THE MOST HIGH PROFILE DIET RIGHT NOW – BUT ALSO THE MOST MISUNDERSTOOD AND MISREPRESENTED…
Everyone seems to be “doing Keto” these days! Touted for it’s ability to help you lose fat quickly, the ketogenic diet (or keto diet, for short) is a low carb, high fat diet that, when done in a healthy way, offers many health benefits.
In fact, many studies show that this type of diet can help you lose weight and improve your overall health picture, and may even be used in the effective treatment of epilepsy, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
What keto involves is drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat.
Keto = 70% fat, 20% protein and 10% carb
This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy – that’s the draw for most people 😉 – and those who stick to it could see significant reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels.
So, “ketosis” is a metabolic state in which your body uses fat for fuel instead of carbs, and it does so because when you significantly reduce your consumption of carbohydrates, you limit your body’s supply of glucose (sugar), which is the main source of energy for the cells, so it turns to fat for fuel.
Sounds brilliant, right??
It actually is, and especially when properly combined with an intermittent fasting schedule where you eat all of your calories for the day within a smaller-than-usual 8 hour window – resulting in your body entering ketosis faster – you can really see amazing fat-loss results. I know I certainly have when I have eaten this way (before keto was made popular), and the foods you eat are really delicious too (like all foods are when you transition to whole-food, single ingredient eating! No shocker there if you really think about it.)! [Side note: intermittent fasting is when you are restricting your hours of eating but not eating any fewer calories. Most people get that wrong!]
Fun fact about the origin of the keto diet: In the early 1920s, Mayo Clinic doctor Russell Wilder, M.D., started tinkering with a fat-centric diet that mimicked the effects of fasting by depleting the body of sugar. He tested his “ketogenic” diet on people with epilepsy and it’s been an effective treatment for seizures ever since.
You know I love a Food-As-Medicine story! 💛
FOODS TO EAT
KETO = 70% FAT, 20% PROTEIN AND 10% CARB
Eating a keto diet is based on creating the majority of your meals using these foods:
- Avocados: whole avocados or freshly made guacamole
- Fatty fish: salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, and mackerel
- Healthy oils: extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil
- Healthy Meat: organic & grass fed ONLY red meat, steak, chicken, duck, goat, lamb, turkey, bison, BUT NOT PORK
- Healthy Plant Protein: Flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, tree nut butters, but not legumes and beans
- Healthy Eggs: pastured and organic ONLY
- Butter and Ghee: grass-fed & organic ONLY
- Nuts and Seeds: Raw is best — walnuts (the ‘King of Nuts’), almonds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc., BUT NOT Peanuts (a ground nut, not a tree nut)
- Tree nuts and Seed butters: almond butter, cashew butter, tahini, sunflower seed butter, BUT NOT Peanut Butter (a ground nut, not a tree nut)
- Cheese: organic & grass fed ONLY, but especially focusing on goat and sheep cheeses
- Low Carb Veggies: lots of green veggies, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.
- Low Carb Herbs: lots of fresh parsley, cilantro, basil, mint, oregano, garlic, onions, etc.
- Condiments: salt, pepper, dried herbs and spices
FOODS TO AVOID / LIMIT
Any food that’s high in carbs and sugar should be limited.
Here’s a list of foods that need to be reduced or eliminated on a ketogenic diet:
- Sugary Foods & Beverages: soda, fruit juice, smoothies, cake, ice cream, candy, etc.
- Unhealthy/Inflammatory Fats: Basically ALL FATS except for the healthy ones listed above. So, avoid all processed vegetable oils, sunflower seed oil (check tins of fish and other preserved foods, soy oil, peanut oil, palm oil, hydrogenated vegetable oils, canola oil, pork/bacon/ham, all luncheon meats, all conventional meats, all conventional dairy, mayonnaise, etc.
- Conventional Meat: avoid all meat that is not organic or grass fed (the pharmaceuticals in it, along with growth hormones, GMOs, and antibiotics, etc., will jam up your body’s detox organs and make you sick over time)
- Conventional Dairy and Yoghurt: avoid all dairy that is not organic or grass fed (the pharmaceuticals in it, along with growth hormones, GMOs, and antibiotics, etc., will jam up your body’s detox organs and make you sick over time)
- Alcohol: avoid all of it — beer, wine, liquor, mixed drinks
- Sugar-Free Diet Foods: sugar-free candies, syrups, puddings, sweeteners, desserts, etc.
- Grains or Starches: wheat-based products, rice, pasta, couscous, cereal, etc.
- Fruit: avoid all fruit, except small portions of berries like strawberries, cranberries, blueberries, cherries, currants, etc., because they are naturally low in sugar
- Popular Plant Proteins (i.e., beans or legumes): peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
- Root Vegetables and Tubers: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets parsnips, etc., because they are higher in naturally occurring sugars than other veggies
- Low Fat or “Diet” Products: low fat mayonnaise (actually, all mayonnaise), store bought salad dressings, and condiments
Some Condiments or Sauces: barbecue sauce, honey mustard, teriyaki sauce, ketchup, etc.
DOWNFALL / REALITY CHECK:
Sooooo….What’s not to love??
There are some issues.
In my Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coaching practice and in the media (especially social media!) I have noticed a LOT of problematic approaches to the keto diet and have noted some downfalls overall.
To be honest, you guys, in reality, this is NOT an easy to diet to follow.
🚨 Problem 1: It is SEVERLY restrictive, with little to no wiggle room and it is, in my opinion, virtually impossible for most people to continue doing for a lifetime. I mean 10% carbs for a lifetime? As a result, you may lose weight quickly as you embark on a very restrictive way of eating and drinking (NO ALCOHOL allowed guys!), but unless you have a medical condition keeping you motivated, you’ll likely end up ditching keto and very possibly bouncing back to what you used to do before you tried keto, because you’ll get overwhelmed with how restrictive this diet is! I mean how hard will it be to navigate social situations like birthdays and weddings and Sunday brunch and traveling to different countries/cultures and living with other people like your kids and spouse and dating and celebrations for an entire lifetime?? You may know that my professional and personal bias is always towards teaching people how to nourish their bodies for optimal health results and ideal body composition in a way that is easy and sustainable for an entire lifetime, no matter what happens in the world or to them personally.
So, to me, this is a great JUMPSTART diet for those who are truly motivated and exceptionally strict, and who can listen to their body for any signs of dis-ease, and then I would transition them to a more sustainable and very healthy FUELLED diet for a lifetime of optimal health and ideal body comp results.
🚨 So, PROBLEM 2: Over the course of a lifetime, you’ll probably not be any leaner or healthier for it in the long term. It is very difficult to sustain a ketogenic diet unless you are truly motivated (often by disease/illness) and have exceptional ‘stick-to-it-ness.’
🚨 PROBLEM 3: To really do/understand the ketogenic diet, you have to learn A LOT about food. It takes a lot of actual learning to find out which veggies are higher in carbs and sugars – healthy veggies like carrots and beets – and which fruits you can eat as virtually all fruits except berries are cut out of this diet – good bye healthy green smoothies with bananas as their base! Your nutrition education has to be pretty high to really do this diet exactly and in a healthy way, and that means you usually need to invest a significant amount of free time into learning about nutrition/food (and most people like to skip this part, which causes problems). Also – as a result, a ton of people who claim to be doing keto, do not know what that even entails. So PLEASE be careful who you take advice from out there!!
🚨 PROBLEM 4: There are a LOT of CRAZILY UNHEALTHY versions of the ketogenic diet out there right now in the media that promote eating foods that ramp up inflammation in the body and jam up your oh-so-important organs of detoxification.
For instance, several social media sites promote eating lots of conventional fatty steaks and burgers (not distinguishing between conventionally raised beef and grass fed/organic), mayonnaise, conventional eggs (again not distinguishing between pastured and organic vs conventionally raised), bacon (jeez!), and loads of conventional saturated fat-laden cheeses (again not distinguishing the toxic conventional kind and the organic kind)… and other foods that ring huge alarm bells when I look at the photos and read the text!!!
That type of diet – high in BAD / UNHEALTHY / INFLAMMATORY FATS & OILS – will worsen your health outcomes slowly over time while sapping your energy, messing with your sexual and hormone function, trashing your and immune health, and other horrible health effects, in the short term. 🤒
That is NOT what a healthy ketogenic diet is all about.
That is a very unhealthy, twisted version of keto, that I truly feel comes from a lack of nutrition education combined with a desire to “show off” to the world about how you can lose weight while eating trash!
These sites can further feed on some people’s weight insecurities tied in with their actual unwillingness to educate themselves about healthy eating and to truly overcome their stubbornness in terms of changing up their current diets so that they’re having to make an effort to eat whole, unprocessed foods like healthy salmon, sardines, avocado, olive oil, coconut oil and grass fed chicken.
As shown above, keto is a 70% fat, 20% protein and 10% carb diet where the focus for the “fat” component should be avocados, raw nuts and seeds like walnuts, good quality olive oil, coconut oil, hemp seeds, flaxseed oil, fatty fish like mackerel and wild caught salmon along with other amazing sources of omega 3 fatty acids. That is how to look at the fat content in keto with the eye of someone who does not treat their body as a trash can for items typically associated with the “Standard American Diet” (SAD).
Soooo….when I see or hear people saying they’re “doing the keto diet,” I often hesitate. That usually means to me that they’re eating something more like the old school and terribly unhealthy Atkins diet and may not even be able to list 5 sources of healthy fats if asked. Truly. This has happened. Be careful who you take advice from out there!!
🚨 Problem 5: It negatively affects my ability to sleep soundly through the night. As a healthy eater, with a deep knowledge of nutrition, I actually find the healthy keto diet very easy to do and I love the foods I eat on it, so none of that is a problem for me. I stick to it without trying hard, I already have all of the ingredients in the house, know how to approach it and thoroughly enjoy eating my meals. However, in the past, when I have cut brown rice and bananas, carrots and sweet potatoes out of my diet (those being my staple sources of sweets and starches), I can’t seem to fall asleep properly in the evening, and I wake up several times throughout the night. And this is not because of hunger as I am always full on this diet and I eat a great amount of calories on it. As a consequence, not sleeping soundly or for long enough is terribly disruptive to my life and leads to such exhaustion that I could never do this way of eating for the long term, or even a whole week. This result used to puzzle me, but if you study Ayurveda, the nutrition and optimal health science from ancient India which preceded modern medicine by a significant amount of time, then it makes sense for my constitution, which is Pitta-Vata. I need to be anchored by the sweeter, comforting and grounding, starches in my diet to stay in balance, otherwise I experience too much lightness and cannot settle down and rest properly. It causes an imbalance for me personally. This proves how important it is to listen to your body to see if the new thing you’re trying is truly right for you as an individual. That is the principle of bio-individuality.
UNDERSTAND THE PROS AND CONS?
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT IF KETO IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
I AM HAPPY TO HELP
All of that said, when done right, keto can be a very effective and healthy diet, especially as a JUMPSTART to fat-loss. If you would like to learn more about the HEALTHY WAY to approach the ketogenic diet then I would be more than happy to be a part of your success team! I can help instruct and guide you, work on meal plans, grocery lists, and other details, while also keeping you motivated, accountable to your goals, and to assist you in navigating the life obstacles that will inevitably arise as you progress, with proven strategies that will make your experience a successful one.
Side note: Through all of my personal and professional experience and research, I believe that the FUELLED optimal health food pyramid, as outlined in my book and set out in the graphic below, gives the best overall diet picture for lowering inflammation in the body, supporting the reversal of disease, achieving ideal body composition, and nourishing the cells of the body 100% with the most nutrient-rich, optimal-health-and-vitality-supporting superfoods out there, all the while being more balanced than keto and much more sustainable over the long term.
FURTHER READING – MY PERSONAL RECOMMENDATION ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Want to know more? My highest recommendation would be to check out this book by Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, doctor of natural medicine, chiropractor, clinical nutritionist and author with a passion to help people get well using nutrition:
Keto Diet: Your 30-Day Plan to Lose Weight, Balance Hormones, Boost Brain Health, and Reverse Disease
Hardcover – Illustrated, February 19, 2019
by Dr. Josh Axe (Author)
Spread the KNOWLEDGE & LOVE: Feel free to share this newsletter with someone you care about! 💓💪⭐
“Get FUELLED today for a healthier and happier tomorrow!”
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