Over the last year I have experimented with a keto diet and at this point I will never go back to the way I ate before. Since adapting the lifestyle, it has given me a leaner physique, enhanced mental focus, and erased inflammation issues I previously had. The following is an overview of my approach to this way of nutrition. Hopefully I can help you avoid the mistakes I made when starting and have an easier time sustaining this life changing diet. Through research and experience I have developed a long term and healthy version of keto which can be sustained for very long periods of time.
- a diet that tends to promote the metabolic formation of ketone bodies by causing the body to use fat (rather than carbohydrate) as its principal energy source
Benefits of a Keto Diet
- Weight loss
- More Energy
- Anti-Inflammation in the body
- Mental Clarity
- Increasing Insulin sensitivity
- Sugar, Candy, Chocolates
- Flour, Breads, grains, pasta’s etc (Even whole grain is a no go)
- Rice, quinoa, etc
- Beans, legumes, chickpeas. etc
- Potatoes (They can be healthy, but will keep you from achieving ketosis)
- Cereals, granola, oatmeal
- Baked goods, cake, frosting, pastries, etc
- High sugar fruits: Apples, bananas, cherries, oranges, mangos, etc
- Vegetable and canola oil
- Soft drinks, sweetened teas, beer
- Honey, agave, syrups
- Artificial sweeteners
Consume in Moderation
- Nuts (Macadamia and almonds are the healthiest)
- Natural, no sugar added nut butters
- >85% Cocoa Dark chocolate
- 100% Grass fed Dairy (The less cheese the better and always opt for goat dairy when possible)
- Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries
- Coffee (Either black or bulletproof)
- Dry Red wine, Vodka, or Tequila (Mix with water/soda water, No more than 4 drinks)
- Stevia Natural Sweetener
Eat as much as you want
- Leafy greens – Romaine, Spinach, kale, Bok-Choy, Arugula
- Zucchini and squash (Spaghetti squash is a great sub for pasta!)
- Broccoli and Cauliflower
- Brussels Sprouts
- Celery and Carrots
- *Coconut and Coconut Oil
- *Extra Virgin Olive oil
- *Avocado Oil
- 100% Grass Fed Beef (Need to make sure it is 100%)
- 100% Grass fed Beef Broth
- Free range chicken w/o antibiotics
- Free range eggs
- Wild Caught Salmon
*= Great source of fat
Common Keto Mistakes
- Eating too much protein
Some people think Keto is just avoiding carbs and forget to eat the necessary ratio of fats to proteins. Your macro calories should be close to 60-65% from fats, 25-30% from protein, and 10% from carbs. If one consumes too much protein the body will convert it into carbs by a process called Gluconeogenesis.
- Too much dairy
One of the benefits of a balanced ketogenic diet is the anti-inflammatory properties. That will not be achieved if you are eating large amounts of dairy every day. Our body has a hard time processing the casein protein in milk (80% of milk’s protein is casein). This causes an inflammatory response and also disrupts one’s bowel movements. So avoid dairy as much as possible and if given the opportunity opt for goat dairy. Our bodies process goat milk and cheese much easier than dairy from cows.
- Not Enough Veggies
A lot of times I see individuals practice a form of keto where veggies are almost absent from the diet. They go on the fear that veggies contain carbs which in turn will kick them out of ketosis. This ideology is what has led to many people denouncing the diet. The truth is no diet is healthy if it is devoid of veggies, especially the leafy greens. Simply put, not all carbs are created equal and your body does not process fiber (Which is included in a nutritional breakdown of food) the same as other carbs. When looking at the nutritional data of food take the total grams of carbs minus the grams of fiber to get net carbs. The best practice is to get at least 2-3 cups of raw veggies a day and then leave the carb counting to other components in your diet.
- Cheating too soon
Most people believe that it is ok to cheat on a diet once or twice a week. When starting keto, it is imperative that you do not go about it in this way. Some individuals take up to 3 weeks to get into ketosis. Once ketosis is achieved and maintained for a good amount of time it will be easier to get back in after a cheat meal.
- Consuming too much acidic foods
Coffee, dark chocolate, cheese, peanuts, butters, and wine are all ok to consume on a ketogenic diet. The issue is the liberty that individuals take with these delicious items. Too much of these and your body will become acidic. This can lead to stomach discomfort, inflammation, and worst-case scenario leaky gut. It is essential to consume lots of veggies (Preferably raw or softened) every day and sipping on Bone broth once in a while to avoid stomach lining issues and keep your gut healthy!
- Not believing you are a person who cares about your health
Keto is definitely not easy when you first get started. You are going to have to turn down a lot of items that brought you joy and comfort in the past. In the beginning it is essential that you look at food for how it will make you feel over how it will taste. The most eye-opening part of keto is how your cravings for sweets, breads, and grains subside after a few weeks of staying disciplined. When it comes down to is sugar and flour are drugs. We as a society are physically addicted to them and go through withdrawals without them. Stay strong and eventually you will be a recovering addict like all the other keto kids.
Ways to Augment keto
- Intermittent fasting
Daily periods of fasting through the day already put your body in mild ketosis. Once an individual has achieved a ketogenic lifestyle, they can see even more benefits by only eating food within a window of 8 hours and leaving the other 16 hours of a day for fasting. Fasting in the morning is recommended as drinking black coffee will not break your fast.
- Working out
It is probably pretty obvious that working out is good for you. For keto, it depletes unnecessary glycogen in your system and ramps up fat burning. Ketone production is generally higher after a workout and this part of what is known as a runner’s high. My suggestion is to workout at least 3-4 days a week. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy either. If you are just getting started, then just walk for 30 minutes or do a like circuit training routine. If you are an experienced gym goer, then you will notice a slight dip in performance throughout the first couple weeks of changing up your diet. This will eventually subside, and you may even feel stronger than before. Keto or not, just working out alone will make you happier, healthier, and more energetic.
- MCT Oil
Medium Chain Triglyceride oil is probably the cleanest burning fat you can consume. Putting a couple table spoons in your coffee or even just eating a couple spoonful’s a day will keep you energized with a healthy fat and boost ketone production in your body.
- Re-feed meals
If you are strict on keto and also work out a lot, then there are great benefits to doing a “re-feed” meal or day once in a while. This is where you replenish your glycogen storage through eating healthy carbs for a short amount of time. THIS SHOULD ONLY BE DONE AFTER BEING IN KETOSIS FOR AT LEAST 4 WEEKS. Once your body is fat adapted it can be physically beneficial to have days where you consume healthy carbs such as potatoes, quinoa, and rice. I do a re-feed every other week, but I didn’t start this until almost two months of being in ketosis.
Keto in the Wild
Let’s face it, the hardest part of any diet is sticking to it when you are out at restaurants. The idea of eating a meal without carbs can seem daunting when meeting friends or clients for dinner at a restaurant. Lucky for you, keto is actually pretty easy to stick to when you aren’t able to eat at home. The items below are not necessarily “healthy”, but they won’t kick you out of ketosis and are much better than typical American diet options. Below is a list of items that can be found at almost any restaurant.
Cobb Salad – Make sure it doesn’t have croutons and go with either ranch or blue cheese as a a dressing. Generally, this tasty salad is loaded with cheese, bacon, and avocado. It isn’t necessarily healthy, but it definitely won’t throw you out of ketosis. Overall salads are a great option and it doesn’t always have to be the Cobb. Just stay clear of the croutons, wonton strips, tortilla crisp, candied nuts, fruit, and sugary dressings.
Naked Chicken wings – So when it comes to a healthy meal, chicken wings aren’t the first thing that comes to mind. Personally, chicken wings are my favorite bar food and I don’t think the keto lifestyle would work for me if I couldn’t consume them once in a while. Make sure they aren’t breaded, and the sauce doesn’t have added sugar. Dip in blue cheese or ranch and make sure you eat all the celery that comes with them.
Burger without the bun – Every place you go has a burger on the menu. Get the burger without the bun and opt for a side salad or veggies as a side. Some people even think (including myself) that the bun actually takes away from the taste of the burger. A lot of times restaurants will even have the option of a lettuce wrap.
Tacos on Lettuce – A lot of Mexican places will have the option to substitute the shell of a taco for either a bed of lettuce or a lettuce wrap. The hardest part of Keto giving up beloved tacos, but if the restaurant cares about their customers then they will have healthy alternatives. Side note, sometimes they will even bring you carrots or celery to dip in your guac!!!
Protein with a side of veggies – Another item on most menus is a piece of grilled protein such as steak, fish, or chicken. Add a side of veggies and you have a great meal to avoid the dreaded carbs. This is the healthiest option out of the previously mentioned meals.
Overall, Keto is actually pretty sustainable at eateries as long as you have a little will power and your company isn’t a bunch of jerks. Stay clear of the bread, avoid dessert, and only eat dishes with keto foods, then you are in the clear. Before you know it you will find restaurants that have exactly what you are looking for and going out to eat will be fun again!
I really hope this guide helps you on your path to achieving a new way of life. Everyone has a unique journey with fitness and it is important to learn the practices to best optimize your health. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am always happy to help. If I am not available just use some good old google and go with what you think is best. Good luck and congratulations on making the first step in changing your life.