Dirty vs Clean Keto
The Ketogenic Diet is a strategic macro-nutrient distribution of daily food intake designed to switch the body’s metabolic state from Glycolysis, whereby glucose from carbohydrate intake fuels the body’s energy needs, to Ketosis, whereby fat is burned for fuel in the absence of the carbohydrates. Once your body no longer relies on glucose as a primary energy source, your liver starts to convert fat into ketones to fuel both body and brain. The macro-nutrient distribution is roughly 70% fat, 20% protein and 10% carbohydrates. Easier said than done and deceptively dangerous!
Keto approached in either one of two ways will produce aggressive fat loss yet yield drastically opposing impacts on body and brain. Knowing the difference is not as simple as differentiating between “clean” versus “dirty” approaches, but rather appreciating that the foods our macros come from matter! From the potentially lethal to life-changing health benefits, ketosis can serve up either.
“Dirty keto” evolved with our modern eating habits to indiscriminately favor convenient, cheap and processed fat, with blind regard for the source. Butter, bacon, and excessive amounts of oils are ketogenic, yes, but absolutely reckless. Indiscriminate sourcing also lacks micro-nutrients vital to overall health and is laden with highly processed foods – “hello” cravings, bloating, and feelings of withdrawal, a.k.a. “keto flu.”
“Clean” emphasizes quality, unprocessed, healthy fats, via cold-pressed oils. nuts and seeds. Your proteins are lean, wild, and pastured while carbohydrates must be restricted to the non-starchy, high-fiber variety and include a diverse range of colorful vegetables. Keto-adaptation is the goal and when you start to experience the physiological benefits of enhanced mental acuity, sustained energy, less discomfort, optimal recovery, feeling satiated not hungry, and less blood sugar volatility. When keto-adapted, blood markers improve, lowered triglycerides and higher HDLs is one example of improved insulin resistance. Include reduced inflammation and improved metabolic health, you have a real chance at living disease free!
Intermittent Fasting on Keto
Combining fasting with keto should be practiced for convenience, which facilitates sustainability and ultimately your results. While fat loss is usually both the most obvious and coveted result, fasting and keto will serve to accelerate all the other wonderful physiological benefits beyond the aesthetic.
It’s as simple as skipping breakfast, literally. Ask which fasting approach works for keto (rather than you) and here’s your answer: split each 24-hour period into an eating or fasting window. Start with a 16/8 split of 16 fasted hours to 8 eating hours. Strive to narrow down to a 14/10 split over time. If you have your first bite of food at 11am, your window is closed at 7pm, and nothing is consumed until 11am again the next day. Water, tea, and coffee being the only exceptions. The narrower the eating window, the more rapid the results, irrespective of the caloric intake consumed in aggregate.
Remaining in “clean” keto adaptation requires precision, both sourcing and allocating your macro-nutrients. Such precision requires effort and is significantly less taxing and more sustainable the less time it consumes. Once or twice a day is less consuming than an effort to be on point three to five times, over a fluid 12 to 16-hour period. Add life, with several moving parts and melodramas, and that’s a losing game! Intermittent fasting simply has proven critical to success on convenience alone.
Final note – serious contraindications preclude many from safe keto. You must check with your Dr.
Can we talk about magnesium for a minute? Call me crazy, but I can get quite effusive when discussing this powerhouse macro mineral. In the pantheon of essential minerals, magnesium, in my book, is nothing short of a superstar. Of course, all the essential minerals are necessary for good health, and they all deserve their due, but hardworking magnesium is truly a miraculous substance — one that we would do well to focus on for the preservation of our own good health.
Every cell in our bodies needs magnesium to function. It is essential for healthy bones, it helps with protein synthesis and energy creation, it regulates our metabolism, it supports DNA replication, and it modulates our nervous system and mood. Magnesium is also responsible for keeping our cardiovascular system healthy, our blood sugar regulated, our immune system robust, and our muscles functioning properly. All pretty impressive, right? In fact, more than 300 biochemical reactions in the human body are powered by magnesium. Yet, various studies have shown that anywhere from 50-80 percent of Americans may be magnesium deficient.
How Can This Be?
Magnesium is everywhere. It’s found in the earth, in the sea, in plants, and in animals. It is the fourth most prevalent mineral in the human body, where it is stored in our bones and in the cells of our tissues and organs. Fifty years ago, magnesium deficiency was a relatively rare phenomenon, most likely because people ate more whole, unrefined foods back then – especially leafy green vegetables — and were less susceptible to the effects of environmental toxins, chronic stress, and systemic inflammation than we are today. Today’s widespread use of prescription medications and alcohol also contributes to magnesium depletion, as does a diet high in processed foods, sugars, and saturated fats. Regular consumption of carbonated beverages and coffee also works against us in flushing magnesium out of our systems because of their diuretic properties. In short, our modern lifestyle effectively sets us up for magnesium depletion.
How Do You Know If You’re Magnesium Deficient?
Are you feeling “wired and tired”? Do you get muscle cramps or weakness, suffer from insomnia, have nervous tics, or experience an irregular heartbeat from time to time? Do you get dizzy when you stand up too quickly, experience numbness or tingling in your hands, face, or feet, and/or do you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks? All of these may be signs of magnesium deficiency, as are high blood-sugar levels, weak bones, a poor complexion, and digestive disorders.
But take heart! Magnesium deficiency can easily be resolved, given proper attention to getting a sufficient supply of magnesium-rich foods in our daily diet, as well as possibly adding in a high-quality magnesium supplement. If you begin incorporating some of the following foods in your normal eating regimen, you should soon feel the amazing benefits of the “magnesium boost”: more energy, a sense of calm, better quality sleep, and fewer aches, pains, and digestive upset. In short, having sufficient magnesium on board brings your whole body into better balance and alignment.
Best Food Sources for Magnesium
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of magnesium is 400-420 mgs/day for men and 310-320 mgs/day for women, an amount that should be easily attainable. The following foods all serve as excellent sources of magnesium:
- Pumpkin Seeds (150 mg per oz.)
- Leafy Green Vegetables (especially Spinach, Kale, and Chard) (156 mg per cup/cooked)
- Cashews (82 mg per oz.)
- Almonds (80 mg per oz.)
- Walnuts (45 mg per oz.)
- Dark Chocolate (70-85% Cocoa) (64 mg per oz.)
- Black beans, Adzuki beans, and Kidney beans (avg. 120 mg per cup/cooked)
- Whole grains (especially Quinoa) (avg. 118 mg per cup/cooked)
- Split Peas (71 mg per cup/cooked)
- Avocados (58 mg per avocado/medium)
- Fish (especially Halibut, Mackerel, and Salmon) (avg. 53 mg per half fillet)
- Tofu (53 mg per 3.5 oz. serving)
- Flaxseeds (40 mg per tbsp.)
- Bananas (32 mg per banana/medium)
So, take some time out from your daily grind to make self-care a priority – including getting adequate doses of magnesium! Have a cup of hot cocoa, munch on some almonds, and savor the moments. Life IS better when we FEEL better, and magnesium provides us an excellent path for doing that. Don’t ignore the gift of good health that magnesium offers us. A little attention to dietary change can go a long way. Here’s to your health!
Adam’s Serendipitous Career in Exercise
“I’ve made the mistake of not thinking for myself in a way, just following a strict protocol. Now, I still believe in the principles of lifting weights slowly and safely and there has to be a certain level of intensity, but that’s where the rules end.” Adam Zickerman, owner of Inform Fitness and author of Power of 10, speaks to HITuni about his story and how his perspective on exercise has changed over the years.
Adam has been a successful gym owner since the late 1990’s. In fact, 2018 marks his 21st year in the business of teaching the principles of sound strength training, but how did it all begin for him?
He had always been athletic as a kid and teen playing baseball, swimming, cycling and even pushing himself through triathlons. It was this athletic nature that initially led him into the world of strength training, seeking improved performance in his sporting endeavors.
As a motivated young man, Adam stuck with his physical regime even after entering the working world. At this point, he was exercising 5 days a week and could often be heard espousing the benefits of exercise to his more sedentary work colleagues. It was whilst looking to motivate his boss into starting exercise that Adam had a wake-up call of sorts. Obviously not a man to mince his words, Adam’s boss retorted with words to the effect “For all the exercise you do, you look like shit and as far as I can see your workouts are doing you more harm than good!” READ MORE
Read HitUni.com’s blog post in a series featuring outstanding individuals from the HIT community who we spent some time with on our trip to the US earlier this year. In this post, we feature Adam Zickerman, owner of Inform Fitness and author of Power of Ten 10.
MEAL PREP: Turkey Tacos
Right now is a really amazing time to be low carb, gluten, and grain free. There are numerous companies that make alternate versions of your favorite carbs, and these days you won’t lose all of your friends for replacing rice, mashed potatoes, and pizza crust with cauliflower (only most of your friends). I’m not big on prepackaged foods, but there’s a brand, Siete, that makes tortillas out of almond flour. I used these Siete wraps for meal prep this week to make tacos. One drawback of Paleo is that you really never get to eat with your hands, and while a taco salad is delicious and good for you, it’s still a salad. I love biting into a taco and having its contents spill out all over me as much as the next guy, and thanks to Siete and companies like them, now I can!
2 pounds lean ground turkey
2 red bell peppers
1 medium onion
Siete almond flour wraps
Taco seasoning (recipe to follow. If you want to use premade taco season, look at the ingredients. A lot of companies (looking at you McCormick and Old El Paso) sneak vegetable oil, soy, and corn or potato starch into their spice mixes. A taco seasoning shouldn’t have any of that stuff)
2 Tbsp Chili powder
1/2 Tsp garlic powder
1/2 Tsp onion powder
1/2 Tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 Tsp oregano
1 Tsp paprika
3 Tsp cumin
1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp pepper
1) Dice red peppers and onions, saute over medium high heat until tender
2) Add turkey over veggies and saute until just browned
3) Sprinkle spice mix over meat and veggies
4) Pour about 3/4 of a cup of water over entire mixture to help distribute spices. Mix it all up and let the water cook off
5) If using Siete wraps, you should nuke them in the microwave for around 15 seconds, this will soften them up and stop them from cracking on you
6) Put about 1/3 cup of taco meat onto wrap, garnish with spinach, 1 tablespoon of guacamole, and hot sauce
Meat (1/3 cup): 118 calories, 1.5 grams fat, 15 grams protein, 2.5 grams carbs
Siete Wrap (1 wrap): 100 calories, 5.5 grams fat, 3 grams protein, 10 grams carbs
Guacamole (1 Tbsp): 23 calories, 2 grams fat, 1 gram carbs
Per taco: 241 calories, 9 grams fat, 18 grams protein, 13.5 grams carbs
Put Your Oxygen Mask Back On!
“What About Me?” is my summertime inner-self mantra! But rather than speak for anyone else (although surely many empathize), I will reflect on my own experiences. Summer is coming to a close – that’s a Season, not a three-month vacation. I realize now, the grass always appears greener, irrespective of the Season. Schools get out, life appears easier, but before I know it, I am salivating as the count-down to Fall matriculation starts with visions of the heavens parting as the school doors open.
As a mom, the summer season whips off my oxygen mask. My life is nearly unmanageable when schools are in session, with every day feeling like a marathon. That being my status quo, add Summer and the dysfunction unfolds exponentially. Yikes! The real question is how I prioritize myself, and namely my health and fitness, when I am also responsible for the wellbeing of many others, who have the free time I don’t? How do I defend my time, which is so scarce, and when everybody wants it? My answer is STRATEGY. My strategy is the same as always – to get my own oxygen mask on, again, and this time firmer than ever.
Take Care of Yourself Before Assisting Others
As Summer has proved, if I am not taking care of myself, I am unable to be of optimal service to my family and community. Summer has taken its toll on my metabolic health, to say nothing of my sanity. As I never have time to waste on any inefficiencies (especially since so few are even within my control), I need serious bang for my buck. Essentially, I will no longer settle for a strategy that yields less than the highest return, for the lowest level of risk, with only the minimal investment of my own. If I were describing an investment portfolio, you’d all be grabbing your checkbooks. But I am talking about strength training!
Absent this fictional time to waste, my “exercise” must stimulate a positive physiological adaptation that serves to enhance my fitness, without undermining my health. The activity must be safe, efficient and produce measurable metabolic results. While running and aerobics are physical activities, I question the risk (wear, tear and injury) versus the reward (positive physiological adaptation). And, to be honest, even if I loved to run, I don’t have the darned time.
Muscular Strength is My Armor
I armor up for life with muscular strength for optimal movement, energy and protection from injury. My skeletal muscles serve as the engine, chassis, and shock absorbers for my body. I assert, for me, that building muscle is the exercise for this modern working parent! And, it’s the best way to proactively combat the myriad problems associated with ageing, supercharge my metabolism and increase cardiovascular endurance.
Safe, efficient strength training is my oxygen mask. My metabolic health, functional ability and stamina ALL depend on my physical strength: the more muscular strength I have, the more I can do, and the better I will age (and the more fun I will have doing it).
Controlling Your Quality Of Life
The true, universal value of exercise boils down to only one thing – your quality of life. Despite tragedies out of our control, genetic dispositions both physical and metabolic, and our society’s shared struggle to prioritize exercise above the myriad seemingly more pressing responsibilities, heedlessly trust that deprioritizing concentrated physical exertion is tantamount to forfeiting the opportunity to live your longest and most enjoyable life possible. Our functional ability and stamina depend on our physical strength – the more we have, the more we can do, and the better we will age (and the more fun we will have doing it). Put simply, use it or lose it.
As modern professional women, we do it all these days: career, family, interests, social networks, higher personal development, etc. But if meaningful exercise isn’t carved out, do know that your quality of life takes the hit. Whether that hit presents in your real-time, day-to-day living or in the ultimate cultivation of a possibly-avoidable, better managed, or even reversible genetic pre-dispositions. You will pay the opportunity cost somehow, at some time.
While we continue to be a visually oriented society, having long exercised predominately to “lose weight,” the presumption is often still that if we look good, we feel good, and as a corollary, are fit and healthy. That presumption is dead wrong, so even if just for a moment, ditch the notion of exercise having anything to do what’s attractive, and focus on your health.
More skeletal muscle, in conjunction with a balanced diet will ensure that your insulin levels remain steady and suppressed. Alternatively, high insulin triggers your stress hormones, adrenaline, and epinephrine to activate a process to metabolize large amounts of fat. Your insulin will block fat metabolism and will instead direct that sugar to be stored as fat, and the resulting body composition will put you in metabolic danger of diabetes, heart disease, obesity and sarcopenia.
Helping Women Fight Osteoporosis
Or, if you’re one of the millions of women suffering from osteoporosis (or at risk), building muscle directly increases bone density by putting increased stress on the bones, making them stronger, healthier, and less prone to fractures and breaks. Not only does increased bone density slow the devastating bone loss associated with getting older, it also helps to counteract any future loss by building additional bone matter. Your new muscle mass will also serve to protect your bones, guarding them against injury and cushioning the blow in case of a fall.
Aesthetically, well-developed back and shoulder muscles will improve posture, toned arm and leg muscles, calves too, improves appearance (and helps prevent the formation of varicose veins), pectoral muscles enhance the lift of the bust, etc. If you are after a younger looking, more vibrant feminine body, you want more muscle. And, added muscle improves our appearance with definition and helps to fight gravity, holding up our desirable body fat in the right places.
Fight Ageing With Muscle
Building muscle is the best way to proactively combat the myriad problems associated with ageing, supercharge the metabolism and increase cardiovascular endurance. Indeed, osteoporosis, diabetes, impaired cardiac function, weight gain due to decreasing metabolism and loss of glucose sensitivity, joint pain, loss of balance and injury, etc., can all be traced back to the fact that we lose vital muscle as we age. Logically then, one of the best things you can do to enhance your overall health and fitness now is to build muscle, whilst arresting the natural course of muscle loss that occurs as we age. Remember that our skeletal muscles serve as the engine, chassis, and shock absorbers of our bodies.
For many people, eating right and getting healthy seems like such an elusive task. I’ve heard all the excuses: it’s too difficult, nothing works for me, I don’t know which diet to follow… the list goes on. But I’ll let you in on a little secret — getting healthy doesn’t have to be hard! It simply requires a willingness to make some basic lifestyle changes that will set you up for success.
Here are my top five tips for getting, and staying, healthy:
- Drink More Water. Yes, I know, this sounds too good to be true, but in fact, most of us are chronically dehydrated without even realizing it. Drinking plenty of clean, preferably filtered, water daily is essential for the functioning of a healthy metabolism and the flushing of waste products and other toxins from our systems. On average, our bodies are comprised of over 60 percent water. We need to continually replace that water so we can effectively transport nutrients to our cells, regulate our body temperature, and keep our organs functioning properly. Staying adequately hydrated also contributes to a feeling of fullness, which naturally results in us eating less. How much water, you ask? Recommendations vary, even among experts. My customizable advice is to halve your body weight in pounds and drink that numerical result in ounces daily — no metric conversion needed.
- Eliminate The Junk. When it comes to toxic substances in our food supply, one need look no further than the aisles of the supermarket. All those colorful boxes and bags of pre-packaged foods and food-like products are among the most lethal substances out there for sabotaging our health. Processed foods, sugary cereals, and snack foods are generally loaded with chemicals, preservatives, artificial dyes and flavorings, and refined carbohydrates devoid of nutritional value. They also tend to be full of added sugar, sodium, and unhealthy saturated fats, all of which work to thwart our efforts at maintaining healthy weight and metabolic balance. But forewarned is forearmed. I’m here to tell you that probably the single most beneficial change you can make for your health is to “just say no” to processed food.
- Eat More Vegetables. Yes, it’s true! Adding a couple of vegetable servings to every meal is an incredibly powerful way to transform your health. Just as most Americans are chronically dehydrated, so too are we undernourished. But so many of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that our bodies need to be healthy are found right in our own back yards – or at least, at the local Farmer’s Market or produce section of our supermarkets. Fruits and vegetables are among Nature’s most perfect foods, and our bodies are biologically programmed to thrive when we include a variety of colorful plant foods in our daily diet. The phytonutrients they contain are essential for healthy immune function, blood sugar balance, heart and brain health, bone integrity, and warding off age-related degenerative diseases. What’s more, when you fill up on veggies, you leave less room for the junk. Please do yourself a favor and eat more vegetables. Your body will thank you for it.
- Build Strength. We all know that exercise is important, but with our busy lives, it’s not always easy to fit that in. So, in the spirit of keeping things simple, my suggestion would be to focus on the most efficient way to achieve maximum benefit with minimal time investment: strength training. Believe it or not, just 20-30 minutes of slow motion, high intensity weight training once or twice a week is all you need to build lean muscle, which can reap tremendous benefits in terms of your metabolic health. Not only does it rev your metabolism for more efficient calorie burning, but it also strengthens your bones, boosts your immunity, and elevates your mood. Of course, adding a variety of other physical activities to your weekly lineup is helpful as well, to include some form of cardiovascular exercise as well as practices like yoga that improve balance and flexibility. But if you must narrow it down to just one thing, I say go for the strength.
- Sleep. If you’re looking to improve your overall health, one of the best things you can do is catch some zzzzz’s. Sleep plays such a vital role in our physical health and wellbeing, yet more than one third of Americans is chronically sleep-deprived. Sadly, in today’s fast-paced world, sleep has become a precious commodity. It’s no wonder we’re seeing rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease skyrocket, since sleep deficiency increases the risk of all these health problems, and more. Studies have shown that people who sleep less also produce increased amounts of the appetite stimulating hormone ghrelin, meaning they usually end up eating more than they normally would during the day. Making sleep a priority can truly be a game-changer then, for your health as well as your waistline.
If doing all these things at once seems daunting, try implementing just one change at a time and see how it goes. Your body works hard for you every day. Isn’t it time that you showed it some love?
MEAL PREP: Stuffed Cabbage
1 large cabbage
1 lb 93% lean turkey
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 medium zucchini, finely diced
1 head cauliflower, riced
2 cups tomato sauce (read the ingredients to your tomato sauce, they often have high fructose corn syrup. Please don’t eat high fructose corn syrup)
MEAL PREP: One Skillet Cashew Chicken Stir-fry
2.5 lbs chicken breast
2 cups broccoli florets (I used frozen. You shouldn’t look down on frozen vegetables, they’re flash frozen at peak freshness, and are often more nutrition than fresh vegetables. Plus, I didn’t feel like dicing broccoli myself. Who has time for all that?)
2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
1/3 carrot, julienned
1/3 cup raw cashews
1 cup sugar snap peas
4 tablespoons coconut aminos
3 tablespoons almond butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon fresh
3 tablespoons water
Makes 8 servings (I had it as 6 servings because i’m a growing boy)
8 servings; 363 calories, 15 grams fat, 47 grams protein, 12 grams carbs
6 servings; 484 calories, 20 grams fat, 63 grams protein, 16 grams carbs