Make sure you check out the series kickoff first!
The phrase, “you are what you eat” is thrown around a lot. That statement holds waters because generally if you eat healthily then you experience a healthier lifestyle. However, few people, even health-conscious individuals, think about the deeper part of the equation; What does your food eat? It is a question that isn’t given much thought because if something is advertised as healthy then we like to believe the world is good and there are not lies in the whole food market. Unfortunately, like most industries, big business has taken over the food we eat and is essentially poisoning the items that should bring about health benefits. The biggest perpetrators of these unethical actions are the meat and dairy industry.
Most people join the keto movement because they love items that are loaded with animal fat. I see a large majority of keto practitioners getting a majority of their calories from animal products. If you have been keeping up with my posts here on Optimization Daily, then you know how I feel about dairy. We will ignore that for now, but stay tuned for the next article discussing why you should be eating little to no dairy on a ketogenic diet. For now, I would like to dive into the meats and eggs that make up a big part of the keto diet. When it comes down to it, you want to make sure you are consuming animals that are eating natural diets in a stress-free environment. Unfortunately, accomplishing this can be pretty difficult in the society in which we live. Below I will cover the health benefits of grass-fed beef, free range chicken/eggs, and wild caught fish. Keto can go south very quickly when you are putting poor animal products into your body and a lot of the benefits you seek will be compromised.
Before we break down each type of naturally sourced food, let us get to the core of what makes these naturally sourced animal products better than their more common and unhealthy counterpart. Keto is all about fat which contains fatty acids called omegas. I am sure you have heard of omega-3s and their health benefits. There are many supplements that boast the benefits of this anti-inflammation part of fat. Not discussed as much is Omega-6. This part of fat actually causes inflammation and even though it is healthy in small amounts, most diets contain way too much and can lead to a detrimental omega balance in the body. On keto, it is very important to be aware of the Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratios in the food we consume. Fat sources with a good balance of omegas are items like avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, almonds, and the animal products discussed in this article.
Grass Fed Beef
Cows are pasture animals which means their diet should consist of beautiful green fields of grass. Today, most beef that is consumed in the world is coming from cows that are fed a diet of grains and soy. Keto or not, soy and grains should be avoided as much as possible in our diets. So it only makes sense that the animals we consume should also avoid these as well. This unnatural diet throws off the nutrients we receive from consuming meats and also contributes to a poor omega balance in the body. There are many reasons red meat gets a bad rap in the media. One, being that red meat we have studied and focused on is not grass fed. Second, most of these studies are actually surveys and completely neglect that most people consume beef that is placed in the middle of two pieces of bread (this is a point for another article). In my experience, 100 percent grass-fed beef is easier to digest, better for my skin, and improves my overall fitness levels. If you want to go deeper on beef check out this article.
***There are a lot of loopholes that the meat industry uses to put the term “grass-fed” on their labels. You must make sure the labels say “100% grass-fed” or “Grass Finished”. If not, the cows were only in a pasture for the beginning of their life and towards the end are fed the same unnatural feed that every other cow gets to fatten them up. There are services online which make it easier to get properly grass-fed beef and you can also find local farms that offer 100% grass fed.***
Free Range Chicken and Eggs
If you are really interested in how most of the chicken and eggs you consume make it to market, then be forewarned. It is a fast track to becoming a vegan. The way chickens are treated, fed, and processed is despicable and downright nasty. Ultimately, this leads to it really messing up your health. For a lot of the same reasons I have mentioned above, it is essential to consume chicken and eggs that come from a natural diet. A staple in my ketogenic lifestyle is eggs and free-range ones boast excessively more benefits than their counterparts. On top of that, I sleep better at night knowing that the animal producing my food was treated ethically and wasn’t stressed out all the time. The omega balance and vitamin content is the foundation of the benefit of free range over traditional. When it comes to chicken, most that you consume is loaded with antibiotics and hormones as well. This is horrible for your gut biome and your endocrine system. When shopping, go with free range, hormone free, and antibiotic free chicken sources. Your body will thank you. If you want to go deeper check out this article here.
Wild Caught Fish vs Farmed Fish
I feel like I am starting to sound like a broken record, but just like the last two sources I have focused on, the same goes for fish. It is essential to eat fish that are wild caught and eating natural diets. This fish has way more nutritional value and way fewer contaminants that are found in farmed counterparts. At the core, a lot of the same principles as above apply to wild caught seafood. Again, if you want to go deeper here is another article to read.
***When going for wild-caught seafood please also look for line caught instead of animals caught by a net. This doesn’t have to do with health, but instead with ocean conservation. Without a healthy ocean, we can kiss our beautiful planet goodbye. Fishing with nets is horrible for marine ecosystems and that will ultimately affect our land ecosystems as well. If you care about animals, the planet, and yourself please make sure you are aware of where your seafood comes from.***
There is a lot to digest from this article. When it comes down to it we all should be aware of where our food is coming from. This will lead to a healthier you and ultimately a healthier planet. On keto, it is even more important to take this all into consideration. A fat adapted lifestyle can be amazing, but it takes some work. You can do it. I believe in you.
With Big Love,
P.S- Throughout reading this article I know that some of you are probably thinking about how much more expensive it is to eat food some healthy sources. Yes, it does cost more for these animal products, but overall as a society, we consume way too much meat/protein as it is. In my day to day, I consume at most 8 ounces of meat and 3 eggs. That along with nuts and other foods is all the protein one really needs in their diet. So the decrease in meat consumption makes up for the extra cost. On top of that, I feel the increase in health and longevity I receive from eating sustainably sourced food is worth the extra cost.