Keto Meal Idea #14: Chicken and Spinach Soup

Keto Meal 14

Ingredients

1 cup chicken bone broth

2 tablespoon organic red palm oil

3 ounces shredded chicken

1 cup chopped spinach

Macros: 466.4 calories, 34.9 g fat, 32.5 g protein, 2 g carbs, 0.7 g fiber

One Year on a Keto Diet

Like everything else in life, it feels like a long time, yet it feels like a very short time. No matter the relative time, this last year has been life-changing, that is for sure.

Want to catch up on my monthly updates? Start here with Month 1

When putting together all that I wanted to share with you about the last year of my ketogenic diet, I looked back at the diary I started at the beginning, when I still considered it a 90-day experiment. Here is what I wrote about 2.5 weeks in:

“Why did I do this?

So many reasons! I was in a motor vehicle accident (MVA) last year and in addition to the chronic pain in my legs, I’ve also been having a really long list of other symptoms (fatigue, lightheadedness, cognitive impairment, gastroparesis, heartburn, extreme hypoglycemia symptoms, uncontrollable appetite, extremely high CRP (inflammation marker), etc.) that I think are related to a mild brain injury and Post Traumatic Hypopituitarism. So I wanted to see if this WOE could help heal my brain. Also, dementia runs on both sides of my family (one side is dead, other side was just sent to assisted living due to it). Family history of diabetes. Metabolic Syndrome (I currently fit the criteria). Low HDL cholesterol. AND I really wanted to learn all I could about keto because I’m a nutritionist and if it worked as well as everyone says it does, then I can’t wait to take it to my clients. (I’m about 2.5 weeks in and so far I’m feeling FANTASTIC and more and more motivated each day to keep going. Improvements I’ve seen already: pain in my legs is nearly gone, cognition is nearly as good as pre-MVA, gastroparesis gone, heartburn gone, CRP dropped 62%, hypoglycemia symptoms gone, and appetite normalized. I haven’t had my cholesterol numbers checked yet, but I’m sure things are improving there, too.

I’ve never been able to follow any kind of diet plan in the past due to extreme feelings of deprivation and constant hunger. And as far as the middle path, mindful eating, intuitive eating, all that stuff I used to teach to all my clients, well, that is what lead me to all the health problems and 50 pound weight gain over 10 years! However, with keto, although it is very restrictive (still plenty to eat though!), it has been way easier for me to stick to, mostly because of the threat of having to start over with the fat adaptation process. It isn’t that fun to go through and takes some time, and I don’t want to start that all over again. The other reason it has been easier is that my appetite is more normal rather than ravenous because my body is actually getting an efficient fuel source.”

Video Updates

This month I decided to do two videos. One is a montage of all my monthly progress photos so you can really see the body transformation. The second video is a verbal update of all the health improvements plus other things that have happened over the last month.

Full Year of Monthly Progress Pictures

My 12-Month Update

What I share on my video:

    • Review of what made me start a keto diet
    • Weight loss history
    • My intermittent fasting experience
    • My visit to Levl Now lab in Seattle, a company creating a new breath ketone meter
    • My Top 5 Tips for long-term success on keto
    • Details of my Instagram giveaway!

Before and After Keto

Health Improvements:

  • Weight: 220 pounds to 161.2 pounds
  • Body Fat: 40% to 28.9%
  • Waist: 40 inches to 30 inches
  • Inflammation dropped (CRP down almost 70%)
  • Clean, whiter teeth
  • Skin tags on my neck are all gone
  • Heat tolerance (now I love the sun and heat! I used to get super sweaty all the time and hated the heat)
  • Normal sleep times (All my life, I had been a night owl, naturally staying up until 2 or 3 am. After the accident and my PTHP symptoms, I could not sleep at night at all and often could not sleep until 6 or 7 am. Now I am sleeping by about 11 pm and up around 7 am. My central sleep apnea is much improved as well.)
  • No more non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (something I recently realized that I haven’t even mentioned here)
  • Normal blood pressure (after the accident, it was high enough I was considering taking medication)
  • No more stiff ankles in the morning (pre-accident symptom)
  • No more head twitch (something I had not reported here yet, but something else that I remember from pre-accident and pre-keto was a random, uncontrollable head twitch)
  • Mental and nervous system function greatly improved (after the accident, I was having issues with words getting jumbled when speaking or typing, along with frequently dropping things)
  • No more popping jaw (TMJ)
  • Normal digestion (no GERD, no heartburn, no gastroparesis, normal bowel movements, no gas or bloating)
  • Lightheadedness nearly gone (post accident symptom)
  • Chronic leg pain nearly gone (no edema or swelling, still having some hypersensitivity late at night (allodynia) but not intolerable)
  • No more dry elbows
  • Very soft skin
  • Clear skin
  • Plenty of energy for all day (post accident fatigue was debilitating)
  • Exercise endurance (I can go hiking for hours without any food)
  • And much more than I’m remembering right now!

Come Do Keto with Me!

Let me show you the way. My 90-Day Keto Diet Program teaches you all I’ve learned along the way, plus gives you the tools to make this a long-term health solution.

20 Super Fast and Easy Keto Meal Ideas

Too tired, busy, hot, hungry or lazy to cook a meal? Want something that is fast and easy, but also low-carb and high-fat for your keto diet? Here are 20 super easy, keto-friendly, delicious meal ideas that don’t require you to turn on the stove or oven. Or even the grill. Make extra for dinner or lunch tomorrow and your life gets even easier.

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Keto Shrimp Tacos

 

  1. Meat and Cheese Board (salami + prosciutto + gouda + sharp cheddar + pickles + olives)
  2. Veggie Crudite and Cheese Platter (zucchini + broccoli + cauliflower + cherry tomatoes + assorted cheese slices + ranch dressing)
  3. Tuna Salad on Romaine Lettuce (1 can tuna + mayo + mustard)
  4. Curried Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps (butter lettuce leaves + canned chicken + mayo + chopped celery + curry powder + sea salt)
  5. Chef’s Salad (bag of mixed greens + sliced ham + sliced turkey + cubed cheddar cheese + pre-cooked hard boiled egg + dressing of your choice)
  6. Cobb Salad (bag of mixed greens + rotisserie chicken + chopped avocado + crumbled bacon + blue cheese + cherry tomatoes + blue cheese dressing)
  7. Slow Cooker Shredded Beef and Salad (put a beef roast in your slow cooking in the morning with a cup of broth and lots of salt. Cook over low heat all day. Before dinner, shred. + bagged salad + dressing)
  8. Pulled Pork and Coleslaw (shredded pork from the slow cooker) for coleslaw a bag shredded cabbage + dressing (1 cup mayo + 1 tablespoon vinegar + dash sea salt)
  9. Shredded Pork Tacos (shredded pork from slow cooker + lettuce for tortillas + sour cream + cheese + hot sauce)
  10. Chicken soft tacos (same as above, but use a rotisserie chicken)
  11. Shrimp and Zoodles (frozen shrimp (defrost by running under cool running water for 5-10 minutes) spiralized zucchini + olive oil + sea salt)
  12. Shrimp Tacos (defrosted frozen shrimp + pico de gallo + sour cream mixed with lime juice + romaine lettuce for shells)
  13. Shrimp Salad (defrosted frozen shrimp + bag butter lettuce + pre-cooked hard boiled eggs + sliced avocado + tomato wedges + dressing of choice)
  14. Caprese Salad (sliced tomato + sliced mozzarella + fresh basil + drizzled with lots of olive oil + sea salt)
  15. Roast Beef, Blue Cheese, and Arugula Roll-ups (sliced roast beef spread with cream cheese, topped with blue cheese, then with arugula, rolled up and secured with toothpick)
  16. BLT Lettuce Boats (romaine lettuce + bacon + tomato + mayo)
  17. Turkey and Avocado Roll-ups (sliced turkey spread cream cheese + avocado slices dipped in ranch dressing)
  18. Deviled Eggs + Spinach Salad (bagged spinach + dressing of choice)
  19. Chicken Caesar Salad (bagged chopped Romaine lettuce + Caesar dressing + rotisserie chicken + shaved Parmesan cheese)
  20. Italian Chopped Salad (Finely chopped head of Romaine lettuce + chopped salami + chopped pepperoni + sliced pepperoncini peppers + provolone cheese + Italian dressing

What are your favorite super fast and easy, keto meal ideas?


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10 Months on a Ketogenic Diet

Ten months means I’m only two months away from being a full year on a ketogenic diet. What will that feel like? And what should I do to celebrate?  Since I was late posting my 9 Month update, I was concerned that I wouldn’t have much to report for my ten month update considering it has only been two weeks since my last update. However, much has happened in the last two weeks.

In case you’re new to my Keto Diet story and my remarkable health transformation, or simply want a refresher, you can catch up here: Month 1, Month 2, Month 3, Month 4, Month 5, Month 6, Month 7, Month 8, Month 9, Month 10, Month 11

Improved Mood

Winters in the Pacific Northwest can be brutal, but not in a snow-and-sleet-and-freezing-temps kind of way. (For reference, it is March right now as I write this.) Northwest winters are long, dark days of grey, dreary, drizzly, cool temperatures that can wreak havoc on a person’s mood. Anyone susceptible to depression can be challenged each year when January or February rolls around in the northwest, having just survived another calendar quarter of grey days. My genetics make me one of those people that are susceptible to winter depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Another keto win and unexpected benefit is that this year my mood is the best it has ever been at this time of year. While I still feel that tug of depression, it is simply an awareness of it rather than an all consuming mood of a heavy, inescapable wet blanket. I’ve been very impressed with this relief compared to past years of my life. And while my mood has been remarkably better, I still felt the need to get away to the sun and warmth! I decided to reach out to friends in the Phoenix area and take refuge from the grey drizzle and hopefully find some warmth of the sunshine. I would soon happily find myself in 80 – 90 degree weather. Big smiley face.

Travel to Phoenix

While my trip to Phoenix started out as a simple respite from my northwest winter, it quickly turned into a serendipitous adventure of meeting people that have reduced carbohydrate intake in one way or another to help improve their health. The trip was the perfect balance of deeply rewarding work and relaxation. My relaxation included reunions with high school and college friends (has it really been 24 years?!?), soaking up sun by the pool, and of course an In-N-Out burger (Double Double, Protein Style)! My work included these Keto Chat interviews:

All these videos will be coming soon, so be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel.

AZ Mar 2016
I was surprised to find some of my favorite colors in Phoenix.

Hair Regrowth

Significant weight loss is a huge stressor on the body. When the body is under significant stress, it prioritizes growth and regeneration away from fast growing cells, like hair and nails. I mentioned this in previous posts, but I’ll reiterate here, that what I found in looking through literature was that any kind of diet that produces significant weight loss has the potential to cause hair loss, which I experienced during my nearly 60 pound weight loss. My literature review also made me confident that the hair loss would be temporary, and that once my weight stabilized, my hair would grow back. My weight has been stable for the last 4 months. About 2 weeks ago, I noticed that I have a surprising amount of about 2 – 3 inches of new hair growth at the crown of my head. It makes for interesting work styling my hair now, but I’m excited to have burgeoning luscious locks of hair.

I received further evidence of my good health when I stopped in at an Aveda salon in Phoenix to grab some dry shampoo that I couldn’t bring on the airplane with me. After hearing my proclamation of my oily hair (always has been that way), the stylist offered me a scalp analysis because she suggested that an oily scalp can actually be a sign of dry skin. I laughed a bit, knowing that my skin was very well moisturized from the inside out from all the fat I eat. But I humored her a bit, mostly because I wanted more proof that my body is healthy. She took a nearly microscopic digital photo of my scalp, which revealed three things: my scalp is very health (not dry), my hair follicles all have 2 hairs each (if there were less than this, it is a sign of balding or thinning), and I also have more baby fine hair growing in between my existing hair. The last part was really exciting because in addition to the 2 – 3 inch growth I can see, I have even more hair starting to grow. It seems I will soon have the thickest hair of my life.

All this hair growth is an exceptionally good sign that my body is in very good health.

10 Month Keto Progress
My 10 month keto anniversary happened while I was in Phoenix on vacation. I bought this new bikini bottom just for the trip. Are you ready to take the 90 Day Keto Diet Challenge?

Dairy Free Update

About a month ago, I decided to do a dairy-free month for two reasons. One, in support of my son, who decided to see how much more his acne would improve, and two, because I was becoming concerned about the amount of heavy whipping cream I was consuming. It was standard operating procedure in our house to have a large batch of whipped heavy whipping cream on hand to go on coffee. It was quite delicious, but that was part of the problem. It was so delicious that over time, I began wanting more, and more, and more, which is a sign of the addictive part of my brain being triggered. It was time to give it a rest and see how I felt.

We quickly realized that dairy, especially cheese, was a convenience food in our house. Without that quick and easy, grab-and-go food, I began exploring alternatives. I found some dairy-free cream cheese alternatives, but they were too expensive to grab much of our attention. We soon settled on nuts as our new quick and easy snack, but being mindful of portion size when we do. One trick I use to minimize mindless nut snacking is to keep them in the freezer. We will grab only a small handful and then put them back. Keeping them in the freezer keeps them out of sight, plus is a reminder that they need to be eaten only in limited quantities. We’ve also been using more coconut oil and coconut milk.

Now I’ll admit, I haven’t been 100% dairy free (although my son has). When out to eat, I would have cheese on my burger or salad, and occasionally I would get an Americano from Starbucks with heavy cream. But at home, we were 100% dairy free, and that is where I consume most of my meals.

What did I notice after a month of dairy-free? At first, I really, really missed the whipped cream in my coffee! Coffee just wasn’t as exciting any more. It really was something I looked forward to each morning when I woke up, so I had to go through a bit of a mourning period. I tried making coconut whipped cream, but it just wasn’t the same, but I did end up making coconut milk and coconut oil “creamer” for our coffee and it’s a nice compromise (but still not as good as whipped cream!).  I also noticed that I had slightly less body inflammation, as evidenced by my massage therapist being able to work deeper, but that has only come after several weeks.

food in AZ Mar 2016
Some of the delicious keto food I ate while on vacation in Phoenix, AZ. See more on my Instagram.

Weight

For the most part, I haven’t tracked my food intake for at least the last 3 months. I use the simple meal formula that I teach my clients in my 90 Day Challenge Program, and while in the beginning it was important to weigh and track all food, the meal formula quickly teaches you how to do this long-term, so you don’t have to track food forever. My weight has been stable, within about 5 pounds, for the last 4 months. You can see from the graph below that I had a whoosh the end of November/beginning of December, losing 7 pounds in only 1 week. After that, my weight was stable, perhaps even trending upward a bit, for the next month, followed by another small whoosh of 4 pounds over 4 days in early February. This was when I started my 5 X 5 weight lifting program, however I found that it startlingly stimulated my appetite, so I paused the program until I could research the best way to do this. I now understand that this is normal, and that I was not eating enough calories to compensate, which is why my appetite felt out of whack compared to what I was used to. I plan to reinstate my 5 X 5 workouts in the next couple of weeks, when I can more carefully monitor what I’m eating to ensure adequate calories while staying in ketosis.

Keto weight loss graph Sept 25 2016 to Mar 22 2016

That last three dots that make a straight line? That was before and after my trip to Phoenix. I was pretty impressed with myself, my body, and keto, that even while on vacation I could eat freely, simply following my appetite and maintain my weight, while eating foods such as an entire bag of macadamia nuts, a fast food double cheeseburger (minus the bun), 1 cup of heavy cream in my coffee, eggs and cheese, quadruple creamy dressing on my salads, 4 strips of bacon plus a 3 egg omelet, several pats of butter on top of my side dish, twice eating 10 chicken wings dipped in lots of blue cheese dressing, and more.

Upcoming One Year Keto Anniversary

What suggestions do you have about how I should celebrate my one year keto diet anniversary? I’m thinking I should do some kind of giveaway…


Take the 90 Day Keto Challenge

Are you ready to take the keto plunge? You should join my next 90 Day Keto Diet Challenge Program. Everything you need to succeed on a ketogenic diet: weekly live webinars with me, weekly menus and shopping lists, workbook, and private Facebook support group.

Get more info here.

90 day keto challenge program


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Keto Chocolate Cream Pie

I’m launching my next 90 Day Keto Challenge very soon. Would you like to join me? It includes weekly webinars, meal plans and shopping list, a workbook, and private online support group. Everything you need to start (or restart) your keto diet. For more info, click here.


 

This chocolate pie is low carb, high fat, sugar free, gluten free, dairy free, and vegetarian, too. It packs a whopping 477 mg of potassium per slice and is a play on a raw vegan avocado chocolate pie, but to amp up the fat, I’ve added cocoa butter. This makes it really rich, plus as it cools, it has a very firm  yet creamy texture. I made this pie originally for Thanksgiving 2015 while my son and I were doing a month of dairy free keto. It turned out so well that he asked me to recreate it for the holiday party at one of the restaurants he works at.

whole chocolate pie

Keto Chocolate Pie
Keto Chocolate Pie (with optional whipped cream)

Coconut and Hazelnut Flour Crust

Chocolate Cream Filling

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Grease a 9 inch pie plate with coconut oil. In a food processor fitted with an S blade, combine the coconut oil, eggs, coconut and hazelnut flour. Pulse until dough comes together in a ball. Place dough into the pie plate. Using your fingers, press and spread out evenly in pie place. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until lightly brown. Let cool.
  3. Clean out the food processor and begin preparing the chocolate pie filling. Remove skin and pits from avocados and discard. Put avocado, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla, and Swerve into the processor bowl. Turn processor on low and slowly pour melted cocoa butter in and mix until smooth and combined. Stop blade and scrape down sides if needed and blend further.
  4. Pour chocolate pie filling into cooled pie crust and spread out evenly. Place pie in the refrigerator and cool completely, about 2 – 4 hours, before serving.

Cooks Notes: You could top this pie with whipped heavy cream (as pictured), or in keeping with dairy free, make a coconut whipped topping, or simply eat it like it is. Another addition I suggest is 1 – 2 tablespoons of greens powder mixed into the pie filling.

Yield: 8 servings

Macronutrient Information: 465 calories, 4 g net carbs (14 g carbs, 10 g fiber), 46 g fat, 5.5 g protein

RDA Information: riboflavin 10%, B6 12%, folate 18%, vitamin C 11%, vitamin K 25%, copper 16%, iron 13%, magnesium 12%, manganese 16%, potassium 13%

4 Month Update on My Ketogenic Diet

My next 90 Day Keto Challenge starts soon. Would you like to join me? It includes weekly webinars, meal plans and shopping list, a workbook, and private online support group. For more info, click here.


This is part of a series: Month 1, Month 2, Month 3, Month 5, Month 6, Month 7, Month 8, Month 9, Month 10, Month 11


Did you notice that I took off the word “experiment” in the title? I’ve decided this is no longer an experiment, meaning something that is temporary and only done for a trial period. After the life altering health improvements I’ve experienced, I’ve decided that this is my new way of life. Who would ever want to go back to feeling miserable all day and night? This month, along with my normal report of health improvements and challenges, I’ve included some Frequently Asked Questions that I have been getting recently.

In some ways, month four was quite different from months one through three. The biggest difference was that my weight loss slowed considerably. I also started to exercise a lot more, incorporating weight lifting and lots more walking. In most other ways, month four was business as usual for my keto life: I continued to experience health benefits and improvements, plus I’ve noticed even more.

The slowed weight loss did begin to play mind games with me, since my weight loss up to this point had been relatively effortless. I had times where I questioned if I was doing something wrong, if I might be sliding back into old habits and underestimating portions, if this wasn’t working any more, if I’d ever be able to lose any more weight, etc. A friend pointed out that I was addicted to big scale losses! And she was right. What I had to realize was that since I added three times per week weight training, plus I was walking a couple of miles per day (my car broke down and I had to walk everywhere), the slowed weight loss was likely due to body composition changes, that is, gaining muscle while losing fat. My son suggested that I look to body fat changes instead of scale changes. And when I did, I was reassured that my body was changing in ways that the scale won’t show. For example, the first week of September, I lost 1 pound of fat and gained 1 pound of muscle, which of course would not show on the scale. On my Omron body fat monitor, it did show as a loss of 0.5% body fat though. This change would also not have shown on any measurements I took, because a 1 pound change over my entire body would be very minuscule in any one place. Overall, I did lose another 3/4 of an inch off my waist over the last month, so there were changes that did not reflect on the scale (which only showed 2.5 pounds lost over the last month).

Improvements

Along with all the improvements to my health I reported in my Month 1 post, Month 2 post, and Month 3 post, here are additional things I’ve noticed over the last month:

  • Compliments on my skin and appearance all the time. People I know are frequently saying my skin looks great, that I’m glowing, that I have great skin, etc.
  • Urinary incontinence gone. Something that happens as we age, or after women have a child (or so we’ve been told this is “normal”), is a little leakage after urinating, coughing, or sneezing. I used to have a considerable dribble after urinating. This was something that actually disappeared a few weeks in, but I just now realized that it is gone.
  • Ability to resume my private practice part-time. This is a result of being able to think clearly, focus, handle stress better, and have more energy. I now offer ketogenic diet nutrition counseling, both online (phone or Skype sessions) and starting in October, 2015, I will be seeing patients in person in Redmond, Washington, USA.
  • No more stiffness in knees and ankles in the morning. Even prior to the car accident, my ankles and knees would be stiff in the morning. No more! This is also an improvement that occurred some months ago, but just now noticing.
  • Temperature tolerance. Before keto, I could not tolerate heat at all. I would get delirious when ever my body temperature would rise, and I could not tolerate the summer heat. After my car accident, I also could not tolerate cold temperatures, either. I would get really dizzy and lightheaded. After keto, this was the first summer I actually enjoyed the summer heat and sun. Additionally, unlike most people who lose weight, I’m not constantly freezing, which is a sign that my metabolism is NOT slowing down to compensate for reduced energy intake, like on most diets.
  • Increased strength and endurance. Over that last month, I was able to add weight training,  and increased walking and cardio considerably, even doing a couple of yoga sessions. My strength is still very low compared to where it was prior to my car accident, but I have been able to stop physical therapy as I have progressed to an actual gym for exercise.
  • Tons and tons of energy. Able to walk for hours, workout and more, even when I haven’t eaten for the day. This was such an amazing feeling, that I had to create a separate blog post about it.
  • Weight Loss: 41 pounds total, 2.5 pounds last month
  • Inches Off Waist: 7.75 inches total, 0.75 inches last month
  • Body Fat Loss: from 40% to 32.2%
4 month progress
4 month progress, side view
4 month progress, front view
4 month progress, front view

Challenges

Some people on keto forums complain of hair loss and thinning. A week ago, I went to get my first hair cut since keto (and added a fun streak of hot pink!). The hairdresser commented that I was shedding a lot of hair, which I had not noticed myself. When I looked into research about this, I found that hair loss and shedding are actually a normal part of weight loss because it is a huge stress on the body. Despite all the remedies you might find on the internet, research does not support any specific supplement that will treat this any faster than the body’s normal 6 month period of adapting and regrowth. So basically, you may have to live with it for the short-term until you hit weight maintenance. Of course, you want to make sure you are eating the most nutrient-dense foods you can, and I recommend taking a high quality multi-vitamin/mineral supplement, too, because it is difficult to meet all your nutrient needs when you are eating fewer calories than your body needs.  Here are a couple of articles on the matter, too:

FAQs

These are actual questions that I’ve gotten in person, through email, online messages, and so on. Some of these come from people who are skeptical that a keto diet is healthy. Others are thinking about beginning a keto diet themselves and want to know more about what it is like to follow this lifestyle. And others likely know that a keto diet would benefit them, but they are not ready to make big changes, so they question this way of eating as a defense mechanism or form of denial. I fully acknowledge that a ketogenic diet is an extreme change for most people. It takes hard work and dedication. And you have to be really ready for big changes to take on this approach.

If you have a question about keto, please ask away in the comments!

What is keto?

In general, a keto diet is very low carb, moderate protein, and high fat. Keto is short for ketogenic diet. A ketogenic diet is where you eat in such a way that your body turns to fat as it’s primary fuel source, instead of glucose. The state of using fat as the body’s primary fuel source is called ketosis. This is a natural metabolic state for humans and most of us enter this state each night when we sleep. The one way to get the body into ketosis is to restrict carbohydrate intake and not eat too much protein (the amount of fat eaten does not matter to achieve ketosis). The level of restriction can vary from person to person, and for many, somewhere between 20 – 50 grams of carbs per day will achieve this. Most people following a keto diet eat below 20 grams of carbs per day to ensure ketosis. When a ketogenic diet is used long-term to confer health benefits, it is said to be a “nutritional ketogenic diet”.

When you are in ketosis, your body has a steady fuel source (body fat), so your energy is optimal and steady, without any dips or crashes. Most people who rely on carbohydrates for energy need to refuel every 2 – 3 hours because our bodies do not have the ability to store many carbohydrates. It does take a period of adaptation, however, to get the body used to running primarily on fat. This adaptation occurs in two stages: stage 1 is weaning off carbohyrates, which can feel a bit (or a lot!) like going through a drug withdrawal. This stage can last 10 – 14 days for most people. After this initial stage is when people notice the first major improvements, like increased energy and mental clarity, and often a whole host of other health improvements. The second stage is adaptation, where the body begins making more of the enzymes necessary to convert dietary and body fat into ketone bodies for energy. Stage 2 can take 8 – 12 weeks or longer. During this time, energy and mental clarity continue to increase, plus exercise tolerance steadily improves, as well as continued health improvements.

What do you eat?

You can see exactly what I eat every day by following me on Instagram. I take photos of every meal or snack I eat.

Here is a pretty comprehensive list of keto-friendly foods from Ruled Me. For the most part, these are the foods I eat, but I would add organ meats (like liver and heart), and omit artificial sweeteners (like sucralose, Crystal Lite, and aspartame). Actually, the only sweeteners I use, in very small amounts, are erythritol and stevia.

My current formula is roughly: breakfast is a couple of cups of coffee with heavy cream. (I’m not very hungry early in the day, so I enjoy my coffee and eat later when I’m hungry.) Lunch in the afternoon, about 1 – 3 pm, I’ll have a protein (chicken, beef, fish, lamb, etc.) with some veggies (lately it has mostly been salad greens), with some added fat (salad dressing, butter, or Buffalo wing sauce). Dinner is around 7 – 8 pm and is a repeat of my lunch formula. Sometimes I’ll add hemp seeds to my salad or have an once of almonds or have pork rinds dipped in Buffalo wing sauce as a snack. I eat when hungry, not by the clock. I eat until I’m satisfied, but not overly full or stuffed. Keto has allowed me to eat to “hara hachi bu,” which is Japanese for “80% full”.

If you don’t have Instagram, here is a recent typical day:

Breakfast: coffee with almond milk, pumpkin pie spices, topped with whipped cream
Breakfast: coffee with almond milk, pumpkin pie spices, topped with whipped cream
Lunch: romaine lettuce stuffed with tuna salad, topped with cheddar and Buffalo sauce (butter + Frank's hot sauce)
Lunch: romaine lettuce stuffed with tuna salad, topped with cheddar and Buffalo sauce (butter + Frank’s hot sauce)
Dinner: bacon blue cheese burger (no bun) and a mixed green side salad topped with blue cheese dressing
Dinner: bacon blue cheese burger (no bun) and a mixed green side salad topped with blue cheese dressing

What foods can’t you eat?

The goal with keto is to keep your carbohydrate intake low enough to keep  you in a state of fat utilization, or ketosis. Low carb intake keeps insulin low, which keeps you in ketosis. Some foods are way too high in carbs per servings, so they become off limits. Others have too high of an insulin response, even if the carb count could fit within your daily limit, so they are off limits, too. Here is a list of foods that are off limits for me and most people on a ketogenic diet:

  • Sugar. In all forms, including refined and natural sugars, even honey and maple syrup, because the carbohydrate count is too high and they still cause a dramatic insulin response in the body, which will kick you out of ketosis (and cause a host of other problems).
  • Flour and Starches. This overlaps some with grains, root veggies and sugars, but I include it to give you a full picture.
  • Grains. In all forms, including whole grains, flours, beer or other fermented grain beverages, corn, etc. Many people think that grains are a good source of B vitamins, however only fortified grains (refined grains) contains high quantities of some B vitamins, however these are synthetic forms and not well absorbed nor utilized by the body. The other foods that I eat (animal proteins and fats) are actually much richer sources of B vitamins than whole grains. We’ve been brainwashed into thinking that whole grains are healthy for us. Now, whole grains are healthier for us than refined grains, but all grains are still primarily empty starch and carb calories. Yes, even quinoa, the supposed “high protein” grain is still 80% carbohydrate! Plus grains contain anti-nutrients that bind to minerals that keep us from even absorbing them. Grains are a cheap, easy to overeat, weight promoting food with very little nutritional value.
  • Milk and  Yogurt. Too high in naturally occurring sugars and carbohydrates. Heavy cream and cheeses are fine, however. “What about calcium?” you may be asking. I do get plenty of calcium from cheese, cream, sardines, leafy greens, and seeds.
  • Fruit. Most fruit has been hybridizes to be very high in sugar and carbohydrates, so it really is not as healthy as we’ve been lead to believe. Some people on keto have some berries occasionally, as they are lower in carbs/sugar and glycemic response. A couple of months ago, I tried a 1/4 cup of raspberries and expected them to taste exceptionally sweet after being without fruit for so long, however I found that they tasted too tart and sour now! My tastebuds appear to be changing to prefer fat and not sweet tastes, which makes it easy to avoid fruit since I don’t have a taste for it any more.
  • Root Veggies and underground starchy veggies, like carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes, yams, etc. While a lot of these are thought to be high in vitamin A, these foods are packed with carbs. Plus there are much richer sources of vitamin A in the other foods I eat (like butter, cream, and liver). Most days my intake of vitamin A is over 500% of the RDA without consuming any root veggies. Many people eating a keto diet will use cauliflower to simulate mashed potatoes, and I can say, it is really delicious. Especially when loaded with butter, cream, cheese, bacon and sour cream! Who would miss potatoes with dishes like that?

Is Keto the same as Paleo, Whole 30, low carb, Atkins, or other diets?

No, keto is not the same thing as as those other diets. All other diet programs are moderate to high carbohydrate, even if they feel to you like you have cut way back on carbs by following one of these diets. If you are eating any of the foods from the list above of “off limits foods”, then you are not eating a ketogenic diet.

The only diet that comes close to keto is the induction phase of the Atkins diet. But Atkins is also different than keto because it only  has a person follow this phase for 2 weeks, while keto does this phase indefinitely, even during weight maintenance or even if you have no weight to lose at all. Atkins also does not restrict meat consumption, while keto is moderate protein with a clear protein limit because too much protein can actually kick a person out of ketosis. Atkins is primarily for weight loss, while keto is primarily for health improvements, with the side effect of weight loss (if needed).

Many people also think that a low carb diet and keto are the same thing. This is also not true. Low carb diets are typically defined as less than 100 grams of carbs per day. While keto is a low carb diet, you can follow a low carb diet and not be in ketosis if you consume more carbs than 10 grams of carbs per day, or if you consume too much protein. Weight loss does not prove that you are in keotosis, either! You can lose weight on many different diets, so weight loss, even on a low carb diet, does not mean you are following a keto diet.

Can you have fruit?

See the “What can’t you eat” question above.

Can you have alcohol?

Tolerance for alcohol is great decreased on keto. For many people,  1 drink equals 3. The liver is very busy making ketone bodies from fat, and when you introduce alcohol into your system, it has to stop making ketones (or make less) to deal with the alcohol, so weight loss usually stalls (or reverses) when people drink alcohol more than occasionally. For me, my desire to drink has greatly decreased. Those that do choose to drink alcohol on a keto diet, choose low-carb options, like hard alcohol with no-calorie mixers (club soda, water, olive juice) or make a carb allowance for a dry glass of wine (about 4-5 grams of carbs or more per glass). Beer, cider, sweet cocktails, etc. are off limits.

Are you going to eat this way forever?

At this point, my plan is to eat this way indefinitely. Why would I want to go back to feeling so sick that I was nearly completely disabled?

Is it safe to do this forever? How long has anyone ever done a ketogenic diet?

A ketogenic diet has been used for a very long time to treat kids and adults with epilepsy. The Charlie Foundation is a great resource. Additionally, here is an MD, Dr. Mary Vernon, that has been following a keto diet for over 13 years.

Will you never have another beer or enjoy a piece of cake? What about special occasions?

Following a ketogenic diet and lifestyle has to be a mindset shift. For me, this happened early on due to the severity of my health problems. Very quickly after experiencing the tremendous health improvements, I no longer wanted to ever eat a regular piece of cake or have a beer again. Sure, I have cravings for many things, but I have no desire to put those things in my body because of how detrimental they are to my well being.

I think many well-meaning people don’t understand just how poisonous some foods are to some people. Would you ask a person with Celiac if they will never eat gluten again? A person with a life-threatening peanut allergy to have a Reeces peanut butter cup? Would you challenge an alcoholic to a few shots on their birthday? To me, too many carbs are poison to me and act just like a drug in my brain (and the same for many, many other people). Research clearly shows that sugars and refined carbs are as addictive, and even more so, than heroin and cocaine. Why do special occasions have to involve highly toxic, addictive substances? Why do we bring these foods to work to “treat” our co-workers? Why do we have drug-filled drive thru restaurants and coffee shops on every corner? Hopefully change will be coming sooner rather than later to shift our thinking about these highly toxic, addictive foods.

Won’t you gain all the weight back once you go off keto/go back to normal eating?

Yes. If you go on keto just to lose weight, and then try to resume your old eating habits, you will gain all the weight back and probably a lot more. This is not unique to a keto diet though! Any diet, done temporarily, will not permanently make you lose weight. If eating the way you are now is making you fat and sick, then going back to the same way of eating after keto (or any diet) will cause you to return to your former state of fat and sick, which, by the way, is a progressive state. If you keep doing what you are doing now, you will only get sicker and fatter, right? So unless you choose to live a different life with different eating habits, you will not change that path to ill health. A ketogenic diet can have amazing healing affects, but only if it is done long-term.

Will keto fix your health so you can resume a normal diet?

Keto can be a fix, but it is a long-term solution, not a quick fix diet. At some point in the future, I may be able to increase my daily carbs to 30, 40 or 50 grams to find my carb tolerance. Each person’s tolerance to carbs will be different and many factors contribute to this: genetics, previous eating habits, how long you at that way, stress, nutritional status, etc.). Keto can fix health problems as long as it is followed, but if you go back to your former eating habits, your old health problems are sure to return.

Thank you for reading! If you have any questions or comments, please post below. 


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Sweet and Sour Bok Choy

This keto-friendly side dish is made with bok choy, a relative in the same family as broccoli and cauliflower. The base looks similar to broad, white celery, while the tops fan out into dark leafy greens, that remind me of collard greens. Since the bottom needs a bit more time to cook than the tops, this recipe has you cook the bok choy in stages:

First cook the white parts
First cook the white parts

 

...then add the leafy green parts
…then add the leafy green parts

 

Let the greens wilt a bit
Let the greens wilt a bit

 

The final dish. Sweet and Sour Bok Choy
The final dish. Sweet and Sour Bok Choy

 

Ingredients
2 strips of thick-cut bacon
1 large head of bok choy, trimmed and rinsed, cut into 2 inch chunks
3 tablespoons of tamari (wheat free soy sauce)
1 tablespoon sriracha
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of freshly grated raw ginger
2 tablespoons of Swerve, confectioners style

6 tablespoons coconut oil

Directions

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Roughly chop the bacon into 1 inch pieces. Add to the heated skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until crispy. Remove bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with paper towels.
  2. Place the white end pieces of the bok choy into the bacon grease in the already heated skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4 – 5 minutes, until the pieces start to brown a bit on the ends.
  3. While the white ends cook, combine tamari, sriracha, sesame oil, vinegar, garlic, ginger, and Swerve and a blender and blend until smooth. (Sometimes Swerve can clump together if you try to mix it with a fork, which is why I recommend a quick whirl in the blender.)
  4. Add the green parts of the bok choy now to the skillet, on top of the white parts. Gently stir. Pour the tamari mixture over the bok choy and cook for 2 – 3 more minutes, until the greens are slightly wilted. Add the bacon and stir. Dish into 6 portions, topping each serving with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutrition info per serving: 184 calories, 3.9 g carbs, 1.1 g fiber, 18 g fat, 4 g protein

RDA info: B6 12%, folate 16%, vitamin A 86%, vitamin C 78%, vitamin K 55%, calcium 10%,