Episode 068: Keto Quick Start: A Beginner’s Guide to A Whole Foods Ketogenic Diet with Diane Sanfilippo
We’re kicking off the new year with a powerhouse interview with my friend and mentor, a woman who I deeply respect and admire, Diane Sanfilippo.
Diane is the owner and founder of Balanced Bites, a certified nutrition consultant, the New York Times best-selling author of the wildly popular Practical Paleo and The 21-Day Sugar Detox (of which I’m a 21-Day Sugar Detox Coach for!), and the coauthor of Mediterranean Paleo Cooking.
She’s the co-creator of the Balanced Bites Master Class and the cohost of the top-rated weekly health podcast The Balanced Bites Podcast.
On today’s episode, she joins me to introduce her SEVENTH book, Keto Quick Start: A Beginner’s Guide to A Whole Foods Ketogenic Diet!
You’ll hear us discuss:
Why she chose to write a keto book
What is a Keto-Paleo diet
Keto vs 21-Day Sugar Detox vs Paleo
How Keto can help with skin health
Keto and Mental Health
Keto and Women’s Health
Keto and Calorie Counting
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Mentioned In this Episode:
+ Click Here to Read the Episode Transcript...
Naomi Nakamura: Happy New Year, and welcome back to The Live Fab Life Podcast. I'm your host, Naomi Nakamura, and I am so excited to share today's episode with you because my friends, today, we are kicking off the new year with a powerhouse interview with my friend and my mentor, a woman who I deeply respect and admire, Diane Sanfilippo.
Now, if you've never heard of Diane, she is a certified nutrition consultant. She's the owner and founder of Balanced Bites. She's the New York Times best-selling author of the wildly popular book, "Practical Paleo."
She's the creator of the 21-day Sugar Detox, of which I am a certified coach for. She's the co-creator of the Balanced Bites master class, which I'm a graduate of. She's the cohost of the long-running and top-rated weekly healthy podcast, The Balanced Bites podcast, one of my favorites podcasts and one of the very first ones I started listening to many years ago.
And her seventh book, "Quick Start Keto: A Beginner's Guide to A Whole Foods Ketogenic Diet, was just released today, which is what she's here to talk about with us.
So in this episode, you will hear us talk about many things, among them why she chose to write this book. She explains what is a Keto-Paleo diet and she tells us what are the differences between keto and the 21-Day Sugar Detox, and paleo. We talk about how keto can help us with our skin health, and she even tackles topics on keto and mental health, keto and women's health, and also calorie counting. And there is a whole lot more.
Now, I'll let you in on a little secret. With Diane being such a well-respect and well-established podcaster, I was so nervous to interview her. But as you will hear, she dropped so many great nuggets that I found, as I always do, so thought provoking, but in a very relatable way that this interview is by far one of my favorites. And that's saying a lot because I've had some phenomenal guests on this show.
Now before we get to the interview, I just want to remind you, as always, check out the show notes for this episode at www.livefablife.com/068 for episode 68. And that's where you'll find a link to the book, "Keto Quick Start," and all of the rest of the Diane's books, as well as her website and her Instagram account, which I highly recommend you go and check her out there because she shares so many great things over on Instagram and in her stories. So without further adieu, let's get to the show.
Hi, Diane, welcome to the show.
Diane S.: Hi, thanks for having me.
Naomi Nakamura: I am so excited to have you. First show of the year.
Diane S.: Woohoo. Happy New Year.
Naomi Nakamura: Happy New Year. And today's a big day, congratulations on your seventh book.
Diane S.: It's crazy. But it's crazy, that's, yeah, thank you.
Naomi Nakamura: I have watched you write, I think your last three books, because you've shared a lot about the process through your social media. And it's made me appreciate the amount of work and effort that goes in through writing a book because it's not just educational book, it's not just the recipe book. It's all of those things combined.
Diane S.: It's a lot, and the two different parts of this book, and when I wrote "Practical Paleo," the three different parts are equally, but differently grueling because sitting down, and for some reason it's like I always have to write a book in the summer because I want them to release in fall or the winter, and I feel like I haven't had a summer in seven years because it's like every summer, I'm writing. And so where I'm sitting now to record this, I sat in this room, it's my sun room office. And it was sunny, and I could see the sky, but all summer, I was just stuck to this chair, writing, because there's no other way to get a book done than to just do it.
It is a lot of work and it's actually been really fun to share that process on social media. And it's funny, for as much as I've shared, there's obviously so much that it just doesn't get shared because it's just so unsexy, it's just not that interesting to look at. I'm like, "Here I am, sitting at my computer again, typing away." But yeah, it's really fun to share that and I love how people get excited and invested because everybody feels like they're along for the ride. And I'm able to ask people questions, like what questions do you have? Or what would you want to see? And it does make it feel like more of a joint effort, at least in some way.
Naomi Nakamura: It's exciting when you see you writing the parts and asking the questions, and then seeing you taking the photos and making the recipes and then to finally have the book in hand because my copy just arrived, it's exciting.
Diane S.: Yeah. Well, thank you, I appreciate that, and I love, I do love sharing that excitement. I love watching people get the book and feel that sense of inclusion. It's like they saw when I was shooting that recipe and there it is in the book, and that's been a really fun part of social media while I'm writing, which I did not have the first few books. Instagram was brand new when "Practical Paleo" first released, so nobody really used it much. It was just like personal stuff.
Naomi Nakamura: So you mentioned "Practical Paleo," and you wrote that wildly successful book that's a New York Times bestseller. So what made you transition to write this book, "Keto Quick Start?"
Diane S.: So as I write in the intro to "Keto Quick Start," I was actually eating keto paleo when I wrote "Practical Paleo." I just wasn't talking about it because people weren't really talking about it. Maybe a couple of people out there were, but it's just obviously become really popular in the past couple of years for a lot of different reasons. But yeah, I was eating keto paleo, wrote the recipes for "Practical Paleo," shot the photos and then looked back and I was like, "There's not really a lot of carbs in here. I should probably go back and add some recipes with carbs," because it was just what I was eating and just regular, sort of low-carbish paleo food.
So I was eating this way back in late 2010 through early 2012, and have since eaten keto or almost keto on and off for the last decade, just as different points in my life, and at different times when I felt like it would be a useful tool for me again. For me, I know that eating lower carb always feels best, it's just sometimes we go through phases where we don't feel like always doing what it is gonna be the best for us. That's my rebel tendency coming out. I'm assuming you've had a podcast talking about poor tendencies, maybe not.
Naomi Nakamura: I talked about it in different episodes, so if people had listened to a few episodes, they know what that is.
Diane S.: I'm a nerd about that, but yeah, so I've actually done and known about keto for a long time and I resisted writing this book for a while. I think probably, I don't know how long ago my publisher first asked me about it and I was like, "No, I don't know." And I was actually gonna write a different book this summer, and then I don't know, I just was hearing from my sugar detox community, as you know, as a coach. The 21-day sugar detox, there's a lot of them are looking to keto to do after the sugar detox. And you know, there are some good resources out there. It's not like I'm the only one who has something balanced to say about it, but I always feel the most comfortable referring people to one of my own books, because I know that I'm gonna give people a dogma-free, well-balanced nutrient rich approach to whatever the way of eating is.
And so I think the way my publisher lured me into it, he goes, "Well, it can be a really small book." And I was like, "Yeah." I thought it was gonna be a really small book, like not even 200 pages, and it's almost 400 pages, so that's why it's "Keto Quick Start." It was supposed to be a really small, quick book, and I'm just not really capable of that. So it's a pretty thick book, it's not as big as "Practical Paleo," but it's very, very comprehensive, but also very simplified, easy to follow and I give you very, very practical tips.
So anyway, I was eating keto before people were talking about it. I just wasn't really ready to talk about it until I could give as much context as I needed to. You know it's really hard to answer a one-off question about keto with someone who just wants a soundbite or a snippet-
Naomi Nakamura: Yes.
Diane S.: -when there's more to the story in every situation. And I think it's important to give people as much of a story as possible.
Naomi Nakamura: So the tagline for the book is "A Beginner's Guide to a Whole Foods Ketogenic Diet," and you were just talking about your eating keto paleo. For those who aren't even familiar with that, what does keto paleo mean?
Diane S.: Essentially, it just meant dairy-free keto, which is not that common these days, so what I think a lot of people see in the keto space now is what we saw in the paleo world back, I don't know, eight years ago or however long ago when folks were replacing everything bread, everything flour based, with nut flours. That was the big paleo thing, it was like, "No, flours and honey and maple syrup," and just kind of like paleo-crying everything. And now it's like keto-fying everything, where it's like cream cheese or Swerve, which is an artificial sweetener. It's not really the same category as some aspartame and things like that, but it's a calorie-free sweetener. And they're just really trying to morph standard American diet foods into macro-nutrient ratios that work for keto.
And that's just not my approach. That's never been my approach, that's not how I do paleo, it's not how I do keto. And so the recipes in this book really reflect the type of foods that I would eat, and that I do eat. Actually, a lot of the recipes in this book are some of my favorites I've ever made because they're food that I love to eat now, and the treats in the book are great. They're just not a lot ... I don't think I have any treats that are baked. I think I have one muffin recipe in the breakfast section and one pancake recipe that's very similar to the recipe in "Practical Paleo," but most of the treats are like gelatin based or it's nut butter, and some drops of stevia. I have a brand I really love, and it's real food that happens to be very low carb, high-nutrient value though. We're not talking ... I mean, I'm not a hater. If you wanna make a cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, whatever pizza crust, go for it, but I don't have a recipe for that because it's just not the way I would approach getting your body into ketosis in a healthy way.
Naomi Nakamura: Interesting you say that, because I recipe tested a few of these for you and as I was going through it and as I was flipping through the book, I was like, "You know what? I don't eat a whole lot different than what this is." There's a few tweaks that I need to make, but there's not a whole different there. There's not a whole lot of different things I would need to change, major things.
Diane S.: I think what you're seeing with that, a lot of people are seeing and they're surprised. And I think that we saw this when paleo became really popular. A lot of people, and I've covered it on my podcast, on Balanced Bites podcast, we've talked about it many times about people accidentally going low carb, or being accidentally in ketosis and you would think that for so many people who are doing the keto thing, trying so hard to get into ketosis that how could it be accidental?
Well if you eat paleo, if you happen to not eat sweet potatoes or plantains that day, and you happen to only eat berries as your fruit, you're probably gonna get into ketosis just by virtue of lowering your glucose intake or lowering your carb sugar intake over the course of just a few days. For some people, it doesn't have to take weeks. It can be really quick, so I think that there's just a lot of myths around what a day of keto eating looks like because of the things that are cool, like Instagramable or the types of foods that people gravitate towards on social media, which are always going to be cookies and bread and treats and gooey, cheesy looking things. And I do use some cheese in the book, but I use it in a way that's for cheese, not to replace flour. Do you know what I mean?
Naomi Nakamura: Yeah.
Diane S.: It's melted on a burger, it's on top of a casserole, or it's garnish on a quote pasta dish, a zoodle dish, it's that kind of thing. It's where you expect to see cheese. I just am not, I don't cook that way. So yeah, I think a lot of people are sort of surprised and they're surprised in a good way because they're like, "Oh, I actually could do this. This doesn't look that crazy." And like you said, it's not that far from what I'm doing now, it just might be a couple of small tweaks.
Naomi Nakamura: Right. Now I found it interesting that right off the bat, from the very beginning of the book, you actually started off talking about this national health crisis that we're in, and I find it interesting because in terms of mainstream media and politics, healthcare is a big issue. And you talked about how there's the connection between that, between healthcare issues, and the standard American diet. So for those of us who already try to eat a real foods way of eating, there's a lot of people who don't and who don't even understand what that means. So who would you say this diet is for? And who's it not for?
Diane S.: Well I actually think that there's a couple of different ways to approach that. Okay, so first and foremost, people who are really struggling to lose a significant amount of body fat, who look at what most, not all, dieticians might tell them, or doctors, or their endocrinologist, if they're dealing with Type-2 diabetes or anything along those lines, they look at what the standard protocol might be of what's considered conventional wisdom of healthy, which is always gonna be low-fat, relatively high carb and not that much protein. They look at that and they know that's quote "diet food."
We know how that kind of eating feels, right? You're hungry a lot more often. It's difficult to eat that way. It's not that enjoyable. For some people it is, but for the people I'm talking about who are dealing with, I'm gonna say anywhere from 40-plus pounds that they wanna lose, 100 pounds, more, what keto does is provides a way for you to be eating real, whole foods that don't make you feel deprived, that you don't hate eating, and allow your body to naturally lose weight. Because what happens is the from your meals increases and you're not hungry all the time. You're able to allow your body to naturally burn body fat, which I can talk about how that works because ketosis is not a magic bullet to burning body fat, but it does help people get there.
And what I think really happens is, and I'm in this camp, too, if you feel better eating lower carb in general, some people don't know that they're gonna feel better lower carb because they've never done it. But if you discover that you're one of those people who eating higher carb, low fat, you're like, "I'm hungry all the time." For anybody who's never been overweight, you don't know how stressful being hungry is. And so I've been overweight, probably close to 40 pounds overweight at my max, and being hungry, it's more than just being hungry. It's so stressful because we have to eat, it's not like other, not that eating is always an addiction, but it's not like an addictive substance like alcohol or narcotics, where you might get the craving for that thing and your body doesn't actually need it to survive.
But we need to eat to survive, so now we're in the situation where we're left to make a choice about this thing that we feel at odds with. Like, "Okay, now I'm hungry again. I have to choose something to eat because I need to be nourished. I need to not be hungry." But also, what do I choose that me feel satisfied and also contributes to losing weight. It's literally like this paradoxical situation where I have to eat, but I wanna lose weight, and it feels like not eating is the way to do that, but it's not. But it's just about making the right choice for your body. And so what keto does for so many people who have been trying with another approach that doesn't work for them is it's like this major sigh of relief.
"Oh my gosh, I can eat that ground beef patty with some cheese on it and a lettuce wrap, and I can have a side salad with it, and I can feel satiated from that protein and fat. I don't need tons of carbohydrate and that was actually pretty tasty. And it didn't feel like diet food. And it will contribute to losing body fat when you balance things out the right way."
So I think that that's something that a lot of people don't realize. It's a totally different way of approaching nutrition and this national health crisis that we have, I think that people just don't realize how quickly their bodies will respond, and it happens in a matter of days or possibly weeks at most. For many people, it's within days. If you're on Type-2 diabetes medications, within days your body doesn't need as much medication, and this is something you always have to work with your doctor on, but we've seen it on the sugar detox, too. Because keto is next step. It's definitely lower carbs than sugar detox, but I think what's cool is that when somebody finds that their body responds that quickly, it opens up a whole new hope. It's like, "I don't need to do this for six months. My body knows that this is better for me, and it's telling me right away."
That doesn't mean it's gonna be comfortable. There are days that can be really uncomfortable, but to recognize that self-healing can happen, medication is not what provides healing can be a great intervention and it can save lives. But aside from insulin and thyroid hormone, those hormones that your body really needs, most medications, so those are hormones, not medications. Medications are up or down regulating a normal body function. They're not replacing it. Insulin replaces a normal body function. Thyroid hormone replaces a normal body function to help you return to baseline. That being said, Type-2 diabetics who are taking, maybe they're taking and some that maybe they're taking metformin or another type of blood sugar medication, you are trying to up or down regulate a normal body function that if you just stop eating the foods that got you there, stop drinking the alcohol, do a little walking. Your body will miraculously, although it's not really a miracle, it's just normal physiology, it will respond and it's so freaking cool to see that happen and how excited people get.
I know you see it all the time, too.
Naomi Nakamura: I do.
Diane S.: It's just really that. And we're not going to last that long in this country. I think Chris Kresser talks about this. In the next 30 years, the quote healthcare, I think it's the sick care, it's not healthcare, it's really sick care. It doesn't take care of you being healthy, it really just quote cares for you if you're sick. But in the next 30 years, the whole system's gonna implode because the amount of illness that we're managing is far outweighing how much money there is in the system. So I know it seems easier to take a pill, but it's honestly it's not healing anything. I could go on a rant, sorry. I just ... it's so stressful.
But I think a lot of doctors don't give their patients the benefit of the doubt and they assume they won't wanna make the lifestyle change. Some don't even know what to recommend. I love that with "Practical Paleo," it's in a lot of doctors' offices and I hope that "Keto Quick Start" will really take that position as well once people see how powerful it can be. But I hope that more and more doctors will give their patients the benefit of the doubt that if they provide them with tools for healthy living, that the patient will take that option instead of just saying, "No doc, I just want a pill." Tell someone how they can help heal themselves and give them a chance to do it and don't just assume they're too lazy or they're not willing.
Naomi Nakamura: "Practical Paleo" is in my doctor's office, by the way.
Diane S.: Yay, I love that, I love that so much. I always say, too, that's kind of my last thing on the healthcare tip. So in "Keto Quick Start," I don't have the same intensive therapeutic meal plans that I have in "Practical Paleo," but I do address different health conditions and considerations with keto for it. But I always so that people come out of a doctor's office with a diagnosis and not a lot of hope. It's like there may be three medical conditions where they hand you a one-pager on food seed or not. Like maybe with gout, or it's like a few different conditions, maybe with kidney disease. But most of the time, I would say 99.9% of the time, a health condition that you're dealing with, you can affect what your body is doing by what you're eating. Can you always cure it or put it into remission? Maybe not, but you can always improve your health by improving what you're eating. There's just no way around that.
Naomi Nakamura: So one of the questions I've gotten a lot so far, and I'm sure you have to. So you wrote "The 21-Day Sugar Detox," you created it. Tell us how is keto different from it.
Diane S.: Yeah, I can position this and tell you how keto's different from that and even how it's different from paleo. So "The 21-Day Sugar Detox" is meant to be for three weeks and we're eliminating certain foods that are sweet, that are flour-based and that's the main thing. Some of them are really high carbs, some of them are just potentially allergenic like soy and gluten. But it's not specifically a low carb program and it's definitely not specifically targeting getting people into ketosis. So somebody could be on the 21-day sugar detox and be eating 100 grams of carbs in their day, maybe even more, depending on their activity level.
Naomi Nakamura: Plantains and sweet potatoes.
Diane S.: Plantains, sweet potatoes, and you know we do kind of tailor that if they're an active person, if they're a breast-feeding mom. We have different options and help people see how to tailor it, but it's much more targeted at the sweet cravings and the junky carbs and the refined carbs. So on that program, some people are eating rice and those types of things. You're really not gonna do that on keto. So 21-Say Sugar Detox, that's what that program is and the paleo diet, as you know, is really focused on food quality and sort of food groups that we're eating and not, which is similar to keto but very specifically you're avoiding grains, dairy, processed foods and processed sugars, legumes on paleo.
It's similar to keto because you're kind of avoiding a lot of those things as well because they're really high in carbs, but on keto, you're also avoiding fruit and things like sweet potato for the most part. You can include those now and then, it's not like an all or nothing thing. And then on keto, you can be eating dairy if it works for you and you don't have to. Just because dairy is part of keto for the everyday person, if you don't do well tolerating dairy, you don't have to have it. So some people are like, "Oh, I didn't know if I could do keto because I can't eat dairy."
I'm like, "Well then you just don't eat dairy." It's just like somebody who can't eat eggs who's doing paleo, you just do it egg-free. You don't have to eat the foods just because they are quote approved or included.
Naomi Nakamura: And that's why I love your approach because it's a very non-dogmatic approach to these things, which I find it surprising that so many people get hung up on those rules.
Diane S.: Yeah, well it's kind of natural for people who ... I'm learning this over time. Just like human nature, people want an authority figure to follow. They like having rules. Back to our conversation about the poor tendency of most people are Obligers, that means most people like to answer to other people's expectations. And I'm not that person because I'm really bad at holding up other people's expectations, but it does make things a lot easier for people. I'm that way when it comes to the gym. I'm like, "Give me a program to follow." And so I get it. I get that I wanna follow a program that someone else is saying, "If you do this, it will work."
And it's never guaranteed but it's also kind of like, at least it's a path that's trusted, that someone who might know more about this topic than I do can give me advice on. And they recognize the value of that, as much as I think everyone has a personal responsibility to listen to their own body, to do what feels good and it's working for them. A lot of people are following people's advice on the Internet, which there's a lot of great information and it's the wild, wild west at the same time. So one of the reasons why I was like, "Okay, I'll write this keto book," is I want people to feel safe knowing that they can have a trusted resource that they can follow that's not dogmatic, that I'm not gonna tell you keto is the only way to be healthy. And I think that that's a safer approach than someone who has tunnel vision on keto and can't see outside of what's potentially healthy otherwise.
So yeah, I think I lost my train of thought there. I get on some really quick movements. And I'm like, you would think I'd be better at not losing my train of thought, but what was I answer for for you?
Naomi Nakamura: The difference between the 21DSD and keto, so I think you-
Diane S.: Well, I did cover that.
Naomi Nakamura: Yes, you did.
Diane S.: Got it. I was so far into it I'm like moving around.
Naomi Nakamura: So you and I do a lot of work in helping people figure out how to heal their skin from different issues. So would you say keto is a great pathway for that? Is a great tool to help them get there?
Diane S.: Yes. I think so. Because sugar can be a really big culprit for a lot of people, because it can trigger hormonal imbalance because it can trigger some gut imbalance. Also, gluten. My book is soy-free, although there's nowhere that says you can't have soy on a keto diet or soy sauce for example, but I just kind of keep it out because I use coconut aminos. So it can be really helpful, but if someone doesn't do well with dairy, then just following keto, you may find your acne gets worse. You may find you need to do either dairy-free keto or you need avoid cow dairy, which is primarily the way I approach it and you do find with goat, which there are tons of options for goat dairy these days. Or a lactose free.
So it can be super helpful for a variety of reasons. Cutting the sugar, getting your hormones back in check, balancing your gut. But it's not one size fits all, definitely gonna help everybody. Some people also get acne triggered by night shades, and keto is definitely not a night-shade free way of eating. There's tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. I do have a meal plan in "Keto Quick Start" that one week's worth that's nightshade-free, so if someone's like, "Yeah, nightshades really trigger my skin," then you can follow that. But it's different for everyone. But I do think as a baseline that it can be really helpful for a lot of people for skin, absolutely.
I definitely find that keeping my carbs low and my sugar ... I mean, I don't eat that much sugar ever anyway, but I definitely find that it helps my skin and my hormones. My cycle is better month to month when I'm eating keto or super low carb.
Naomi Nakamura: Well, I'm also thinking about we eat a lot of salmon and avocados and those things are all great foods for your skin.
Diane S.: Yeah, absolutely, and those are things that I focus on, too. Leafy greens, making sure that people are finding ways to get good fiber into their diet, which is also really helpful because you need to be able to detoxify and that will really help you with that as well.
Naomi Nakamura: So I did not tell a lot of people that I was interviewing you, but I did tell a few and those few had questions that came flooding in.
Diane S.: Okay.
Naomi Nakamura: So I picked three, but I think we're pretty good. And so let's hit the first one. So the first one is can keto help with mental health, specifically with anxiety and depression? There's so much information out there and it's hard to know what to trust.
Diane S.: So, short answer, yes, it can definitely help. It really depends on why you're suffering with anxiety and depression. So there's not gonna be one set approach, but one thing that's gonna happen naturally with keto, and especially if you're following what I write in "Keto Quick Start," is that you're going to eliminate processed refined foods, obviously processed refined carbs. And you're going to be replacing them with much healthier foods, which will naturally help to balance your gut. 95% of serotonin is made in our gut, and we need serotonin to be happy and balanced. We need to have that to avoid depression and anxiety. But it's not everything. Food is definitely not everything, especially with those two specific situations. I find that anxiety ... I've struggled with both in my life. I tend more toward anxiety than depression, but anxiety is usually, and I'm not a mental health professional, I'm just a person who has dealt with it.
Anxiety is usually more rooted in a feeling of wanting to be somewhere that you are not, and a lack of plan or a lack of ability or a lack of actually taking action. So when you feel anxious, because I can describe feeling anxious while I write a book. I am at the highest level of anxiety because I just wanna be done. I wanna be somewhere that I'm not. I don't wanna be in the process of writing a book. I love sharing my expertise and knowledge, and I'm so happy when it's done. Now that I've done that so many times, I know what that other side is like and I just wanna be done. But each time I go through the process, I do get a little bit better at sitting in the moment and just being like, "Focus on today."
And this book, actually, I had a much better process. It's still stressful, so let me just say that, but the anxiety, I was very conscious about on a day to day basis, just like not letting that stress crop up and take over my mind so that then it took over my physical state. So that's the thing about anxiety. Yes, the food can help, but there is so much other stuff going on.
And I think depression can also be rooted in a lot of feeling unable to change your life situation. When we feel like we're a victim of a situation, or we feel like we can't see a way out of something. And I'm not, again I'm not saying it's always this practical tactical do-something to stop the depression. There are chemical imbalances for sure, so if someone's listening and they're like, "She's being ridiculous," I'm absolutely not writing off the chemical state of our brain, but I know for people who maybe don't have a clinical state of depression but have felt depressive states where you're like, "Oh my gosh, I'm sinking into a tunnel and I feel like I'm not sure I can see out of it," because I've been there, too.
Action is always the antidote to both of those situations and so if that means following a keto diet as one thing to start to change what's going on in your life, that can be a big open door to more things. But I always think it's best to work with a mental health professional alongside changing what you're doing with your diet and lifestyle, and finding new ways to incorporate plans and action steps into your life to change the thing that you're feeling unsetttled about.
Naomi Nakamura: Yeah.
Diane S.: Yeah, anxious or even depressed. Yeah, anyway, I've definitely been there with both. Not, well, long story, we won't get into it all.
Naomi Nakamura: Okay.
Diane S.: Another day.
Naomi Nakamura: Second question: what do women specifically need to know about when starting a keto diet? Is there anything specific to women? I'm gonna go as far as to say especially someone who is breast-feeding or even pregnant.
Diane S.: This is my take on this question, like keto, paleo, sugar detox, whatever. You have to listen to your body always. So it's really not important to think like ... This kind of goes back to what I was ... Well, I don't know if I was just talking about this with you. I recorded a couple podcasts today, but somehow people got stuck in this mindset that so we're talking about for women and also for breastfeeding women. But for women in general, people have gotten into this mindset that keto's the only way to lose body fat and that if I'm doing it exactly as written, I'm not gonna lose body fat, and so I have to follow it to the letter or I'm doing it wrong and the keto police are gonna come get me. So that's this whole narrative that's going on.
It's not the only way to lose body fat. You'll read about that in the book. But I think there's a period of time during which, and I feel comfortable knowing that my approach in this book is healthy and balanced. You can take the first six weeks to three months and follow it, as I describe it, and when you get past because the first handful of weeks, if you're trying to modify things, and then you're not really doing it, then we don't really know if it's working for you. But three months in, if you're like, "I feel lousy. I'm not sleeping well. I'm doing what it says in here. I'm eating enough protein." That's a really big one. "Enough food in general and enough protein. I'm not under eating and I feel lousy." Then adjust.
There are people who can eat way more carbs than the 30ish grams a day and still be in ketosis, or be in a state where you're able to burn body fat. You don't have to be in ketosis to burn body fat. That's just a huge myth. With breastfeeding and pregnant moms, for the number of women I've heard who are dealing with protein aversions, I'm like, "I don't know why pregnancy or breastfeeding makes women want to change their nutrition." Maybe you just wanna be healthier, maybe you're concerned about gestational diabetes. Look, you can eat way lower carb and not eat for ketosis and it's gonna be probably a lot easier, really healthy for you. Keto is just not the end all, be all path to health for every single person. It's a tool that's really useful in a lot of ways, but I think that if you're already eating keto and you become pregnant and then you're breastfeeding, you might everything's working great.
Some women say that their milk supply drops without eating carbohydrates. So eat some more carbs. That's your priority. I do think sometimes women try to, and I did this a decade ago, we try to have parallel priorities. So 10 years ago, I had a priority of training really hard. I was running a half marathon and I wanted to lose body fat. And those are not intersecting goals. If you're training hard, you might lose body fat as a byproduct of it, but I needed to eat a lot of calories to sustain my training. And I was already at 20% body fat, which for me, I think I probably dropped to 18 at one point, and also lost my period. That was too low for me. So when there are women out there who are like, "I really wanna be 16% body fat," I'm like, "Look, if that's close to natural for you, fine." But most women are gonna start losing their periods under 20%, and what we see on Instagram with all the ads, you have no idea how unhealthy some of these people are.
Some of them might not be. There are people who are naturally very skinny, and when they put on muscle, they look ripped. And those people are the ones who are naturally that way, and that's probably a healthy state for them. And other people who are not naturally that way, it's probably very unhealthy and a lot of them are probably not menstruating normally because they've come and told me about it.
So anyway, for women in general, there are some different considerations because sometimes intermittent fasting is not the best for women, but it's not everyone. There's some women who do great with it. It really depends on who you are, the amount of stress that you have, the way that you handle your stress. There are so many different factors and just like to your question or your point about people wanting rules to follow and all of that, women wanna hear it's different for women and here's what to do and if you do it this way, it'll work. And there is not, unfortunately, one answer there.
I do talk in the book about considerations for hormones and healthy hormones and what to do keto for women. I do talk about it in the book because it was one of the biggest questions that I get. And I do also talk in the book about how to add carbs back to your life, whether it's once a week that you have a day that you're having some, or whether keto's gonna be a short term thing. Okay, now we rebalanced things, or how to do it longer term. So I do talk about that. It doesn't have to be this all or nothing, I never eat a carb again approach.
Naomi Nakamura: And then the third question, and this one really resonated with me, because I used to be very stringent with calorie counting. I lived by my fitness pal and I would spend an hour a day trying to input everything. It'd be like, oh no, it's the worst if I went out to eat because then I'd be like, I don't know what's in this. So this last question: do you advocate for calorie counting while on keto? If you don't, what strategies do you have for not overeating because it can be very calorie dense? And if you do, what benefits does keto offer over other diets that count calories and restricts food intake?
Diane S.: Okay, I might need you to reiterate part of that if I get lost in the questioning.
Okay, so the way that I give people to approach things in "Keto Quick Start" is first follow what I call my savvy keto template, where for the first little while, I don't want you counting. Like first, see how you do without counting because you might do great without counting and if you do, then don't count because like you said, it can be a part-time job to count your food. And I've been there, and I'll talk about it in a second, but I think if you can do this without counting, that's ideal.
That being said, for people especially who have, let's say, 10, 15, or 20 pounds to lose, not in the higher range to lose, or it could be a little more but it's a weight that you've really struggled to break that plateau, I do think that accountability for what's going down the pie hole is important. Because for those of us who know how to cook yummy food, who love to eat, an extra three to five or 700 calories in a day is not hard to take in, and it's going to keep us from getting where we wanna be. I know you know that I did several years ago, I followed a macros plan that was lower fat, higher carb, because I like to test things and see how it goes.
And one thing that really came from that experience that I thought was really helpful was that I developed what I call a bingo sheet. It's just kind of my name for it because I was taking the macros that I was given to follow and I was like, the way that I'm told to follow it just didn't make sense to me. It needed to be visual. I just need to put it on paper, and rather than entering food in a tracker, what I would do is cross off what I had eaten for the day, so this way I could see exactly what's left to reach the goal that I had for the day. And look, for some people, it still might not be the best. For me, I found it to be a great way to be accountable, while also not feeling as limited.
So what I mean by that is, I'm just gonna give you an example, and the trackers that I have in the book only start at 1,800 calories and go up, but I'll have some lower ones for some petite women who might not eat 1,800 a day. But I did not want to start them at 1,400 in the book because I think that sends too much of a diet mentality. But some women who are very petite for example might not need 1,800, even in a day. But what I do is I show you, here's how many grams of carbs you're gonna have today. Here's how much protein I want you to eat. I show you how to calculate which general calorie range is right for you, and here's how much fat. And I give you some commonly eaten foods on the page, and you literally cross it off as you go through your day. So, it's in the book but we'll have some printable ones on the website.
And you cross it off. If you're like, "Great, I just ate 30 grams of protein with my breakfast," you cross that off and you can see as you go through your day, which for most people what'll happen is you realize you have protein left when you get to the end of your day. And you're like, "I'm still kind of hungry," it's because you didn't finish eating all your protein. Probably ate most of your fat for the day. You maybe have a little bit of carbs left, maybe not. But I think that this approach, it's a little bit more of an abundance mindset versus a scarcity mindset, and if anyone's a little bit older listening to this podcast, years and years ago, Richard Simmons had a system called "Deal a Meal," which I used to watch infomercials a lot. Do you know what I'm talking about? Do you know "Deal a Meals"?
Naomi Nakamura: I don't, but I used to do Richard Simmons' workouts with my mom in our living room when I was a little kid.
Diane S.: Okay, so "Deal a Meal" was almost like a passport thing, and you would get cards that you would have on the left, and it was all your portions of food for the day and as you ate them, you moved them to the right. And what I thought, literally I must've been five watching these infomercials and I remember it. But the way this daily tracker works is as you eat, you can cross it off, and you can see. And what I tell people is, "Let's say you got to the end of your day and you've eaten everything on there and you are legitimately hungry. You ate all the protein, and you are legitimately hungry, have a little more protein and some kind of green vegetable." You will not blow what you're trying to do by eating a little more protein and some kind of green vegetable or a low carb vegetable.
You don't have to be hungry, but chances are what most people are doing is way overdoing it on the fat, and you're tacking on so many extra calories with fat bombs or whatever else, you're blowing that calorie range for the day. And again, it's not an exact. I put this little like, it's like a tilde that would go over an N in Spanish, it's like about 1,800. We never know exactly how many calories are in the food that we're eating, but this a target range of that's what you calculate in the book is your range. But then you know, obviously 3,000 a day is not gonna help you get where you wanna go. But if you're targeting this 1,8000 and you pretty much eat what's there and you have to go over it a little bit, you're still gonna be way better off because you'll realize you were overeating before. And I mean overeating like you weren't hungry for it, do you know what I mean?
Naomi Nakamura: Yes.
Diane S.: I don't want people to be hungry, but it's a wake up call when we look at this and we're like, "Oh, I'm not actually hungry."
Naomi Nakamura: It's just this is a habit, this is the time that I would normally eat because I wasn't eating well before and I was hungry all the time, so I'm looking for something, but wait, I'm not actually hungry.
Diane S.: Or I added four tablespoons of olive oil to my salad and I should've add two. And look how much extra fat that added to the salad that you really didn't need for satiety when you get to the end of the day. I need people to be really honest with themselves about how it feels, but tracking is a hot topic and a lot of people wanna say that it's dangerous, that it can cause disorered eating patterns. No matter what way of eating I've followed, so far to date, the only thing that has had the amount of efficacy across the board, no matter macros, keto, anything, is tracking. For me, it's tracking because I can eat. I can really eat, and it's what I've seen across the board. Even when I first ate keto, I was tracking because I had to. I was like, "I don't know how many carbs I'm eating."
Naomi Nakamura: Right.
Diane S.: And so I had to track. And so now I wouldn't have to track because I know how to eat super low carb, but I could easily eat 2,500 to 3,000 calories when 1,600 to 2,000 is my sweet spot. Make sense?
Naomi Nakamura: Totally makes sense, and that's why I'm so excited for this book because they really love the tools that you give people. It's not just here's the information, but here are some tools to help you implement this.
Diane S.: Yeah. I think there's different tools that help different people, and not everybody needs to use the tracker. I'm definitely not telling everyone to use that, I just think there are some people that if they need it and it will be helpful, then here it is.
Naomi Nakamura: So full transparency, I was actually very anti-keto and then I started to pay more attention because I actually owned other keto books and I felt like I couldn't even get past the first chapter. I'm like, "This is just way too complicated for me." And I've talked to other people who are also nutritionists and health coaches, who have felt the same way. So we're all very excited for this book. I'm excited to try the recipes. I know the ones that I've already tried are so good, and I can't wait to see what happens and how my body responds to it. And I'm just gonna close on this one quote that you have in there that I just really love because I feel like this is how I know keto is popular. I was at a holiday party for my corporate job earlier this week, and keto was a topic of conversation. It was amongst people who really didn't understand what it was, and this why I'm like, "Wow, we're reaching fad diet status here."
But you said, "Trying something new isn't following a fad diet. It's being open minded and experimenting to find out what works best for you." And I think that is what I'm trying to do and I hope that's what a lot of people approach this book with.
Diane S.: Well, thank you, that's the way I feel about it for sure.
Naomi Nakamura: Thank you so much for your time. I'm so excited. You shared a lot of information, and I'm excited for people to hear it.
Diane S.: Yay, awesome. Well, the book will be everywhere. Is this airing on New Years Day?
Naomi Nakamura: This is airing on New Years Day, so the book will be available when you're listening to this.
Diane S.: Awesome, and you guys can get it of course on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, but you can also find it at Target and Costco, so definitely look for it there. Little hint, if you wanna get it at Target, you can pull up the book on Amazon and show them the price and they'll price match it for you at customer service. Wink, wink, you should do that. And come follow me on Instagram at Diane Sanfilippo. I think you guys will come learn a whole bunch and have some fun and get some real talk from me.
Naomi Nakamura: Absolutely. In fact, that's where I watched you write this whole book.
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Naomi Nakamura is a Functional Nutrition Health Coach. Through her weekly show, The Live FAB Live Podcast, programs, coaching services and safer skincare solutions, she helps people with chronic skin issues clear up their skin by teaching them where food meets physiology and how food, gut health, stress, and toxins are intricately connected to the health and appearance of our skin. Naomi resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and can often be found romping around the city with her puppy girl, Coco Pop!
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