Food Freedom Friday Edition 143 - Learning From Keto

The ketogenic diet is really on trend at the moment and plenty of people have had huge success with the keto eating style. There are, however people who may be better-served by other types of diets and eating.

That being said, there are some key guidelines to the keto diet that anyone, no matter their personal nutrition choices or philosophies can benefit from.

1.     Eat More Fat.

Fat doesn’t deserve its bad rap-it can actually make you feel full faster (and longer), since it takes longer to digest than other nutrients,

One of the most positive things emerging from the keto trend is that it is helping to awaken people from their fear of fat. It is helping people understand what types of foods they should be consuming for a more healthful lifestyle.

From egg yolks to cheese to nut butter, people are more willing to include foods that are higher in fat in their diets, and that's a good thing. The keto movement has shone a light on the fact that these foods will not 'make you fat' as was once believed but will keep you much fuller for much longer. This in tuen helps people snack less, which very easily makes up for the added calories they may have consumed. These foods help stabilize blood sugar and reduce sugar intake, which leads to fewer cravings.

By including fat in every meal, you are more likely to make it to the next one without feeling ravenous.

2.     Avoid ‘Low Fat’ Foods.

On a similar note, there is no reason to seek out foods that are marketed as low-fat. Full-fat dairy including cheese, milk, yogurt, whole eggs rather than egg whites, and higher-fat cuts of meat such as dark meat poultry and grass-fed beef are extremely satiating, leading to reduced overall consumption and cravings. Additionally, most 'low-fat' products contain higher amounts of sugars and other fillers. You are almost always better off eating a reasonable portion of the real thing.

3.     Pile On The Non-Starchy Vegetables.

When following a ketogenic eating plan, vegetables need to be chosen strategically in order to keep carbohydrate consumption low. Eating abundant amounts of non-starchy veggies (broccoli, leafy greens, asparagus, peppers, tomatoes, etc.) is important no matter what type of diet you choose to follow. These are the vegetables that grown above the ground. They fill you up by adding volume to your meals and provide large amounts of nutrients and fiber to keep your body functioning optimally.

Try to have several servings per day, including a handful or two with each meal.

4.     Understand Macronutrients.

All foods are made up of varying proportions of three key macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. It is impossible to follow a ketogenic approach appropriately and not become more aware of what makes up the foods you are eating.

Everyone, no matter what eating plan they follow, can benefit from learning more about macronutrients. Educating yourself about what foods are high and low in carbohydrates and thinking about what macronutrients you are choosing on a daily basis can build the base for a more sustainable approach to good nutrition.

5.     Pay Closer Attention To Carbohydrates.

The ketogenic diet is all about limiting your carb intake. Most people tend to consume way too many carbohydrate-rich processed foods. A diet like this can encourage you to cut out certain foods that will help lower your overall weight and improve your health.

While the ketogenic diet eliminates most major sources of carbohydrates, everyone can benefit from removing processed foods (think: crackers and cookies) while still enjoying plentiful amounts of naturally occurring carbohydrates such as those found in vegetables, both starchy and fibrous as well as fruits.

6.     Read Nutrition Labels.

People following a ketogenic plan generally read nutrition labels thoroughly to ensure the foods they are eating are keto-friendly. This is a good habit to get into regardless of your eating style. Look for any type of added sugar (including cane sugar, beet juice, fructose, high corn syrup) and bleached wheat flour. These are in almost all baked goods, many types of bread, cereals, and more.

Reading labels will help you avoid highly refined and processed foods that are unhealthy, even if they are low-carb. This includes things such as processed and poor-quality meats from factory farm-raised animals, processed cheeses, farm-raised fish, foods with lots of synthetic additives, and refined vegetable oils.

7.     Hydrate.

When following a ketogenic diet, there is significant water loss due to several metabolic changes which can result in a real risk of dehydration. Focusing on increasing water intake is a key takeaway that all can derive benefit from. Your muscles and your brain work at optimal levels when properly hydrated. Taking in calorie-free, carbohydrate-free water is also a great way to feel fuller longer and help with digestion. It is possibly one of the easiest ways to work on feeling your best.

8.     Potassium.

When significantly lowering carbohydrate intake, one of the key ways to avoid keto flu is by boosting potassium intake. This is important for other types of eating plans too as many people fail to get adequate potassium. Research has shown that high potassium foods like green leafy vegetables help lower blood pressure

Most people can benefit from eating foods that contain more potassium, although if you have kidney disease, you should check in with your health care providers before you begin. 

9.     Experiment With Intermittent Fasting.

Intermittent fasting is very popular in many keto communities. It may sound extreme, but the most popular methods usually allow you to eat food for eight hours during the day (think 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) to achieve a 16-hour fasted state.

During fasting periods, your body eventually burns through all of your carbohydrate stores (i.e., glucose and glycogen) and starts burning body fat for energy. This is the magic people talk about when referring to ketosis-and yes, you can get there without drastically cutting carbs!

On a more basic level, intermittent fasting forces you to think about what you are eating and why. Do you really need a daily snack at 3 p.m., or are you just eating out of habit and routine?

10.  Start Cooking.

With so many ready-made or ‘conventional’ foods off-limits, keto forces you to eat at home way more often. This is a good thing, because you really have no idea how much poor-quality oil or refined grains and sugar restaurants are using. Hint: It is usually way more than you need to make your food actually taste good.

When you eat at home you have way more control over the ingredients going into your meals. You can play up the vegetables and add extra spices to boost the flavor and tailor your choices to your chosen eating plan.

11.  Fermented Foods.

Cutting out important sources of fiber, like starchy vegetables (the ones that grow below the ground) and fruits, can sometimes negatively affect your elimination processes (your bowel movements) and, especially when vegetable consumption is low, constipation is a common keto complaint.

This where fermented foods enter the picture: They act as a probiotic to support healthy bacteria in your gut and keep things healthy and moving along. They can be very low in carbohydrates, making them a popular keto-friendly choice.

Try adding more to your diet through kimchi, sauerkraut, or pickles.

12.  Pay Attention To How Food Makes You Feel.

Many of my clients are astounded to realize how much better they feel when following a well-formulated ketogenic diet. As their blood sugar stabilizes, many lose weight and report higher energy levels and increasing levels of health and vitality. It is not necessary to follow a ketogenic diet notice how your diet is making your body feel. It is always important to try to be cognizant of the effect your food choices are having on your body.

By checking in with yourself after each meal, food journaling, and/or practicing mindful eating, you can feelings of well-being.

Although I am a huge proponent of lower carbohydrate eating for most people, benefitting from better food choices is not limited to one philosophy or belief. When it comes to food, no matter how you choose to combine it, real food wins every time!

Michal Ofer