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If you’ve been active in the realm of natural health and wellness for more than 5-minutes, you’ve probably heard of the ketogenic diet.
This low-carb, high-fat diet is one where grass-fed butter and pasture-raised bacon have a potential in being health foods.
Yes, that’s right.
Now – I’ve always been on #TeamButter. But maybe you’re thinking this is too good to be true…
A Brief History of The Ketogenic Diet
While keto may appear like it’s the latest trend for weight loss, mental focus, blood sugar management, increased energy, improved athletic performance and longevity – this low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) way of eating has actually been practiced and studied since the 1920’s , and the benefits also exceed our own aesthetic pleasure.
Initially studied for its effects on reducing the frequency of epileptic seizures , this style of eating has also been shown beneficial for other neurodegenerative disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. In addition, for those with traumatic brain injury – when a bump, blow or jolt to the head causes damage to the brain .
How Ketosis Works
Ketosis is a natural state that the body activates to help us survive when food intake is low. The end goal of a proper keto diet is to encourage the body to enter this metabolic state – where circulating ketones can now be used as your main energy source. However, when following a keto diet, this is not done by starvation of calories, but by the starvation of carbohydrates . This can be achieved by following a macronutrient ratio of 70% fats, 25% protein and 5% carbohydrates for 2-7 days. When your daily net carbohydrate intake is limited to 50g or less your body will begin to use these circulating ketone bodies for fuel.
Since glucose is the ’easiest’ molecule for your body to convert and use as energy, and since we normally take in an abundance of glucose from carbohydrates (birthday cake anyone?), this molecule is often chosen over other potential energy sources. But by lowering your intake of carbs and focusing on getting in healthy fats as your main source of energy, the body is forced into ketosis, also known as your ‘fat-burning mode’.
In essence, a ketogenic diet provides the positive effects of fasting – but with guacamole and bacon.
The Side-Effects of a Ketogenic Diet
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If this keto diet has come across as a simple strategy that will reap many benefits. I am sorry for misleading you. In order to achieve and maintain ketosis extraordinary discipline and self-education is required, as this diet at its core is restrictive by nature and many calculations need to be done to ensure that you stick within your daily macronutrients. A change of diet that is this drastic can also bring up unfavorable symptoms, such as digestive upset, fatigue or the keto flu.
How To Start A Ketogenic Diet
When it comes to protein sources, it is best to choose the high-quality pasture-raised, organic and grass-fed options. You should be mindful of protein intake on the keto diet, as too much protein on a ketogenic diet can lead to lower levels of ketone production and increased production of glucose . Remember the nutrient intake should be around 70% fat, 25% protein, and 5% carbohydrate.
You should include a small amount of protein (25%), such as:
- Pasture-raised and organic meats
- Pasture-raised poultry
- Organ meats
- Sustainable fish & seafood
- Pasture-raised eggs
Fats will make up the majority of your daily caloric intake (70%) when you are following a ketogenic diet. There are a few different types of fat that are involved in a ketogenic diet and different foods usually have various combinations of fats, but here is your guide to the best fats to include and the bad fats to avoid:
- Saturated Fats: You want these. Some examples are butter, ghee, coconut oil, and lard.
- Monounsaturated Fats: You also want these. Some examples are olive, avocado, and macadamia nut oils.
Polyunsaturated Fats: Know the difference. Naturally occurring polyunsaturated fats in animal protein and fatty fish are great for you, and you should eat these. Processed polyunsaturated fats in “heart healthy” yellow vegetable oils are bad for you. You also want to have a balance between your omega 3’s and omega 6’s, so include things like wild salmon, trout, grass-fed beef and shellfish for their rich omega-3 content and antioxidants! So add some veggies to your bacon and guacamole, please!
Now that you have a basis of what to include, here’s what you can’t eat on a ketogenic diet:
- Most dairy (except high-fat items like butter and certain cheeses)
- Beans and legumes
- Starchy vegetables (such as potatoes, yams, and sweet potatoes)
- Slightly-sweet vegetables such as winter squash, beets, or carrots
Most processed foods (bTrans Fats: Completely avoid. These are processed fats that are chemically altered (hydrogenated) to improve shelf life. Avoid all hydrogenated fats.
Below is a list of items you’ll want to stock up on in your pantry:
- Animal fat (non-hydrogenated)
- Cacao butter
- Coconut milk
- Coconut butter
- MCT Oil
- Oils such as coconut, hemp, avocado, olive, macadamia, walnut sustainable palm, pumpkin seed
- Nuts and nut butters
- Bacon (nitrate-free)
- Egg yolks
- Grass-fed butter
- Select cheeses
For carbohydrate intake, typically anywhere between 20-30g of net carbs (5%) is recommended for everyday dieting – the lower you keep your carbohydrate intake and glucose levels, the better your overall results. If you’re doing keto for weight loss, it’s a good idea to keep track of both your total carbs and net carbs (net carbs are your total dietary carbohydrates, minus the total fibre).
You can use this handy keto calculator to calculate your macronutrient breakdown for each day (a.k.a how many grams you need to eat of what).
Carbohydrates on the keto diet should be coming mostly from vegetables, nuts, and dairy. On a keto diet grains, sugar, most fruit, potatoes, and yams are avoided. Include a small amount of very-low-carbohydrate vegetables (5%), such as:
- Leafy greens
- Brassicas: broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage
Some people may take the LCHF diet too far, cutting out all fruit and vegetables entirely. These foods provide vitamins and minerals that are essential to good health, they also contain your phytonutrients est when excluded regardless)
With any major lifestyle change, it can be a challenge to get started. It’s best to ease your body into this new style of eating. You’re going to have some work to do in the kitchen initially, filling your cupboard with keto-approved foods, sticking handy charts to your fridge for easy reference, getting a keto app for your phone, getting into the habit of batch cooking and making recipes like fat bombs ahead of time.
You may also be wondering… It is also normal to experience sugar or carb cravings when you initially reduce your carbohydrate intake. You should know that there is a fantastic keto-community for you to reference with questions and there are endless recipes for you to try so that you won’t feel like you’re missing out. My biggest and the best advice is again to start slow. It’s not worth it to go 100% keto by tomorrow morning.
Here is a simple 7-Day Ketogenic Meal Plan to get you started!
7-Day Ketogenic Meal Plan
Breakfast: Pasture-raised eggs and turkey sausage with microgreens
Dinner: Grass-fed steak with cooked asparagus and butter
Breakfast: Homemade almond or cashew milk with raw cacao butter, almond butter, collagen powder, spirulina or blue majik (optional) and pure stevia or monk fruit sweetener
Lunch: Nitrate-free salami roll-ups with soft cheese and arugula
Dinner: Pan roasted salmon or trout with green beans and a squeeze of lemon
Breakfast: Butter Coffee with Collagen Powder
Lunch: Pan-seared prawns with butter, baby spinach, olives and green onions
Dinner: Slow cooked meat in boston or bibb lettuce cups
Breakfast: Eggs with fresh basil, goat cheese and tomato slices
Lunch: Chicken breast with avocado slices, salsa and full-fat sour cream
Dinner: Hemp Crusted Chicken Tenders with guacamole
Breakfast: Keto Pumpkin Breakfast Porridge
Lunch: Salmon salad with paleo avocado mayo and tomato slices
Dinner: Chicken Pesto Skillet
Breakfast: Eggs with avocado, portobello mushrooms and nitrate-free bacon
Lunch: Chicken salad with feta cheese, microgreens and olive oil
Dinner: Cheeseburger Popsicles
Breakfast: Keto Breakfast Sandwich
Lunch: Leafy greens with sauteed mushroom, sliced sirloin steak and parmesan
What you choose to fuel your body with influences your own biology. Exploring ketosis is an adventure into biohacking. The goal is to change and control what your body uses as its main energy source.
A ketogenic diet might not be for everyone, it is best to be in-tune with your own body to find what works best for you. This has been Your Guide to Ketosis!
- The History of the Ketogenic Diet https://keystoketosis.com/the-birth-of-the-ketogenic-diet/
- The Ketogenic Diet: Uses in Epilepsy and Other Neurologic Illnesses Kristin Barañano-Adam Hartman – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2898565/
- What is the Ketogenic Diet? A Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide https://www.ruled.me/guide-keto-diet/
- The Ketogenic Diet: Does it live up to the hype? The pros, the cons, and the facts about this not-so-new diet craze. http://www.precisionnutrition.com/ketogenic-diet
- Ketogenic Diet Food List: Everything You Need to Know https://www.ruled.me/ketogenic-diet-food-list/
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