5 Easy Ways to Enjoy a Low-Carb Diet Without Going-Keto
The Keto Diet is all the craze right now. Keto is a buzz word that is thrown around in discussions about diet, but “going Keto” is just that to most people, a buzz word. It takes diligence, perseverance, and dedication to keep your body in a ketogenesis state. As a nutritionist, I understand that a keto diet can be therapeutic for those looking to reduce inflammation or combat the big C, but for most people, it is not a realistic health goal. How can we capitalize on the keto trend without eating fat bombs or testing our pee?
Enjoy Healthy Fat at Every Meal.
This is the cornerstone of the Keto Diet, but you do not have to eat copious amounts of fat to achieve a benefit. Eating fat at every meal creates a meal that is delicious, not only because fat carries flavor, but also because fat is filling. Roasting carrots in ghee means you can actually taste the rosemary that you so carefully added. Eating fat in a meal causes the hormone leptin to be triggered signaling your brain to notify your stomach that you are full. Plus, fats digest slowly, which means when eaten with carbohydrates the carbohydrates are digested slower. When carbohydrates are digested and absorbed slowly, there is less impact on blood sugar and insulin, this contributes to slow and steady energy. Including healthy fats into your diet means eating the healthy ones like: extra virgin olive oil, extra virgin coconut oil, extra virgin avocado oil, and those from pastured, humanely raised animals: ghee, butter, duck fat, lard, and tallow.
Eat a Palm-size Portion of Protein at Every Meal.
Protein, especially protein from animal sources, has a satiating effect. It both triggers an “I’m full” response and digests slowly leaving one less hungry between meals. Eating a condensed version of protein like a grass-fed burger or humanely raised pork loin means less calories are consumed to feel full and satisfied than if you were to expect to feel full eating a starchy protein source. For example, black beans, a primary protein source for vegetarians contains 17 g protein per 250 calories while grass-fed beef contains 31 g of protein per 250 calories. Keep the protein portion equivalent to the size of your palm, about 4-6 ounces for most people per meal. Keeping the portion sizes appropriate allows for optimal digestion and assimilation by the liver and kidneys while leaving room on your plate for other important foods.
Eat Vegetables with Abandon.
Every vegetable is not considered keto friendly, but considering most are low-carb, especially green ones, there is no such thing as eating too many vegetables. The higher carbohydrate vegetables are sweet potato, beet, and winter squash, so if your goal is weight loss, consider eating these in moderation. Some low-carb vegetables to try: leek, cabbage, bok choy, turnips, green beans, chard, and snow peas. Here is a quick and yummy recipe for snow peas: https://realfoodrealhealth.co/2016/07/13/spicy-sauteed-snow-peas/
Sugar is an absolute no on the Keto Diet, even higher carbohydrate vegetables and fruit need to be avoided if ketogenesis is your goal. Beyond keto though, sugar is a disgrace to health. It uses up nutrient stores when processed by the body all the while displacing nourishing foods that could help support the body. Sugar is extremely addictive, even more so than cocaine. It triggers neurotransmitter receptor sites causing you to feel really good, at least for a short a time. After the initial burst of energy and euphoria follows a crash of low energy and irritability. If you seek health because you aim to feel well-adjusted, level-headed, and present, then sugar, like any drug, should be avoided.
Drink Plenty of Water.
The keto flu is what many people experience as their cells transitions from relying on carbohydrates for energy to using fat for energy. A way to help minimize uncomfortable symptoms like headache, fatigue, and irritability is to drink plenty of water. This recommendation, drink water, is a fundamental principal of health, or rather life. Where there is water, there is life. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day to stay hydrated. Drink more when you sweat, exercise, travel to altitude, or drink alcohol.
Health is best experienced over the course of a lifetime and includes making smart choices every day. Crash diets and yo-yo diets may help to shed extra weight fast, but do not build a foundation for health. At the next meal, make a better choice and use it as a catalyst for making nutritional change.
**These recommendations are for educational purposes only. They are not intended as treatment or prescription for any disease, or as a substitute for regular medical care.