Ditching grains, sugars and refined oils
The big three offenders are ubiquitous in processed, packaged, and frozen foods; in restaurant and fast-food offerings; and even in “healthy” stuff from natural foods markets.
I can’t tell you how many times I learn from enthusiasts or friends who claim to be on a strict primal diet that it includes objectionable products like celebrity “red wine and olive oil” salad dressing (made with refined vegetable oil), non-dairy creamers made with corn syrup, or healthy organic energy bars with massive doses of carbohydrates.
Oils to eliminate: Refined high polyunsaturated vegetable and seed oils (canola, corn, soybean, sunflower, safflower, etc.); butter-substitute spreads and sprays (margarine, Smart Balance, Promise); processed and packaged food containing vegetable oils or trans fats (partially hydrogenated fats).
Refined grain products to eliminate: Baguettes, cereal, corn, crackers, croissants, danishes, donuts, energy bars, frozen snacks and meals, graham crackers, granola bars, muffins, pasta, pizza, pretzels, protein bars, rice, rolls, saltine crackers, tortillas, Triscuits, Wheat Thins, chips (corn, potato, tortilla), cooking grains (amaranth, barley, bulgur, couscous, millet, rye), puffed snacks (Cheetos, Goldfish, Pirate’s Booty, popcorn, rice cakes).
Refined sugar products to eliminate: Agave syrup, brown sugar, cane sugar, evaporated cane sugar, fruit bars and rolls, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, molasses, powdered sugar, raw sugar.
Integrating keto-friendly foods
Ketogenic eating is ultra-low in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and high in natural, nutritious fats. Choose the foods you prefer from this ancestral- inspired list of meat, fish, poultry, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, and assorted approved modern foods such as high-fat dairy products and high-cacao-percentage dark chocolate.
- High-fat fruits such as avocados, coconuts, olives, and their derivative oils
- Nuts, seeds, and their derivative butters and non-dairy milks
- Fatty cuts of meat from naturally raised animals
- Fish, especially oily cold water fish from the SMASH hits group (sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon, herring)
- Butter, ghee, lard, bacon fat, and tallow
Generally, you can make high-fibre, above-ground vegetables such as the leafy green and cruciferous family (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, etc.) a dietary centerpiece.
These foods are some of the most nutrient-dense on the planet and also support a healthy intestinal microbiome. Due to their high fibre and water content, they do not stimulate the insulin response that can compromise keto efforts. While I recommend staying below 50 grams of carbohydrates per day, you can give yourself a free pass to consume as many above-ground, high-fibre vegetables and avocados as you want. In contrast, carbohydrates from foods that are starchier or calorically denser should be limited during formal nutritional ketosis efforts.
These include many carbohydrates that offer tremendous nutritional benefits and are an acceptable part of a general primal/paleo-style eating strategy, but will quickly push you over the keto limit—foods like fruit, wild rice, quinoa, and the starchier vegetables like squash, beets, rutabaga, and sweet potato. Keep in mind that because carbohydrates are a limit, there is no need to aim for 50 grams per day. When you eat a colorful, varied diet, your carbohydrate intake will naturally vary from day to day. Some days you might eat very few carbohydrates, while other days you might bump up against your 50-gram cap.
- Avocado with salt and lime juice
- Basic Bone Broth
- Coconut butter: an absolute delicacy, hard to find but super delicious and nutritious. Look for Nikki’s brand, since it has numerous exotic flavors.
- Dark chocolate: gradually habituate to 85% or higher cacao. To ensure the highest quality product, look for cacao beans as the first ingredient and/or the “Bean-to-Bar” designation, as well as a “Fair Trade” designation on the box.
- Hard-boiled egg
- Jerky: high-quality beef or other meat, without sweeteners, nitrates, preservatives, or other chemicals
- Nuts, seeds, and their derivative butters
- Oily, cold-water fish: remember SMASH (sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon, herring)
- Olives packed in olive oil (avoid canola and sunflower oils)
- Pork rinds/chicharrones: natural ingredients only, no chemicals, bad oils, or sweeteners
- Primal Kitchen keto bars (PrimalKitchen.com)
- Trail mix: Use raw or dry-roasted nuts, seeds, unsweetened coconut flakes, 85% cacao dark chocolate pieces or cacao nibs, small amounts of unsweetened dried fruit, and a dash of Himalayan sea salt
- Vegetables dipped in guacamole or natural almond or peanut butter
Recipe replacement ideas
Some of the recipes in this book are designed to simulate your favorite grain-based recipes with keto-approved replacement ingredients. Many keto enthusiasts assert that the grain replacements taste better than the original grain-based preparations!
Here are some swap-outs at a glance (you’ll see more as you dig into the recipes):
- Coconut flour or almond meal for wheat flour
- Lettuce or collard leaves for tortillas or buns
- Spiralized veggies for pasta
- Citrus (lemon, lime or orange) zest or juice
- Dark cocoa powder
- Spices—cinnamon, vanilla extract, ginger, salt, pepper
- Nut and seed butters
- Stevia, erythritol, or monkfruit for chemically altered sweeteners or sugary sweeteners
- Unsweetened shredded (or flaked) coconut
This is an edited extract from The Keto Reset Diet Cookbook by Mark Sisson published by Hardie Grant Books $29.99 and is available in stores nationally.