The Keto Diet has been taking the health world by storm over the last few years. Many might think that Keto is simply a new variation of the ubiquitous low carb craze, but that’s not the case. Keto was first developed as a therapeutic diet in the 1920’s and 30’s to help treat forms of epilepsy. The diet is high fat, medium protein, and low carb, essentially training the body to burn fat for energy instead of carbohydrates.
Since the Ketogenic Diet appears to be here to stay (and is only getting more popular), we thought we’d provide this beginner’s guide to the Keto Diet. We’ve interviewed our good friend Sean Coonce from Pastured Kitchen to chat about Keto. Sean has been using the Keto Diet for several years to help manage his epilepsy is good success. He’s a great source of information for all things Keto! (*Please bear in mind that we are not doctors, so please don’t treat this post as medical advice. Thanks!*)
Read on to hear what Sean has to say about Keto. And if you make it to the bottom of this post, you’ll find our FREE KETO MEAL PLAN!
Give us a general overview, what is Keto?
The Ketogenic Diet was first utilized in the 1920’s to help treat children with seizure disorders. The main focus is to eat in such a way that puts your body into a metabolic state that switches the use of glucose for fuel to the use of fat, the byproduct of which are ketones.
This is achieved by eating a diet of low carbohydrate, high fat and moderate protein. The most common starting point for these ratios would be 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbohydrate.
It’s important to note that food quality is still of the utmost importance. Just like a paleo or primal type of diet, foods such as: vegetable oils, soy products, diet sodas, and legumes should be avoided.
What you should eat on a Keto Diet includes: quality meats, organ meats, eggs, dense leafy green veggies, healthy fats like coconut oil, ghee, lard or butter and smaller amounts of nuts, seeds, and berries.
What is your history & experience with Keto?
I first heard about the Ketogenic Diet way back in the late 90’s actually. A tv movie called ‘First Do No Harm’ came out. It’s based off a true story of a young boy who suddenly starts to have hundreds of seizures a day and all doctors recommend is more and more pills which don’t work. Finally the mother gets him on a Ketogenic diet and he starts to get better.
This film hit home for me back then because of the epilepsy I deal with (although it’s not even close to the severity). I even asked my neurologist about it at my next appointment and unfortunately, the idea was brushed aside. I was told it was entirely too difficult to implement let alone sustain for any length of time, and since my seizures were and are controlled with proper medication, I didn’t need to go any other unnecessary route.
Can anyone do Keto?
The Keto diet can be integrated into anyone’s lifestyle. The only people that would give me pause, is those who have a history of eating disorders. Because the Keto diet is quite rigid in it’s macro ratios, this can cause more harm than good for those with ED history. Those folks would be better suited to deal with and reframe their relationship with food before attempting the Keto diet.
What are some EASY steps to Go Keto?
Similar to implementing the paleo lifestyle, I recommend the kitchen and pantry be cleaned out of any non ketogenic foods, at least for the first month or so. Just so there is no distractions which makes it easier to stay on track.
Once the house is clear follow these 3 Steps to help get you into nutritional ketosis:
1 – Keep carb intake down to 15-30g per day net (net carb g = total carb g – fiber g). Tough to do on it’s face, but if your veggie intake is from dense, dark leafy green veggies like kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts etc. You’ll be surprised how much you can eat by volume and still keep your carb count low.
2 – Drink Water. Seriously. Drink A LOT of water. Ketosis is naturally diuretic in nature so you’re going to be dehydrated quicker. It’s best to aim to drink 1 oz of water (not coffee or anything else) per pound of bodyweight per day.
3 – Replace electrolytes. Because you’re going to be drinking a TON of water throughout the day and due to the diuretic nature of ketosis, you’re going to need to replace your electrolytes or you will feel awful. Put sea salt on everything you’re eating and supplement with potassium and magnesium. Dark veggies are a great source of magnesium and avocados actually contain more potassium than a banana. I personally like to eat half and avocado with some pink sea salt sprinkled on top as a snack each day.
Depending on the rigidity of your adherence to these 3 steps, you should be well on your way to ketosis as early as a few days but it can take longer in some cases.
How long can people do Keto?
I think the duration really just depends on the goal of the individual. For me, I’ll eat this way for quite some time since I’m trying to treat a chronic seizure disorder and it will take some time.
At a minimum, I would suggest people try it for 30-60 days to see how, to borrow a phrase from Robb Wolf, they look, feel and perform before during and after. I will say that a lot of people who give Keto and honest shot, similarly to the Paleo shift, don’t really want to go back because they feel so much better.
You’ve done it to help deal with a medical condition. Which other sorts of medical conditions have you heard that Keto helps with?
So yes, I use a Keto Diet to help with my epilepsy. The Keto Diet has been shown to have the potential to help with a whole myriad of health issues from obesity, diabetes, neurological disorders, alzheimers, mood disorders, sleep disorders and even cancer.
What are some of your favorite Keto resources?
With Keto blowing up like it is, there are really too many to keep track of. Here are some of my favorites that I’ve been using for awhile.
Robb Wolf – Robb has been experimenting with a keto approach for quite some time. He always has great information to share and is well researched. Anyone in the paleo community knows of Robb so he’s a solid source to start out with. http://robbwolf.com
Mark Sisson – Just like Robb Wolf, Mark has been in the whole foods/paleo/primal game for a long time. If people don’t discover paleo/primal from Robb, chances are they learn all about it from Mark and he’s been talking about ketosis for a long time. http://marksdailyapple.com. Here are a couple of Mark’s recent posts: Is Keto for Everyone?—Cautions, Caveats, and Contraindications and Is Keto Bad for the Thyroid?
Jimmy Moore – Jimmy has been in the low carb world for over a decade now. He and I met at the first paleof(x). Back then, there just wasn’t any information about keto around unless you knew where to look and Jimmy pointed me in the right direction. He has a ton of great information on his website http://livinlavidalowcarb.com as well as all of his podcasts. He’s active on social media and will do his best to answer any questions people have for him.
Ketogains – Ketogains is a great all around resource for keto. They have a great macro calculator based on individual body composition, goals, activity level etc for each person to truly dial in their keto plan. ketogains.com
The Ketogenic Athlete – Similar to Ketogains in that physical performance is greatly talked about. One difficult aspect of transitioning to being keto adapted is the dreaded workout ‘bonk’ that can happen. The Ketogenic Athlete gives some great information on how to either avoid this or work beyond it so it no longer happens. There is a facebook group and podcast as well. https://theketogenicathlete.com/
Pastured Kitchen Facebook group – This is a facebook group that I’ve started that is just getting going. Here, we encourage members to share their stories, successes failures etc as well as talk about supplements, exogenous ketones, and recipes. Make sure you introduce yourself and talk a little bit about what you hope to achieve with keto if you join. https://www.facebook.com/groups/251334721938797/
Pastured Kitchen – My website which is currently being worked on behind the scenes to become better organized, is home to over 200 paleo recipes and 80+ keto recipes. http://pasturedkitchen.com
What are your favorite Keto recipes?
There are a few things I make each week without fail because they’re simple and satisfying. One of those being Cajun Shrimp Salad. This will work with chicken just as well. Buffalo Chicken Salad Lettuce Cups is one of my favorite variations.
Another favorite keto dish of mine is Crispy Cauliflower Pizza. I’ve always been a pizza fanatic (one of the first viral recipes I made was the bacon crust pizza) and this gives a great flavor and texture of homemade pizza. Two slices and I’m full and satisfied for quite awhile.
At the end of the day though, a keto meal is quite simple: Some quality protein cooked in some quality fat with some dense green veggies like spinach, asparagus or braised greens. Very similar to the original paleo diet template but stick to non starchy veggies and very limited fruits.
Free Keto Meal Plan
With Sean’s help, we’ve put together a free one-week Ketogenic Diet meal plan. This includes recipe ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner, for a full 7 days. The meal plan also includes a shopping list generator, which you can split out into the most convenient number of shopping trips for you. Simply add each day to the shopping list that you’d like. You can also change the serving size of the recipes in the meal plan, which will adjust quantities on your shopping list.
In addition to the Keto Meal Plan, we also have a delicious week of Whole30, Sugar Free and AIP friendly meal plans, or simply strict paleo meals. You can add-to the meal plans, and modify them to fit your needs, and even include your own easy to UPLOAD recipes. With over 2500 recipes on our site, the meal planning possibilities are limitless! And TOTALLY FREE TO YOU.
How to get the Keto Meal Plan:
1. Register or Login for PrimalPalate.com
You will receive a verification email, which contains a special link you’ll need to follow to complete the registration process.
2. View any recipe on our site and click the gold “+” to add a recipe to myKitchen
These will be stored as favorites, which you can use in the meal planner. (You can also upload your own recipes)
3. Click “myKitchen” in the top menu to access the meal planner
The Keto Meal plan is the first meal plan in the drop down menu, so it’s easy to find. Just click “add to meal plan” and you’re all set!