What is ketosis? Ketosis is a normal metabolic process which your body enters to keep it working. When there are not enough carbohydrates (carbs) from your food for your cells to burn for energy, your body alternatively BURNS FAT. YES … that is what we want! Ketones are produced when the body is burning fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. You can have fun with ketosis urinalysis sticks to see the point where you enter the state. If you are serious about being exact in your readings you would need to draw blood. I have not tried that. You only need to have a ketone level of reading of 1.5 to 3 mmol/L to be in optimum fat burning mode. That is where it will remain when you have got the diet down pat. It is really that easy.
How safe is it? The ketogenic diet is not only safe, it is healing. The positive influence it has with a growing list of conditions is uncanny. It is used to treat Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ADHD, Crohn’s, hunger, adolescent obesity, hormonal imbalances and allergies. In some cases children with epilepsy no longer have seizures. It is used to starve out cancer and reverse type 1 diabetes. This diet is being tested due to its potential to slow the aging process and its markers. Lab rats are living 20% longer on it and neurologists at Johns Hopkins Children Center have been pushing for more use of the diet to test anti-aging treatments on patients. They claim the diet has been sorely underused and would benefit elderly persons with epilepsy. There is concrete evidence from human studies that have been performed over periods of time ranging from 3 months to two years in the past 12 years in the United States that fully justify a low carb high fat diet’s significant benefit to health and weight loss. At least 23 studies have proven that where low fat vs. low carb there is no contest. The weight loss was significantly higher, over double in some cases. In the studies where health conditions were the focus, the low carb diet again excelled. Once the low fat diet was unleashed on society in 1977, the incidences of obesity and diabetes absolutely skyrocketed.
This is HUGE: A low carb diet has proven to be the most effective treatment known for the reversal of all five symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome. What is it? It is the very condition known to predispose people to heart disease and type 2 diabetes! The symptoms are as follows: 1. Abdominal obesity – this is the dangerous viseral fat that lodges around the organs – risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease is significant. 2. Elevated blood pressure (hypertension) – can lead to heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. 3. Elevated fasting blood sugar levels – insulin resistance leading to hypoglycemia and type 2 diabetes. 4. High triglycerides – these are fat molecules in the blood that can lead to heart disease. 5. Low HDL – High density lipoprotein – it carries cholesteral away from the body and to the liver, where it can be reused or excreted – heart disease is a real threat when this is low.
How easy is a low carb high fat diet to start? Very. You only need a few things and the rest will come naturally as you get keto adapted. Since fats are roughly 3/4 of your diet, we will start with them. Fruit oils such as extra virgin olive (ensure it is from a region you associate olives with such as Italy), avocado and coconut oils – ask which are the best quality as the brands vary from one area to another. MCT oil is great as it breaks down easily for digestion. You could just start with one to watch your finances. I recommend grass fed butter (only if you can get your hands on it). Vegetable or seed oils and margarine of ANY type are not acceptable despite what the food guides may advise. They will be revising them to catch up with the times so I have read. To be 100% safe, if there is a heart healthy symbol on a package, you are best to just leave it on the shelf. There may be one small trace of something in it that is okay and the rest should be treated as suspect until you are more educated. All kidding aside this is your health … you have one life and one body so why would you not maximize both? This diet could very well change everything for you. If you are questioning a statement anywhere on this site or just want more detail, you can rest assured it will be enthusiastically elaborated on in a ketowithoutborders.com blog or post. If you cannot find a satisfactory answer, please drop a comment. Drop one anyway.
Moving on to dairy and staying largely in the fats family, at least 18% if not heavier cream is acceptable, cheeses, blue cheese dip, cream cheese, sour cream, chip dip, etc. ensuring you only get full fat. Peanut butter is okay, too. Bet you did not see that coming. It can keep you sated for hours. Almond and coconut butters help add variety. Eggs (get free range or organic if possible) are 2/3 fat (you will want the yolk) and are essential unless it is a plant based diet you require. You can tweet the foods mentioned to tailor your own menu. Vegetarians and vegans are generally well educated in what they need. If you require further help please let me know. It will all come together to make sense for everyone once set up.
You will need some form of salt. Himilayan, sea or table are all fine as long as they are iodized. Check for that. You could get achy joints if you do not get enough. Bone broth can help keep your salt levels up nicely. Magnesium and potassium are staples of many experienced keto’Rs. Ranch and Caesar dressings full fat are good. Mayonaisse and mustard are good condiments to have on hand. Read labels. There are condiments like sugar free ketchup and jams, however, watch the sugar alcohols, especially at the start. Sweet Leaf stevia is okay as is does not raise your blood sugar levels. The next item you need is protein. This will only ride around the 15% mark for your calories in a day. Ensure the meats you choose are fatty and grass fed or organic if possible. Avoid chicken breast unless is is small and you will be slathering it with fat. Best to buy the wings and legs. All unprocessed meats are fine. Try not to buy boxed processed meat unless the carbs are basically zero. We are eating whole, real and unprocessed foods so no starches, sugars or grains, i.e. NO CARBS! Get your carbs from vegetables. Most are fine. Watch your garlic and onion at first as there could be just enough if a singificant helping of both to keep you from entering keto.
Strawberries are low in carbs and can be introduced in moderation once ketosis is established Cauliflower is heaven as you can make a reasonable version of a pizza crust, rice, mashed potatoes, hashbrowns, a salad that mimics potato salad beautifully, soup and the list goes on. I will be giving you some great cauliflower recipes and you will be more than pleasantly surprised. Pizza crusts can be made a variety of methods i.e. from coconut or almond flour or flaxseed so do not despair if you just do not like cauliflower! Drink plenty of water. Coffee and tea count, however, everything in moderation where plain water is at all compromised. Coconut and almond milk and cream can save you from a milk or chocolate milk craving. Cocoa and stevia will help here. Spread out no less 2 litres of water over the day. I hope this is starting to come together for you.
How do I know what is acceptable to purchase? A few simple tips to understand the nutritional facts listed when buying anything are:
1. Foods sold as sugar free may read zero carbs but watch the sugar alcohol levels and type of sweetener used.
2. If there are any carbs on the label, look right underneath them at the fiber count then subtract that number. It will leave you with the correct number you want. These are the NET carbs. The fiber washes through so any carbs from fiber do not count.
3. Careful not to confuse cholesterol counts with carb counts. They can be very close together on the label. I made that error (darned eyes) reading the nutritonal facts on a flaxseed label. Luckily it did not make much difference. This actually would make a good example so here is the label information for 1/4 cup (40)g of flaxseed.
Calories:210 Fat 17g (1.5g saturated, 0 trans fats) Cholesterol 0 Sodium 10mg Carbs 12g Fiber 11g Sugar 1g Protein 7g
THEREFORE THE NET CARBS, WHICH IS ALWAYS WHAT YOU WANT IS 12G – 11G = 1G ONLY!!
Did you know … flaxseed ground up is flaxseed meal.
As far as fat goes, you want it saturated.
TIP: I experience the volume doubling if grinding them at home so if you want to do that you will only need about half of the seeds when a recipe calls for them in meal form. Be sure to experiment. Please note: Flaxseed has a limited shelf life so if you can grind them at home just before they are needed, they will be at their peak.
You shall experience lots of trial and error if you go this completely alone. It is totally your choice. A big part of the development of this site was to help others avoid the pitfalls I hit and also to discover how others are finding the wonderful world of keto adaptation. Learning via give and take is so gratifying and the thrill of each little inch and each pound lost is compounded when you can share that joy with like minded people.
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org