Food Freedom Friday Edition 138 - Is Keto For You?
You’ve been diligently eating whole foods, but despite your best efforts, you are not getting the results you were wanting….
Your blood sugar has crept up way too high, and your doctor wants to medicate you…..
Your hormonal issues like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are dragging you down..
You may be particularly worried about developing Alzheimer’s or cancer.
How can you begin to turn that ship around without relying on pharmaceuticals and their obvious downsides?
Certainly, a healthy diet is your 1st step!!
When concerns including obesity or diabetes, or hormonal or even neurological problems come into play, identifying what diet will work best for your unique circumstances can be hit or miss. This is not what you want when you’re eager to get well ASAP. Though no one diet fits all. in my experience, many have achieved excellent results with the help of a standard ketogenic diet (SKD). This is a plan you may want to take a closer look at, particularly if you’re battling some health challenges.
Is following a ketogenic diet right for YOU?
1. What Is A Ketogenic Diet?
In simplest terms, it’s high-fat, moderate protein and extremely low-carb (meaning zero sugar or refined carbohydrates) which, over time, shifts your metabolism from a carbohydrate- or glucose-burning mechanism to a fat-burning one.
A true ketogenic plan permits a daily total intake of about 50 grams of carbohydrates (or 20g–30g of net carbs, after you subtract the fiber). In real food terms, that works out to the rough equivalent of a cup of brown rice (although there are healthier, more nutritious and more satisfying options to reach this tally). This is per day, not per meal. The remainder of the daily intake is made up of about 20 percent of calories from protein, plus 60 percent to 75 percent of calories coming from good fats, which are a satiating replacement for all those carbohydrates.
It is important to realize that a ketogenic diet is not the same for everyone, as each individual has a different tolerance for carbohydrates. Some folks may need to go as low as 20g or less of carbs a day, while for others, up to 50g of carbs still works.
2. How Does A Ketogenic Diet Work?
With significantly fewer carbohydrates (and thus glucose) available to burn for energy, the body is forced to start burning fat for fuel. This is known as ketosis, a metabolic process that produces acids known as ketones. Ketones are produced by the liver when carbohydrates are limited. Being in ketosis is a normal metabolic state and means your body is burning fat (instead of sugar). Unfortunately, it is usually confused with ketoacidosis, a dangerous metabolic state that happens with diabetics when there are very high ketones occurring simultaneously with very high blood sugar levels when they are not producing enough insulin.
Studies have shown some of the benefits of going keto and flipping that fat-burning switch, include
· Facilitating body-fat loss,
· Raising HDL or good cholesterol,
· Reducing triglyceride and glucose levels. I
· Cutting cravings,
· Reducing inflammation, and chronic disease risk.
To be clear, a ketogenic diet is not a dietary hall pass for all-bacon-and-hollandaise-sauce all the time. You will still need to eat healthy whole foods and good fats!!! Whole food sources still reign supreme!
Bottom line, if you are in less than optimal health or have uncontrolled diabetes, proceed with caution: Too many ketones can have dire consequences in certain cases—so it’s absolutely essential for anyone beginning a keto diet to check with their medical team first and closely monitor blood sugar and ketone levels.
For those just getting started, ketone strips, and blood ketone monitors are one way to do that – as a starting point, not an end goal solution.
3. What Can You Eat On Standard Keto Diet?
Healthy whole foods are the building blocks of a well-formulated ketogenic diet. Fortunately, the options are both delicious and satisfying, thanks to all those good and filling fats and no nasty, lab-made trans fats. Some of the foods that are welcome when eating on keto include:
· Grass-fed meats and pastured poultry, local, and/or certified organic
· Wild-caught fish and low-mercury fish
· Full-fat butter, cream, cheese, and eggs, from pastured or grass-fed animals
· Oils and fats, like avocado oil, extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, lard, duck fat, goose fat
· Non-starchy vegetables, like leafy greens, avocados, tomatoes, radishes, olives, zucchini, some cruciferous veggies
· Low-sugar fruits, like raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, in small amounts
· Nuts and nut butters like almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia, pecans, walnuts (not peanuts, cashews, pistachios, though). Portions count here and amounts need to be moderate.
· Seeds like chia, flaxseed, hemp, pumpkin, sunflower
· Tea and coffee, preferably organic, non-GMO (with or without a touch of raw stevia)
4. What’s A No-Go On A Standard Keto Plan?
No surprises here - high-carbohydrate and processed foods are off the ketogenic list, as are low-fat, sugar-free fake foods, factory-farmed meats and fish, and so-called vegetable oils (crop oils actually) like canola, corn, grapeseed, soybean, etc. Some other foods that don’t make the keto cut include:
· Starches and grains, be they whole or processed into products like bread, pasta, cereals, and chips, or desserts and baked goods
· Starchy or high-carb vegetables, fruits, and legumes, like beans, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots; high-sugar fruits, like bananas, mangoes, pineapples, grapes, and all dried fruits
· Fruit juices which are in effect liquid sugar bombs to avoid at all costs
· Franken-sweeteners of all kinds, like Splenda, Equal, Sweet ’N Low, etc., and “sugar-free” foods
· Low-fat, low-carb, or sugar-free products, which are heavily processed, trading fat for sugar and loaded with chemical additives
· Alcoholic beverages, many of which the body metabolizes as sugar (especially beer and white wine), interfering with ketosis. If you are choosing to drink alcohol, I recommend keeping it to the bare minimum and opting for low-carbohydrate, clear spirits like tequila, gin, and vodka (and the occasional glass of dry red wine).
5. What To Expect When Starting A Keto Plan
After a few weeks of eating a ketogenic diet, many people find they start to look and feel better than they have in a long time, and they start to enjoy the benefits of reduced body fat, lower blood sugar, and increased energy.
As those benefits are first kicking in though, some people may also experience a minor side effect or two, but those will pass within a few weeks. Three of the most common side effects are
· Bad breath, as the body starts producing ketones,
· ‘Keto flu’
· Electrolyte imbalance
These are easily remedied. With an electrolyte imbalance, you might experience fatigue, constipation, cramps, or even heart palpitations. These effects can happen initially as the body is releasing water, salt, and other electrolytes like magnesium. Supplementing with some Himalayan sea salt and magnesium will usually help rebalance the electrolyte scales. Paying special attention to your electrolyte balance and fat intake (something most people think little about) is extremely important when going keto. Keeping track every day will help minimize side-effects and help fend off the dreaded ‘Keto flu,’ which can make you feel unwell for several days or more. An easy way to monitor your macronutrients is with an online tracker, which you can adjust to meet your specific keto goals
Going Keto Can Make The Difference
At its core, ketogenic diets, and, for that matter, low-carbohydrate plans in general, can go a long way to combat the ills created and/or exacerbated by the standard American diet. Obesity, diabetes, and all manner of chronic diseases are on the rise, due in large part to nutritionally challenged diets. Adopting a ketogenic dietary approach can help reverse the trend and even restore the body to health, with minimal (if any) pharmaceutical intervention, by embracing foods that fuel and satisfy.