“The good news is that most people can adopt a ketogenic diet! At first it may seem quite overwhelming, and you may have no idea what you can eat. Let me simplify it for you:
- Cook up some meat, chicken, fish or eggs.
- Make a salad and/or prepare some delicious non-starchy vegetables.
- Include condiments, grated cheese, and flavorful seasonings and spices.
- Do you have some favorite nuts or nut butters? We can certainly work with that!
- Add fat. Lots of it. Choose healthy fats, and ditch the inflammatory oils.
- Repeat three times a day.
That’s it. Don’t overthink this. If you enjoy salmon and asparagus, or beef and broccoli, then you’re all set. Here’s the catch (you knew there would be a one!): To reach ketosis, you will be eliminating a lot of the foods that are probably staples in your current diet. Out goes sugar in any of its forms, both obvious (in cookies) and sneaky (in canned tomato sauce). You’ll also give up those inflammatory grains—in fact, I encourage everyone, keto or not, to rid their diets of wheat, corn, and oats. Eliminate starchy vegetables. This means potatoes, of course, but also sweet potatoes and cooked carrots. Keto diets do not include legumes or much in the way of fruits. Dairy fats (butter, ghee, heavy cream) can be part of the plan, but some dairy products, such as milk, are out; others, such as hard cheeses, can be enjoyed in small amounts. And of course you’ll be eating plenty of good, healthy fats. That’s the basic plan.”
Miriam is astonishingly (!) thorough in her one-on-one work with my brother and in her book.
That’s the simple plan.
Our target is ketosis. We get there by dramatically (!) reducing carbs, making sure we have “adequate” protein and filling in the rest with a ton (!) of healthy fats.
Regarding the carbs: We want to set a target max number of net carbs—remembering the fact that (as all dieticians know but nearly all keep secret) we can function just fine with ZERO carbs. We NEED fats and proteins. We do NOT NEED carbs.
As Miriam says: “Your next step is to set your carb intake. This is much simpler than determining protein, since there is no requirement for carbs. Go as low as you can, especially in the first few weeks or months of the diet, but keep an eye on your overall nutrition intake. In other words, don’t squander your carbs on non-foods like coffee creamers. Instead, use your carb allowance for nutrient-dense, non-starchy vegetables and fat-rich nuts and seeds.”
Carb limit parameters range from 12 to 16 grams of net carbs (total carbs minus fiber) if you’re “healthy enough to jump right in” to 20 to 25 grams if you have some thyroid or hormone issues or are recovering from surgery or currently undergoing radiation or chemo.
Regarding the protein: Remember the word “adequate” that we talked about in Dr. Mercola’s Fat for Fuel. We want to keep our mTOR responses in check.
So… Not too much. Not too little. Adequate Goldilocks style.
As Miriam says: “Putting exceptions aside, let’s return to your individual calculations. It is my observation that people have better outcomes if they limit protein intake to 0.8 grams per kilogram of ideal body weight (or 1.0 gram of protein per kilogram of LBM [lean body mass].”
Regarding the healthy fats: First, eliminate the unhealthy fats. Namely, VEGETABLE oils. Look at your pantry and throw away everything with soybean oil, corn oil, safflower, sunflower oil, and a bunch of others including canola oil.
Then we have the good fats: olive oil, coconut oil (and butter), avocados, olives, almonds, and our go-to oils these days: algae oil and perilla oil.
btw: Did you know “canola oil” is a made up name for “rapeseed” oil? Yep. Apparently, marketers didn’t think an oil with “rape” in it would sell well. Keep this in mind the next time you refuse to buy/consume canola oil:
As per Wikipedia: “By the 1950s and 1960s, soybean oil had become the most popular vegetable oil in the US. In the mid-1970s, Canadian researchers developed a low-erucic-acid rapeseed cultivar. Because the word ‘rape’ was not considered optimal for marketing, they coined the name ‘canola’ (from ‘Canada Oil low acid’).”
P.S. Miriam is also a big fan of fasting. She has a whole chapter on “Fasting for Health.”
She particularly loves intermittent fasting. My brother has been rocking (and loving) this. It’s surprisingly easy once you’ve switched from burning so much sugar for fuel to fat for fuel.
Short story: “Hands down, I prefer to keep it simple, at least early on, with a time-restricted daily intermittent fasting plan. Simply limit your eating window to 8 to 10 hours by allowing at least 3 hours between your last meal and bedtime, then delaying your first meal of the day by an hour or more. If that sounds too challenging, start with a 12-hour window of eating and gradually reduce it as you adapt to your new plan. Over time, this will result in a daily 14- to 16-hour fast. In contrast to water-only or extended fasts, this pattern has the added benefit of helping nutrition-compromised people retain their current weight.”
Know this: We didn’t evolve to eat all day, every day.
When we give our bodies a break from constantly digesting food (and/or edible foodlike substances!), our bodies can take that energy and put it into cleaning up—which is SUPER important in general and even more important when fighting cancer.
Check out the book for a TON more detail on all of the above.