Why I Don't Eat Keto (And What I Recommend Instead!)
There’s a TON of buzz out there on the ketogenic diet. People are always looking for the next big thing, the magic bullet, the diet that’s going to make all their “perfect body” dreams come true. But as with most extreme diets, there are drawbacks. Let me share some #realfood meets #reallife food for thought before you decide to embark on a keto diet.
The Keto diet is a high fat-moderate protein-very low carb diet. In this scenario your body uses ketones instead of glucose for fuel. Essentially, your body relies on fat for fuel because there is little to no sugar to use. This sounds wonderful...and it is...we all want to burn fat. 🙋But it’s not suitable for everyone OR necessarily a long-term healthy solution.
Let me be clear : MANY of the meals I eat would be classified as keto. And I’m a big fan of real foods like grassfed butter and whole pastured eggs. But I wouldn’t ever call myself “keto”- my nutrition plan can be summed up as “Real Food”.
Read on to learn why I don’t do keto- and what I recommend instead.
REASON #1. KETO DOESN’T NECESSARILY MEAN HEALTHY
One major concern is how humans can take a perfectly legit concept and really jack it up. Historically a ketogenic diet would have been maintained with real food because there were no other options. But now you could basically live off bacon, pork rinds and cream cheese and call it a ketogenic day. Can we take 2 secs and consult our common sense? 🙄 (Not that all keto diets are like that, but many people endorse that type of approach!)
Just because something qualifies as “keto”- high fat, low carb, and low protein- doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Hidden Valley ranch is mostly fat but it’s chock full of nasty oils, MSG, preservatives, and artificial flavors. Yuck.
REASON #2. CARBS AREN’T NECESSARILY UNHEALTHY
Continuing with our Hidden Valley Ranch example, sweet potatoes would not be considered keto at all. They have way more sugar and carbs than “keto” foods. But they’re definitely Real Food The Way God Made It, and full of amazing nutrients including beta carotene (for your eye health!)
Carbs are not necessarily bad- it’s more about quantity, quality, and timing! They fit into my real food template- and they likely fit into yours as well.
REASON #3: KETO ISN’T THE GOAL- A FLEXIBLE METABOLISM IS
Be honest with yourself: You don’t want to eat keto for the sake of eating keto. You want to try it as a means to an end- finally finding a way to eat that will create better health and a better body. This is absolutely a worthwhile goal to shoot for! But I would argue that keto isn’t the best way to achieve that.
I’m much more in favor of creating an environment of metabolic flexibility- so your body can burn both fat and carbs efficiently. If you teach your body to only burn fat, it will not tolerate carbs well. What ends up happening is that you become carbohydrate intolerant because that’s what you’ve trained your body to do. So what happens when you’re tired of eating so much fat and you want some rice or a cookie or a glass of wine for Pete’s sake?? Your body will not be metabolically flexible enough to handle it well.
We have to teach our bodies to be like a hybrid car - switching back and forth between sources of energy. One key to remember is that carbs and fats should have a see-saw relationship - when one is up the other is down. We don’t want to overwhelm the body with energy. These are the concepts we learn and practice in my four week metabolic makeover program: Feast 2 Fast.
REASON #4. TO PROTECT MY GUT AND HORMONE HEALTH
If you’ve been here for a while, you know that when we consume carbs, our body produces insulin to blunt the blood sugar spike and send the glucose into your cells. Inside the cells, the sugar is used for energy. Just like too much insulin isn’t a good thing, too little insulin isn’t ideal either. We need a balance! Spiking your blood sugar moderately (with higher-carb real food veggies) produces a bit of insulin- this small amount helps you to produce other hormones which we need (like estrogen, progesterone, and cortisol).
Eating keto (especially a keto diet low in vegetables) can also reduce the diversity of your gut flora. We now know that having a diverse population of gut flora is extremely important to our health. Providing these good bugs with lots of different types of foods (including non-starchy AND starchy veggies!) keeps them healthy and flourishing, thereby preventing the overgrowth of bad guys like candida.
Are you sensing a pattern here? It’s all about balance :)
REASON #5. FLEXIBILITY AND #FOODPEACE
🌟Here’s a good example of why I do Feast 2 Fast and not something like Keto. My son is on a kick where he wants to cook all the things from Pioneer Woman. There are A LOT of carbs- like the whole cookbook. 😂 I don’t want to be so inflexible in my eating style that I can’t be like - sure! Let’s do it!
I know how to: ☑️upgrade the ingredients, ☑️manipulate my carb load, ☑️have food peace.
🍝He’s been begging me to make the Chicken Spaghetti. Yes I could be like - let’s use zoodles instead of pasta and let’s make cashew cream instead of a soup - but I don’t want it to always be that complicated or restrictive (unless there is a food sensitivity or therapeutic reason to do so).
I need something that works in my everyday life. When I want to cook with my kids or drink wine with my girlfriends or eat pie at Thanksgiving - I don’t want to freak out over it. And I want my body to burn both fat AND carbs efficiently (something you can lose with Keto).
I want to teach my kids about Real Food and cooking and how to choose better ingredients.
I don’t want to overthink it or obsessively count or rely on expensive shakes or supplements.
We made the chicken spaghetti together. He was so proud and dinner was delicious. Right after we finished I hit my fasting button and adjusted my carb load for the next day. No big deal. #foodpeace ☮️
Before going keto I recommend a lower-carb Real Food diet (around 75 g per day or less) with intermittent fasting added in. These two steps alone can be incredibly effective in bringing you closer to your health goals! If you’d like some support in making the transition and getting more specific recommendations to help you meet your goals, you can join Feast 2 Fast. Our next round begins January 7th- I’d love for you to join me.
I encourage you to use your common sense and think long term when it comes to eating. Is it something you can live with long term? What happens when you go off? Will this create another yo-yo diet situation that confuses your body and makes it even harder to achieve your goals in the long run? Are you willing to pay for and use that “magic” supplement you got talked into for the rest of your life?
Sometimes therapeutic protocols like the ketogenic diet ARE necessary and extremely helpful. But I recommend trying something less extreme and more balanced first. Remember, extreme diets will usually come back to bite you in the butt. Why not teach your body a way to eat that you can live with forever? One that honors it with Real Food, but also makes room for Real Life.
If you are interested in teaching your body to be metabolically flexible, consider joining us for the next round of Feast 2 Fast. If you have any questions for me about Keto or Feast 2 Fast - I’d love to hear from you in a comment below.