The holiday season is upon us and this time of year comes with a ton of social gatherings, visits with friends and family members, holiday office parties and lots of carb-filled foods, desserts and overall temptations to break your ketogenic diet.
As a ketogenic dieter, I personally know how tough this holiday season is for staying on track with your Keto diet and fitness goals.
You don’t want to feel left out or unable to enjoy this time of the year…
You don’t want to “offend” people by turning down their recipes or baked treats…
You don’t want to fall off the wagon, gain weight, and struggle to get back on the routine that’s served you so well thus far…
That’s why I put together this Ultimate Keto Holiday Survival Guide..
It will help you with your mindset, give some tips and tricks for parties and holiday events and most importantly, help you get back on track if you fall off..
Let’s dive in…
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#1 Recognize Increased Temptation
It’s absolutely critical that you get into the right mindset and frame of thinking, so you’ll be better equipped to avoid temptation during this holiday season.
The best way to do this is to remind yourself upfront that this time of year the temptation is much greater than usual. By recognizing this upfront, this already sets you off on the right foot. You know there will be food and carb recipes that will tempt you.
You can see it. You can smell it. You even see others eating or talking about how Sally’s double rich chocolate cake won dessert of the year. By thinking ahead there won’t be any surprises, you know this will be more challenging than usual, but you’re mentally prepared for it.
#2 Focus On What You CAN Have, Not What You CAN’T Have
The quickest way to feel like you’re missing out on holiday fun is to focus on food you CAN’T have during this time of year. We’ve all done this, scanned around the party or the table and immediately focus on the non-keto friendly foods. We say to ourselves, “I wish I could eat that!”. We do it with one item, beat ourselves up over it and then we move onto another item and repeat the vicious cycle. This is not productive in anyway and starts a negative downward spiral that further fuels your temptation and often leads to cheating on your diet.
Instead start by placing focus on food you CAN have, the foods that you love to eat on your Keto diet. Eat an extra serving of steak, dice up a rich avocado, load up on some full-fat dressing and eat even more bacon. By focusing on the good upfront, you’re putting yourself into a positive upward spiral. You’ll immediately feel better, stay on track and give yourself the confidence that staying keto is very much possible during this time of year.
#3 Think About Your Goals
This mindset hack can be applied anytime of the year, but really comes in handy during the increased temptation period as mentioned in #1. The mindset hack is to think about your goals every single time you make a nutrition related decision.
Stop right now and remind yourself of your goals and why you’re doing a keto diet. Is it to look better at the beach? Is it to get your bloodwork in better shape? Is it simply to just feel better and less sluggish?
Each and every nutrition related decision you make will either help you or hurt you in reaching your goals. There is no neutral. Ask yourself before you pick up the fork, is this decision going to help me or hurt me in attaining my goals? If you can stop for a second and ask yourself the question, “Will this help or hurt my goals?”, you’re already winning. The decision is now left up to you. Remember, your decision here will help fuel the positive vs. negative momentum mentioned in #2.
#4 Eliminate or Limit Carbs
The previous three Keto Holiday Survival Guide tips help for planning and mindset, but now comes the day of the party, Carb Holiday or whatever event that’s going to challenge you.
The most important part of staying keto, as you’re familiar with, is by limiting or avoiding carbs entirely. Refer to Tip #2 and focus on the Keto items available to you. If none jump out at you, can you modify any to make them Keto or at least more Keto-friendly?
Remembering these quick tips will help guide your macros toward a more ideal
Follow the Fat: Can you add any healthy fats to increase the fat-macro ratio of the meal? You can do this by adding some healthy coconut, avocado or olive oils, full-fat dressings, cheeses or butters.
Limit the Carbs: Can you remove any buns or bread from a pre-made meal or sandwich? Avoid carbohydrate rich sides like potatoes, rice or breads and sugary toppings or dressings.
Eat the Protein: Opt for fattier cuts of meat like chicken thighs, pork, rib-eye and fish.
If you can’t entirely avoid carbs or you’ve decided to indulge in a carb recipe, don’t beat yourself up over it. Instead, enjoy the meal and try to limit the overall caloric and carbohydrate intake. Just because you are consuming carbs, doesn’t mean you should go overboard and eat everything in sight.
Try to limit the carb count of the meal you’re having or hold yourself accountable to a 1 meal or snack limit for that day. Again, it’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole once you’ve ‘given in’ so limiting yourself upfront will help falling further down the trap.
#5 Bring Desserts
The holiday season often comes loaded with trays and trays of holiday desserts and sweets. The best way to avoid these is to skip them entirely (ditch the pumpkin pie) or keep a keto-friendly dessert on hand. If you hadn't noticed, I created Brownies that are Keto!
Try some of these delicious KetoBrownie dessert recipes. They are packed with healthy fats, low in sugar and carbs and will definitely help satisfy that sweet tooth craving that is bound to come up.
#6 Limit Alcohol
The holiday season and New Year’s celebration brings lots of social outings and parties where alcohol will be present. It’s okay, and encouraged, to celebrate this time of the year, but you should keep in mind a few things when consuming alcohol on keto.
First, stick with Keto-friendly alcohols. A lot of people think alcohol on Keto is limited or prohibited, but you can enjoy quite a variety of low-carb beers, wines and hard liquors.
If you’re sticking with this list below, you should be in good shape from a low-carb and keto diet perspective.
- Bud Select 55
- MGD 64
- Rolling Rock Green Light
- Michelob Ultra
- Bud Select
- Miller Lite
- Natural Light
- Michelob Ultra Amber
- Coors Light
- Amstel Light
- Bud Light
- Pinot Noir
- Pinot Gris/Grigio
- Champagne/Sparkling whites
- Water (Yeah right)
- Club Soda
- Diet Sodas
A few other things to consider when consuming alcohol on a ketogenic diet.
Ketosis greatly lowers your body’s alcohol tolerance and puts you at a greater risk for dehydration. You may have noticed that while in Keto, the effects of alcohol are much greater. You may even consume fewer drinks than usual and still feel a greater effect.
Alcohol is also given priority by your body for processing so note that when consuming it, fat-burning will be halted. Ensure you stay properly hydrated by consuming additional water in between drinks and supplementing with electrolytes (salt, potassium, magnesium) when needed.
#7 Jump Back on Keto
You’ve survived the holiday season, parties and social outings but slipped up on your ketogenic diet. You may have even given up on it entirely, the New Year is right around the corner, right?
Here’s a few Keto holiday guide tips on how to get back on track and kickstart your body into shifting back into fat-burning mode.
First, don’t beat yourself up over it. Nobody is perfect, and everybody slips up when it comes to dieting and nutrition. Your favorite Keto athletes, influencers, and celebrities all mess up from time to time. The most important thing to do when you slip up, is to get right back on track with your next meal.
Remember your goals from Tip #3 and re-focus your mindset back to your nutrition. Don’t hang onto the negative thoughts of “I already cheated, I might as well keep going” or “I’ll start next Monday” or “I’ll make it my 201X goal”. Get back to your ketogenic diet and routine with your next meal. You’ll feel better that you did, and you’ll start building positive momentum.
Exercising is a great way to kickstart your body back into fat-burning mode. After consuming carbohydrates, your body stores glycogen within its muscle cells. Depleting these glycogen levels is the first step into transitioning back into a ketogenic state. One way to speed up this depletion is via exercise whether that be through cardio, weightlifting, walking or sports.
Once your glycogen levels have been depleted, the body is then able to begin ketone production and you’re on your way to getting back into a ketogenic state. Everyones body is different so this depletion process can be quicker for some.
#9 Intermittent Fasting
Stop eating altogether, just kidding..
Intermittent Fasting (“IF”) has gained so much popularity and for good reason, it works. If you’re not familiar with IF, it’s simply an eating style (not diet), where you restrict eating (fast) for a period of the day and then consume all your calories during the remaining period (feed). There are endless resources and studies done on IF but to start I’d recommend fasting for 16 hours (includes sleep) and eat for 8 hours within a 24-hour period.
A typical 24-hour day would look like this:
IF also has a ton of mental and health benefits during the fast to help make you feel good. By fasting, your insulin levels will remain very low and help aid ketone production. Stick with black coffee, tea and water during your fast.
Ultimate Keto Holiday Survival Guide
There you have it, the Ultimate Keto Holiday Survival Guide. I hope this keto diet guide helps assist you with your mindset going into the holiday season, provides some tips for avoiding carbs at the next holiday party or event and most importantly, helps you get back to a ketogenic state after.
Drop a comment below and let us know how you used these tips this holiday season.
P.S. Don't forget to share with a fellow keto-friend going through this time of year!