‘Why my ketogenic approach to nutrition may look different than others, why thats ok, and will keto macros be the same for everyone?’
If I’ve learned anything at all since transitioning to a ketogenic approach to eating, its that EVERYONE has variations. Just based on quick searches I’ve done on Instagram and in social media groups, I began to see a lot of the same type of meals, snacks, and beverages. Bacon bacon bacon, cheese, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, string cheese, more cheese, butter on butter on butter, huge steaks (with butter and cheese and a side of cream cheese with butter), 0 carb energy drinks, 3 cups of coffee (with butter and heavy cream), artificial sweeteners to replace sugar, packaged Atkin’s products, protein bars, protein powders, and a bunch of other readily packaged & processed foods.
Now don’t get me wrong here. I’m no zealot. For ANY nutritional protocol to truly work and have an impact on YOUR life, it has to fit YOUR lifestyle. People have to make certain comprises to make the dietary approach work for them. If you don’t make those adjustments to suit YOU, its that much easier to “fall off the wagon” and revert back to your old ways. I get that. Totally, 100%, and if I remember correctly… I used to be a hard core “flexible dieter” and had NO problem eating out of a package or loading up on foods that were less than optimal. However, prior to my medical conditions AND then knowing about my food sensitivities, I HAD to adjust MY way of eating accordingly so many of the typical “keto” foods were already going to be out for me. Fortunately its worked out better for me than EVER expected!
That being said though, while I don’t think there is a “right” or “wrong” way to go about your nutritional program, I do wholeheartedly believe that there is optimal and less optimal no matter your approach. Same goes for flexible dieting (IIFYM), vegan, vegetarian, or ANY other eating style. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll see that my meals have ALWAYS looked a bit varied, but healthy foods have remained pretty consistent. I stress the importance of eating vegetables (EVERYday, ensuring adequate fiber, striving to incorporate whole foods, getting all of the vitamins/minerals/nutrients from “real food”, reducing the amount of processed foods (but NOT being scared to eat them here and there either), and eating a well BALANCED “diet”.
For me and my keto journey, my driving force was strictly for medical purposes. Unlike 99% of those doing keto, my change in lifestyle was NOT about weight loss. Not only do I have zero weight to lose, but I couldn’t care less about what the numbers on the scale read. Never have, never will. And when you live with chronic disease and your body begins to fail you right before your eyes in a matter of ONE year, life becomes about merely surviving each day. I strive to live the absolute best life possible given my circumstances, feeling as optimal as I possibly can, improving quality of life where I can, and appreciating every single “good” day. Keto for me was solely about reducing pain, improving a long list of my symptoms, and creating new healthy CELLS to hopefully drive out some of my bad ones for healing.
So yeah. My approach is quite different than the typical keto “dieter” and thats OK!
First and foremost, what led me to keto in the first place (and where I began to see extraordinary changes in my medical issues) was the Wahl’s Protocol. Bottom line for me was flooding my body & cells with real food… 9 cups of veggies each and every single day, incorporating things like organ meat/fermented foods/fish (still not quite there yet because I have always absolutely HATED seafood), and also cutting out gluten/grains/dairy/legumes. It was a HUGE change for me and my body, but I can’t argue with the results so its been easy to stay on plan and not revert back to my old way of eating.
When I was led to keto via the Wahl’s Protocol and after I had cut out gluten/dairy/grains/legumes, my top priority was to include those 9 cups of veggies. I knew there would be a possibility that I would never actually reach keto adaptation because my carbs would be a bit higher than most on keto and I was OK with that. It didn’t bother me that I may pop in and out of ketosis here and there. It was fine that I may only produce moderate ketones. I wanted the health benefits of this eating style, but also had to do what felt right to ME and what worked for MY life.
Luckily, I was able to achieve FULL keto adaptation AND keep the huge amount of veggies I wanted to eat! I honestly feel that because my metabolism (and thyroid, adrenals, hormones) are in such great healthy shape, my body could handle the extra carbs. Most people taking a ketogenic approach to capping their carbs off at 20 grams and it only makes up 5% of their daily macro goals. I have been able to get away with around 45 grams of carbs a day (10% of my daily macros) with no issues at all (even going to attempt some refeeds/carb ups soon). Full ketosis every single day AND fully adapted now.
Here is a BLOOD KETONE reading from just last night (time was actually 10:25pm, never bothered to change it on the machine when first purchased):
RANT: One thing I have NOT liked at all about a lot of the social media groups and postings is people thinking there is a magic number when it comes to macros. Our bodies are SO highly unique. Not only that there is huge variety in lifestyle and current health. Someone with a deranged metabolism, shot adrenals and thyroid, doesn’t get quality sleep, has high stress, etc. may have a very difficult time even getting into ketosis at all. Someone like me who has never “dieted” for weight loss and has all of her metabolism completely in tact, zero stress, 6-7 hours of sleep every night, and was 100% totally and utterly committed to this lifestyle no matter what is going to have a much easier time adapting. That “magic number” of under 20 carbs a day has not applied to me at ANY point in my keto adaptation. It may have to apply to other though. Not one “right” way to do anything, including keto.
Here are some typical meals for me to give you an idea of what MY approach looks like:
cauliflower “oats”, almond flour pancakes topped with coconut butter, and two slices of Applegate bacon
sauteed of grass fed beef, onions, mushrooms, riced cauliflower, kale and topped with avocado and red cabbage kraut
grilled & chopped asparagus with swordfish steak on top of raw spinach and topped with garlic/lemon butter
And I take a ‘no excuses’ approach to my nutrition, even while on the go! Our life isn’t necessarily busy per se, but we do enjoy going to the beach, spending time at our time share resort, attending our daughters volleyball practices which are TWO nights a week plus saturday mornings, and we also eat out a couple of times a week. Adjustments need to be made and planning & prepping are KEY though, especially with a keto approach to eating!
beach day with my FitMark bag- sprouted pumpkin seeds, cucumbers, bone broth, and a huge serving of sautéed riced broccoli, zucchini, and filet mignon
poolside with my homemade bone broth
waiting on an MRI scan and very happy I brought food… steamed broccoli and raw spinach with leftover meatballs, a dab of marinara, and fresh basil
And here are some of the meals I’ve taken to Makena’s practice… the family eats before practice while I finish preparing whatever I’m taking with me. I’m usually not hungry when the family eats on practice nights because its a bit early, so opt to prep/pack/go/eat there!
- riced cauliflower, onions, and asparagus with the flank steak and peppers from the rope vieja (cuban stew)
- HUGE salad with spinach, mustard greens, red cabbage, kraut, chicken, and homemade dressing (Makena’s coach even commented when he saw it… no way your little stomach can hold ALL of that. No way you can finish it! Finished in under 10 minutes coach. Don’t underestimate my eating skills… ever)!
- Asian stir fry with broccoli, onions, carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, bean sprouts, chicken, and kelp noodles
- riced broccoli, onion, mushrooms, grass fed beef, and kelp noodles
And last to share… even when our family eats out during the week, I still manage to stay totally keto complaint! My go to options for any restaurant are burgers (minus the bun), chicken dishes with a side veggies, and the fall back is always a salad. I ALWAYS request that my food isn’t cooked in ANY oil or have any butter included. Instead I bring my own “fat” AND my own dressing! This way I can keep better track of what I’m eating and make sure nothing funny is going on. Many restaurants use cheap oils like vegetable, canola, corn, etc which are all no no’s with my protocol. I’m also HIGHLY sensitive to soy, so I have to be very careful when eating out!
ALL of my meals now are either cooked in olive oil, avocado oil, beef tallow and then usually topped with additional fat (ghee and/or coconut oil). I can usually get carbs and protein anywhere on the go, but on a ketogenic approach fats need to be HIGH! That macro should always account for you biggest macro goal which is why I always have some “fat” on me when eating out!!!
See a pattern with my food choices? All quality whole foods, nothing packaged or processed, no globs of butter everywhere you look, no dairy, no grains, no meal replacements, no artificial ingredients. I actually find it hilarious that I’m back to “clean eating” (x 100) after being a flexible dieter for the past few years! This is optimal for ME though at this point in my life and luckily I am LOVING it!!!
Macros AFTER being fully adapted (carbs were initially a bit lower to ensure ketosis THEN raised):
And I know a lot of people are wondering why I’m so against certain foods like dairy and packaged foods. Don’t be mistaken though, my reasoning is absolutely sound.
#1 on my Wahl’s protocol, dairy is out first anyways although I have toyed with the idea of incorporating some here and there soon to see if any pain or symptoms return (see, open to playing to see whats right for ME)
#2 after receiving my PinnerTest results and seeing soy as a level 2 sensitivity, I HAD to take it out of my diet completely. Constant inflammation and aggravation of my gut are most likely what caused my autoimmune disease so it was extremely easy to give up any and all soy. Unfortunately, soy is in nearly EVERY single packaged product available. Happy its worked out that way though…. people have NO idea how bad soy can be for you (men, women, and kids)! Stop the soy products people!!!
There you have it. Why my ketogenic approach may appear different than most others you see, why thats OK, and proof that macros are highly individualized! Don’t let those keto purists scare ya. Do whats right for YOU and YOUR lifestyle! Again, to make this work for YOU it has to work for YOU. Be patient and don’t be in such a rush with ketosis or being fully adapted. Think of keto as a journey to a totally new lifestyle, not a race to lose the most amount of weight as you possibly can in the shortest amount of time (which isn’t healthy anyways… botched metabolism? Yup, crash dieting over and over and over again). Weight loss will always be a byproduct of a healthy mindset so take your time and get all avenues of your life together as well, amazing things are on the horizon there!