my tummy. In fact, my waist circumfrence was more than twice my height in inches. A huge risk factor. 

 

I was on two blood pressure medications. I developed non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. I was insulin resistant. I was pre-diabetic. I was on the fast-track to a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis in my thirties. I had 15-20 migraines per month. I had a chronic rash/hives on my face. My dad, a physician, had a frank conversation with me about my health and his exact words were, “You need to lose a significant amount of weight.” Not for vanity reasons, but for my health. His words were informed and frank. He explained what all of these things were setting me up for. Lots of health problems.

 

I remember saying, “But I have PCOS! I already eat healthily. I can’t lose weight.” I remember him saying something like I had to change the excuse and I might need to try another way of eating to lose weight for my PCOS. I also remember him saying to stop feeling sorry for myself.

 

I did not do this for vanity. I did this because my health literally depended on it. The inconvenience of changing my diet paled in comparison to the prognosis if I continued down the path I was going.

 

So I did what I do: I looked at the scholarly literature. I found a couple of articles about the efficacy of a ketogenic diet for women with PCOS. I personally think for people without metabolic syndromes, there are a variety of ways to lose weight effectively. I think for people with metabolic syndromes like PCOS, ketogenic and fasting are the most effective. My friend Casey helped me find some resources to study and learn about keto.

 

A lot of people tell me they wish they could have my self-discipline. I think they need to reframe their statement. For me, it was not about self-discipline, it was about liking myself. I like myself enough, that each time I picked up my fork, I had to make a choice. Did I like myself enough to eat food that would nourish my body? Or was I eating comfort food instead of going to people for comfort? Often, my relationship with food was unhealthy because I was sad, stressed, or lonely. I had to change the inner dialogue. Each time I pick up my fork, I have to make a conscious decision that I am valuable and must take care of myself. I think a lot of people don’t like themselves. I think a lot of people don’t think they are valuable. But they are!

 

What were my results?

It is the first diet where I did not feel hungry all of the time.

I no longer have fatty liver disease (confirmed by an ultrasound and lab work). I am no longer on blood pressure meds (was able to stop those two months in). My chronic neck, back, and knee pain are so much better. Instead of 15-20 migraines per month, I have about two migraines per month. Since adding extended fasting, I have noticed that my luteal phase defect is improving. My cycle is predictable. That painful rash on my face is completely gone. My keloids are gone! Fasting also seems to calm my interstitial cystitis flare-ups. And, I have lost 46 pounds. I was obese and now I am not. Today, I can run without knee pain. My skin has fewer wrinkles. I’ve gone from a tight size 12 to a size 6. 

 

Cognitively, I am no longer in a fog. I have a ton more energy and stamina than before. My mood is evener. 

 

I no longer deal with stress by eating. I don’t feel the urge to go to food when I am lonely or sad. And instead of rewarding myself with a cupcake, I reward myself with things like running shoes.

 

About 10 times per week, I get asked for keto resources. Next up, I’ll write about my favorite keto resources.