What do Kim and Kourntey Kardashian, Gwynneth Paltrow, Halle Berry, and LaBron James have in common?
Would you be shocked if I said, “fat?”
No, I’m obviously not talking about love handles. I’m talking about the buzzword of a diet that’s popular right now amongst celebrities, athletes, and fitness industry pro’s… The Keto Diet.
Essentially, the ketogenic diet is an ultra-low-carb diet that fuels your body primarily with dietary fat. You eat fat to burn fat.
The key is in skipping the carbs, which switches your body over from primarily burning glucose for fuel, to burning ketones– which is your body’s fat stores.
Ketosis offers a number of advantages in terms of weight loss, brain function, disease prevention, energy levels, and more. But is it really a viable long-term lifestyle?
What Is Ketosis?
Ketosis is the state in which your body begins to use fat as its main source of energy. The body then becomes very efficient at burning fat for fuel instead of carbs. This process reduces your insulin levels and stimulates fat burning.
As far as brain function– fat is like rocket fuel for the brain.
However, if there’s glucose in your body, it will grab that first. But, when the glucose reserves are insufficient, the body is forced to look for another source of energy– ketones (or fat)!
“But what about my heart?” You might be thinking.
It was once thought that eating high-fat foods increased cholesterol and your risk for cardiovascular disease. But the newest research is showing that’s not the case.
Diets high in sugar and carbohydrates are actually the bigger culprit in risk for high cholesterol and heart attack.
If you cut those out and replace them with healthy fats like coconut oil, pasture-raised butter, avocado oil and avocados, extra virgin olive oil, and the fat from grass-fed meats– you’re actually setting the stage for a healthy heart and cardiovascular system.
The ketogenic diet also has less obvious advantages. Eliminating simple carbohydrates from your diet helps your body to reduce peak blood sugar levels and makes you feel fuller, longer.
You ever go get Chinese takeout, totally pig out on fried rice, and then you’re starving again in an hour?
That’s because carbohydrates are a big insulin rush and do not provide much satiety. If you eat primarily protein, you’re getting a moderate level of insulin production and maximum satiety. Fats will give you a very low insulin spike and moderate satiety.
So, if you eat a moderate amount of protein with a serving of fat, you’re going to experience a low-level insulin spike and feel full for hours.
So, What Do I Eat on the Keto Diet?
There are a few different types of Keto diet, which just means a variation on the fat-protein-carb ratio. But most people are going to be on the Standard Ketogenic Diet.
The Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD) is very low-carb, moderate-protein, and high-fat. It typically contains 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbohydrates.
If you’re a serious athlete or bodybuilder, you might go on a Cyclical Keto Diet, which cycles in more healthy carbohydrates post-workout.
But for the SKD, here’s your basic shopping list:
Fats (75%): Avocado oil, grass-fed butter and/or ghee, pastured lard, extra virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, grass-fed bacon fat, cacao butter, free range duck fat, coconut
Protein (20%): Your proteins should be grass-fed, pasture-raised whenever possible. Why? Because toxins are stored in the fat. You want your fats to be as clean as possible.
Also, make sure not to overdo the protein because if it crosses a certain threshold, it will start to convert to glucose in your body.
So, here are some good staples for protein (assume they’re all pastured): Eggs (chicken, duck, quail), beef, chicken, fish, shellfish, turkey, duck, quail, bison, venison, bacon, pork, organ meats.
You can also add a small amount of raw almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, pecans, and their derivatives (flours and butters)
Carbohydrates (5%): You want to make sure you’re still eating vegetables! This is one of the biggest criticisms of keto dieting– that you just eat fat and protein. But that’s doing it wrong. You can still eat veggies, but you just have to pick the low-carb ones.
Eat with wild abandon: Kale, zucchini, summer squash, spaghetti squash, brussels sprouts, cabbage (and fermented sauerkraut), bok choy, avocado, asparagus, dandelion greens, spinach, olives, nori, lettuces, celery, chard, collard greens, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers, kohlrabi, radish, seaweed, endive
Enjoy moderately: Onion, turnip, parsnip, acorn and butternut squash, artichokes, green beans, jicama, pumpkin, tomato, tomatillo, peppers, onion, leek, eggplant, celery root.
I know it’s strange to hear this, munching on carrots or corn or peas will spike your insulin and can lead to weight gain. If you’re trying to stay in ketone-burning mode, choose celery over carrots and broccoli over corn.
Enjoy occasionally: Berries, carrots, sweet potatoes.
Use liberally: Herbs and spices. Your food should taste good.
FOODS TO AVOID: Sugar and carbohydrates! This includes, but is not limited to: Wheat, rice, oats, quinoa, sugar, honey, maple syrup, molasses, fruit (aside from berries), bread or pasta of any kind, beans (legumes), peas, corn, sugary beverages, artificial sweeteners, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, cookies and crackers, soda, white potatoes, beer, wine, and alcohol.
This is not a complete list, but you get the idea. Skip the prepackaged foods and shop the outside aisles of the grocery store, and that will give you a good start.
What’s On My Keto Plate: Keto Daily Menu
So, you know what you can eat… but what do you actually eat?
Sample Day One
Breakfast: Bacon, eggs, and avocado slices. Black coffee and water.
Lunch: Spinach salad with cut-up chicken, celery, cucumbers, olive oil and lemon for dressing, salt and pepper. Water or green tea.
Dinner: Grilled steak, asparagus, pureed cauliflower with butter and garlic. Sparkling water.
Sample Day Two
Breakfast: Keto Coffee. Water.
Lunch: Endive salad with boiled egg, canned tuna, radish, green onion, bacon bits and a dressing of oil and lemon.
Dinner: Roasted chicken with kale, mushrooms sauteed in butter and thyme. Water with lemon or lime.
This is just an idea of what you could eat in a day. But, if you don’t like tuna, sub out some steamed shrimp. If you don’t like radish, add more cucumber. You get the picture. You can also use herbs and spices liberally– so adjust to your taste buds. It’s not an exact science. It’s more of an art.
And there are a ton of delicious keto recipes to choose from. Just make sure, if you’re getting them off of the internet, you check the ingredients against this list. (I once found one that included a slice of whole wheat bread.)
Most importantly, enjoy your food! Sit, relax, eat slowly and savor the flavors. Keto diet should not be bland or boring. You’re eating the tastiest parts of the meal and skipping the rest.
Are there drawbacks to keto dieting?
Research is still being done on this type of diet plan, but since it’s closer to how our ancestors ate for thousands of years before the advent of agriculture, it makes sense that it’s still the best way for us now.
But, here are a few things the average human might experience when transitioning to keto:
Keto breath is caused by the elevated ketones in your body. This will last a couple of weeks. You can battle it by chewing on some mint leaves or drinking peppermint tea. Don’t worry, as your body adjusts, your breath will go back to normal.
Keto flu is a group of flu-like symptoms you might experience for a couple of days as your body switches from burning glucose to burning ketones. This might include vomiting, nausea, body ache, stomach pain, lethargy. Don’t worry, it will go away within a few days. Just rest and trust your body will adjust soon!
Sugar craving is often experienced when you cut sugar out of your diet. You can power through it! If you really need something sweet, eat a handful of berries or one square of extra dark organic chocolate.
Skin conditions like acne and rashes can pop up as your body detoxes from all the junk that was in it. Drink plenty of water and cleanse your skin regularly, and this should go away within a week or so. In fact, healthier, clear, young-looking skin is often a result of a ketogenic diet! So stick to it.
Of course, if you have an pre-existing health conditions, are pregnant or nursing, or have any specific concerns, talk to your doctor before starting any kind of lifestyle change.
If you have any questions or comments about the keto diet, drop us a note below! And remember, sharing is caring.
Find out more about Melinda and see more of her posts here.