In The Complete Guide to Fasting, Dr. Jason Fung tells how he got started using fasting for his diabetic patients. He had been trying to get them to adopt a low-carbohydrate diet. He gave them information about it, and then had the patients keep food diaries. And found that many of his patients had no clue. They proudly announced they had given up bread— and their food diaries showed that they were eating crackers, pasta, or even pita bread in its place. It was easier to tell some patients to eat nothing at all!
The biggest lesson that we need to learn when we are starting keto/low-carb is that it is different than low-calorie/low-fat dieting, and that the rules are different. We don’t count calories, we count carb grams. We don’t embrace hunger, we take it as a sign to eat something (on our allowed-foods list.) We don’t shun fats as long as they are natural, more-healthy kinds of fats— our bodies actually need fats, and they keep us from being hungry and get us into ketosis (which is where we want to be.)
One of the major rules we have to learn is how to avoid carbs. We need to know what foods have carbs in them, and that all carbs count. We can’t eat the carbs in bananas just because bananas are fruit. The carbs in a slice of whole wheat bread count just as much as the carbs in white bread. Carbs are carbs!
In the early learning phases, we need to learn lists of what foods have carbs in them and are to be avoided. Starchy vegetables such as potatoes (french fries) and sweet potatoes are as forbidden as bread and oatmeal. Even non-starchy vegetables, since they have carbs in them, need to be limited to the allowed quantity. Some low-calorie diets allow you as much lettuce as you can stuff down. We can’t do that— even small quantities of carbs add up when you take the ‘free-food’ approach to things like lettuce.
Dr. Atkins recommended that if you can’t get into ketosis in the Atkins Induction phase, you cut back on your allowed vegetable salad— having one a day instead of two. Some people these days try the ‘carnivore diet’ to get into ketosis— after all, our Paleolithic ancestors probably ate meat alone during the winter seasons, or when the kinds of vegetable food they ate were not currently in season. They couldn’t go to the supermarket and get apples and salad greens year round!
This is why it is so important to measure your state of ketosis. Those urine test strips Atkins recommended are better than nothing, but the best approach is to test your blood for ketones. It’s a similar procedure to testing your blood sugar, but you need the right kind of meter and test strips. Since the test strips are $1 each, I can’t afford that system myself (I’m on SSI disability) but I have a Ketonix breath ketone analyzer which I use daily.
You may have read (on ‘keto’ diet food packaging) that you are supposed to count the ‘net carbs’ or even ‘sugar carbs.’ That is not currently recommended. I’d suggest keeping your eye on the total carbs of a food item. The important thing is what carbs are measured by your body. A high-fiber keto tortilla may not be something you want to eat too regularly if it sends you out of ketosis.