If you are exploring new ways of eating and don’t think Whole30 or the Paleo approach is for you, how about the Ketogenic Diet? More commonly referred to as the Keto Diet, this dietary approach involves a dramatic reduction in the consumption of carbohydrates while simultaneously increasing the consumption of high quality dietary fats. This combination shifts the body’s metabolism away from burning carbohydrates and sugar for it main source of energy and instead uses fat for fuel. Once this stage has been reached, a person is in a state of “Ketosis,” due to the ketones produced by the liver, hence the “keto” diet. If you are thinking of trying the keto diet for yourself, here are five things you should know before giving keto a go. And don’t forget to check out Brandless’s keto diet shopping list!
Carbohydrates are not inherently bad for you. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain carbohydrates after all, but in order to achieve a state of ketosis, it is essential to dramatically reduce your daily consumption of carbohydrates and sugars. If you simply keep your diet the same and only increase your dietary fat without lowering sugar and carbs, you actually put yourself at risk for creating a diet that is dangerous for your health. If you are serious about making the switch to keto, reach out to your doctor or health coach to discuss a plan.
On the keto diet, it is incredibly important to increase both the quantity and the quality of fat you consume. Going keto isn’t an excuse to go all in on the bad kinds of fat, but rather high-quality fat sources like:
- Animal fats such as beef tallow and pork lard
- Avocado oil
- Coconut oil
- Grass-fed beef
- Grass-fed butter
- Nuts like almonds, cashews, pistachios and macadamia nuts
- Olive oil
- Pasture-raised eggs
- Wild caught fish like salmon and mackerel
- Seeds like chia seeds and flax seeds
- Unsweetened coconut flakes
When aiming for a state of ketosis, don’t feel bad about adding more fat to your meal, so go ahead and add that spoonful of almond butter to your baked sweet potato or have that handful of macadamia nuts before you head out the door. Fat is your friend on Keto, not the enemy.
Too many carbohydrates can keep you from ketosis, but so can too much protein. Although protein plays an important role in a healthy diet, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, especially when striving to reach a state of ketosis. It’s a delicate dance, but there is no reason to be militant with your protein intake. Instead, eat a moderate amount of protein (about 20% of your diet) and try to get 70-80% percent of your diet from healthy fats, like those listed above.
We are not huge advocates of calorie counting, but it is still vital to be cognizant of your daily caloric intake. Some high-fat, keto-friendly foods, like nuts and seeds, are easy to overeat. Instead of monitoring calories or tracking macros, try single serving packets of your favorite snacks. For example, instead of grabbing a jar of your favorite nut butter and a spoon, purchase smaller serving packets to avoid overconsumption. Plus, they are easy to stash in your desk drawer, gym bag or in your car for your busy, on the go lifestyle.
Maintaining a keto diet isn’t all about food. You should still practice proper hydration, exercise (don’t forget rest days), clock quality sleep each night, manage stress levels and have healthy relationships with family and friends. All of these factors contribute to a healthy lifestyle, but a healthy lifestyle also includes living your life, so order your favorite dessert when you’re out with friends, but know that you will most likely bump your body out of ketosis and that’s okay! Enjoy the moment and get back to your healthy lifestyle the next day.