Do you want to start losing weight ASAP by using the keto diet? Maybe you’ve been meaning to but haven’t gotten around to learning the basics. Well, we’re here to guide you with some easy to follow instructions! Perhaps you are like many who are overwhelmed with the information (and even misinformation) about keto.
In this blog series, we will explain the keto diet, as well as how to count and track your calories for maximum results that LAST. Learn how to start as soon as tomorrow!
A couple of weeks ago I posted my weight loss transformation on Instagram and promised to share more details on how to attain it for yourself. My particular journey was done with the keto diet. I lost 40 lbs in 5 months, normalized my blood pressure to the lowest it’s been since I was a teenager, and even decreased my fasting blood glucose. The best part is I feel a hundred times better! If you have decided you would like to try keto to lose weight, then I have some quick tips on how to start.
What is the keto diet?
Strictly followed, the keto diet is high fat, moderate protein, and very low carbohydrate. It isn’t just about increasing your fat, or reducing your carbohydrates. To be successful, especially long-term, you have to think about all three macronutrients as well as total calories. Let’s break them down one at a time. The following examples assume you are already overweight (have excess bodyfat to lose) and do not currently workout (In the future, I will address variations of the keto diet for other goals, such as strength training and even getting “ripped”).
This one will vary a lot from person to person, because we all weigh different amounts, have varying levels of bodyfat, and exert unique levels of activity. The term MAINTENANCE CALORIES refers to the amount of calories to stay at your current weight. This accounts for the amount of food you currently eat, as well as the amount of physical activity you exert. I bring this term up because the best way to find out how many calories you need to eat to LOSE weight, is to figure out how many calories you are eating to STAY at your current weight. Once you figure out maintenance calories, you just slice 500 calories from that number and you should begin losing 1.3 lbs per week (that’s over 5 pounds in a month)!
Excited? Well, yea! We just need to figure out your maintenance calories. There are equations we could post for you to work through, but in the end it’s going to come down to trial and error. Here’s what you do:
- Weigh yourself in the morning, in underwear, after using the restroom, and before eating or drinking anything for the day.
- Begin tracking your daily calories. I use MyMacros+, a great app I can use on my phone to track all my meals by ingredients. But you can use another app if you already have one, or heck, even paper and pencil. What matters is that your track how many calories you eat each day. Need help figuring out calories in foods? I like to use SELF Nutrition Data. It has gotten pretty clunky as far as ads go, but the information there is still so much more useful and accurate than other calorie sites out there.
- Keep eating the same amount of calories for a week. Eat the same amounts and types of foods you normally eat. What matters is that you track it all (calories and macronutrients. There are three macronutrients: Fat, Carbohydrates, and Protein.)
- A week later, weigh yourself in the morning AGAIN, in underwear, after using the restroom, and before eating or drinking anything for the day.
- If you stayed the same weight, consider this your maintenance calories. Congratulations!
- If you dropped weight, track for another week. If you lose weight again, you are already eating below maintenance, so just use this number for your weight loss goal. We can use the number you are losing per week to find out how to lose more. We will cover this in another blog.
- If you gained weight, drop your daily calories by 500 and track for another week. Then refer to steps 5, 6, and 7 again until you either find your maintenance calories or begin losing weight.
Example1: Joshua weighs himself on Sunday and he is 200 lbs. He counts his calories every day and figures out he eats between 1,900 calories and 2,100 calories most days, for an average of 2,000 calories. Next Sunday, he weighs himself again and he is still 200 lbs. His maintenance calories are 2,000 kcal per day. Good job figuring that out, Joshua!
Example2: Joshua weighs himself on Sunday and he is 200 lbs. He counts his calories every day and figures out he eats between 1,600 calories and 1,800 calories most days, for an average of 1,700 calories. Next Sunday, he weighs himself again and he is now 199.25 lbs. He tracks for another week, hitting about 1,700 kcal per day again. The next Sunday, he is 198.5 lbs. Great! Joshua is consistently losing weight at 1,700 kcal per day, so he should keep eating that much to keep losing weight.
Example3: Joshua weighs himself on Sunday and he is 200 lbs. He counts his calories every day and figures out he eats between 2,200 calories and 2,400 calories most days, for an average of 2,300 calories. Next Sunday, he weighs himself again and he is now 200.75 lbs. He tracks for another week, hitting about 2,300 kcal per day again. The next Sunday, he is 201.5 lbs. Joshua should start eating 500 kcal less per day. In this example, he eats 1,800 kcal per day for the following week. Next Sunday he weighs 201lbs. Next Sunday he is at 200.5 lbs. At this point Joshua is losing weight, but at a slow rate. Follow us for future blog posts on how he can adjust this to lose weight faster if he wanted to!
I know this part sounds like it might take a long time, but it is crucial to your long-term success. Besides, most people will figure it out by their first week. I’m sure you know plenty of people (and you may be one of them) that lost a few pounds but gained them right back. Using this method, you are figuring out a piece of information that will benefit you for years to come. Getting this number right can also be the difference between feeling just a little hungry when and feeling like you are starving once you do start losing weight. Take the time to do it right, and you will thank yourself in the end.
If you are still reading, you are past the hardest part!
So now you have either found your maintenance calories, or are already losing weight. Save this number, since we will need it to calculate your macronutrients.
JOSHUA’s EXAMPLE RESULTS: Joshua’s maintenance calories are 2,000 kcal per day.
Wait, I thought this was supposed to be easier?
Congratulations on sticking with this. If you are still wondering why you should go through the trouble of calculating all these numbers instead of just reaching for the nearest keto recipe and eating that until you are full… Well, to be honest, that approach works for a lot of people. And that is great! But, some benefits to doing it the calculated way include:
- Being in control of how fast you lose the weight
- Avoiding getting “stuck” and unable to lose more weight (or if you do get stuck, knowing how to get “unstuck”)
- Being able to safely get off keto or modifying your diet to enjoy foods you miss after you reach your goal, and NOT GAIN THE WEIGHT BACK
Again, this method is not for everyone, but we highly encourage it because it provides so many benefits. If you want to just wing it and eat keto foods, but not track, you will still benefit from following us for recipe ideas!
Write down your maintenance calories once you figure them out. Go ahead and type it into your “Notes” app to have handy. You will need this info to calculate your macronutrients next week!
Remember, this is the first blog in this series, so if you still have questions feel free to email us or DM us on Instagram or Facebook. We would be happy to answer your questions for FREE, and it will help us know what other blogs to create in the future. Help us help you!
In the next few blogs we will cover some of the questions I’m sure you already have:
- What are “macros”?
- How do I figure out my calorie deficit?
- What foods should I eat when starting out?
- How often should I eat?
- Should I go straight into ketosis, or slowly decrease carbs?
- Do I have to work out while I diet?
- What if I don’t want to do keto, but still want to lose weight?
- How do I find my actual lean body mass (LBM)?
- How to read nutrition labels
- Keto Flu
- Net carbs
Subscribe to our blog to learn the answers to these questions! And make sure to follow us on Instagram for other great ideas. We wish you the best on your journey!