– Latest scientific research and data suggest that a major cause of obesity is increased consumption of refined sugar and carbohydrates
– Our carbohydrates should come from sources such as fruits and non-starchy vegetables
– Increased consumption of white bread, pasta, cereals, crackers, cookies, muffins, cakes, donuts, croissants, fatayer, kunafa…etc. leads to a marked increase in our glucose and insulin levels which stimulates the liver to synthesize lipids.
– Use the HashTag: “#LowCarbKSA and #FitnessArabika”, to contribute to Low carb dishes, recipes, pictures, and ideas.
– Together we can make a difference in decreasing chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, Heart disease, hypertension and much more.
The general idea when well-wishing family and friends hear that I am trying to adopt a low-carb-keto diet is that either:
1- I am planning to ingest tremendous amounts of fat and clog my arteries
2- There are not a lot of food options and that I will be extremely deprived
3- This is another “FAD” diet, and that I am going through a phase
I tell you people, the general health benefits that this lifestyle has made me experience are unbelievable! Who thought that eating delicious fatty foods and not starving could lead to weight loss!
As you might notice I avoid using the term Low-Carb, High Fat Diet (LCHF); as this leads to the misconception that you are allowed to eat tremendous amounts of beef burgers fried in ghee and devouring sticks of butter all day.
This is far from true. The whole aim is to reduce carbs so that you reduce your insulin and glucose levels in order for your body to tap into your fat reserves.
The deficit in calories that you create by reducing carbs should be compensated by eating healthy fats.
This will help your body combat keto-flu and you will be fat adapted in no time.
There are endless amounts of YouTube videos on “what I eat in a day” on an LCHF diet. However, I thought I would compile a grocery list of things that can be found here in Riyadh-Saudi Arabia to remove the guesswork for you.
Keep in mind this list is not all size fits all. You have to know your macros, your goals and have a menu plan.
There are much more options that you may find on the net. I have stuck to basics in order to be budget friendly, keep things simple, and to make sure these items can be (mostly) found in the main supermarkets such as Tamimi and Danube, in case you live in Saudi Arabia.
Veggies are your best friend. Have a good helping of salads and greens every day.
Avoid starchy vegetables such as Golden potatoes.
Try to go organic whenever you can to increase the nutritional benefit and decrease the toxic effects of pesticides and harmful chemicals
Modify according to your health condition and needs. You can have lactose free, almond/Rice milk instead of regular milk. Instead of cheese, you can have nutritional yeast if you are vegetarian.
3- Meats and Proteins
Have a good assortment of protein such as Beef (preferably Grass-fed/organic), Poultry (preferably organic), and Fish (wild caught and not farm raised).
Organic – Pasture-raised eggs are recommended. However, work with whatever is available to you.
Beans and legumes are a good source of protein but have a high amount of carbohydrates. Have them in moderation.
Hummus is a good option. It is a good source of protein and has a low glycemic index.
3- Fats and Oils
The aim is to make your diet low in carb and raise the fat content in order for your body to burn fat.
You will only need to add small amounts of healthy fats to achieve this.
So don’t think you will be drowning your chicken drumsticks in butter or ghee.
As an example: on average most people might only need 2 TBS of Extra virgin olive oil/meal to achieve their macros for fat.
Avoiding wheat and decreasing grains is one of the most common causes of success to lose weight.
Check the grocery list for options. You can bake delicious pizza and cloud bread using almond flour.
Find the recipe for Almond Four Pizza on our Instagram account: fitness_arabika
5- Nuts and Spreads
Nuts such as almonds, walnuts and macadamia nuts where live savers for me. They cure the munchies and there is nothing more satisfying the licking some healthy peanut butter right off the spoon.
As with all your other ingredients, try to find organic nut butter. The ingredients should be simple and with NO Hydrogenated Oils and low in net Carbs.
CONDIMENTS AND DRESSINGS
It is better to avoid sugary-store bought dressings and sauces. Try to make your own dressings using a combination of the ingredients that are keto friendly.
I would like to mention here Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. Its benefits for burning fat and balancing the PH of the body are countless. Try to get the organic ACV “with the mother”, As this contains all the healthy nutrients.
Associations of fats and carbohydrate intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality in 18 countries from five continents (PURE): a prospective cohort study. Lancet. 2017 Aug 28.
This is where there has been a major paradigm shift in what we describe as a “Healthy Diet”.
More and more scientists, healthcare providers, and nutrition experts and finally some Medical Doctors (such as Dr.Mercola, Dr.Jason Fung, Dr.William Davis) are recommending a “Low-Carbohydrate” diet such as the Ketogenic diet.
Ketosis is a very natural process that the body switches to when food intake is decreased.
What we are aiming for is starvation of carbohydrates not starvation of calories.
By decreasing carbohydrates the body is forced to break down fat, this leads to the production of ketones.
Burning ketones is like burning clean energy such as “Solar Energy” while burning glucose is like burning “Diesel or coal”.
A key misconception is that you are allowed to have endless amounts of fat on the ketogenic diet.
This is far from true… Consuming large amounts of leafy green salads is a major cornerstone of this lifestyle
The whole point is to reduce the carbs (refined sugar, cookies, pasta, bread, croissants, muffins, donuts, cakes, fatayer, kunafa, biscuits, crackers..etc) and help the body become “fat adapted”.
The body is “fat adapted” when it can comfortably switch from needing to burn glucose to burning fat as a major source of fuel.
It might take the body a few days to weeks to adapt to the low levels of carbs, and this is called the “Keto Flu”.
As you make the transition from a typical High Carb-Low Fat diet to a Low-Carb/High-Fat (LCHF) diet; your body might rebel!
You might miss the “sugar high” and feel tired with low energy, and lethargy.
As long s you are consuming the recommended amount of calories that are right for you, along with healthy fats and moderate proteins; this stage will pass within a couple of days. Hang on there!
You will soon start enjoying the many, many benefits of a ketotic state such as no brain fog, high energy, stable mood, reversal of metabolic syndrome and best of all shedding of the unwanted weight.
How long should you be in ketosis?
Once you know the system; you can be in and out of ketosis. So make sure that you have some days when you slightly increase your carb (Healthy carbs) intake and then go back to ketosis.
From an evolutionary standpoint; we as humans are programmed to burn fat for fuel.
Our ancestors went through periods of famine and feast. During a period of famine they had to survive and be in a ketotic state and when there was food they would feast and nourish their bodies.
The point being they were not addicted to carbohydrates. For the sake of survival, they had to be keto-adapted (i.e. be able to get into ketosis when needed) in order to function with high efficiency.
How do you know you are in ketosis?
You will start losing weight as soon as you lower your carb intake. The first couple of pounds might be water loss because carbs retain water.
Get rid of the carbs and all the water retention goes away. This is why you need to make sure that you are replacing your electrolytes. Take lots of leafy greens for potassium and add sea salt or pink Himalayan salt to your water if you feel dizzy, hypotensive or are low on magnesium.
However to be sure that you are in nutritional ketosis you need to measure the ketones and glucose in your blood.
Most references recommend Precision Xtra that can be found on Amazon
So there you have it… A short and simple summary about ketosis.
As always make sure to do your own research and seek medical advice when needed.