“Amy Berger is one of the smartest women I know. She’s fiery, funny, and real. You’ll find some of the most practical, no-nonsense information in the keto and low carb hemisphere on her website, www.tuitnutrition.com
When I excitedly told her about Keto Together, our conversation quickly went down the path of, “You should do a guest post!” And she did.
Amy also recently published a fantastic e-book called, The Stall Slayer. Her book reads as if you’re sitting down talking to a friend who really cares about your physical and emotional health. And from knowing her in real life, I can assure you she does.
Seriously, if you’ve ever wondered about stalls, macros, fasting, too much fat, not enough fat, Amy’s got reasonable, down to earth advice and the credentials to back them up. She even discusses thyroid function and medications that can hamper weight loss. If you want to check out her book, you can get 15% http://stallslayer.com/ by entering promo code Kristie at checkout.“
Staying Keto During a Crisis: Do the Best You Can and Don’t Let Perfection Paralyze You
Let’s face it: keto can be hard to stick to even when the world isn’t in disarray. Throw in the instability and uncertainty many of us are living with now and the difficulty escalates to an entirely new level. While some people’s lives are relatively undisturbed, others are experiencing major upheavals in their schedules, finances, and personal relationships. For many, tensions are running high, stress levels are off the charts, and suddenly those buy-one-get-one frosted cookie trays at the supermarket are starting to look awfully good…
So during a time like this, how do you stay on plan with a strategy you know works best for you in terms of fat loss, sustained energy, balanced moods, and improvements in any number of health issues? Honestly, you do it the way you do it any other time: you just do it. The nice thing is, the very low-carb ketogenic approach shines during times like these. Pressed for time? Budget a bit tighter than usual? No problem! Keto is not a diet solely for the well-to-do. It’s not reserved only for wealthy people who frequent specialty stores or for folks who are on a first-name basis with their local farmers. Keto is the original budget-friendly diet because there’s nothing special you need to buy to be successful—nothing. You can do perfectly well and reap the metabolic benefits of this way of eating by focusing on the single most important thing about carbohydrate restriction: restricting carbohydrates!
Chicken drumsticks on sale for 99 cents a pound? Stock up! Ground beef going for $3.99 a pound? You know what to do! Good for (bunless) burgers, meatloaf, meatballs, chili, stuffed peppers, and Kristie’s Crack Slaw (recipe available in Keto Living Day by Day). Cabbage around 60-80 cents a pound? Get a few heads at a time—they last forever in the fridge, and you can fry it, steam it, roast it, grill it, or stick it in a slow cooker or pressure cooker. You don’t have to be boxed in at all times by macros, percentages, grams, or calories. On a ketogenic diet, the biggest bang for your metabolic buck comes from controlling your total carbohydrate intake. Other factors—intermittent fasting, managing stress, getting enough sleep—are not unimportant, but by far, the simple act of keeping your carb intake very low is responsible for the majority of health benefits that come from this way of eating.
Can it really be this simple? Yes, it really can. I’ve heard this approach called “lazy keto” or “dirty keto.” I prefer to think of it as simple keto. Straightforward keto. Uncomplicated keto. Keto for normal people in the real world, with busy lives, responsibilities and commitments, budget constraints, and a desire for something that works without them having to get a PhD in physiology or rearrange their entire lives around grocery shopping and meal prep. You can keep this all very simple and enjoy your food without the math, the apps and the spreadsheets—and without fear and anxiety over every last micro-fraction of a carb gram; just keep your total carbs very low. (How low depends on the particular program you’re currently following and what works best for you.)
Food purists and people with a judgmental streak use “lazy” and “dirty” keto as derogatory terms. They would rather people make all their own condiments from scratch, never use sugar substitutes, and eat only grass-fed meats, organic produce, eggs from free-range hens, and butter from cows raised on pristine pastures in Ireland. There’s nothing wrong with this approach for those who can afford these things and who have the time and access to procure them, but there’s also nothing wrong—absolutely nothing—with the simple, straightforward very low-carb approach backed by over almost fifty years of clinical success. (Where did I get fifty years from? The book that started it all, Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution, was published in 1972—but to be honest, doctors were using carbohydrate restriction for nearly a century before that, they just weren’t publishing papers about it in medical journals.)
The simple, straightforward way allows for regular supermarket meat, store-bought condiments, conventionally raised produce, and other conveniences that make this way of eating easy to stick to in the real world for the long term, whether life is smooth sailing or curveballs are coming at you from all sides. Success is more important than perfection. I have yet to see a randomized clinical trial proving that filet mignon from a grass-fed steer raises blood sugar less than a fast food hamburger patty without the bun.
When your routine is farther away from “normal” than ever, be okay with making changes to your keto normal, too. String cheese or hard-boiled eggs from a gas station convenience store are perfectly acceptable snacks. Even beef jerky with a touch of sugar in it is a better choice than candy bars and donuts. There’s some controversy and debate regarding the health effects of industrial seed oils (such as soybean oil, corn, safflower, and sunflower oils), but I can assure you that many people consume liberal amounts of these in store-bought dressings and condiments while still achieving their desired results—whether that means weight loss, improved blood sugar control, better blood pressure, or some other outcome. Don’t let perfection paralyze you. Don’t beat yourself up if you normally set a very high standard for yourself but you’ve found yourself falling a bit short recently. (See here for a video I did on this topic.)
And if you’re having a hard time sticking to keto even while keeping things simple and budget-friendly, be gentle with yourself. If you’ve been eating low-carb or keto for a while, a couple days or even a few weeks eating more carbs than usual isn’t going to undo all the wonderful progress you’ve made during the time you were stricter. Do the best you can under the circumstances you’re in. Stay as close to keto as you can, even if for the time being, that’s not as close as it usually is.
On the other hand, hopefully this post has given you some insights to help you realize staying keto even under difficult circumstances isn’t as hard as you might have thought. Like I said earlier, the way you stay keto during a time like this is the same way you do it any other time: you just do it.
~ Amy Berger
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