For me personally, that’s what the keto diet is – it has allowed me to truly understand my relationship with food and delve deeper into its incredible healing powers. As with many of us, I am increasingly finding myself busier and busier, juggling life as a chef, television host, author, health coach, adventure seeker, and my favourite, father. The keto diet allows me to live this life to its fullest.
If it is time for you to reclaim your own health, take a closer look at the keto diet. While it may seem overwhelming at first, it really is quite simple. I have put together some personal tips and tricks to get you started on your journey to better health and longevity. I would also encourage you to read my book on keto dieting called “Easy Keto”.
Keto Diet Food
For me the key to eating well on a ketogenic diet is cutting your sugar intake, ditching processed foods and eliminating grains, and instead filling up on healthy fats and plenty of nutrient-dense vegetables.
Once we ditch the processed foods, refined oils and grains, what we have left is a beautifully clean fuel source from which our bodies can thrive. This includes quality meats such as wild-caught fish and grass-fed meat, organic non-starchy vegetables, free-range eggs and a selection of quality nuts, seeds and unprocessed fats.
I am not one to count carbs; however, it will be helpful at the start to track your macros, just until you get the hang of how much of each you should be eating and what that looks like in practice. Once you are comfortable with judging the macros in your food by sight, put away the calculator. I am not a big believer in long-term tracking, as I believe a healthy, balanced diet is a lifestyle change and something you should enjoy without getting too hung up on the numbers. I eat by choosing non-starchy vegetables, healthy fats and clean protein – the rest takes care of itself. You will be amazed at how great you feel and how quickly new habits are formed once you have the know-how and have consciously chosen to eat for your health.
Foods To Eat On Keto Diet
There is so much food to choose from when it comes to eating fresh food for keto. Preferably I choose to eat what’s called paleo keto, removing all grains, dairy and processed food – apart from these things it’s an open plater. Nuts and seeds are great keto-friendly foods due to their versatility; I just love how easy they are to grab and go as a quick snack and how they add creaminess to a smoothie or crunch to a salad. Seeds such as black sesame, hemp and pumpkin (pepitas) are easy to find in most supermarkets and pack a nutritional punch, as do other low-carb nuts such as walnuts, almonds, macadamias and Brazil nuts.
My other go-to keto food is coconut oil as it is again, so versatile. I love it so much that I have my own brand “Raw C”. Coconut oil is a great option to cook with as it can withstand high temperatures without altering the beneficial compounds. It is also fantastic for making raw keto treats such as fat bombs, or boosting healthy fats to your morning smoothie or bulletproof coffee.
Quality, homemade broth is also a staple in my household, best enjoyed any time of day! A warm mug of bone broth is a satisfying pick-me-up or a nutritious base to a keto soup or casserole. It is rich in electrolytes, calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium, and is known for its gut-healing properties as well. I strongly advocate making your own from whatever leftover bones and vegetables you have on hand. It takes just 15 minutes prep time and a little bit of patience, then you have a lovely batch of rich, flavourful broth to use over the week.
Other keto-approved foods to enjoy include:
- Unprocessed meat. Buy the best quality you can afford. I use organic, humanely-raised, pasture-fed-and-finished meats as they are the best option for both our bodies and our planet. I also eat nose-to-tail, which means not just using the steak but the organs as well as they are cheap and so nutritious. This also includes free-range poultry and wild game meats.
- Seafood. Where possible, source wild-caught seafood from unpolluted waters. Don’t be afraid to ask your fishmonger where the produce comes from. Again, adopt a nose-to-tail approach and use the leftover head and bones to make a beautiful stock to boost your next dish. Fattier fish such as salmon or mackerel are ideal options for a keto diet.
- Eggs. Again, opt for free-range, ethically sourced produce.
Plenty of non-starchy vegetables. All vegetables have some carbs, but a good rule of thumb is to choose those you eat from above the ground as they will be non-starchy with lower carbs. This includes leafy greens, celery, cabbage, broccoli, cucumber, zucchini, asparagus, Brussels sprouts and capsicum. Root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots are much higher in carbs, so eat sparingly.
- Healthy fats. As well as unrefined coconut oil, use healthy fats such as avocado oil, macadamia oil and extra virgin olive oil. These fats are best consumed cold as they have a lower smoke point than coconut oil, meaning the health-giving compounds can be damaged when heated.
What not to eat
As mentioned I prefer paleo keto, so I remove grains, dairy and anything processed, apart from that I also remove fruit from my diet. I do eat it occasionally; however, it’s not a regular staple in my diet.
Here are some foods you need to avoid in order to keep your carb count down:
- Sugar. This includes anything with added sugar, so if you are buying anything in a packet, check the ingredients.
- All grains and grain-based food. Any wheat-based product such as bread and pasta is out, as is barley, rye, corn or rice. While not technically a grain, quinoa is also not keto-friendly due to the amount of carbohydrate. If you are craving that satisfying carb feeling, try cauliflower rice or whip up a loaf of keto bread. There are many options out there if you are open-minded and creative!
- Legumes. Although fibre-rich, beans, peas and lentils are very high in carbohydrate so do not fit a keto diet.
- Processed oils. While these are low-carb and high fat, they are not good options for your body. These oils are prone to rancidity and high in omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which can be harmful in high doses. Processed oils include margarine and oils such as vegetable, safflower, corn, rice bran, sunflower and canola oils.
- Fruit is a tricky one, as it’s clean, quality produce and has a lot of nutrient benefits. Unfortunately, most fruit is very high in sugar (and therefore carbohydrates) so is a no-no when it comes to keto. Berries are the exception and a handful here and there can be enjoyed without disrupting ketosis – my favourites are strawberries and blueberries. I will occasionally indulge in a crisp green apple as well though. If you love fruit and don’t want to give it up, you can opt to do cyclical ketogenic dieting and eat fruit on your cycle off ketosis. You can read more about that in my book.
What to order when dining out
One of the biggest fears I hear from people who are looking to adopt a keto lifestyle is how to manage eating out. When you are at home, it is fairly easy to control what you put on your plate and when you eat it. However, heading out for dinner can be a little daunting. Don’t worry, you don’t have to sit there looking at your glass of water while your friends and family tuck into their meals!
Most restaurants have a menu available online, so you can take your time before going out to look for options that suit you. You can then request some simple swaps or omissions to ensure you stay low-carb but still have the pleasure of eating a beautiful meal with your group.
For example, an obvious swap is to forgo the side of chips and instead ask for a green salad. If you like the look of a burger or sandwich, omit the bread and see if they can serve it on lettuce instead. Omelettes are great options for keto, as is the simplicity of a well-cooked steak or piece of chicken.
If you do fall off the keto bandwagon for one night though, don’t worry. Just pick up where you left off the next day. Eating well is not only about your body but about your mind and soul. The opportunity to enjoy a meal with family and friends is worth much more to your overall well-being than your macro numbers – it is a chance to connect with each other on a meaningful level and live life to its fullest.
Personally, I follow an intuitive keto dieting style and stay in mild ketosis, allowing me to eat more freely when eating out; however, I always choose meals without grains, added sugar or starchy vegetables.
High fat foods for Keto
- Coconut oil. As already mentioned, coconut oil is extremely versatile and one of my favourite keto-friendly foods for cooking and eating.
- Raw cacao butter. Deliciously rich and creamy, cacao butter is amazing added to smoothies and baked goods to boost healthy fats and keep you satisfied.
- Quality animal fats. Lard, tallow, chicken and duck fat provide a rich flavour to any dish – I always choose organic.
- Healthy oils. Another favourite of mine, olive oil, macadamia and avocado oil are fantastic choices to up the good fats in a green salad or drizzled over meat.
- Eggs. Naturally high in healthy fats, eggs are a staple of any keto breakfast plan and a nutritional addition to many lunch or dinner-time dishes.
- Nuts and seeds. Moderate in protein count but high in fat, grab a handful of macadamias or pecans if you are feeling a little empty. These can also be added to salads to increase the calories or used to create a keto-friendly granola.
- Organic meat and wild-caught seafood have great levels of high-quality healthy fats.
It’s a healthier eating option
As you can see, with a few simple guidelines, going keto is not as overwhelming as you might think. With a shift in focus from carb-heavy meals to lighter, more nutritious and calorie-dense options, you will feel better, look healthier and have more energy than ever before.
Eating well is not just about the food on your plate, but how you put it all together into a lifestyle that supports your mind, body and soul to function at it’s very best. As you know, I am not just a health coach or cook, but a father and an adventure seeker, so eating to support that lifestyle is important to me. Once you get the hang of what it means to live keto, choosing foods that work for you will become second nature.
Most importantly, cook with love, laughter and enjoy life!