The Easiest Way to Start Keto [E01]

The Easiest Way to Start Keto
Join us for Episode 1 as we identify the steps you need to take to start keto in the easiest way possible. We also go over some tips to help simplify your keto journey, so that you can see success from day one.

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Tasha Metcalf:
Welcome to the Ketogasm podcast. I’m your host, nutrition educator Tasha Metcalf. Here to help women like you take charge of your keto eating habits without the self sabotage. Each week, learn simple but effective tips that you can put into practice to transform your body, health and well-being. We’re talking all things keto, nutrition, habit, change, mindset, self-care, and the behind the scenes of what this all looks like in real life. Let’s dive in.

Tasha Metcalf:
As promised, we are going to dive straight into the nitty gritty details of how to do keto the easiest way possible. And I’ve got to admit this might surprise you. It’s a lot simpler than you think it is. To do keto the easiest way, you just need to focus on one simple thing, and that is: carb restriction. Now I get a lot of questions about how to start keto, and seriously, if you’re just starting out with no experience doing a low carb diet, you have no idea what macronutrients are, and you just feel really overwhelmed by all of this nutrition information being spewed at you from every direction. I don’t want you to worry about all of that. I want you to take a step back and just focus on one thing, and that’s limiting your carb intake. This is step number one on your keto journey. As far as changes to make your diet go, limiting carbs are going to be the most impactful thing that you can do. And for many, many people, just limiting carb intake in and of itself does wonders. Keto can actually be a really simple, straightforward way of eating if you just let it be. You don’t need fancy apps or complicated recipes to pull it off. Just focus on one thing and that’s reducing your carbohydrate intake. This is actually the key to getting into ketosis in the first place. That’s right! Nutritional ketosis depends on dropping carbs, not adding fat to everything.

Tasha Metcalf:
I know this might come as a surprise to some people that are just learning about the diet because keto is commonly associated with high fat intake. But the low carb piece of the puzzle is what triggers this whole thing. It’s the first domino that you push over to knock down all the rest of the pieces. Once you have carb restriction down, the rest will inevitably fall into place. Limiting carbs is also the key to becoming fat-adapted. Carb restriction forces your body to switch over from sugar burner to fat burner (and this is essentially what ketosis is), but the transition from high carb to low carb metabolism in your body can be a really clunky when it first starts out and it takes time to become really efficient at burning fat for fuel. It takes an extended period of carb restriction to allow your body to become an expert fat burner. And this is where so many of the benefits of keto really come into play. Once you’re fat adapted, your mental clarity can become razor sharp, your energy can skyrocket, your appetite will naturally decrease, which makes this whole dieting thing a lot easier. And as your body expertly taps into your body fat stores, you start to burn body fat for fuel and obviously lose unwanted pounds. This ALL starts with the carbohydrate restriction. So if you’re just getting started and you’re worried about calculating your macros, don’t!

Tasha Metcalf:
Just stop putting sugar in your coffee every morning. Opt for the high fiber veggies instead of the starchy ones. Look at your diet and see where the carbs have the biggest impact. Target those things and swap them out. Is it breakfast with your morning cereal or toast? Maybe you have sandwiches every day for lunch or pasta for dinner. Deserts could be the place where deserts could be a place where loads of sugars creeping in at the end of the day. Or maybe it’s just a combination of everything. You need to take a step back and give your day-to-day eating an honest look and then plan from there. Just start where you are. If you’re eating a relatively low carb diet already, making the shift to drop carb intake a little bit further isn’t going to feel like a big stretch to you. You might be one of those people who feel like they can just jump straight into keto with just a few tweaks and that’s great. If that’s you just focus your efforts on decreasing the carbs, swap out the grains, the starches and the sugars for something else or just cut them out completely. But if you’re someone where carbs make up the majority of your current diet, you would really, really benefit from tapering your carb intake off. There’s really no need to rush the process.

Tasha Metcalf:
Start slow. There is no need to dive headfirst into any dietary change. Small, gradual changes can have just as big of an impact and actually be sustainable. There is no reason to take on too many things at once. So instead, think of your carb restriction as a slow, steady taper. Maybe cut the sugar out of your drinks first, or find other places where your sugar is really high in your diet and tackle these foods. Then you can move on to the starches and go on from there, etc, just fine tuning. Lowering your carb count little by little will also give your body time to make adaptations to fat burning. When you go cold turkey and cut carbs from your diet after eating high carb for a long time, those high carb, high sugar Western diets or any other poor diet, really your body’s like, “whoa, what’s going on?!” Your body isn’t primed and prepped to create the energy you need. So you end up feeling really weird and kind of wonky during this time. Your body is used to burning sugar. So when you cut all that out and it’s still expecting it as the fuel source, your energy can feel really lagging. There’s a huge mental fog and you just feel really out of it. The best way I can describe it is like your brain is just moving in slow motion. Now, of course it goes away after a few days as your body makes adaptations and your body gets used to your new fuel source.

Tasha Metcalf:
But you’ll feel pretty wonky in the first few days, diving straight into super low carb intake. But if you taper your carbs, you’re giving your body plenty of warning that you’re using less and less carbs for fuel. So your body is adapting during this time rather than jumping straight into it. And then your body like, “Whaa, what are you doing to me?!” You’re communicating with your body. That changes are happening. Your fuel source is changing and that lets your body respond appropriately. So it doesn’t feel really bad when you first start out. As you drop lower and lower to the level that would reach ketosis, your body is actually ready for it by this time. So the people that taper their carbs down to keto levels usually don’t experience the brain fog and the fuzzy mental state that happens when a lot of people start keto for the first time. So that’s another reason to consider taking even the carb restriction one step at a time.

Tasha Metcalf:
So let’s recap. The easiest way to get into ketosis is cutting carbs from your diet. First and foremost, don’t fuss with any other details at all. For now, master this and then move on to the fine tuning. When you’re cutting carbs, you can choose to do this one of two ways. Either rip the Band-Aid off and go cold turkey or slowly taper the carb intake, lowering your carbs day by day until you reach keto levels. Pretty simple, right? People that may benefit from jumping straight into carb restriction are the people who eat relatively healthy already. These are the metabolically flexible people that can go from sugar burner to fat burner without their body being like, “Aaagh!”. Some of these people have been doing low carb diets already and they’re pretty close to keto anyways. On the other hand, carb tapering can benefit those transitioning from a poor diet. Lots of processed high sugar foods. People that are not metabolically flexible and have a really hard time transitioning from one fuel source to the next can really benefit from the tapering to allow their body to make adjustments to the dietary change over time. Not only is this a more comfortable process, it also primes your body for fat burning instead of just throwing it into the deep end and hoping for the best. Ultimately, it’s up to you how you decide to approach carb restriction, but however you decide to go about it. You’re on your way to keto. It really is that simple without the overwhelm and tackling too many things at once. This is hands down the easiest way to get started.

Tasha Metcalf:
Now we’re going to jump into the Q&A part of this episode and I’ll be answering the commonly asked questions I get. If you’d like to submit a question, head over to Ketogasm.com and let me know what’s on your mind. Since we’re talking about carb restriction today, let’s tackle the most commonly asked question I get about this. “How many carbs can I eat on keto?” And the answer’s probably a little bit frustrating. It depends. Everyone has their own unique carb tolerance. Some people can eat higher amounts and maintain ketosis, while others require a lower amount to achieve the metabolic state. But generally the average person can eat up to 50 grams of total carbs per day in order for nutritional ketosis to occur. Like I said, this is not the end all be all number. Some people have higher carbon take no problem. Others need to tweak things to be a little bit lower. If you’ve if you spent any time reading about keto, you’re probably thinking, “50 grams?! That’s too high! What is she thinking?” But rest assured, I did not pull this number out of thin air. This is coming straight from the available scientific literature. Peer reviewed journal articles that define a ketogenic diet as under 50 grams of carbs or lower. I’ll drop a few studies in the show notes. So those of you who are interested can take a peek and see what I’m talking about.

Tasha Metcalf:
Now, I think for most people, 50 grams of carbohydrate is a good goal to target anyways. It’s a good goal to aim for if you’re transitioning to a keto diet because it just doesn’t really feel as restrictive as a lower amount can feel. If you’re thinking, “I can only have 20 grams of carbs” or “Oh, I’m doing keto so I don’t eat any carbs at all.” A zero carb is totally, totally not a real thing. Like everything has a trace amount of carbs. So even if you’re aiming for zero, you have a totally unrealistic goal that’s unattainable and you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment. And I hate to say it, but “low carb” doesn’t necessarily mean “no carb”. So if you’re cutting out all of the carbohydrates and you’re not getting fiber and all of the good healthy things in your diet, you’re not really setting yourself up for optimal nutrition. And, you know, there’s people that are going to argue with me about that and I don’t really care. I think that I think about fiber is a healthy thing to include in your diet. So how many carbs on keto? About 50 grams total. Now, if these are coming from whole foods, this usually yields you about 20 to 30 grams of net carbs per day. So a good rule of thumb is approximately 50 grams total and twenty five grams net carbs daily.

Tasha Metcalf:
And this leads me to my next question about carbohydrate restriction. “Do all carbs count on keto?” And the answer to this is really super simple and straightforward. But just like anything else, you’re going to find people who want to overcomplicate it. And the answer is, no. Not all carbs count on keto. For example. Like I mentioned earlier, fiber as a dietary carbohydrate. But it does not directly impact ketosis. It doesn’t directly impact your metabolism or influence ketosis. So there’s no reason to avoid it on a ketogenic diet. Ultimately, this fiber doesn’t count towards the carbs that do impact keto. The carbs that do impact keto are the sugars and the starches. These are the things that influence your metabolism, OK? These are the things that are providing energy and the fuel that makes you a sugar burner. Fiber is not making you a sugar burner. OK? This is where we get the term “net carbs”. OK, total carbs minus fiber equals net carbs. And I like to think of this kind of like a paycheck. When you’re thinking when you’re looking at your pay stub, total carbs are your gross income. Fiber is the taxes and net carbs are the net income. Your body gets paid. You get paid. Total carbs, but taxes, fiber are discounted from what you actually receive. Net carbs. So think like gross pay minus taxes equals net pay.

Tasha Metcalf:
Total carbs minus fiber equals net carbs. It’s a silly analogy, but sometimes these silly analogies really help solidify a concept. So I like to use them. Now the other thing that doesn’t really count towards your total carb count is non caloric sweeteners or sugar alcohols. These are processed by your body in a completely different way than sugar and starches. They aren’t used directly for energy and they don’t directly impact ketosis either. So some of these sugar alcohols may be deducted from your total carb count. If you want to do that, erythritol, stevia or stevia. I don’t actually know how to pronounce. Monkfruit. These are all natural sweeteners that are popular among keto dieters because they don’t impact ketosis directly. OK. Non nutritive sweeteners can be a bit of a hot topic. They’re a little controversial. We can actually go way more in-depth on this another time. But the important thing to understand is that ultimately it’s up to you if you decide to include them in your diet or not. So if you do choose to include sugar alcohols, now we have total carbs, minus fiber, minus sugar alcohols equals net carbs. Again, net carbs are that impactful carbs for a keto diet and you’re going to be limiting your net carbs to around 20 to 30 grams daily.

Tasha Metcalf:
There’s also resistant starch to consider, but that’s a whole nother rabbit hole. And it’s it’s one of the things that may also add an additional carb component. That’s technically a carb that doesn’t count, but it’s super hard to measure. So we’re not even going to think about that. We’re not going to fuss with it. We just. We’re gonna make ourselves aware of it and not actually include it in any kind of calculations if you’re gonna do that kind of thing. OK.

Tasha Metcalf:
So for our purposes, you can subtract the fiber from your foods. And if you include the non nutritive sweeteners like Monk Fruit, Stevia or Erythritol, you can deduct those as well in order to in order to tally your carbs that actually count on keto. OK. So you can actually eat vegetables that are high in fiber just avoid the starchy vegetables. You can eat low sugar fruit that’s high in fiber. You know, you have to like find the carbohydrates that impact ketosis and avoid those ones or restrict those ones from your diet and focus on the foods that have the high fiber content. And you know, those those ones you can actually enjoy. OK. It’s kind of a balance and it’s a bit of a learning curve. But once you get it down, you’ll be good. OK.

Tasha Metcalf:
And now for our final question of the day. “What happens if I eat over my carb limit on keto?” Another way you might think of asking this question is, “what happens if I cheat on keto?” And I hate the word cheat like I really, really hate the word cheat.

Tasha Metcalf:
When it comes to what you’re eating, I think let’s just purge that idea that eating food of any kind is cheating at all in any way possible. It’s so silly and it’s not doing you any good. OK. Carbs aren’t good or bad. OK. They don’t have a moral value. Keto and in and of itself is a metabolic state. It’s not a diet with these super strict rules and dogma to follow. So if you’re eating carbs, you’re not breaking these dogmatic rules or doing anything bad. What happens is you introduce carbs back into your body and your body will use that for fuel. OK? You’re just going to burn it like that’s what happens. During this time, you may not be generating ketones, which is totally fine. And when your body’s done burning through the carbs, your body will switch back over to ketosis. We’re built to shift back and forth between fuel sources. So those with metabolic flexibility, they’re able to switch back and forth really easily. It’s totally natural. OK. I know there’s a lot of people that aren’t metabolically flexible and they do have a difficult time switching back and forth between burning sugar and burning fat. And that’s where that extended period of carb restriction that we talked about earlier really comes into play, because as you become more adapted to burning fat for fuel, you’re not introducing so many carbs into your diet.

Tasha Metcalf:
And when you do, you can dip back over into the sugar burning territory and then go back to fat burning. OK. In other words, a period of extended carb restriction will give you the flexibility later on down the road to temporarily increase your carb intake without losing the adaptations your body has built to become a better fat burner. And there’s actually a few dieting strategies where you can include strategic carb intake and we’ll go into that another time. That’s that’s a totally different topic, because for now, all you need to do is focus on one thing and that’s carb restriction. OK, taper carbs off, ease your way into ketosis and work your way towards fat adaptation. If you eat over your targeted carb limit, what’s going to happen? Your body will burn through them and then go back to ketosis. OK, so this isn’t this big thing that you have to get all worked up and worried about getting kicked out of ketosis. Your body is smart. Your body will just burn through the fuel that you’re putting in it. And if you’re putting too much fuel in it, it’ll store it. But you know what? That’s not the end of the world.

Tasha Metcalf:
Tomorrow’s another day. Let’s just chill out and move on. OK, let’s take this one step at a time and stop worrying about really silly, silly things. OK. Going over your intended carb limit does not automatically unravel your progress. OK. So let’s just please get that out of our heads. If you eat carbs and you’ve lost 20 pounds, you’re not going to immediately gain 30 back. OK, that’s not how this works. Maybe you’ll retain a little water weight as your body builds up this glycogen stores again. That doesn’t mean that’s body fat. OK. You’re just holding on to water. Water weight and body fat are two totally different things. And you already know that water weight is temporary. OK. So don’t worry about it. Don’t let this whole thing stress you out. Just keep things simple and focus on small incremental progress that builds up over time. Now, if you’re listening to this thinking, “Wow, that sounds familiar. I do freak out when I over eat my intended carb intake” or “I get really stressed out ’cause I’m not eating low enough carbs” or “I don’t feel like I’m doing my diet perfectly” or whatever. I just want you to take a step back and give yourself a little grace. OK. Nobody is perfect and no diet in and of itself is perfect. We’re just humans eating food and nourishing our bodies. You’re allowed to do that. OK.

Tasha Metcalf:
Don’t get tripped up in this diet mindset where food is good or bad. Even a ketogenic dietary pattern has a place for carbohydrates. OK, so don’t beat yourself up. That’s probably one of the worst things that you can do if you’re trying to make real positive changes in your life and that includes your eating. OK. So I want you to promise me or promise yourself that you are going to do your best not to stress and obsess about this process of carb restriction. OK. I want this to be easy. You want this to be easy. And beating yourself up during the process is not going to make your life easy. It’s not going to feel good. And if you’re not setting yourself up for success with that kind of mentality and mindset. OK. If you’re under the impression that it’s not OK to take things at your own pace and do this on your own time. And really, you know, and really acclimate to a new style of eating, a completely new dietary pattern. Here’s your permission: It’s OK! I promise, it’s okay to do this one step at a time. All right?

Tasha Metcalf:
Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of the Ketogasm podcast. You are awesome. I really hope the show’s added value to your keto journey. Making big changes to your eating habits can be a little tricky. But if you’re taking the time to listen and learn about keto, you’re well on your way. You got this! Be sure to visit Ketogasm dot com for the show notes with full transcripts, references, and resources to help you out. Including a totally free course called “Hello Keto”. It’s helped over seventy five thousand people start keto with confidence. I’ll see you in the next episode. Bye!

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In today’s episode of Easy Keto with Tasha, we identify the steps you need to take to start keto in the easiest way possible. We also go over some tips to help simplify your keto journey, so that you can see success from day one.

What is the easiest way to start keto?

If you are new to the keto diet, you may be overwhelmed with the plethora of information available. And while a lot of that information is useful and relevant, it’s unnecessary to actually start keto. In fact, there is only one thing you need to focus on if you’re interested in the easiest way to start keto: carb restriction.

Carb restriction is the first step in beginning keto, and it may be the only step you ever need to take in your keto journey. 

Common Ways That Starting Keto Gets Overcomplicated

  • Juggling macros
  • Rigid eating schedules
  • Elaborate food restrictions unrelated to preferences and needs
  • Starting a new workout routine at the same time
  • Trying to ketofy everything with complicated recipes instead of focusing on whole foods

When you are in a comfortable place with limiting your carb intake, then, by all means, start experimenting! Counting macros, developing a workout routine, and revamping recipes to fit keto can be fun! But if you are looking for the easiest way to start keto, don’t add even more rules and expectations. Not only will this add a lot of unnecessary stress, but you could be setting yourself up for failure before you even start.

Carbohydrate Restriction

As the name implies, carbohydrate restriction is simple: restrict the number of carbs you consume. Carb restriction is vital to keto, hence why it is the easiest way to start keto. Nutritional ketosis depends on limiting carbohydrate intake!  

Keto is commonly associated with high fat intake. However, it is the decrease in carbs that causes the body to trigger ketosis. Increasing fat intake alone will not begin the process.

Fat-Adaptation 

Once carbs are restricted, your body is forced to switch from being a sugar-burner to being a fat-burner.

This process is not always quick and easy. It is important to give your body time to adjust. In doing so, you are allowing your body to become efficient in burning fat for fuel. Through this extended period of carbohydrate restriction, you are allowing your body to become fat-adapted.

Once fat-adaptation is achieved, you can look forward to many benefits, including an increase in energy, a natural decrease in appetite, and sharper mental clarity. All of this is made possible with carb restriction! 

Switching to Low Carb

Now that we’ve determined that the easiest way to start keto is to cut down on carbs, the next step is to determine how you will do it. There are two ways to switch to a low carb diet: a slow taper or cold turkey. The route you decide to go is a personal choice, but some people find more success with one option over the other.

Slow taper: This method focuses on slowing cutting out carbohydrates day-by-day until your body reaches ketosis. These small decreases will give your body time to adjust to fat-burning. A slow taper is especially helpful in avoiding side effects like brain fog and low energy. If you have a high-processed, high-sugar diet, starting keto with this method may be beneficial.

Cold turkey: This method focuses on getting into ketosis as soon as possible through major carb restriction. Going cold turkey does increase the chance of experiencing the negative side effects of an abrupt switch. If your current diet is relatively healthy and low carb, your body might already be metabolically flexible and able to easily switch from sugar-burner to fat-burner.

No matter what option you choose, you are on your way to keto.

Low-Carb Switches to Start Keto:

  • No more sugar in your morning coffee
  • Opt for eggs instead of cereal/toast for breakfast
  • Use cauliflower rice in place of white rice
  • Bake with almond/coconut flour

How many carbs can I eat on keto?

The average person can consume 50 grams of total carbs per day in order to achieve nutritional ketosis. However, every person is different. Some people will find that their ketosis maintenance requires more than 50 grams, while others will require less than the average.

When you start keto, 50 grams of total carbohydrates is a good place to begin. This number helps the diet from feeling too restrictive. It also helps to ensure that you are able to get an adequate amount of whole foods and fiber in your diet. The easiest way to start keto includes setting realistic goals.

Do all carbs count on keto?

The simplest answer is no, not all carbs matter on keto. Sugars and starches are carbs that influence your metabolism. These provide the energy and fuel to maintain your body’s status as a sugar-burner. 

Fiber is considered a dietary carbohydrate. Because of this, it does not directly impact ketosis or metabolism. Fiber is subtracted from total carbs in order to determine net carbs.

Sugar alcohols and non-caloric sweeteners are not processed by the body in the same way that sugar and starches are. The body does not use these sweeteners for energy, and they do not directly impact ketosis. Sugar alcohols are subtracted from total carbs to determine net carbs.

Net carbs = Total carbohydrate – dietary fiber – sugar alcohols

When you start keto, net carbs are typically limited between 20 and 30 grams daily.

Keto Sugar Substitutes

  • Stevia
  • Monk Fruit
  • Erythritol
  • Xylitol

What happens if I eat over my carb limit on keto?

You may have phrased this question as “what happens if I cheat on keto?”. Eating food should not be equated to cheating. Carbohydrates are NOT good or bad, and they do not have a moral value. There is no cheating, and you are not breaking dogmatic rules or doing anything bad.

If you do consume a higher amount of carbs than what your body requires to maintain ketosis, your body will use those carbohydrates for fuel. You might not be generating ketones at this time. Once your body has burned through the carbs, it will revert back to ketosis. Our bodies are built to switch back and forth between fuel sources.

Fat-adaptation makes switching between fuel sources easier. Becoming fat-adapted will allow future flexibility to temporarily increase carbohydrate intake without losing the adaptations your body has built to become a fat-burner. 

Further Resources

Hello Keto course
What is Keto?
Keto Foods List: What to Eat on the Keto Diet

Time Stamp

Intro
0:52 – Easiest Way to Start Keto
1:32 – Limiting Carbohydrates
2:15 – Fat Adaptation
3:54 – Low Carb Switches
5:13 – Slow Taper
5:58 – Cold Turkey
7:55 – Recap
9:38 – Episode Q&A
9:59 – How Many Carbs Can I Eat on Keto
12:41 – Do All Carbs Count on Keto
13:42 – Net Carbs
14:47 – Sugar Substitutes
17:22 – What Happens If I Eat Over My Carb Limit on Keto
21:43 – Diet Mindset

References

Westman, E. C., Feinman, R. D., Mavropoulos, J. C., Vernon, M. C., Volek, J. S., Wortman, J. A., … Phinney, S. D. (2007). Low-carbohydrate nutrition and metabolism. The American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, 86(2), 276–284.

Wylie-Rosett, J., Aebersold, K., Conlon, B., Isasi, C. R., & Ostrovsky, N. W. (2013). Health Effects of Low-Carbohydrate Diets: Where Should New Research Go? Current Diabetes Reports, (2), 271.

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