What is keto? On the most basic level it is a way of eating that lowers carbs enough that your body starts burning fat and producing ketones – this is being in a state of ketosis.
Your body really loves ketones! It can be a bit of an adjustment for your body (because our bodies are not used to running on ketones anymore) but after that initial adjustment period you can feel great! Energy levels, cravings, hunger, blood sugar, weight loss, and mental clarity are all things that can improve when in ketosis.
It’s been thrown around as a fad and a quick weight loss diet. Yeah, you’re gonna lose weight. What’s fad about it? The term ketogenic diet has been around since the 1920’s. Low carb diets have been around since the 1800’s (William Banting wrote the first low carb book – it was actually a letter called Letter on Corpulence, Addressed to the Public -in 1863). How many years does it take for something to not be a fad? In the low carb world we’re over 150 years…
There is so much information out there and it can get really complicated and overwhelming. You’ll hear that you should be tracking, that you shouldn’t be tracking, calories don’t matter, calories do matter, eat lots of fat, don’t eat too much fat!! It can make something simple insanely complicated.
This is why I think a whole food approach is best.
In my experience the healthiest way of eating is a mix of paleo and keto! (I was joking with my mindset coach that I need to coin my own term for it! Paleto? Ketaleo?)
Tracking can be a great idea when you are starting out to help you see how you’re doing (Apps like My Fitness Pal and Cronometer).
I find the freedom in this way of eating comes from not tracking! My meals are made from scratch with very little processed and packaged food.
I would suggest if you want to track only do it for a week or two. You want to aim for 50g of carbs a day (total carbs, not net carbs). Tracking can become something you obsess over and you’ll start beating yourself up for being a gram or two over in your carbs – that’s not a healthy mindset! That’s why I suggest only doing it temporarily to get an idea of what a keto whole foods diet looks like.
When I’m planning my meals I like to make sure I have lots of veggies, a protein, and a fat. I don’t have goals to meet in regards to my macros. I just make real food. Maybe one day I’m eating more protein than a calculator tells me I should – oh well! An extra slice of bacon is not going to make or break my journey (I’ll take all of the bacon please!)
Neither do I add loads of fat. First of all, my body has managed to store plenty of fat over the years that I can easily tap into now that I’m in ketosis 😉
I do make sure that each meal has some fat happening tho! Avocados, olives, olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, and bacon are all things that are amazing fatty additions to a meal. (Yes, bacon. Eat it, it’s good for you!).
Calories, do they matter? My current opinion (based on my experience) says no. However, I know a lot of experts (including keto experts) say you need to be eating in a deficit in order to lose weight.
From everything I’ve read and learnt calories don’t matter. Your body doesn’t track calories. It doesn’t kick into fat burning once you’ve hit you calorie deficit for the day (that happens in ketosis!). Calories are very much a man made measurement. (Do you know how we figure out what the caloric content of food is? The food item is placed in a sealed container surrounded by water. We incinerate the food and whatever heat is given off by the incinerated food raises the temperature of water. This temperature increase is turned into calories. I don’t know about you but I most definitely don’t have an incinerator in my stomach)
I’ve seen people eat many calories a day and lose weight and I’ve seen people eat in a deficit and lose weight.
Our bodies are so complicated and there are so many factors to weight loss.
So, the answer to do calories matter – I’m tentatively saying no but keeping an open mind!
So what the heck can you eat?
Think giant salads (or as my brother-in-law calls them ‘Anni Salads’), bolognese sauce with zucchini noodles, pork carnitas with roasted veggies, frittatas, chilli, and so much more. Keep the ingredients real and things will start feeling easier.
It does not need to be complicated or expensive. Stay tuned for a regular blog post called Keto on a Budget where I’ll share healthy, delicious, simple and cheap keto meals!
Shredded taco pork salad
Chicken and veggies with peanut sauce
Mason jar chicken and veggie soup