The ketogenic diet is a powerful weight-loss tool for women over 50 because it addresses hormone-related issues that have been shown to trigger excess pounds. The high-fat/moderate-protein/low-carb plan pushes the body into ketosis — a state where it burns fat instead of sugar for fuel, making extra pounds disappear! This metabolic switch also quashes appetite and cravings, and it delivers an array of health-boosting benefits including a sunnier mood, sharper memory and sky-high energy.
To get started, just follow these simple eating guidelines: Aim for 70 percent of your daily calories to come from fat. “Get your body into fat- burning mode by eating plenty of healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado and nuts,” suggests osteopathic physician Anna Cabeca, DO, who lost 85 pounds on a keto diet she created. Get 25 percent of your daily calories from protein, a task easily accomplished by including about 4 oz. of grass-fed beef, free-range chicken or turkey, eggs, or fish in each meal. Then aim to get 5 percent of your daily calories from carbs. This is equal to 20 net grams (a food’s total carbohydrates minus its fiber content). Also key: Avoid grains and sugars, which will slow your progress, and focus on non-starchy vegetables, like broccoli and spinach.
And for your speediest slim down ever, incorporate the following success strategies:
Dust off your blender.
You can use it to whip up two keto smoothies per day in place of other meals — an approach that helped dieters in a University of Kentucky study triple their weight loss. Enjoying smoothies also helps you avoid going overboard on protein and carbs, which can stall your progress. To make a keto-friendly smoothie, include a healthy dose of fat from sources like coconut milk, MCT oil, avocado, and nut butters, then add veggies, berries and, if desired, protein powder, and stevia or Swerve ($7.68, Walmart) to taste, and blitz in a blender.
Try a mini fast.
“That just means going longer between your last meal one day and your first meal the next day, which most people find easy,” assures keto diet guru Eric Berg, DC, author of The Healthy Keto Plan ($20.65, Amazon). He recommends gradually shrinking the window of time during which you eat each day, starting with a 16-hour eating window (so you might fast between 7 pm and 11 am).
Then gradually shorten that eating window to six hours (so you’d fast from 7 pm to 1 pm) as your body adapts to the strategy. “Fasting has been shown to stimulate a 1,300 percent surge in human growth hormone, which is the hormone that forces your body to burn fat,” he notes.
More important, researchers at the University of Southern California discovered that fasting triggers a self-cleaning mode inside the body that destroys sugar-damaged cells and generates brand-new ones in their place. Says Dr. Berg: “You literally replace cells that drive aging and disease with optimally functioning cells.”
Enjoy ‘fat bombs.’
These decadent bite-sized treats are key to keto success for many women. The-easy-to-make snacks are loaded with healthy fats like coconut oil and nut butter and according to osteopathic physician Joseph Mercola, DO, author of Fat for Fuel ($9.29, Amazon) they work better than prescription appetite suppressants.
Adds certified nutritionist Josh Axe, DNM., author of Keto Diet Cookbook ($20.99, Amazon), “Fat bombs can keep you satisfied for three to four hours, which is up to seven times longer than if you snacked on an apple or crackers.”
“Combining keto with collagen is like turning your body into a hybrid car so it can burn fat with maximum efficiency,” cheers Dr. Axe. And that change comes effortlessly and without any hunger pangs: Research published in the journal Clinical Nutrition showed that a daily dose of collagen increases feelings of fullness by 40 percent. Get this nutrient from bone broth or collagen powder, which can be added to soups and smoothies. And the results go beyond weight loss: Studies show collagen can help decrease wrinkles, reduce joint pain and prevent thinning hair.
Opt for hempseed oil.
Simply add it to salad dressings or smoothies. “Hemp has an ideal 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, which increases metabolism, reduces food cravings, sustains energy, helps regulate blood sugar and reduces inflammation,” explains Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, nutrition and weight-loss expert and author of Radical Metabolism ($13.95, Amazon).
Bonus! In a study from the University of California, Davis, researchers credited the gamma linolenic acid (GLA) in hempseed for preventing lost pounds from coming back, likely by improving insulin sensitivity and promoting fat burn. Adds Gittleman, “GLA tones and tightens loose skin — a huge bonus for those who need to lose 50 pounds or more.”
Sprinkle on salt.
A healthy high-fat diet is rich in vitamins and minerals — but research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the food formula caused women’s iodine levels to plummet by 56 percent over six months. That’s a problem since iodine is essential to the production of metabolism-revving hormones. To avoid shortfalls, enjoy two to three daily servings of iodine-rich foods (like 1⁄4 tsp. of iodized salt, 2 eggs, 3 oz. of cod or 6 oz. of tuna).
Breathe this way.
Stress hormones increase blood sugar and block the formation of ketones, asserts Jeffry Gerber, MD, author of Eat Rich, Live Long ($18.48, Amazon), so taking steps to lower stress can make the plan more effective. And deep breathing has been shown to cut stress in half. To do: Inhale deeply for a count of five, then exhale slowly for a count of 10. Repeat three times whenever you feel your stress levels rising.
This article appeared in our print magazine, Keto Over 50.
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