Get Started

Here is my simple yet focused step by step plan of action I implemented to get started on this way of eating.  Which in turn brought about huge changes in my health.  The most significant being the reversal of Type 2 Diabetes. With weight loss, of course, being the most visual change. Oh, and please know that there have been big challenges with completely changing my lifestyle but doing a low carb diet has not only been one of the best decisions I have ever made but a low carb diet has also been the easiest way I have found to lose weight.  Also, I know that there are many products out there that are marketed for doing a low carb/keto diet such as ketone blood meters, ketone breath monitors, urine strips, exogenous ketone shakes, and drinks.  Please know that for much of my weight loss I haven’t used most of those products. But on occasion I did use a blood ketone meter and urine strips.  I never felt that they were essential tools for me to lose weight.  However, staying at or below 20 carbs a day was and always has been.  And I still monitor my glucose levels.

Here it goes.  Step by step, 1 through 7 of how I lost the first 76 lbs in almost 7 months on a low carb/keto diet.  After  7 months I went on to do a more "unstructured" low carb/keto diet.  Following no structured plan.  Just a continued restricted diet of 20 carbs a day.  I went on to lose another 111 lbs over the next several years. Reevaluating and tweaking my low carb plan as needed. As of today, I have lost a total of 187 lbs.

  1. The first step, which was the most important beginning for me was that I bought a book and read it cover to cover so I understood everything I could about a low carb diet.  I had a very clear understanding of what I could eat and what the process would be. Doing this gave me a solid foundation that would follow me through the next 14 years of living a low carb lifestyle.  The book I read, that started it all for me was Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution. This was in the mid-2000's.  I will list more current resources for you below. 20 net carbs a day.  No other macros were counted. That was it.  Total carbs - fiber = Net carbs.  Back then Atkins was much stricter.  No fresh cheeses, nuts, shakes, powders, diet drinks, Atkins candy, Atkins frozen meals, or highly processed low carbs foods such as tortillas and low carb breads.  Induction was strict but highly effective.  
  2. Visit to my doctor.  This was important for a couple of reasons.  I wanted a doctor that would support my decision.  I had numerous and serious health issues.  I understood that lowering my carbs to only 20 a day could and probably would affect the amount of medication I was taking for high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.  Continual medical monitoring is important. Especially if you are taking prescription medications.
  3. I then put together a menu for the first week of all of my meals and then put together a shopping list. 
  4. Bye bye junk and carbs.  I rid my fridge and pantry of the carby junk that wasn't on my new diet plan.  I gave food to friends and family.  And unopened bags and boxes went to the local food pantry. 
  5. Grocery Shopping.  With my list in hand, I bought only what I needed to get me through my menu for the first week.  Back then who had ever heard of "grass fed" this and "grass finished" that? I bought what I could afford.  And none of it was organic.  None of it was grass-fed meats.   Getting off of the SAD (Standard American Diet) was exactly the big change I needed.  Even if the low carb foods I was eating wasn't entirely "clean and organic eating". 
  6. Meal Prep-I meal prepped what I could ahead of time.  Fried ground beef, cut up veggies for salads, fried bacon,  sliced and grated cheese, hard-boiled eggs, ect.
  7. Now I was ready to get started.  I had read the book, went to my doctor, wrote up a menu, cleaned out my pantry replacing it with "allowable" foods on my new meal plan, filled my fridge with the veggies (carbs) that I could eat, allowable meats in my freezer, butter ready to go, then took a deep breath and just got started!  


Here are a few daily behaviors that have given me big weight loss results

*Identify my pitfalls and weaknesses- example, if you find that your favorite fast food joint is an issue for you then don't drive by it.  Create a different route for your drive to and from work.
*Sleep-if I do not get enough sleep I have found time and time again that weight loss happens far too slowly.  Even if I am eating 20 carbs a day.
*Eating out-If you have a certain restaurant where there is a particular carby food you love then don't eat there.  Or call in your order, minus the hot salty tortilla chips and pick up your food for take out so that you are not tempted.  
*Journaling-Keeping track and writing down my weight,  meals, and carbs eaten on a daily basis really helps to keep me rooted in the present and focused on my goals. Cronometer app is one that I often use because it has an accurate nutritional database. If I want to write it down I use a Happy Planner by MAMBI.
*Learn how to read nutritional labels.  You'll soon find out that the ingredient list is full of additive and chemicals that you don't want to eat.  And often times the carbohydrate count doesn't seem to line up with the list of ingredients. I will often see the carb count as 0 yet in the ingredient list there will be some kind of sugar. Also, get familiar with all of the different names of sugar.
Secret Sugars
The Complete Guide to Sugar
*Using relaxation apps and breathing exercises to keep my stress levels under control. -See resources
*KISS-Keep It Super Simple - The times when I keep my meals and menus really basic and simple,  using a minimal amount of low carb ingredients, with real whole foods, then that is when I have the best weight loss results.


Vegetables are where I get the majority of my carbs on a daily basis. I also eat herbs and spices. Fresh and dried.
Proteins are the easy part.  My faves are Beef, Chicken and Pork.
The fats I stick to are Ghee, Butter, Avocado Oil, Organic Beef Lard/Tallow, Olive Oil (only for cold preparations), Coconut Oil and MCT Oil.

Bean Sprouts
Bok Choy
Collard Greens
Onions -Scallions, Green, Red, Yellow-In Moderation
Peppers-Yellow, Orange, Red and Green
Snow Peas
Squash-Italian, Summer, Yellow, Zucchini and Spaghetti
Tomatoes-In Moderation

Melons, Berries & Fruit all in moderation
Honeydew melon


There are a couple of other issues that I'd like to address that I wish I would have known before I started on my new way of eating.  And also, things that I have had to figure out on my own.
  • The Keto Flu is real.  When I first started a very low carb diet 14 years ago it was called, "Atkins Flu".  Luckily there are things that you can do to lighten the effects of the Keto Flu.  Although I have tried many different things over the years to keep my electrolytes up, I find the one thing that works the best is getting in plenty of sodium.  Here is a great article about sodium, potassium and magnesium.  I also drink Sole Water.  Without the added salt I feel tired and will get occasional leg cramps.  The salt I use is Redmond Real Salt.  Dr. Ken Berry has a great video about salt.  And explains perfectly for me, why I use the salt that I do.  A keto/low carb diet by nature is a very anti-inflammatory diet that is a natural diuretic.  Basically, you pee a lot when doing a very low carb diet.  
  • Self Sabotage. Over the years I have come to realize that I am my own worst enemy.  I am my biggest obstacle. And have continued to be.  My weight loss and health journey to wellness haven't been linear.  Never a straight line.  More like being on a roller coaster ride.  I wish that I could give you one solid piece of advice that would make it all a bit easier or clearer, but I have found that no matter how motivated, excited, happy, prepared, or well I am feeling, there have been times when I get off plan with a well-intentioned "cheat day" that ends up getting me terribly off track.  Which has in turn made losing weight a longer process than what it should have been.  So, don't listen to the voices that tell you, "One cheat meal doesn't matter", "Monday you'll get back on plan", "You've done so well, you deserve a cheat day".  It is my experience that nothing, not one thing good comes from a cheat meal or a cheat day. The majority of times they take you further away from your ultimate goals. However, there are a few things that do help to keep me focused and on track. Jotting down menus, journaling my meals, tracking daily carb intake, eating at home and keeping myself accountable with weighing in every morning.  
  • Calorie and fat intake actually do matter.  At first, for quite some time the weight seemed fairly easy to get off as long as I ate no more than 20 net carbs a day.  Then for the longest time, and I mean a long time I stalled.  No weight loss no matter how meticulously I tracked carbs.  So, I had to reevaluate what I was eating. Which is why keeping a food journal helps.  I soon discovered that I was probably eating too much fat.  Once I lowered my fat intake a bit and upped my daily protein the weight started coming off again.  You may hear a lot of, "Eat lots of fat", "Don't worry about calories".  For a while, that may be true.  Have you stalled after enjoying an initial amount of weight lost?  You may want to take a look at your fat and calorie intake. There is, however, for me, one exception to this rule. If I have had a period where I have gotten off of plan, "fallen off of the low carb wagon", I have found the easiest way to get back on track and get the carb monster cravings under control is to get back on plan with 20 carbs a day then do what I call "fat load" for a few days.  For the first few days I will eat extra fat to keep me feeling full. Whenever I get a craving for high carb foods I will use bacon and cheese as quick finger type foods.  It takes me just a handful of days for my appetite to disappear and for my body to no longer cravy carby sugary foods.  Once that happens then I pull back on the fats and monitor my calories and fats more closely.  For me, the real trick to losing weight is to keep from being hungry all of the time. Doing a low carb/keto diet and getting myself into ketosis and becoming fat adapted works wonders for that. 
  • As much as I love certain foods, even though they are low in carbs, these foods will stall me if I eat them too often.  What is too often and how much is too much?  Everyone seems to be different.  It'll take a bit of trial and error to get it figured out if you are experiencing a stall. A true stall is considered no weight loss for several weeks.  Here are the items that stall me. Dairy, Tomatoes, Onions, Nuts, All foods marketed as keto/low carb that are highly processed.  Such as wraps, flat bread, tortilla's, keto/low carb sweets, candy,  shakes, ice cream, flavored syrups and sweeteners for Coffee and Tea.


I've listed several resources that I have found useful.   They have all helped to make my keto/low carb diet more attainable for the long haul and easier. I hope that you will find them as helpful as I have.

Diet Doctor - they cover all aspect of a keto/low carb diet - Science/Health/News/Videos/Recipes
USDA Food Composition Database -complete nutritionally accurate database for all foods
LivinLaVidaLowCarb - tons of extremely informative Pod Casts by Jimmy Moore
Maria Emmerich - She is a keto boss that walks and talks what she preaches. Recipes and more
Virta Health - Dr Phinney and his team reversing Type 2 diabetes and more with carb restriction
Healthful Pursuit -Plenty of female-centered articles.  Also recipes.
Dr. Michael R. Eades
The low carb Cardiologist
Cholesterol Code - Great resource for the Low Carb High Fat Community interested in Cholesterol issues. He has a tool where you can figure out your Remnant Cholesterol number.
Whole30 - Purposeful dietary restriction program. It is designed to change the way you feel and eat in 30 days. It restricts many of the foods that people also do not eat on a low carb/keto diet. Legumes, sugar, grains, dairy, and much more. The focus is on "clean" eating. And removing inflammatory foods from your diet 30 days at a time.

For Women:
Healthful Pursuit - Plenty of female-focused info related to Keto/Low Carb
Shawn Mynar - Specializing in low-carb, high fat ketogenic diets for women

Apps that I use:
Diet Doctor Eat
Weight Diary Lite
Fasting Secret
Insight Timer - Meditation App
3 Minute Mindfullness - My favorite app for quick relaxation, meditation, and breathing. I am always making an effort to keep my cortisol levels down.

500 Low Carb Recipes by Dana Carpender
Cancer as a Metabolic Disease by Thomas N. Seyfried
Cancer Free! Are You Sure? by Jenny Hrbacek
Keto. The Complete Guide to Success by Maria & Craig Emmerich
Easy Dairy Free Ketogenic Recipes by Maria Emmerich
Easy Keto Desserts by Carolyn Ketchum
Fat for Fuel by Dr. Joseph Mercola
Keto Comfort Foods by Maria Emmerich
Keto for Cancer by Miriam Kalamian
Keto Restaurant Favorite by Maria Emmerich
Lies My Doctor Told Me by Dr. Ken Berry
Quick & Easy Ketogenic Cooking by Maria Emmerich
Southern Keto by Natasha Newton
The 30 Day Ketogenic Cleanse by Maria Emmerich
The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living by Phinney & Volek
The Cantin Ketogenic Diet for Cancer, Type 1 & 2 Diabetes, Epilepsy and Other Ailments
The Complete Guide to Fasting by Dr. Jason Fung and Jimmy Moore
The Easy 5 Ingredient Ketogenic Diet Cookbook by Jenn Fisch
The Metabolic Approach to Cancer by Winters & Kelley
Tripping Over the Truth by Christofferson
Undoctored by Dr. William Davis

Recipe Blogs that Inspire:
All Day I Dream About Food
George Stella
I Breathe I'm Hungry
Keto Connect
Linda's Low Carb Recipes & Menus
Low Carb Maven
Low Carb Yum
Step Away From the Carbs
Sugar-Free Mom

YouTube Channels:
All videos with Dr. Jason Fung-Fasting
All videos with Dr. Thomas Seyfried-Cancer as a Metabolic Disease
Adapt Your Life
Biohackers Lab
Cooking Keto with Kristie
Dot2Trot's Low Carb Living
Dr. Darren Schmidt
Dave Feldman
Growing Your Greens
Headbanger's Kitchen
Highfalutin' Low Carb
High Intensity Health
Hungry Elephant
Katherine Michelle
Keto Connect
Keto Chaos
KETO Meets Menopause
Keto For Real Life People
Life Health Now Ileka
Low Carb Down Under
Mel Robbins
Michelle Rock
Papa G's Low Carb Recipes
Primal Edge Health
Shawn Baker
The Stern Method

The Keto for Women Show by Shawn Mynar
The Keto Diet Podcast by Leanne Vogel
Keto For Normies by Matt Gaedke & Megha Barot
Keto Talk with Jimmy Moore and Dr. Will Cole

Good Luck to you!
And may good health be yours, Keto On!