Are you struggling to stay in ketosis? It can be hard to follow a keto diet while traveling and often times this is when a lot of us watching what we eat, decide to take a break from our healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, this can lead to setbacks and weight gain that is really hard to reverse once we get back home.
I wanted to learn more about how to stay in a state of ketosis, no matter where life takes me, so I reached out to an expert on the topic. Victoria Pelletier is a frequent business traveler and fitness fanatic that has managed to stay on track with her long term keto lifestyle goals.
Preparing for Travel
When preparing for travel, do you make keto-friendly foods to bring on trips with you or do you eat out while traveling?
When I first started my keto journey, I packed food for my outbound air travel and always had a stash of quick and easy snacks in my luggage in case I struggled to find keto food while on the road.
These snacks could be anything from beef jerky, to the airdried cheese puffs or even keto bars (strict keto folks are rolling their eyes right now at my often lazy or dirty keto ways! Lol)
Eating out can be difficult for some when trying to stick to the keto diet but over time it can be easier as you are more familiar with the restaurants in your area that offer low-carb options. This is more difficult when you find yourself in areas you are not as familiar with when traveling.
Eating Out While Staying in Ketosis
What are your go-to restaurants for eating low carb? Are there any chains that you look for when traveling?
I don’t look for any specific chains, however, finding a good steakhouse is almost always a good choice. I usually start with a Caesar salad with no croutons (of course) and then order a steak with asparagus or spinach as my side. If I’m not feeling like steak (or my guests don’t eat red meat) they usually have several fish and chicken options.
I am usually traveling to meet with clients and therefore eating in restaurants a lot – my clients usually have the choice of restaurant that we’re going to. Don’t be scared when you hear this – I have found that in almost all cases, I have always been able to eat low carb/keto despite not choosing or knowing the menu in advance.
Even at an Italian restaurant, about as high-carb as you can get, I find there are a lot of choices – grilled calamari or a burrata for a starter (or main!) and I often choose a cheese and charcuterie board as my main course.
Pre-Packaged Keto Foods
Have you found any pre-packaged keto foods that help you to stay on track while traveling?
Yes – most definitely. I can tell you that I have tested A LOT over the years. Some of my favs include beef jerky (check the label for sugar content!) and more recently, I’ve switched to biltong – I love Stryve and the different flavor options.
Love Good Fat bars and Quest Bars are my fav processed bars – super easy and quite filling – particularly the Quest bars. I also like F-Bombs – they have small, packaged nut butters that you can squeeze right into your mouth!
I should note that I often make a quick stop at a grocery store, particularly for trips of a few days or more, and get pre-packaged hard-boiled eggs, meats, and cheeses that I can keep in the hotel room refrigerator. Also, the airport shops have really adjusted what they now carry to cater to the low carb/keto crowd and you can find a TON of keto-friendly foods now so I rarely need to bring food with me.
Be sure to check out this Keto Deviled Egg Recipe for a delicious and easy snack to help you stay in ketosis while traveling.
Cheat Days while Staying in Ketosis
Do you ever take a cheat day?
In my first couple of years, I tried out different kinds of carb cycling. I tried a few months where I would have one cheat meal per week and then I went many months where I would allow myself cheat meals for a full day or for a weekend once a month or every 6 weeks.
Now that I have been keto for so many years, I am much more flexible and my body is totally adapted so that if I occasionally have a piece of bread or a dessert at a restaurant, I remain in ketosis.
Are there any foods that you miss that you have not found a low carb version of? For me, it’s gotta be tortilla chips. I have yet to find something that replaces this snack, although I haven’t given up, I am still looking for that healthy alternative. What foods do you miss most?
Like you, I miss tortillas because I love nachos! BUT…. I have discovered chicken skin chips which are amazing both on their own and also layered nacho style with cheese and salsa and whatever other yummy keto toppings you like on yours. I also was missing pizza, but my husband is a genius in the kitchen and makes fat head dough (that can be split for crackers also).
Oh – and the last thing…I love Reese peanut butter cups…my husband has a recipe for a version of these that are so incredible! (they’re the size of a two-bite brownie and made with natural peanut butter, butter, some protein powder, cocoa, and stevia or erythritol – amazing!)
Try this Keto-friendly brownie recipe to stay in ketosis and satisfy your sweet tooth at the same time!
Adjusting Your Body
Do you have to be in ketosis to lose weight on the keto diet?
Being in ketosis is definitely more effective for weight loss because the state of ketosis is when your body switches to converting your own body fat for fuel instead of carbs, but you don’t NEED to be in ketosis to lose weight – getting your macros more closely balanced and aligned to keto macros plus being mindful of total caloric intake, will still encourage weight loss.
That said, I strongly encourage people choosing keto for weight loss to be quite strict until it becomes a habit, and the body is adjusted and has less desire for cheats which can lead to a downhill slide.
I hear a lot about people testing themselves to see if they are in ketosis with urine strips and even at-home blood tests, is this something that you regularly do to see if you are in ketosis?
I did in my first year or so – started with urine strips until we found a good blood meter. My body is so adapted that I no longer test at all. That said, my husband is super diligent about tracking all of his body measurements and food triggers and he still regularly tests himself using the blood meter.
Getting Past Plateaus
Do you have any tips or tricks for those of us who have lost some weight following a low carb diet but have stopped losing? Any tips on how to get past a weight loss plateau?
I won’t claim to be a diet expert and clearly not a physician, but as someone who has prepared for fitness competitions and focused on body composition, I have tried a few different options to get past plateaus.
I have tried a carb “refeed” for a period of time – days or a week or two and then back to strict keto or, typically better for me as my body is super-efficient, I increase my caloric intake greatly until my body is used to more calories/energy (and sometimes this causes a few pounds of weight to come back) and then drop quickly to lower or normalized calorie intake – it’s a bit of a “jolt” to the body and works quite effectively for me.
Working Out While on the Keto Diet
What type of workouts do you recommend for losing weight while eating low carb? Circuit, cardio, weight loss, one day for arms, one day for legs, there are so many, and I could go on all day. With so many different workouts to choose from, it can get really confusing when trying to decide which is best. What type of workouts do you do regularly and will this work for others following the keto diet?
I think you need to determine what your goals are – general health, toning, gaining muscle, etc to determine what type of exercise(s) you should do. I have strong opinions about certain types of exercises, but I will tell you what I like and what works for me.
I have played team sports much of my life – switched to playing ice hockey about 20 years ago – I love it! It’s a great high-intensity interval type training with the short, fast bursts on the ice – pre-covid, I would play one to three times a week.
My fitness goals are to be lean with strong muscle development and with my competitive nature, I am driven to be one of the strongest women in the gym, so I am very focused on weight training and constantly improving my PR (personal record) for the amount of weight lifted.
I weight train six days per week with a three-day split that I do twice (chest/shoulder/triceps, back/biceps, and legs/core). I have never had any issues with obtaining my goals while on the keto diet – I have competed in triathlons while on low carb diets and some fasting and have continued to maintain strong, dense muscle mass on keto with a focus on eating enough protein.
Be sure to check out this post sharing tips on how to create a workout routine for even the busiest of schedules!
Keto Meal Plan
One of the questions I get asked a lot by those who are curious about eating low carb or following the keto diet is about what I eat every day. I would love to hear what a typical day of food looks like for you.
I typically eat just two meals a day, with a 24 hour fast to kick start the week. For breakfast, I have one of either a protein shake or low carb bread (Thin Slim Foods has bread with 0 net grams of carbs) – it has a decent amount of protein and tastes good; I put cheese or pate on one slice and natural peanut butter on the second.
For dinner, I have some beef, chicken, or sausage with cheese and/or some broccoli or celery with a homemade dip that my husband makes. One of my favs is ground beef in a bowl with melted cheese, onions, salsa, and sour cream – a yummy taco bowl! If I’m super lazy for dinner, it’s packaged meat and cheese.
Do you measure out everything that you eat or have you been following this diet for so long that you already have an idea of what works and what doesn’t?
In my early days of strict keto, I tracked everything to ensure my macros were accurate and calories in check. There are apps that make it super simple like Carb Manager or Lose It. That said, make sure to enter your own food and the nutritional data as some of the pre-loaded foods are not accurate. Now that I am years into this way of eating, I no longer track my food at all, I only track body measurements and workouts.
Measuring Carb Intake to Stay in Ketosis
Another common question about keto is “How many carbs do you need to stay under in order to lose weight?” I know that this can vary from person to person, but I am curious what your thoughts are on this, how many carbs or net carbs do you try to stay under each day?
To follow a ketogenic diet, the objective is to stay under 20 grams of NET carbs per day, low carb is generally defined as remaining under 50 grams per day. That said, the tracking of foods and ketones is important when you’re new to ensure that you are eating the right macros and maintaining a state of ketosis.
Now that I have been low carb and keto for so many years, I remain in a state of ketosis with higher levels of net carbs for those days I am not as strict (I love a good glass of red wine!). Again, for those looking to try this way of eating for weight loss, I encourage a stricter approach until habit forms and the body adjusts or adapts.
Thank you so much, Victoria, for your time and knowledge on this subject. I really appreciate it and hope that this information helps answer some questions for those that are struggling with the keto diet.
You can find out more information about Victoria Pelletier and pick up her book Unstoppable by visiting her site www.victoria-pelletier.com
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