Achieve Your DESIRED BODY COMPOSITION
Without Depriving Yourself or Going Hungry
By Becoming a FAT BURNING MACHINE
“It was extremely difficult,” he recalls. “You spend your entire life hearing that fat makes you fat and causes heart attacks and strokes. Now, all of a sudden, you’re eating 200 grams of fat per day. There is a huge psychological component to conquer before you can become successful with the keto diet. In the beginning, it’s like trying to convince people 1,000 years ago that the world is in fact round, not flat.”
Wondering what fits into a keto diet — and what doesn’t? “It’s so important to know what foods you’ll be eating before you start, and how to incorporate more fats into your diet,” says Kristen Mancinelli, RD, author of The Ketogenic Diet: A Scientifically Proven Approach to Fast, Healthy Weight Loss, who is based in New York City. We asked her for some guidelines.
If you’re accustomed to a protein intake well over your body weight—let alone lean body mass—you may be skeptical about a diet that demands you reduce protein intake by as much as half. Wittrock can relate.
So you’ve decided you want to try out the high-fat, low-carb diet, better-known as the fat-burning ketogenic diet. Whether it’s to lose weight, have more energy, or fuel workouts differently, going keto is a popular choice right now. But figuring out a keto meal plan on your own is no easy feat, especially since eating a diet super high in fats doesn’t come naturally to many people who are accustomed to the traditionally carb-heavy American diet. (It’s especially hard if you’re vegan and want to try keto.) But this should help: Keto experts explain how to set yourself up for success, plus provide ideas for exactly what keto foods to eat when you’re first getting started. (While you’re at it, check out these low-carb keto drinks that will keep you in ketosis.)
Nuts and seeds are fine. Macadamias and pecans are great fatty nuts. (But walnuts and macadamias can go rancid. Be careful.) Cashews are higher in carbohydrates, so avoid them. For nut butters, look on the label. You want sea salt and peanuts or almonds only. Make sure there’s no added food starch or MSG. MSG really spikes insulin.
Conklin’s fasting therapy was adopted by neurologists in mainstream practice. In 1916, a Dr McMurray wrote to the New York Medical Journal claiming to have successfully treated epilepsy patients with a fast, followed by a starch- and sugar-free diet, since 1912. In 1921, prominent endocrinologist H. Rawle Geyelin reported his experiences to the American Medical Association convention. He had seen Conklin’s success first-hand and had attempted to reproduce the results in 36 of his own patients. He achieved similar results despite only having studied the patients for a short time. Further studies in the 1920s indicated that seizures generally returned after the fast. Charles Howland, the parent of one of Conklin’s successful patients and a wealthy New York corporate lawyer, gave his brother John a gift of $5,000 to study “the ketosis of starvation”. As professor of paediatrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital, John Howland used the money to fund research undertaken by neurologist Stanley Cobb and his assistant William G. Lennox.
Now, Week 1’s shopping list is going to be long. I have to make the assumption you have nothing in your house. Many of the items are common items that most people will have already. These are all staples in my everyday cooking for keto, and should be considered an investment for your health. Once you have all of the items from week 1, there won’t be too much else to buy.
If you want to slam a protein shake post-workout, that’s probably fine as long as you’ve got room for it in your macros. But shoot for one that is very low—like, zero—in carbohydrates. If you struggle to fit fat in during the day, toss a tablespoon of olive oil in with your shake. You won’t taste it, and it gives a quick 13-14 grams of fat.
If you research ketogenic diets, low-carb diets, or even intermittent fasting, you’ll notice they do not put emphasis on fulfilling nutrient requirements. This is where many proponents of keto and IF go wrong—because without enough of the right nutrients you can develop keto side effects.
If you tend to fry things up, try to go after non-hydrogenated lards, beef tallow, ghee, or coconut oil since they have higher smoke points than other oils. This allows less oxidization of the oils, which means you get more of the essential fatty acids.
Typically, anywhere between 20-30g of net carbs is recommended for everyday dieting – but the lower you keep your carbohydrate intake and glucose levels, the better the overall results will be. If you’re doing keto for weight loss, it’s a good idea to keep track of both your total carbs and net carbs.
NOTE: The main exception to ketoacidosis is type 1 diabetics – it can happen when insulin levels are severely low which is rare in someone with a normally functioning pancreas. Dangerously high ketone levels result in insulin secretion.
Dairy is commonly consumed in tandem with meals on keto. Try to keep your dairy consumption to a moderate level. Most of your meals should be coming from protein, vegetables, and added fats/cooking oils.
Insulin resistance can lead to type II diabetes if left unmanaged. An abundant amount of research shows that a low carb, ketogenic diet can help people lower their insulin levels to healthy ranges. Read more on keto and insulin resistance >
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Kossoff EH, Zupec-Kania BA, Rho JM. Ketogenic diets: an update for child neurologists. J Child Neurol. 2009 Aug;24(8):979–88. doi:10.1177/0883073809337162. PMID 19535814
Stop worrying about fat: To lose fat on keto you need to consume healthy fats so you have to get rid of the mental block you have regarding it. You don’t lose weight on keto by feeling hungry all of the time.
High-fat dairy also contains high-quality protein, vitamins, minerals, and conjugated linoleic acid (the fatty acid that has been found to promote fat loss). The combination of these nutrients is essential for maintaining strength and function as we age. By adding just 7 ounces of ricotta cheese to their daily diet, for example, the older participants of a recent study were able to increase their muscle mass and muscle strength. In other words, ask for extra cheese, please.
But in general, the Ketogenic Diet Plan when combined with intermittent fasting can help stabilize your blood sugars and support healthy insulin levels which benefits multiple organ systems. However, when you only do ketosis without intermittent fasting, the frequent eating pattern can put additional stress on the gallbladder.
Option 3: Grilled chicken served with eggplant, yellow squash, and zucchini along with a few tomatoes, sautéed with garlic in olive oil. Adding additional fats in the form of a sauce incorporating heavy cream or coconut cream is a smart choice for balancing macros.
The ketogenic diet is usually initiated in combination with the patient’s existing anticonvulsant regimen, though patients may be weaned off anticonvulsants if the diet is successful. There is some evidence of synergistic benefits when the diet is combined with the vagus nerve stimulator or with the drug zonisamide, and that the diet may be less successful in children receiving phenobarbital.
A ketogenic diet isn’t right for everyone. While many ancestral tribes may have been in ketosis for a few months at a time (e.g., the Inuits during the winter months), most people have not been on a ketogenic diet long term.
The ketogenic diet is calculated by a dietitian for each child. Age, weight, activity levels, culture and food preferences all affect the meal plan. First, the energy requirements are set at 80–90% of the recommended daily amounts (RDA) for the child’s age (the high-fat diet requires less energy to process than a typical high-carbohydrate diet). Highly active children or those with muscle spasticity require more calories than this; immobile children require less. The ketogenic ratio of the diet compares the weight of fat to the combined weight of carbohydrate and protein. This is typically 4:1, but children who are younger than 18 months, older than 12 years, or who are obese may be started on a 3:1 ratio. Fat is energy-rich, with 9 kcal/g (38 kJ/g) compared to 4 kcal/g (17 kJ/g) for carbohydrate or protein, so portions on the ketogenic diet are smaller than normal. The quantity of fat in the diet can be calculated from the overall energy requirements and the chosen ketogenic ratio. Next, the protein levels are set to allow for growth and body maintenance, and are around 1 g protein for each kg of body weight. Lastly, the amount of carbohydrate is set according to what allowance is left while maintaining the chosen ratio. Any carbohydrate in medications or supplements must be subtracted from this allowance. The total daily amount of fat, protein and carbohydrate is then evenly divided across the meals.
There are several medical studies — such as two conducted by the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center for the University of Iowa, and the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, for example — that show the ketogenic diet is an effective treatment for cancer and other serious health problems. (10)
Well, ketogenic comes from the word “ketosis“, which is a state in which your body breaks down fat molecules into ketones to provide energy. This state is achieved through very low carbohydrate intake and higher than normal fat intake. The “normal” state of the body’s metabolism is called “glycolysis”, where carbs are burnt for energy. The long and short is that when your body is in carb-burning mode, it will use all available carbs for energy before it touches stored fat. In ketosis, your body is primed to burn fat, and this is great news for anyone trying to get trim and slim.
Diet soda. You can drink diet soda, but it’s recommended to cut it out completely. Some people report being knocked out of ketosis after a large consumption of artificial sweeteners. Studies also show a link between sugar cravings and artificial sweeteners – cutting the soda out will help curb your cravings.
A common type of intermittent fasting is alternate-day fasting that entails eating only every other day. On fast days, some eat no food at all and others eat a very small amount, typically around 500 calories. Another type is called “16/8 Fasting,”where you fast for 16 hours a day and limit your eating to eight hours. Most often, this simply involves not eating anything after dinner and skipping breakfast the next morning.
All the rage now, fat coffee is kind of exactly what it sounds like. Taking a good quality coffee, and blending it with 2 tbsp of grassfed butter, 1-2 tbsp of coconut oil, and stevia or whatever other zero-calorie sweetener and flavors you like. This coffee greatly boosts energy and suppresses hunger, and it’s frothy and delicious!
“Macros” is an abbreviated term of macronutrients. Your macros are your daily intake of “the big 3” nutrients: fats, protein, and carbohydrates. You can use the following calculator to see what your daily needs will be. If you want to learn more about macros and how they work in relation to keto and our bodies, click here to read more >
Dark green and leafy is always the best choice for vegetables. Most of your meals should be a protein with vegetables, and an extra side of fat. Chicken breast basted in olive oil, with broccoli and cheese. Steak topped with a knob of butter, and a side of spinach sauteed in olive oil.
Still iffy about certain fruits? Double check the carbohydrate counts in a nutrition database to make sure your fruit of choice is not too sugary. The carb counts can really creep up on you if you don’t track and measure. Be careful! Don’t let your sweet tooth take over your portion control or you will kick your cute little butt right out of ketosis.
There is a third piece of the puzzle. Part of getting healthy is getting the required nutrients. Fixing insulin resistance allows you to absorb your nutrients even better, but you still need to eat well to get all the necessary nutrients.
Peppers and chiles. Be very careful when you use small peppers as sometimes they can be incredibly sweet inside. There can sometimes be 3-4g carbs in a tiny chili pepper. When using bell peppers, try to opt for green as red/yellow bell peppers will have slightly more carbs.
Insulin is needed to help cells absorb nutrients such as potassium, magnesium and amino acids (protein). In fact, almost every nutrient is influenced by insulin. Potassium is needed for energy, for balancing sodium in the body, and for all kinds of other important things. We need amino acids for our hair, nails, skin, joints and muscles. We need magnesium for a healthy heart. See where I am going?
Prepping your meals in advance is one of the essential tactics to maintaining ketosis. Allowing your willpower to make food decisions when you’re hungry will seriously increase your chances of grabbing any grub in sight, potentially kicking you out of ketosis. If you’re serious about sticking to this diet and experiencing all of its miraculous effects, remember to devote some time to meal prepping.
People often argue that performance is affected when on a keto diet, but that’s not true. Well, not in the long run. In the short-term, you may notice some small physical performance drops, but this will subside as you continue replenishing fluids, electrolytes, and adapt to the fat intake.
Most of the cravings that we get are caused by sugar. Sugar, at the end of the day, is an industry that’s run on addiction. There have been numerous studies showing that sugar stimulates the reward centers of the brain.
If you have a pork allergy and cannot eat bacon, you can get turkey bacon and turkey sausage. You can also make hamburger sausage and jerky. I prepare Ketogenic and Ketobetic meals for my clients as well as gluten free. So, such situations are commonplace for me.
Now, there’s even evidence that a low-carb, high-fat diet helps you live longer, compared to a low-fat diet. In a study by the medical journal The Lancet that studied more than 135,000 adults from 18 countries, high carbohydrate intake was associated with higher risk of total mortality, whereas total fat and individual types of fat were related to lower total mortality. Total fat and types of fat were not associated with cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction or cardiovascular disease mortality.
This includes, but is not limited to, desserts, artificial sweeteners, smoothies, soda and fruit juice. Even condiments are usually filled with sugar, so put down the ketchup and mayo. If you are craving a dessert, try one of the keto-friendly dessert recipes listed on this site instead.