Before I start writing articles with more specific advice, I thought it would be useful for everyone to see at a glance what my diet has looked like over the last year.
I'm going to assume you know the keto basics already. Keto is a high fat, medium protein, low carb diet. If you're a keto beginner and need more info, the reddit keto faq is a really good place to start :)
Want to see results? Here's my weight loss pics from eating like this for a year
This post will show you how I apply the parameters of keto to my daily life, with what is available to eat in Asia.
One thing to note from this post is that my approach to keto is whole-foods based. I rarely eat any processed foods, I don't take any strange supplements. When I see a plate of food, I like to be able to identify all the ingredients, so I can understand the levels of macro nutrients I'm consuming.
A healthy keto diet should be primarily plant based. Plant-based oils and fats, leafy greens, nuts and nut milks - with animal proteins and fats almost as a "side dish" to the plant-based foods. You'll see what I mean as you start browsing these photos.
I've put the full collection of photos on Google Drive so you can view at a glance and get some inspiration for your own meals!
First two months
The first weeks on keto are hard. Your whole concept of food gets flipped around and you realise that carbs are everywhere in daily life, almost unavoidable.
One way people try to do keto in the beginning is by ordering normal food and just leaving the carbs behind. This works, but it's pretty miserable and you won't be eating enough fat if you continue like this. You'll probably get hungry, which is your body telling you to eat more calories. This is where you need to flip a mental switch in your brain and to seek out calories from fat.
- Ordering veggies from the hawker center in Singapore. A good way to get your vitamins, but won't fill you up. Need to find more fat from somewhere!
- Otak Otak isn't 100% keto-friendly since the marinade likely has sugar in it. But it's also not too evil either. Since it is primarily made of oily fish, there's a lot of good stuff in it too. In a pinch I'd still eat this, even now.
- Steak is a no brainer, especially if you can get some veg on the side.
- Sometimes steak comes on a bed of mashed potatoes which obviously you have to watch out for. I would literally scrape the mash off, if I didn't know it was going to be served with it.
- Probably one of the most important pieces of advice I can give you is: don't expect to get all your macros neatly from a single meal when you're eating out. You should expect to have to consume some "extra fat" between meals if all you're doing is eating meat and salad at restaurants. Extra fat might include snacks like: nuts, a glass of nut milk, or some coconut milk-based yogurt like here. Unsweetened coconut milk is high in fat and low in carbs, so it's quite perfect in terms of keto macros.
- Spam fries. Spam is high fat, medium protein and low carb so macro-wise it is perfect for keto. That said, you probably shouldn't make a habit of eating bricks of dubious-origin meat-product, despite how delicious it is. Once in a while with this stuff.
Getting more comfortable
After Singapore I spent a month in Bali where eating out and sticking to the keto diet is both easier and more affordable.
- Whenever you're staying somewhere near the sea, eat fish! Fish is awesome for keto, especially fatty / oily fish.
- Avocado and bacon is something of a keto meme, but it's delicious and you can pretty much buy these two ingredients in any country.
- In Bali I kept going back to a place called Motion Cafe where you can design your own meals. This plate is chicken, eggs, mushrooms, spinach and tomato sambal.
- More plate-designing.
- Probably the first "keto meal" I made myself was this breakfast. Almond flour pancakes with coconut milk yogurt. They weren't the best thing ever to be honest, and are not something I make regularly!
- Lettuce wrap with minced beef and cheese. This wasn't even a special order, it's at a place that only does lettuce wraps! Bali is a great place for eating healthy.
After Bali I spent some time in Malaysia where I was in a serviced apartment with a kitchen. This meant that I could go to the supermarket, armed with my now growing knowledge of keto, and cook precisely what I wanted to eat. Cooking your own meals on keto makes things a lot easier.
- Avocado and minced beef in gravy, a very lazy but filling and delicious keto meal.
- Stuffed omelette with pesto.
- Eggs, kale and avocado - this is one of my staple meal combinations now.
- Eating out in Malaysia - roast pork is one of my go-to keto-friendly food options when I'm out and about.
- Salad with chorizo and walnuts. Adding fatty meat and nuts to a salad is a really great zero-thought-required keto meal idea.
- My favourite pork soup restaurant in Penang - keto friendly since it's literally just pork bone soup and meat (you just need to skip the rice).
Singapore pit stop
I used to live in Singapore for 7 years, but now when I'm there I generally am just passing through. Singapore is a challenging place to do keto both because supermarket shopping is expensive and eating out healthily is expensive. But it is still doable.
- Skewers in Geylang at $1 to $2 each.
- Daily Cut with my sister before a gym session. When I'm back in Singapore I eat Daily Cut almost… daily.
- Daily Cut paved the way for other folks to open healthy food options and I'm all for it. This is cauliflower rice and thai minced pork from a place called Yolo. Doesn't taste quite as good as Daily Cut but hey it's nice to have a few different choices!
- Spam fries. These ones have a little bit of a starch-based coating, probably corn flour. But it's nothing to lose sleep over especially since you're already eating Spam which should be considered something of a "treat" food anyway.
- I found Singapore lacked good options for me to make my own breakfast plate. This was one of the few places I found.
- Pork rillette at a french restaurant. It's basically meat suspended in butter / fat so it's fine for keto if you can resist eating the bread that it inevitably comes with!
I then hopped on a plane to spend a month in Bangkok. I found doing keto in Bangkok to be surprisingly easy. There's good build-your-own salad places around the city and the supermarkets are well-stocked and affordable.
- Hotel buffet keto breakfast.
- Bitter gourd, bacon and egg. This is actually a riff of an Okinawan dish called Goya Champuru (which I love). This dish is now one of my go-to quick meals.
- Crispy pork from the thai supermarket plus avocado and some greens. Super easy.
- Thai "mixed rice" without the rice. You have to be a bit careful with local thai food as sugar is one of the base seasonings in nearly everything. You can see some rice under here - but I didn't eat it. You get confused looks when you ask for "no rice" so it's easier to just order "a very small rice".
- Broccoli, avocado, spinach and thai sausage. Again, the sausage has sugar in the mixture but to me it's an acceptable amount if I'm eating it with nothing but greens. One thing I have observed though is that thai sausages must contain a crazy amount of nitrates or other chemicals because for some reason I burp like crazy after eating them.
- Bunless burger. These are a good option if you're out and about since any chef who knows how to make a burger can make one without a bun.
Keto in Europe
Ok I know this website is called Far East Keto, so perhaps this doesn't belong here! But I spent a month and half in the UK and Portugal over the summer. Here are a few of the things I ate.
- Smoked mackerel! Cooked this brunch myself. You don't really get smoked fish in Asia, it's more of a European thing. Delicious and a great source of good fats.
- Brisket at a London market.
- I spent a few weeks at my parents home in Surrey. My mum and dad were very accommodating to my keto diet, so every day I would be eating plates piled high with meats, greens, nuts and oils.
- Berries in Lisbon. You haven't seen any fruit so far in these photos because most fruit is too high in sugar and not keto-friendly. Raspberries, blackberries and blueberries however are fairly low in sugar / net carbs so you can enjoy them as a treat once in a while. It takes me about a week to go through a pack like this - I just have 3 or 4 berries when I feel like something sweet.
- Scrambled eggs, chorizo and padron peppers in Lisbon.
- Sardines, egg, avo, spinach.
Keto is easy in Bali
Back to Bali now, where keto is enjoyable and easy!
- Basically if there's broccoli on the menu anywhere now, I order it. This is broccoli with nuts and parmesan.
- Can't go wrong with chicken on sticks.
- House made cured meats. Four magical words right there.
- Eggs and broccoli, another no-brainer meal that I make very often.
- A bowl of chicken, greens and tofu.
- Omelette with kale.
Catching up to the present day now. I'm back in Malaysia in a place with a kitchen so I'm now preparing about 80% of my meals - including packing lunches to bring to the office.
- Oh wait, quick pit stop in Singapore. It is possible to do keto at a hawker center! From the mixed rice stall - pork patty, bitter gourd, greens with roast pork from the Cantonese roast stall. Just be careful of dishes that have a "gloopy" consistency, that's corn-starch and might affect your ketosis.
- In Kuala Lumpur now. Crispy pork from the supermarket, eggs, bitter gourd and greens.
- Another riff on the above.
- Spam and broccoli. Kind of a treat meal.
- Steak and broccoli at a restaurant. I eat a LOT of broccoli now.
- Steak and long stem broccoli at home. I told you I eat a lot of broccoli.
More keto cooking
Moved to Penang for a while but still cooking at home and packing lunches to the office.
- Sausage, egg and kale. This is one of my go-to, zero-thought-required breakfast templates now.
- Beef rendang and broccoli.
- Sunday brunch, keto style - sausages, avocado, broccoli, sauerkraut, mushrooms.
- Minced beef and spinach.
- Sometimes if I'm not feeling that hungry, I'll have a 100% veggie meal. This is just avocado, broccoli, plenty of olive oil, and some nando's piri piri sauce.
- The good old pork + kale + egg template.
That brings us to today. If you're new to keto, hopefully that has given you an idea of what life is like on the keto diet. If you're a keto veteran, I hope that's been an interesting peek into the eating habits of a fellow keto-ist!