Saturday, September 1, 2018

All About the Ketogenic Diet in a Nutshell

About the Keto Diet

The ketogenic (or "keto") diet was created by physicians in the 1920's to treat epilepsy. The popularity of the diet was phased out once anti-epileptic drugs were introduced. Eating more dietary fat and reducing carbohydrates for weight loss was also promoted by William Banting (now called "the Banting Diet") in the 1860's. Though higher in carbs than keto, it was still lower in sugars and starches and higher in fat, and effective for losing inches. The body begins to use body fat for fuel, instead of constantly needing a glucose (sugar) load.

What we think of today as a fad diet or trendy term, "keto" is quite a traditional way of eating, using whole foods as the base while cutting out most sugars, starches and processed foods, (eating meat, fish, chicken, pork, turkey, seafood, eggs, butter, olive oil, leafy greens, non-starchy vegetables, coconut oil, and for some people, nuts, dairy, and a few berries). Think about it, this is how our recent ancestors (i.e. Great-great grandparents!) ate, before commercially prepared processed and packaged foods, junk food, and fast food! All natural.

Keto eating should really be referred to as an Anti-Inflammatory Diet, since it greatly reduces inflammation, and begins healing the body from a cellular level, from the inside out. Keto reduces water retention, so it is important to get enough sea salt and electrolytes like magnesium glycinate, or dieters may suffer "keto flu" or "carb flu", which is really just withdrawals, a transition period, a healing crisis that lasts anywhere from 3-5 days for those lucky few, up to 12 weeks for some, but usually around 2-3 weeks for most. 

No special shakes, drinks, pills, potions, protein bars, smoothies, food packets, "cleanses", or costly purchases. No memberships, monthly fees, or clubs to join. JUST EAT REAL FOOD, and your body will do what it is designed to do, by detoxing on its own, and slowly healing. The more metabolically damaged the body, and the longer it has been out of balance, the longer the healing process will take. For some it will take 3-6 months. For others it will take take 3-10 years or more. For most, it takes about 12-18 months.

Yes. Eating whole foods without a bunch of added sugars is definitely sustainable. Eating enough fat to balance your hormones (and once "fat-adapated", your body gets the rest of the fat it needs from excess body fat) is a good thing, for life! 

Since ketogenic eating has so much variety to it, you can adjust it to suit your needs, whether young, old, male, female, pregnant/nursing, adult or child. Just eat WHOLE FOODS and don't be afraid of healthy fats that come from those whole foods. (Skip the inflammatory industrial fats like canola, soybean oil, corn oil, veg oil, margarine, transfats and many seed oils). For babies and growing children, (or for anyone who doesn't want to "count macros" or percentages) simply eat animal protein, greens and non-starchy veggies, while avoiding the sugars. Keto can be as SIMPLE or as complex as one wants to make it. Please note that if you are on medication, keto is likely to require the reduction or discontinuation of meds and needs to be under your Doctor's supervision (I don't use the word "keto" or "low-carb" with doctors, as it is too misunderstood. I simply say I eat an anti-inflammatory diet of whole foods and no sugars. Which is all TRUE!)

Fruits like avocado, cucumbers, tomatoes, and a few strawberries or berries are certainly fine on a well-formulated ketogenic diet. They do convert to sugar, but are lower in carbs, so a little each day is fine. Nuts also have carbs, and many people stall or have allergies, so they skip the nuts and nut flours. As for dairy, many on keto can have a bit of heavy whipping cream in their coffee or tea, or on top of berries for dessert. Some can enjoy a few ounces of cheese each day. Many others find they are intolerant or sensitive to dairy (even if they don't have an allergy to lactose or casein), so avoiding dairy gives them the best health results. Cravings for cheese and milk (switch to coconut milk) go away just like carb cravings do, after a few weeks or months.

There are so many ways to eat keto, from strict to lazy. To be ketogenic, fat is usually between 65-85%, protein from 15-30%, and carbs from 2-10%. For those who love numbers, data and apps like My Fitness Pal, inputting their food and seeing the charts can be helpful. ***PROTEIN IS A GOAL (so reach it), while FAT AND CARBS ARE A LIMIT (you don't have to reach them).***

Another way is to just make sure you eat less than 20 TOTAL (not net) grams of carbs per day (basically just leafy greens, a few cruciferous veggies, and incidental carbs from bacon, eggs or coconut milk). Get enough protein (keto is not high protein, it's adequate or moderate protein, and is variable depending on activity, age, health) at each meal (for example, eggs and/or bacon for breakfast, chicken salad for lunch, bunless lettuce wrap burgers, or zucchini and ground beef lasagna, or crustless pizza, or simply steak for dinner). Cook with a little real butter. Drizzle a little olive oil over salad. Or eat some guacamole or 1/4 an avocado each day. Don't be afraid of fat that is naturally occurring in meat and eggs. That's the EASY VERSION that I have done for many years. (Ex. 80-100g protein, 60-100g fat, 10-20g carbs.)

One of the biggest and most damaging health myths is that cholesterol from food clogs our arteries. Excess refined carbs and transfats are the culprits when it comes to causing inflammation and arterial plaque. Cholesterol is a complicated, complex and controversial subject. Think of a firefighter always being present when a building is burning. "Correlation does not equal causation", which means just because a firefighter is there, does not mean that firefighter caused the fire. In fact, the firefighter is vitally important, and is there to FIGHT the damage being done. Likewise in our bodies, cholesterol plays many critically important roles, including fighting and healing inflammation from a poor diet. Picture refined carbs causing the fire (inflammation) in our bodies, and cholesterol is the firefighter putting out the fire (reducing inflammation). That is very simplistic but a good visual.

I do spend a little more money on meat, but I am NOT SPENDING ANY MONEY on cereal, bagels, bread, juice, crackers, chips, cookies, soda, ice cream, pasta, rice, quinoa, beans, flour, sugar, and all the other foods I used to eat. AND, I am sick much less often (rarely need a doctor visit), I heal faster, and I don't need all the prescription and over the counter meds I used to take! SAVINGS! Win-Win! 

Find the foods you and your family like, and adapt them to keto. Like tacos? Eat lettuce boat tacos (no shells) with all your same favorite ingredients, or even easier, a taco salad (no chips). Like pizza or burgers? There are thousands of keto recipes if you like to cook. If you don't (like me), just prep and cook your basic meat or fish, add your herbs/spices and veggies, and that's it! MEAT AND VEGETABLES (cooked or prepared with a little healthy fat, as listed above) is the most basic way to eat, but also has so many ways to vary it to suit your own likes and dislikes.

The internet is filled with groups and forums designed to help you on your health journey. Keto coaches abound. Each group and coach has a different style or approach, and weeding through them can be daunting. I joined and then eventually unfollowed dozens of such groups and individuals in my early keto years. I highly recommend the closed group Keto, (hosted by International Best-Selling Author, Nutritionist and Keto Coach MARIA EMMERICH and her husband Craig Emmerich). They have a very specific approach to keto and 20 years experience on keto, plus successfully helping thousands of clients. I am a student of their Keto Coaching college, for Certified Keto Coach training. 

In addition, I host MY OWN new, small, private keto community where I do my best to encourage, support and answer diet questions (based on Maria's keto training and my own different style and personal experience of "easy, simple keto") called Food Oils and Fun on facebook. I suffered from more than 70 chronic ailments for decades, and have healed about 60 of them (so far) with just low-carb "food as medicine", slowly eliminating all meds, and eating simple real food. I began my healing and weight loss journey in January 2013, and have learned that eating low-carb can be as EASY or as complex as you want/need it to be. I am all about simple!

"A modern dietary lifestyle with an old-fashioned real-food approach to healing and weight management. It worked way back when, and it works again now. No lotions, potions, or crazy motions to go through!"™  ~Tricia S. 

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