Bell Pepper Cheese Poppers

Pepper Ingredients:

½ cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

¼ cup shredded Pepper-Jack Cheese

2.5 oz. Cream Cheese

3 small sausage links

Sweet Mimi Peppers

Italian seasoning

 

Sauce Ingredients:

Garlic

Spring Onions (I used Litehouse brand in a jar)

Tomato Sauce

Italian seasoning

Salt

 

Preparation for the Marinara Sauce:

Heat olive oil in a small sauce pan. Just before oil gets to its smoke point add the fresh garlic and spring onions then sauté for a couple minutes. Reduce heat to low, add the tomato sauce, Italian seasoning and salt to taste.

 

Preparation for the Poppers:

Pre-Heat the oven to 350

Cut the tops of the bell peppers and then cut one side open. Remove the insides to create a boat shape. Rub peppers with olive oil and cook for 15-20 minutes

 

 

While the peppers are cooking cook the sausage. (I forgot to add the sausage to the picture) Once the sausage is cooked mix it together with the cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, pepper-jack cheese and Italian seasoning (add seasoning to taste).

Remove the peppers from the over and turn the oven to broil.

 

 

 

 

Let peppers cool and add the cheese and sausage mix. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top and broil until the cheese is melted.

 

 

Enjoy with Marinara Sauce!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Milk the Good, the Bad & the Ugly

In the past week, I have had several different individuals ask me all types of questions about milk. I thought it was an appropriate time to discuss this topic.

First, I grew up on a small family farm. We had a single milk cow which me and my brothers had to milk. Her name was Betsy, she was the meanest cow on planet earth. I hated her, and she hated me…

Anyway, after milking her, we would bring the milk into the house and strain it through a cloth into a glass container. After the initial straining, we would cool the milk. During the cooling process the cream would raise to the top and the sugary milk would settle to the bottom.

The cream was used for all kinds of things and the milk was quickly consumed by all the kids, as their main form of hydration.

I understood the process milk went through between the cow’s utter and my mouth as a child. I believe the process now may be very different. I admit I do not have the information regarding what this process is now and frankly I do not have the energy to care. Why? Because regardless of what goes on, the main problem I have with milk Is the sugar…

However, I would like to explain some of the foods that we can consume to replace the good from milk, while eliminating the bad parts of milk.

What are the good parts of milk?:

Lets look at other foods that could provide us with the good parts of milk without the sugar we all need to avoid.


Top 10 Calcium Rich Foods

1) Raw Milk
1 cup: 300 mg (30% DV)

2) Kale (cooked)
1 cup: 245 mg (24% DV)

3) Sardines (with bones)
2 ounces: 217 mg (21% DV)

4) Yogurt or Kefir
6 oz: 300 mg (30% DV)

5) Broccoli
1 ½ cup cooked: 93 mg (9% DV)

6) Watercress
1 cup: 41 mg (4% DV)

7) Cheese
1 oz: 224 mg (22% DV)

8) Bok Choy
1 cup:74 mg (7% DV)

9) Okra
1 cup: 82 mg (8% DV)

10) Almonds
1 oz: 76 mg (8% DV)


Top 10 Vitamin D Rich Foods

1) Sunlight
Promotes vitamin D synthesis from cholesterol in the skin.

2) Cod liver oil
1 tsp: 440 IU (over 100% DV)

3) Sardines
3 ounces: 164 IU (41% DV)

4) Salmon
3 ounces: 400 IU (100% DV)

5) Mackerel
3 ounces: 400 IU (100% DV)

6) Tuna
3 ounces: 228 IU (57% DV) 

7) Raw Milk
1 cup: 98 IU (24% DV)

8) Caviar
1 oz: 33 IU (8% DV)

9) Eggs
1 large: 41 IU (10% DV)

10) Mushrooms
1 cup: 2 IU (1% DV)


Top 10 Vitamin B2 Rich Foods

1) Beef liver
3 oz: 2.9 mg (over 100% DV)

2) Lamb
3 oz: 3.9 mg (over 100% DV)

3) Milk
1 cup: 0.45 mg (26% DV)

4) Natural yogurt
1 cup: 0.57 (34% DV)

5) Mushrooms
½ cup: 0.23 mg (14% DV)

6) Spinach
½ c: 0.21 mg (12% DV)

7) Almonds
1 oz: 0.323 mg (19% DV)

8) Sun-dried tomatoes
1 cup: 0.285 mg (17% DV)

9) Salmon (wild)
3 oz: 0.135 mg (8% DV)

10) Eggs
1 large: 0.228 mg (13% DV)


Here are 12 of the best food sources of phosphorus:

  • Sunflower seeds(12) — ¼ cup: 369 milligrams
  • Raw milk(13) — 1 cup: 212 milligrams
  • White Beans(14) — 1 cup cooked: 202 milligrams
  • Mung Beans(15) — 1 cup cooked: 200 milligrams
  • Tuna(16) — 3 ounce can: 184 milligrams
  • Turkey Breast(17) — 3 ounces: 182 milligrams
  • Grass-Fed Beef(18) — 3 ounces: 173 milligrams
  • Almonds(19) — ¼ cup: 162 milligrams
  • Brown Rice(20) — 1 cup cooked: 150 milligrams
  • Potatoes(21) — 1 medium: 121 milligrams
  • Broccoli(22) — 1 cup cooked: 104 milligrams
  • Eggs(23) — 1 large: 98 milligrams

I really hope this helps you understand the complexity of milk a little better. There are choices out there, you do not have to accept the bad in order to get the good.

27 lies that are making us fat

Ok, so the list started out with 27. Then I started typing…

It’s Sunday and I want to play with my kids.

After a while I thought ok, I will save time and make it 13, then I decided on 11, then 7.

Hell, here are the top 5. I hope you enjoy! I will get around to the other 22 on later posts.

 

1: Calorie-In, Calorie-out – not the case.

I love Neil deGrasse Tyson, but the other day I was listening to a podcast where he was the guest speaker. He mentioned that from a physics stand point there is only one diet that makes sense. He mentioned the second law of thermal dynamics and summed up the Calorie-In Calorie-Out diet.

Sorry Mr. Tyson, but on this point, you are dead wrong. Our bodies are not a closed system (where the second law of thermal dynamics rules) and all calories do not have the same effect on our bodies.

Different foods affect our bodies in different ways. Not all foods go through the same metabolic pathways. Not only that, but foods also have a dramatic impact on the hormones that regulate how much and how often we eat.

Therefore, the types of foods we base our diet around are just as important as the number of calories we are eating.

A calorie is a measure of energy:

1 calorie is the amount of energy required to increase the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius.

The official measure of energy is Joule. 1 calorie equals 4.184 joules.

What we usually refer to as “calories” is actually kilocalories (kcal).

One dietary Calorie (kilocalorie) is 4184 joules.

But what does “energy” mean? “Energy is the capacity of a system to do work.”

The human body requires energy to function. On a molecular level, the body functions with an enormously complex set of chemical reactions. These chemical reactions require energy, which is where calories step in.

I do not think anyone would argue the impact to the body would be the same by eating 100 calories of table sugar in contrast to 100 calories of complex carbohydrates.

Why do people still say a calorie in – a calorie out? It’s not just the amount we eat, it’s what we eat!

 

2: Eggs are bad for you

This one is so far from reality it’s sad. The unfounded fear of cholesterol sent us down this road and has done untold amounts of harm. They (eggs) have been demonized due to the amount of cholesterol they contain.

SONY DSC

We cannot continue until we address the false information regarding cholesterol.

  • First, LDL the “bad” cholesterol has been shown to be low in around half of the heart attack deaths in the US. Therefore, a measurement of LDL is less than helpful in determining heart disease risk factors. (There is more to the story than simply checking the level of LDL)
  • Second, eggs have not been found to raise LDL levels. In contrast, they have been shown to raise HDL. A lower HDL is a better predictor of heart disease then high levels of LDL. Therefore, eating an egg is a good defense against heart disease.

The amount of nutrition found in a single egg is amazing. We should be increasing the amount of eggs we eat, not lowering them.

They are also an excellent source of Choline, a nutrient that is very important for the health of the brain and about 90% of people aren’t getting enough of it. (1011).

Despite being a “high fat” food, eating eggs for breakfast is proven to cause significant weight loss compared to a breakfast of bagels (1213).

 

3: Fat makes you fat

For years, I agreed with this statement and stuck to a very low fat diet.  Why? Well, that’s what I was taught. Turns out it is not accurate. (let’s not get into all the things I was taught that turn out to be inaccurate)

The statement seems to make sense on the surface after all, the stuff that makes us soft and puffy is fat.

However, it turns out that it isn’t that simple. Yes, fat has more calories per gram than protein or carbohydrates but this does not equate to simply making us more fat.

As I went over in another point, caloric intake is less important than you have been taught.  However, context is everything. A diet that is high in carbs AND fat will make you fat, but it’s NOT because of the fat.

In fact, the studies consistently show that diets that are high in fat (but low in carbs) lead to much more weight loss than diets that are low in fat.

Studies that are listed here are only a few of them: (1, 2, 3)

 

4: Saturated fat is unhealthy

For many decades, people have believed that eating saturated fat can increase the risk of heart disease.

However, studies published in the past few decades prove that saturated fat is completely harmless.

A massive study published in 2010 looked at data from a total of 21 studies that included 347,747 individuals. They found absolutely no association between saturated fat consumption and the risk of heart disease (19).

Multiple other studies confirm these findings… saturated fat really has nothing to do with heart disease. The “war” on fat was based on an unproven theory. In fact, this idea has been the cornerstone of mainstream nutrition recommendations for nearly 60 years. The back story here is too long for this post. Please refer to the books I recommend on my site. Good Calorie, Bad Calorie and The Big Fat Surprise each go into detail regarding this topic.

The truth is that saturated fat raises HDL (the “good”) cholesterol. It also changes the LDL cholesterol from small, dense LDL (very, very bad) to Large LDL, which is benign (2223242526).

There is literally no reason to fear butter, meat or coconut oil… these foods are perfectly healthy!

 

5: Eating “heart-healthy” whole wheat is good for you

I remember waking up to the whole-wheat hand grinder turning. My mother making our breakfast cereal.  We simply called it whole-wheat. Add some milk and honey, spoon it onto your toast and presto a delicious and healthy breakfast.

A common mis-conception. Evidence is mounting that wheat is a contributor to various health problems. Please refer to another book I strongly recommend. You can find a link to it form my recommended books page. The Grain Brain.

Wheat is the biggest source of gluten in the diet. New studies are showing that a significant percentage of the population may be sensitive to it (383940).

In sensitive individuals, gluten can contribute to various symptoms like digestive issues, pain, bloating, stool inconsistency, fatigue and may damage the lining of the intestine (41424344).

There are also some controlled trials associating wheat gluten with various disorders of the brain, including schizophrenia, autism and cerebellar ataxia (454647).

Not only that… but a controlled trial in humans showed that whole wheat increased various risk factors for cardiovascular disease in as little as 12 weeks (48).

Even though whole wheat is “less unhealthy” than refined wheat, the best choice would be to skip the wheat altogether.

Birthday Treat – Delicious

Happy 41st Birthday to me! Well, I don’t eat cake and ice cream but I still wanted something yummy for my birthday celebration.

Bring on the chocolate!

For you sugar lovers out there this may be a little bitter. But I love it!

Melted coconut oil, mixed with raw cocoa with a touch of sweeter.

My wife even liked it!!!! She said, “it actually tastes good to me”… As if there was any doubt to begin with!!!

 

Ok, so this is not a pic of my actual fat bomb… I could have made it look this nice, but I am too lazy.

 

It melts in your mouth! Very smooth and just cures that little need for something sweet.


Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup melted coconut oil

1/2 cup raw cocoa

3 small sweetener packets (each packet is .035 oz, you do the math)


Thats all there is to it!  Its that simple. I mix them up right in the bread pan. The above ratios create a 1/2 inch thick chocolatey, delicious, melt in your mouth, piece of heaven in a pan.

Make some up and have it to celebrate my birthday as well!

Enjoy!

Epic Fail – Chocolate Shake

Getting ready for movie night with the family and I wanted a chocolate shake.  How hard can it be?

No, I did not look anything up, I just grabbed the blender and a few items.

 

 

 

Cream Cheese: 2 oz
Coco Powder: 2 Tbsp
Coconut Oil: 1/4 cup
Coco, Coconut Oil & Peanut Butter Fat Bomb: 1/4 cup
Water & Ice until smooth

Well, lets just say it tasted like waxy coco powder…

Did I finish it?

Yes, of course. I could not let the ingredients go to waist.

I promise I will try again tomorrow and keep you all posted.

Gluten Free – Keto Pancakes

In my house we have two people that can’t eat gluten, so we are always on the hunt for good tasting, quality, gluten free meals.  In addition, the mornings are always crazy. Getting the kids ready for school, making lunches, making breakfasts (that aren’t just plain sugar) and getting to work on time.

Tonight I tried out a recipe and it was a success. The kids loved it. We had a gluten free, keto-friendly bedtime snack. Which, we will duplicate again in the morning for breakfast.

I used my handy dandy Vita-Mix to blend up the ingredients, cinnamon, cream cheese, eggs, Sweet’n Low & flour.

 

 

 

 

Once blended, I heated up the skillet and melted some butter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After cooking I spread some of Grandma’s (delicious) jam and the kids dug in…

 

Both kids loved them! Jorden had seconds, and asked if we could make the same thing in the morning for breakfast.

To be fair, my wife did not like them. However, she does not like cinnamon. She said she loved the texture, very smooth.

I used a non-sugar free topping tonight (because I did not have any sugar free). So technically they were not kept-friendly after the topping was added.

I also wanted to increase the fat content, so I used three egg yokes and only one egg white. It still turned out great. I may try only egg yokes next time. (Jorden sometimes has a hard time with egg whites. He is also the gluten free child)

However, you could make these and put any kind of keto-friendly topping on them and have a great keto-friendly breakfast.

Gluten Free Keto-Friendly Pancakes

Total Time: 5 min

Servings: 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 oz. Cream Cheese
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 3Tbsp Tapioca Flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Packet of Sweet’n Low

Buffalo Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

This is a super simple and delicious recipe, perfect for using up leftover chicken.

I adjusted a recipe that called for a few things a little too, how would I put it… Lets just say expensive.

I am a huge fan of meals that could be prepared before hand and then thrown together quickly when needed. This is one of them, and better yet even the kids LOVED them!

First we prepared the fixings…

We chose celery, red onions, green onions, carrots, jalapeños and cheese. All of the toppings are placed on top of the chicken once it is on your lettuce so leave off what you do not like, or add other items that you think may work.

Then we made up the sauce. We made two, one a little more mild than the other. The one on the right was hot, a little too hot for everyone in the house except for me. The wife and kids had the sauce on the left. (same just less hot sauce)

Once the chicken was cooked we separated the chicken into two different dishes and mixed in the sauce.  Once that was done the only thing left to do is grab some lettuce and add your chicken and toppings. 

 

Buffalo Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

Total Time: 10 min

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp Tapatio Hot Sauce
  • 3 Tbsp Mayo
  • 3 Tbsp Ranch Dressing
  • ¼ tsp Garlic & Herb (Mrs Dash)
  • 2 ¼ cups cooked chicken, cubed (about 1 pound uncooked)
  • ½ cup celery, diced
  • ¼ cup red onion, diced
  • ½ cup carrots, shredded or diced
  • 3 diced green onion, chopped
  • Green leaf lettuce leaves for wrapping or mixed greens for serving

5 steps to complete a weekend meal prep

All of us us are busy life can get super crazy between home life, work, kids, going to the gym… The last thing people want to do is add another aspect of their already busy life.

Here are 5 simple steps I have found to help your week by week go more smoothly.


1:     Take inventory of what you have on hand. This will help to reduce food waste and keep food cost in check.

2:     Create a plan for the week. We share new recipes on our blog each week so be sure to subscribe and stay connected for some delicious recipe inspirations.  We also have a section coming soon dedicated to comfort foods and delicious snacks. These foods are designed to get you through the hard weeks.

3:     Make a grocery list of items you need and then get your shoppin’ on. We like to do our grocery shopping on Friday or Saturday with our first stop being the Farmer’s Market depending on the time of year. There you will find the best quality produce and meats, and it’s always great to support your local farmers and growers whenever you can.

4:     Unload and put away groceries. Wash produce and complete as much chopping and prepping as you have time for – this will make for a quicker meal prep.

5:     It’s time to prep! Start with a clean kitchen, making sure you have several containers cleaned and ready to be filled. Feeling overwhelmed? Keep it simple. Start with just 5 items. You can always add more to the list next week once you’re in the groove – and a mid-week mini-prep on Wednesday or Thursday evening can go a long way toward making things easier as you slide into the weekend.


From my experience this is a great way to keep you on the right path and keeping you from cheating.

The glycaemic index (GI)

I get a lot of questions regarding how different types of food affect the body.  Many people have been taught that a calorie is a calorie. What is important is that you keep track of the calories you eat vs. the calories you burn. If you burn more than you consume math tells us you will lose weight.

Right?

Wrong…

All calories do NOT have the same affect on our bodies. Some foods metabolize slowly and have very little hormonal impact. Others metabolize very quickly and cause a rapid hormonal response.

These differences have very different effects on our bodies.  These differing effects can have a very large impact on your weight lose or gain.  One of the ways that the differing foods can be evaluated is based upon their glycemic index (GI). The higher the GI the quicker they metabolize and greater hormonal response is triggered.

How does it work?

The GI is a measure of the rate at which our bodies break down the carbs in our food to energy, in the form of glucose. The speed at which this digestion occurs, and the amount it raises glucose levels in the blood is measured by a score on the GI scale. Glucose, is the reference point for all other foods and carries a score of 100. Foods with low GI ratings such as lentils, beans, wholegrains, nuts and seeds release their energy more slowly and help prevent sugar highs.

What makes a food low rather than high GI depends on the proportion of a type of starch, amylose, to another, amylopectin. Foods with a greater proportion of amylose such as lentils have lower GIs than those with more amylopectin, like potatoes, which have a high GI.

If you typically eat a lot of high GI foods such as white bread, processed breakfast cereals, cakes and biscuits you will have a lot of readily available energy in your blood, and your body will use this energy rather than turning to your fat stores.

Basic principles

  • Low-GI foods provide natural, slowly released energy.
  • Generally, the less processed a carbohydrate, the more likely it is to have a low-GI score.
  • Foods that are white, including processed foods made with white flour and white sugar, tend to have a high-GI.
  • High fibre foods take longer to digest and therefore produce a slower rise in blood sugar levels. Fibre also keeps you feeling fuller for longer, which helps prevent overeating. Most vegetables, wholegrains, legumes, nuts, seeds and fruits are rich in fibre when you eat them whole.
    How GI scores vary

Don’t be mistaken – a food’s GI is not fixed. It will vary depending on a number of things – how the food has been prepared, whether it has been cooked, how hydrated it is and in the case of fresh produce like fruit, how ripe it is. An average serving of raw carrot, for example, has a GI of 16 but once peeled, diced and boiled this rises to 49. Also…

Your glycaemic response to a food depends on the other foods you eat with it

What you choose to eat with your carb-rich food will also impact the overall GI of your meal, so by combining a high GI food like potatoes with some protein like chicken will mean you lower the overall GI of your meal. When a meal includes proteins and fat the impact of the carbohydrate foods will be minimized. This is because by combining foods in a single meal the overall impact is to slow down the rate at which your body releases sugar from any single ingredient.

GI Chart

Here is a chart you can use as a guide. By no means is this guide a complete guide of all foods. I only have veggies on this chart, my recommendation is that all other carbohydrates should not be eaten.  However, in the strictest sense I would say only the foods listed as low GI should be consumed.  However, I understand we all have to start somewhere…

In addition please keep in mind that facilities that do GI testing can very in their calculations. Please use this guide as just that a “guide” and keep in mind the lower the better.

What is “Nutritional Ketosis”?

Thank you to: https://nutritionalketosisforhealth.com This was such a great post I had to post it here as well.

Please travel to their sight and take a peak. Great information below!

IN A NUTSHELL: Nutritional ketosis is a state of health in which your body is efficiently burning fat as its primary fuel source instead of glucose. When undergoing a ketogenic diet you are essentially converting yourself from a “sugar burner” to a “fat burner”.  This is accomplished by reducing your consumption of carbohydrates, increasing your intake of fat, and consuming only an adequate amount of protein to meet your body’s needs.

BUTTER 2

The term nutritional ketosis is claimed to have been coined by Dr. Stephen Phinney & Jeff Volek, two of the leading experts and researchers in the field of low carbohydrate dieting  (Check out this informative video to hear a talk from Dr. Phinney).

Ketosis is achieved by following a “ketogenic diet” which is high in fat, very low in carbohydrates, and adequate in protein (Please Note: It is “adequate” in protein, NOT “high” in protein. More on this later).  By consuming more lipids you are enhancing your body’s fat burning function by up-regulating the enzymes and other “metabolic machinery” needed to burn fat more efficiently, therefore making it easier for your body to tap into stored adipose tissue as an energy source (i.e. you turn yourself into a fat-burning machine!).

But don’t we NEED carbohydrates?  

While it’s true that our red blood cells and a small percentage of brain cells and kidney cells are exclusively glucose dependent, the body can actually GENERATE carbohydrates in a process called gluconeogenesis in which certain non-carbohydrate substrates like proteins (amino acids) and certain constituents of fatty acids (glycerol) can be converted into glucose.  The quantities of glucose produced by the body are sufficient to meet the needs of these particular cells and also help to balance the body’s blood sugar levels.

Moreover, ketogenic diets are not necessarily ZERO-carbohydrate diets and therefore you’re usually able to get enough carbohydrates from vegetables and minimal quantities of fruit or other carb-containing sources (unless the ketogenic diet is being used therapeutically, such as for severe cases of epilepsy, in which the keto diet can be extremely low-carb).

Also…there is a common misconception that the brain can run only on glucose, BUT, there is in fact a fuel source that the brain actually prefers over glucose:  KETONES.

And what exactly are ketones?  

Ketone bodies are byproducts of fatty acid catabolism (break down of fat) and can replace glucose as a primary fuel source for cells of the brain.  The brain cannot directly utilize long-chain fatty acids for fuel since these types of fats cannot cross the blood-brain barrier.  However, ketones can easily pass through this barrier and your brain becomes more efficient at utilizing ketones over time.

Beyond just providing the brain with fuel, ketones appear to have many therapeutic effects on neurons and are being intensely researched in their applications for epilepsy, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression, anxiety and other neurological disorders.

But doesn’t eating fat make you fat? 

Well, the answer to this question is yes and no.  Yes, eating too much of ANY macronutrient in excess of your daily caloric needs can potentially cause weight gain, whether it be fat or carbs.  BUT, the answer is also NO – the consumption of fat in and of itself does NOT cause weight gain nor does it clog your arteries and directly lead to heart disease (as conventional theory has mistakenly stated).  This is a long-held myth that unfortunately continues to persist as part of the dietary advice administered by many doctors and some dieticians.  It’s important to make something VERY clear at this point:

“The deleterious effects of fat have been measured in the presence of high carbohydrate. A high fat diet in the presence of high carbohydrate is different than a high fat diet in the presence of low carbohydrate.”       

~Richard Feinman, PhD

Quick science lesson:  When you consume carbohydrates the body releases insulin in order for glucose to enter cells to be burned for energy.  What’s important to understand is that insulin blocks fatty acid catabolism, i.e. eating carbohydrates (which causes an insulin release) essentially blocks fat-burning.  So what do you think happens if you consume fat with lots of carbs? You guessed it: Your body tends to hang on to that fat more easily in the form of adipose tissue, and even carbohydrates in excess of what your body needs are stored as fat (YES, sugar converts to fat!).  So by eating HIGH amounts of fat in a LOW-CARB situation, you are influencing the body to become more efficient at burning fat instead of STORING fat, since fat consumption does not cause the same insulin release that carbohydrates do.

The old paradigm of “fat makes you fat” is finally shifting and the once vilified dietary fats and cholesterol are finally being vindicated and promoted among knowledgeable healthcare practitioners.  (For a fascinating history on how the low-fat craze started, check out this article written by Ann LaBerge: How the Ideology of Low Fat Conquered America. Also, refer to this quick read for an excellent overview of the many wonderful benefits of dietary fat.)

 Image borrowed from DietDoctor.com

What a difference 30 years can make (Image borrowed with permission from DietDoctor.com)

Who created the ketogenic diet?

InuitWell, quite simply, Mother Nature!  This isn’t just another “low-carb” fad diet that was invented to help with weight loss — this is essentially how the majority of us were evolutionarily designed to eat!  Many indigenous cultures from the Inuits of North America to the Masai of Africa have traditionally eaten diets consisting of macronutrient ratios similar to ketogenic diets.

What’s more is that these societies have subsisted on this type of diet for thousands of years without the major health complications that plague many modern civilizations today.  Famous doctors, researchers, and explorers such as Vilhjalmur Stefansson, Weston A. Price, George Catlin, John Rae, and Frederick Schwatka, have traveled the world to study and live among many hunter gatherer societies and have all observed a common theme among these cultures:  their limited carbohydrate consumption along with their absolute reverence for FAT.

So What Does a Ketogenic Diet Consist of?

This graph depicts typical macronutrient ratios for a ketogenic diet.  While this appears to be very restrictive it’s important to bear in mind that these ratios will vary greatly depending on MANY factors: your current state of health, your level of metabolic damage, level of insulin sensitivity, physical activity, weight, body composition, genetic makeup, age, gender, etc.

For example, someone who is young, lean, fit, works out on a regular basis, and who doesn’t have a genetic predisposition towards insulin resistance may have a higher threshold of carbohydrate intake and be able to enter ketosis more easily than someone who is older, overweight, and diabetic who has sustained a great deal of metabolic damage due to years of excessive carbohydrate consumption. The latter individual may initially have to be more restrictive about their carb intake in order to induce nutritional ketosis (essentially, those with insulin resistance can be viewed as having a sort of “carbohydrate intolerance”), but they may eventually be able to increase their intake of carbs after they have been able to regulate their blood sugar and repair their metabolic damage over time.

So how many Carbs should I have? And what about protein?

Generally, most people can initiate ketosis by reducing their carbohydrates to 30-50 grams per day (approximately 5-10% of daily calories) while also consuming an adequate amount of protein (which is calculated based upon your body weight and lean muscle mass). It’s essential to keep protein at a moderate level as excess protein on a low-carb diet can get converted into glucose in a process called gluconeogenesis. Your protein needs should not be calculated as a percentage of your total calories, but instead should be based on your body weight, total lean mass, and level of physical activity (Check out this awesome keto calculator if you want some help figuring out your own macronutrient ratios).

HEALTHY FATS4Carbs and protein will make up about 20-30% of your diet. As for the rest of your calories? All from FAT! On a ketogenic diet you will derive approximately 70-80% of your daily calories from healthy fats (i.e., grass-fed butter, animal fats, eggs, coconut oil, MCT oil, ghee, olive oil, avocados, macadamia nuts, etc. *NOT* margarine or other highly processed polyunsaturated oils).

Please also note: It’s very important to work with a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner who is well-versed in low-carb dieting who can help you create a well-formulated, nutrient dense ketogenic diet that takes into consideration your own unique needs and bio-individuality.  One of the keys to a successful experience with nutritional ketosis is to maximize your nutrient density (i.e., by eating enough plant-based foods such as veggies, nuts & seeds, etc.), but ALSO by being sure to consume enough fat to produce ketones.  This is NOT about stuffing yourself full of butter and bacon all day! You must also be sure to obtain enough micronutrients, antioxidants, and minerals from plant foods as well.

One other important consideration: the “Adaptation Period”

It’s vital to keep in mind that it takes some time to convert your body over from a state of primarily “sugar-burning” to “fat-burning”. The length of time again will vary from person to person based on the same individual factors listed above that dictate your total carb intake, but the typical adaptation period can range anywhere from 3-6 weeks.

During this time you could experience some symptoms related to “carbohydrate withdrawal” such as headaches, fatigue, light-headedness, etc. Typically, these are all TEMPORARY experiences while your blood sugar rebalances and your body adjusts to its new fuel source (fat & ketones). Additionally, until your brain “learns” how to utilize ketones as it’s primary fuel source you may also experience temporary “brain fog” and problems with focus, concentration, and memory.

Some symptoms could also be caused by mineral deficiencies, dehydration, or electrolyte imbalances that may occur in the initial stages of a ketogenic diet when your body is depleting its glycogen stores and ridding itself of excess water. Increasing your water intake along with consuming extra salt and electrolytes often helps to alleviate these symptoms. Also be mindful of your caloric intake and try not to be restrictive during the adaptation period to give your body the energy it needs.

How do I know when I’m in Ketosis?

Determining when you are in ketosis is understandably a common concern among many ketogenic dieters when first starting out. Generally, most people feel that they are in a state of steady nutritional ketosis once they see a reduction in the adaptation symptoms and a reduction in hunger and cravings, while also experiencing an increase in energy and mental clarity. But the most accurate way to know for sure is to test your ketone levels with a blood ketone monitor, similar to testing your blood sugar with a glucose monitor. (Important note: there are two types of ketone bodies that can be measured – betahydroxybutyrate (BHB) and acetoacetate. BHB is measured in the blood and is generally regarded as the more “accurate” biomarker for determining ketosis. Acetoacetate is excreted in the breathe and in the urine and can be measured by breath devices and urine tests strips, both of which I have utilized personally and find to be slightly less precise than blood ketone readings).

Optimal Blood Ketone Range

Most people start to enter ketosis when blood ketones reach a level of 0.5 mM/dL of blood.  However, the optimal range for blood ketones is from 1.5 – 3.0.  This is considered the “sweet spot” of ketosis that should provide the maximum amount of health benefits if maintained long term.   

Optimal Ketosis Range (2)

Graph borrowed from the phenomenal book by Dr. Stephen Phinney and Dr. Jeffrey Volek, The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living.

It’s imperative to realize that there is a “danger zone” to ketosis known as ketoacidosisthat people commonly confuse with nutritional ketosis.  However, ketoacidosis usually only happens in those with Type 1 diabetes or late stage Type II diabetes in which the pancreas is unable to secrete sufficient quantities of insulin (insulin has a suppressant effect on ketone production) OR in those with severely compromised kidney function that cannot properly excrete excess ketones. Otherwise, nutritional ketosis is a completely natural, normal, and healthy state for most individuals.

What are the Health Benefits to Nutritional Ketosis?

Other than the obvious weight loss reasons, why restrict carbs and eat more fat? Beyond the simple goals of fat burning and body-recomposition, there are numerous other reasons why nutritional ketosis may be optimal for health and may even help ameliorate existing health problems. Here are some of the fascinating health benefits of ketosis.

Some of the things you may experience with Nutritional Ketosis:

  • Blood Sugar Balancing. Ketogenic diets are being utilized more and more for improving health conditions related to insulin dysregulation and blood sugar abnormalities, such as Type 2 diabetes, PCOS, and Alzheimer’s disease (which is often referred to as “diabetes of the brain”).
  • Improved Mood & Mental functioning. Many keto adapted people report major improvements in brain function in regards to clarity in thought, memory, and mental functioning that they never experienced previously in their life!  Vast improvements in mood disorders such as depression and anxiety are also commonly reported.
  • Lean tissue preservation (Increases muscular retention & prevents muscular atrophy). A ketogenic diet is a highly muscle-sparing diet and it is being explored not only by body builders, athletes, and other fitness aficionados, but also for muscle-wasting conditions like ALS and sarcopenia in the elderly.
  • Greater Athletic Performance. Many athletes also claim to have better results while performing in a well-adapted ketogenic state, particularly endurance athletes. Once keto-adapted, there’s no more need to constantly fuel the body with sugars snacks and sports drinks if you can tap into your body’s fat store for energy.
  • Long-lasting ENERGY. When your body is in a “fat-adapted” state it can easily tap into your adipose tissue to give you more sustained energy without the constant need to eat and “refuel” yourself every couple of hours.
  • Hormone Balancing (Especially in women with PCOS). Chronically elevated levels of insulin and glucose are thought to have a disruptive effect on hormone and endocrine organ functioning throughout the body. Therefore a low-carb diet such a ketogenic diet may be beneficial for improving and optimizing hormone levels by lowering insulin and glucose levels. Nutritional ketosis is especially being researched in helping women with PCOS, a hormonal imbalance which is ultimately caused by insulin resistance similar to diabetes.
  • Need for LESS sleep! While some keto-dieters report longer and deeper sleep, many actually claim they need far less sleep (sometimes only 5-6 hours a night for some people!) and yet wake up feeling very well-rested. Can you imagine getting LESS sleep (yet still being energetic and vibrant) and therefore having MORE time to be productive in your waking hours?
  • Improvements in Dyslipidemia (Cholesterol Imbalances & High Triglycerides). Many studies have shown that a low-carbohydrate diet is able to significantly improve cholesterol profile as well as reducing triglyceride levels.
  • Reduced Hunger. A meal that is high in fat and protein leaves us feeling satiated much longer than a high carbohydrate meal and helps regulate blood sugar levels, thusly balancing our appetite, especially in those with diabetes or other metabolic abnormalities. Being ketogencially adapted also allows your body to access its fat stores more readily when your body requires more energy to meet its demands, thusly also leading to a reduction in appetite.
  • Healthy Skin. There is some evidence that nutritional ketosis helps to restore normal hormonal balance in the body along with other mechanisms that improve acne and other skin disorders. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22327146)

Nora Gedgaudas, one of my favorite experts in the realm of ketogenic dieting, goes so far as to call the ketogenic diet the “Holy Grail of Diets” because of its superior health benefits as compared to a high carbohydrate diet. Watch this interesting video to see her speak about ketosis at the Ancestral Health Symposium in 2012.

This informative read by nutritional ketosis blogger Jimmy Moore provides a personal account of the many other health benefits a ketogenic diet can offer.

Possible physiological and biochemical mechanisms for the therapeutic action of a ketogenic diet in diseases and conditions for which there is strong scientific evidence (a) and emerging evidence (b).

Possible physiological and biochemical mechanisms for the therapeutic action of a ketogenic diet in diseases and conditions for which there is strong scientific evidence (a) and emerging evidence (b). Source: “Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets.” by Paoli, Volek, et. al.

Nutritional ketosis is also being researched for its ability to help with conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, cancer, Alzheimer’s, dementia, mood disorders, eating disorders, Parkinson’s, ALS, PCOS, and various metabolic disorders. When well-formulated and correctly adhered to, the ketogenic diet can be incredibly effective in alleviating and possibly even reversing a multitude of health conditions.