What Is Keto
The keto diet, short for ketogenic, is a dietary strategy that focuses on restricting carbs in favor of consuming high amounts of healthy fats and eating moderate amounts of protein.
There are varying methods and sub-strategies under the low-carb umbrella like modified keto, the carnivore diet, low-fat keto, and high-protein, although keto purist might argue against some of these as being methods that do not produce a constant state of ketosis.
Our bodies can reach a state of nutritional ketosis as a result of extended, restricted carbohydrate intake. We begin burning fat for fuel, instead of sugar from carbs, and begin producing ketones which can be a powerful fuel source for our bodies and brains.
When I am in ketosis I feel alert and clear-headed with a steady and sustainable source of energy. I initially came to the ketogenic lifestyle to shed a few extra pounds but I have stuck around with this strategy of eating to keep reaping the mental clarity and sustained energy benefits.
The #1 Keto Mistake
Salt consumption is critical for avoiding what I believe to be the #1 keto diet mistake. Salt is encouraged to be consumed early and often especially if you practice intermittent fasting and or drink coffee. Fasting combined with coffee is sure to rapidly deplete your sodium levels unless you replenish often.
Check out our book review of the health and wellness book The Salt Fix authored by Dr. James DiNicolantonio. It is a brilliant book that not only exposes all the bad science that was behind the demonization of salt but also underscores with great detail and reasoning why salt is a critical component of our health and wellness.
I personally use Redmond's Real Salt which was a suggestion from The Salt Fix book. I go heavy with salt on my veggies, in my bone broth, on my smoked oysters, and will even add it directly to a glass of water when I am feeling especially depleted.
Magnesium, another important mineral in addition to salt, can be purchased in an easy-to-fizz powder form. You drop some tablespoons in water and drink it in the evening. Magnesium has a laundry list of wellness benefits like electrolyte regulation, headache prevention, and digestive help.
I find magnesium to be most helpful when drank in the evening before bed. There is a calming component to it. It can help with better sleep too. Just be careful with the dosage as it can cause seriously loose bowel movements. Ease into the suggested dosage to learn your tolerance levels.
Keto Diet Plan
Do your own research and modify your low-carb lifestyle in a way that will help create the most efficient and butt-kicking version of you possible. Our bodies are all wired so uniquely. There is no such thing as a one-size fits all prescription for health.
That being said, I am happy to share some tips and things I have picked up along the way to try and refine and dial in my approach to keto and low-carb as best as possible.
Good sources of fat I enjoy:
salmon (fresh, smoked, or canned)
grass-fed beef, grass-fed butter
smoked oysters packed in olive oil
canned whole-fat coconut milk
ground flax meal
Some considerations for keto:
Carbohydrate intake is restricted with discipline being applied to the sources and types of carbs we eat. Bread, pasta, and starches like potatoes are banished.
Sugar is gone for good although I eat small chunks of quality dark chocolate often as a treat.
Protein consumption is a hotly debated topic with many trusted resources like Dr. Ted Naiman feeling many low-carb enthusiasts are not consuming enough protein
Choose nutritious whole food items over processed and packaged foods.
Eliminate vegetable oils like soybean oil, canola oil, and corn oil.
Choose healthy oils like olive oil and coconut oil.
Eat steamed or cooked veggies consistently.
Allow yourself cheat moments.
Grass-fed cheeses and nuts can be a complementary component to the core fats I listed out above. Going overboard on either of them, especially nut butter, could have a detrimental impact on your weight loss efforts, but by all means, consume and enjoy in moderation.
Dark chocolate can be a fat and antioxidant booster while also serving as a moderately healthy sweet tooth appeaser. Make sure you are buying 72% or higher in cacao quality or else you run the risk of too much junk being contained in the ingredients. Also, stick to a sensible piece after dinner, like the size of your thumb. This will ensure you reap all the benefits of dark chocolate without the diminishing returns of a sugar overload.
Vegetables are our nutrient-dense allies on many fronts of our overall wellness efforts. The beauty of the ketogenic lifestyle is you can now load up your veggies with tasty grass-fed butter or sautee them in olive oil with some garlic.
The carnivore diet enthusiasts have made some interesting observations about the elimination of plants from their diet, indicating certain plant life can have self-defense mechanisms which are inflammatory to those that eat them, but I see too much potential value in items like broccoli to shy away entirely.
Not all carbs are the same, and how and when you consume them can make a critical difference in your results. Mark Sisson created a very handy and comprehensive breakdown of carbohydrate consumption and how it can relate to your weight loss and body composition efforts.
If you have been relying heavily on carbohydrates in your eating, there will be a transitionary period in moving away from the carbs and converting over to the High-Fat concept. MCT Oil supplementation will be invaluable during this transition.
You may feel a little foggy initially and experience what is commonly referred to as the “low-carb flu,” but this is a temporary state. You can and will break through it. On the other side of this transitionary period are cleaner and more sustainable levels of energy and better regulation of your appetite.
If you were a kid in the 80’s and 90’s, then you were subjected to years of wrongful conditioning by the medical and scientific communities. They demonized fat and pushed a diet centered around carbs. This low-fat dogma persisted for years. Distinguished medical practitioners, journalists, and members of significant healthcare entities are slowly starting to acknowledge the science was wrong.
Fats should not be demonized. Even saturated fats, previously only cast by the media in a villainous vein, have been rethought in a much different light as of late. Fats are a vital and key component of health and wellness.
As Judy Mouland from LifeHack rightfully points out, consuming fat:
“Is essential to brain health”
“Keeps your lungs working properly”
“Boosts your immune system”
“Keeps your largest organ healthy” (your skin)
“Is good for your heart”
Fat is good for your heart. Imagine that!
When we favor fat calories instead of carbs, we also convert our bodies to become fat adapted, as Mark Sisson from Mark’s Daily Apple would say. When we become fat adapted, we:
Burn dietary fat for energy as opposed to burning sugar from carbohydrate intake. Sugar is a fleeting source of energy
Reprogram our body to become better at burning stored fat for energy throughout the day, allowing for better appetite management and improved body composition
If you are considering making a move to a ketogenic lifestyle or are already underway, do keep in mind the #1 mistake to avoid and make sure to get plenty of salt consumed in your meals.
All the very best to you.
Are you a keto enthusiast? What kind of challenges, if any, have you encountered in adopting the ketogenic lifestyle. Please do comment. We want to hear from you.