The keto lifestyle represents a massive shift from traditional approaches to nutrition, dieting, and even eating. Over the last decade scientists, nutritionists, and now finally doctors, are slowly realising the previously accepted ‘low-fat/high-carb’ diet, promoted by medical establishments and governments, is literally killing us. So what would it look like practically to replace this with the new keto paradigm?
As we’ve seen, the process of entering ketosis can be a little slow, especially at first. Because of this, people take ketone supplements to move more quickly into ketosis and to reduce symptoms of keto flu and provide an immediate hit of energy. In this article we are going to review another very popular keto supplement: Medium Chain Triglycerides, or MCTs and look at the best MCT powder, oil & capsules available.
Unfortunately there is a lot of profit tied up in the old way of doing things and perceptions take a long time to change when they have been embedded in our culture and society for such a long time. How we eat has formed part of our cultural narrative with classics like “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” or is addictive sugar causing the diseases requiring medications?!
We have been brainwashed by our education system, medical establishment, dieticians, food manufacturers, supermarkets and more into believing that we need carbs for fuel, and fat it bad for us. So, to make the leap into the evolutionary world of keto and using fat for fuel, we need to ensure you understand key pieces of biology, chemistry and nutrition.
Knowledge is power and with more of it you will be much better equipped to deal with your own internal questions and critique, such as “surely eating this much fat can’t be good for me?” and that of well-meaning doctors and health professionals. Plus, you will be able to combat the deluge of suspicious health foods with healthy packaging and dubious ingredients.
Now you know all about keto you might still be thinking, “well, what do I actually eat?” The simple answer is, that depends on what you want to eat! Keto is a remarkably flexible diet. Using the basic concepts of high fat, moderate protein and minimal carb you can design a diet and lifestyle which suits your needs.
There are a few considerations when planning your keto food requirements. One key thing to remember is that your appetite will be reduced. This means you might not feel like 3 full meals, you might prefer just 2, or maybe lots of snacks instead.
You will also find that your tastes and appetite gradually change and adapt so you need to remain flexible. The best way is to be ‘in tune’ with your body, don’t just eat for the sake of it or because you think you should.
The first meal of the day is when you break your overnight fast, or breakfast. Many people on keto choose to delay this as long as possible. This is for three main reason. Firstly, there are big benefits to fasting, which we will be looking at in the next article. Secondly, delaying eating for as long as possible keeps the appetite suppressed and makes it easier to consume less calories over the day, aiding weight loss. Thirdly, when on keto you will probably not be hungry first thing in the morning.
However, we are all individuals and it is important you work out what suits you from a time, taste, energy and convenience perspective. Many people choose to start their day with a fat-filled coffee. Adding fat to coffee (typically ghee, butter or coconut oil) makes it taste delicious (especially when blended to make it creamy). The coffee is a stimulant and the fat provides the fuel.
Coffee without fat is in the long run pretty draining and tiring for the body. But, add fat and it can keep you feeling full and satisfied for upto 4 hours, or at least until you want some solid food. You can do the same with virtually any hot drink, like matcha green tea or sugar-free hot chocolate. You will find that eating keto requires you to balance nutritional hunger, when you genuinely need to eat, by getting enough fats.
No Such Thing As A (Fat) Free Lunch
Some people find it hard to eat enough fat, especially when things are a bit new, which is why many people choose supplements as an assistant to the keto lifestyle.
When you do choose to eat a meal, or snack, consider the following process. First choose your protein source, for example a piece of meat or fish. Then decide how much you are going to have, for example half of your protein allowance (if you intend to have two meals today).
Then add some ‘greens’ in the form of salad leaves or other green vegetables, make sure you get your micronutrients from fresh leafy greens, or try a green supplement. Now add your allowance of fat for the meal, for example in the form of a sauce, dressing, dip, or just drizzled over. Melted ghee drizzled over cauliflower tastes delicious.
Try not to over complicate your meal and avoid looking for direct replacements: there really is no such thing as a keto pizza. But there are a few tricks, such as courgette noodles (invest in a spiralizer to make it even cheaper), which are a delicious and satisfying replacement for pasta.
To ensure you are getting enough fat, you may need to add some special keto foods to your day, such as fat based snacks called fat bombs, high fat foods like avocados, or simply take some MCTs. It is really important to get enough fat, especially when you want to lose weight, or your body will start to starve and essentially shut down.
In addition to ensuring you have enough fat it is important to have foods you enjoy. As your tastes change you may find you suddenly dislike something you have loved or vice versa. Be prepared to be flexible and honest with yourself. Since food is such a massive source of enjoyment in most people’s lives make sure it is still fun for you.
If you cut out food based enjoyment you will find it leaves a ‘hole’ which needs to be filled with something. Even if you don’t think you are a good cook, making a few simple tasty sauces is really simple and can make all the difference to a bland meal.
Sweet dishes and desserts are something many people miss on keto, but you don’t need to cut them entirely. You can have a small amount of carbs as nut based cake-like treats or by baking with no-sugar alternatives like stevia or xylitol.
But, be careful! Just a few too many carbs and you will crash out of keto. Research some sympathetic recipes and treat yourself occasionally. If you find any that are especially tasty please send them to us and if we love them too we will share it with everybody we know – good keto desserts are very much appreciated.
We really recommend doing some recipe research to gather ideas about what to eat. Find recipes which suit your personal tastes, or adapt them. Seeing the foods people choose on keto may inspire you.
Many websites are selling keto food plans, this is great if you like following rigid instructions. But, they are no good if you want to be able to eat what you fancy in the moment. Instead, how about creating your own keto meal plan by making a collection of recipes you like? Then you will have a list of potential meals and ideas to go to when you need them.
Knowing what you are going to eat in advance, at least roughly, also makes it easier for shopping (cutting the cost and stress) and you can even bulk-cook and freeze if that works for you. So, whether you are a gourmet chef or a master tin can opener: there are keto recipes that will make your mouth water, go look for them.
Finally we need to talk about hydration; this is another important aspect of your day. Water really is the best option, aim for at least 2L per day, or more if you are losing a lot of weight or working out and getting sweaty.
You can also have diluted vegetable juices, unsweetened teas, coffee and cow’s milk or nut mylk (these are also a source of fat and protein). You can get zero-sugar soft drinks and pop, but usually these have added chemicals which despite their claims, can actually increase insulin and make you put on weight, so avoid these.
Another option is adding a few drops of food-grade essential oils to still or sparkling mineral water, this adds a whole new dynamic and the range of tasty oils available is massive, many of them have therapeutic benefits too.
You can also get special ‘keto drinks’ or ‘sports electrolytes’ which contain essential minerals for adding to water, just ensure they have quality ingredients, not just a list of chemicals. Having enough minerals and salts is also crucial to hydration, if you find you are drinking loads but still thirsty it could be electrolytes that you lack!
A popular question about keto is if you can still consume alcohol. Beers, wines and alcopops are packed with sugars and carbs, we recommend cutting them out totally. However, hard liquors have a zero carb content as it is all turned to alcohol, but they still contain calories.
When you drink alcohol it affects your liver. As the liver detoxes the alcohol from your system it produces ketones from alcohol by-products, but the calories from the alcohol slow down weight loss. Plus, regular and extra stress for your hard working liver, and kidneys too, is not recommended.
One benefit for those who like to drink is that you will probably find you get drunk quicker, due to lower blood sugar and metabolic changes. (You may also get worse hangovers, so stay extra hydrated!)
So, there you have it, a day of keto. With a little practice, you will quickly get into keto friendly habits and your new keto day.
Choose your macros and divide them throughout the day
Only eat what you want when you want and research some tasty meals
Find an eating and snacking patterns that meets your needs practically
Make sure you get enough fats and consider supplements for emergency fuel on the go
Drink plenty of water and get enough salts
If you consume alcohol be careful of increased effects and choose low-carb options