As with any diet (candy and soda are ‘plant-based’), some choices are better than others, said Lowery, noting that you can maintain a state of ketosis (whereby you’re burning fat, not carbs) on a diet of Big Macs (minus the bun) and keto peanut butter cups, but that’s probably not a great long-term strategy for optimal health.
“I think the whole sticking butter in your coffee and adding coconut oil to everything, I think those days are over,” said Lowery, who has published widely on human performance and sports nutrition with a focus on the impact of ketogenic diets and exogenous ketones on performance, cognitive function, and longevity.
“I think people are transitioning with keto and eating more of a higher protein ketogenic diet than an 80, 90% fat ketogenic diet, which is more of a therapeutic ketogenic diet, utilized for epilepsy and some other conditions. Now we’re starting to see more people eat 60 – 70% fat and trying to eat a well-formulated whole foods based diet.”
‘You want to focus on whole foods… but most people want some [keto] snack options and treats’
While many ‘keto’ packaged foods products are what you might call ‘highly processed,’ with a long list of ingredients and a tendency to rely heavily on a small group of go-to ingredients you won’t find in Grandma’s kitchen (erythritol, stevia, sucralose, soluble corn fiber, allulose), these are often treats or snacks that should be used to supplement your diet, not form the basis of every meal, he said.
“The first thing I say to people is that you want to focus on whole foods. But the reality is, most people want some snack options and treats.”
He added: ‘I’ve been keto for over 10 years, and what I typically tell people is that in every meal, you should aim for quality sources of protein, four to six ounces of quality protein, add fibrous carbohydrates [such as vegetables and salads] and then use fat as a lever, so if you’re really hungry, add a little bit of butter or some dressing. You don’t need to force fat into your diet and add butter to every cup of coffee. It’s unnecessary.”