5 Hacks To Optimize Your High-Fat Diet

Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine By Anna Cabeca, D.O.
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
Dr. Anna Cabeca is a menopause and sexual health expert currently working in Georgia. She received her doctor of osteopathic medicine in gynecology and obstetrics from the Emory University School of Medicine.

Photo by Darren Muir

I love hearing from and seeing women practically glowing, feeling amazing, and finally reaching—or at least nearingtheir goal weight. This is especially rewarding when they started out very differently: sluggish, not sleeping well, with a history of diabetes or other disease, and a near-zero sex drive.

Within months on a high-fat ketogenic diet, so many of my patients feel and look fabulous. Even their blood work looks better and they are no longer cursing the scales. Studies confirm that a ketogenic diet can create those and other benefits. Originally designed for epilepsy, studies today show ketogenic diets benefit numerous conditions including weight loss, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and energy levels. When you’re in ketosis, you’re not eating enough carbohydrates to provide your body glucose, its primary fuel. Instead, your body shifts to an alternative fuel called ketones, which are derived from fat breakdown. You’re literally burning fat to fuel your brain, heart, and other organs.

Addressing safety concerns and risks of ketosis.

Let’s be clear: Ketosis is not dangerous. Some people still confuse nutritional ketosis with diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening complication of type 1 diabetes. Nutritional ketosis involves the regulated, controlled production where blood pH remains buffered within normal limits. While perfectly safe, ketogenic diets sometimes have drawbacks that can make staying the course difficult. For one, they can increase acid load that shifts urinary chemistry, putting you at risk for problems like kidney stones.

Too many acidic foods create a "chronic low-grade acidosis," depleting precious minerals like magnesium, calcium, and potassium while adversely affecting your bone health, increasing inflammation, and paving the way for chronic disease. In essence, your body scavenges minerals to balance your blood pH, but with adverse consequences. I saw these and other limitations within traditional ketogenic diets, which is why I created an upgraded version.

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Adding alkaline foods to your ketogenic diet.

My plan juxtaposes a ketogenic diet’s many benefits with a focus on alkaline foods. I emphasize testing, not guessing, with urine keto pH strips because what we eat is only a part of what gets us keto-alkaline. Diets fail because the focus is typically on what you eat and how much you exercise. Yet that’s only a few pieces of the puzzle, and the principles in my plan go beyond this limited perspective.

Before shifting dietary focus into ketosis, my patients focus on alkaline-rich foods, eliminating many problems ketogenic diets potentially create like bad breath and constipation, helping them easily stay in ketosis. I also incorporate lifestyle practices like meditation, gratitude journaling, and long walks in nature, which lower your body’s stress hormone cortisol. Once you’re alkaline, you’ll shift into ketosis by eating about 56 to 70 percent healthy fats, 20 to 25 percent protein, and about 5 to 10 percent healthy carbohydrates (mostly alkaline vegetables). Women tend to need the higher end to really stay alkaline while in ketosis.

Taking your high-fat diet to the next level.

In short, this diet is perfect whether you want to reverse or prevent disease, lose weight, break a weight-loss plateau, or any combination of the above! Whether you’re focusing on alkaline foods or doing a traditional ketogenic diet, these five hacks will optimize and upgrade your plan:

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1. Bump up alkaline foods.

Those include green leafy veggies like kale, beet greens, spinach, chard, and a great-tasting veggie-blend powder. Don’t forget to drink plenty of toxin-flushing filtered water!

2. Eliminate acidic foods.

You might love alcohol, coffee, and dairy, but they can knock you out of an alkaline state. That doesn’t mean you’ll never eat them again (I love my dark chocolate), but you’ll need to ditch them temporarily as you shift into alkaline territory. If in doubt, check your Keto pH urine test strips to find out if you're actually alkaline.

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3. Be patient with yourself.

I give patients a week to become alkaline (don’t worry: You’ll lose weight while you’re shifting) and then we focus on ketosis. Most patients see results almost immediately, but any lifestyle transformation can require a few days or weeks to adjust.

4. Try intermittent fasting.

Your ketogenic diet can get an instant upgrade with intermittent fasting (IF). I ask my patients to fast 13.5 to 15 hours between dinner and breakfast. They sleep about eight of those hours, so this modified IF version is (figuratively) a piece of cake!

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5. Remember that it's a lifestyle, not a diet.

Beyond just what you do or don’t eat, focus on reducing stress, getting great sleep, increasing movement, having healthy daily bowel movements, reducing environmental toxin exposure, and cultivating positivity. If you want to lose weight and cultivate glowing health, you’ve got to do all of these things, too.

Low libido? Here's why the ketogenic diet can transform your sex drive.

And are you ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.

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