I am by no means an expert in nutrition or ketosis, so I share here my personal approach Clean Keto during the 100 Days of Simple challenge.
The Clean Eating Challenge
30 day challenges are a useful way to experiment with a new habit in a defined amount of time, taking time at the end to reflect and decide what worked, what did not and what you may choose to continue doing.
Several Clean Eating challenges exist, including the Whole30, The Paleo Way and The AutoImmune Protocol. All have elimination in common, removing highly refined and processed foods from the diet, with a return to whole foods central to their philosophy - this is what ‘clean’ refers to. Most eliminate inflammatory foods known to exacerbate health conditions, so that the distance in time between stopping and re-consuming a food product can enable the participant to isolate the impact on their health and body.
I find this an interesting idea, and while I view anecdotal claims of ailments being solved with skepticism, I see no harm in a thought through and open minded experiment to see what makes you feel good. The harm comes when one individuals anecdote is pitched as the all-encompassing solution that suits everyone!
Thankfully, Mellissa Sevigny's Squeaky Clean Keto Challenge, and complimentary Squeaky Clean Keto book, is a great tool for experimenting with what works for your body and what does not - featuring little dietary dogma and a whole lot of delicious recipes.
Squeaky Clean Keto
As outlined on her website, the Squeaky Clean Keto Challenge (SCKC) was inspired by Mellissa’s participation in Whole30 but uses clean low-carbohydrate foods so to remain in ketosis, with the objective to both lose weight and feel good.
The principles are straightforward, as shared in her infographic for the plan. Essentially, the keto diet standard of 20 Net Carbs is adhered to (total carbs - fibre = net) and no dairy, sugar, low-carb sweeteners, grains, nuts, legumes and alcohol.
Another principle, of Whole30 and of SCKC, is that reducing choice reduces the option to replicate foods that one may emotionally rely on. I have fallen into that category, enjoying low-carb treats from the local market but struggling to moderate to a small serve. Limiting this will only serve me well!
Sounds like a lot of elimination!
However, it leaves behind plenty of good food: animal proteins, vegetables, low-carb fruits such as blueberries, seeds and coconut. Have you tried Melissa’s recipes? She makes sure you’re not missing out! My favourite is the Corned Beef and Radish Hash!
You don’t need to buy the book, but I highly recommend it (note for fellow Australians, my local bookstore said it has to be ordered in from the US so expensive and a long wait - I recommend the ebook, which is so handy especially in the kitchen) since Mellissa has the main details and plenty of recipes on her website.
My approach to Clean Keto for 100 Days of Simple
I have embarked on 100 Days of Simple to reduce decision fatigue, address what I suspect are food-related sensitivities in my gut, and simplify the food and exercise aspects of my life. Following a strict plan such as SCKC or Whole30 offers a framework that gives me less choice, an immediate support network and lots of (way too many) recipes.
Plus, it’s really easy to fit into my lifestyle, especially since I am practicing Kettlebells every evening before my commute home and have little time for cooking (this is where the InstantPot is a lifesaver). I am not a meal prepper, more of a food preparer as outlined in this video Downshiftology, which meets my need for variety and helps me be prepared and stay on plan:
I’ll write more throughout this challenge, and share with you some of my favourite recipes and simple go-to meals. For now, these are the guidelines I’m following and my contingency plans for days when I feel less than ready:
- Following the Squeaky Clean Keto principles of no dairy (except butter), no nuts, no sugars of any kind, and no grain/legume. I eat eggs, meat, vegetables and limited fruit. After 30 days, I may slowly re-introduce other foods, mainly peanut butter and almond meal so I can buy more ready made products but this greatly risks a return to non-whole foods: things I can grab like a low-carb protein bar, or a protein shake meal replacement.
- To support exercise, I use PranaOn Phyto Fire protein post-workout and sometime also for breakfast.
While not Squeaky Clean (it’s vegan, based on legume and grain proteins) it is low-carb with one serving containing 2-4g carbs, uses limited sweeteners (stevia / monk fruit) and contains goodies such as thermogenics and superfoods to increase metabolism and support muscle growth (as per their product description). It offers me a quick post-training meal on my drive home, reducing the lure of quick food on the way home (note: it is often 8pm at the end of a 13- 14- hour day, so dinner is strongly desired and the will may be weak!). My favourite is Dark Chocolate!
- Breakfast is typically coffee, but I cannot stomach the fat in a bulletproof. Giving up milk coffee has been amazing and my stomach feels so better for it - I will have to write you a story about my shift from 3-4 a day milk coffees, to self-brewing small batch black coffee! Instead, I add 12g of Locako’s MCT Oil and Grass Fed Collagen Coffee Creamer to my Aeropress brew, which is just filling and warming enough to start my day.
- Lunch is usually leftovers or something I have prepared the night before. I can also buy a bunless burger at work (essentially protein and salad) - the delightful chef is also doing keto, so understands my strange requests!
- My darling husband and greatest support cooks dinner while I’m at the gym - IF I have left everything prepared for him (leave him to his own devices, and we get… mush)! There are so many conveniences available, that I don’t even need to chop veggies if I don’t have the time - Woolworths sells fresh chopped low carb veg and vegetable ‘rices’ so I make sure to have one of those in the fridge, some meat, locally made bone broth and tomato paste. He can just chuck that into the InstantPot, hit go and dinner is ready when I get home!
- I do eat chocolate, having found a 100% Dark that is delicious and creamy, that is thoroughly satisfying yet strong enough that a 10g serve satisfies. Plus, its great for magnesium.
So that’s my plan for this challenge! Everyone does these things different within the framework of the program and that of their lives, families and capacity. I’m very lucky to have a partner and network of friends who support my crazy ideas, and the ability to obtain the things I need to eat well and healthy.
Here’s to good health, both yours and mine!