The Ketogenic Diet is an effective way to lose weight, to decrease cravings, to optimize your brain health, hormones, and metabolism, but only when it’s used in a healthy manner and not by picking and choosing the parts you like to implement.
And while Keto might seem like a new fad, its long term benefits to decrease body mass index, to improve metabolic syndrome, to increase (good) HDL cholesterol/decrease (bad) LDL cholesterol, and to decrease triglycerides have been well researched and noted for nearly 20 years.
The tenets of a ketogenic diet include eating plenty of healthy fats, moderate amounts of protein, and limited carbs, and using intermittent fasting to put your body into a state of ketosis, in which your body uses fat for energy rather than burning sugar. I’m all in favor of this!
But, let’s be clear, this doesn’t give the green light for living off of bacon, cheese, ham, and eggs without regard to vegetable or fruit consumption. You can’t hide the fact that study after study, including recent research from Imperial College London, says “consuming 10 portions of fruit and vegetables per day, or about 800g, could prevent an estimated 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide!” Logic would lead you to believe that the traditional Keto diet, full of unhealthy and processed fats will eventually hand you a health bill for heart disease and diabetes in the long term, since lack of eating fruit is the fourth leading cause for loss of health and life!
With a ketogenic diet, you might lose some weight just by omitting the sugary and refined-carbohydrate-rich foods , but you cannot look beyond the fact that 7-10 servings of vegetables in particular, will keep you alive and healthy for a longer duration! Complex carbs, such as whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables are your body’s main sources of fuel as well as your greatest source of vital nutrients, fiber, and healing compounds.
An effective Ketogenic diet requires you to check your fad diet practices at the curb and adopt a longterm commitment to a lifestyle of eating healthy plant-based fats with some animal protein (modest amounts of pastured eggs, chicken, beef, or wild fish), and the beautiful rainbow of nutrient dense veggies and low fructose fruits (berries especially) along with intermittent fasting. This approach can support Ketosis and health requirements! Vegans and vegetarians rejoice!
Yes, you can practice a Ketogenic diet AND work towards health too! Please also note there are several variations on the Keto diet, which is desired for extreme athletes needing more carbs or protein and those with chronic illnesses.
For our purposes, in a traditional Ketogenic diet, you are aiming for:
- 60-75% of calories from health fats (20-60 grams per meal, depending on your size and level of activity)
- 15-30% of calories from protein
- 5-15% of calories from carbs
With such a higher percentage of calories from fat, you can easily see why a traditional Keto diet focuses on animal protein. And this higher fat content is important because fat is your primary fuel. It helps to kick cravings to the curb, and by decreasing carbs you teach your body to become fat-adapted so you become a fat-burning machine, balancing hormones, supporting brain function, and decreasing inflammation in parallel with weight loss goals….but, only if those plants are intact too!
That begs the question, what should you eat on a HEALTHY Keto diet and how do you get started?
SIMPLE STEPS TO BEGIN:
- Determine your caloric needs (you can use an online calculator)
- Track your macros (online apps can track your percent fat, carbs, and protein calories according to the formula above)
- Drink plenty of water (50-75% of your body weight in fluid ounces
- Add electrolytes ( I use Ionic Elements and/or pink salt)
- Test ketones with strips or blood monitor
Now the question of what to eat? This is where it gets a bit more complicated. And rather than giving you a whole list of foods, here are some general recommendations. In my coaching programs, I lead you to discover what works best for you!
- HEALTHY FATS: Oils, seeds, nuts, and fruit such as avocado
- Vegan: Coconut oil, coconut products, avocado oil, avocado, guac, olive oil, flax, nuts, and seeds
- Vegetarian: Pastured eggs, organic Greek Yogurt
- Animal Protein: Grass fed beef, ghee
- HEALTHY PROTEIN: coconut yogurt, nutritional yeast, organic soy products, nuts/seeds, spirulina, maca, high-protein veggies (such as spinach)
- HEALTHY CARBOHYDRATES: Broccoli, onion, kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts and raspberries
- AVOID: sugar, artificial sugar, bread, quinoa, bananas, starchy veggies, high sugar fruits such as clementines.
Intermittent fasting (IF) is also an excellent method to encourage ketosis, the state at which your body burns ketones for energy rather than sugar/carbs. It complements this lifestyle, yet with our “eat around the clock” culture, it can be very challenging. Most individuals do best with an IF protocol that allows them to move gently into fasting with a reasonable eating schedule between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. This is consistent with research that showed “time restricted eating” was beneficially associated with weight loss and lower body mass index.
In adopting the Keto lifestyle, that also means also dropping the notion of “on again/off again” plan. The whole point of the Keto diet is moving your body into a state of ketosis and keeping it there, rather than keto during the week and conveniently dropping it for drinks and fun on the weekend. I’m not implying perfection forever, but reaching true ketosis is required before personalizing and learning how to maintain your specific ketogenic lifestyle.
The bottom line with a Ketogenic Diet or any diet is sustainability, which includes your commitment to and learning how to ease into and use intermittent fasting, another tenet of Keto. with the Ketogenic Diet or any diet, don’t start something you cannot continue. Otherwise, it’s a lesson in failure, frustration, and ultimately negative self-talk, which does nothing for your overall health!
Ready to make changes to improve your health? It starts with a thoughtful free consultation to determine your needs and goals! Let’s talk!