Fat is not the enemy. A phrase frequently used and favoured by Mark Hyman MD, yet why do so many of us fear it, weigh it, calculate it and obsess over it. We’ve all been there!
Fat being our very good friend should be music to our ears but it may come as a shock to some of you. Somewhere along the way diet culture has us thinking that low fat options are better for us, 0% yoghurts, free from deserts, low cal drinks etc etc. These are often products that are so far removed from wholefoods that what we are left with is pretty un-nutritious. They can cause our blood sugars to soar, play havoc on the gut, cause dull complexions and send hormones out of whack, but although we want fat on our side it’s crucial that were giving our body the right kinds…
You maybe familiar with the keto diet perhaps it’s caught your eye in a magazine or you’ve googled it out of curiosity. If you’re wondering if its right for you and your lifestyle, hopefully I can clear up a few of your questions. The most important thing to remember is that everybody is different, so it’s important for you to find what works for you.
The Keto diet is based on 3 main principles. High fat, low carb, and moderate protein intake. You want to be aiming for 70-80% fat, 20% protein and 5-10% carbohydrates (If that sounds like too little protein for you don’t forget we can wonderful plant sources from leafy greens!)
The theory behind keto & the reason many people use it for fat loss is that by restricting carbohydrates your body will eventually reach a state of ketosis – A metabolic state whereby your body burns fat for energy. This way of eating aims to force your body into using a different type of fuel. Instead of relying on sugar (glucose) that comes from carbohydrates (such as wholegrains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits), the keto diet relies on ketone bodies, a type of fuel that the liver produces from your stored fat. Sounds simple enough? Ketosis can only occur when carbohydrates are kept at very low levels aprox 30g per day. In my clinic I actually prefer a more balanced and softer approach u really important to find what works best for you and your body.
So what can you expect if you follow keto guidelines? You only have to ask around your office, or chat to the guy who works in your gym to hear of someone who knows someone who swears by the keto diet! Once followed with some consistency benefits can include; weight loss, mental clarity, less brain fog, deeper sleep and a raise in energy levels. It can help to reduce inflammation and reset insulin levels (An important one for many that may have succumbed to the low fat/0% propaganda over the years)
Like so many things there are of course pro’s and cons, for many this diet suits them perfectly and for others it would be a struggle. There are concerns that the quantity of fat needed for keto could potentially cause more harm than good but this is where the focus really needs to be on the quality. With approximately a 70-80% fat intake per day it’s crucial that we understand the difference between the good and bad. So what can you eat? A typical keto day may look a little something like this…
A day in the life of a ketoarian-
Breakfast: Spinach and mushroom omelette cooked in organic grass fed butter/coconut oil
Lunch: Pan fried asparagus, watercress salad with salmon
Dinner: Zucchini ribboned pasta with a creamy oconut sauce
Snacks: Berries/nut butter/hummus & crudités
Drinks: Water, green tea, herbal tea, black tea (always opt for organic full fat milk or a good quality unsweetened nut milk, the less ingredients the better)
If this is something you’d like to try I’ve compiled a list below of foods to include and foods best to avoid to get you started. The most important thing to remember in my opinion is to focus predominately on plantbased foods, fill your plate with veggies, focus on good wholefoods, some clean protein and lots of fluids!
Eat: Avocados, nuts and seeds, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, coconut butter, cacao, cacao butter, organic dairy, full fat greek yoghurt, eggs, poultry, fish and seafood, low carb veggies (think veggies grown above the ground) low glycaemic fruits pref berries.
Avoid: Grains, starchy root vegetables, high sugar fruits, processed packaged goods (breads, crackers, cakes, crisps, chips etc) fizzy drinks and juices.
Please don’t be too disheartened as I said before It’s not a one-size-fits-all prescription, and it’s crucial to ensure you’re getting essential nutrients while maintaining ketosis so remember to still eat a variety.
So what do you think would you give it a go? Remember bottom line no food is truly off limit here it’s all about moderate intake, being mindful and most importantly it must be enjoyed! Ketosis is something you could try and I would love to hear how you got on. Without putting a label on anything the high fat/low carb principle is one I do tend follow in clinic and also at home, I use a lot of good fats in my diet but also love my berries and root veg! Find your balance and let me know how you go.