How can I get started with keto & beat sugar cravings?
What's the easiest way to reduce the amount of refined carbohydrates in my daily diet without giving up on all my favorite comfort foods?
To celebrate the launch of my newest low carb cookbook ‘Keto in 15 Minuten’, I want to show you how you can turn your body into a natural fat-burner and introduce you to my healthy version of the keto lifestyle: a low carb way of eating high in healthy fats and vegetables.
At the moment the book is only available in Dutch (Nederlandstalig), but I’ll keep you updated about an English version!
Last week I introduced you to the ‘low carb high fat’ keto lifestyle and its many health benefits, both physically and mentally. Including details on my plant-powered take on keto (not focused on meat and dairy but on an abundance of vegetables and healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, grass-fed butter, small fatty fish…). You can read all about it by clicking here.
Today I want to give you a practical 3-step plan to get started with a balanced keto lifestyle, based on the 3-phase plan from my newest book Keto in 15 Minuten.
PHASE 1: Cut down on sugar and refined carbohydrates
Before embarking on your keto journey, give yourself two weeks or longer to slowly wean off quick carbohydrates and sugar. This will make the transition to keto a lot easier since your blood sugar level will be a lot more stable and you’ll experience fewer cravings for sweet snacks.
These 5 practical tips will help you to quit sugar:
- Always have a look at the ingredient list of a product to check for added sugars or artificial sweeteners. You would be surprised how many so called ‘healthy’ products contain hidden sugars, from sauces and dressings to canned vegetables, soups, stock cubes and even pre-cooked chicken breast. There are more than 150 names for sugar. You can find a long list in my book Het Keto Plan.
- Avoid diet products, since these often contain a long list of artificial additives and sweeteners that will only increase cravings for sweets. Choose natural wholefoods and ‘full fat’ products instead. Those are higher in essential nutrients and will keep you satisfied for longer, essential to break the cycle of sugar addiction.
- Replace soda pop (including ‘diet’ and ‘zero’ varieties), fruit juices and energy drinks with water, green tea, herbal tea, coffee and homemade vitamin water or iced tea (of which you can find recipes in the book). Excellent to keep you hydrated and energized!
Diet sodas can be very tricky. Although they contain little to no calories, they taste even sweeter than regular soft drinks, sending a signal from your taste buds to your brain that sugar is coming. This causes your pancreas to release insulin into your blood, which blocks your fat-burning abilities and increases cravings for sweets. In short: diet products can actually contribute to obesity and diabetes, how counterintuitive it may appear.
By drinking more water and tea, you will give your digestion a welcome break and reduce your need for snacks, since the sensation of hunger and thirst are often confused for one another.
- Keep your breakfast and lunch low carb, with a healthy serving of protein and good fats. Essential building blocks to keep your brain healthy and young, to stabilize your blood sugar levels and to help you avoid that dreaded afternoon slump.
Your body tends to store less fat in the morning because your fat cells are more insulin resistant when you first wake up. This is why I often have a higher fat breakfast, like the coconut porridge from Keto in 15 Minuten or the low carb ‘avocado on toast’ recipe that is coming up next week.
Dinner is a better time to add an extra serving of slow carbohydrates to your meals, such as beetroot, carrot or parsnip. They will make it easier to fall asleep at night, help you to relax and to produce more of the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin.
- Maybe the most obvious tip: take away the temptation and replace traditional sugary snacks and drinks like cookies, candy, potato chips, ice cream, fruit yogurt and soda pop with healthier alternatives. That may seem really tough at first but you will be surprised how quickly your taste buds will get used to less sugar.
If you’re looking for easy low carb snacks and desserts, have a look at our English ‘Keto Made Easy’ eBook bundle with recipes for cookies, chocolate candy, crackers, salted nuts, energy balls, drinks and more. These recipes will allow you to keep enjoying delicious sweets and snacks. After just a few weeks of following a balanced low carb high fat lifestyle, your body will adjust and you’ll no longer crave those sugary foods you used to eat.
Feel free to enjoy fruit during this first phase too but try to keep it in moderation since our body is not designed to handle large amounts of fructose. Go for low sugar fruits like berries, grapefruit, green kiwi and melon.
PHASE 2: Activate your fat-burning metabolism
After this first phase, the most effective way to activate your natural fat-burning metabolism is to follow the 15-day meal plan from my ‘Keto Made Easy’ eBook bundle for 1 to 3 months. It contains detailed menu plans with the optimal balance of carbohydrates, fats and protein to put your body into a state of ketosis. The best macros to achieve this are 10% net carbs, 15 to 20% protein and about 70% fats.
The good news: you don’t need to calculate anything, you can just follow the menu plan.
PHASE 3: Turn keto into a flexible low carb lifestyle
After the first 1 to 3 months, your body will adjust and learn to use fats as its main source of energy. Once your body is ‘fat-adapted’, you’ll be able to evolve from a strict keto diet to a more flexible low carb lifestyle with room for extra ‘slow carbohydrates’ from sources like beetroot, pumpkin, sweet potato and berries.
These ‘carb-ups’ will allow your body to better balance your hunger hormones, feel more satisfied and store a small reserve of glucose as a spare source of energy to function properly.
You can switch between low carb keto days when you’re not that active, and add a higher carb meal on days of intense exercise. You could also limit your carb-up meals to one day a week, for instance during the weekend when you’re eating out. This way, you will keep challenging your metabolism to burn carbs as efficiently as possible, and it will become a lot easier to combine keto with an active social life.
If you eat healthy most of the time, with pure natural whole food ingredients, it really won’t hurt to eat something different than you’re used to once and a while, like during the holidays or when you’re celebrating a special occasion in your favorite restaurant. Dare to trust your gut feeling and don’t be too hard on yourself.
Life is about having fun, and enjoying good food is a big part of that. If you learn to intuitively listen to your body’s signals, you will know what it needs.
Both the menu plan from our Keto Made Easy eBook and intermittent fasting will help you to ‘get back on the keto wagon’ after a higher carb dinner party.
Are you inspired to start burning fat for fuel today?
Have a look at our English ‘Keto Made Easy’ eBook bundle with 60 easy low carb recipes, 15 full-day meal plans, weekly shopping lists and more!
I’m really curious to hear about your experiences with sugar cravings, keto or intermittent fasting, so don’t hesitate to leave a comment down below.
Next week I’ll be back with a recipe for one of my favorite low carb breakfast and lunch ideas… Three versions of ‘Avocado on Toast’! Stay tuned ;-)