In magazines, online, on billboards, in social media…we are inundated with images of chiseled bodies eating plates of bacon in connection with the ketogenic diet. Today, health produce promoters that are more interested in making a buck than helping people are making unrealistic claims which may be, quite frankly, dangerous to your health. If you are considering “going keto,” make sure you do it the right by following these simple yet powerful tips!
How NOT to Eat Keto (AKA The “Dirty” Keto Diet)
Before we dive in to doing the keto the RIGHT WAY, let’s talk about the WRONG way to practice the ketogenic diet.
To put it simply, eating healthy the keto way does not mean eating commercially-bought bacon for breakfast, a fast food burger for lunch, and a one-pound steak for dinner, with nothing else on your plate. It does mean eating organic, hormone-free and non-GMO proteins, plenty of fiber in the form of vegetables and some low-sugar fruits, and, most importantly, healthy sources of organic, toxin-free fats.
Anybody that advises that you to “just cut the carbs” to go keto is just plain wrong. That’s a dirty keto diet. What’s more, following bad advice about eating ketogenic can be harmful, especially if you have certain conditions.
Taking the easy way out by simply cutting carbs and going carte blanche on everything else is the dirty way to do keto. It doesn’t work and could make you sick. The clean way is the common-sense way. Here are some tips to get you started.
13 Tips for Keto Diet Success (AKA “Clean Keto”)
#1. Eat clean food.
No matter how you eat, going clean with what you consume just makes sense. The first step for clean eating is to stay away from anything processed, mixed with strange ingredients you can’t pronounce, or that comes in plastic containers or tin cans. You get the point: clean eating means eating whole foods, first and foremost. However, in today’s toxic world, I really suggest going beyond simply staying away from processed junk. I could write a whole article on the toxic sludge that goes into today’s commercial meat and dairy and the cancer-causing substances that get sprayed on those veggies you get in the commercial produce aisle.
Consider why you are eating keto. You want to clean out your body, prevent disease, have more energy, be able to concentrate better, and lose weight. Eating keto cleanly kick-starts your body’s own detoxification pathways, supports the liver and gut and gets rid of neurotoxins. It doesn’t make sense to put MORE toxins in the body at the same time!
P.S. Unfortunately, this means that, no, you can’t load up on bacons at every meal. Bacon (and all pork) is technically a keto-friendly food, but a lot of commercial pork products contain nitrates that can trigger inflammation.
Also, consider this: according to Consumer Reports, 80% of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are given to commercial livestock animals. Still, the noxious bacteria Yersinia enterocolitica is found in roughly 69% of all pork products. If you can’t imagine a world without bacon, consider limiting your consumption to once a week and going nitrate-free.
#2. Eat lots of high-fiber vegetables.
Yes, you still have to heed your grandmother’s advice and “eat your veggies” when you go keto. Fresh vegetables contain so many substances that the body needs for vital functions. These includes fiber, vitamins, minerals, and a plethora of disease-busting, metabolism-regulating phytonutrients or “micronutrients.”
According to a comprehensive study conducted by the University of Minnesota in 2012, phytonutrients “function as antioxidants, phytoestrogens, and anti-inflammatory agents.” Food really is medicine, and a lot of that medicine comes in the form of vegetables. The good news is that a truly keto diet will wake up your taste buds. If you don’t love them already, after a while, you are going to really savor all the rich and tasty varieties of veggies on your plate. Make sure you “eat the rainbow” of vegetables with every meal.
#3. Consume CLEAN sources of fat.
In addition to cutting carbs to a minimum, upping health fat consumption really is the cornerstone of any solid keto program. Lowering carbs and upping fats is what is going to slide you into burning ketones instead of sugar for fuel. Some of this fat may come in the form of animal products, such as organic, grass-fed butter.
But keep in mind that this is not your only option for healthy fats. The body loves variety, and that includes eating a variety of fats. Organic flaxseed oil, evening primrose, avocado oil, and coconut oil are all great options. Also don’t discount fat-intense foods, such as wild-caught salmon, raw nuts, seeds, and avocados. Extra virgin and organic/non-GMO olive oil is excellent as well. In the Bible, the olive leaf was a symbol of peace. Looking at its healing effects, you can see why. Olive oil contains oleic acid, which has been shown to drastically reduce inflammation and reduce cancer cell growth.
#4. Eat to support your gut.
If you follow the above three recommendations only, your gut will already be on its way towards healing. Healthy fats that contain Omega 3s such as the ones described above can decrease inflammation in the gut and promote the growth of good-for-you gut bacteria (whose job it is to eat up the bad guys). Odds are, though, if you have been eating high carbs for a while, your gut is not as healthy as it could be. Be gentle with your digestive system when you first go keto. Try some organic bone broth, cultured vegetables, prebiotic foods, and extra probiotics and digestive enzymes to support your pancreas and give your GI tract an added boost.
#5. Eat the right amount of food for you.
To be sure, your body is going to through a lot of changes as your progress through your keto journey. As your hormones rebalance, those particular hormones that are specifically designed to regulate when you are really hungry and when you have had enough will “wake up.”
This is all good news. Eating keto can be a life-changer, including changing your emotional and habitual relationship to food. If you are used to overeating or not eating enough, try eating until you are comfortably full and satisfied. If you are not sure if you are really full, slow down while eating and wait a few minutes in between bites. This can also help you enjoy the wonderful, healthy nutrients you are putting in your body.
#6. Include intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting (IF) should be an integral part of any sound keto plan. Typically, IF requires a person to abstain from eating solid food for 14 to 18 hours. This allows a whole variety of powerful healing mechanisms to take place. One of these processes is cell autophagy, when old cells die off and become recycled as part of detoxification. Pay attention to your body when it comes to IF.
If you become dizzy, nauseous or hypoglycemic, be sure to eat something! One good “keto hack” is to drink some coffee or tea (caffeinated or decaf) with some coconut oil, ghee or grass-fed butter blended in it. It may sound strange but, guaranteed, it is delicious and will help you stay in IF mode and at the same time feel full and satisfied.
#7. Stay away from high-inflammation foods.
Simply kicking the sugar and gluten found in high-carb foods will do wonders for your inflammation levels in general. However, there may be other foods that you are reactive to. Remember that inflammation and disease go hand and hand, as does inflammation and weight gain. Other common inflammatory foods may include dairy products (especially milk) and some nightshade vegetables.
#8. Stay hydrated.
Your body is at least 60% water. Fluids are responsible for some pretty major functions in the body, including digestion and circulation of blood. In fact, drinking adequate amounts of water can help those same functions that eating keto can help, including maintaining healthy muscle mass, boosting gut health and helping your detoxification pathways.
Studies show that as little as a 1 percent dip in hydration levels can negatively affect mood, attention, motor function, and even memory as well. Make sure that your water is fresh and filtered, including for fluoride.
#9. Keep moving!
Consistently engaging in long periods of sitting or lying down can lead to improved health all around! On the other hand, a vast amount of research shows a connection between moderate yet consistent exercise and a reduction in inflammation and improved immune function. The keto diet done right gives you oodles of energy to move your body. And remember, even a short walk every day can do wonders on all levels.
#10. Lower stress.
According to the American Psychological Association, more than half of the working adults in the United States are concerned by how stressed they feel. This may sound like a dramatic statement but it is absolutely true: eating keto won’t do your body any good if you keep up the cycle of chronic stress. Keto done right gives the body the chance to detoxify and heal. But that healing can only happen when the body is in what is called the “relaxation response.” With chronic stress comes overproduction of stress response hormones, including cortisol, which keep the body on high alert and inflamed. Make the most out of your keto. Do it the right way by cleansing and healing from the inside out.
What can you do each day to lower stress while you help your body through keto nutrition?
Meditation is a go-to for some, but it is not for everyone. Taking a walk in nature, two minutes of stretching, taking a “breathing break” every now and again, even consciously moving your thoughts towards gratitude a few times a day can help gradually reduce stress.
#11. Pay attention to your body.
Here is the deal: you are a unique individual and you have no one to compare yourself to but you! On a regular basis while you are on the keto diet, ask yourself the following questions:
Keep in mind that everybody’s body is going to react differently too – especially the first phase of the keto diet. Some may have severe symptoms of the common “keto flu” while others have none. Paying attention to your body simply means “tuning in” to how you are feeling on any given time and also what your body needs right now to heal. It may be rest instead of having coffee or receiving a hug instead of reaching for a muffin. When you pay attention to your body, really listen to it. If you know it needs to rest, try to give it a short one even if you are in the middle of a busy day.
#12. Use common sense.
If all of these recommendations on how to do keto the “right way” seem like common sense, that is because they are! Sometimes the most profound change happens through the simplest means. Eating keto doesn’t have to be complicated.
#13. Consider the long-term.
Eating keto can become a long-term, health-affirming lifestyle if you do it right, even if you have health issues, are over 65, or are an athlete. There are many kinds of healthy ketogenic diets to choose from, from strict to seasonal, to cyclic. None of these are meant to be a “quick fix,” however. Any keto diet plan worth its weight is a lifestyle change that puts you in the driver’s seat for longevity, energy and a brand new, super focused, on fire you.
You absolutely can energize your life, become more mentally clear, loosen up your joints, clear up skin issues, recover from disease, reduce pain, and reshape your whole body with a ketogenic diet. If you use common sense, listen to your body and eat clean all the way, you will be absolutely amazed at how you will look and feel in a very short amount of time!