Keto and the Elimination Diet

Both the Keto diet and the Elimination diet have grown in popularity in recent years.  If you’re currently following one of these diets, you might find yourself wondering how the other one would work in order to supercharge your results! The good news is the Keto diet and the Elimination diet work very well together.  Read on to discover what these diets are, how they work and how you can combine them to get the best results possible!

What is the Elimination diet?

There are a lot of various food intolerances and allergies that are common today.  Chances are there’s a food that you’re currently eating that doesn’t agree with your body.  The problem is, it can be really difficult to figure this out because your body becomes accustomed to foods and you become accustomed to the way your body reacts to them.

The elimination diet can make a big difference in your life by removing uncomfortable sensations such as gas, bloating, skin irritation and GI discomfort.  When you eliminate certain foods that might be causing you problems you suddenly become aware of how much better you feel without them.  The goal on the elimination diet is to figure out what your body can tolerate and what it can’t since our food is meant to fuel us, not harm us. 

The elimination diet does this by eliminating foods that are common causes of irritation such as dairy, processed foods and grains.  Then, after being off those foods for a month or two you’re supposed to re-introduce them very slowly, one food group at a time.  Paying close attention to how you feel after the foods are re-introduced allows you to only add foods back in that your body tolerates well. 

There is no one right way to do the elimination diet; however, if you’re thinking of beginning one it’s best to speak with your doctor or a nutritionist.  They’ll ask you a series of questions that will help them determine which foods might be causing you discomfort, so you know where to begin.  

The common culprits such as dairy and gluten are not the only things in your diet that might need to be eliminated.  Other foods such as corn (and corn by-products), soy, nightshade vegetables (peppers, tomatoes and potatoes), eggs, peanuts, caffeine, alcohol and refined sugars are all potential sources of food intolerances.  

If you’re thinking of beginning an elimination diet, chances are you’re doing it for health reasons and not weight loss reasons.  However, weight loss can be a by-product of the elimination diet.  Your body becomes inflamed when it’s faced with a substance that it doesn’t agree with.  This is your body’s immune response, and it can cause swelling as your body works to fight off what it sees as an invader.  Chances are, if you tame that immune response by eliminating the food that your body views as a threat, you’ll end up losing weight in the process.  

What is the Keto diet?

The Keto diet is an ultra-low carb diet that focuses on eating plenty of healthy fats.  Some people begin the Keto diet as a way of increasing their energy levels and stabilizing their blood sugar; however, in recent years the Keto diet has been popularized for its ability to help you lose weight.

Keto does this by putting your body in a state known as ketosis where you’re producing ketones in your liver.  Ketones are a source of fuel for your body that it creates from your stored body fat.  When you’re burning your fat as fuel it’s easy to see how this would help you lose weight.

Body fat is difficult to lose through exercise alone because your body holds onto it stubbornly in case of an emergency.  What kind of an emergency?  Not enough glucose to properly fuel your body.  Glucose is created in the liver from the carbohydrates that you eat.  It’s quick to be created and just as quick to burn up.  This makes it your body’s preferred energy source and you need a constant supply of carbs to resupply the glucose that your body burns through at a rapid rate.  This leads to you feeling hungry often along with a sugar-high/low cycle that can make it difficult to maintain your energy levels.

By removing the majority of carbohydrates from your diet and limiting you to 20-25g of net carbs a day you force your body to stop relying on glucose for the majority of its fuel needs and switch to ketones which are longer lasting and a more stable form of fuel.  This leads to stabilized blood sugar and energy levels along with increased mental clarity and weight loss.

In order to keep up ketone production you need to eat a large amount of healthy fats.  In fact, 70-75% of your daily calories should come from fats that are found in foods such as avocados, extra virgin olive oil, fish, lean meats, nuts and seeds.  The rest of your diet should consist of low-starchy vegetables such as spinach and kale, low-sugary fruits such as berries and lean meats and full fat dairy.  

Although carbs aren’t specifically forbidden on the Keto diet, the limit of 20-25g of net carbs daily will naturally prevent you from eating bread, pasta and grains.  These typical carb filled foods aren’t the only ones that you should avoid on Keto.  You should also eliminate any sugars, processed foods and preservatives.  Not only do these foods tend to be higher in carbohydrates, they’re also foods that your body tends to react poorly to.  This leads the Keto diet to suggest a more “whole foods” approach where you focus on foods with one ingredient only and no need of a nutrition label such as meat, fruits, vegetables and nuts. 

Can you do a Keto elimination diet?

Yes! A Keto elimination diet is not only possible, it’s a combination that will work very well together.  The elimination diet is used to eliminate foods from your diet that are causing some level of harm to your body.  Keto does the same thing on a smaller scale with a focus on removing grains, processed foods and sugars.  

The gluten found in grains is one of the biggest allergens when it comes to food.  Some people have an actual allergy to gluten while others just feel some digestive discomfort.  Regardless, a large group of people would benefit from removing this food from their diets.

When it comes to sugars and processed foods, both diets seek to eliminate these with good reason.  Processed foods are loaded with chemicals and preservatives to allow for them to sit on the shelves in grocery stores for a longer period of time.  The purpose behind processed foods isn’t nutrition, it’s solely on making the companies who produce them as much money as they possible can.  This means that they’re often loaded with sneaky sugars, food additives that make them more addicting, artificial flavors and chemicals and very little if no nutrients.  Because your body wasn’t designed to eat foods that were created in a laboratory this makes it very difficult to properly digest these foods and the chemicals in these foods often leads to an immune response by your body leaving you with a feeling of discomfort.

How to best combine Keto and an elimination diet

The Keto diet naturally eliminates processed foods, sugars and grains that would contain gluten.  However, you don’t have to stop there.  If you’re interested in trying an elimination diet and you’re already doing Keto you should speak with your doctor to determine which food group, you might want to eliminate next.  

There’s room on the Keto diet to remove some other common allergens such as dairy, corn, nightshade vegetables and soy.  There is nothing in the rules of Keto that would make this difficult.  In fact, very few people are allergic to healthy fats, lean meats and non-starchy vegetables that the Keto diet focuses on.  With your doctor’s help, pinpoint a food group that you think might be giving you problems and eliminate it for a month or two keeping careful record of how your body feels.  When you re-introduce it you will know very quickly if it’s a food that you should keep in your diet by the way your body reacts.  If you notice any signs of discomfort you know that your diet is best left without that food.

If you’re already doing the elimination diet and you’d like to incorporate Keto then you should focus on adding in healthy fats to every meal while eating a variety of low starch vegetables, lean meats, nuts, seeds and low-sugar fruits.  If you haven’t tried eliminating gluten in the past, then this would become a part of your elimination diet.  

Conclusion

Whether you’re going from Keto to the Elimination diet or from the Elimination diet to Keto you’ll find that the transition is relatively seamless.  Both diets focus on whole foods and remove any toxic foods that are processed or high in sugar.  These two diets make a great combination and allow you to see improved energy levels along with less bloating, gas, and GI discomfort.

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