Keto diet different ways

Not all keto is created equally though every approach shares a common goal: to promote ketosis. There are a few different ways one can “do keto” or live a ketogenic lifestyle. Some people keep steady to just one type consistently. And some individuals move around to follow two or more of these lifestyles form time to time.

The main types of keto are:

The standard ketogenic diet
This is the most common, classic ketogetic diet and what you should start with if a beginner. The basic recipe for a keto is your daily diet is 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbohydrates. With this diet, carbs are limited to 20-30 net grams per day.

Targeted ketogenic diet
This type is similar in form to the standard ketogenic diet but involves targeting your carbohydrate consumption in timing with workouts. Some do fasted workouts prior to any carbohydrate consumption. Others time carb eating right before exercise. This type is best for those who are ‘fat-adapted’ or been following a standard keto diet for some time. That way the body is already used to using fat for fuel and can run on ketones.

High protein ketogenic diet
This type of diet increases protein consumption from the standard ketogenic diet ratios. That looks like your daily calories coming from 65% fat, 30% protein, 5% carbs. Typically, those who engage in higher protein diets are doing so to build muscle mass.

Cyclical ketogenic diet
Or keto cycling. This type means cycling in and out of ketosis with some days being lower carb, and other days involving ‘carb-ups’ or higher carb allowances. Most who practice cyclical keto on purpose plan a schedule such as five days keto and two days of higher carb intake. Many (myself included) follow a cyclical ketogenic diet without such purpose because staying strict keto can be difficult unless you plan and measure constantly. Personally, I know I come in and out of ketosis a few times a week but don’t ‘binge’ on high carb foods. So my cycling is more dipping below the standard ketogenic diet ratios every now and then. If I go too far outside the standard ratios, and over-indulge in carbs, I experience inflammation (usually skin, but sometimes in my joints) so try to be as on-the-ball as I can, But the cyclical approach does allow more flexibility and it’s good for those of us (ahm, like me) who deal with disordered eating so can get carried away with measuring, guilt, etc.

Lazy keto
This type of keto follows the standard ketogenic diet but individuals don’t count ratios or amounts that much. Instead, the approach is more about focusing on high-fat, low carb foods in general. Additionally, ‘lazy keto’ or ‘dirty keto‘ can refer to those who eat out a lot and don’t make homemade or fresh foods priorities. It is possible to remain ‘keto’ and eat fast food every day! It is healthy? No, but you can technically remain in ketosis depending on your choices from that drive-thru menu!

Different approaches
Each type of ketogenic lifestyle can be approached in different ways. There’s If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) which means you can eat whatever as long as sticking with your fat, protein, and carb (ie. macro nutrient) goals/ratios. This is definitely a more relaxed approach but can run you into trouble with nutrient deficiencies. There’s the Purist approach which is more methodical and involves staying away from keto ‘junk foods’ in pursuit of whole, nutritious foods. This way can get complicated and pricey. There is also Protein-Sparing which isn’t recommended for many (or for long). It involves keeping your ratios for protein and carbs steady but dropping your fat amount drastically. This can help you break out of a weight-loss stall but can cause your body to burn muscle for fuel instead of fat.

You can also add intermittent fasting to any of these for more variety and added benefits. IF is where you eat only during a specific period of time, your ‘eating window’. The other time you’re not eating or fasting. Most fast overnight while sleeping and into the morning. A typical IF plan is 16hrs fasting and an 8hr eating window. That can look like fasting before bed, starting 8pm and not eating again until lunchtime, say noon or 1pm.

Does all this sound interesting (it does to me!) or too complicated? If the latter, don’t fret because living a ketogenic lifestyle can be approached simply and maintained easily. Unless you want to, just stick to the basics of the standard ketogenic ratios. Once fat-adapted or burning fat for fuel then you can explore different options to meet your needs or goals. Or just keep on keto-ing on!

The toughest time

TW; This post focuses on mental illness. It is personal but I’ve wanted to write it forever.

My brain makes me feel sad, apathetic, and numb when there is no external cause for those feelings. Then, at other times, I’m jubilant and racing with energy. Often been called moody and those difficult-to-control moods negatively affect my life.

It’s something I can’t quite explain though I’ve tried many times. I’ve tried to explain the way my brain works to myself, to friends and family, to doctors, to counselors, and it feels like I’ve never been able to get it right. The closest I’ve come to explaining myself is when I say I have depression and anxiety. But even then I’m not sure that captures it. My symptoms don’t present as typical depression symptoms like crying or feeling worthless. I’ve been tested for mood disorders but came up clean. Maybe cyclothymic disorder or maybe I’m just melodramatic and whiney (at least that’s what the unwanted negative voice in my head sometimes says).

So far I haven’t taken this laying down even though I’ve had plenty of days when I don’t want to get out of bed. This sickness is something that’s part of me and I try to deal with it head on. And I’m learning to have more patience wit myself and others.

The message to reach out for help has come across loud and clear. End the stigma and everyone has mental health, and all that. But there hasn’t been much education or discussion about what the receivers or listeners can do to help. I’ve reached out countless times only to be told everyone has ups and downs, that lots are fighting battles behind closed doors, it’s normal to feel anxious, etc. Conflicting messages around mental health are confusing at the best of times. When I’m in a dark place they’re too much to handle. All I can think is if everyone feels like I do then the world is seriously screwed up. We shouldn’t be indignant or competitive. Shouldn’t we be searching for answers to why we’re all fighting with our own minds?

There are theories about modern society and stress affecting mental health. There’s also a growing concern that sugar negatively impacts our brains. I believe that!

My reality is that I look like a ‘normal’ well-functioning adult. I have a full-time office job, I’m a mother and a partner, I have interests, and I feel OK half the time. But the rest of the time knocks me down and leaves me feeling helpless and weak. My mind relapses to unwanted negativity and feeling inadequate. I grab supports like my CBT training, family, movement, and slowly try to haul myself out of the hole. Even when I’m feeling good, I know there’s a part of me that’s uneasy with expectation that I’ll trip or fall down again. It truly feels like I’m taking one step forward and two back with everything.

It’s a recognition that that there are a million ideas running around my head but I feel paralyzed to act on them. Or I’m discouraged by the false starts and lack of confidence. I swing from wanting to take over the world to hardly having the confidence to function. I have missed opportunities because my brain tells me I’m not good enough. I’ve not applied for jobs (even ones I’ve been sought out for), cancelled interviews, and given up on endless good ideas. My depression and anxiety rob me of confidence and energy, and trying to help myself with all sorts of interventions is so tiring. My mental health is my main hobby.

This is a post about how a difficult time in your life can be called the toughest time – not because of how hard it is but because of how tough you are. Or how tough you have to be. This may seem idealist or trite but I’m going to put it out there anyway because I think it’s true: we are all more capable and have more endurance than we think. Find the strength to change the narrative in your head and spin your situation into a positive light. It’s easier said than done but so worth it. And each time your flip your perspective is practice for the next time. So each time gets a tiny bit easier, faster, you retain that muscle memory, and that’s how habits are formed.

It all starts with recognition of a negative thought process or bad feeling. Identifying it is the key to turning it around. I have found mindfulness meditation and CBT beneficial but, like most good things, they took time to develop and grow to something intuitive and useful for me. I’m still learning and adjusting.

Following a ketogenic lifestyle has also helped tremendously. There are clear links between keto, fasting, and improved cognitive function. I also struggle with disordered eating so keto has been a powerful tool to help with that, too.

After the struggle and work, it’s far too easy for me to get complacent when things are okay, or give up when they’re bad. Rerouting thought pathways can work wonders but it’s a constant battle. I know when I let my guard down during a good streak, or find myself suffering in a dark time, I need to put in the work. You too may need to work harder or differently to not fall into that hole, or to pull yourself out. It’s in the dark times that I need to stay the course with my ketogenic lifestyle, self care, and health practices. When it feels easy to give up is exactly when I (and you) need to keep going.

If you’re struggling, I encourage you to check out a group that’s helped me: Sick Not Weak or find your own support to get through the toughest times.

“Fat head” dough cinnamon rolls

These cinnamon rolls are low carb, gluten free, and can satisfy your desire for yummy baked goods. When living a ketogenic lifestyle it can be rare to have the classic baked goods you used to crave, like cinnamon rolls, donuts, muffins, etc. These baked goods are everywhere in our society. And though keto makes you have way less cravings and know sugar is just plain bad for you…you may still want a taste of something nostalgic or classic. This is the recipe for just those occasions. It is perfect for a weekend baking session and ends up making enough to share or bring to a gathering. 

The initial recipe is similar to most ‘fat head’ dough and uses coconut flour. Because of that, it’s also safe for anyone avoiding nuts which is a great alternative as some related dough uses almond flour. 

I got the idea for making these from a post by Keto Diet Channel for cinnamon and cream cheese babka bread. I tried that recipe and did like the addition of cream cheese laced with the cinnamon filling.

For these cinnamon rolls, once the dough is formed and chilled, roll it out between two pieces of parchment paper (helps with it not sticking to surfaces). Then this recipe takes a turn from classic ‘fat head’ dough as you spread a cinnamon, butter, sugar (well, sugar alternative) mixture over the dough. Using the parchment paper to assist, roll the dough over itself trapping that amazing sweet cinnamon butter inside. Chill the dough again to make cutting and forming easier. 

Let the dough chill all rolled up and covered in the parchment paper for 15-20 mins in the fridge. Take it out and cut the roll into 1-2 inch sections. I find it best to cut the long roll in half first, then cut each half in half, and keep going like that. This technique produces the most uniform rolls. Or you can experiment with some larger and some thinner rolls to see what you like, like I did below. I ended up with 15 rolls total time time, and average about a dozen to 15 rolls each time I make this recipe. 

Bake the rolls for 30 mins at 375F. Check to ensure they’re not browning too much and that they’re not too soggy or uncooked in the middle. If you have larger rolls, you may need to put them back in the oven for a few more minutes. It’s my experience that this dough can’t go longer than 30 mins without burning. So if you decide to put them back in the oven for a few more minutes make sure you cover them with foil. 

And here they are! Super cute, satisfying, tasty. The coconut flour makes these have a nice texture that’s not mealy or crumbly. The cinnamon butter rolled throughout the dough does emulate a classic cinnamon roll. These should cool on the pan and then can last up to 5 days though I find they are eaten pretty fast! If you have an older roll, microwave it for a few seconds to bring some life back to the dough and make the cinnamon mixture nice and warm. 

Additionally, you can mix up a quick glaze for the top if you’d like but of course that’s optional. I don’t typically don’t keep powdered sweetener so didn’t go with this option. And I like they just fine plain and with a cup of coffee. 

“Fat head: dough cinnamon rolls

Dough ingredients:
+ 2 and 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
+ 3 oz cream cheese
+ 2 eggs (large, room temp)
+ 1/4 cup sweetener** (I use Swerve erythritol)
+ 45g coconut flour (it really should be weighed)
+ 1 Tbs baking powder
+ 1 tsp xanthan gum powder (option but really helps hold the dough together and gives better texture)
+ 1 tsp vanilla extract

Melt the cheeses in the microwave and stir together. I do this in a large 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup and use that as the ‘bowl’ for adding the rest of the ingredients later on. I do this in 30-second increments and stir between each one until the cheese is mealty. 

Take the cheese out of the microwave and mix together with a fork. 

In a separate bowl, combine the coconut flour, xanthan gum, and baking powder. Whisk or stir with a fork to ensure well-combined and set aside. 

Crack the eggs into a smaller bowl (I use a ramekin)  and break them up a bit with a fork. Now that the cheese mixture is cooled a little and then add in the eggs. Mix together with a fork. If you’re new to making ‘fat head’ dough, this is where the recipe will seem to be falling apart and you may feel like something has gone wrong. Nope. It’s just difficult to mix melted cheese with egg. Keep going and you’ll be find!

Mix in the vanilla extract and sweetener. Then add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix together. This is when you will see the dough start to come together (hopefully!). When the dough comes together, you can empty it out onto parchment paper and work it with your hands a bit. If it is really sticky, wait a minute or so to see if the dough changes after the wet get absorbed better. If still too sticky, add a little bit more coconut flour to it but go little by little. Coconut flour soaks up moisture super quickly. It’s easy to add too much if you’re not used to working with it. 

Once the mixture is in a dough and can form into a ball, you can then place another piece of parchment paper over it and roll it out between the paper. I find this dough to be less like a traditional all-purpose flour dough and more like a sugar cookie dough. 

Try to roll the dough into a large rectangle shape (longer on two sides, and shorter on two sides. Don’t roll it too thin (about 1/4″ thick is good) and use your palm to smooth over the paper to ensure the dough is of even thickness all over. 

Then pop this into the fridge while you make the filling mixture. 

Cinnamon filling 

+ 1/3 cup butter, softened (at room temp)
+ 2-3 Tbs cinnamon (depending on your preference for cinnamon!)
+ 1/3 cup sweetener (I use Swerve again. I have also done half Swerve and half Splenda brown sugar and love that combo)
+ 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional but yummy. I didn’t add them for this particular post’s pictures but I like to when I have the nuts on hand) 

Mix the ingredients together and get the dough back out of the fridge. Spread the cinnamon filling mixture over the dough, leaving a gap of about 1 inch on all sides. I like to leave a larger gap on one of the long sides of the rectangle of dough. Then using the paper to assist, and starting at one long edge (the one without the larger gap of no filling) roll the dough up and over itself into a log. Wrap in the paper and place back into the fridge to chill for about 15-20 mins. 

This is when I start to pre-head the oven to 375F. I get the dough out of the fridge, and cut it into slices which will be the cinnamon rolls. I place them on a baking sheet (which is lined with parchment paper or a non-stick silicone sheet). I find leaving a 2″ gap or so between each is sufficient as they don’t spread much in the oven. Bake for 30+ mins depending on how big your rolls are and your desired done-ness. Take out of the oven when they’re golden brown but before they’re too dark or burning. Let cool and enjoy!

Supplements

Living a ketogenic lifestyle does not mean a person takes a bunch of supplements or pills to stay healthy but I do have some diet additives I find useful. Do you take any supplements?

Here are my current main go-tos:

Drink of champions

This combo of liquid chlorophyll and electrolytes saves my butt constantly. I don’t take the electrolytes supplement every day but I try to have at least one dose of the green stuff daily. I add both to a bottle of water so stay hydrated at the same time. My nephropathic doctor recommended liquid chlorophyll to help with skin, inflammation, and hormone issues I had this past fall, and I haven’t looked back since. It’s a wonder fix-all and I now recommend it to everyone! This particular electrolyte powder has no sugar or carbs and does the trick when I’m lacking sodium, potassium, and magnesium in my regular diet.

More fat

If you are doing ‘keto’ then you know fat is good for you. I knew oil supplementation was good for me way before I understood the benefits of  fat or keto. I have taken some sort of fish oil on-and-off for at least ten years. Where I’m from, cod liver oil has been a cure-all for centuries and I grew up knowing it to be foul-tasting but effective. Now, you can get oils of many varieties in pill form and many are odourless, and some are flavoured. I tried taking evening primrose oil capsules but didn’t find much benefit. For a while my doctor recommended a high does of perillia seed oil but when that bottle ran dry I went back to fish oil. I’m not loyal to any particular brand or type. There is lots of debate online and in literature about what type of oil is better for you: seeds vs. animal but there is little doubt omega 3 supplementation is beneficial.

Probiotics

Genestra HMF Forte Probiotic Formula

This is a lesson I only recently learned and wish I’d known sooner: Get yourself a good probiotic! These itty bitty guys will help with digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune function. Taking a supplement is especially important if you don’t eat much (or any) fermented foods. I keep mine in the fridge and have one per day before eating.

Chill pill

This is another excellent supplement I was turned on to my by naturopathic doctor. She recommended teas of holy basil as well as nettle. While I do like those I have found taking a concentrated pill supplement of holy basil (or tulsi) amazing for my mental health and ability to manage stress. I’ll take all the help I can get in those areas!

Those are the main supplements I take on a mostly daily basis. They are my starting line though there are a few others I sprinkle in when needed or when I remember. A good diet rich with nutrients is the best basis for health but it’s nice to know I can bring in these supplements to help!