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Staying “Keto” Over the Holidays

Published on December 17th, 2018 by Dr. Jennifer Nardella and Dr. Meghan Haggarty

Many people have incorporated a ketogenic diet into their lifestyle for a variety of associated health benefits. The benefits of a ketogenic diet may include:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Weight loss/management
  • Blood sugar management
  • Improved energy
  • Improved sleep
  • Cancer support
  • Appetite control
  • Mood regulation

“Ketosis” is when the body shifts into an alternative metabolic state and uses fat in the form of “ketones” as its primary fuel source. This is achieved by restricting carbohydrate intake, and increasing fat intake rather than protein. This can be difficult during the holiday season when traditions include cookies, alcohol and carb-loaded holiday dinners. Cycling in and out of ketosis can be challenging as it may take a few days for your body to return to ketosis after a “cheat day”. A few simple tips can help you to stay keto over the holidays.

  1. Choose snacks and deserts wisely – Going into holiday events prepared can help you to stay on track. Snacks that are keto-friendly to keep your eye out for include cheese, nuts, olives, dill pickles, and cured meats such as salami.
  1. Stay well hydrated – Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do to help control cravings. Your brain may interpret being thirsty as being hungry and will cause you to reach for sugary treats. Make sure to drink lots of water before AND during any holiday parties.
  1. Limit alcohol and choose low carb drinks. – Alcohol does not need to be avoided entirely, but you must avoid high carbohydrate drinks such as beer and liqueurs. Dry wine and hard alcohols contain minimal carbohydrates. Make sure to mix them with carb-free options such as soda water rather than juice, eggnog or soda pop.
  1. Beware of sauces – Sauces can be a hidden source of carbohydrates that can unknowingly kick you out of ketosis. Gravy is one example of what might look like an innocent fat rich sauce, but is often made with flour that can quickly increase your carb intake.
  1. Fill up on fiber-rich vegetables – Many vegetables such as leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables contain high amounts of fiber that can help to fill you up while keeping carbohydrates and protein levels controlled. Broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and green salads with high fat dressings are good choices. Be careful with root vegetables such as carrots and potatoes, and legumes such as green beans as these are high in carbohydrates.
  1. Incorporate intermittent fasting – Intermittent fasting helps with regulating insulin levels. It can also help to control caloric intake if you will be participating in high calorie dinners during the season. Most people find skipping breakfast to be the easiest way to incorporate intermittent fasting into their routine.
  1. Have fun and enjoy the holidays!
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