What to eat – and what not to eat- are some of the most common questions that I get these days. So much so, that I wrote an entire book, leading you through a very thoughtful approach to the keto diet that not only meets the preferred macronutrient ratios for ketosis but also helps you to meet your nutrient needs and is high in fiber. My new book, launching in 2020, is called High Fiber Keto and I truly can’t wait to share it with you.
In a nutshell, on the keto diet, it is important to focus on high-quality foods. This means plenty of good fats such as avocado, coconut oil and grass-fed butter; quality protein such as grass-fed beef, wild salmon and pasture-raised eggs; and high-fiber, yet low carb plant foods such as non-starchy veggies (kale, broccoli, zucchini, artichokes), nuts and seeds.
As you get started, I recommend using an online tracking tool in order to make sure that you are eating around 75% of your daily calories from fat. Check out some of my recipes, such as this High Fiber Keto Smoothie, to get the hang of what this breakdown looks like.
Where you can get in trouble with keto is by just focusing on eating high fat (and low carb) without considering the importance of food quality. And this is exactly what “dirty keto” refers to. However, what not to eat on a keto diet is just as important as what to eat!
With my clean, High Fiber Keto approach, I take out not only the high carbohydrate foods like refined flour, added sugar and sweeteners, grains, beans, and high-glycemic fruit, but also recommend staying away from refined vegetable oils. Even though these are fats, they are dirty fats, and high quality, minimally processed fats should be prioritized.
On a keto diet, water is the best beverage, but you can also enjoy coffee and tea (black, green and herbal). Just be sure to stay away from any sugary, sweetened beverages.
Speaking of beverages, coffee (or tea) is a wonderful way to increase fat in the diet and make a beverage filling and satisfying. The easiest way to make keto coffee is simply by adding MCT oil or creamy MCT oil to it. MCTs, or medium-chain triglycerides, support the body in transitioning into ketosis and staying in ketosis.
The answer to the alcohol question can be very individual! I recommend avoiding alcohol during the initial stages of the keto diet, where the body is learning to use fat efficiently for fuel. You may not be able to achieve ketosis if you are drinking alcohol. Once you are fat-adapted and more metabolically flexible, you might try a glass of wine with dinner and see both how you feel and if you stay in ketosis. If you fall out of ketosis, how easy is it for you to get back into ketosis? Answering these questions will help you to determine what, when and how much alcohol works for your personalized keto plan.
The answer to the question about fruit is also very individual. Some will do better staying on a more strict diet that keeps the body in ketosis consistently by adhering to the highly restrictive carb allowance of traditional keto, and others will do better when including a minimal increase in carbs tailored to their body’s unique needs so they can cycle in and out of ketosis, as in my Fat First, Carbs Last rule.
For most, sticking to berries is the best option! Blackberries, raspberries, and wild blueberries are low in carbs as compared to other fruit, yet very high in fiber. Berries are also high in polyphenols, the compounds that give them their vibrant colors, which support our microbiome and metabolism.
“How many carbs can you have on keto?” is another very common and important question that I get asked all of the time. How many carbs on keto can really depend on the individual too, just as many aspects of the keto diet do. However, when beginning the keto diet, I recommend limiting daily carbs to 50 grams of total carbs per day, which will be between 5 and 10% of your total daily calories. Once you are in ketosis and more metabolically flexible, you may be able to push this higher or may find that you like counting net carbs instead of total carbs. When counting net carbs, you subtract the fiber grams from the total carbs. Paying attention to fiber is a great way to ensure you are making high-quality food choices and meeting your nutrition needs.
Before I close for the day, I want to circle back to the very crucial topic of weight. Fat loss is the number one health goal that those in my community turn to the keto diet for and this is especially true of women. My first word of advice is to be gentle with yourself and give your body time to find its sweet spot with keto. This can take some experimentation and patience in a lot of cases. I’ve addressed this topic many times on my blog and want to direct you to some resources.
I hope that going through these FAQs this week was helpful for you! This information is truly the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creating a healthy, high fiber keto diet that works for you and your life. Stay tuned for my upcoming book, High Fiber Keto, for so much more juicy and in-depth information