Keto has become somewhat of a buzzword these days with everyone counting carbs and striving for maximum weight loss. While cutting carbs is an excellent step towards better health, I’m concerned that many aren’t focused on what they are eating. Concern is all about carbs as opposed to the quality of the food. I am going to show you why eating clean keto is vital for maximum health.
What is Keto?
In case you are new to keto or just need a refresher, let’s begin with a brief overview of what keto is. At its basics, keto is a way of eating that focuses on a reduction of carbohydrates, moderate protein levels, and eating high fat content. Essentially these macros (macronutrients) look something like this:
What is Dirty Keto?
Have you heard the term “dirty keto” yet? The idea of eating dirty keto is when you stay within the traditional keto macros (low carb and high fat) but with little regard to where the calories come from. This typically plays itself out with higher servings of dairy, little concern with sugar in foods, low carb but still processed foods, and fast food burgers sans bun. This is shopping for foods while looking at the carbohydrate content with little regard to the ingredients.
The Problems with Dirty Keto
No matter what you call it, dirty keto or something else, you are still eating a low carb diet. Eating this way is still leaps and bounds better than following the standard American diet high in carbohydrates, grains, and sugar. However, it still isn’t going to give you all of the benefits of following a clean keto diet. Let me explain.
When your only concern with your food is carb content, you are missing out on nutrients and are still consuming highly inflammatory foods. Let me demonstrate with a few of examples.
Fast food burger minus the bun
While I suppose this is an okay option in a pinch, too many are choosing this as a regular keto option. My main concerns here are the quality of the beef and the side choices. Who wants to skip the fries for a side salad, right? If you do indulge in the fries, you have eliminated any attempt at minimizing carbs and are now consuming the incredibly unhealthy vegetable oils! Instead, opt for a homemade grass-fed hamburger patty that you can pair with a salad and avocado. This is a much more nutritious option.
Add cheese to everything, make veggie dips with cream cheese, use heavy cream in coffee, eat blocks of cheese for snacks. While this is another method to add fat to your diet, it is not the best way. Many people, whether you realize it or not, suffer from dairy sensitivities. Obtaining much of your calories from dairy isn’t that healthy and your gut will suffer for it. Your body may tolerate dairy in moderation, but probably not in large quantities.
Processed pre-packaged foods
Life is busy, I understand that. With three kids, a demanding job, and starting a business, time is limited. Processed pre-packaged foods that are low in carbohydrates seem like a total win. However, you are sacrificing nutrition for convenience. Much of these foods are are very nutrient-void and do more harm than good. They are packed with harmful additives that may be low carb, but are terrible for your health. Check out my video on sugar-free syrups at Starbucks for one example of these additives.
Not only are these “convenient” foods void of nutrients, they also cause other issues that eating clean, real foods won’t. One major benefit of keto that you are forfeiting is reduced hunger and cravings. When you are still eating sugar and nutrient-void foods, you will still experience cravings and struggle with hunger. Your body isn’t getting what it needs and craves and is communicating that to you through hunger and cravings.
What is Clean Keto?
So, what should you be eating for the best benefit? Simply put — clean, real food. This means preparing your meals from real ingredients. When you make the effort and spend the time to prepare healthy meals, you will increase the nutrient-density in your foods. Your body will be getting what it needs.
When I shop for food at the grocery, I rarely look at the carbohydrates. My concern is not carb count, but the ingredients. When I select foods that are void of sugar (or sugar substitutes), contain no grains, and are made with an olive or avocado oil base, I know the quality is what I’m looking for. Plus, with the right ingredients, the net carbohydrates will take care of themselves. I’m more concerned with quality of food over carbohydrate counting.
Benefits of Clean Keto
When you eat clean, real foods you will experience all of the benefits that keto has to offer. Benefits such as:
- Reduced inflammation due to the elimination of inflammatory foods
- Increased energy levels
- Limited to no hunger throughout the day
- Elimination of cravings for sweet and salty foods
- Balanced hormones
- Increased weight loss
While eating clean keto takes a little effort and planning, you will reap the benefits. Some will say that “dirty keto” is much more sustainable over time, but I disagree. With regular hunger and cravings, continued inflammation, and energy fluctuations, I can’t imagine anyone sticking to that. However, with the way I feel on a daily basis (yes, I still have bad days), I can’t imagine eating any other way. Take the step today and make one simple change in your diet to eating cleaner keto!
What can you change today that will help you eat cleaner?