Ketogenic Diet – What Is It?

Hi there, I just wanted to tell you about my last couple of weeks of watching an ultra-interesting docu-series about FAT. It’s called the Real Skinny on Fat the Truth about weight loss. It was 10 episodes with an average of 3 doctors, scientists, PhD’s who talked about why you shouldn’t be afraid to eat fat!

Truth is, we’ve all been lied to for over 50 years about what causes Heart Disease and Diabetes, and if you haven’t noticed, the rates have sky rocketed over the same number of years. Heart disease wasn’t even an issue until after WWII when dietary recommendations started to control how we eat/ate! I’m about to get the book “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet” by Nina Teicholz (from, an investigative journalist whose background isn’t even in nutrition, but she has uncovered some very interesting facts about what the scientists aren’t divulging about this very issue!

A caveat before we get too far along in this – if you are strict AIP, you would have to eliminate some of the things mentioned in this post, so please be advised it may not be for you.

I found out something else very interesting in that a man by the name of Ancel Benjamin Keys was an American physiologist who studied the influence of diet on health. In particular, he hypothesized that dietary saturated fat causes cardiovascular heart disease and should be avoided (cited from Wikipedia),

Ancel Keys in 1945

and now we know he was dead wrong. Unfortunately, for us and the rest of the industrialized nations of the world, he created an environment where we have the most obesity in the history of the world due to his erroneous “findings”. His research has lead to the most devastating health crisis the world has ever known and is only now being exposed for what it is. It all began in the 1950’s and has been being propagated since and it really is time for a health revolution.

I can tell you from my own experience over the past four years that my own health issue has changed the way I eat and has helped me put 45 lbs of extra weight away, where I’ll never see it again! I know I did it slightly differently than what they talked about in the docu-series, but I also know that FAT was and still is a big portion of what I eat/ate. So what does this have to do with the heading Ketogenic Diet – What Is It? Well, it has a lot to do with it and I’ll explain.

This “diet” is being used for Epileptics who are not responsive to traditional medication for their issues, because it is known to help reduce the seizures in those who suffer.

The Ketogenic Diet actual helps your body to start burning what it is meant to burn – Fat not Sugar (quite contrary to Keys hypothesis). This diet is actually Atkins on steroids in that there is a focus on eating fat in the form of foods, like salmon and avocados, and LOW-CARBOHYDRATES but not NO carbohydrates, because your body needs some to function properly. Removing all the “whites” – potatoes, rice, sugar, bread, and pasta, it focuses on eating the right foods to help you lose weight, eat delicious foods, help your brain by eliminating brain fog, and give you more energy to do the things you would like to do. But what can you eat? How about lots of vegetables, a little fruit, lots of good fatty foods, and a little protein.

OK, but that really doesn’t tell you a lot about what this diet is and what it actually does. Here’s the scoop in brief – you are basically returning to what our forefather’s did and that is to eat natural, non-manufactured foods that will help your body burn fat the way it is supposed to. Right now, if you eat carbohydrates (the wrong kind like bread, pasta, potatoes, rice) you are actually storing sugar in your body that turns into the wrong kind of fat and probably in the wrong places – like around your middle. If that’s the case, you will never lose the weight you want to lose.

The dictionary actually defines the Ketogenic Diet as follows: a diet that tends to promote the metabolic formation of ketone bodies by causing the body to use fat (rather than carbohydrate) as its principal energy source. “snacks require a bit of planning when you’re following a ketogenic diet, but there are plenty of tasty low-carb options available”.

Web MD identifies Ketosis is a normal metabolic process, something your body does to keep working. When it doesn’t have enough carbohydrates from food for your cells to burn for energy, it burns fat instead. As part of this process, it makes ketones.

Web MD also says: “Everyone has ketones, whether you have diabetes or not. Ketones are chemicals made in your liver. You produce them when you don’t have enough insulin in your body to turn sugar (or glucose) into energy. You need another source, so your body uses fat instead. Your liver turns this fat into ketones, a type of acid, and sends them into your bloodstream. Your muscles and other tissues can then use them for fuel. For a person without diabetes, this process doesn’t become an issue. When you have diabetes, however, you can build up too many ketones in your blood — and too many ketones can become life-threatening.”

OKI know that’s a bit scary, but if you have diabetes, this diet can help you out dramatically. I also know just how hard it is to turn to something so foreign in your diet that you just sit back and say NO WAY! That’s all well and good if you really don’t care about your health, but I know that’s not the case. I also know that it will help those people who are facing autoimmune diseases, and illnesses that no-one else seems to be able to help with! Saying that though, I still suggest that if you make any dietary changes, you speak with your health care team (nutritionist included) to see if this might be something you should consider. Me, I didn’t ask, I told my health care team what I was doing and had no problem getting their approval to go ahead, and I haven’t looked back since (we are all responsible for our own health). It truly is a life changing experience and YES, I do miss a lot of the foods I used to eat, but have found all kinds of new and interesting foods I had never thought about eating before. And YES I do miss having a drink every now and then, but that doesn’t have to be you.

There has been a serious turn around in the current medical system that really does listen and they (the health care people) are starting to realize how important nutrition is to our health and that they need to start treating the body as a whole machine, not just its parts! The food we eat has everything to do with what happens in this wonderful machine (the body), and the kinds of food we eat in particular.  Fat is the primary thing the body should be burning, not sugar (carbohydrates). By the way, did you know that your brain is about 60% fat! Yup, FAT. So fat is good for the brain (that is GOOD FAT).

What things do you eat on a Ketogenic Diet? Here’s a list of what to eat:

Fats and OilsSaturated fats – butter, ghee, coconut oil, and lard; Monounsaturated fats – olive, avocado, and macadamia nut oils, egg yolks; Polyunsaturated fats – animal protein and fatty fish (NOT margarine or spreads as these are very bad for you and NO Trans fats); try to keep your omega-3’s and omega-6’s in balance by eating wild caught salmon, tuna, trout, and shellfish which helps with omega-3’s – and if you’re not a fish fan, take an omega-3 fish supplement or krill oil (that’s the one we take daily). Cook with lard, tallow or coconut oil, use egg yolk, olive oil or avocado oil to drizzle on foods, and use butter, cocoa butter, or MCT oil to mix in your coffee, snacks. Foods to consider for fats and oils – fatty fish, animal fat (non-hydrogenated), lard, tallow, avocados, egg yolks, macadamia/brazil nuts, butter/ghee, mayonnaise, coconut butter, cocoa butter, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, macadamia oil, MCT oil.

Protein – Whenever possible, buy pasture raised and grass fed meats to avoid bacteria, steroid and hormone intake. Going from high protein to lower protein, the meats/poultry/fish suggested are pork chops, rib-eye steak, chicken breast, fatty fish (salmon, tuna, trout), shellfish (shrimp), ground beef, liver, ground lamb, chicken thighs, eggs, bacon are recommended. You really don’t want to eat too much protein when eating a ketogenic diet as it can lead to lower levels of ketone production and increased glucose production. Choose from these foods – wild caught fish is best, such as cod, flounder, halibut, mackerel, mahi-mahi, salmon, snapper, trout, and tuna – the fattier the better. Clams, oysters, shrimp, lobster, crab, scallops, mussels, and squid. Whole eggs – try to buy free-range and prepare any way you like – fried, boiled, deviled, poached, or scrambled. Beef – stick to fattier cuts if possible – ground beef, steak, roasts, and stew meat. Pork try to eat fattier cuts if possible – ground pork, pork loin, pork chops, tenderloin, and ham. Poultry – chicken, duck, quail, pheasant, and other wild game. Offal/Organ (best sources of vitamins/nutrients) – heart, liver, kidney, and tongue. Other meats, again stick to fattier cuts if possible – veal, goat, lamb, turkey, and other wild game. Bacon and sausage (I eat nitrate free) – check for sugar and extra fillers. Nut butters – almond butter, macadamia nut butter – go for natural, unsweetened nuts, if using peanut butter remember that peanuts are high in omega-6’s so be careful to not over-consumption.

Fruits and Vegetables – be careful when choosing vegetables because there are some that are very high in sugar content, so you don’t want to eat these on this diet, you do want high nutrients but low carbohydrates. Some fruits and vegetables you should consider eating are (carb values are in brackets): cabbage (6), cauliflower (6), broccoli (7), spinach (1), romaine lettuce (2), green bell peppers (5), baby bella mushrooms (4), green beans (4), yellow onion (12), blackberries (8), and raspberries (8). Fruits and vegetables that grow below ground tend to be higher in carbohydrates and should be limited!

Dairy – Although I don’t eat dairy, that doesn’t mean you can’t/shouldn’t, so I’m including the dairy that would be normally consumed on a ketogenic diet: heavy cream, Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, half n’ half, cottage cheese, cream cheese, mascarpone, brie, mozzarella, aged cheddar, and Parmesan. If you consume cheese be aware you may experience a slower weight loss, also if you reach a plateau you might consider reducing the amount of dairy you consume in your diet.

Nuts and Seeds – Nuts are a great source of fats, but you may want to remember they do have a carbohydrate count that can add up quickly also they are high in omega-6 fatty acids, so limiting them somewhat on a ketogenic diet is advisable. The nuts to consider on this program: macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, pecans, almonds, and hazelnuts. Also seeds and seed flours you could consider using – almond flour, coconut flour, chia seed meal, flaxseed meal, and unsweetened coconut.

Water and Beverages – Hydration is very important anytime, but especially when you are dieting. The recommended water is the same as in any diet – 8 glasses of water a day (or more). Due to the fact that the ketogenic diet has a natural diuretic effect it is more important to get as much as up to a gallon of water per day to stay hydrated. Coffee and tea both have weight loss benefits and can help with mental focus. There is a “Keto coffee or tea” you could drink in the morning to help energize you with added fats (you’ll find this in a recipe post) and has a lot of health benefits. Bone Broth is another fluid to drink because it is loaded with vitamins and nutrients you need to support your electrolyte need. Coconut/Almond milk can be added to replace dairy as a beverage. Flavorings such as stevia can be used (I’m not big on artificial sweeteners as they tend to bring on sugar cravings and possible insulin spikes although stevia isn’t supposed to do this but …..) or you can use lemon, lime or orange to your water to help you get the amount of water you need in a day. Alcohol – choose hard liquor instead of beer and wine as they tend to be too high in carbohydrates – however, drinking alcohol will slow down weight loss.

Spices and Cooking – Now something I’m not sure you realize is that some common herbs and spices contain minimal carbohydrates, so you should make adjustments as required. Some of the more common herbs and spices you can use are – cayenne pepper, chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, oregano, basil, cilantro, parsley, rosemary and thyme. You can also use salt and pepper without worrying about the nutritional values.

Condiments and Sauces – Make sure to check the nutritional/ingredient labels on any condiments and sauces you use to find out how much sugar is in them. Some of the condiments you can use (low, or no sugar added): ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, mayonnaise (I make my own), sauerkraut, relish, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, salad dressings (I make my own), flavored syrups.

Sweeteners – As I mentioned before I’m not a big fan of sweeteners, but there are some that do not tend to send your sweet tooth on a rampage, or don’t spike your insulin levels. Some of these are: stevia, sucralose, erythritol, monk fruit, or a blend of some of these together.

Sugar is one of the most addictive substances on the earth, and unfortunately, most of us are exactly that “addicted” making us eat more and more of it to get our taste buds satisfied. But I’m here to say that you can easily get that under control. It may take a bit of doing, but you can do it! How? Well, if you crave: chocolate you need magnesium, so eat nuts or seeds; sugary foods your body needs chromium, carbon, phosphorus, sulphur, tryptophan, so eat broccoli, cheese, or chicken; breads, pasta, carbs your body needs nitrogen so eat high protein meat; oily/fatty foods your body is actually craving calcium, so eat cheese, broccoli, or spinach; salty foods you body needs chloride and silicon, so eat fish, nuts or seeds.

So, now what to avoid – Sugar (soda, juice, sports drinks, candy, chocolate, and ice cream); Grains (bread, buns, pasta, cereal, cakes, pastries, rice, corn, beer and whole grains like wheat, rye, barley, buckwheat, and quinoa); Starch (potatoes and yams, oats, muesli); Trans Fats (margarine or butter replacement as they are really bad for us); Fruit (any large fruits like apples, oranges, bananas as they are very high in sugar); Low-fat foods as these tend to be higher in carbohydrates and sugar than full-fat versions. Please read your labels if buying packaged foods.

WOW, that is a lot of information for you to absorb, but if you are suffering from obesity or weight problems, diabetes, autoimmune disease(s), and many other issues, it’s something you might want to consider participating in to help get your body to a place where you will be happy. It doesn’t have to be a permanent diet, but I’ll probably be doing what I’m doing for the rest of my life, or I can see everything coming back to where I was four years ago – not going to happen! Something to think about.

Have a wonderful day and week ahead.