Before you jump-start your ketogenic diet plan, make sure you know the basics and other important information.
In this article:
A Keto Meal Plan Like No Other
Ketogenic Diet Plan and Carbohydrate Intake
The Danger of Too Much Protein
Low-Carbohydrate Diet Rich in Dietary Fat
Defining Healthy Ketosis
A Ketogenic Diet Meal Plan with Lots of Nutrients
What About Calories in Low-Carb Recipes
Ketogenic Diet Plan Food List
What Is Insulin?
Cellular Absorption of Nutrients
How Do We Lower Insulin with a Ketogenic or Low-Carb Diet
What Is the Best Diet?
How Do You Switch Over to Fat Burning?
The Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet Plan
Getting All Your Nutrients
Ketogenic Meal Plan
Frequently Asked Questions on Ketosis and Intermittent Fasting
RELATED: Healthy Keto Plan START HERE
Ketogenic Diet Plan Overview | Basics of Keto Plan for Beginners
A Keto Meal Plan Like No Other
There are plenty of diets that claim they can help you lose weight, but most of them cause you to feel weak and low on energy. We offer healthy keto diet meal plans that promote healthy weight loss. With our low-carb keto diet plans, you can lose weight without excluding major food groups necessary for your well-being.
Dr. Berg’s free online diet plans consist of low-carb, mostly plant-based foods, and ketogenic diet supplements. This article is your resource page for Healthy Ketosis™, where Dr. Berg takes you step-by-step through how ketosis works, what to eat, and what not to. He also teaches you amazing ketogenic recipes and desserts. You’ll soon discover that this healthy way to burn fat will prove to benefit you way beyond just losing weight. Enjoy!
What Is Ketosis?
The ketogenic diet plan isn’t just the ultimate weight loss plan. It’s also a powerful strategy to improve your health. Let's start with the basics. Ketosis is a state in which the body is using ketones as its primary fuel.
Ketones Definition: Byproducts of burning fat.
Our entire lives, we’ve been told that the primary source of energy in the body is carbohydrates or glucose. This has been proven false. Ketones are an alternative fuel source under certain conditions.
How the Body Produces Ketones
Ketones are produced when the body is low in carbohydrates (glucose). We will discuss this further in a bit. Ketones provide a much more efficient and cleaner fuel source than glucose. Think of them as sourcing the energy for an electric car. You get smooth, quiet, and clean energy. On the other hand, running your body on glucose is equivalent to using diesel fuel - the process is dirty with lots of exhaust. Ketones are produced when the body is burning fat.
An average heathy person carries between 50,000 and 70,000 calories of stored fat. If we compare this to the amount of glycogen, we’re only talking 1,700 to 2,000 calories.
Glycogen Definition: The body’s stored glucose.
Based on this information, wouldn’t it make more sense that our bodies run on fat fuel? If you consider the caveman days and we only had glucose to fuel our bodies, we would all have been dead long ago. This is because the glucose reserves would last 48 hours or less. The goal of ketosis is to switch our body from sugar fuel to fat fuel.
When Ketones Get a Bad Rep
Interestingly, our body’s original fuel source was ketones. It’s only recently that we’ve been using glucose as the primary energy source. This also explains the tremendous baggage that comes along with it. Another interesting point is, as babies, we all ran on ketones—if we were breastfed.1 What does that tell us?
Of course, most mothers have switched to giving their babies the carb-induced, sugary infant formula. This changed the game overnight. For a long time, ketones were believed to be toxic. This is only because in a severe diabetic state, when a person has run out of insulin, the body can generate a tremendous amount of ketones and dramatically increase its acidity. This is called ketoacidosis. However, this is rare and only occurs in a severe diabetic state and in diabetes type 1.2
If you induce ketosis by limiting your carbs, your acid levels will not even get close to a dangerous amount. This is called diet-induced ketosis or nutritional ketosis.3
Ketogenic Diet Plan and Carbohydrate Intake
There are many different types of ketogenic plans, but they all have one common denominator: very low carbohydrates. This means you need to keep your total carbohydrate intake below 50 grams per day. The slower your metabolism is, the lower your carbohydrate level should be. You may need to go down to 20 grams or less per day.
Carbohydrates are the main type of food that affects fat burning, especially when it comes in the form of refined carbs, breads, hidden sugars, and, of course, sugar! You don’t really need carbohydrates to thrive. You need nutrient-dense vegetables. The body does not require carbohydrates for health. As even conventional medical practitioners will tell you, there is no clear requirement for dietary carbohydrates for human adults.
The Danger of Too Much Protein
Protein is the other organic compound that can also prevent you from getting into ketosis if the level is too high. It is generally recommended that you keep your protein intake between 3 and 6 ounces per meal. High-protein diets, such as Atkins Diet, can keep you from getting into ketosis. This is because your liver can only process a certain amount of protein. Anything more than around 30 grams per meal will be converted into glucose (sugar).
Ketosis is not a high-protein diet. It is a moderate-protein diet. We need some protein for supporting structural body parts and replenishing their resources. These include muscle, joints, hair, nails, skin, and organs. When you are reducing your carbs and excess protein, you are influencing the hormone insulin. This is the hormone that determines what fuel source you use.
HIGH INSULIN – GLUCOSE FUEL
LOW INSULIN – FAT FUEL
Insulin not only makes your body use glucose fuel, but it also prevents fat burning.
If we are consuming 2 to 50 grams of carbs per day in our ketogenic diet plan and a moderate amount of protein, what do we eat to substitute the rest of the daily calories with?
Low-Carbohydrate Diet Rich in Dietary Fat
I need to explain fat because we have all been fully indoctrinated that fat is bad and that it will make us overweight and clog our arteries. What’s fascinating is that fat is the only type of food that has almost no effect on insulin. Let that sink in for a minute. All the bad hype you have been hearing about high-fat diets is not exactly true. If you read the studies involving high-fat diets, you’ll discover that 99% of it is a combination of high-fat and high-carbohydrate diets.
When you combine high carbohydrates with other macronutrients such as fat or even protein, insulin will spike dramatically. That deep-fried donut or fatty fries are really fried carbohydrates. If you consume dietary fats with low in carbohydrates, you will not spike your insulin levels. High-fat is safe as long as they go with low carbs.
Defining Healthy KetosisTM
I coined the term “healthy ketosisTM”. What is it? This is based on another principle that I talked about in previous books. You don’t lose weight and get healthy. Rather, you get healthy to lose weight. More than just losing weight or reducing your blood sugar, your goals on a ketogenic diet plan should be getting healthy, making sure you get as much nutrients as you can from what you eat, and making sure you only eat quality food.
I look at ketosis as one strategy or piece of the puzzle. Ketosis is healthy because it allows you to run your body on a cleaner fuel. Being in this field for quite a while, I stumble on all sorts of aspects of ketosis that continue to tweak things or optimize results. For example, if you get into ketosis and release your stored fat in your fat cells, there is a chance you could end up with a fatty liver since all these fats flowing out have to come out through the liver. The way to prevent this is to consume larger quantities of vegetables or salads as a way of keeping your liver flushed of fat. A recent study, in fact, found that the ketogenic diet reduced fat on the liver, inflammation, and fibrosis.
A Ketogenic Diet Meal Plan with Lots of Nutrients
An average body needs between 7 and 10 cups of salad or vegetables to meet the required amount for some nutrients like potassium. Do you realize that our body needs 4,700 mg of potassium every single day? Bananas are too high in sugar and only provide 300 mg of potassium per fruit. Vegetables and salad in larger quantities can provide these requirements without spiking insulin. I recommend a type of healthy ketosis that emphasizes getting your required nutrients. This approach does not only cut your carbs but also provides high-quality food. There are more strategies I will discuss later.
What About Calories in Low-Carb Recipes?
Some things concerning calories are very important while others are very trivial. Most diets emphasize that weight loss is about your calories. “Simply eat less calories, and you’ll manage your weight.” This is emphasizing the wrong things. The purpose of eating is not to provide calories.
It’s about getting your nutrients from those calories. That should be your most important focus. However, to get your nutrients, it does take a certain number of calories. Typically, it could take between 1,500 and 1,800 or even 2,000 calories for an average person to get their recommended nutrients. The healthy ketogenic plan calorie percentages I am recommending will roughly be:
- 5% carbohydrates
- 5% vegetable and salad
- 20% protein
- 70% healthy fats (not saturated fat)
Ketogenic Diet Plan Food List
What foods do you avoid on the ketogenic diet plan?
- Grains: wheat, corn, rice, cereal, etc.
- Sugar: honey, agave, maple syrup, etc.
- Fruit (except blueberries and raspberries as these are very low on the glycemic and insulin index)
- Tubers: potato, yams, etc.
- Bad sweeteners: aspartame, sucralose, saccharine --full of cancerous chemicals and can only spike insulin. Studies show people who drink diet soda are typically obese.
What Foods Do You Eat on a Ketogenic Diet?
- Meats: beef, lamb, poultry, etc.
- Fish and seafood
- Eggs (including hard-boiled eggs)
- Leafy greens: spinach, kale, etc.
- Non-starch vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, etc.
- High-fat dairy: hard cheeses, high-fat cream, grass-fed butter (like Kerrygold)
- Nuts and seeds: pecans, macadamias, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
- Sweeteners: stevia, erythritol, xylitol
- Other fats: coconut oil, high-fat salad dressing, saturated fats, extra virgin olive oil, avocado
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What Is Insulin?
Insulin is a hormone (a body message) that is made by the pancreas, which is located under the left side of your rib cage. Look at it as a key that allows sugar (glucose) into your cells. If insulin is high, no fat will be burned—only sugar. If insulin is low, fat will be used exclusively as fuel.
Insulin does six main things (and a lot of minor things too):
1. Acts as a key to open the door, allowing cells to get sugar fuel
2. Lowers excess sugar in the blood after eating
3. Stores sugars in the liver and muscles
4. Converts excess sugar to fat (especially around the belly) and cholesterol
5. Allows protein (amino acids) into the cell
6. Allows minerals, especially potassium, into the cell
How the Body Makes Insulin
Insulin is the main fat-making hormone, and in its presence, no fat can be burned. In studies, you will hear this explained as “insulin inhibits [prevents] lipolysis [fat burning] in adipocytes [fat cells].” It prevents fat from being released from your cells, so you can burn it off for fuel—meaning no fat loss. Insulin stores fat mainly in your midsection. In fact, your belly size is the best measurement of how much insulin you have in your bloodstream. In this article, I will refer to glucose and sugar interchangeably because they are basically the same thing.
The faster the body breaks down food into sugar, the higher the insulin response is. There is even a scale called the glycemic index that measures this spike of sugar in the blood. The main trigger of insulin is carbohydrates. You eat carbs, and they turn into sugar, raising glucose in the blood. That triggers insulin to whisk in and do its job of lowering blood sugar, as seen in the next diagram.
What does normal blood sugar (100 mg/dl) mean?
When you get your blood sugar level tested,
the normal range is between 80 mg/dl and 100 mg/dl.
What do these numbers mean?
If your blood sugar is normal, it means you have roughly one (heaping) teaspoon of sugar in your blood. An average person has about 1 and 1/3 gallons of blood in their body.
As you can see, we barely need any sugar at all, right? That 1 teaspoon of sugar can even come from non-carbohydrate sources, like protein. We have said that the average person in the United States consumes 31 teaspoons of sugar every day.
Just imagine how hard insulin has to work to remove this massively excessive amount of sugar from the blood! It has to work 31 times harder. That’s insane. Even crazier is that the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends foods that equate to over 50 teaspoons of sugar per day. The American Heart Association, the USDA Food Pyramid, and the Obesity Society all recommend a similar eating plan: high carbs.
Fact: Diabetes is essentially a disease caused by having too much sugar in the blood. Medical texts call it hyperglycemia, a word made from hyper (excess) and glycemia (glucose in the blood).
How can you cure too much sugar by adding more?
How Your Body Copes with Excess Blood Sugar and Insulin
When you consume lots of sugar and have higher levels of insulin on a continuing basis, your cells try to protect you and eventually start resisting or ignoring insulin. Remember, insulin is the key that allows glucose into the cell.
Your cells prevent it from working to prevent excessive sugar in the cell. This is your body saying, “If you’re going to keep eating sugar, I will block it at the cellular level.” This is called insulin resistance, a protective mechanism. Over time, elevated blood sugar and insulin level causes your cells to block or resist insulin. Your body considers sugar to be toxic and will protect you by stopping it from entering your cells. It causes the problem of your cells becoming deprived of glucose fuel. They stay hungry and crave carbs—and so do you.
Since the cells need fuel but cannot get it, the pancreas has to compensate by producing more insulin so the cells can get a little more fuel. Insulin resistance makes your pancreas work too hard. In fact, insulin resistance forces the pancreas to produce five to seven times more insulin than it should normally. We have a situation where the body has way too much insulin in the blood, yet the insulin is not able to do its job in the cells either. The cells are resisting it.
As a result, the body keeps making more and more insulin. These hormones are on a constant feedback loop, sending and receiving messages that say, “Sugar is high—release more insulin. Must lower blood sugar for the body to stay alive.” For more on insulin resistance, see the National Health Institute’s "Prediabetes and Insulin Resistance" page.
Low Blood Sugar
Think about what’s happening. Your cells are resisting insulin, causing your body to make a lot more. With all this extra insulin in your blood, you can experience low blood sugar. This is called hypoglycemia, a word made from hypo (low) and glycemia (glucose in the blood). Hypoglycemia is caused by too much insulin in the blood and is a prediabetic symptom.
Signs of hypoglycemia include:
- Cravings for carbs and sweets
- Being irritable, moody, or depressed
- Vision problems
- Being hungry or dizzy
Your brain is the first organ to feel the effects of low blood sugar.
Note: Your blood sugar can be normal or low because of the compensation of insulin. This can cause your doctor to fail to identify the early signs of prediabetes.
The Makings of Type 2 Diabetes
The problem is that, with a bit more time, the pancreas eventually stops compensating. It becomes exhausted and makes less and less insulin. It allows the sugar in your blood to go higher and higher. The first stage of insulin resistance is normal or low blood sugar due to excessive compensation of insulin. Then, this is followed by higher and higher blood sugar as you lose the ability to compensate for the sugar with insulin.
This is called diabetes.
- Type 2 diabetes is higher levels of blood sugar due to insulin resistance.
- Type 2 diabetics are given a medication to reduce the cells’ resistance to insulin.
- As things worsen over time, type 2 diabetics are put on insulin.
Why? The pancreas is too exhausted to produce it. This problem can easily be caught early if your doctor will test your fasting insulin levels in addition to your fasting glucose levels, but the doctor never does. All this happens gradually and does not show up on blood tests until months or years later. In the meantime, insulin resistance symptoms will manifest in other ways.
These are also the symptoms of high insulin: insulin resistance, hypoglycemia, and the initial stages of diabetes type 2. All these conditions have one thing in common: high insulin. The worst advice to give a person with high insulin is to eat carbs.
In 1971, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommended that your carbohydrates should be 45% of your calories. In 1986, the ADA recommended that carbohydrates be 60%. In 1994, it allowed table sugar, and sugar added to foods, to be part of your total carbohydrates.
Eating carbohydrates is the main trigger for insulin! If you want to lose weight, it’s important to remember that insulin is the main fat-making hormone because it converts carbs into fat. It is especially true for belly fat and visceral fat (fat around the organs).
Fact: If you see someone with belly fat, they have too much insulin!
Now let’s get into some other aspects of insulin that are important for you.
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Cellular Absorption of Nutrients
Insulin is needed to help cells absorb nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, and amino acids (protein). In fact, almost every nutrient is influenced by insulin. Potassium is needed for energy, for balancing sodium in the body, and for all kinds of other important things. We need amino acids for our hair, nails, skin, joints, and muscles. We need magnesium for a healthy heart. See where I am going?
When you have insulin resistance, you not only starve the cells of fuel, but you also become deficient in nutrients and protein! How can you create health on top of this problem? In addition to the substances named above, insulin resistance can create deficiencies in various other nutrients:
- Vitamin A
- B vitamins (especially B1 and B12)
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamins K1 and K2
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Getting these nutrients can reduce insulin resistance. In contrast, insulin resistance can prevent the cells from absorbing them.
Deficiencies Due to Insulin Resistance
One of the terrible symptoms of diabetes is peripheral neuropathy. That’s a condition where the nerves in the feet and hands are destroyed, leading to burning pain and numbness. A diabetic may experience a sensation of pins and needles in their hands and feet. This is a B1 and B12 deficiency. The B vitamins, in general, help prevent the damage from high blood sugar and insulin. It’s when you become deficient that the complications start.
Insulin resistance causes vitamin C deficiency, in which the vascular system becomes a prime target for damage. If there is not enough vitamin C, you lose collagen, which keeps your arteries strong. This condition triggers a cascade of events from increase of bad cholesterol (called LDL) to the formation of calcium and white blood to a bandage (plaque), which is known as a clogged artery. The plaque is the effect of the damage caused by high insulin.
Vitamins A, D, K1, and K2 all reduce insulin resistance. Potassium, magnesium, and calcium also lessen the resistance of insulin by working at the cellular level. This is why the focus on creating health needs to come first, and weight loss is merely one benefit of getting healthy. (By the way, not to get off topic, but did you know that cancer and tumors can only live on sugar?)
Every single one of the problems listed below is caused by chronic high levels of insulin:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease25
- High blood pressure27,28
- High cholesterol27,28
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease29
- Fatty liver30
High insulin is the underlying cause of the biggest health problems we experience today.
How Do We Lower Insulin with a Ketogenic or Low-Carb Diet
1. Eliminate the Sugar
This really does mean eliminating all sugar from the diet. The key is bringing your dietary sugar down to zero. There are acceptable sweet alternatives. The three I recommend that are easy to get are stevia, non-GMO erythritol, and non-GMO xylitol.
- Table sugar (cane and beet)
- Brown sugar
- Agave nectar
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Maple syrup
- Rice syrup
2. Eliminate the Hidden Sugars in Your Keto Recipes
The four hidden carbohydrates that many people don’t consider:
- Legumes (beans)
Grains to avoid include bread, pasta, cereal (even oatmeal), crackers, biscuits, pancakes, and waffles. Even if something is gluten-free, it’s still a grain.
Gluten Definition: The protein in grains.
You want to avoid all grains in a ketogenic diet plan. These include oats, wheat, barley, Ezekiel bread, sprouted bread, and quinoa.
Exception: Small amounts of rye crispbread, the kind with about 4 grams of carbohydrates in each. These are net carbs, which is the total carbohydrate minus the fiber.
Starches to avoid include white and red potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, white and brown rice, corn (even though it’s a vegetable), and cornstarch. Did you know that those puffed rice cereals or puffed rice cakes have glycemic responses that are near the top of the charts?
Fruits to avoid include apples, bananas, pineapple, pears, dates, figs, grapes (and raisins), and fruit juices (orange, grape, and apple juice—even tomato juice).
Exception: Small amounts (one-half to one cup) of berries per day.
Legumes to avoid include beans.
Exception: Hummus, but make sure it’s not made with soy or canola oil.
3. Eliminate the Combination of Sugar or Refined Carbs with Protein
What’s worse than consuming carbs? Combining sugar or refined carbs with protein can spike insulin by 200% or more.
Avoid these combinations:
- Hamburger with bun
- Hot dog with bun
- Protein/bread combos in general
- Burger with fries
- Burger with ketchup (most condiments are packed with sugar, except for mustard)
- Burger with soda
- Sweet-and-sour pork
- Breaded meats
- Beef jerky (unless it has no sugar)
- Deli meats (unless they have no sugar)
- Spaghetti and meatballs
- Eggs and toast
- Chicken wings with sugary coating
- Cheese and crackers (except rye crispbread with about 4 grams net carbs in each)
4. Eliminate MSG (Another Hidden Sugar)
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor-enhancing chemical. It makes food taste better than it actually is. The way it works is it enlarges your taste buds to enhance the perception of the savory taste. It’s in many, many foods at the grocery store and fast-food restaurants, including Chinese restaurants. You have to realize it can be listed under other names too. Modified cornstarch and modified starch are just among its other names. So read your labels. Even commercial cottage cheese has modified cornstarch. MSG can spike insulin by 300%, even though it’s not a carbohydrate.
5. Eliminate Artificial Sweeteners
Avoid aspartame. (Equal is also dangerous, and it’s in many diet sodas.) Avoid saccharine (commonly found in powdered diet sweeteners). Although these are sugar-free, they can spike insulin.
Many people have been drinking diet soda for years without knowing the effects of these artificial sweeteners. Sugar alcohols are much better. Non-GMO erythritol and xylitol are great. Stevia is the best since it has a zero glycemic effect. You can even get soda-flavored xylitol that you can add to water to enjoy the taste of a soft drink without the insulin spike.
6. Switch from Lean (Low-Fat) Protein to the Higher-Fat Version
You have already heard about the scale known as the glycemic index (GI), but you may never have heard of the insulin index.
Insulin Index Definition: This scale rates all the non-carbohydrate triggers of insulin, and the big one is zero-fat protein. One example is in whey protein powder.
This is interesting because we have been brainwashed into thinking that low-fat or lean protein is healthier for you. The fattier the animal protein, the lower its effect on insulin is. Did you get that? The fattier the protein is, the lower the insulin response is. When consuming protein, go for the higher-fat version. These include cheese, dairy, meat, fattier fish, etc. It would also be better to leave the skin on the chicken if possible.
7. Avoid Excess Amounts of Protein
Another trigger of insulin is large quantities of protein. This was one of the issues with the Atkins diet. The optimum amount of protein per meal is about 3 to 6 ounces.
Protein is needed for repairing and providing the raw material for muscle, tendons, joint cartilage, and even bone. It can also be used for fuel. Too much protein, however, triggers insulin, which can be converted to sugar and then to fat. A common question people have is, “Should I not be consuming lots of protein to build my muscles?” The liver can only handle so much protein, and keeping it to a moderate amount is all you need. To build muscle, you also need to have a normal amount of insulin, which is why diabetics oftentimes lose their muscle and become flabby.
8. Avoid GMO Soy and Corn Oil
Unfortunately, very commonly consumed oils such as soy, canola, and corn can trigger insulin resistance. If oil is not organic, it’s likely to be GMO. Try to find a salad dressing or condiment without these oils. Good luck! Soy and corn are often included in animal feeds, so you could also be getting GMOs indirectly through meats. This is another reason to go organic.
9. Avoid Eating Too Frequently
Did you realize that eating in general triggers insulin? It is not a good idea to eat five to six small meals per day. This spikes insulin big time and prevents you from correcting insulin resistance. Snacking and grazing late at night is the worst. The solution to this is intermittent fasting (IF), which we will discuss further.
RELATED: Keto And Intermittent Fasting: The Big Overview For Beginner
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Your body is going to have to switch from sugar to fat as fuel sources and will need a new cellular process to accomplish this. By following this ketogenic diet plan, your cells will change over and adapt. How quickly this happens depends on how serious your insulin resistance is. During this adjustment phase, you may experience some of the following symptoms:
- Keto flu (feeling run-down)
- Muscle cramps
- Kidney stones or gout
- Sleep problems
- Keto rash
To help reduce these symptoms, there are two main types of nutrients you need: B vitamins and electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, and chlorides. Again, for a good B vitamin source, I recommend nutritional yeast, which is packed with virtually all the B vitamins you need every day. Make sure it’s unfortified (that is, make sure it doesn’t have synthetic vitamins added). You can find your own electrolyte powder or use mine. Mine contains 1,000 mg of potassium per serving, as well as all other minerals and trace minerals—but without the maltodextrin (or sugar) that normally comes with most electrolyte powders. To make nutritional yeast easier to consume, I put it in tablets, which you can even break in half to take. My version is non-fortified, with added natural B12.
Go to www.DrBerg.com for more information.
What Is the Best Diet?
My whole mission has been teaching others what to eat to be healthy, but the concept of what food you should eat to get healthy has as many different viewpoints as there are stars in the sky! So the question is this: What is the best diet for you? Why don’t we start with the basic definition of the word food? Eating healthily begins with understanding the definition of food, which gives us its purpose:
FOOD: (n.) that which is eaten to sustain life, provide energy, and promote the growth and repair of tissues; nourishment. [Old English f?da, “nourishment”]
We eat food in order to:
- Provide energy (fuel)
- Nourish the body (meaning to provide nutrients)
Let’s first talk about fuel. You have a choice. Do you know you can run your body on either sugar fuel or fat fuel? You can. Which one is better?
Sugar fuel is like running your body on diesel (dirty fuel). Fat fuel is like running your body on electric power. Most people rely on too many carbs (sugar fuel), which gets them into trouble and which only end ups with blood sugar problems. One out of four people in the U.S. has either prediabetes or diabetes. Between meals, the goal is to run our bodies on our own fat. The best diet for weight loss will be one that allows your body to tap into its fat reserves.
Choosing the Nutrients
The types of nutrients you need for health are vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, proteins (amino acids), and healthy fats (fatty acids). Nutrients are the helpful substances that build body tissues and organs and allow all the chemical reactions to occur in the body. Your body requires certain amounts of nutrients, and those are called Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs). It’s a logical thing to do a diet based on getting these required nutrients, right? Then, it seems we should:
- Eat foods that cause us to use our own fat reserves;
- Eat foods that provide all the nutrients our bodies require.
The ketogenic diet plan that I have put together to improve health uses powerful strategies. The first one is switching your body to run on fat fuel. This is called ketosis. We will discuss more on this in a bit.
Another strategy is intermittent fasting (IF). Intermittent fasting doesn’t sound exciting at first. It even sounds like you have to deprive yourself. However, it’s not deprivation at all, and you are about to find out about its huge health benefits, which go way beyond just weight loss.
Our entire lives we’ve been taught that body energy comes from glucose (carbohydrates). This is totally false. Glucose (sugar) is actually a secondary or alternative source of energy. It was never intended to be used the way we do today. The primary source of energy is ketones (or fat fuel), which is the byproduct of fat burning. Think about it. Your body carries around a tremendous amount of stored fuel—about 70,000 calories’ worth—and that’s on a skinny person. It has less than 1,700 calories of stored sugar (called glycogen).
It will be crazy for the body to rely on the short supply of sugar fuel. Reliance on sugar fuel is why we love to snack all day long. And here’s an important side note. The amount of sugar we need in our bodies to keep the blood sugar number normal is only 1 teaspoon for all the blood in your body (about 1 gallon of blood). That tiny amount of sugar can come from eating vegetables (e.g., vegetarian keto) or even protein.
In reality, we do not need any sugar in our food at all, yet the average person consumes 31 teaspoons of sugar and hidden sugar each day! Our bodies do not have the ability to cope with the toxic amounts of sugar we consume. Just look at what happens to a diabetic: artery damage, vision damage, nerve and kidney damage. Fat fuel is a much more efficient, cleaner, and healthier fuel than sugar. You have a ready supply of it.
How Do You Switch Over to Fat Burning?
It’s actually very simple. You merely need to normalize the hormone that controls sugar. This hormone is called insulin. There are two strategies I recommend to lose weight and undo insulin resistance:
- Healthy ketosisTM
- Intermittent fasting
Healthy ketosisTM is a state in which the body is using ketones as its primary fuel. Ketones are the byproducts of fat burning and a much cleaner fuel than sugar. They are the preferred fuel of the body and brain. Running on glucose is inefficient for the body and unhealthy in numerous ways. It is just a recent way of eating for humankind.
When people try to lose weight, they usually lose some initial water weight and plateau after two weeks. They rarely tap into fat fuel. I recommend a type of healthy ketosisTM that emphasizes in getting your required nutrients, not merely cutting your carbs and eating lots of fat. We will discuss this more in a moment. In the worst form of diabetes (type 1), a condition called ketoacidosis can exist. This is completely different from ketosis.
Ketoacidosis Definition: A disease state where there is no more insulin and acids build up to high levels that are dangerous to one's health.
With ketosis, the pH in the body doesn't even get close to the high levels seen with ketoacidosis. Ketosis is the state of running your body on fat.
The Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet Plan
The benefits are immense—and go way beyond weight loss. By running on fat fuel with ketosis, you’ll experience rewards like these:
- No more cravings7
- Less hunger between meals8,9
- Better memory10
- Cardiovascular protection11
- Normal blood sugar12
- Improved mood13
- Improved cholesterol14,15
- Way more energy16
- Amazing skin17
- Much less inflammation18
- Improved sleep19,20
To get into a state of ketosis so you can run on fat instead of glucose—and finally burn your own fat stores for fuel—you will have to start adapting your body to producing ketones, the body’s preferred fuel source. For some people, this can take as long as six weeks while for others it only takes one to two weeks. If you want to dramatically speed up your metabolism, this is the way to do it!
The key to switching your body to fat burning is to lower your carb intake to 20 to 50 grams per day. People who have very slow metabolisms should limit their carb intake to 20 grams or less. By the way, there is no such thing as an “essential carbohydrate.” Our bodies can do quite well without carbohydrates.21
There are different types of carbohydrates: The good ones are vegetables, fruits, berries, starches (potato and rice), grains, and legumes. Then, you have the bad guys: refined carbohydrates like table sugar, wheat flour, and high-fructose corn syrup. The main carbohydrate I want you to consume is vegetables. Vegetables give us our vitamins and minerals and do not turn into sugar like other carbs. Fruit and fruit juices are the worst. Did you know that an apple contains 19 grams of sugar? Berries turn into sugar much more slowly than other types of fruit, so 1 cup per day is okay to consume.
Intermittent fasting is not a diet. It is a frequency of eating and not eating. When you do not eat, you lower insulin. The less frequently you eat, the less stress is put on the pancreas and the less insulin you produce. It’s something you have to let your body adapt to, however.
This is important because one of the primary triggers of insulin is eating. I am not talking about taking your supplements or drinking green tea or even one cup of coffee in the morning but eating five to six times a day. Let’s not forget, snacking will spike insulin even if it’s healthy food. The more frequent the eating, the more there is chronic elevation of insulin, leading to insulin resistance.
Eating less often without snacks in between meals to spike insulin is the most powerful way to correct insulin resistance. It will even give you a lot of amazing benefits, including anti-aging. I also recommend combining intermittent fasting with the ketogenic diet plan. Doing IF without keto, on top of a low blood sugar problem, is a real strain on your brain. You will end up feeling miserable and moody.
To do this, let’s first begin with three meals per day. No snacks or anything between meals but water, other non-caloric, non-insulin-spiking drinks like green tea, and black coffee. Limit your coffee to 1 cup a day, preferably in the morning, because too much coffee will spike up the insulin.
Keeping insulin at a normal level between meals and during sleep will allow your pancreas to chill and recover. Some people will have a heck of a time going from one meal to the next because they get blood sugar crashes and severe hunger. The good news is, this doesn’t have to be a problem. The solution to this is simply to consume more fat at the end of a meal. This can include avocado, nut butters, pecans, brie cheese, or olives. Fat doesn’t just satisfy your hunger but also prevents frequent insulin activation. You know now that consuming lean proteins and low-fat meals will keep you hungry and make it impossible to do intermittent fasting. The answer is more dietary fat. The next goal is to gradually transition from three meals to two meals a day.
Realize that this is not about lowering your calorie intake; it’s about eating less often. Reducing the frequency of meals reduces occasions for spiking insulin. The secret is to do it gradually. The main reason for going slowly is that your body needs time to build up the cellular machinery to burn fat and switch over to ketones. Gradually push your breakfast later and later until you can skip it altogether. For example, in the diagram below, your first meal can be at 10:00 a.m. and your last meal at 6:00 p.m., giving you an eight-hour eating window.
As you adapt to using ketones instead of glucose, your cravings will turn off, and so will your hunger. There are many different meal schedules that you can use based on the demands of your life. My wife waits until 3:00 p.m. for her first meal and then eats a late dinner around 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. I eat at noon and again at 4:00 or 5:00 p.m.
It is okay to be a little hungry as long as it does not impair your cognitive function or cause headaches or weakness.
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Allow your body to adjust to running on fat. For some true sugar junkies, this can take five or six weeks. Your cells will eventually adjust, and you’ll enter full fat-burning mode. It gets easier to resist snacking because you have no cravings and you’re not actually hungry. Your fat-burning switch is finally fixed.
I’ve found that if you want to lose weight, you’ll initially need more dietary fat with meals; but then you’ll need a little less down the road because you’re running more on your own fat. Some people eventually decide to do one meal per day; but for now, just focus on going to two meals per day. When you get to one meal a day, just make sure the meal is a robust one, containing all the needed nutrients to fortify your body with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, those important fatty acids, trace minerals—all of it. (This can be aided with green drink powders and high-quality electrolyte supplements that will help you get your daily requirements for potassium.) Intermittent fasting is a very healthy thing to do because it increases the anti-aging and muscle-preserving growth hormone by up to 2,000%, giving you some incredible benefits that go way beyond weight loss. It will even help regrow brain cells.
Note: A lot more data on healthy ketosisTM and intermittent fasting can be found in my new book The New Body Type Guide by Eric Berg, DC.
Getting All Your Nutrients
There is a third piece of the puzzle. Part of getting healthy is getting the required nutrients. Fixing insulin resistance allows you to absorb your nutrients even better, but you still need to eat well to get all the necessary nutrients.
If you research ketogenic diets, low-carb diets, or even intermittent fasting, you’ll notice they do not put emphasis on fulfilling nutrient requirements. This is where many proponents of keto and IF go wrong. Without enough of the right nutrients, you can develop keto side effects.
Most of the vitamins and minerals you will need come from vegetables, such as in salads. B vitamins are present in whole wheat, but we don’t want to consume grains because they turn into sugar too fast. There’s a product I recommend called nutritional yeast that is high in B vitamins. Make sure you don’t get the “fortified” or “enriched” type because it has added synthetic B vitamins.
You need both plant and animal foods to get your daily requirements. There are certain vitamins in vegetables—especially the fat-soluble ones—that only come in a pre-vitamin form. This means when you eat spinach, kale or leafy greens, the pre-vitamin form has to be converted into the active form, and you’re only going to absorb roughly 4%. Animal meats have certain readily absorbed forms of these nutrients, which plants do not. Therefore, I recommend that you get these vitamins by consuming animal protein with fat. Just make sure the animal foods are grass-fed and organic.
2. Fat-Soluble Vitamins
Fat-soluble vitamins are specific vitamins (A, D, E, K) that can penetrate your cells much deeper than other vitamins. They also get stored in your fat, which allows you to hold them longer. The best sources of fully absorbable vitamin A are egg yolk, cod-liver oil, fatty fish, butter, grass-fed liver, and grass-fed dairy. Vitamin D can come from the sun, as well as from cod liver oil, egg yolk, and grass-fed dairy.
3. Vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 is another interesting but not commonly discussed fat-soluble vitamin. It is crucial to keep calcium out of the soft tissues (arteries and joints) and in your bones. Vitamin K2 comes from grass-fed dairy, cheese, egg yolk, and grass-fed liver.
Potassium is the mineral you need most, yet it is the hardest to get in the diet. This is because our bodies need 4,700 mg of potassium every single day. Bananas, which contain sugar, only have 300 mg of potassium. You would have to consume more than 15 bananas a day just to meet your potassium requirement.
Avocados and beet tops (beet greens) are preferable because they have lots of potassium and other vitamins and minerals. You can also get your potassium from leafy greens or salads, but you’re going to have to consume larger servings. That one-serving side salad they normally give you at the restaurant is not going to work. Don’t freak out, but I’m going to recommend consuming seven to ten cups of salad per day. This will provide you with a good amount of potassium, as well as most of the remaining required nutrients. It will also counter all the fat that’s being burned up and coming out through your liver.
If you go shopping for salad, realize that 1 cup equals 1 ounce. To give you reference, bags of salad are often 5 ounces or 5 cups. Plastic containers also amount to 5 ounces.
Consuming large salads with spring mix, spinach, arugula, or even cabbage will start to give you the nutrients that help undo insulin resistance. There are numerous studies that demonstrate how various nutrients such as vitamins A, B, C, D, K, potassium, magnesium, and chromium improve insulin sensitivity. Adding in intermittent fasting will also help insulin dysfunction, which is the icing on the cake. (Sorry, I can’t resist that one.)
Below are some examples of amounts of salad:
Ketogenic Meal Plan
Let’s now combine nutrient-dense foods, ketosis, and intermittent fasting to achieve maximum weight loss and a ton of added health benefits.
What to Eat
Most people need to consume between 1,500 and 2,100 total calories per day, depending on the size of the body.
To simplify, the following meal features the carb, protein, and fat ratios based on a 1,800-calories-per-day plan for three meals a day. Of course, this is just for an average adult. Roughly, you will want to stick with these percentages:
- 5% carbohydrate
- 5% non-starchy vegetables and salad
- 20% protein
- 70% fat
The diagram below illustrates the percentage of calories in relation to each other.
What the diagram shows are rough percentages that can vary from person to person based on your body size and activity level. I would prefer that you do not count calories. Remember, the purpose of food is to supply all your nutrients and not to balance calories. Instead, let me show you in picture form the amounts of foods it will take for you to get these percentages.
On average, you will be consuming 3 to 6 ounces of protein at each meal if you are doing three meals per day. What does this look like? See below.
If you are doing three meals a day for the ketogenic diet plan, the following is an example of how much total protein you can eat in one day: between 9 and 18 ounces.
A common question that people ask is, “If I consume fewer meals and the protein amounts dramatically increase, how am I going to keep insulin low since excessive protein spikes insulin?”
The less frequent the meals, the more protein you will need per meal. What happens as you eat fewer meals is that your body will compensate. That is, you’ll lose less protein and become more efficient at using it. If you consume two meals per day, the average protein per meal can be 7 to 8 ounces. If you have one meal per day, the total daily protein amount can be 9 ounces.
You want to keep your carbohydrate amounts between 20 and 50 grams per day. Many people use 30 grams as a simple guideline. Remember, the lower your carbohydrates, the more rapid your fat burning will be. The “carb” category in the diagram includes carbs from foods like berries, nuts, tomatoes, carrots, beets, hummus, avocados, and onions. We can allow for an additional 5% of our total calories to be found in non-starchy vegetable and leafy-green salad-type carbohydrates. The reason I am adding this is to point out that you need to add more vegetables and salad to your diet. When we calculate this, we are using net carbs, or the total carbs minus the fiber. To make it easy, try to consume 10 cups of salad if you eat three meals per day, 8 cups if you eat two meals per day, and 7 cups if you eat one meal per day.
"A key point on corn and soy: Avoid these because most likely they are GMO."
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When you calculate 70% of your total calories per day, the fat may initially seem like a lot. Because fat is more concentrated, a certain volume of fat has more than double the calories of the same volume of protein or carbs. For example, if you were to compare 100 calories of carbs to 100 calories of fat, the fat would be less than half the volume of the carbs. This is because the density of calories is more than double the density of fat. Make sense?
Here are examples of what your total daily fat amounts may look like:
I have a long list of amazing meals and keto recipes. A few of them are pictured here.
As you transition from three meals to two meals or even to one meal a day in your ketogenic diet plan, you will need to consume more fat. There are all sorts of great desserts you can create that support your weight-loss program. There are also keto bombs, which are fat-rich cookies that can be consumed at the end of the meal to make it incredibly easy to do intermittent fasting. Here are some examples:
For more information on dessert type keto-friendly recipes, click HERE.
Frequently Asked Questions on Ketosis and Intermittent Fasting
What Is a Ketone?
A ketone is a byproduct of fat being burned in your body. It is basically a source of energy (fuel) that is an alternative to glucose. Ketones are the preferred fuel for the body as they are superior to glucose. They are also more beneficial to the brain and the heart.
How Long Before I Start Losing Weight?
People often want to start losing weight immediately. Your body has been running on glucose your entire life. Your cells have to build new enzymes—a whole new cellular machine—to break down fat as a new source of fuel. It may happen in a month, but it’s more likely to take at least six weeks. Once you get there, you won’t have sugar cravings anymore. You’ll have better blood sugar. Your memory will be sharper, and you’ll urinate less at night. You’ll also sleep better because your blood sugar won’t be plummeting during the night after sugar spikes.
Okay, I Fell Off the Wagon and Cheated. How Long Will It Take Me to Get Back into Ketosis Now?
It can take 48 to 72 hours if you’re lucky, but it can take as long as 1 week. Now, if you’re in your twenties and pretty healthy, you’ll bounce right back in a day. When you’re older and working on repairing a broken metabolism, it will take longer.
I Started the Keto Diet About a Week Ago. Now I’m Tired Constantly. What Do I Do?
As your body adjusts to fat burning, you will need more B vitamins. More specifically, you need lots of Vitamin B5 to avoid fatigue and help your adrenals and metabolism. Sodium deficiency can also lead to fatigue and weakness. I recommend taking nutritional yeast.
How Can I Avoid (or Get Over) the Keto Flu?
The symptoms of keto flu are headaches, body aches, cravings, brain fog, and fatigue. Just think about what you’re trying to do: you’re converting your entire cellular machinery to fat burning. What you need to do to avoid or heal the keto flu is take more electrolytes and B vitamins. These are the cofactors that help in developing the machinery to burn fat effectively without draining your body. A good source of B vitamins is nutritional yeast. It does not have B5, so you may need to take a B5 supplement. I recommend my electrolyte powder. It has 1,000 mg of potassium and will help provide the 4,700 mg you need to create this machinery to burn fat faster and get into ketosis.
Will Too Much Protein Throw Me Off Ketosis?
Yes, especially too much lean protein—like turkey and chicken, and even lean fish. Egg white without the yolk is lean protein and will trigger insulin more than the whole egg. Normally 3 to 6 ounces of protein is sufficient, and 10+ ounces will kick you off ketosis.
I Heard That on a Ketosis Diet You Eat More Fat. Isn't That Unhealthy?
A lot of conflicting information has been circulated about the consumption of fat. People are sometimes concerned that adding fat to their diets will cause them to gain weight. This is not necessarily the case. Fat is a neutral food when it comes to insulin.
It is also satisfying. Fat makes you feel full longer to help with intermittent fasting (IF).
Are Condiments Bad for Ketosis?
Yes. Ketchup, barbecue sauce, and Asian sauces like duck sauce and sweet-and-sour sauce are loaded with sugar. Eating sugar with protein greatly spikes insulin, which is exactly what you’re trying to avoid. Mustard is okay. Mayonnaise is also okay if it isn’t made with soy. Start looking at sugar grams on everything, especially your salad dressings
Does Ketosis Worsen Adrenal Health?
No. Ketosis allows your adrenal glands to function more stably. It works like this: The adrenal glands make cortisol, which is triggered by stress. Cortisol increases insulin, which will kick you out of ketosis. When you decrease insulin (as with ketosis), you lower stress and lower cortisol. The adrenal glands don't have to work so hard and will function more healthily.
I Love Hummus. Will That Throw Me Out of Ketosis?
No, hummus is great for ketosis. The six basic ingredients of hummus are all very good for you. Just be sure to avoid hummus with preservatives and/or soybean oil. Look for hummus that contains only chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, garlic, lemon, and sea salt. Also, you’ll want to eat your hummus with vegetables, not with chips or pita bread.
Does Ketosis Cause Hypothyroidism?
No, a low-carbohydrate diet is not the thing that causes a slow thyroid. A low-calorie diet, however, can worsen hypothyroidism. Sometimes people on a ketosis diet will find that they’re just not very hungry. If you’re going to do a ketosis diet, you need to make sure you provide your body with enough nutrients.
Will Vegetables Slow Ketosis?
I hear this question a lot. The general answer is no. If you avoid vegetables, which are high in starch, and sugar like corn, beets, and carrots or carrot juice, which is packed with sugar, you don’t have to worry about the vegetable family. In fact, you want to eat lots of green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, and Brussels sprouts. Create big kale salads with bacon bits and a full-fat dressing.
Cruciferous Vegetables Definition: These are vegetables that are part of the Brassicaceae family. Their name comes from the shape of their flowers, which resembles a cross. They are popular for their high nutrients and low-calorie count, making them ideal for the ketogenic diet plan.
Sauté beet greens in coconut oil with some bacon, garlic, and onion stirred in. These will be dishes packed with potassium, which will quiet food cravings like fat. Often, food cravings are nothing more than your body crying out for nutrients and minerals that you’re not giving it.
Should I Count Total Carbs or Net Carbs?
Count the net carbs, which is total carbs minus fiber. You do not have to worry about including vegetables in your calculation. You want lots of them.
Is It Possible to Eat Too Much Fat?
Yes, because it overloads the gallbladder. In the beginning, you are going to need more fat to allow your body to go longer between meals. As you adapt to fat burning and burn your own body’s fat, the need for dietary fat will go down. Realize that during a fasting state, your body’s meal is its own fat.
How Much Fat Should I Eat at Each Meal?
If you’re really battling a high-appetite/high-craving day or week, you may want to add more fat, especially at breakfast. This will trim your appetite throughout the day and enable you to go longer without cravings and hunger. Ketosis, in general, suppresses your appetite, so your hunger will be greatly reduced. You're going to be able to go many hours without eating. Let the hunger dictate how much fat you eat. If you’re not hungry, cut down on the fat a little bit.
What About Keto Bombs?
Keto bombs are fat cookies that ketogenic dieters love because they’re healthy, delicious cheat foods that are virtually devoid of carbs. I have plenty of videos on how to make keto bombs, but you have to eat them with a meal, not as a snack. The goal would be to stick to one a day.
Why Is Ketosis Superior for Weight Loss and Health?
- Ketones are a superior fuel.
- Ketosis produces the most weight loss among other types of diet that I know of, specifically targeting the belly.
- It improves your memory and cognitive function.
- Ketosis improves mood. When running on sugar, you get highs and lows. You’re irritable and grouchy all the time.
- It eradicates cravings and hunger. It’s crazy to try to diet when you’re hungry and have cravings. When you’re running on ketones, you don’t have that fluctuation of blood sugar.
- Ketosis improves metabolism, can repair a set point that is stuck at a certain weight and will allow you to break through that barrier.
- Ketosis improves insulin dysfunction.
So ketosis is very powerful for health and can even help prevent or reverse the effects of insulin resistance.
I Am Not Losing Weight. Why?
You may be losing fat and gaining muscle, which is a bit heavier—thus no actual weight loss. Use your midsection measurement rather than weight as a better indicator of success.
I’ve Heard Ketosis Can Cause Kidney Stones. Is There Anything We Can Do to Prevent This From Happening?
People on a ketosis diet may be at higher risk for kidney stones, but these are easily preventable. Here’s how it can happen. With a ketosis diet, you tend to eliminate more calcium than usual. Additionally, foods such as cruciferous vegetables, spinach, iced tea, or chocolate all have a high quantity of oxalates.
Oxalates are naturally occurring substances found in a wide variety of foods; they play a supportive role in the metabolism of many plants and animals, including humans. Oxalates combined with calcium can cause kidney stones. Lemon juice contains citrates (the substance that gives citrus fruits their sour taste). When you’re low on citrates, you’re at risk for kidney stones.
Add the lemon juice to your kale shake or drink it in water. Try to consume at least one lemon per day (lemon juice or the fruit of the lemon).34 I also recommend taking my electrolyte mix because it contains minerals in their citric form, as in potassium citrate, helping to bind oxalate stones and neutralize uric-acid stones.35,36
I’ve Heard Ketogenic Diets Can Get Rid of Migraines. Is This True?
Yes. Eliminating insulin spikes has been shown to greatly reduce migraines. Adding intermittent fasting speeds this process even more. Your brain will be less stressed using ketones as fuel. Also, most headaches stem from low blood sugars.
What Are the Biggest Mistakes People Make When Doing Ketosis?
Eating too much or too little fat. If you don’t eat enough fat, you won’t be successful because (a) too little fat is unhealthy, and (b) fat helps control the appetite. This is the wild variable that needs to be figured out as you experiment with your body.
Can You Be in Ketosis and Not Show It on Your Urine Test?
There are three kinds of ketones, and the urine is only tested for acetoacetate. As you switch to the more efficient fat-burning process, you convert that acetoacetate to beta-hydroxybutyrate. Yes, your test can show negative or zero ketones. Look at other factors. Are you losing weight? Are you feeling good? If you’re doing 20 grams net carbs a day or less, you’re going to be in ketosis, no matter what.
What About Fruit or Berries on a Ketogenic Diet Plan? Can I Do It?
No fruit but some berries. Apples have too many carbs. Pineapples will create massive insulin spikes.
Never consume fruit juices: Valuable phytonutrients are bound to the fiber, and these are lost. Plus the juice is cooked, removing many other nutrients. You’re basically just drinking concentrated fructose. You can get away with 1/2 to 1 cup of berries a day.
What About Nuts and Seeds on Keto?
Nuts and seeds are fine. Macadamias and pecans are great fatty nuts. (Walnuts and macadamias can go rancid. Be careful.) Cashews are higher in carbohydrates, so avoid them. For nut butters, look on the label. You want sea salt and peanuts or almonds only.
Make sure there’s no added food starch or MSG. MSG really spikes insulin. Two to three ounces of nuts in a given meal should be fine, but useless if you have a gallbladder issue. Seeds are even better than nuts, nutritionally. Chia seeds, flaxseeds, and sunflower seeds—which are high in healthy nutrients, high in fat, low in carbs—are good for you. You can put them on salads or make a trail mix out of nuts and seeds.
Is Gluten-Free Healthy on a Keto Diet?
It’s true that gluten is harmful to the gut. Just because a food doesn’t have gluten doesn’t mean it’s safe. You’re still dealing with the wheat, which turns into sugar quickly. Quinoa, buckwheat, sorghum, millet—all these have effects like wheat, so avoid them.
What Other Things Will Kick Me Out of Ketosis?
- Stress elevates insulin. Stress activates cortisol, which can keep you from weight loss as well.
- Caffeine elevates stress in the body. One small coffee in the a.m. should not be a problem.
- Too much protein can do it.
- Bloating from kale and other types of vegetables that you have trouble digesting.
Is Coffee Okay on the Ketogenic Diet Plan?
Sure, if you’re having about one eight-ounce cup per day, not 15 cups. The problem with coffee is that it is the third most sprayed crop in the world, and it depletes the adrenals. If you’re going to drink coffee, make sure it’s organic, that the creamer is organic, and that you sweeten with xylitol—which is GMO-free and tastes just like sugar.
Is Decaf Coffee All Right?
Be careful with decaf. Companies use the chemical methyl chloride to remove caffeine. You want to buy coffee that is decaffeinated utilizing CO2 and the water processing method.
What About Bulletproof Coffee?
Bulletproof Coffee is coffee with added grass-fed butter and a fat called MCT oil, which is extracted from coconut oil. It’s all right to consider it as a meal, but remember that it can slightly trigger insulin. I think it is good to do in the beginning, as it reduces hunger. For some people, it can slow progress, so it’s good to experiment.
Can I Eat Oatmeal on a Ketogenic Diet Plan, or Will It Bump Me Out of Fat Burning?
Steel-cut oats (unrefined) are better than instant oats on the glycemic index scale (GI). However, they are still too high for keto and will slow you down. Instant oatmeal is around 83 on the GI. It will turn into a lot of sugar, so if you’re trying to lose weight, remember that oatmeal will slow you down.
Is Stevia Okay on a Ketogenic Diet Plan?
Yes, pure stevia is fine. Stevia with maltodextrin is not good, so read the labels.
Will Diet Soda Throw Me Out of Ketosis?
The artificial sweeteners in sodas are bad for you and can also spike insulin. I’m not talking about stevia and non-GMO erythritol or xylitol. I’m talking about aspartame and saccharin or worse. Instead, you can make your own sodas using carbonated water and liquid flavorings containing stevia.
What Can I Do About Ketosis and Constipation?
There are many scenarios that can cause constipation with the ketogenic diet. Most people assume it’s a fiber issue, but it’s not that simple. You want to compare what you were doing before ketosis and after. Look at the change in vegetable fiber consumption. If you don’t have enough gut bacteria to digest all these vegetables, they will cause bloating, constipation, gas, and all kinds of digestive issues. Some people can digest vegetables, and others can’t. Some people can’t digest cabbage or cruciferous veggies.
You may have to switch to less fibrous vegetables, such as various kinds of lettuce, especially kale and beet greens, for your potassium. Electrolytes greatly help with constipation too. If you need more support getting electrolytes, try my electrolyte powder. It helps supply the 4,700 mg a day of potassium you need, which is hard to manage without eating loads of vegetables.
What Do I Do About Bad Breath on a Keto Diet?
When you’re burning more ketones, you can start releasing a bit of acetone, which smells like nail-polish remover. You may release ammonia. Sometimes you get that sulfur smell. For all of these, increase vegetable consumption. Over time, you’ll be more efficient at burning ketones, and a lot less of this will happen. If you’re getting an ammonia smell, it means you’re eating too much protein and need to cut back. A sulfur odor means there’s a gut issue, and you need to regulate your gut bacteria. You should take a type of probiotic called Pro EM-1, which you can find online.
What Are the Best Supplements to Take While on Keto?
There are several healthy supplements that I recommend, most of which can be found on my website. These can help you avoid the side effects that may develop when you start burning your own fat. For example, you can find the following in my shop:
- Electrolyte Powder: This is loaded with electrolytes to provide your cells with the right nutrients.
- Nutritional Yeast: This has all the B vitamins you need and more.
- Wheatgrass Juice Powder: This is packed with vitamins and minerals as well as phytonutrients.
- Insulin and Glucose Support Formula: This supports healthy blood sugar levels to enhance the ketosis state. It will be something to add if your blood sugars have been chronically elevated.
Can I Chew Gum?
This is a minor concern, but yes. You should use xylitol gum.
Is Lemon Water Okay?
Can I Have a Cheat Day?
No. If you want to get into ketosis and stay there, you need to stick to the plan. It can take over a week to get back into ketosis after a sugar slip.
What Do I Do About a Keto Rash?
Typically, this is caused by the liver dumping something. This happens because you’re losing lots of fat, and toxins are stored in your fat. As they come out of the system, these toxins can cause a rash. The solution? Consume more vegetables. Also, try bentonite clay. This clay attracts toxins by pulling them toward itself, and it is excreted through the stool.
What Kinds of Liquids Should I Be Drinking That Won’t Interfere with Ketosis?
- Filtered or spring water
- Bone broth is good even during the fasting period between meals. Too much can slow ketosis for some people.
- Homemade sodas with flavored xylitol—these are great. I have all kinds of videos on them.
- Apple cider vinegar in water is good for helping you manage insulin and for overcoming insulin resistance.
- Unsweetened almond milk
Avoid alcohol and even coconut water.
Can My Cholesterol Go High on a Ketogenic Diet?
When you lose weight, fat cells shrink. In a fat cell, there are triglycerides and cholesterol. Now, as that fat cell shrinks, you can burn triglycerides, but you cannot burn cholesterol.
It will go into the blood, go to the liver, and come out through the bile. You’ll be totally fine as long as your triglycerides are low. (If you’re not using those as fuel, then you’re eating too much sugar.)
What Kind of Cracker Can I Consume?
Small portions of rye crispbread with about 4 grams of net carbs. You can find it online and at some stores.
What Is Ketoacidosis? Is This Good or Bad?
Ketoacidosis is a very dangerous condition that happens only when you’re a type 1 diabetic and have completely stopped making insulin. This results in raising your acid levels far beyond normal. Healthy ketosisTM will not even produce acid levels close to those of a ketoacidosis condition.
Can I Eat Beets, Corn, Potatoes, and Peas on a Keto Diet?
Beets, peas, and carrots are fine in small amounts, so try to limit your consumption. Avoid potatoes and corn.
What Mistakes Are Common with IF?
- Not eating enough vegetables.
- Not eating enough fat at the first meal of the day to keep hunger and cravings away until your next meal.
- Thinking to yourself, “This is working so well that I can change it and eat what I want.”
I’m Losing Weight but Want to Speed It Up with IF. How?
- Take a sufficient amount of potassium. This is the most important mineral to help you fix insulin and burn fat.
- Don’t overeat. Don’t gorge. Add more fat to your meals to curb hunger.
- Get extra sleep because you burn fat during sleep. When you get more sleep, you wake up lighter.
- HIIT (high-intensity interval training, like Tabata, sprints, etc.) burns fat and majorly speeds the metabolism.
- Do it gradually and be patient. Your body is trying to manufacture enzymes, so you can run on fat. This can take six weeks for sugar junkies.
When Should I Exercise with IF?
With intermittent fasting, the whole goal is to burn off excess fat, right? Watch how you feel when you exercise. Do you feel best when you exercise after eating or if you exercise while fasting? Watch if your legs feel heavy or if you tire too easily. Some people do well with eating first while some love that feeling of exercising when they have fasted and having to eat afterward.
Can I Do IF Without Doing a Keto Diet—or Should I Do Both?
Well, if you’re doing intermittent fasting alone, eating lots of carbohydrates and not eating nutrient-dense foods, your skin, hair, and nails will suffer. I recommend doing both as they both complement the reduction of insulin.
Can I Get Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar) from IF?
On the contrary, intermittent fasting improves hypoglycemia and high blood sugar problems. Just go slower.38
Help! I’m Way Too Hungry in a Ketogenic Diet Plan!
Hunger is one way to know if you’re in fat burning. The longer you do keto, the less hungry you’ll be.39,40 If you’re getting severe hunger with weakness and brain fog, you’re not quite into keto. Back off a bit. Don’t go doing 20-hour fasts. You need more fuel to give your body the energy it needs, and that includes energy to manufacture the enzymes to burn fat instead of glucose. Take it slow, add more fat to your first meal, and eat nutrient-dense foods. If you need more nutrients, try adding some nutritional yeast and electrolytes and major amounts of potassium. These will help you fix insulin resistance and help you get into fat burning. Bone broth is great for a snack. It’s just nutrients without calories—period.
Which Boosts More Growth Hormone (GH): IF or High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)?
Although they are both very effective at stimulating fat-burning hormones, intermittent fasting is superior, with its ability to release 2,000% more GH, whereas exercise can only raise it by 450%.41
What About the Gallbladder? Is IF Good or Bad for the Gallbladder?
Intermittent fasting is very good for the gallbladder in all kinds of ways. Gallstones are caused by two things: high insulin and low bile. IF lowers insulin spikes and concentrates bile to make it easier to digest fats and absorb nutrients from the foods you eat. If you’re eating five times a day, you’re using up your bile reserves like crazy.
Can I Do a Keto Diet and IF Without a Gallbladder?
Some people actually grow a gallbladder back. Really!
In general, the ketogenic diet plan, when combined with intermittent fasting, can help stabilize your blood sugars and support healthy insulin levels which benefits multiple organ systems.
When you only do ketosis without intermittent fasting, the frequent eating pattern can put additional stress on the gallbladder. I do recommend my Gallbladder Formula, one after each meal.
Do you have more questions about the ketogenic diet plan? Let me know in the comments section below.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on September 29, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.
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