The practice of eating low carb, high fat and moderate protein has been around since the dawn of man, quite literally. Our bodies evolved to survive and in order to do that we had burn multiple types of fuel. Most people, today, believe that our primary fuel type is sugar (glucose). I would argue that it is, in fact, fat (ketones). You’ll understand why I think this by the end of the article so please read on!
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
In a nutshell, a ketogenic diet is one that is comprised of 70%-85% fat, 5%-10% carbohydrate and 10-20% protein. This is a diet that transforms our bodies into fat burning machines by putting us in a state of nutritional ketosis.
This might seem counterintuitive given the extreme amount of misinformation we’ve been given in the last 50 years, but this is the way we were designed to eat most of the time. I say most because the human body can be very efficient at burning carbs for fuel as well but we are not meant to stay in carb burning mode for long. When we spend too much time using sugar for fuel, we become insulin resistance, hence the primary reason for the type II diabetes epidemic we’ve been experiencing in the last 30 years.
Consider the following.
As a primal species, we were hunter-gatherers. This means that when we ate, it was typically animal meat, nuts and seeds, plants and a berries, when in season. With the exception of the berries, everything I just named is low carb, high fat and moderate protein. As for the berries, they were only available, seasonally, at the end of summer and into fall. We often had to go several days and sometimes weeks between meals, especially in the winter months. These were periods of fasting. When we fast we switch to burning fat for fuel.
When you think about the amount of time, in a given year, that we spent eating a ketogenic diet combined with periods of no food (fasting), well, that was quite literally most of the time.
Ketogenic Diet Benefits
There are wide spread benefits to adopting a ketogenic lifestyle and they range from curing chronic diseases, most of which are metabolic in nature, to extreme weight loss. Other, more specific, benefits include:
- Reduced or eliminated inflammation
- No more water retention
- Improvement in achy joints
- Better skin (no more acne)
- Reversal of metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes
- Improved focus and overall mental clarity. Brain fog disappears!
- Improves cholesterol
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces risk of heart disease
- Weight loss
Ketogenic Diet Basics
To be successful adopting a ketogenic lifestyle, you must know the basics. In general you will stop eating all of the following.
- Boxed food
- Fast food
- Wheat & oats
- Bread, pasta & rice
- Artificial sweeteners
- Ketchup & BBQ sauce
- Beans & Legumes
- Sugary drinks
- Starchy veggies
- Vegetable oils
You will start eating a lot more fat, especially the saturated variety. An important thing to take note of is that eating fat does not turn to fat on your body. That is a myth. Fat is stored when insulin levels are high as it is a fat storage hormone.
Here is a good example of the types of food you will find yourself eating on a ketogenic diet.
- Organic coconut oil
- Almonds, walnuts & macadamia nuts
- Grassfed meats
- Cage free eggs
- Low carb cooking & snacking veggies
- Hard cheese
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Pumpkin seeds
- Free range chicken
- Salad veggies
- Sour cream
- Low carb peanut butter
- Grass fed butter
- Water, tea & organic coffee
- Wild caught fish
- Balsamic vinegar
- Cream Cheese
- Real food!
I think you will agree that sitting down to a grass-fed ribeye with grilled squash, zucchini and mushrooms and a dinner salad is much more tantalizing than a boneless, skinless chicken breast and rice. Not to mention that fat is satiating so you will eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. What a concept!
How to be Successful on the Ketogenic Diet
Shifting to a ketogenic diet will test everything you thought you knew about being healthy. Just in considering the above list of recommended food, you will likely need to stretch outside of your comfort zone. To help you embrace the ketogenic diet as not only a credible life change but an ideal one, I’ve included several science based resources in the Research & Expert Opinion section below. Please take a few minutes to run through them for your own peace of mind!
Knowledge is power and making the decision to take control of your health through the adoption of a ketogenic lifestyle is no exception. The more you know, the better your chances of success. To that end, careful consider the following advice.
Get prepared! You can find more in depth information on the ketogenic diet in my article Improve focus, boost mood and lose weight through Diet & Nutrition.
The first 72 hours can make or break you. Leverage these 8 tips to make the first three days as easy as possible.
- Plan your meals out and make them good! Remember the ribeye steak example above? Yeah, that!
- Stay hydrated. In the first several days you lose water weight. You need to remember to drink lots of water to replenish your stores. Don’t worry, in a short time, your body will become fat adapted and this will not longer be a problem.
- Get enough salts i.e. Sodium, Potassium & Magnesium. When your body flushes the water, your electrolytes go with it. If you become deficient in any of the three minerals, you are more likely to feel “flu-like” until they are balanced. This is called “keto flu”.
- Shop for keto goodies. This goes hand in hand with #1. Plan your meals, your snacks even a little something sweet (like) to take the pressure off of you in making this like change. I have a library of good beginner keto advice here.
- Make a good variety of fat bombs. Fat bombs are little snacks packed full of good fat! One of the critical things to remember is that a ketogenic diet is not just about eating low carb, you must get enough fat also! When you are getting craving, eat a fat bomb. Craving gone! Find awesome fat bomb and other recipes here.
- Embrace bacon, avocado and grass-fed beef. See #5 above.
- Plan to eat in until you get your bearings. Navigating the restaurant scene is tough. Don’t test yourself until you are ready and even then, do your homework ahead of time. Know what you will order before you get there.
- This might be the most important tip of them all. Talk to your family and friends. Tell them why you are choosing to make this change in your life. Your health is perhaps the most important aspect of your life. The last thing you need is for someone to unintentionally sabotage your effort.
The Keto Beginning Diet Support Program
Your health is important. Taking this step to improve it is a big deal! If you are still feeling a little overwhelmed by the details of an eating style that is somewhat counter intuitive, then consider getting help.
The Keto Beginning is a complete beginner’s guide plus 30 day meal plan! The resources, meal plans and recipes in The Keto Beginning offer a unique guidance system to attaining total body confidence, regulated metabolism, and liberated health without the need to radically reduce (or even counting) calories.
Become a fat burning machine. The Keto Beginning is brimming with the strategies and vibrant high-fat, low-carbohydrate, moderate protein recipes that I used to effortlessly switch into a state of nutritional ketosis – where my body burns fat as energy instead of glucose.
Inside The Keto Beginning, you’ll receive:
- A 17 chapter beginner’s guide
- 30-Day meal plan
- Weekly shopping lists
- A library of recipes
All told, you will receive more than 200 pages of content in a plan created by a holistic nutritionist.
This whole food-based, low-carbohydrate, high-fat, moderate-protein approach to nutritional ketosis is the first of it’s kind, offering a unique approach to everyday meals using common, accessible ingredients that support the safe transition into; and maintenance of, nutritional ketosis – completely dairy and grain-free.
What are you waiting for?
The time is now to take back control of your health.
*Remember to check with a healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, including the introduction of supplements.