Sunday, June 28, 2015

KETO: Macros, Ketostix, and Sugar Alternatives

   Being in and out of the ketogenic diet for the past years, I missed a couple of pretty important details along the way. Other than the importance of electrolytes, which I discuss in my post here:
KETO: Electrolytes

 There are a few other things to know about following a very low carb diet.


The "Golden Standard" for ketogenic macros are:
65% Fat
30% Protein
5% Carbohydrates

   I used to try to stick to these macros diligently, fretting about getting "enough fat" each day. However, the truth is that, as long as you are able to remain in ketosis, and are hitting your protein count: you can have as little fat as you'd like. That is, IF you have fat on your body. Rather than taking the old calorie count, finding whatever percent of your calories should be allotted to each category, and figuring it out that way, try this:

   Determine your body fat percentage/BMI. You can use an online calculator, like the one here, but know that these are notoriously inaccurate. You can also use a set of calipers, like these:

In any case, this is all a rough estimate. If you aren't completely accurate here, it won't be the end of the world.

So, take your handy BMI number, and input it into the following set of equations:

BMI * Current Weight = A
eg: If your BMI is 30 and you weigh 210 lbs, that equation looks like this: 0.30*210 = 63

Current Weight - A = Lean Muscle Mass

eg: 210 - 63 = 147

Lean Muscle Mass * 0.67 = Grams of Protein per Day for Muscle Maintenance
eg: 98g/day

   The 0.67 number is a rough estimate as to how many grams of protein are ideal per pound of lean muscle mass (More info on that here). So, this will get you an estimate of your daily required protein.

   So, hit your protein, remain under your cabs, and eat fat to satiety. It doesn't have to total at 65% of your day's calories.

   If you are short for time, or are having trouble hitting your protein goals, there are some protein bars that are quite popular among ketoers, and I personally enjoy them very much. Quest bars!
   These guys come in 31 different flavors, and are the best-tasting protein bars I've ever had. Here are the nutrition facts for double chocolate brownie flavor:
  • 20 grams protein
  • 5 grams net carbs
  • 19 grams fiber
  • 170 calories
   These things are great! Best price I've seen is $2.08 per bar, generally they run up around $3 per bar at grocery stores. Multi-packs cost more than individual flavors, but I recommend starting with a multi-pack to see which flavors you like best.


   When we first started the ketogenic diet, ,we thought these were helpful little tools to determine whether we were in ketosis. In actuality, these are not very accurate at measuring whether you are in ketosis or not. What are these for, if not for helping people determine ketosis? Ketostix are actually intended to help diabetics avoid ketoacidosis - something you won't have to worry about if you are not diabetic.

More detailed info from u/bluefocus on Ketostix:
PSA: When and How to Use KETOSTIX

More info on Ketoacidosis:
Difference Between Ketosis and Ketoacidosis

 3) Sugar Alternatives

    There are a number of reasons to avoid or limit your consumption of fake sweeteners. Reason one is that even though these aren't regular sugar, for some people fake sweeteners can kick them out of ketosis. Most people, if affected at all, are only affected by certain types of sugar alternatives. Erythritol seems to be the best choice these days, as it has the lowest glycemic index, followed by Xylitol. Suchralose (Splenda) isn't too bad, but not quite as good as the others.

   Other than that potential risk, artificial sweeteners have been known to cause sugar cravings in some individuals. You taste something sweet, your body expects some sugar, and the cravings pile up. If you do not act on those cravings, then there's not much harm done.

    When we first started out, we knew we could have  sugar alternatives, and basically to only watch out for overconsuming some as they had minimal carbs or could cause diarrhea. My husband and I had cut out so many carb-laden foods that we were really being hit with cravings - hard. We tried substitutions for all of them. Low-carb breads, low-carb pancakes, low-carb cookies, etc etc. We probably had a faux carb food each day, at least. While we quickly noted our limits when it came to carb count of sugar alternatives, and even more quickly our threshold before we had digestive issues, what took much longer was realizing that some of those fake sugars were causing our progress to stall out. Only when I hit a long plateau did I decide to try a sweetener-free "clean Keto" week to test out this new theory.

My Before post: Clean Keto
My After post: Clean Keto After One Week

   What a HUGE difference it made! Now, I'm not saying my results were typical. Not everyone consumes as many faux-sweeteners as I used to, and not everyone is affected by them. However,  if you are at a stall or are having intense sugar cravings - it's worth looking into.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Breastfeeding while in Ketosis: Round 2

    Since my baby has been growing great, no issues breastfeeding, etc, and I found myself trending lower and lower in my daily carb counts; I decided I was going into full-on Keto again. I tend to average between 20 and 40 carbs per day.

    After a couple of days with this limit, I noticed Natalie wanted to nurse practically all day long. It seemed like a small drop in supply, as expected. However, the very next day my letdowns seemed normal, and I got the usual breaks between feedings.

    If some one else is consuming a high carb diet and wants to make the change with younger babies (~4+ months old), I would recommend starting at 100g carbs per day, and cutting 5g each day and monitoring your supply as you go along. More important than carb count while breastfeeding is your water and caloric intake. Be sure to be constantly drinking water; if you feel thirsty then you are already a little bit dehydrated. If you are having trouble with your calorie counts, I highly recommend MyFitnessPal. Great, intuitive site (and love the app!) with an extensive food database.

   Check out my previous posts on breastfeeding while in ketosis -
Low Carb or Keto While Breastfeeding
Keto and Breastfeeding Introduction
Keto While Breastfeeding: Days 1-5
Keto and the Breastfeeding Diet TIPS

KETO: Great Low-Carb Foods for Summer

It is officially Summer and the hot weather has been here in the northwest for some time now. When it's hot, certain foods just don't sound as appetizing.  Here are some awesome, low-carb foods for this Summer season! Of course, we gotta have some refreshing keto beverages to keep cool with.

Side Dishes
Everyday Paleo's No-Potato Salad
   I have made this "fauxtato" salad a couple of times now, and I just love it. I like to crumble the cauliflower pretty small, and give the garlic a quick stove top roast before I mix it all together. I also admit, I use regular old mayo instead of the paleo mayo listed in the ingredients. If you let this sit overnight, the flavors soak into the cauliflower a bit more for a deeper flavor. 

   There are endless combinations of salad out there, from the types of lettuce to the dressings and toppings you can put on. My favorites include chopped or shredded meat, cheese, nuts or seeds, hard boiled eggs, maybe black olives, and occasionally a (small) handful of dried cranberries on top. I tend to go for ranch dressing, but you can also do things like olive oil and balsamic vinegar, caesar dressing (check the label!), and I'm sure a few others.

Veggies and Dip 
   Much like salad, there are a number of dips that are acceptably low-carb for the ketogenic diet. As always, be sure to check each label before buying! Safe bets are on full fat ranch dip and hummus. The best low carb vegetables are zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, peppers, and even green beans.

   Limited amounts of berries can fit nicely into the keto lifestyle, but be sure to keep track of how many you are consuming. Blueberries, in particular, have ~4 net carbs per 1/4 cup. Strawberries and raspberries are between ~1-2 carbs per 1/4 cup.

Deviled Eggs
   There are numerous variations to this dish, a couple of my favorites are:
Avocado Deviled Eggs
Caveman Keto: Bacon Deviled Eggs

Main Courses
Meat and Veg Kabobs:
Caveman Keto: Sunflower Butter Pork Kabobs
Grilled Marinated Shish Kebabs

 Pulled Pork
 While you can look up any number of pulled pork recipes, my all-time favorite is this one:
Caveman Keto's Crock Pot Pork Carnitas
Cook up the pork in your slow cooker, then a quick stove-top fry to crisp it up a bit, and serve with taco ingredients! If you use this recipe, be sure to set aside the onions after cooking in the crock pot, they have a couple of carbs and can add up quickly.

Chicken tacos
Cool Ranch Crockpot Chicken for Tacos or Tostadas
I use this recipe for the chicken only, regular tortillas (even corn tortillas) have far too many carbs for the ketogenic diet. I highly recommend Mission's Low Carb Tortillas - They look like this (affiliate link):

Otherwise you could always do romaine leaf taco boats, or taco salad!

Primitive Palate: Everything Bagel Dogs
These are so awesome and fulfill that expected bread-like texture we are so used to having our hot dogs with. And so simple! 

So far I haven't ventured out and tried too many popsicle recipes. If I am feeling particularly lazy, I will make jello popsicles: Just make regular (sugar-free) jello, then put into popsicle molds.

Otherwise, I had great experience whipping up some heavy cream, folding in some Orange Mio, and freezing those into orange creamsicles! Super tasty and nostalgic.

Strawberry Cheesecake Popsicles

Any keto or low carb recipes you really enjoy in the hot weather? Post in the comments!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

KETO: Electrolytes

Even though I've been in and out of Ketosis a number of times, I still occasionally get lazy and need a good wake-me-up about eating right.

This happened to me last night. Leg cramps, light-headedness, achy joints, and general sluggishness. When I awoke this morning I was very tired, I felt sick. However, I knew right away what was wrong with me: My electrolytes were very low. This can happen if you aren't careful in general, and is a bit easier to do while in ketosis. Because there are so few carbs to hold onto water in your body, you tend to urinate more frequently - this depletes you electrolytes faster. And if you're breastfeeding AND in ketosis? You are losing your hydration at an elevated pace, all the more reason to be sure you are keeping your electrolytes in order!

Other than supplementation, which is fine, here are ways to make sure you are keeping your electrolytes in order.

The general amounts of electrolytes for adults are the following:
  1. 5000 mg of sodium chloride
  2. 4700 mg of potassium chloride or potassium sulfate (if you are breastfeeding, this jumps up to 5100mg per day)
  3. 300 mg of magnesium (chelated)
Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes: Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate
NIH: Magnesium
R/Keto: More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Potassium

Keto foods high in Magnesium:
Leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, avocados, full fat plain yogurt, and dark chocolate.

Keto foods high in Potassium:
Dark leafy greens, squash, full fat plain yogurt, fish, avocados, and mushrooms.

As for sodium chloride (salt), the easiest way is to drink bone broth, or add a little bit of salt to your meals.

Affiliate Links-
Electrolyte Combo Supplements:
Emergen-C Electro-Mix

Boullion Cubes

Morton's Lite Salt

Sunday, June 14, 2015

KETO: 5 Amazing Low Carb Desserts

Ever since we discovered our local Fred Meyer sold Erythritol, we have been using it as our only artificial sweetener. It tastes great! Hardly distinguishable from actual sugar.

Sugar-free almond paste or marzipan
My husband and I have one major, sugary weakness; marzipan. The almondy flavor and sweetness is just amazing. This recipe is all of those things AND NO SUGAR. Instead of the sweetener this recipe calls for, I used 2TBS powdered Erythritol.

Cheesecake with a brownie crust
This cheesecake was fantastic. I loved the chocolate crust. It was even better topped with whipped cream and keto caramel sauce (recipe further down).

Keto Chocolate Mousse
Much like the cheesecake, this is super tasty, and we loved it even more with that keto caramel sauce!

Keto Caramel
This stuff is amazing. Use it warm as a caramel topping, mix it into your coffee, freeze it into caramels.

White chocolate butter pecan fat bombs
So tasty, easy to make. I thought the original recipe was a little heavy on the coconut taste, so I used more butter and less coconut oil.

Keto Orange Creamsicles
We spotted some Orange flavored Mio at the store the other day and grabbed some, thinking we would mix it into a little bit of heavy cream as a quick fat bomb as needed when it hit me: Whip that heavy cream up into creamsicle whip cream! As tasty as that was (and believe me, it was tasty) I knew it just wasn't quite the same. So I froze it up into popsicle molds. Took me back to when I used to get orange creamsicles when I was a young kid. I couldn't say exactly how much mio I squirted into it, but it couldn't have been more than half a teaspoon for 4oz heavy cream. Easy to experiment and try it out as you go along!

KETO: 4 Delicious Low Carb Dinners

Today's post is more or less a recipe dump. Here are my favorite recipes from the past month!

Caveman Keto Chili
I generally get sick of chili fairly quickly, as in, after one bowl. That was not the case with this recipe! Very easy and delicious slow cooker meal.

Pork Carnitas
I am all about the crock pot, and this recipe delivers! Slow cook the pork with flavors, then a quick pan fry to crisp it up a bit - amazing! Serve in low-carb tortillas or inside romaine lettuce boats.

Buffalo chicken jalapeƱo popper casserole
My mom found this recipe for one of our get-togethers and it is SUPER tasty. Just a little bit of heat, lots of cream cheese and chicken, this recipe has it all.

Lasagne Stuffed Peppers
These were incredibly easy and so cheesy and delicious. Highly recommended.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Quick Keto Guide

One of the toughest parts about trying to be healthier is deciding how to do so. Part of that determining process should involve a degree of research in order to find out what is healthy, what will get the best results, and more.

This guide is intended as a basic starting point for anybody considering the ketogenic or low carb lifestyle.


What is the keto diet?
The ketogenic diet is essentially eating few enough carbs (from all sources) that your body goes into ketosis and burns fat instead of carbs for energy. Many people use this lifestyle to lose weight, but there are also a great number that maintain the ketogenic lifestyle for the cognitive and health improvements.

Why cut out carbohydrates?
All types of carbohydrates, be them from fruit or vegetables or cake are digested by the human body into sugar. If you cut these from your diet, you body's easiest fuel source is gone and it will instead burn fat.

How do I follow the ketogenic diet?
While there are few hard set rules for the most part - some people also avoid artificial sweeteners or even cheese and peanut butter. But, eating few enough carbs that your body enters ketosis is the one requirement.

What foods do I avoid?
All high carb foods like breads, sweets, and starches should be skipped or extremely limited. Most fruits and many vegetables have high sugar levels as well.

What foods do I eat?
Meats and full fat dairy have the lowest carb count. Leafy greens, the squash family, and cruciferous vegetables are pretty low in carbs as well.

How many carbs per day is the limit?
For nearly all people, consuming fewer than 20 grams of carbs per day is all but guaranteed to put you in ketosis. Many people can go up to 50 or even 100 if they are very active. It varies individually.

What if I don't have enough time to home-cook all of my meals?
There are many ways to quickly get food and remain in ketosis.
Here is one post for quick keto meals, otherwise check out the other recipes I've posted:

Keto Breakfasts
Keto Snacks 
Keto Lunches
Keto Dinners
Keto Desserts

Additionally, U/AreYouReadyToReddit has a great 6-day starter meal plan

What is the Keto flu?
The Keto flu refers to a transitional period when your body is switching its fuel source from carbohydrates to fat. Initially, the body might feel a little bit more sleepy, less energetic, to even more full-blown flu-like fatigue symptoms. This depends on the diet followed previously. The higher the previous carb count, and lower the fat, the bigger of a transition the body will need to go through. This period varies in length, depending on how low your new carb count is (how quickly you will burn through your body's glucose stores), and other individual factors.

To get relief from keto flu symptoms, and in general, be sure to drink lots (LOTS) of water. Also try drinking broth, and supplementing your electrolytes during this phase. You want to get around these amounts of electrolytes daily:
   -5000 mg of sodium chloride
   -1000 mg of potassium chloride or potassium sulfate
   -300 mg of magnesium(chelated)
After the keto flu subsides, you can experiment with dropping supplementation and getting all of your electrolytes through your food. Other than bone broth, you can make sure to eat a good variety of foods high in magnesium and potassium, and make sure to add some salt to your meals.
U/AshSimmons' post on "Keto Flu - Symptoms..." has more information on the Keto flu.

More quick Keto guides:
U/pineapple_King's A Practical Guide to Keto for Lazy People
U/nothingtoseehere28's Beginner's Guide to Keto
U/stupidrobots' The Keyto Keto Success and...

For more information check out these sites:
Keto in a Nutshell FAQ