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The thing that makes adhering to a ketogenic diet so easy is that I don't count calories and I eat as much of whatever I want.  The thing about eating whatever I want is that I really like eating foods that don't raise my blood sugar.  That is, I love foods like eggs, bacon, cheese, prime rib, and chicken wings.  I don't eat them to the point I feel stuffed but instead I try to be mindful of when I'm satisfied - a small but very important distinction.  These foods are naturally satiating due to their high protein content and this is explained by the Protein Leverage Hypothesis.  I don't crave high-carb foods and sweets make me feel ill if eaten in excess.

Ben Bikman has the following whole food recommendations for a healthy diet:

  • Control Carbs (to maximum of 20 g/day)
  • Prioritize Protein (1.2-1.6 g/day per kg of body weight)
  • Fill with Fat (to satisfy your daily caloric requirement)

I find it easy to limit my carb intake to 20 g/day by eating vegetables (ie, the ones that grows above ground) and avoiding starchy foods (grain-based foods, potatoes, etc) and sugar.  See How much food is 20 or 50 grams of carbs?  I'm also careful to limit my consumption of fruits, which can also be loaded with sugar.  Throughout our 2.5 million years of human evolutionary history, fruit was only available for a short time while it was in season and helped us fatten up for the winter.  Fruit juices are especially bad because one glass contains the juice of several pieces of fruit without the fibre-containing and nutritionally more-complete solid parts. Don't drink your calories!

The protein recommendation is actually a lot of food and not that easy to achieve.  In my case, with my weight being about 88 kg, I would have to eat the equivalent of about 18-23 large eggs per day.  It's lot easier to do this with animal-sourced whole foods as plant-based whole foods would bring along a lot of carbs.  For human nutrition, there are essential proteins (histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine amino acids) and essential fats (omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) but there are NO essential carbohydrates.  The minimum daily requirement for carbohydrates is ZERO.  "Essential" means that you absolutely need it survive and your body cannot synthesize it from other nutrients.

Eating more than 1.6 g/kg of protein (more easily doable on a zero carb diet) appears to be beneficial although the upper limit in synthesizing muscle protein from dietary protein is about 0.24g/kg per meal for young men and about 0.39g/kg for older men.  It is difficult to store protein energy into fat tissue and the surplus ends up being used in gluconeogenesis.  Protein is the only macronutrient that contains nitrogen and Rabbit Starvation causes the body to self-limit protein consumption to about 35% of total energy intake.  I find that I'm usually satiated long before reaching the 1.2 to 1.6 g/kg recommendation.

Since animal-sourced whole food proteins always come with fat (fat contains 9 calories/gram compared with 4 calories/gram for carbohydrates and protein) in about a 1:1 ratio, it's easy to achieve the remaining fat recommendation.  Contrary to popular recommendations, saturated fat is good for you and it is the poly-unsaturated fats from vegetable oil (more accurately: industrial seed oils) that are unhealthy.  Seed oils were originally industrial lubricants until Proctor & Gamble figured out they could market cottonseed oil as Crisco shortening in 1911. Interestingly, cardio-vascular disease was rare prior to this time and seems to track closely with vegetable oil consumption.  The difference between beef tallow (stearic acid - saturated) and olive oil (oleic acid - mono-unsaturated) is one carbon double bond.

What I hear very often is:  I can't give up carbs.  There is no need to give them up entirely but, if you can't cut back on them, then you may very well have a carbohydrate addiction.  The really challenging part for many people is that carb addition is socially encouraged and your friends and relatives will often try to undermine your efforts.  If you were an alcoholic, I'm sure they wouldn't be forcing booze on you but they have no problem pushing pastries, snack foods, and soft drinks.

Bikman's recommendations for a low-carb, high-fat diet are essentially the opposite of the high-carb, low-fat diet recommended by Canada's Food Guide and the USDA's Dietary Guidelines for Americans..  The fact that the majority of the North American population is metabolically unhealthy should raise questions in your mind about whether government recommendations are grounded in science or influenced by special interests.