This article is your resource page for Healthy Ketosis™, where Dr. Berg takes you step-by-step on how ketosis works, what to eat, what not to eat, teaching you amazing ketogenic recipes and desserts. You will soon discover that this healthy way to burn fat will prove to benefit you way beyond just losing weight – enjoy!
What is ketosis?
The Ketogenic Diet Plan
is not just the ultimate weight loss plan; it’s also a powerful strategy to improve one’s health. Let’s start with the basics.
is a state in which the body is using ketones as its primary fuel. Ketones are the by-product of burning fats.
Our entire lives, we’ve been told that the primary source of energy in the body is carbohydrates or glucose. This has been proven false. Ketones are an alternative fuel source under certain conditions.
What conditions you ask?
Ketones are produced when the body is low in carbohydrates (glucose). We will discuss this further in a bit.
Ketones provide a much more efficient and cleaner fuel source than glucose. Think of ketones as sourcing the energy for an electric car: you get smooth, quiet, and clean energy. On the other hand, running your body on glucose is equivalent to using diesel fuel: the process is dirty with lots of exhaust.
Ketones are produced when the body is burning fats. An average thin person carries around 50,000-70,000 calories of stored fat. If we compare this to the amount of glycogen, which is stored glucose, we’re only talking 1700-2000 calories.
Based on this information, wouldn’t it make more sense that our bodies run on fat fuel? If you consider the caveman days, if we only had glucose to run our bodies on, we would all have been dead long ago because the glucose reserve would only last 48 hours or less. The goal is to switch our body from sugar fuel to fat fuel.
Interestingly, our body’s original fuel source was ketones. It’s only recently that we’ve been using glucose as the primary energy source. This also explains the tremendous baggage that comes along with it.
Another interesting point is as a baby, we all ran on ketones if we were breast fed
Hhmmm, what does that tell us? Of course, most mothers have switched to giving their babies the carbo-induced, sugary infant formula. This changed the scenario overnight.
For a long time, ketones were believed to be toxic. This is only because in a severe diabetes state when a person has run out of insulin, the body can generate a tremendous amount of ketones and dramatically increase its acidity. This is called
There are many different types of ketogenic plans but they all have ONE common denominator: very low carbohydrates. This means you need to keep your total carbohydrate amounts below 50 grams per day. The slower your metabolism, the lower your carbohydrate level should be. So, you may need to go down to 20 grams or less per day.
Carbohydrates are the main type of food that affects fat burning especially when it comes in the form of refined carbs, breads, hidden sugars, and of course, sugar!
But you don’t really need carbohydrates to thrive at all. You need nutrient-dense vegetables, yes. But the body does
not require carbohydrates for health
. As even conventional medicine practitioners will tell you, “there is no clear requirement for dietary carbohydrates for human adults.
Protein is the other type that can also prevent you from getting into ketosis IF it’s too high. It is generally recommended that you keep your protein intake between 3-6 ounces per meal. High-protein diets, as in the Atkins Diet, can keep you from getting into ketosis. This is because your liver can only process a certain amount of protein. Anything more than around 30 grams per meal will then be converted into glucose (sugar). So, ketosis is NOT a high protein diet. It is a moderate protein diet. We need some protein for supporting our structural body parts and their replacement. This includes muscle, joints, hair, nails, skin, and organs.
When you are reducing your carbs and excess protein, you are influencing the hormone
. This is the hormone that determines what fuel source you use.
INSULIN – GLUCOSE FUEL
INSULIN – FAT FUEL
Insulin not only makes your body use glucose fuel, it also prevents fat-burning.
So, if we are consuming 2-50 grams of carbs per day and a moderate amount of protein, what do we eat to substitute the rest of the calories with?
I need to explain fat because we have all been fully indoctrinated that fat is bad and that it will make us overweight and clog our arteries.
What’s fascinating is that fat is the only type of food that has almost no effect on insulin. Let that sink in for a minute.
All the bad hype you have been hearing about high-fat diets is not exactly true. If you personally read the studies involving high-fat diets, you’ll discover that 99% of it is a combination of high-fat and high-carbohydrate diets. When you combine high carbohydrates with fat or even protein, insulin will spike dramatically. So that deep-fried donut or deep-fried fatty fries are really fried carbohydrates.
If you consume dietary fats with LOW CARBS, you will not spike insulin. High-fats is safe as long as it goes with low carbs.
I coined the term
What is it?
This is based on another principle that I talked about in previous books: You don’t lose weight and get healthy. Rather, you get healthy to lose weight. More than just losing weight or reducing your blood sugar, your goals should be getting healthy, making sure you get as much nutrients as you can from what you eat, and making sure you only eat quality food. I look at ketosis as ONE strategy or piece of the puzzle. Ketosis is healthy because it allows you to run your body on a cleaner fuel.
Being in this field for quite a while, I stumble on all sorts of aspects of ketosis that continue to tweak things or optimize results.
For example; if you get into ketosis and release your stored fat in your fat cells, there is a chance you could end up with a fatty liver since all these fat flowing out has to come out through the liver. The way to prevent this is to consume larger quantities of vegetables or salad as a way of keeping your liver flushed of fat. A recent study, in fact, found that the ketogenic diet reduced fat on the liver, inflammation, and fibrosis.
An average body needs between
7-10 cups of salad or vegetables
to meet the required amount for some nutrients like potassium.
Do you realize that our body needs 4700 mg of potassium every single day? Bananas are too high in sugar and only provide 300 mg of potassium per fruit. Vegetables and salad in larger quantities can provide these requirements without spiking insulin.
I recommend a type of healthy ketosis
that emphasizes getting your required nutrients. This approach does not only cut your carbs, but also provides high quality food. There are more strategies I will discuss later.
What about calories?
There are things concerning calories that are very important while some are very trivial. Most diets always emphasize that weight loss is about your calories. Simply eat less calories and you’ll manage your weight.
This is emphasizing the WRONG things. The purpose of eating is not to provide calories.
It’s about getting your nutrients from those calories. That should be your most important focus. However, to get your nutrients, it does take a certain number of calories. Typically, it could take between 1500-1800 or even 2000 calories for an average person to get their recommended nutrients.
The Healthy Ketogenic Plan calorie percentages I am recommending will
roughly be 5% carbohydrates, 5% vegetable and salad, 20% protein, and 70% healthy fats.
What foods do you AVOID on a ketogenic diet?
Grains – wheat, corn, rice, cereal, etc.
Sugar – honey, agave, maple syrup, etc.
Fruit (except BLUEBERRIES/RASPBERRIES as these are very low on the glycemic and insulin index)
Tubers – potato, yams, etc.
Bad sweeteners— aspartame, sucralose, saccharine are full of cancerous chemicals and can only spike insulin. Studies show people who drink diet soda are typically obese.
What foods do you EAT on a ketogenic diet?
Meats – beef, lamb, poultry, etc.
Fish and Seafood
Leafy Greens – spinach, kale, etc.
Non-starch vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, etc.
High Fat Dairy – hard cheeses, high fat cream, grass fed butter (like Kerrygold)
Nuts and seeds – pecans, macadamias, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
Avocado and berries – raspberries, blackberries, and other low glycemic impact berries (small amounts)
Sweeteners – stevia, erythritol, xylitol
Other fats – coconut oil, high-fat salad dressing, saturated fats, extra virgin olive oil
Insulin is the body’s main hormone switch; it determines which fuel you will use: fat or sugar.
If insulin is high, no fat will be burned—only sugar. If insulin is low, fat will be used exclusively as fuel.
What exactly is insulin? Insulin is a hormone (a body message) that is made by the pancreas,
which is located under your left rib cage. Look at insulin as a key that allows sugar (glucose) into your cells.
Insulin does six main things (and a lot of minor things too):
acts as a key
to open the door, allowing cells to get sugar fuel.
lowers excess sugar
in the blood after eating.
in the liver and muscles. Stored glucose is called glycogen.
converts excess sugar
to fat (especially around the belly) and cholesterol.
(amino acids) into the cell.
It allows minerals,
, into the cell.
Insulin is the main fat-making hormone, and in its presence, no fat can be burned. In studies, you will hear this explained as “insulin inhibits (prevents) lipolysis (fat burning) in adipocytes” (fat cells). It prevents fat from being released from your cells so you can burn it off for fuel—meaning no fat loss.
Insulin stores fat mainly in your midsection. In fact, your belly size is the best measurement of how much insulin you have in your bloodstream.
In this booklet, I will refer to
interchangeably because they are basically the same thing.
The faster the body breaks down food into sugar, the higher the insulin response. There is even a scale, called the glycemic index, that measures this spike of sugar in the blood. (See
The main trigger of insulin is carbohydrates. You eat carbs, and they turn into sugar—raising glucose in the blood. That triggers insulin to whisk in and do its job of lowering blood sugar, as seen in the next diagram.
What does normal blood sugar (100 mg/dl) mean?
When you get your blood sugar level tested,
the normal range is between 80 mg/dl and 100 mg/dl.
But what do these numbers mean?
If your blood sugar is normal, it means that you have roughly one (heaping) teaspoon of sugar in your blood. An average person has about
1 and 1/3
gallons of blood in their body.
As you can see, we barely need any sugar at all, right? That 1 teaspoon of sugar can even come from non-carbohydrate sources, like protein.
But we have said that the average person in the U.S. consumes
31 teaspoons of sugar every day.
Just imagine how hard insulin has to work to remove this massively excessive amount of sugar from the blood! It has to work 31 times harder. That’s insane.
Even crazier is that the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends foods that equate to over 50 teaspoons of sugar per day. The American Heart Association, the USDA Food Pyramid, and the Obesity Society all recommend a similar eating plan: high carbs.
Diabetes is the disease of too much sugar in the blood. Medical texts call it
, a word made from
(glucose in the blood).
How could you cure too much sugar by adding more?
How your body copes with excess blood sugar and insulin
When you consume lots of sugar and have higher levels of insulin on a continuing basis, your cells try to protect you and eventually start
or ignoring insulin. Remember, insulin is the key that allows glucose into the cell. So, your cells prevent insulin from working in order to prevent excessive sugar in the cell. This is your body saying, “If you’re going to keep eating sugar, I will block it at the cellular level.”
Insulin resistance is a protective mechanism
Over time, an elevated blood sugar and insulin level causes your cells to block or resist insulin. Your body considers sugar to be toxic and will protect you by stopping it from entering your cells. This is called
It causes the problem of your cells becoming deprived of glucose fuel. So they stay hungry and crave carbs—and so do you.
Since the cells need fuel but cannot get it, the pancreas has to compensate by producing more insulin so the cells can get a little more fuel.
Insulin resistance makes your pancreas work too hard. In fact, insulin resistance forces the pancreas to produce five to seven times more insulin that it should normally.
So, we have a situation where the body has way too much insulin in the blood—yet the insulin is not able to do its job in the cells, either. The cells are resisting it. As a result, the body keeps making more and more insulin. These hormones are on a constant feedback loop, sending and receiving messages of “Sugar is high—release more insulin. . . . Must lower blood sugar for the body to stay alive.”
For more on insulin resistance, see the National Health Institute’s ”
Low blood sugars
Think about what’s happening. Your cells are resisting insulin, causing your body to make a lot more. With all this extra insulin in your blood, you could experience low blood sugars. This is called
, a word made from
(glucose in the blood). Hypoglycemia is caused by too much insulin in the blood and is a prediabetic symptom. Signs of hypoglycemia include cravings for carbs and sweets, being irritable, moody or depressed, having vision problems, being hungry or dizzy, and the list goes on and on. Your brain is the first organ to feel the effects of low blood sugars.
Your blood sugars could be normal or low because of the compensation of insulin. This can cause your doctor to fail to identify the early signs of prediabetes.
The problem is that, with a bit more time, the pancreas eventually stops compensating, becomes exhausted, and makes less and less insulin—allowing the sugar in your blood to go higher and higher. So, the first stage of insulin resistance is normal or low blood sugars due to excessive compensation of insulin. Then this is followed by higher and higher blood sugars as you lose the ability to compensate for the sugar with insulin. This is called diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is higher levels of blood sugars due to insulin resistance. Type 2 diabetics are given a medication to reduce the cells’ resistance to insulin.
As things worsen over time, type 2 diabetics are then put on insulin.
Because the pancreas is too exhausted to produce it.
This problem could easily be caught early if your doctor would test your fasting insulin levels in addition to your fasting glucose levels, but the doctor never does.
All this happens gradually and does not show up on blood tests until months or years later. In the meantime, however, insulin-resistance symptoms will manifest in other ways.
These are also the symptoms of high insulin: Insulin resistance, hypoglycemia, and the initial stages of diabetes type 2. All these conditions have one thing in common: high insulin.
The worst advice to give a person with high insulin is to eat too many carbs.
In 1971, the American Diabetic Association (ADA) recommended that your carbohydrates should be 45 percent of your calories; in 1986, they recommended that carbohydrates be 60 percent. In 1994, they allowed table sugar, and sugar added to foods, to be part of your total carbohydrates.
Eating carbohydrates is the main trigger for insulin! And if you want to lose weight, it’s important to remember that insulin is the main fat-making hormone because it converts carbs into fat—especially true for belly fat and visceral fat (fat around the organs).
If you see someone with belly fat, they have too much insulin!
Now let’s get into some other aspects of insulin that are important for you:
Cellular absorption of nutrients
Insulin is needed to help cells absorb nutrients such as potassium, magnesium and amino acids (protein). In fact, almost every nutrient is influenced by insulin. Potassium is needed for energy, for balancing sodium in the body, and for all kinds of other important things. We need amino acids for our hair, nails, skin, joints and muscles. We need magnesium for a healthy heart. See where I am going?
When you have insulin resistance, you not only starve the cell of fuel but you also become deficient in nutrients and protein! How can you create health on top of this problem?
In addition to the substances named above, insulin resistance can create deficiencies in various other nutrients:
B vitamins (especially B1 and B12)
Vitamins K1 and K2
Omega-3 fatty acids
Getting these nutrients can reduce insulin resistance. In contrast, insulin resistance can prevent the cells from absorbing them.
One of the terrible symptoms of diabetes is peripheral neuropathy. That’s a condition where the nerves in the feet and hands are destroyed, leading to burning pain and numbness. The diabetic may experience a sensation of pins and needles in their hands and feet. This is a B1 and B12 deficiency.
The B vitamins in general help prevent the damage from high blood sugar and insulin. It’s when you become deficient that the complications start.
Insulin resistance causes vitamin C deficiency, in which the vascular system becomes a prime target for damage.
If there is not enough vitamin C, you lose collagen, which keeps your arteries strong. This condition triggers a cascade of events: from increase of bad cholesterol (called LDL) to the formation of calcium and white blood to a bandage (plaque), which is known as a clogged artery. The plaque is the effect of the damage caused by high insulin.
Vitamins A, D, K1, and K2 all reduce insulin resistance. Potassium, magnesium, and calcium also lessen the resistance of insulin by working at the cellular level.
This is why the focus on creating health needs to come first, and weight loss is merely one benefit of getting healthy.
(By the way, not to get off topic, but did you know that cancer and tumors can
live on sugar?)
Every single one of the problems listed below is caused by chronic high levels of insulin:
Type II diabetes
High blood pressure
Dementia and Alzheimer’s
High insulin is the underlying cause of the biggest health problems we experience today.
How do we lower insulin?
Eliminate the sugar
This really does mean eliminating all sugar from the diet.
The key is bringing your dietary sugar down to
. There are acceptable sweet alternatives. The three I recommend that are easy to get are stevia, non-GMO erythritol and non-GMO xylitol.
Table sugar (cane and beet)
High-fructose corn syrup
Eliminate the hidden sugars
The four hidden carbohydrates that many people don’t consider:
Grains to avoid include
breads, pasta, cereal (even oatmeal), crackers, biscuits, pancakes and waffles. Even if something is gluten-free, it’s still a grain. Gluten is the protein in grains.
You want to avoid ALL grains, including oats, wheat, barley, Ezekiel bread, sprouted bread and quinoa.
Small amounts of rye crispbread, the kind with about 4 grams of carbohydrates in each. This is net carbs, which is the total carbohydrate minus the fiber.
Starches to avoid include
white and red potatoes, sweet potato, yams, white and brown rice, corn (even though it’s a vegetable) and cornstarch. Did you know that those puffed rice cereals or puffed rice cakes have glycemic responses that are near the top of the charts?
Fruits to avoid include
apples, bananas, pineapple, pears, dates, figs, grapes (and raisins), and fruit juices (orange, grape, and apple juice—even tomato juice).
Small amounts (one-half to one cup) of berries per day.
Legumes to avoid include
Hummus, but make sure it’s not made with soy or canola oil.
Eliminate the combination of sugar or refined carbs with protein
What’s worse than consuming carbs?
Combining sugar or refined carbs with protein can spike insulin by 200 percent or more.
Avoid these combinations:
Hamburger with bun
Hot dog with bun
Protein/bread combos in general
Burger with fries
Burger with ketchup (most condiments are packed with sugar, except for mustard)
Burger with soda
Beef jerky (unless it has no sugar)
Deli meats (unless they have no sugar)
Spaghetti and meatballs
Eggs and toast
Chicken wings with sugary coating
Cheese and crackers (except rye crispbread with about 4 grams net carbs in each)
Eliminate MSG (another hidden sugar)
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor-enhancing chemical, meaning that it makes food taste better than it actually is. The way it works is it enlarges your taste buds to enhance the perception of the savory taste. It’s in many, many foods at the grocery store and fast-food restaurants, including Chinese restaurants.
You have to realize it can be listed under other names, too:
are just among its other names.
So read your labels—even commercial cottage cheese has modified cornstarch.
MSG can spike insulin by 300 percent, even though it’s not a carbohydrate.
Eliminate artificial sweeteners
Avoid aspartame. (Equal is also dangerous, and it’s in many diet sodas.) Avoid saccharine (commonly found in powdered diet sweeteners). Although these are sugar-free, they can spike insulin.
Many people have been drinking diet soda for years without knowing the effects of these artificial sweeteners.
Sugar alcohols are much better: non-GMO erythritol and xylitol are great. Stevia is the best, since it has a zero glycemic effect. You can even get soda-flavored xylitol that you can add to water to enjoy the taste of a soft drink without the insulin spike.
Switch from lean (low-fat) protein to the higher-fat version
You have already heard about the scale known as the glycemic index (GI), but you may never have heard of the insulin index. This scale rates all the non-carbohydrate triggers of insulin, and the big one is zero-fat protein. One example is in whey protein powder.
This is interesting because we have been brainwashed into thinking that low-fat or lean protein is healthier for you.
The fattier the animal protein, the lower its effect on insulin.
Did you get that?
The fattier the protein, the lower the insulin response
. So, when consuming protein, go for the higher-fat version. This includes cheese, dairy, meats, fattier fish, etc. It would also be better to leave the skin on the chicken if possible.
Avoid excess amounts of protein
Another trigger of insulin is large quantities of protein.
This was one of the issues with the Atkins diet. The optimum amount of protein per meal is about 3 to 6 ounces. Protein is needed for repairing and providing the raw material for muscle, tendons, joint cartilage, and even bone. Protein can also be used for fuel; however, too much protein triggers insulin which can be converted to sugar and then to fat.
A common question people have is, “Should I not be consuming lots of protein to build my muscles?”
The liver can only handle so much protein and keeping it to a moderate amount is all you need.
To build muscle, you also need to have a normal amount of insulin, which is why diabetics oftentimes lose their muscle and become flabby.
Avoid GMO soy and corn oil
very commonly consumed oils such as soy, canola and corn can trigger insulin resistance.
If oil is not organic, it’s likely to be GMO. Try to find a salad dressing or condiment without these oils. Good luck!
Soy and corn are often included in animal feeds, so you could also be getting GMOs indirectly through meats. This is another reason to go organic.
Avoid eating too frequently
Did you realize that
eating in general triggers insulin
? It is not a good idea to eat five to six small meals per day. This spikes insulin big time and prevents you from correcting insulin resistance. Snacking and grazing late at night is the worst. The solution to this is intermittent fasting (IF) which we will discuss further.
Your body is going to have to switch from sugar to fat as fuel sources and will need a new cellular process to accomplish this.
By following this plan, your cells will change over and adapt; how quickly this happens depends on how serious your insulin resistance is.
During this adjustment phase, you might experience some of the following symptoms:
Keto flu (feeling run-down)
Kidney stones or gout
To help reduce these symptoms, there are two main types of nutrients you need: B vitamins and electrolytes.
Electrolytes are minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium and chlorides.
Again, for a good B vitamin source, I recommend nutritional yeast, which is packed with virtually all the B vitamins you need every day. But make sure it’s unfortified (that is, make sure it doesn’t have synthetic vitamins added).
You can find your own electrolyte powder or use mine. Mine contains 1,000 mg of potassium per serving, as well as all other minerals and trace minerals—but without the maltodextrin (or sugar) that normally comes with most electrolyte powders.
To make nutritional yeast easier to consume, I put it in tablets, which you can even break in half to take. My version is non-fortified, with added natural B
for more information.
What is the best diet?
My whole mission has been teaching others what to eat to be healthy. But the concept of what food you should eat to get healthy has as many different viewpoints as there are stars in the sky!
So the question is this: What is the best diet for you?
Why don’t we start with the basic definition of the word food? Eating healthily begins with understanding the definition of food, which gives us its purpose:
(n.) that which is eaten to sustain life, provide energy, and promote the growth and repair of tissues; nourishment. [Old English f?da, “nourishment”]
So, we eat food in order to
Provide energy (fuel); and