Get Advice From Keto Experts: Q&A Session

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Written by Vanessa Roberts, Keto Expert and medically reviewed by Abby Courtenay

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Keto experts share discoveries, mistakes, and hopes for the future.

PlanKetogenic reached out to professional dietitians and popular keto recipe developers to explore new perspectives on low-carb diets.

From the objective to the opinionated, the practical to the whimsical, we’ll show you how these experts answered our unusual questions about keto.

But first, a quick introduction to our experts:

  • SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN. Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Master of Science in Human Nutrition. 
  • Ariane Lang, BSc, MBA. Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition & Dietetics, Master’s degree in Business Administration.
  • Summer Yule, MS, RDN. Registered Dietitian, Master’s in Health Promotion.
  • Denise BrowningProfessional Chef and Author of Easy and Delish.
  • Sahil Makhija. Author of Headbanger’s Kitchen.
  • Lisa Wells. Founder of Cook Eat Well.

Now, on to the Q&A!

 

Would most people be better off eating fewer carbs?

“I think many people would see benefits from eating fewer carbs, but not necessarily just because it would reduce their carb intake. Most high-carb foods in the typical American diet are highly processed and made with low quality ingredients and oxidized seed oils. Whether or not you reduce carbs is a personal decision, but I think we would all benefit from eating fewer highly processed foods.” -SaVanna Shoemaker, RDN

“I believe that a black or white mentality doesn't apply to nutrition. What works for one person will most likely not work for another because we are all different. However, I know that, for the most part, people consume more carbs than they realize (through sugar-sweetened beverages or portion sizes that are far too big), so paying attention to those details would definitely lead to health improvements.” -Ariane Lang, BSc, MBA

The keto experts agree: Many of the high-carb foods we eat are unhealthy.

Takeway: Reducing carbohydrates can help steer people toward more nutritious choices, but carbs are not the whole story. Avoiding highly processed foods and eating reasonable portion sizes are key elements of a healthy diet.

 

Biggest mistakes when eating low-carb

“If you're using low carb for weight loss, going overboard with high fat foods (nuts, seeds, avocado, cheese, cream, etc.) may sabotage your efforts. It's one of the most common things I see.” -Summer Yule, MS, RDN

“Thinking that by removing carbs, they're entitled to unlimited amounts of high-fat foods. You must remember that if your goal is to lose weight, you still have to sustain a calorie deficit.” -Ariane Lang, BSc, MBA

The keto experts agree: It is possible to eat too much fat on a ketogenic diet. 

Takeway:  At the end of the day, the amount of calories you eat is one of the most important factors when it comes to weight loss.

High-fat foods are often also high in calories. While it’s important to eat healthy fats on a ketogenic diet, be aware of how full you feel. Fat is filling and if you listen to your body, you’ll probably eat less, which means fewer calories and potential weight loss.

 

What's your favorite low-carb ingredient people might not know about?

  • Pork panko is an absolutely amazing low carb substitute for bread crumbs! I love how flavorful they are.” -Summer Yule, MS, RDN
  • “I definitely think Shirataki noodles for sure. Especially the variety of brands available and different shapes.” -Sahil Makhija, Headbanger’s Kitchen
  • “I love Nutella! Not long ago, Choc Zero created their own version, a keto cocoa hazelnut spread that is the real deal. I have to exercise self-control in order to not eat the pot by the spoonful.”  -Denise Browning, Easy and Delish

Takeaway: following a low-carb diet leads to new discoveries and more experimentation in the kitchen.

We recommend you start with trying every low-carb vegetable under the sun, even (or especially!) the ones you haven’t touched since childhood. On the internet you can find all sorts of keto recipes to make you fall in love with any ingredient. 

 

What low-carb food do you wish someone would invent?

Once you start approaching meals with a creative mindset, your ideas may take you above and beyond what’s currently available. Here’s what the keto experts have come up with—food inventors, please take notice!

  • “I wish the food industry would create a low carb pasta that tastes similar to regular pasta. I have tried several brands and there isn't a single low carb pasta I enjoy eating. They taste like cardboard!  When I crave pasta, I eat palmini noodles made from hearts of palm and serve them with a good homemade low carb mornay sauce.” -Denise Browning, Easy and Delish
  • “I think a delicious sourdough bread would be the most appreciated low carb food ever invented.” -Sahil Makhija, Headbanger’s Kitchen
  • “I would love a zero calorie and zero carb cookie! I know that's quite a request, but a sugar free meringue could come close. However, I'd like something more like a chocolate chip cookie, and I don't want it to have strange ingredients that end up causing GI disturbances in people.” -Summer Yule, MS, RDN

Takeaways: 

Keep dreaming up new ideas and sharing them with the keto community, for example on Reddit’s r/keto. People are often more than willing to share a recipe or help you brainstorm ways to make your food dream come true. 

Did you know that artificial sweeteners can be hard on your gut? This is a good reminder that low-carb foods can cause discomfort, too. To build healthy habits, choose real foods over highly processed foods when you can.

 

Challenges when creating keto recipes

The truth is, not every cooking experiment ends well. Even the keto experts are no stranger to kitchen fails! If you’ve struggled with these common issues, rest assured that you’re in good company.

I've always had a bit of difficulty making low carb baked goods. Almond flour, coconut flour, and so on generally can't just be substituted 1:1 for regular flour.” -Summer Yule, MS, RDN

“Using a type of sugar substitute in desserts that your entire family will eat and adjusting it to the amount of sweetness they are used to in regular desserts is no easy task. It may require a larger amount of sugar substitute than the expected.” -Denise Browning, Easy and Delish

“The biggest challenge is to match the texture of foods like rice, bread and noodles. I mean we have substitutes, but we are unable to match the texture and flavour of those foods. The other is finding the right sweetener and sweetness level that makes Keto desserts not taste like Keto desserts.” -Sahil Makhija, Headbanger’s Kitchen

Thankfully, the keto experts also revealed how they resolved their challenges.

To prevent mishaps with almond and coconut flour, 

  • Yule recommends following a recipe specifically intended for the type of flour you’re using, rather than trying to modify a recipe that calls for wheat flour.

To satisfy her family’s sweet tooth,

  • Browning’s solution is to serve them regular desserts and make a smaller low-carb dessert for herself.

To overcome the differences in texture and flavor,

  • Makhija says it’s about adjusting your expectations. Don’t expect cauliflower rice to taste like real rice, think of it as a whole new food!


What's the best or worst diet advice you've ever heard? 

Getting unsolicited advice can be irritating, especially when it’s about something as personal as your body and health. But some gems of wisdom are worth sharing!

BEST: “Strive for consistency over perfection. Just as one good meal won't make you lose weight, one bad meal won't lead to weight gain.” -Ariane Lang, BSc, MBA

Consistency over perfection. This is a helpful framing so we can focus on moving forward, accepting that we may take a few steps back or to the side along the way.

WORST: “That calories don't matter. Worst diet advice ever.” -Sahil Makhija, Headbanger’s Kitchen

If one of your nutrition goals is to lose weight, it’s important to know that you should aim for a calorie deficit: eating less calories than you burn. This can be done through diet, exercise, or, ideally, a combination of the two.

 

What do you wish everyone knew before going low-carb? 

“Cutting carbs is a big adjustment, and more often than not, carbs are not the issue. There are other factors you could (and should) revise before deciding to remove them from your diet, such as stress management, sleep hygiene, or whether there are other not-so-healthy foods/drinks you're consuming that could be hindering your health goals.” -Ariane Lang, BSc, MBA

“Always keep a low carb snack handy. Even something simple like nuts or hard boiled eggs can keep you from reaching for a high carb snack when you need to grab something in a hurry.” -Lisa Wells, Cook Eat Well

“Definitely plan ahead and meal prep. This is the best way to stay on track and not break your diet.” -Sahil Makhija, Headbanger’s Kitchen.

 
Takeaways:

Be curious about why you are considering a low-carb diet. Are there other healthy lifestyle changes that could help you move toward those goals? Food choices can play a role in improving your physical and mental health, but diet alone is not going to solve all your problems.

If you decide that you want to try keto, planning will help. It’s easier to make healthy choices when you organize your meals ahead of time. And lastly, always have nutritious low-carb snacks at the ready to power you through life’s unplannable moments.