What Does A Ketogenic Paleo Diet Look Like?

Screen-Shot-2012-09-25-at-11.20.56-AM-300x203.png

Update: I did a (failed) ketosis experiment on myself that you can read about here, here, here, and here

Jimmy Moore is dropping weight with the fervor of a college wrestler right now on his experimental ketogenic diet. In fact, he’s lost about 47 pounds in the last 3 months, and he’s still going. He’s an awesome guy and he’s been struggling with his weight for a while now, so I’m psyched for him to say the least.

He gives updates every month or so on his progress, but he never tells his readers exactly WHAT he’s eating. I’m itching to know.

Now, Jimmy isn’t strictly Paleo: he eats full fat dairy, so even if he did report to us what he was eating, it wouldn’t be super helpful to a lot of people. I got to thinking what a ketogenic Paleo diet might look like. Without all that cheese and cream to assume the fat positions, it’d require a lot more tallow, lard, coconut oil, and coconut milk, as well as the fatty meats, eggs, nuts, and avocados.

Here’s a picture of one of Jimmy’s meals to give you an idea of the amount of dairy he’s eating (well, at least at this particular meal). I think that’s sausage, avocado, scrambled eggs, some sort of hot sauce, and heavy cream. By the way, I’m in no way criticizing Jimmy right now. If I could eat dairy, I probably would, and I think this meal looks amazing.

Screen-Shot-2012-09-24-at-7.26.38-PM-300x223.png

What’s ketosis?
Before I go any further with this, I’ll briefly explain what ketogenic means and why one would aspire to be on a ketogenic diet. Some say you need to eat fewer than 30 grams of carbs per day to be in ketosis. It may be fewer than that to get into a deep state of ketosis, and you must not eat too much protein either. So a ketogenic diet is high fat, low(ish) protein, and very low carb. More on that in a moment.

When you are in ketosis, your body is using ketones more than it normally would for energy. Ketones are made out of fatty acids in the liver in the absence of dietary glucose (carbs) so that your organs can continue to function properly even when you don’t have carbs. Some people say when you’re in ketosis your brain doesn’t get enough energy, but some would argue that the glucose your liver produces on its own when you’re in ketosis is more than enough to feed your brain.

Studies have shown that you can even train endurance activities at an elite level on a ketogenic diet. These people would fuel up with coconut butter instead of Powerade, and their bodies would get very good at using fat instead of glucose as fuel, as would yours if you ate a ketogenic diet for a while.

Isn’t it dangerous?
Ketosis has kind of a bad reputation, and that’s partly because there’s something called diabetic ketoacidosis, which is when a diabetic can’t use glucose as fuel (due to a lack of insulin or insulin resistance) and ketones start to build up in their blood. Too many ketones are not a good thing, but you can mitigate and monitor that on a healthy ketogenic diet. Jimmy uses the home blood tests to check his ketone levels in his blood, which seem to be more accurate than the urine tests. Here’s an interview with Jimmy and Dr. Lauren Noel that explains all that.

Ketosis can actually be therapeutic.
The fact is that you can lose a lot of weight eating a ketogenic diet. It’s been cited as beneficial for autism, alzheimer’s, seizure disorders, ADHD, and others.

I’m not necessarily even advocating this as a way of eating. After analyzing what it would take to get me into ketosis, I’m not sure I’d like it. I do think it’s a good idea for people suffering from myriad diseases and disorders, though. So below is what it would look like on a 2,000 calorie diet. No, everyone should not be on a 2,000 calorie diet, but that’s sort of an average between men and women’s caloric needs, so I thought I’d start there. Jimmy says he gets around 82% fat, 3% carbs, and 15% protein, so I tried to mimic that in my imaginary ketogenic diet for a day.

Imaginary Ketogenic Diet for A Day

Breakfast
4 slices bacon
1 egg
2 tablespoons extra bacon grease

Lunch
3 ounces salmon
1/2 cup onions sautéed
1/3 cup coconut milk
Cooked with 1 tablespoon coconut oil

Snack
10-12 macadamia nuts

Dinner
5 ounces porterhouse beef steak with 1/8″ fat
Cooked in 1 tablespoon tallow

Nutritional Breakdown (from www.nutritiondata.com)

Calories – 2013
Carbs (g) – 13.8
Fat (g) – 186
Protein (g) – 79.1

Carbs – 2.7%
Fat – 83.2%
Protein – 15.7%

Those percentages don’t add up to 100% and I don’t really know why. I can’t seem to get them to add up to 100% in nutritiondata.com or myfitnesspal.com. I think it’s because some of the individual foods are off a bit, but you get the point. It’s super high fat, super low carb, and low-ish protein. To compare, normal Americans eat anywhere from 200 to 400 grams of carbs a day. I normally get about 30% carbs, 30% protein, 40% fat (no, I’m not doing that on purpose…). Just as a comparison to someone on a non-low-carb Paleo diet.

Things to note…
One interesting thing I noticed when I was making this hypothetical diet was that there’s really no room for vegetables except for the paltry onions I included. I don’t necessarily think that vegetables are a necessary part of a healthy diet, but that’s only when you’re eating the whole animal, so to speak. If you eat organs, bone broth, AND the muscle meat from grass-fed/pasture raised animals and yolks from pastured hens, then you’re getting heaps of nutrients. But if you don’t, you’d really need to supplement on this diet.

One other interesting point came about when I was trying to think of all the fatty Paleo foods I could include. Of course avocado came up on my list, as well as lard, bacon fat, tallow, fatty meats, coconut oil, coconut milk, olive oil, and nuts. However, while one whole avocado contains 322 calories and 29 grams of fat, it also houses 18 grams of carbohydrates. I don’t know how I’ve overlooked that for so long. Those 18 grams alone would’ve more than doubled the carb count of this menu, so I omitted it. Just something to consider.

In Conclusion
If you try eating a ketogenic diet, I strongly recommend you make a menu like this for yourself and record your meals in one of the free diet trackers online so you know exactly what percentages of carbs, fat, and protein you’re getting. You’ll probably be eating more fat than you’ve ever eaten before and I’m assuming it might require some practice. It might be worth being diligent about it: at least in Jimmy’s experience, the further he went into ketosis, the more weight he dropped, at least when he wasn’t doing any exercise. When he was doing exercise his weight loss declined a little bit, but that’s a whole different topic.

Has anyone had any experience with this? Care to share?