Doing keto on a budget is not impossible. Although it is true that grains, carbs and sugar (especially refined and processed sugars) are incredibly cheap compared to quality, high fat foods, that doesn’t necessarily mean that going to a high fat diet has to cost significantly more than your previous high carb one. There are a number of factors that can really mitigate the cost.
Eat Half as Much For the Same Energy
Every gram of fat that you eat equates to 9 kcals (calories), while every gram of protein or carbs equates to just 4 kcals. As a result, that means that, if your daily activity requires 2500 calories to maintain the necessary energy level, then you’d only need to eat about 280 grams of fat vs 625 grams of protein and/or carbs.
What that means, of course, is that, if the majority of your diet is composed of good quality fats, you can, basically, eat about HALF as much food each day as you used to, and you’ll still have plenty of energy for all of your daily activities. Of course, eating half the food means BUYING half the food, and that is one major reason you can do keto on a budget.
Eat Less As Your Body Burns Stored Fat
As you convert your body over to burning fat for energy, your body will readily transition to burning BODY fat for energy anytime your calorie intake is less than necessary to maintain your daily activities. Thus, you can generally cut the AMOUNT of food you eat by even MORE than half and still have sufficient energy to do what you need to do. In fact, generally, you’ll feel even MORE energized, even when eating very little food.
Moreover, once your body is “keto adapted” (becomes comfortable with fat being the primary food source), you will often find that you are not all that hungry, since your body has a readily available fat source (body fat) to use for energy, even in the absence of dietary fat.
Again, this will cut your food bill even further – at least as long as you’re still above about 10% body fat. Once you drop to that point, your body may begin wanting to conserve fat to a certain degree. But, since most of us start keto a bit overweight, that means, in the beginning, while you’re still learning and adapting, doing keto on a budget can DEFINITELY be done.
Change Your Buying Habits to Save
Although most people TRY to save money in groceries where they can, the reality is, because carbs are so cheap, relative to quality fat, often we’re not quite as dedicated to looking for sales or coupons or trying to find alternative places to shop, bulk options, etc.
Once you go keto, because quality, high fat foods CAN be more expensive, it can become more important to look for sales, coupons and bulk buying options. For instance, quality meat is MUCH less expensive if purchased directly from the farm in larger volumes and then kept frozen.
Costco is a great place to find good quality foods at significantly better prices, so long as you’re willing to purchase in larger quantities. Often, even if you’re not a larger family, you can purchase in bulk and then vacuum seal and/or freeze what you won’t be using right away.
Other, less expensive stores such as Aldi offer the opportunity to pay less without having to purchase in larger quantities.
Also note that, high fiber veggies are terrific for keto (especially in the beginning, before you’re keto adapted). What little calories there are in these veggies are from fiber, meaning they fill you up, but do not add significant calories, providing for greater weight loss. Since these veggies can often be purchased on sale when they are nearing their “expiry” date, as long as you use them right away, you can save alot of money on food going this route.
At the end of the day, it’s important to recognize that you CAN do keto on a budget, as long as you take into account the relative factors that can significantly reduce your costs.
Lower Your Healthcare Costs
This is more of a long-term perspective, but, understand that keto can REALLY bring down your overall healthcare costs, especially if your health insurance isn’t that great and doesn’t offer tremendous coverage. If you or someone in your family is on medications to control cholesterol, manage their diabetes or to help mediate Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s symptoms, it is HIGHLY likely that you’ll be able to reduce or eliminate many of those medications over time – some of them very early on in the keto diet (and, depending on whether those costs are out of pocket or how high your co-pay is, that can be a significant savings).
Likewise, in the long-term, the health effects of being overweight, having cardiovascular problems or diabetes can be extremely costly – not to mention having potentially life threatening consequences. How much would it be worth to you to avoid those problems down the road?
Struggling with acne? Chances are you’re purchasing all sorts of medications or over the counter treatments to combat it. Going keto can move many acne sufferers a LONG way toward clear skin with NO external treatments at all. Moreover, there are a number of relatively inexpensive external treatments that can assist with whatever remaining acne symptoms you might have.
Extra Expenses to Doing Keto
In addition to the “food thing”, anyone who’s researched much about keto or has been doing keto for long, will know that it’s relatively necessary to MEASURE your keto progress by keeping track of just how well your body is producing and using ketone bodies. Of course, that means purchasing urine ketone testing strips, a blood ketone/glucose meter and testing strips or a breathalyzer of some sort (like Ketonix).
Use Urine Test Strips Early On
Urine test strips are the cheapest of these, but, as you become more and more keto adapted, they become less useful because your body starts expelling less and less of the ketones it is producing. So, urine ketones become less indicative of blood ketones. Thus, urine ketone strips can be a fairly inexpensive way to monitor ketosis for the first few weeks, and I recommend them. After that, however, if you want to continue monitoring, blood or breath analysis will really be your only options.
Blood Ketone Testing?
Blood test meters can be somewhat pricey, but, more importantly, the test strips are crazy expensive. We are working on a solution to that, which, hopefully, we’ll be able to roll out in the near future, but, in the meantime, although blood ketone testing is considered the “gold standard” another option may be worth considering.
What About Testing Your Breath?
Ketonix is a brand of breathalyzer that is designed solely for testing acetone on your breath, a relatively good way to measure your level of ketosis. Maybe not quite as good as blood testing, but, a close second. What’s nice about a breathalyzer is that there is no ongoing expense for test strips (which, currently, can run $2 – $4 per strip). What is UNfortunate is that a Ketonix breathalyzer can run a couple hundred dollars or more – way outside some people’s budget.
The good news is, there is an alternative that is nearly as good, but WAY less expensive. Buy an inexpensive breath alcohol meter. The cheap ones measure BOTH alcohol and acetone on the breath. They don’t distinguish. Therefore, you can use them to measure ketosis. However, in the beginning stage of ketosis, when your breath acetone levels are pretty low, these are pretty useless and will register ZERO. So, for those early days, the urine strips will show you more.
But, once you REACH ketosis and you simply want to monitor how high your level of ketosis is and what foods may “turn the dial” down and which foods might turn it up, these little breathalyzers can be REALLY helpful. And, since all you do is blow into them (no test strips to buy), the only expense is the initial purchase (maybe $20 at the most) and then possible follow-up purchases once a year, since the sensors eventually give out.
That’s a pretty reasonable price for something so valuable to monitoring your keto progress.
Keto on a Budget IS Possible
At the end of the day, the point is, it doesn’t HAVE to be exorbitantly expensive to go keto. You just have to be smart. Don’t overeat. Only eat when your body says it’s hungry. Don’t eat out of habit. If you’re eating out of habit or on your old schedule, you’ll probably end up eating more calories than your body really needs, causing extra expense and minimizing the amount of weight you can lose.
Pay attention to where you buy your food and how you buy your food. It IS possible to find good deals on high quality foods. It just takes a bit more effort.
Keto on a Budget Videos
Check out the following Keto Connect YouTube videos for some additional help with trying to keep expenses down while improving your diet and, honestly, changing your life. I’m not sure that their numbers quite add up to $5/day, but, the cost is still quite reasonable and very close to that, I think.
Also, notice that the gram totals for most of their keto meals are very close to being equal AMOUNTS of fat and protein and very low carbs. But, since fat has 9 calories per gram and protein and carbs have only 4, when you calculate the macros (PERCENTAGE of fat vs protein vs carb CALORIES), you get pretty close to 70% fat, 25% protein and 5% carbs.
Ideally, you’d really want to bump the fat up and the protein down by about 5-10%. So, slightly better keto macros would be 75 – 80% fat, 15 – 20% protein and 5% carbs. But, this can easily be remedied in many of these meals with just a 1/2 ounce to an ounce of extra cheese, butter, sour cream, cream cheese or some other oil.
Also, if you’re working out regularly, you can probably keep your keto macros similar to what they are eating, since that slight increase in protein will mostly be used for muscle synthesis and growth and will not likely kick you out of ketosis. Anyway, on to the videos:
Keto Diet Foods List
Our Keto Diet Foods List post will give you an idea of what the best foods are for maintaining ketosis. Of course, they are not the ONLY foods you can eat on keto. They just happen to be the foods that, by themselves, have generally perfect keto macros. See which of these foods you can get “on the cheap” from your local grocery stores:
Click for the Kevlar Keto Diet Foods List