Undoubtedly, you have heard about the Keto diet. It’s everywhere you turn. Perhaps some of your friends or family are on the Keto diet. Perhaps you’re wondering what the big deal is. Diet crazes come and go with the wind! Very few really work… So, what’s the difference between those and the Keto diet?
With the Keto diet, you don’t need to buy any special foods, count calories or sign up for anything. Keto is simply a change in the way you eat. It starts with a change in the way you think about food.
Most things that are called food these days are the exact opposite. They are high in sugar and empty calories. They are severely deficient in nutrition and toxic. Most people in America are starving to death on a cellular level.
Keto (short for ketogenic or ketosis) is not Paleo. Keto is not just meat. Keto is not just avoiding bread and soda. Keto is not the same as diabetic ketoacidosis either. The ketogenic diet is well supported by science. It was introduced in the 1920’s to help people with epilepsy who did not respond well to medication. It has been proven to help prevent cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease as well.
Keto is a high fat, low carb diet that trains your body to burn fat as fuel instead of carbohydrates and glucose. I know what you’re thinking… “I thought high fat was a bad thing”. Not necessarily.
There is a significant difference between good fats and bad fats. Good fats are full of omega 3’s. Bad fats are full of omega 6’s. Omega 6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory whereas omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory.
While inflammation is a necessary function in the body, too much is damaging. There has to be a balance. Scientists suggest that an imbalance in human consumption of omega 6’s is one of the most damaging aspects of the Western diet. The estimated ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 in the Western world is 16:1. It should be more like 4:1 (omega 3 to omega 6).
The human body cannot produce these polyunsaturated fats on its own. We must get them from our food. If we become deficient in essential fatty acids, we will get sick. Omega 3 fatty acids come from meat, fish and eggs primarily.
Processed vegetable and seed oils are the largest source of omega 6’s in the Western diet. Corn, sunflower and soybean oils are the worst offenders. Coconut oil, butter and olive oils are much lower in omega 6 fatty acids and should be used instead.
Healthy fats, when converted to ketones and used as fuel by the body, are cleaner and more efficient than that of carbs. Using fat as fuel causes your body to lose weight fast with no ups and downs. Reducing your body’s access to carbs and increasing your fat and protein intake causes your body to go into Ketosis. Ketosis is a natural metabolic state. It turns your body into the ultimate fat burning machine. It also increases energy and focus! Who doesn’t need that?
The Keto diet is a way to train your body to create ketones. Ketones are like a super fuel created by the liver and released into the blood stream. Being in a state of ketosis may have many other benefits. Some of these are reduced seizures in epileptics and a significant drop in triglycerides.
Side effects of Ketosis
- Lack of cravings for sweets and carbs
- Reduced hunger
- Heightened cognitive function
- Stable blood sugar
- Improved mood and sleep
There are some negative side effects of the Keto diet, but these are mainly caused by doing it wrong. These include what is known as “keto flu” and “keto rash”.
These usually occur due to a deficiency in key nutrients. In some cases, the change in diet, from high carb to low carb, can cause withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms closely resemble that of the flu. Symptoms may include headache, irritability, mild fever, fatigue and muscle cramps.
Symptoms may even be as severe as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, depending on how many carbs you are used to consuming on a daily basis. “Keto flu” symptoms usually start a few days after starting the Keto diet. They will usually go away after a week of adopting and sticking to the diet.
It’s important to remember that symptoms vary greatly from person to person. Drastically changing one’s diet can force the body to go into shock for a short time. Symptoms may also be due to changes in the guts microbiome.
“Keto rash” is caused by marked deficiencies in vitamin A, B-12 and C. These deficiencies will cause both acute and chronic skin conditions. If you’re eating an overly restrictive diet, your body may not be getting all the vitamins and minerals it needs. Again, there needs to be balance.
Eating an array of colorful fruits and vegetables is a great way to ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients nature has to offer. These symptoms can be remedied or avoided by increasing your potassium and magnesium intake.
FOODS APPROVED FOR THE KETO DIET
Top 5 Veggies for Keto:
Beet Tops: Beet tops are extremely high in potassium. They are actually the highest potassium containing veggie! Beet tops are also high in iron. They detox the liver and gall bladder as well.
Kale: Kale is high in sulfur and omega 3’s as well as low in oxalates. Kale has more calcium than milk and more iron than red meat.
Asparagus: Asparagus is a pre-biotic. It feeds the good bacteria in your gut! Asparagus helps the liver and kidneys flush toxins. It is high in phosphate, chromium, folate, and vitamin K and B.
Cabbage: Cabbage is high in sulfur (like all cruciferous veggies). It helps to increase glutathione and contains glutamine which heals the intestinal lining from leaky gut. (The best way to eat cabbage is by fermenting it and making sauerkraut).
Broccoli: Broccoli metabolizes toxic estrogen (yes, even men have estrogen). This prevents the cancer gene in all of us from turning on. Statistics show a 40% decrease in prostate cancer, a 44% decrease in bladder cancer and a 17-50% decrease in breast cancer from regular broccoli consumption. Broccoli sprouts are even better!
The worst vegetable for any diet is corn. Corn is very high in carbohydrates and it is indigestible. 85% of all corn is genetically modified (GMO). GMO corn is directly linked to auto immune disease. Yet, corn is in everything!
You will find it in the form of corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch as a thickener and corn oil. Avoid corn like the plague. Do a full audit of your kitchen and pantry and rid corn from your diet! You won’t regret it.
Top 5 Fruits for Keto:
Berries: Blueberries especially, but all berries contain anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are antioxidants. Antioxidants reduce inflammation!
Avocado: Avocado is high in healthy fats, potassium and vitamins C, K and E.
Grapefruit: Grapefruit regulates cholesterol and blood sugar.
Coconut: Coconut is 60% medium chain triglycerides! It produces energy and ketones quickly. It also increases HDL and large particle LDL.
Fruits to avoid on the keto diet include bananas, pineapple, apples, any dried fruit, mango and pears. All of these are very high in fructose. Fructose overworks the liver. This is the same reason many alcoholic beverages are not good for you. Fructose is not good for Hypothyroidism either.
Nuts & Seeds Approved for Keto
- Macadamia nuts
- Brazil nuts
- Pepitas & Sunflower seeds
All of these are full of omega 3’s! They are not inflammatory and are full of other beneficial properties. Some nuts, like almonds can cause irritation and inflammation. The skins of almonds contain enzyme inhibitors which make them difficult to digest. A few may be ok, but not too many. Also, pay attention to how you feel if you eat these.
The Keto diet significantly decreases inflammation in the body. Inflammation is the number one cause of cancer and all disease, especially auto immune diseases. As stated above, inflammation is a necessary bodily process, but there needs to be balance.
The keto diet mainly consists of lean meats, most nuts, seeds, whole fat unsweetened yogurt, low glycemic fruits and veggies, unsweetened almond milk, butter, olive oil, ghee and coconut oil.
Foods that should be avoided or used in extreme moderation are potatoes, bread, pasta, sugar, processed dairy products, high glycemic and high carbohydrate fruits and veggies, as well as honey. These food items can throw you out of keto. High glycemic (high carb) fruits and veggies include but are not limited to peas, beans, carrots, potatoes, apples, peaches and watermelon.
These digest quickly and cause blood sugar and insulin levels to spike fast. When this happens, you are “kicked out of ketosis” because your body will switch to burning glucose instead of fat.
A general rule of thumb is 70% fat, 25% protein, 5% carbs.
Watch Out for Dirty Keto
Clean Keto is eating only free-range, grass fed, lean meats and organic fruits and veggies. Dirty Keto is like cheating. You will still lose weight, but you will also lose the health benefits, mental clarity and energy you get from doing Keto the right way. Dirty Keto is the term used when you allow yourself to “fall off the keto wagon”. You start to eat fast food without the bun, fried cheese as a taco shell replacement, conventional meats and dairy again.
A lot of people start out on the right track and then get lazy or busy or just give in to their cravings. Don’t do this to yourself. Anything that is worth doing is going to take effort and discipline.
Preparing To Start Keto
When starting the Keto diet, you should be in a controlled environment. This will help to prevent temptations. Stay home. Buy the food you plan to eat for the next week or two. If you don’t go out with friends or alone, you won’t be tempted to order a beer or eat those nachos or the lava cake.
If you are used to consuming a large amount of empty calories, sugar and carbohydrates, it is recommended that you begin to reduce those items from your diet before going full Keto. This will significantly reduce negative side effects.
For the first two weeks, you should consume a 3:1 fat to protein ratio. Coffee is your friend on Keto. It mobilizes those fatty acids, as long as you drink it with no cream or sugar. Eat anti-inflammatory foods like those suggested above. Avoid dairy and sugar! They are not your friends! Consume foods full of magnesium and potassium. Add a pinch of pink Himalayan salt to your water. This will replenish your electrolytes, especially during a workout. Work out in a fasted state. In the morning, before eating breakfast is the best time. Allow yourself to go 3-5 hours between meals.
Some supplements are helpful while doing Keto. Magnesium, potassium and sodium will help curb the “Keto flu” by replenishing your electrolytes.
Collagen is helpful in maintaining muscle.
Take good quality omega 3 supplements such as fish oil. Avoid Omega 6’s. When you go out to eat, ask what kind of cooking oil is used.
Avoid alcoholic beverages. Most alcoholic beverages break down into sugar in the blood stream. Drink water!
Intermittent fasting will also help take you to the next level by allowing your body to take a break and reboot. 2-3 times per week, don’t eat solid foods from 9pm to 2pm.
Regular exercise is important. Go for a twenty minute walk after meals. Do fifty squats before consuming carbs.
Eat more from the Earth and less from a box. It does not matter how bad or how far gone you think you are. Start with what you have and where you are. Each step forward is progress. The human body is a self-healing machine. The first step to fixing a problem is realizing there is one. Take that step.
Best of Health,
Daniel Lonquist, DC, CCST, CCWP, CFMP
Here is a link to some keto recipes:
https://youtu.be/IUtCb3Qi29k Keto Kamp
https://youtu.be/oanoyw75rYc Keto Kamp
https://youtu.be/NuXhEAs58Vk Dr.Oz & Dr. Axe
https://youtu.be/sBw2rdwBfZE Thomas DeLauer