Today’s Q&A is with with Leanne Vogel, C.H.N and it’s all about the keto diet. Leanne is a passionate nutrition educator, host of The Keto Diet Podcast, four-time bestselling author, and has the largest keto resource on YouTube.
She is the author of our current favorite book The Keto Diet and the force behind The Healthful Pursuit blog. We asked Leanne some of the most common keto diet questions, including those from our HBF community.
How did you discover The Keto Diet and why did you choose it as your way of eating?
I found keto when I was on HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) and gaining a lot of weight because of it. I was frustrated, confused, and that’s when a friend introduced me to it. I purchased the book Keto Clarity by Jimmy Moore, and never looked back.
What is the Keto Diet in a nutshell?
I like to say that it’s a low-carb/high-fat diet where instead of burning glucose as energy (highly inefficient) one is burning fat as energy. When your body starts to burn fat for energy, we refer to it as ketosis.
If you’re new to keto, probably the best place to start would be with my beginners keto program, The Keto Beginning.
What would you consider the top 5 health benefits of the keto diet?
For me, I saw improvements in my weight, my brain function (I was able to go off ADHD medication as a result), my moods, reduction in sugar cravings, regulation of my menstrual cycle (I had amenorrhea – lack of period – for 8 years and keto helped me get that back), and lastly, improvements in cardiovascular risk factors.
Why does keto work so well for weight loss?
Keto allows you to burn fat as energy – either the fat on your body, or in your diet. The three key factors:
- By lowering carb intake, you lower the production of glycerol which moves fat into cells.
- By lowering carb intake, you lower blood sugar and therefore insulin. When insulin is low, fat is able to be burnt.
- By eating enough fat, you encourage the body to stay in this state.
What do you think are the most surprising effects of the keto diet?
The most surprising result I’ve experienced was increased health of my hair, skin and nails – I wasn’t expecting that! My hair grows VERY quickly and my nails are stronger than they ever have been.
How is your own keto approach different to the traditional keto diet?
I call my approach the Fat Fueled approach. It differs because of a few things:
- Eating enough
- Not forcing yourself to fast
- Using carbs strategically (I call it carb-ups)
- Focusing on whole foods
- Not consuming dairy (because it’s inflammatory for most people)
This is very clear throughout The Keto Diet book, where I’ve provided 5 different Fat Fueled Profiles people can use to get into ketosis and make it their own, while also paying attention to whole food intake and whole body health.
How many carbs can one eat per day on keto? This is the question that our audience always asks.
It varies. I can stay in ketosis at about 80 grams of total carbs, whereas others have to be below 20 grams. I think a good place to start is 50 grams of carbohydrates per day (that’s net carbs).
Should I worry about the amount of cholesterol and saturated fats I’m eating?
No. And if you want a great video on that, you must watch this.
What side effects should I be aware of when going keto?
There’s a thing called “keto flu”, which is the experience of going low-carb where your body is unsure of which fuel it’s using. Basically, your body is looking for carbs, can’t find them, so it is confused.
There are many things you can do to overcome this or avoid it all together, and it starts with food intake. Spinach, avocados, dark chocolate, and Keto Lemonade (a recipe in the book) help with this.
What is your favourite keto breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack?
Breakfast: always a Rocket Fuel Latte, which is full of satiating fats. Lunch/Dinner: usually some sort of high-fat meat (brisket), and greens. Snack: Lakanto chocolate topped with coconut butter.
Check out our roundup of 20+ Fabulous Keto Dinner Recipes here.
Can you do high-intensity exercise on keto?
You can. If you’re doing aerobic exercises, you can go keto all the way and burn fat. If you’re doing anaerobic exercise, you’ll likely need to use your carbs wisely – usually before or after a workout.
Where does alcohol fall into place on a keto diet? Can I still drink occasionally?
You bet you can! While I’m not a drinker myself, I understand that it’s important to people. I’ve included a guide in the book on how to approach alcohol and which choices are best.
Can I eat any fruit at all on a keto diet?
I do. My favorites are lower sugar fruits like berries and apples. But, if you like higher sugar fruits, incorporating a carb-up practice is best.
What sweeteners are allowed on a keto diet?
My favorites are monk fruit sweetener, stevia, and xylitol.
Is keto just a trendy diet? Is it different than Atkins? Do you think it’s sustainable?
Trendy, perhaps. I think anything can be trendy – it depends on why you started it, what your goals are, etc. I’ve always been vocal about my approach being a lifelong commitment so to me, it isn’t trendy.
It is different than Atkins on many levels; see above on: “How is your own keto approach different to the traditional keto diet?”. Sustainable meaning kind to the environment?
Depending on how you source your products. Our approach is very much so. Sustainable meaning able to follow long term? I’ve been following this way of eating for three years and I’m still going strong.
It’s worked this long because I don’t set unrealistic expectations for myself.
What is a proper amount of protein to take in on a keto diet? If there is too much protein, it converts to glucose thus becoming essentially a carbohydrate, so what range should we aim for?
There’s a lot of fear mongering about protein and gluconeogenesis (the creation of glucose from protein). Some people can get away with eating upwards of 35% protein and it be totally fine for their keto journey.
I go into more details on protein intake on the keto diet in this podcast.
Keto for women – does it work in the same way as it does for men? Should I worry about my hormones when going very low-carb?
It doesn’t work the same between men and women. Or at least for many women, their approach needs to be different. This is why I do what I do!
I have a few useful videos on this topics on my blog. I recommend you watch this video and this video for more info.
Can you explain the difference between keto and nutritional ketosis (i.e. Terry Wahl’s version of keto including 3-4 cups of veggies?)
My version of keto also includes lots of veggies and focus on whole foods, so I suppose it could be similar to the answer above in that the difference may be focus on whole foods vs. not as well as a focus on healing the body vs. just weight loss.
I can’t speak to Terry Wahl’s protocol, however.
How can a keto diet be adapted for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?
The best approach for you would be to follow the Classic Keto Fat Fueled Profile in The Keto Diet book. Also, check out my podcast on hypothyroidism and keto here and watch this video on low-carb diet and thyroid imbalances.
What is a must-try recipe/s in your book?
My favorites are Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus, Bombay Sloppy Jolenes, Sausage and Greens Hash Bowl, and Chocolate-Covered Coffee Bites, to name a few!
Check out Leanne’s dreamy low-carb bacon mac’n’cheese recipe on our blog.
For more information on the keto diet as well as low-carb, high fat recipes, meal plans and shopping lists, check out Leanne’s book The Keto Diet (out now!). For more keto FAQs, check out Leanne’s page here.