Mounting research suggests nutritional ketosis is the answer to a long list of health problems, starting with obesity.
A ketogenic diet (link is external) is one that shifts your body’s metabolic engine from burning carbohydrates to burning fats. A ketogenic diet requires that 50 to 70 percent of your food intake come from beneficial fats, such as coconut oil, grass-pastured butter, organic pastured eggs, avocado, and raw nuts such as pecans and macadamia nuts. The carbs are very very minimal so your body burns fat for energy. That means there is little sugar in your system blocking the body from utilizing fat in favor of burning sugar.
During this state, the body produces ketones, made from fats processed in the liver.
Ketogenic Diet: How to use Ketosis to Lose Weight, Increase Mental Focus, & Feel Truly Alive!“The end goal of a properly maintained keto diet is to force your body into this metabolic state. We don’t do this through starvation of calories, but through starvation of carbohydrates. Our bodies are extremely adaptive to what you put into it – when you overload it with fats and take away carbohydrates, it will begin to burn ketones as the main energy source,” according to Ruled.me.
Health Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet
Leads to Weight Loss – Cutting carbs is one of the simplest and most effective ways to lose weight. On a ketogenic diet, dietary carbohydrates are kept very low, protein is moderate and fat consumption is increased, gently encouraging our body to remember how to rely on fat as a primary fuel and to produce ketones from stored body fat.
Fights Cancer – Cancer cells love sugar! Sugar essentially feeds tumors and encourages cancer growth. This is why a diet that gets rid of sugar and other carbohydrates can be effective in preventing or fighting cancer. The regular cells found in our bodies are able to use fat for energy, but cancer cells cannot metabolically shift to use fat. One review published in Redox Biology highlighted some of them, indicating promising results for colon, gastric, and prostate cancers. In this paper, Dr. Eugene Fine of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine hypothesizes that ketone bodies stop cancers by changing the availability of energy processes in cancer cells. A preliminary paper from Dr. Fine’s team was published and the summary of results states that “Preliminary data demonstrate that an insulin-inhibiting diet is safe and feasible in selected patients with advanced cancer. The extent of ketosis, but not calorie deficit or weight loss, correlated with stable disease or partial remission.”
Protects your brain – The low-carb, high-fat way of eating has also been linked to helping with other neurological disorders. Research published in Behavioral Pharmacology found ketogenic diets may be effective for minimizing symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. In one study, Parkinson’s patients who followed a 4-to-1 ketogenic diet experienced, on average, a 43 percent improvement in their symptoms after one month. Studies also support the benefits of a ketegonic diet for autism. According to one article, “Autism shares some features with epilepsy, and many people with autism experience seizures related to the over-excitement of brain cells.” Research found that a majority of autistic children showed improvement after following a cyclical ketogenic diet for six months.
Fats and Oils
- Avocado (very high in fat, so I’m including it here)
- Avocado oil
- Almond oil
- Beef tallow, preferably from grass fed cattle
- Butter: try to find organic sources
- Chicken fat, organic
- Duck fat, organic
- Ghee (butter with milk solids removed)
- Lard such as organic leaf lard (make sure it is NOT hydrogenated)
- Macadamia Nuts
- Macadamia oil
- Mayonnaise (most have carbs, so count them. Duke’s brand is sugar free.)
- Olive oil, organic
- Organic coconut oil, coconut butter and coconut cream concentrate
- Organic Red Palm oil
- Peanut Butter: make sure to use unsweetened products, and limit due to Omega 6 content.
- Seed and most nut oils: Sesame oil, Flaxseed oil, etc. These are higher in inflammatory Omega 6 fats, so limit amounts, and don’t heat them.
- 85-90% dark chocolate can be used in small amounts, or use Chocoperfection low carb chocolate.
Sources of Protein
- Meat: beef, lamb, veal, goat and wild game. Grass fed meat is preferred, as it has a better fatty acid profile.
- Pork: pork loin, Boston butt, pork chops, ham. Look out for added sugar in hams.
- Poultry: chicken, turkey, quail, Cornish hen, duck, goose, pheasant. Free range is better if it’s available.
- Fish or seafood of any kind, preferably wild caught: anchovies, calamari, catfish, cod, flounder, halibut, herring, mackerel, mahi-mahi, salmon, sardines, scrod, sole, snapper, trout, and tuna.
- Canned tuna and salmon are acceptable but check the labels for added sugars or fillers. (Exception: Avoid breaded and fried seafood.)
- Shellfish: clams, crab, lobster, scallops, shrimp, squid, mussels, and oysters. (Exception: imitation crab meat. It contains sugar, gluten and other additives.)
- Whole eggs: These can be prepared in various ways: deviled, fried, hard-boiled, omelets, poached, scrambled, and soft-boiled.
- Bacon and sausage: check labels and avoid those cured with sugar or which contain fillers such as soy or wheat. Specialty health food stores carry most brands of sugar-free bacon.
- Peanut butter and soy products such as tempeh, tofu and edamame are good sources of protein, but they are higher in carbohydrate, so track them carefully.
- Whey protein powders, plus rice, pea, hemp or other vegetable protein powders. Be aware that whey protein is insulinogenic (meaning it causes an insulin spike) in the body, so if you having trouble losing weight or getting into ketosis, limit amounts or avoid whey.
- Alfalfa Sprouts
- Any leafy green vegetable
- Bamboo Shoots
- Bean Sprouts
- Beet Greens
- Bell peppers*
- Bok choy
- Brussels sprouts
- Celery root
- Collard greens
- Dandelion greens
- Dill pickles
- Lettuces and salad greens (arugula, Boston lettuce, chicory, endive, escarole, fennel, mache, radicchio, romaine, sorrel.)
- Sauerkraut (watch for added sugar)
- Snow Peas
- Summer squash*
- Swiss chard
Nuts and Seeds
- Nuts: macadamias, pecans, almonds and walnuts are the lowest in net carbs and can be eaten in small amounts. Cashews, pistachios and chestnuts are higher in carb, so track carefully to avoid going over carb limits.
- Nut flours, such as almond flour. I include this because a low carb food list shouldn’t completely exclude baking. Almond flour is a great flour substitute.
- Peanuts are actually legumes and are higher in protein and are also high in Omega 6 fats, so limit amounts and include protein grams in daily totals.
- Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, etc.. ) are also very high in Omega 6 fats, limit amounts.
- Most nuts are high in Omega 6 fats, which increase inflammation in the body, so don’t rely on nuts as your main protein source. I have found that eating too many nuts over several days makes me feel stiff and sore and ruins my mood. I attribute this to the Omega 6 fats. Your mileage may vary.
- Clear broth, bone broth
- Decaf coffee (caffeine can drive up blood sugar)
- Decaf tea (unsweetened)
- Herbal tea (unsweetened)
- Flavored seltzer water (unsweetened)
- Lemon and lime juice in small amounts
- Almond milk (unsweetened)
- Coconut milk (unsweetened, can or carton)
- Soy milk (unsweetened, count protein grams as well)