The keto diet is one of the most searched diets for 2018 and 2019. Although not really a diet, keto is short for ketogenic. Ketogenic refers to a particular state in which your body is in ketosis. Meaning your body is burning fatty acids for fuel in favour of glucose. Some of the benefits of being in a state of ketosis is the increased ability to burn body fat, the reduction in inflammation in the brain and the management of blood sugar levels.
The real popularity of being in this state is the reduction in sugar and overall hunger cravings. With some even boasting they can go all day without needing to eat due to the body’s ability to get energy from its own fat stores.
How to get into a state of ketosis
To get into a strict state of ketosis the key is to limit your carbohydrate intake. Some say below 20g of net carbs per day.
Net carbs are the carbohydrates in a food minus the fibre and sugar alcohols.
To do this many people just stuff their faces with cream, cheese, bacon and coconut oil. Ditch the vegetables, avoid the fruit and load up on the fat. However this is counterproductive to the anti-inflammatory benefits a ketogenic style diet can promote. Also to be in a state of ketosis does not necessarily mean to load up on fats. It’s easier to get into ketosis through carbohydrate restriction and fasting.
That’s where functional medical practitioners and health coaches have come in with a plant based or keto green regime. The focus on low carbohydrate vegetables and healthy sources of fats allows the body to enter into a state of ketosis whilst still getting the required nutrients, fibre and anti-inflammatory effects that a plant based diet has to offer.
Basically the rules of a plant based keto diet are:
- Eat plenty of leafy greens
- Eat plenty of non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, zucchini, cucumber, celery, capsicum and onion
- Eat plenty of healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, coconut milk and raw or activated nuts and seeds
- Eat only what your body needs, no more, of low carbohydrate plant based protein, wild-caught fish and pasture raised eggs
- Occasionally include low sugar fruits such as berries and kiwi fruit
- Occasionally include grass-fed lamb or beef
- No calorie counting or portion control, the only measurement you need to make (if you want to get into strict ketosis) is your net carbohydrate intake.
Here was my version
As a very physically active female I allowed myself to have 50-60g of carbohydrates per day. This was to ensure I did not mess up my hormonal cycle too severely and had enough carbohydrates to perform during my workouts without fatiguing my adrenal glands. I also allowed myself to have more animal protein than recommended, as I have a history of poor mental health I needed to make sure I was getting adequate amino acids to keep this stable.
My basic meal plan looked like this (p.s. Day 1 I ate eggs, which I usually love, but my body felt sick and I could not eat eggs for the rest of the time)
Breakfast: Coconut yoghurt with hemp seeds and plant based protein powder or half an avocado with himalayan sea salt and handful of macadamia nuts
Mid Morning: Forme Superblend (to receive 40% off + free shipping on your first order use FORME40 at checkout)
Lunch: Nori wraps with a can of wild caught sardines in olive oil, cucumber, capsicum and lettuce and tahini dressing
Afternoon: Homemade keto chocolate dessert; Liv Kaplan from Livinbondi has the best tasting keto desserts.
Dinner: Bowl of roasted broccoli, zucchini and bok choy with a homemade almond butter based, sugar free, satay sauce and hemp seeds.
Oh plus plenty of black coffee and mineral water.
This is what I experienced:
Day 1-3 I severely under ate. Not on purpose, I was just not used to the different volumes of food to consume. This led me to become extremely tired and suffer from brain fog. I also had quite intense (well what I thought at the time) sugar cravings, more so than I thought I would have considering I already follow a low carbohydrate style diet.
Day 4-5 I started to feel more energetic and clear headed during the day. The inflammation in my face had reduced and I already started to feel less puffy. Must have been the water weight drop as glucose holds more water. I noticed no changes in my ability to train as my volume and weights did not suffer at the gym. However my sleep started to suffer and I was waking up at 1 or 2am in the morning feeling completely wired.
Day 6 I saw my naturopath and turns out what I thought was sugar cravings and weird sleep habits turned out to be an electrolyte imbalance. Which is a common side effect of initiating a keto style diet. I started to include a pinch of sea salt into my water bottles and consumed more mineral water which contains salts such as sodium and potassium to help balance my electrolytes.
Over the weekend my social life got in the way and I had rice and hot chips. This definitely bumped my carbohydrate intake over the 50-60g I was aiming for. However I am not the type of person to follow something strictly and surprisingly the following Monday I was able to easily resume the keto green style diet without too many sugar cravings.
Day 7-14 The second week of being plant based keto came with more intense sugar cravings than the first week. However by the end of the 14 days these cravings slowly subsided and I was noticing the satiated sensation that comes from being in mild ketosis. Although I was very much looking forward to sweet potato and raw treats.
After the 14 days I returned to eating a low carbohydrate diet of approximately 100g of carbohydrates per day. I would definitely have another shot at this keto green style of eating longer term. The shift I noticed in my body and my mind within 14 days was impressive. However as a very active female in her ‘prime’ years and teeters on the more stressed side of life having more carbohydrates is what my body needs at the moment.
It is recommended to not follow a strict keto diet long term. Instead cycling in and out allows for a more sustainable practice with metabolic benefits. Cycling such as being strict keto for 6 weeks of the year or being keto green during the weekdays and weekends refeeding with starchy vegetables.
For more information and resources on a plant based keto style diet I recommend
Always consult with your health care practitioner before embarking on an eating plan that will get you into a state of ketosis.