We'd like to preface this article by saying that we do not recommend particular diets for anyone that comes in to speak to us. Rather that we are pretty well informed on most structured diet models and can help to support you with your options if you are following one for whatever reason.
We've had a fair few people looking to embark on the keto diet coming in for advice and product in the past few weeks. The programme was originally developed as a treatment protocol for epilepsy and it refers to putting the body in to a metabolic state called ketosis. This is where the body switches from burning glucose from carbohydrate and starch for energy and uses fat for fuel by way of ketones instead.
Now it is often touted as a way to lose weight fast, ramp up your energy and sort out your metabolic issues. This diet is attracting a lot of attention at the moment as people are feeling a little sluggish after nearly a year away from gyms and their usual routines!
As one of us is following this way of eating at the moment too, we thought we'd share some information, advice and recipes for getting started.
The general idea of keto is that your calories will come mostly from fat, moderately from protein and minimally from carbohydrate. For the average omnivore you would be looking at a macro breakdown of:
0.8g of protein per lean (muscle mass) kg of their bodyweight
between 20g and 40g of carbohydrates depending on how strict you wish to be
the remainder of your calories should come from healthy fats
If you're struggling to know how many carbs are in the foods you're choosing, it can be really helpful to track your food using an app like Cronometer or MyFitnessPal to begin with. Cronometer has a setting for ketogenic diets in the profile set up and it will calculate your macros for you! In MyFitnessPal (when we last looked, many moons ago) you can set what you would like your macro intake to be, so you'd just need to work out your ratio or gram value for each macro using the above figures.
It has to be said though that just eating a ketogenic diet alone will not help you lose weight if you are still consuming over your daily caloric requirement needs. You can easily be eating upwards of your 2000/2500kcal needs if you aren't keeping an eye on your total calories!
That said, once you've transitioned over to burning ketones for fuel instead of glucose, you should notice a huge drop in your actual hunger levels! This is because our hunger signalling is largely linked to our blood glucose and insulin levels. So when you take that our of the equation by removing carbs and sugars, you should see an improvement in hunger.
You may have heard of some other 'symptoms' that might occur at the beginning of your keto journey. 'Keto Flu' is definitely a thing. It is the term for flu-like symptoms that occur when your body is switching from burning glucose (those glycogen stores) to ketones. Fortunately, not everyone will experience the keto flu and for those that do, the symptoms can be easily managed. Most people who experience keto flu will have some degree and combination of symptoms such as:
It shouldn't last for more than a few days up to a week. You should be able to manage/limit your symptoms by making sure you get plenty of water, not pushing yourself too hard and making sure you're getting enough electrolytes.
There will most likely be a change in bathroom habits whilst your body adjusts, this is a really good reason to make sure you're including plenty of fresh (well cooked if you have a sensitive digestive system) vegetables. Constipation can be common if you're relying more heavily on meat and dairy than you were previously or if you've drastically reduced your vegetable intake.
Now to start with a little myth busting.
Myth # 1. You have to eat loads of meat and dairy to do keto.
There's a huge misconception that keto is a meat based diet. That's not true. Whilst it can easily include meat, too much meat is actually really counterproductive in a ketogenic diet. Too much protein will knock you out of ketosis and increase your blood glucose! Didn't think protein could equal glucose now did you! When the body is in a glucose poor but protein rich state, it can and will create glucose out of amino acids through a process called gluconeogenesis. So if you're eating a high fat and high protein diet, you could be running on glucose and storing that excess fat as well. Again dairy is perfectly fine on a keto diet, but if you are intolerant or vegan, you absolutely don't have to include it at all!
Myth # 2. You can't eat very many vegetables or fruits on a keto diet.
Wrong again! Some fruits and vegetables can be high in the fats you need and loads of others are really low in the sugars and starches you're not looking for. Our keto colleague is vegan, doesn't restrict herself on green veggies or berries and stays happily in ketosis. You can also use things like freeze dried fruits in recipes to get some of the nutrient benefits of fruits whilst having far lower amounts of the sugars.
Myth # 3. Keto is the ideal diet for everyone.
Er, no. Just no! There is no such thing as a one size fits all, perfect for everyone diet. Everyone has individual needs and for some people keto can be dangerous! For those of you with a fatty liver problem, compromised kidney function, gallbladder issues (including a lack thereof), cardiovascular problems, cholesterol problems, are pregnant or breastfeeding or on medications (including but not limited to; insulin, metformin and all the other lovely diabetes meds, statins, orlisat etc.) you would need to discuss this with your GP or your consultant before undertaking a keto lifestyle! Yes it can be great for metabolic issues, but if you couple a low/no glucose diet with insulin or other blood glucose managing medication, you are going to create a hypoglycaemic state. Please talk to a professional before starting on your own!
Myth # 4. I lost weight in the fist week or so but now keto isn't working.
Actually you lost water and glycogen (your liver and muscle stores of glucose) in those first few days. You didn't lose body fat. If you are still in the first few weeks of keto, give your body a chance to get in to the swing of using ketones rather than glucose. You might also want to track your food intake for a few weeks to make sure you're getting the balance of fat, protein and carbs right. Not to mention making sure you're not eating more calories than you need for your body to burn fat! If you're doing this predominantly for weight loss purposes then you will need to ensure you aren't eating more than you're using. Fat loss will not occur if you are consuming more than you require!
Now for a little fun. We've got some ideas for snacks and fat bombs as well as some resources for you to turn to when you're looking for treat or meal inspiration. We strongly recommend browsing vegan keto resources as they will really open your eyes as to how much fresh produce you can still include in your diet for optimum nutrients and fibre!
Easy Keto Snacks
Some ideas for things to grab on the go:
A hard boiled egg
Nut & Seedy trail mix with cacao nibs, coconut flakes and a few dried berries or vine fruit
Bulletproof coffee (blend your coffee with MCT oil (and grass fed butter if you're hardcore!) and enjoy!)
A small full fat plain yoghurt or unsweetened soya yoghurt with a few berries
Qwrkee Soya Jerky - Salt & Pepper Flavour (the others are higher in sugar)
Small tin of mackerel, salmon or sardines
Crudités with lupini bean hummus
Raw nuts & seeds
Olina's Gluten Free Seeded Flatbreads - Pumpkin Seed with a little nut or seed butter, or cheese, or avocado/guacamole, or Good Good Sweet Jam, or tapenade, or pâté, or lupini bean hummus
For your cookies:
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
2 tbsp Good Good Sweet Maple Flavoured Syrup (coming soon to the shop)
1 tbsp CM Organic Ceylon Cinnamon
Makes 9 cookies
Preheat your oven to 175°C, 155°C fan assisted or just below gas mark 4.
Whisk together your almond flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add your syrup and oil and mix with a spoon or spatula knocking out clumps of dry mix until it's a smooth batter.
Let your dough sit and rest for a couple of minutes as it will soak up the liquids and become less wet.
Whilst your dough is resting, line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and mix your cinnamon and erythritol for dusting (I like to pop them in a small tupperware and give it a good shake).
Use an ice cream scoop to scoop up roughly a tablespoons worth of dough, and roll in your cookie dust.
Pop on to your lined baking sheet and flatten slightly until it's about 2" across.
When your cookies are all ready and dusted (sprinkle any left over dust on top of your cookies before baking because it's wrong to waste these things.....!) pop them in to your preheated oven for 8-10 minutes until the edges are firm.
They will need to cool before eating or you will be left with a crumbly mess. They set up wonderfully when cool though and become lovely and chewy with a slight crumble.
Lemon & Blueberry Fat Bombs
55g Biona Creamed Coconut (melted, the easiest way to measure this out is to grate it off the block)
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
20-30 drops Good Good Sweet Stevia Drops (to taste)
You will need:
A silicone cupcake tray or ice cube tray with large wells
Melt together your coconut oil and creamed coconut, add your lemon juice and stevia.
Pop one or 2 blueberries in the bottom of your cups (if you don't have a silicone tray you can line your cupcake tray with paper liners for easy extraction).
Use a jug to pour your lemony mix over your blueberries equally.
Pop in the fridge to firm up!
Once set, pop them out of their tray and store in a tupperware in the fridge for an easy access treat. They store well for a week in the fridge.
Quick & Easy Burger Buns - recipe from www.thebigmansworld.com
For the rolls:
60g Cream Cheese (use Creamy Sheeze Original Flavour for a vegan option)
380g Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (use Shredded Sheeze Mozzarella for a vegan option)
2 large eggs (use Cracked or Orgran Egg Replacer for a vegan option)
1 tbsp Doves Baking Powder
To glaze and top:
1 tbsp Milk (use plant milk of choice for vegan option)
1 tbsp Infinity Sesame Seeds
Makes 6 rolls
Preheat your oven to 205°C, 185 °C fan assisted or gas mark 6 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
(If using egg replacer, mix up now)
Either using a microwave or bain-marie, melt your cream cheese and shredded cheese together. If using a microwave, do this in 10 second bursts so that you don't burn your cheese! Make sure you stir it together until the shredded cheese is completely incorporated. Allow to cool slightly.
Measure out and fold in your dry ingredients followed by your egg (or egg replacer), bring together with a spoon until a dough forms.
Once you have your dough, lightly dust a work surface (I like to put some baking parchment or a silicone baking sheet down first as this dough is very sticky!) and knead for a couple of minutes.
Divide into 6 equal portions and roll into balls and transfer on to your baking sheet, press into a more burger bun shape.
Glaze each of your rolls with milk (or plant milk) and sprinkle sesame seeds to decorate.
Bake for 14-17 minutes in the hot oven until golden brown on top. Remove and leave to cool completely before using or they will be sticky on the inside and impossible to slice!
Leftover buns should be stored in the refrigerator, covered. They will keep well for up to 1 week.
You can also freeze, slice the buns in half and place them in a ziplock bag and store them in the freezer for up to 6 months.
We like to toast these before using for burgers!
Some resources we recommend for anyone looking for more information on a ketogenic diet or recipes to expand their repertoire:
www.meatfreeketo.com - this is a great place for showing you just how much you can still include vegetables in your diet and proving you don't have to be carnivore or even omnivore to go keto.
The Case For Keto by Gary Taubes - a really interesting book for those looking at the benefits of a ketogenic lifestyle
Anti-Inflammatory Keto Cookbook: 101 Recipes and a Two-Week Plan to Jump-Start Your Healing by Molly Devine, RD - a great source of recipes with a focus on balanced keto eating
Keto Diet: Your 30-Day Plan to Lose Weight, Balance Hormones, Boost Brain Health, and Reverse Disease by Josh Axe - Dr Axe breaks down how to jump start your keto lifestyle with this 30 day plan
Squeaky Clean Keto by Mellissa Sevigny - a great resource focusing on keto from a wholefoods perspective, it can be all too easy to reach for over-processed, ready made keto snacks and this book focuses on recipes and strategies to avoid that blackhole