In case my standpoint isn’t obvious, let me clarify, there is no should or shouldn’t implied in my writing about this or any other diet. Some people eat pizza. Some people drink diet soda. Some never consume either–or do but always feel guilty. Still others know the drawbacks and act in moderation and feel great about it. My goal is to inform those who are interested in trying something new or just knowing what else is out there–not to persuade those who are happy with an already satisfactory approach.
Not all low-carb diets are Ketogenic, but the Ketogenic diet is low-carb. In the coming weeks I will be sharing more about how my transition to this diet came together as well as mistakes I made along the way. I will also probably put up a post along the lines of “What is a Ketogenic diet?” although that is lower priority for me to write about because the answer to that question is readily available through any google search.
I am including the following video from Dr Peter Attia because if you are interested in the science behind this diet or are of the impression that this is a “fad” diet, it’s useful to see that there is more driving this approach than internet marketing and expensive diet plans. In fact, if you read “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes who does extensive historical research on dietary trends, research and corresponding guidelines, you will be surprised (as I was!) to learn that various forms of carb restricted diets were known to be effective as far back as the 19th century.
But I digress…
The Ketogenic diet emphasizes replacing carbs with fat not protein. Some of the reasoning behind this is elucidated in the above video, but in order to switch the body to burning fat in stead of sugar, it is important to increase clean sources of dietary fat in the near absence of carbs. There is a lot of experimentation surrounding which sources of fat are the best and one doesn’t need to look far to see internet memes of bacon and butter which have risen to greater popularity in a diet that doesn’t inherently seek to restrict them. Personally I am hesitant to go out of my way to increase animal fat unless I know that it’s grass-fed and organic and minimally processed.
Initially the idea of eating fat with intent seemed like dietary blasphemy. I fully expected some unseen hand to smite me into dust and so I started out timidly. Once I embraced the fats however, I found the blood sugar stabilized, the energy went up and my portion size (and frequency–and hunger) went way down. In short I am eating less and feeling more full for longer. There has been a lot written about how the Ketogenic diet actually enhances mental clarity and while I can’t prove a direct correlation, I will say that I feel like my brain is supercharged and my thought process has much greater clarity when I am in Ketosis (not to be confused with DKA or Diabetic Ketoacidosis which is dangerous and not at all the same–I will include more on this in a later blog.)
My staple foods on the Ketogenic diet:
Coconut oil– I add to just about every dish where possible, even to tea and coffee
Coconut cream– I just started using this in coffee instead of dairy. More fat and it tastes amazing!
Macadamia nuts– I like these off of Amazon, they are the single food item I eat the most of on a daily basis.
Olive oil– due to the low heat tolerance I avoid frying hot things with Olive oil; I’ll add it to plated dishes and salads.
Meat Salad/Antipasto- go to your grocery store. Ask for “meat and cheese ends” at the deli. They usually throw away these “scraps”. I dice them up with olive oil, salt and pepper, olives and a little bit of balsamic vinegar (and sometimes tomato and onion).
*Cheese- I actually severely cut back on dairy after I noticed how much better my joints felt when I eliminated it. Your results may vary. I still eat a little because I LOVE CHEESE…but I have to be judicious.
Butter- usually a little bit in soups or on eggs.
Kale- in soups, salads and fried up with eggs in the morning.
Mushrooms- same as with Kale.
Onions- see above.
Bacon- I don’t OD on bacon. I like a couple strips if I am making eggs but that’s about it.
Sausage- Same as with bacon.
Chicken- since chicken is usually pretty lean, I will eat a bit for protein but not more than a couple times a week.
I know that everyone may have different tastes or food preferences. Eating this way I am able to get enough fat to drop into Ketosis and stay there. One of the reasons that I haven’t eaten a lot of meat is because I have less interest in taking the time to prepare it and I am not usually hungry enough to eat more than a small portion. I have not intentionally tried to shift towards plant-based fat sources but those have proven to be the easiest to access and prepare–and the most cost-effective.
If you are wondering what my “macros” are–I will tell you that I have no idea. I eat when I am hungry and I stop when I feel full enough. I don’t count carbs because I eat no “dedicated carbs”–sure there are incidental carbs in Kale and Spinach and Almond butter and Macadamia nuts, but for one or two units of insulin I can eat as much as I want. There is probably some benefit to counting all of this stuff up, but that’s a time and energy commitment that I am not in a position to make right now.
Lastly, I wanted to include a recipe that I have been really stoked on because it’s super simple but it tastes great and helps me get greens, fats and electrolytes all in one shot!
Vegetable or beef broth
Mushrooms sliced up
Onions if you’d like
Meat (can be chopped ham, bacon or no meat if you prefer)
Kale and/or Spinach
Shredded cheese (parmesan works well)
Throw it in a small pot, let it come to a boil and simmer until everything looks pretty cooked up. Yeah, I know I’m not a chef. That’s the beauty of it–super simple but it’s really filling and you can add more “fixins” to it as you like. It takes about 10 minutes to prepare and it helps replace electrolytes which is super important on this diet because an absence of dietary carbohydrate acts as a diuretic and if you don’t take steps to replace fluids and minerals you could wind up feeling poorly–but that is a topic for next week when I write about 5 mistakes I made with the Keto diet–and how you can avoid them.