What Is the Keto Diet?
The keto diet has become ubiquitous in the last few years, but even with all the chatter, you might still be wondering: What is the keto diet*? With ‘diet’ in its name, most folks hear keto and assume its purpose is primarily weight loss. The ketogenic diet is a plan of low-carb eating designed to stimulate the body into ketosis, a metabolic state where the liver produces ketones as a source for energy.
To keep carbs down, keto diets usually eliminate grain-based and sugary foods, and they limit foods like fruit. Once you get into the nitty-gritty, though, you’ll find that there are many ways to “do keto,” with some more Primal than others.
Mark Sisson's Version of Keto: The Keto Reset Diet
Primal Kitchen founder Mark Sisson has long been an outspoken advocate of the ketogenic diet. He has written four books on the topic, and devoted countless posts on his blog, Mark’s Daily Apple, to discussing the benefits and challenges of achieving the state of ketosis. Mark’s version of the ketogenic diet is the Keto Reset Diet.
It’s not your typical keto diet. Outlined in his bestselling book, The Keto Reset Diet, Mark offers a Primal-friendly version of keto that supplements the low-carb diet with ancestral eating and lifestyle habits. (To learn more about the Primal Diet, see our post here.) With less restrictive rules than other forms of the keto diet (such as allowing for abundant vegetable intake, which most keto diets will caution against), the Keto Reset is a more relaxed approach of getting to an often difficult-to-achieve metabolic state.
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What is Metabolic Flexibility?
Metabolic flexibility means being able to oscillate in and out of ketosis, as needed. Greater metabolic flexibility allows your body to use incoming nutrients and allows you to have a better understanding of what your body needs and when. Both the Primal Diet and the Keto reset share the aim of reducing a reliance on carbs.
To learn more about metabolic flexibility, check out this video, created by Mark, or this definitive guide.
In his most recent book, Keto for Life, Mark Sisson discusses keto as an important part of an ongoing lifestyle committed to aging gracefully. For Mark’s take on the benefits of keto, check out this post on his blog.
Keto by Numbers
Following a balanced keto diet can mean keeping track of macros, or macronutrients. Macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Keto is considered a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet. It’s really the low-carb part that’s most important. Keeping carbs down is what gets you into that vaunted state of ketosis.
The first questions usually asked by folks preparing to go keto are: “How much protein/how many carbs/how much fat should I have on keto?” Keto macros can vary from plan to plan. Depending on your goals, a keto diet program might limit daily carb intake to as low as 10g a day. The Keto Reset Diet recommends 50g a carbs a day or less to achieve ketosis with less restriction.
In The Keto Reset and Keto for Life, Mark Sisson recommends this breakdown as a starting point:
- 50 grams of carbs (gross, or total, not net) per day
- 0.7 - 1.0 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass
- As much fat as you need to get enough calories to feel sated
These keto macro goals should be tweaked and adjusted to fit what works best for your body. For more info on the nitty-gritty of keto, follow this FAQ for answers straight from the source.
Whole30 vs Paleo vs Keto
Keto, Whole30, and the Paleo diets are usually grouped together, as they share many qualities and basic tenets. They’re also different in important ways. Each one of these diets can also be modified to fit a Primal or ancestral-based eating approach.
|Guiding Philosophy:||The keto or ketogenic diet puts fats forward to get the body into ketosis, a metabolic state.||The Paleo or Paleolithic diet focuses on eating foods that would have been available to hunter-gatherer ancestors.||The Whole30 Program eliminates sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, and dairy for 30 days followed by a structured reintroduction period|
|Origins:||Started by Dr. Russel Wilder, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in the 1920s.||Created by gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin in the 1970s.||Started by author Melissa Urban in 2009.|
|Go for it:||Seafood Meat Poultry Low-carb veggies Cheese Avocados Eggs Olive Oil Nuts and Seeds Berries Creams and Dairy Dark Chocolate Coffee||Seafood Meat Poultry Vegetables Avocados Eggs Nuts and Seeds Berries Fruit Ghee Honey Coffee||Seafood Meat Poultry Eggs Fruits Vegetables Nuts and Seeds Coffee Olive Oil Avocado Oil Coconut Oil Ghee|
|Skip It:||Sugar Grains Processed foods made with these ingredients* Limit or skip higher-carb root vegetables and legumes||Sugar Grains Legumes Dairy Artificial sweeteners Processed foods made with these ingredients||Sugar Grains Legumes Dairy Sweeteners Alcohol Coffee Any ‘paleo-fied’ baked goods|
|Other Notes:||Can be done temporarily as a “reset: or as an ongoing lifestyle.||Grain-free baked goods and Certified Paleo sweeteners allowed!||Focuses on meal prep and plate-planning. Elimination only lasts 30 days and is followed by a reintroduction phase.|
*Can include limited use of sweeteners like monk fruit or erythritol.
Curious about cooking on keto? One thing to consider is the label: some products will wear a Keto Certified badge. This means the ingredients and the product meet the specific target for carbs, and that this product is made without artificial ingredients.
A Day of Keto
Preparing your keto diet meal plan can be a daunting task, especially where fat, protein, and carb counting is concerned. Whether you’re new to the keto diet plan or an old pro looking for new inspiration, these keto diet recipes can reintroduce flavor into your routine. Here’s what a day on Primal-inspired keto might look like.Morning Keto Coffee
Most folks on keto love their coffee. This Toasted Marshmallow Dalgona Coffee is a fan-favorite pick-me-up you can enjoy while on keto.Breakfast
These Keto Chaffles are a grain-free answer to comfort food cravings.
These salmon burgers with Primal Kitchen Tartar Sauce are a gourmet spin on a seafood classic!Optional Grab n’ Go Snacks
These chocolate coconut protein bars from Primal Kitchen have 8g of protein per bar for a decadent gluten- and grain-free treat.Dinner
Baked Caesar Chicken Breasts are a flavorful update to a dinnertime classic.
Looking for more recipe inspo? You can narrow your recipe search on the Primal Kitchen site to “keto recipes.” Search by meal (ie. breakfast, lunch, dinner) for specific suggestions.
The keto diet can be modified and personalized to fit your lifestyle and specific needs. Primal Kitchen is excited to share so many Keto Certified offerings and recipes to support your keto journey! New to keto and searching for resources and support? Mark Sisson has assembled a keto diet for beginners page on his blog. Pick up your own copy of Keto for Life here; check out The Keto Reset Diet, or learn some of Mark Sisson’s favorite Keto Recipes by browsing the virtual book store on Primal Blueprint.