By: Dr. Will Cole
Food is one of the most powerful tools we have in either fueling disease or facilitating optimal health. In my telehealth functional medicine clinic, I have watched the fallout from trendy diets that failed those who followed them, and I have watched some of them succeed temporarily, but ultimately fail.
This is why I believe it’s time to dump diet dogma and food fads. Instead, let’s put together a realistic, science-based plan that will help your body thrive, even as we live in a time when chronic health problems continue to skyrocket.
Ketotarian: A New Way of Eating
While every person’s unique biochemistry and health needs vary there is one thing we all know to be true: Plants, especially vegetables, are disease fighters. We also know that a high-carbohydrate diet, especially when made up mostly of refined grains and sugars, increases inflammation. And lastly, research is continuing to support the knowledge that healthy fats are important for brain function, energy levels, and healthy hormones.
At its core, Ketotarian is a mostly plant-based version of the well-known ketogenic diet, and the title of my first book, which has been shown to enhance brain function and stabilize blood sugar by providing your body. The ketotarian diet is keto for everyone. It is able to leverage all of the benefits of eating a high-fat diet without the inflammatory effects of dairy and conventional, processed meats.
The ketotarian diet also avoids the common pitfalls I see from many vegan and vegetarian diets. While plant-based diets can lead to more environmentally friendly eating habits, have intensive detoxification properties, help fight cancer, and also keep blood sugar under control, too often these diets consist mainly of bread, pasta, and other grains and soy for protein, with barely any vegetables. Over time, this “carbatarians,” lifestyle can lead to nutrient deficiencies and high inflammation levels.
A ketotarian diet also makes it easier to create a plant-based food plan that’s full of healthy fats, clean protein, and nutrient-dense vegetables without the nutritional pitfalls of these other ways of eating. Since it’s low-carb, moderate protein, and high fat, you’re able to transition your body from a sugar burner to a fat burner and put your body into a state of ketosis—just like a conventional ketogenic diet, but with that anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich plant-based twist.
For more research surrounding exactly how a plant-based keto diet can elevate your health, you can check out my book Ketotarian. However, the basic principles are simple and easy to remember as you shop and put together meals.
-Eat real food.
-Keep your carbs low.
-Keep your healthy fats high.
-If you eat a non-starchy vegetable, add some healthy fats.
-If you eat a healthy fat, add some non-starchy vegetables.
-Eat when you are hungry
-Eat until you are satiated, then stop.
Foods You Can Eat
But what exactly can you eat on a ketotarian diet? While it may seem limiting, you can actually
What to eat:
Coconuts (raw, milk, oil, etc.)
Avocados (raw and oil)
Olives (raw, oil)
Nuts and seeds (raw, butters, oils, milks, etc.)
Non-starchy vegetables (asparagus, artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens, etc.)
Low-fructose fruit (berries)
Low-carb sweeteners (stevia, monk fruit)
Wild-caught seafood (pescaterian keto option)
You can also toss out your old food pyramid and refer to the Ketotarian Triangle instead:
A high-fat smoothie with spinach, full-fat coconut milk, blueberries, avocado, and chia seeds.
A zucchini noodle bowl with olive basil pesto and an egg-o-cado (a fried or baked egg inside an avocado!)
Celery topped with your desired nut butter and some shredded unsweetened coconut.
You can’t go wrong with tacos. Try some lettuce-wrapped roasted cauliflower tacos with fish for dinner with extra guac.
While what works for one person won’t always work for the next, Ketotarian is overall a great tool for those looking to optimize their keto experience. Whether you want to be completely plant-based or add in meat every once in a while, Ketotarian is a great foundation for achieving ketosis and all of the cool associated health benefits.