Tweaklet #55 – The Keto Diet

Two popular eating modalities are the The Paleo Diet and the Keto Diet. The two terms get bandied about and are often confused, so in a previous episode we took a good look at the Paleo Diet and today we’ll explore the Keto Diet.

Its full name is the Ketogenic diet and it is structured around a diet that is high in fat, low in carbohydrates and a moderate amount of protein.

The main aim is to convert your body from a predominantly carbohydrate-burning machine to a fat burning machine. As a guide, the recommended calorie ratio, on a keto diet, is around 70 to 80 percent of calories from fat, 15 to 20 percent from protein and less than 5% from carbs.

The Keto diet has been used to treat epilepsy since the 1920s so it’s not the trendy fad diet we might think. When you get the balance just right you place the body into a metabolic state called nutritional ketosis. In this state the body creates compounds called ketones and burns fat, from your body as well as from your diet.

To reach ketosis and to maintain it you need to radically reduce your carbohydrate intake and focus on healthy fats, some protein and low-carb vegetables.

Foods to include on a Keto diet are Meat, Seafood, Poultry, Full-fat dairy products, Non-starchy vegetables, Eggs, Nuts and seeds and Unrefined oils, such as olive, coconut, flaxseed, walnut and avocado oil

Foods to avoid while following the Keto diet
All sugar and sugar-sweetened drinks. All cereal grains and products made with grain flours. Fruit except perhaps a quarter cup of berries. Legumes. Sweetened, low-fat dairy and Starchy vegetables

The Benefits that are associated with a Ketogenic diet include Weight loss, a Reduction in inflammation in your joints, brain and heart. It is reported to protect against Type 2 diabetes as well as neurological diseases such as  Alzheimers and dementia

The Paleo and Keto Diets both focus on nutrient-dense food and eliminate the traps of a sugary processed food related Western diet. Generally speaking they are both low in carbohydrate and low in sugar which is better for blood sugar, weight management and has many other associated health benefits. And they both have anti-inflammatory effects.

If you’re interested, you could explore combining both the Keto and Paleo diets which many people do very successfully. It’s fun to explore different eating modalities but like any Tweaklet, do your research to find out exactly what suits YOU!

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Tweaklet #48 – Coconut Oil

In the last few years, there has been a growing interest in coconut oil. It’s no longer found just in Asian supermarkets, it’s in every supermarket!

But there’s still a lot of confusion about coconut oil and whether it’s actually good for you. We are still often told that it raises cholesterol. So let’s explore.

Yes, coconut oil is largely composed of saturated fat but it behaves very differently in the body to other types. Recent studies show that coconut oil does not adversely affect LDL, or what we think of as bad cholesterol, whatsoever, and it’s the only saturated fat that significantly increases the good HDL cholesterol.

There are currently over 1500 studies proving that when used in moderation, coconut oil is very healthy food.

Here are some interesting things I’ve learned about coconut oil – it is a natural anti-microbial, which helps to kill bad viruses,  bacteria…, Fungi, yeast and parasites. This is great news for gut health because it helps to weed out unwanted organisms and allow healthy bacteria to flourish.

Plus the type of fat that coconut oil is means it is readily burned as energy and not stored, so it promotes weight loss by increasing the burning of calories.

I love using coconut oil. It adds a slight nutty rich flavour and it has a higher smoke point so it’s great to use in Asian stir-fries and just for medium heat pan-frying generally. It goes equally well in sweet dishes and you can make delicious bliss balls and other sweet treats. You can add coconut oil to smoothies, to oatmeal, to tea and coffee, to homemade mayonnaise and to scrambled egg.

In winter coconut oil goes rather solid and in summer is completely liquid. If you find it annoying to shave off chunks of it in winter, then here’s a tip from The Coconut Mama .com who suggests freezing portions in an ice tray and popping one out as you need it. Thanks, Coconut Mama!

And a big shout out to Dr Michael Murray at Doctor Murray.com, whose up to date knowledge and research on coconut oil is invaluable.

As always look for the best quality coconut oil you can find. It isn’t all about price and you will find good quality brands that don’t cost a fortune.

And that’s it fellow Tweakleters! Another tiny food tweak to get us thinking more about how we can use coconut oil.

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Tweaklet #34 – Nuts

Don’t you love nuts? They’re high in fibre and protein. They’re full of Heart-healthy fats. Yum!

So which are the healthiest nuts, and are some better for you than others?
Well, almonds top the list. I keep packets of almonds everywhere as they are just a great snack for every occasion. You don’t need many to stave off hunger pangs and keep your energy levels up.

Other excellent healthy nuts are Brazil nuts……cashews….hazelnuts……macadamia nuts……..pecans……walnuts and …….pistachios.

Peanuts are actually a legume as they grow underground and they tend to get a bad wrap but they’re healthy too when you buy them raw in the shell and pop them out to snack on.

When it comes to nuts raw is best but you can try out all different ways to roast them yourself at low temperatures.

You can make nut milk. Almonds are particularly good for this. You can soak them in water overnight and the next day peel them, blitz them in a food processor and squeeze through a muslin cloth. There’s a separate Tweaklet about this.

Nut butter is great for using as a paste or a butter in savoury and sweet dishes. It’s a very easy process of roasting some raw nuts then blending them with something like coconut oil and a natural sweetener if you wish. Again I’ll do another Tweaklet on this process.

I love making pesto with fresh basil or rocket and walnuts – blending everything together with garlic, olive oil and sea salt.

Nuts glorious nuts! So versatile!

Let me know your favourite nut recipe and if you want any from me I’d be happy to share.

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Tweaklet #29 Butter – It’s back!

There has been a lot of debate over the years about whether butter is good for you. Now that science wholeheartedly supports the notion of healthy fats, where does butter fit into the equation?

Butter, particularly that created from grass-fed cows (as opposed to grain-fed cows), is a very healthy addition to your diet. Good news butter is a good fat! It contains about 400 different fatty acids and a nice dose of fat-soluble vitamins too. The type of fatty acids in butter has been proven NOT to be associated with cardiovascular disease and, as we’ve talked about before, fats don’t make you fat!

Butter is a Saturated fat, which makes some people nervous, but again, good news! When it’s obtained from healthy sources and eaten in moderation, butter, like coconut oil, provides the body really good fuel and it helps stabilise blood sugar. Other components in butter have also proven to be immune boosters and disease fighters.

When butter received bad press many people turned to margarine but there is NOTHING natural about margarine. It was created in a lab and predominantly made of unhealthy trans fat, which clogs arteries, lowers GOOD cholesterol and raises BAD cholesterol. Plus anything unnatural isn’t recognised by the body and it simply can’t process it. PLEASE, and I am pleading with you, don’t eat margarine!

Instead, look for good quality, grass-fed butter or if you’re a non-dairy person choose coconut oil or ghee. Both are excellent healthy, natural alternatives.

It’s fun exploring these tiny food tweaks that can make all the difference to your health!

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