Switching to a low carb lifestyle like the keto diet is a rewarding experience, and the results are nothing short of amazing. But the trick is sticking to the diet long enough to see these results. Some days may be easier and on other days the piece of cake may win. But the truth is that the keto diet doesn’t have to make you feel like you are losing out on the best things in life. It is quite the opposite. It is designed to improve your health and quality of life while learning to make wise choices about foods. And we don’t mean boring or bland foods either. It’s all about implementing little tricks and hacks to make keto life easier for you.
Fortunately, there are a few keto experts that are willing to share their secrets and nifty keto hack ideas with the world. Here is how you can get started on the journey to keto success:
Keto Hack #1: Use Exogenous Ketones
The toughest part about the keto diet is getting your body into the fat adapt stage, or ketosis, as many people refer to it as. This is usually the first bump most keto beginners struggle to get over.
When carbohydrates or glucose is not readily available to the body, it starts to seek an alternative source of energy, which is when it starts to utilize and break down stored fats into ketones. During this process hormone levels change, water weight fluctuates, and crucial electrolytes are excreted from the body. As a result, many people experience flu-like symptoms during this transition, which is less than desirable especially when it gets in the way of life. Some of the flu-like symptoms include:
- Sugar cravings
- Trouble sleeping
- Muscle cramps
It’s not hard to see why many beginners drop off the keto wagon when these symptoms start to arise, but the good news is that an exogenous keto supplement can help put these symptoms to bed and get you into ketosis quicker.
Exogenous (external) ketones are synthetic compounds that mimic the natural function of endogenous (internal) ketones. The most common ketone body found in supplements is beta-hydroxybutyrate or BHB, which makes up about 77% of natural ketone bodies found in the blood. The synthetic BHB compounds are bound to potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium with added MCT oil to form the final keto supplement. While the BHB compounds help to elevate ketone blood levels, the salts also play an important role in curbing the negative side effects of the diet.
When crucial electrolytes such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium are dissolved in water, i.e. body fluids, they are converted into positive or negative ions. These ions conduct electricity, which the body needs in order to carry out important functions such as signaling nerves, regulating the heartbeat, transporting nutrients, and balancing fluids. Skimping on these minerals is usually what leaves us feeling sluggish and tired.
A good quality exogenous ketone supplement like Approved Science Keto helps to replenish these electrolyte levels while also ensuring ketosis is met in the quickest way possible by delivering an adequate amount of BHB. Even if you are only planning to start the diet a week or two later, taking a keto supplement beforehand can help with making the transition from burning carbs for fuel to fats a lot easier.
In order to reap the full benefits Approved Science Keto, you still need to adopt a low carb high-fat lifestyle. The good news is that this keto hack is also beneficial for days you slip up. It is easier to transition back into ketosis even after unintentionally eating a high carb meal.
The addition of MCT oil also helps to rev up ketone production and increases the feeling of satiety. So you will feel fuller for longer after taking the supplement with the first meal of the day.
Keto Hack #2: Focus On Gut Health
All pathways in the body lead back to the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome refers to the trillions of bacteria and microorganisms that live in the intestines. Humans have between 300 to 500 different species of bacteria in the digestive tract. Some of these are harmful, and others that are beneficial and necessary for our bodies to function optimally. Despite their micro stature, bacteria are powerful enough to affect your mood, health, and digestion. In fact, these tiny invaders have such an incredible effect on our bodies, many studies have linked poor gut health to mental health disorders, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
When harmful bacteria outnumber the number of beneficial bacteria, problems are going to arise. This is why it is crucial to focus on what you put into your body. You may be wondering what this has to do with weight loss, but let us explain.
When the gut flora is in a healthy state, our hormones, insulin sensitivity, and metabolic flexibility start to work more efficiently. Since these bacteria strains are located in the intestines, they affect what nutrients are absorbed and how they are used in the body. This is especially important when it comes to fats. Gut bacteria can influence how these fats are absorbed, which ultimately is the deciding factor between whether they are stored in the body or used as energy.
Studies have also shown the effect different bacteria can have on satiety hormones such as ghrelin, leptin, and peptide YY. Gut bacteria affect how much of these hormones are secreted when we are hungry or feeling full. One study showed that overweight participants who had been taking propionate (a chemical produced when gut bacteria breaks down fiber) for a period of 24 weeks showed a significant increase in satiety influencing hormones, peptide YY and GLP-1. The propionate group also showed signs of reduced appetite and reduced weight gain.
Another study showed similar results when prebiotic supplements were used. Those who supplemented with prebiotics had higher levels of hydrogen in their breath, which indicates bacterial fermentation in the gut, and higher levels of both satiety hormones peptide YY and GLP-1.
Focusing on improving gut health with probiotics and wholesome low carb foods such as avocados, kimchi, butter, and leafy greens is a clever keto hack that can help increase your body’s ability to burn fat.
Keto Hack #3: Ditch Sugar Substitutes
Just because the can of soda has ‘diet’ written on it doesn’t necessarily mean that it fits into the keto diet or that it is healthy for you. We fall for these tricks far too often and don’t really stop to think how these sugar substitutes affect our health. We are all humans and have impulses for delicious treats every now and then, but how can we fight these urges if we are constantly fueling them?
While the keto diet has sparked chefs and cooking enthusiasts to unleash their creativity with sugar alcohols and sweeteners, indulging in them should be limited. Not only does this habit worsen sugar cravings, but some sugar alternatives have the same effect as regular table sugar.
Many diet sodas and sugar-free candies contain a sugar substitute known as nonnutritive sweeteners. These calorie-free sweeteners were once believed to be healthy because they provided the same sweet taste consumers were after without the glycemic effects. However, evidence and data from several epidemiological studies found that nonnutritive sweeteners found in diet sodas are associated with developing a higher risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
Besides the potential health risks, the taste factor is also what prevents us from choosing wholesome foods over sugar-laden junk foods. Nonnutritive sweeteners and other sugar substitutes are more potent than high fructose corn syrup and refined table sugar. It doesn’t take much to achieve the same sweetness as you would get from regular sugar, minus the calories of course. But the problem comes in when we overstimulate our sugar receptors with intense sugar alternatives, which start to limit our tolerance for different tastes. What this means is that some individuals who regularly indulge in artificial sweeteners may begin to find that unsweetened foods like vegetables are not appealing at all.
Instead of reaching for zero-calorie sweetened foods and beverages, stick to water and low carb treats such as nuts, raspberries, or cantaloupe. Ditching the sugar substitutes is a keto hack that can help shrink your waistline and improve your health overall.
Keto Hack #4: Think Beyond Weight Loss
One of the most important things to remember is that the keto diet is not just about weight loss but also about the other health benefits it delivers. If you are too focused on the numbers on the scale, it may discourage you to continue the diet, especially if you are not seeing the results as quickly as you would like. In fact, obsessing over the numbers on the scale could lead to destructive behaviors such as eating disorders, negative self-image, and low self-esteem.
Every individual is different, and the keto diet affects us all in different ways. It all boils down to the current state of your health, body mass, and of course your eating habits to name a few. It is normal for rapid weight loss to occur during the first stages of the diet. Unfortunately, this is not fat loss, but water weight. Watching the pounds melt off in the first few weeks only to see it come to a grinding halt can feel like a blow to the system, but it is just temporary. If you stick to the diet, results will start to show on the measuring tape. Instead of feeling like all hope is lost, try to also focus on the other benefits of the diet such as:
Improved Heart Health
By choosing a cleaner way of eating, your heart reaps the most reward. Ditching processed carbohydrate-rich foods and opting for healthy fats, it can significantly improve HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels and reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. High LDL levels cause fatty deposits to build up in the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through to vital organs. This build-up can lead to severe complications of the heart, and could ultimately lead to heart attacks and strokes.
By choosing to follow a healthier, cleaner way of eating as the keto diet suggests, you can lower your risk of developing these kinds of cardiovascular diseases.
Improved Cognitive Function
The keto diet was originally designed to reduce seizures in epileptic children. There are multiple studies with evidence to back up the original intention of the diet, but the benefits go further than just seizures.
Researchers have found that ketones provide a more efficient source of fuel to the brain and could have long term neuroprotective effects against cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia. By cutting carbs and eating cleaner, you are investing in your grey matter, which ultimately helps it to function optimally well into your retirement years!
Reduces Inflammation and Pain
When our bodies burn glucose for fuel, reactive oxygen species or free radicals as some may know it as, are released in the body. These harmful molecules can cause damage to the cells, DNA, and various proteins in the body.
In order to counteract the damage, the body uses inflammatory responses to fight off free radicals. This can cause chronic pain and discomfort if it is not addressed in time.
By burning ketones for fuel instead, there are fewer oxidative species released, which means the body doesn’t need to trigger an inflammatory response. The antioxidant effect ketones provide help to protect our cells from damage, provide anti-inflammatory relief, and can even help slow down the signs of aging.
Next time you are feeling demotivated after stepping on the scale, remember this keto hack and congratulate yourself on choosing to live a higher quality of life.
Keto Hack #5: Clear Out The Pantry
Resist all temptation of breaking the keto rules by eliminating carbohydrate-rich and sugar-laden foods from your kitchen. It is easier to resist temptation when there is nothing around to tempt you. It may require some convincing especially if you live with friends or family, but at the end of the day, everyone will reap the rewards of a healthier menu.
At first, it may seem hard to clean out all your favorite snacks but it will help you stay on track. Relying on willpower alone may not be very helpful, especially in the early days of keto. That sneaky midnight snack you are thinking about while lying in bed could kick you straight out of ketosis, and this kind of temptation is the reason why many people start to fall off the diet before they have even seen results.
Smaller Plates Help Too
Investing in smaller plates is another helpful keto hack. In an experiment conducted on the effects of plate size and portion control, the research team found that downsizing 12-inch plates to 10-inch plates resulted in a decrease in calories consumed. By an impressive 22% to be exact. Many scientists believe that this has to do with optical illusions.
By using smaller plates, it seems like the portions are bigger, which ends up making you feel like you have eaten more food. Thanks to this illusion, most eat less food but feel fuller much quicker than they would by eating a bigger portion.
Keto Hack #5: Be Wise About The Menu
The keto diet doesn’t have to prevent you from enjoying a social life or going out for a meal with friends. There are so many ways to hack a menu, even from a non-keto restaurant. You just have to be smart about the choices. In the beginning, it can be tough, because, let’s face it, the keto food rules are strict. However, once you know the keto pyramid by heart, it becomes a lot easier to order.
Normally, restaurants are not too strict when it comes to mixing up the ingredients, but if you have never been there before, it may be best to call them ahead of time to find out if they can accommodate your meal preferences. Here are a few ways to stick to the keto diet at a restaurant:
- If breakfast is the meal of the hour, ditch the pancakes and opt for bacon and eggs instead. The toast is a no-go so ask the server to swap it out for a green salad or avocado slices.
- Salad is the top pick for a lunch date at a restaurant. Be sure to ask for the salad without dressing, the hidden carbs can kick you straight out of ketosis. Instead, dress it with some olive oil and vinegar.
- Most restaurants offer meat dishes in the evenings. For dinner, order a fatty piece of steak such as ribeye and replace the potato fries with an extra serving of vegetables.
If the gang has opted for a specialty restaurant and you are not quite sure about the menu, call ahead of time or look online to find out what dishes they serve.
Keto Hack #6: Keep It Simple
There are hundreds of methods to achieve keto greatness, but at the end of the day, there are three fundamental rules to follow. Eat clean, ditch carbs, and increase healthy fat intake.
There are some more complex rules around the diet, but it doesn’t mean you have to follow them to a tee. Some may practice intermittent fasting, while others may swear by bone broth, but that doesn’t necessarily mean these methods will work for you. The best way to approach weight loss, especially for beginners, is to start out simple and find a strategy that is sustainable and healthy for you.
Trying to dive headfirst into complex keto-related rules like calculating net carbs or testing ketone levels can get confusing and make the diet harder to stick to. These variables do help, but as a beginner, it’s important not to overwhelm yourself until you are comfortable enough to start implementing these strategies.
Here are a few simple keto food rules that are easy to implement when starting out on a low carb diet:
- Lentils, beans, and peas
- Low-fat dairy products
- Grains including rice, pasta, and oats
- Sugary soft drinks and junk food like pretzels and crackers
- Processed foods
- Starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, and corn
- Trans fats like margarine
- Full-fat dairies like cream, butter, and hard cheese
- Nuts and seeds such as chia seeds, macadamias, and pumpkin seeds
- Raspberries, blackberries, avocado, and tomato
- Low carb vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, and kale
- Healthy fats like coconut oil, MCT oil, and olive oil
- Proteins such as fish, eggs, poultry, beef, and lamb
As you get more comfortable with the low carb lifestyle, you can start eliminating more carbohydrates and implementing more complex keto rules to achieve keto success.
Paving The Way To Keto Success
Sticking to a diet is no easy feat, but it is not impossible. We have all been taught that carbohydrates are the dominant food group and there are going to be days when the carb cravings are strong, but with enough willpower and these easy keto hacks, you can recalibrate your body to crave healthier foods. Achieve weight loss goals by using exogenous ketones to your advantage, keeping your gut healthy, resisting temptation, and most importantly, keeping it simple!