GETTING STARTED | CLEAN KETO FOODS | KETO GUIDELINES | BEST OF CARBS | BEST OF PROTEIN | BEST OF FAT | BOTTOM LINE
If you’re brand new to the ketogenic diet, one of the first things you’ll want to know is what to eat on keto. Fair enough, I’d want to know what I’m getting into before jumping ship. Now that we’ve discussed what the ketogenic diet is (part 1) and what benefits and side effects to expect on keto (part 2), it’s time we break down what it takes to get started. Part 3 of the keto diet masterclass will discuss just that, covering concepts such as calculating macros, establishing guidelines, and selecting the right foods. We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get into it.
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Getting Started With Keto
When beginning your ketogenic journey, the first thing you should do is calculate your macros. Doing so will give you a better understanding of how much you should be consuming on a ketogenic diet. Macros are the foundation of your keto diet. In fact, the most important thing for getting into ketosis and achieving ketogenic success is to get your macros right.
What are macros?
Macros is a term that’s often thrown around in the ketogenic community. The term macros is short for macronutrients. And macronutrients are the energy-giving components of food that fuel our body. They include carbohydrates, protein, and fat (1).
This is a basic breakdown of macros on the ketogenic diet (2):
- 70-80% of your dietary intake should be derived from fat.
- 10-20% of your dietary intake should be derived from protein.
- 5-10% of your dietary intake should be derived from carbohydrates.
But how do you know if you’re consuming the appropriate percentages?
Proper keto calculation takes into account a number of factors such as sex, age, height, body fat percentage, activity level, and caloric deficit. It’s possible to calculate your calorie breakdown by hand, but the process requires math (not my strong suit). Using an online calculator is a much easier solution.
Their keto calculator accounts for age, sex, activity levels, weight-loss goals, amongst other important factors. What’s more, unlike many other web-based keto calculators, their calculator provides you with informative visual guides in case you get stuck. Nice!
Understanding macros is paramount to achieving ketogenic success. If you’re having trouble calculating your macros take advantage of my complimentary coaching call and let me do the work for you!
What to Eat on Clean Keto
Once you’ve got a handle on your macros, the next thing on the agenda is to determine what you should be eating on a clean ketogenic diet. First off, let’s discuss what I mean by clean keto.
What Sets Clean Keto Apart From Dirty Keto?
Before moving forward, you should know that the discussion of clean keto versus dirty keto warrants a separate post entirely. In summary, there are two very different ways of approaching the ketogenic diet. There’s clean keto, and then there’s dirty keto.
What is Dirty Keto?
Essentially, dirty keto is the ketogenic diet gone wrong— it involves eating the wrong fats and cutting the wrong carbs (3). Dirty keto will help you lose weight, but doesn’t promote overall health and longevity (4).
What is Clean Keto?
Clean keto, on the other hand, is about eating nutrient-dense, whole foods— such as leafy greens, consciously sourced proteins, and unprocessed fats.
To cash in on ALL the benefits keto has to offer (HULK-like energy, disease prevention, longevity, etc.), you must incorporate clean ketogenic foods into your diet (5).
Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s begin by laying down some ground rules. The following is a list of 3 basic ketogenic guidelines.
3 Ketogenic Guidelines
1. Eliminate sugar and starch from your diet
As I mentioned, the most important thing for getting into ketosis and achieving ketogenic success is to get your macros right. And the most important one to get right is carbohydrates. On keto, carbs should count for 5-10% of your total dietary intake. For most, this falls between 20 and 30 grams of carbs per day. The most important thing to note about this guideline is that 10% is the upper threshold. Meaning, carbohydrates are a limit. Exceeding your daily limit can effectively throw you out of ketosis. Unfortunately, that 5-10% window does not involve sugar or starch. Ideally, your carbohydrates should come from low-sugar vegetables— more on that later.
Let’s be honest, guideline number one is fully loaded and the most difficult to master. Essentially, the ketogenic diet is a sugar elimination diet— and kicking sugar is no easy feat! In fact, it can be SO challenging that I’ve developed a comprehensive online program to help you through the process.
2. Consume Moderate Amounts of Protein
The second keto guideline involves reserving 10-20% of your dietary intake for protein. Unlike carbohydrates, protein is a goal. Work on hitting your daily protein count— protein is going to help keep you satiated. And the more satiated you are, the easier it will be to control your cravings.
3. Include healthy fats at every meal
The third keto guideline reserves 70-80% of your dietary intake for fat. Fat serves as a lever. Meaning, as long as you’re trying to lose weight, you don’t need to hit your daily fat intake. Fat should be appropriately added to meals to curb cravings and promote satiety (6).
Remember, if the body’s not fueling off sugar and starch, it will effectively feast off fat. But that’s exactly where things could go wrong. Many keto enthusiasts play up the fact that the ketogenic diet is basically a fat feast. Meaning, as long as you’re tossing out the bun, you can have your greasy burger with American cheese or deep-fried hot wings dipped in Hidden Valley Ranch.
Here’s the deal. You can absolutely maintain ketosis and shred weight by consuming any of the meals I listed above. In fact, I’ve put many of them to the test on my cheat days. The only problem is, there’s nothing healthy about it. Yes, you’ll continue to lose weight, but you’ll also continue to promote inflammation— increasing your risk for heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes (amongst other conditions) (7, 8, 9). So the key is, you must feast on the right fats.
Which Carbohydrates are Best?
If you’re brand new to this keto thing you might be thinking, “So about that 20g of carbs per day? Does that mean that I can have a handful of french fries or a couple of Oreos?”
It can be tempting to blow your carb count on something “naughty.” But blowing your carb count on nutrient-void sugars and starches will slow your progress and compromise your health. Clean keto assumes your carb count is reserved for low-sugar veggies.
Unfortunately, you’ll quickly discover carbohydrates are hiding in almost EVERYTHING. Avocados, onions, dairy, garlic, even coffee has carbs. Let’s have a quick look at some of the best choice carbohydrates.
3 Best-Choice Carbs
1. Green Leafys Are Best!
As a general rule of thumb, the greener the leaf, the healthier it is for you. So no, iceberg lettuce is not going to cut it. Here is a list of some choice green leafys along with an acclaimed health benefit (10).
- Arugula – anti-cancer + anti-diabetic
- Collard greens – lowers cholesterol
- Dandelion – purifies blood
- Kale – reduces risk of heart disease
- Red leaf lettuce – strengthens bones
- Spinach – suppresses appetite
- Swiss chard – antioxidant rich
- Turnip greens – reduces risk of osteoporosis
- Watercress – anti-aging
3. Eat High-Fiber Veggies
The soluble fiber in fiber-rich carbs slows digestion, prolongs satiety, and promotes balanced blood sugar (11). But we’re not talking about “healthy” whole grains here. We’re talking vegetables such as:
- Brussels sprouts
- Fresh peas
- Spaghetti squash
- Snap peas
3. Eat enough Alkaline
Alkaline and acidic are terms associated with pH balance. How the body reacts to certain foods is what determines whether foods are alkaline-forming or acid-forming. Research shows that diets consisting of highly alkaline foods result in an increase in alkalinity, which helps protect healthy cells and balance essential mineral levels (12). Therefore, I recommend turning the following list of alkaline vegetables into dietary staples.
- Herbs (basil, mint, parsley, cilantro, etc.)
- Sea Vegetables (wakame, kelp, spirulina, etc.)
Now, there are all sorts of veggies I made no mention of. That doesn’t mean they’re off the table, I just didn’t want to keep you here all day with my ‘best of veggies’ lists.
Let’s move on to protein.
Which Proteins are Best?
Whether you’re a carnivore or herbivore, keto has got you covered because ALL protein is fair game on the ketogenic diet.
The topic of protein is a loaded one, and the best choices are still up for debate. I’m biased towards conscious carnivorism. Therefore, I would say your best choices are humanely sourced animal meats with the highest nutrient profiles (13).
- Animal organs— especially the liver. Liver is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet!
- Bone marrow—rich in collagen, and conjugated linoleic acid
- Salmon roe— excellent source of omega-3
- Salmon filet— high in vitamin B-12 and omega-3
- Egg yolks— great source of choline (brain food)
- Brains— hard to get your hands on, but the BEST source of DHA omega-3
- Cartilage— gristle contains cartilage, and cartilage is a quality source of collagen
- Grass-fed beef— especially fatty cuts such as ribeyes, or New York strip steaks
- Bone broth— good source of collagen
3 Categories of Ketogenic Proteins
1. Conscious Carnivores
Just like vegetables, not all meat is created equal. It’s important to select animals (and their parts) that provide the highest nutritional content. That means purchasing consciously sourced products (more on that in a minute) and eating nose-to-tail.
For more information on where to purchase consciously sourced meat head to ASPCA.org.
- Animal organs (liver, heart, kidneys, etc.)
- Beef— especially nice marbleized cuts such as ribeyes or strip steaks
- Chicken (skin, thighs, legs, and breasts)
- Eggs, including the yolk
- Pork (chops, bacon, sausage, etc.)
- Raw cheese
The following is a list of potential protein options for pescatarians. These recommendations can be found on the National Consumers List of Best Choices provided by SeafoodWatch.org.
- Farmed abalone
- Farmed arctic char
- Farm-raised clams
- King, snow & tanner crab
- US lionfish
- Farm-raised mussels
- Canadian or farmed oysters
- Canadian or US prawns
- New Zealand salmon, which is amazing by the way
- Farmed scallops
- US farmed shrimp
- As well as albacore tuna
3. Plant-based protein for Ketotarians
As for the vegans out there, you’ll likely rely heavily on nuts and seeds. Vegetarians have a bit more flexibility with the addition of raw cheese and eggs. Be sure to select nuts and seeds that are high in fat and low in carbohydrates.
For more information on what it takes to be a healthy Ketotarian head to DrWillCole.com.
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Macadamia nuts
- Pili nuts
- Pumpkin seeds
- Raw cheese
- Sunflower seeds
What You Need to Know About Consciously Sourced Meat
It’s okay if you’re not 100% about purchasing organic vegetables or unadulterated ketogenic products. Alternatively, I would encourage you to be as vigilant as possible with your protein choices. Strive for consciousness in your selections. Be conscious of animal welfare, global sustainability, and quality control. Because not only have our commercial farms gotten WAY outta control in terms of animal cruelty, they’re also contaminating the meat with unnatural corn feed, harmful hormones, and antibiotics (14).
4 Guidelines to Purchasing High-Quality Meat
1. Reach for pasture-raised poultry and eggs
Free-range can be a bit deceiving. In fact, the label can be used as long as the animal has some access to the outdoors each day— even if just for a few minutes. It does not mean the animal ever actually went outdoors to roam freely. On the other hand, pasture-raised holds higher standards than free-range (15).
2. Consume grass-fed beef, goat, lamb and bison
For the record, cows, goats, lamb, and bison are all designed to eat grass, not corn or animal byproducts. By consuming corn-fed cattle, you’re consuming adulterated grains as a byproduct.
3. Support sustainably sourced fish and seafood
According to the BBC, “Around 85% of global fish stocks are over-exploited, depleted, fully exploited or in recovery from exploitation.”
This alone should be reason enough to cough up some extra cash in favor of saving our oceans!
Unfortunately, fish and seafood are amongst the most misunderstood and unregulated of all animal products. Currently, the MSC label is the best we can do. Fish and seafood carrying the MSC label guarantee that the product is wild, traceable, and sustainable: meaning the blue fish label is only applied to wild fish or seafood from fisheries that have been certified to the MSC Fisheries Standard, a science-based set of requirements for sustainable fishing (19).
4. Avoid processed meats
Mass-produced meat, fish, fowl, and eggs often contain hormones, pesticides, and antibiotics. Plus, they’re nutritionally inferior due to their low-grade diet. Such products consist of deli meats like bologna, ham, turkey, roast beef, pepperoni, and salami. This also includes packaged meat products processed with trans fats, sweeteners, and chemical additives (20). This means you’d be wise to avoid products such as hot dogs, breakfast sausages, fast food, and frozen meals.
Which Fats are Best?
You might be wondering, “What are the right fats?”
The issue of healthy fat, insulin resistance, and inflammation is a loaded topic. Unfortunately, we can’t assume ALL saturated fat is good and ALL polyunsaturated is bad. When it comes to health, the quality and quantity of fatty acids must be taken into consideration. Your best bet is to consume a variety of fats derived from whole food sources.
For the most part, we can say that saturated fatty acids (SFAs) are best— they are stable and anti-inflammatory, protect against oxidation, and have many other health benefits (21). Look for grass-fed and organic sources— these are always best.
The following is a list of the ten best sources for fat. The asterisk denotes non-heat applications. Meaning oils marked with an asterisk will oxidize when heated, which is harmful to your health.
10 Best Sources of Fat
- Avocado oil (MUFA)
- Beef or bison tallow (SFA)
- Cocoa butter (SFA)
- Coconut oil (SFA)
- Extra-virgin olive oil* (MUFA)
- Fish oil* (PUFA)
- Ghee or grass-fed butter (SFA)
- Marrow (SFA)
- MCT oil (SFA)
- Pork lard (SFA)
Which Fats Are Worst?
Generally, the fats you want to avoid are polyunsaturated fatty acids or PUFA’s. They are prone to oxidation and more likely to contribute to inflammation (22).
3 Fats to Avoid
1. Trans fats (Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils)
I’m sure you’re familiar with the term trans fat but let’s take a closer look at what it actually is. There are two types of trans fats found in foods: naturally occurring and artificial trans fats. Naturally occurring trans fats are produced in the gut of some animals and may appear in small amounts within some meat products as well as their by-products (23).
What we should be far more concerned about are artificial trans fats.
What are artificial trans fats?
Artificial trans fats (or trans fatty acids) are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils in order to make them more solid. In processed foods, the primary dietary source of trans fat is “partially hydrogenated oils (24).”
And just so we’re clear, in November 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made a preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils are no longer Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) in human food (25).
Here’s the problem though, marketing has become clever in hiding trans fats. In fact, many products avoid the term trans fat but still contain trans fat oils or derivatives. The only way around this is to get really good at label reading (26).
Commonly used Trans Fats
- Hydrogenated oils
- Interesterified oils
- Partially hydrogenated oils
- Vegetable shortening
2. Highly Processed Vegetable Oils
You can make a safe bet that the majority of vegetable oils undergo hydrogenation or partial hydrogenation. This includes oils such as canola oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, corn oil, and vegetable oil. This also includes pseudo-butter spreads and sprays. Don’t be duped by olive or coconut oil spreads cut with hydrogenated oils such as canola or sunflower.
Commonly used Processed Vegetable Oils
3. Commercial Omega 6’s
There is great debate within the nutritional community regarding dietary imbalance between omega-6’s and omega-3’s. Nobody’s arguing that omega-6’s are an unnecessary component of a healthy diet. Rather, the controversy lies predominantly in the proper ratio for optimal health (27).
However, recent studies suggest that we should be more concerned with the quality of omega-6’s rather than the quantity (28). Meaning, consciously-sourced fish, meat, and eggs are fair game, but processed oils found in commercial goods are best avoided (or at least limited).
Commonly used Commercial Omega-6’s
- Processed food products containing hydrogenated oils
- Processed vegetable oils
- Most dressings, marinades, and sauces
- Pre-packaged dinners
- “Keto-friendly” fast food options
- Most restaurant prepared food
The Bottom Line
The most important thing for getting into ketosis and achieving ketogenic success is to get your macros right. Getting your macros right means dramatically reducing your carbohydrate intake, eating adequate amounts of protein, and incorporating more healthy fats into your diet.
To cash in on ALL the benefits keto has to offer (HULK-like energy, disease prevention, longevity, etc.), you must focus on clean ketogenic foods.
Clean keto is about eating nutrient-dense, whole foods— such as leafy greens, consciously sourced proteins, and unprocessed fats.
In the beginning, I would encourage you to keep it simple. Eliminate sugar, fill up on protein, and keep your carb count as low as possible. Once you’ve mastered your macros, you can begin experimenting with proportions and ingredients.
I sincerely hope you found tremendous value in this 3-Part Series, as that makes all my hard work absolutely worthwhile! Best of luck to you along your health and wellness journey! And please don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments below with additional questions or concerns.
With much Aloha,
xo, Coach Katie
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Whether you’re well-versed or brand spankin’ new to keto life and looking for some help, you should check out Katie’s coaching program. Coach Katie lives keto all day, errryday. She keeps up to date on the latest science, so you don’t have to. But more importantly, she addresses your specific goals to help you achieve ultimate success on your keto journey. And it’s always better to have someone in your corner, guiding you along. So if you’re ready for total life transformation and ultimate keto success, schedule your FREE initial keto consultation today!
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Katie Rodriguez nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.