The holidays provide tons of ways to get sidetracked from your health goals: cakes, cookies, carbs...and insistent relatives as far as the eye can see.
Not to mention all the time that holidays eat into our schedules: holiday prep, Zoom calls, gatherings, and traveling makes it harder to find workout opportunities.
Maybe you got guilt tripped into eating Aunt Margie’s carrot cake––but even if you took a break from your keto lifestyle during the holidays, don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s common––studies have shown that people gain at least one pound on average during the holiday season, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.
Rather than dwell on the damage done, don’t let a setback become a permanent obstacle. Here are some tips to snap out of it!
Belichka's Top 5 Tips to Get Back to Keto:
#1. Ramp up the workouts (and do them in a fasted state if possible). Before you get hung up on massively altering your diet, start with exercise. Not only have studies shown that exercise can stimulate ketosis, but putting in the physical time and effort into a workout is going to help reestablish your mental commitment to the keto lifestyle.
You don’t have to put yourself through a full bootcamp. Even if you just add on fifteen minutes to every other work out or throw in a bonus workout day it’s going to make a difference.
Bonus tip: Try to schedule your workouts before you eat or while your body is in a state of fasting. Doing so has been shown in studies to dramatically increase the number of ketones in your bloodstream anywhere from 1.4-3x as much as people who wait to exercise until after a big meal.
#2. Cold turkey: not always as delicious as it sounds.
While removing sugar and reducing carbs from your diet are essential for a return to ketosis, you don’t need to do it all at once. This is especially true if you allowed yourself more than a few holiday treats – the more you’ve diverged from your diet, the more gently you should ease back into it.
This is because carbs increase the insulin levels in your body, so going cold turkey causes mood swings that could set you up for defeat. For example, if you’re tired, irritable, or grumpy that may put you in a position to be less in control of your food cravings.
So, if you’ve let yourself slip back into sugar and carb consumption, consider a gradual reduction of your carbs by 25 g each day until you’ve reached your goal. This way you’ll avoid the crashes and hangry moments that make it harder for you to keep your eating on track.
#3. Stay hydrated.
Since the keto diet has the effect of being a diuretic, your return to low-carb living is going to change the way your body processes water and electrolytes. So it’s important that you avoid imbalance and dehydration.
Not to mention, making sure that you’re properly hydrated will help workouts, keep you feeling fuller and less susceptible to pangs of hunger.
You should be drinking a minimum of two liters of water per day as you transition back into ketosis, drink even more than that if you’re working out or live in a dry or hot climate.
#4. Don’t forget the sodium.
As mentioned, returning to ketosis is going to affect the way that your body processes electrolytes, a key one being sodium. In order to help your body retain water, it will help if you increase sodium intake up to 2000 mg per day.
Doing so will help avoid some of the “keto-flu” feelings that people sometimes experience with the diet due to sodium deficiency. These feelings can include: weakness, fatigue, nausea, headaches, and muscle cramps.
Don’t overdo the salt, but also be conscious of including a bit of sodium or electrolytes when your body tells you it might be needing them (trust us you will know when).
#5. Always have a plan. The more detailed you are about your day-to-day considerations, the less likely any surprises will derail you. Don’t take risks by leaving decisions to chance, have a daily meal and/or exercise plan ahead of time.
After all, if you already have plans to eat some grilled fish and veggies for dinner, it’s going to be a lot easier to say no to those leftover holiday cookies your friend is trying to pawn off on you in the afternoon.
Set yourself up for success by making eating healthy and living well easy by modifying your physical environment to make your decision making easy and avoid executive fatigue. Stock the pantry and refrigerator with plenty of easy keto food choices, and remove anything that might be a distraction!