Chances are you’ve heard plenty of advice about dieting. “Short-term dieting isn’t sustainable, you need to make it a lifestyle” or “the key is to turn your diet into a lifestyle.” This is true.
While a short-term keto diet can help you reap benefits, such as reduced body fat and increased energy, the truth is that you can quickly fall back into bad habits and reverse all of your progress. And when this happens, sometimes it’s even harder to get back into a healthy routine.
The real magic happens when you commit to staying in ketosis for the long-term.
But even if you don’t want to do keto as a short-term solution, the question remains on what it takes to transition into a keto lifestyle. The good news is that there are a few foundational changes you can make to train your brain — and your body — to stick to your diet plan.
Have a Reason Besides Weight Loss
Weight loss is an important goal. But the truth is, you can lose weight on any diet.
High-carb, low-fat diets, as well as low-calorie diets, lead to weight loss. You can even lose weight on a low-carb diet or low-carb, high-fat (or LCHF) diet that’s not technically keto. But with each of these diets, there seems to be a common thread: they eventually fail.
There are two major reasons for this. One reason is that these types of diets don’t help balance your hormones, which is essential to manage your hunger. If you’re always hungry, sticking to your plan can feel like a daily battle — and that’s no way to live.
Another reason is that once you reach your goal, you lose your motivating factor. Research shows that outward appearance, and the way others perceive and accept you based on your looks, usually isn’t enough to keep you on track and motivated[*].
Of course, when you lose weight, you want to maintain that weight loss. But once you reach your goal, it’s easier to fall into bad habits or veer off track.
That’s why one of the ways you can sustain a keto lifestyle is by having motivating factors that extend beyond weight loss. And that’s where learning about the keto diet comes in handy.
Learn Everything You Can About the Keto Diet
On the surface, the keto diet may seem like a weight loss plan — and it can be. But once you meet your aesthetic goals, the thing that will keep you on track with a keto lifestyle is knowing how and why it works, and the long-term health benefits of keeping your ketone levels up and your blood sugar stable.
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When you’re in the metabolic state of ketosis, your body is using ketone bodies (or ketones) as a source of energy. While this promotes fat loss, it also helps balance your hormones, increase your energy, and improve your cholesterol levels and blood pressure[*] without the side effects of common medications.
The keto diet has also been linked to:
- Reduced appetite[*]
- Reduced inflammation, which is the underlying cause of many chronic health problems[*][*]
- Improved glucose levels[*]
- Reduced risk factors for heart disease] [*]
- Increased ability to concentrate[*][*]
Saturated fats have gotten a bad rap over the last couple of decades, but a properly balanced high-fat diet that includes high-quality saturated fats has enormous health benefits.
As a bonus, when you educate yourself about your eating habits, you can share scientifically-backed information with people who might oppose your keto lifestyle.
Check out this list of 22 keto books and documentaries that will help educate you (and others) about the ketogenic lifestyle.
Make Permanent Swaps
It’s unrealistic to think that you’re never going to eat a slice of pizza or have an ice cream cone again. But stocking your kitchen with an assortment of keto foods — instead of carbohydrate-filled processed foods — will make a significant difference in how easy it is to turn a ketogenic diet into a lifestyle.
You can turn your diet into a keto lifestyle by making simple, permanent swaps in your household. For example, swapping out sugar-filled ketchup, dressings, and sauces for keto-friendly versions is an easy change that you can make and stick to. The Keto Kickstart Bundle can help start you on the right track.
Find Accountability Groups
Support is the cornerstone of any major lifestyle change. Research shows that people who are surrounded by supportive people, or those with similar goals, are more likely to stick to their goals than people who go at it alone[*]. Surrounding yourself with supportive people can also reduce stress levels, which increases self-control[*]
On the flip side, people who face a lot of opposition from the people they’re closest to generally have a harder time turning changes into a permanent lifestyle[*]. And people whose partners aren’t involved in what they’re doing are more likely to quit or give up[*].
Try to involve your spouse or life partner in what you’re doing. Tell your friends about your goals and ask them to support, or at the very least respect, your decisions and your keto lifestyle.
If you don’t get support at home from your family or significant other, look elsewhere. Join a gym or take nutrition or exercise classes that coincide with your goals. Search for accountability groups or support groups online. Social media makes connecting with like-minded people even easier.
Make a Keto Meal Plan
Along with having a supportive social network, having a keto meal plan will help you turn your diet into a lifestyle.
Not only is having a meal plan associated with better overall diet quality and a higher intake of nutrients, but it’s also linked to healthier body weight[*]. As a bonus, meal planning also helps you control portion sizes and reduces the amount of food you waste, which can save you money[*].
Although meal planning takes a little forethought and requires more time upfront, it also saves you time in the long-run, especially if you incorporate meal prep.
Your diet plan doesn’t have to be complicated. Find your favorite 5-7 keto recipes and cycle through them every week. Write out a list of all of the ingredients you need and organize them by categories based on where you can find them in the grocery store.
To meal prep, roast a bunch of veggies in olive oil and combine those veggies with some high-quality proteins and healthy fats, like avocado and coconut oil. Those few simple steps will give you an easy, portable meal that doesn’t require a lot of time or effort.
Putting It All Together
The key to sticking to any life changes and reaping long-term health benefits is turning whatever you’re doing into a permanent lifestyle.
After you’ve educated yourself on how the metabolic state of ketosis works and what the health benefits are, you’ll have an easier time with your keto lifestyle.
By making simple swaps in your everyday food choices, finding accountability groups or people who support you, and making a meal plan (and doing some meal prep, too), you’ll find it a lot easier to stay on track.