Eating A Plant-Based Keto Diet
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
Eating a ketogenic diet has reached mainstream popularity, often referred to as a diet full of meat and cheese. If you are interested in the fat-burning health effects of the keto diet, but turned off by the consumption of animal products, you may be curious if it’s possible to be both plant-based (vegan vegetarian, pescatarian) and stay in ketosis. Good news for all you meat-free folk: ketosis is most definitely achievable while sticking to plant-based foods!
Refresher: What’s the Keto Diet?
In a traditional Keto Diet, you eat high fat and low carb, and your body enters a state called ketosis. Ketosis is when your body begins burning primarily fat, rather than glucose, for energy.
The Standard American Diet is composed largely of carbohydrate-heavy foods. With a high-carb diet, your body runs off of glucose (sugar) as fuel. When you lower your carbohydrate intake and reach the metabolic state of ketosis, there is not much glucose available, so your body begins to use fat for fuel–including stored body fat. This is one reason why the keto diet is so popular for weight loss.
In addition to the weight loss benefits, the keto diet has shown amazing results for lowering inflammation, regulating insulin response, and protecting against cancer and neurological disease. It’s no wonder this diet has taken over the health world!
How to do the Keto Diet and Eat Plant-Based
Mainstream chatter about the keto diet leaves our plant-based friends in the dust; many vegans and vegetarians don’t realize that they too can partake in the keto-hype!
No matter your diet, it’s important to choose high-quality food sources. If you are eating a conventional keto diet, a fast food hamburger patty with cheese technically meets the “keto requirement” of high fat/low carb, but it is not going to provide much nutritional value (and if anything, will have negative effects on your health). Similar scenario with a plant-based diet: Eating chips and soy veggie dogs is within the bounds of a vegan diet, but is not going to do you many favors in the health department.
Applying this to a plant-based keto diet–let’s look at how we can reach ketosis with high quality sources of fat and protein.
Plant-Based Foods for Ketosis
For plant-based ketosis, here are some of the foods that should make up a large part of your diet!
Plant-based keto foods (vegan-friendly):
- Avocados: Avocados, and avocado oil, are a great source of healthy fats as well as a whole host of micronutrients.
- Coconut: Coconuts, coconut oil, and coconut yogurt are great sources of healthy fat. Add coconut oil to your coffee for a satiating keto coffee to help extend your morning fast.
- Olives: Olives are a delicious snack and make a great addition to many meals! Load your salad up with olives and drizzle with olive oil.
- Nuts and seeds: These are an excellent keto-friendly snack, and can also be added to many meals for an extra dose of fat and protein!
- If you are vegetarian (no meat, but other animal products are okay): Pastured eggs, goat cheese, goat yogurt, grass-fed butter and ghee are great sources of healthy keto-friendly fat and protein.
- If you are pescatarian (eat fish), wild-caught fish is an excellent source of healthy fats and protein.
Keto Foods to Avoid
Let’s have a look at a few common “bad” plant-based foods and why we want to avoid them.
- Highly processed seed oils: canola “rapeseed”, vegetable, and soybean oil are all highly inflammatory oils prone to oxidation.
- Soy: Soy is high in antinutrients, which inhibit nutrient absorption. This means that any meal containing soy is going to automatically have lower nutritional value. Soy is also high in lectins, which are linked to leaky gut, inflammation and autoimmune reactions.
- Seitan: Seitan is a soy-free meat replacement, however, it is made from wheat gluten which is inflammatory and can lead to leaky gut and other health issues over time.
Good sources of protein on a plant-based diet, keto or not, include nuts, seeds, spirulina, natto, and tempeh.
Plant-based ketogenesis is totally possible! Just like any other diet, be sure to choose your foods with care: organic nuts and product, high quality fats and oils, and if you are vegetarian or pescatarian, pastured eggs, grass-fed dairy, and wild-caught fish. Choosing organic whole foods provides you with the most nutrition, while avoiding pesticides and inflammatory compounds.
Eating Your Way to Youthful Skin
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
Whether you dread wrinkles as a sign of aging or wear them proudly as a product of years of life and laughter, we can all agree that healthy, glowing skin is desirable. Your skin is the first thing people notice when they meet you and can tell a person a lot about your health and lifestyle.
While we all get older, the rate at which we show typical signs of aging is totally subjective. Our diet and lifestyle all affect our quality and rate of aging. Today we are going to dive into various foods and nutrients that support glowing, supple, youthful skin.
What is Skin Made Of?
Skin is our largest organ; it protects us from germs, helps regulate body temperature, and perceives and transmits sensory information. Our skin is composed of three layers:
- Epidermis: the outermost layer of skin, composed largely of fats and proteins.
- Dermis: beneath the epidermis, this layer contains connective tissue, collagen, and elastin—proteins that give our skin support and elasticity.
- Hypodermis: this is the innermost layer of subcutaneous tissue, composed of fat and connective tissue.
You may notice a common theme: our skin is largely composed of fats, proteins, and collagen. So guess what types of foods do the most for our skin? That’s right—fats, proteins, and collagen—as well as vitamins that we will get to later.
Eating Fat and Cholesterol for Healthy Skin
There are various anti-aging foods with powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, including collagen protein, saturated fats, and vitamins A and E.
A low-fat diet actually ages you by depriving your skin of the lipids it needs for optimal health. Saturated fats are the ones our skin craves: we are animals and we need animal fat. Butter, egg yolks, salmon, goat cheese… Fat not only feeds your skin, but it also helps balance your hormones, another anti-aging feature of delicious saturated goodness!
We’re taught to avoid cholesterol, but guess what: 50% of cell membranes are made of cholesterol, both cholesterol that our body produces, as well as cholesterol from our diet. It is crucial for building healthy cells, healthy skin, and more. Cholesterol also helps us make bile to digest the saturated fats that we should be eating, and aids in vitamin extraction.
Important Nutrients for Healthy Skin
- Vitamin A may be the most important fat-soluble vitamin for healthy, youthful skin. The epidermis needs vitamin A to stay soft and firm, while a deficiency leads to ‘cornification,’ or rough, scaly skin, and even acne. Vitamin A also triggers collagen production, which is an essential component of skin.
You can find the precursor to vitamin A, called beta carotene, in leafy greens. This must be converted to the active form of vitamin A, called retinol.
For the full anti-aging effects of vitamin A, try Cod liver oil, butter, salmon, goat cheese, and egg yolks. You’ll also be getting in a ton of healthy saturated fats!
- Vitamin E protects against aging, oxidization, and sunburns. It also prevents wrinkles, is anti-scarring, and supports the pituitary. This is especially important for women during menopause when hormones are changing and the pituitary starts producing fewer hormones.
- Collagen: Collagen is the most abundant fibrous protein in the human body. Collagen is made by specialized cells in the skin, ligaments, bones, and cartilage and is the glue that holds the body together. Between 25% and 35% of all protein in the body is made up of collagen and up to 70% of the proteins in the connective tissues are composed of collagen. Along with elastin, collagen is an essential component of skin.
You can get collagen when you consume things like bone broth. Or, you can use a collagen powder and add it to your coffee or smoothies. I recommend TruKeto Collagen, which is enzymatically broken down to a very low molecular weight that is easily assimilated and absorbed.
Foods that Cause Aging
We’ve gone over what foods you should be adding to your diet, so let’s now take a look at what we should be avoiding.
- Smoking: Tobacco smoke causes premature aging on all fronts. There are more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, many of which are damaging to the skin. Even being around second-hand smoke can take its toll on collagen and elastin, the building blocks that give skin its strength and elasticity.
- Stress: When you’re stressed, your body is pumping out more cortisol. This signals to your glands to produce more oil. Stress and cortisol surges can aggravate acne, psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema.
- Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates: Sugar, refined carbs, and processed foods can all create excessive inflammation, accelerate signs of aging, and lead to acne at any age. Sugar, in particular, can accelerate signs of aging by leading to cross-linking of collagen fibers.
- Alcohol: Alcohol deprives the skin of vital vitamins and nutrients, causes inflammation, and is dehydrating—leading to rough, dry skin—and ultimately more wrinkles.
The skin is oftentimes the first sign of internal health issues. Eating for your skin is eating for your whole body. The Just In Health Eating Plan emphasizes organic vegetables, meats, and is a cross between a paleo and keto diet. A healthy keto-paleo diet is a way to go. Throw intermittent fasting into the mix, and you are also reaping the benefits of autophagy, which repairs, recycles, and disposes of unhealthy cells.
It is important to know the foods you are sensitive to, as these can cause skin issues (dry skin, acne, wrinkles) as well as more serious internal health problems. The best way to know for sure if you are sensitive to something is to do an elimination diet or a food sensitivity test.