Bacon, butter and coffee - the 3 things that come to mind when I hear the word Keto, amongst many of you as well I’m sure. Doesn't sound like a bad plan to me one bit as I’m pretty sure that they’re a part of my love languages too! However, I know that those things in excess can’t be good for your heart, weight or mental state even. Upon further digging I understand my initial thoughts on this not being the healthiest plan to follow, is actually a successful lifestyle change for so many. It’s way more than just a higher fat diet filled with those three wonderful things. There are limits, guidelines and so many tips to see if this lifestyle will work for you to help you reach your goals!
The keto way of eating dates way back to the 1920’s! Mayo Clinic doctor Russell Morse Wilder, M.D. started playing around with a fat-centered diet that mimicked the effects of fasting by ridding the body of sugar. He tested this on people with epilepsy and actually proved that it was an effective treatment for seizures. It was used solely for that purpose for two decades, but with the modern era of anti-epileptic drug treatment the ketogenic diet for that purpose has declined dramatically. Forward to now and we know that “going keto” may:
- Improve weight loss
- Reduce inflammation
- Increase energy levels
Now that we’ve all been educated in knowing the who, where and why the ketogenic diet started, what is it really? Or better question as I know I’m even still thinking about - how is eating bacon, butter and coffee going to help me improve my health? As always I got all the details compiled here for you already!
WHAT IS THE KETOGENIC DIET?
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carb diet. This way of eating forces your body into ketosis in order to burn fats rather than carbohydrates for fuel. Ketosis is where your body basically breaks down fatty acids to produce ketones in the liver, which can supply both the brain and body with energy. The body produces two substances when carbohydrate intake is high:
- Glucose - this is the easiest molecule for the body to convert to energy. This is the reason that carbohydrate consumption will keep your body from going into ketosis. If your carb intake is too high, the body goes back to using glucose for energy.
- Insulin - this aids in the transport of glucose around the body. When you cut down your carb intake and replace it with fat, it puts your body into a metabolic state - ketosis.
In simpler terms, carbs must be avoided if you want to stay in ketosis. It’s a general rule of thumb when following this diet to stay under 25 grams of net carbs (total carbs minus fiber) per day. But this is not to say carbs are bad by any means - there is such a thing as good carbs!
Now what about protein as I said above it’s in making sure you’re getting adequate protein but not over doing it. Although not as high as your healthy fat consumption, protein will make up a significant part of this diet - approximately a quarter. It provides essential functions that are valuable to your body while in ketosis.
But what about the bacon and butter?! Sorry to keep you waiting, gotta save the best for last of course! Fat is the main macronutrient in the ketogenic diet. With lowering your carbohydrates and increasing your healthy fats, you now have a new energy source that your body will be breaking down to use for energy. There is a catch though, this is not a green light to consume as much butter and bacon as you want. Can you eat those two things? Absolutely! These are among so many other foods that you’d be surprised you don’t have to give up and some you just may need to change how you season or flavor them. For example, keto-friendly bacon must not contain added sugars, low or no carbs and high in fat, and keto-friendly butter must be grass-fed raw butter that has zero carbs, zero sugars and zero grams of protein.
This list will look more like a standard diet list of what you can and can’t eat. The difference in the keto diet is that there are just simple rules to each - basically choose items with no added sugars, starches, or breading to keep it low carb:
- Meat, poultry, and substitutes - this includes soy products such as tofu and tempeh for those who are vegetarian.
- Fish and seafood - fatty fishes such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and herring are excellent choices! Also, cod, halibut and trout are great options.
- Eggs - another vegetarian friendly protein option. You can have these as often as you’d like because when you avoid carbs, you don’t have to avoid dietary cholesterol.
- Vegetables - most veggies that grow above-ground are keto-friendly. Stick to non-starchy vegetables such as leafy greens, cucumber, celery, radishes, cauliflower, cabbage, avocado, broccoli, zucchini, etc.
- Fruit and berries - stick with tart fruits such as berries, lemons and limes in small servings. Most fruit contains too much sugar, but a handful of berries with some real whipped cream is a perfect snack or dessert option!
- Nuts and seeds - these are high in good fat and low in carbs, but don’t get crazy and eat too many of these (¼ cup or less).
- Cheese and full-fat dairy - avoid flavored low-fat yogurt as it is typically loaded with sugar. Greek yogurt is a higher healthy fat and protein-rich snack or breakfast option. Also, avoid too much milk as even just one glass contains 15 grams of carbs.
- Fats and sauces - most of your fat should come from your meat, poultry, fish and vegetarian friendly protein options. But you can use healthy fats such as olive, coconut and avocado oils, grass-fed butter, ghee, and MCT oil. Avoid peanut, grapeseed, hazelnut, sesame, soybean, sunflower, safflower and canola oils. Keto-friendly sauces include Bearnaise sauce, garlic butter, and mayo - just don’t over do it.
To make it even more simple, base your meals on protein-rich foods, include lots of leafy greens and non-starchy veggies, and use healthy fats to make it more flavorful and to fill in any needed calories. Everyday Health even makes it easier in giving you tips, food measurements and a 7-day sample menu to jump start your keto diet! I’m even going to break it down one step further! And i’m sure you’ve already guessed it - Eat Well Nashville has meal options, snacks and even supplements on our keto-friendly menu for you to choose from and make your weeks that much easier!
Just a friendly reminder - before starting any lifestyle change such as a change in diet, speak with your doctor and even a nutritionist if this seems like something that you would like to try. They are your best resources in finding out what may benefit or hinder the healthier goals you are trying to reach. And as always……..