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How do I modify my low carb diet to minimize my allergies?

Low Carb Dieting & Allergy Management

Coping with Food Allergies on a Low Carb Diet

Best ways to modify a low carb or ketogenic diet to avoid common allergens.

Food allergies are tricky to manage and require special modifications to get the right dietary nutrients. In this article, we cover the most common food allergens and how to avoid them on a low carb or keto diet, while still getting all the necessary nutrients your body needs.

In Canada, the most common food allergens (in no particular order) are:

  • Peanuts
  • Tree Nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts)
  • Sesame seeds
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Mustard
  • Soy
  • Crustaceans and molluscs
  • Fish
  • Sulphites (can be found in certain baked goods, frozen foods, cereals, condiments and deli meats)
  • Wheat and triticale

While some of these allergens are easier to avoid than others, it is important to know which low carb foods may be harmful to you. To help, we’ve taken each common Canadian allergy and put together a list of foods to avoid and a list of foods to consume while following a low carb or keto diet so your body can still get the best nutrients, safely.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is not medical advice. A low carb diet may not be suitable for you. Consult your health care provider before making any changes to your lifestyle or use at your own risk.

Eggs 

Eggs are one of the most nutrient-dense food sources on the planet, rich in several vitamins, minerals and amino acids. While the convenience and simplicity of eggs are hard to beat, there are still many other ways to obtain similar nutrients.

Eggs are high in protein and healthy fats, both of which can also be found in meats and tofu, which are also complete protein sources (meaning they contain all essential amino acids). When choosing animal proteins, be sure to limit processed meats and look for grass-fed, farm-raised and organic where possible. Healthy fats can also be obtained from things like coconuts, olives, avocados, nuts and seeds and fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines).

Eggs are also rich in iron, vitamins and minerals, which can be obtained alternatively from most dark red and green vegetables, nuts and seeds. Aim to include a serving of fruits or vegetables with every meal and snack during the day. You can also take a daily multivitamin to ensure you are getting the nutrients that your body requires every day.

Finally, eggs are found in a lot of baked goods – which makes them hard to avoid sometimes. They are often used as a binding agent in a lot of recipes. Luckily, vegan bakers figured out numerous ways to substitute eggs and still make delicious, fluffy treats that hold their shape. Instead of an egg, you can combine 1 part flaxseed meal with 3 parts water and let this sit for a few minutes until it forms a gel-like substance. Similarly, you can use ground chia seeds instead of flax; both of these seeds provide a host of nutrients and healthy fats. Some people may also use silken tofu, apple sauce or simply just a ¼ cup of a healthy oil in place of one egg.

Milk

There are several dairy alternatives to choose from. Many plant-based milks and cheeses are made from nuts, soy or oats, and they often taste great! However, these alternatives may not contain as much calcium and vitamin D as milk, unless they have been fortified. But luckily, there are other sources of foods that provide these nutrients, such as soy products, canned fish and dark leafy greens – just be sure to consume some sources of calcium and vitamin D in your day if you don’t eat dairy. Vitamin D is also best obtained from the sun! If you can’t get out during sunlight hours or live in a place where sun exposure is not always available, invest in a vitamin D supplement – they are inexpensive and generally very easy to take (widely available in chewable or liquid drop forms).

Even if you are not allergic to dairy, it is best to avoid it in large amounts. Dairy from cows exposes us to natural hormones found in these animals (that are much larger than the average human) and can increase our risk of developing various chronic diseases. Dairy has also been linked to inflammation, cystic acne, asthma and increased respiratory problems, constipation and digestive problems, and obesity. There are many plant-based alternatives out there that offer similar nutrients and taste great! Plus, they are much easier on the environment!

Mustard

While it’s easy to simply pass on the mustard on your sandwich or burger, be aware that mustard can find its way into many other foods. Things like condiments, salad dressings, spice blends, pickles and other pickled vegetables, and packaged soups can also contain mustard. If you have a mustard allergy, just be sure to double check the ingredients or make these foods from scratch at home. Also, check out our Guide to Pickling Vegetables if you are interested in learning how to make pickled anything from home!

Here is a simple recipe for a low carb homemade salad dressing that you can make at the start of the week and keep in the fridge for later use:

  • 3 parts olive, avocado or sunflower oil
  • 1 part vinegar
  • 1 part citrus juice (low carb)
  • Herbs and seasonings such as salt, pepper, oregano, garlic, and onion

Peanuts and Tree Nuts 

These allergies have become more common over the last several years, especially in children. If you live in a household with someone who is allergic to peanuts or tree nuts, it is best to avoid keeping these foods in the house as they can trigger or worsen allergic reactions over time.

Unfortunately, a lot of low carb flours, breads, cereals and baked goods can contain nut meals (such as almond meal) as they can emulate much of the same textures and tastes of these foods. That said, there are nut-free alternatives available. Lupin flour, made from lupin beans, is a nut-free and gluten-free low carb alternative to regular flour. It is also high in protein and prebiotic fibre, making it an all-around healthy choice! You could also use or look for products that contain flaxseed meal, ground chia seeds, coconut flour, oat fibre, psyllium husk powder – or a mix of all of these for a well-rounded nutrient profile. Cauliflower is another great option for something like a pizza crust!

Here is a list of nut-free products from our bread and bakery inventory:

These cereals also contain no nuts or traces of nuts:

Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds are another sneaky allergen, as they can find their way into several bakery items, cereals and crackers. Some of these products in the nut-free category are also sesame-free including: Mama Lupe’s Low Carb Tortillas, Betty Light Bread (*may contain traces of sesame), Flatout Flatbreads and Nuco Organic Coconut Wraps.

Some other sesame-free products we carry include:

Low Carb Bread and Bakery

Low Carb Cereal

Low Carb Crackers

Soy

This is a big allergy that can be found in a wide range of products. Aside from the obvious soybeans, tofu and edamame – soy can be found in baked goods, canned soups and meat, cereals, cookies, crackers, energy bars and snacks and protein supplements. Soy protein isolate is also a common food preservative in many frozen foods.

If you are looking for soy-free low carb snack foods, opt for things that are nut or seed-based instead. KZ Clean Eating Crispbreads are a great soy-free option that can be enjoyed with cheese, nut butter, avocado and other spreads and dips!

If you are looking for protein supplements, try whey or egg white protein. Collagen is another common choice for keto dieters, and especially those wanting to improve the look of skin, nails and hair.

We sell these soy-free, low carb and keto-friendly protein bars:

Fish and Shellfish

Fish and shellfish are some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA and EPA. These nutrients are extremely important for healthy brain, heart and immune function. Many people do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids in their diet, and if fish and shellfish are off-limits for you, it can be harder to get these important nutrients from other foods.

If you don’t eat fish and shellfish, your best option for getting DHA and EPA is supplements made from microalgae, which is the ultimate source from which fish and shellfish get these nutrients. Plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts, chia seeds, hempseeds, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, leafy vegetables and soybean oils. However, these primarily contain a different type of omega-3 fatty acids, ALA, which gets converted into DHA and EPA – but not as efficiently. That said, they are still great sources of other important nutrients. Try making a salad with leafy greens, nuts, seeds and drizzle with flaxseed oil and citrus juice!

It is also important to limit your intake of omega-6 fatty acids, especially if you are already not getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Omega-6 fatty acids are a necessary part of the diet, but in excess, they can cause inflammation, raise blood pressure (increasing risk for heart complications) and cause your body to retain too much water. The worst culprits of omega-6 fatty acids are vegetable and seed oils (corn, canola, safflower, sunflower, peanut and sesame seed oils) – especially those used in frying fast foods – as well as things like margarine and shortening. They are also found in poultry, nuts and eggs, although in much smaller quantities. To limit your intake of omega-6 fatty acids, try to avoid restaurant-cooked foods, packaged snacks and baked goods and other junk foods and be sure to eat a balanced diet containing other sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Sulphites

Sulphites are substances that naturally occur in some foods, but they are also used as food additives and preservatives. This is why they are commonly found in packaged and frozen food products (especially anything with dried fruits), deli meats, hot dogs, sausages, certain condiments, dehydrated foods, soy products and alcoholic beverages. For some people, consuming sulphites can cause severe anaphylactic and asthmatic reactions. Others with milder sensitivity to sulphites can experience other types of reactions such as upset stomach, migraines and headaches, hives, drop in blood pressure and trouble swallowing or breathing.

If you have a sulphite sensitivity, always check the ingredients lists before buying foods, avoid packaged foods and ask about any sulphite-containing foods at restaurants.

Wheat and Triticale

Finally, wheat and triticale (hybrid of wheat and rye) close off our list of common allergens in Canada. Note that a wheat allergy is not the same as a gluten allergy or celiac disease, as gluten may not be the main culprit in the case of a wheat allergy. Nonetheless, they can be treated by avoiding similar foods and often involve the same symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, gas and diarrhea. Celiac disease is a more serious medical condition in which the immune system attacks gluten (a protein primarily found in wheat, rye and barley) and causes damage to the lining of the intestines.

If you want to avoid wheat and/or gluten, there are still many other grains that you can enjoy such as quinoa, oats, brown and wild rice, buckwheat, tapioca, millet, amaranth, teff, and arrowroot. That said, if you follow a low carb diet, avoiding things like wheat and triticale becomes that much easier! Just be sure to double check ingredient labels as some low carb products can still contain small amounts of wheat used to emulate the original taste and texture of things like bread and pastries. Also be sure to check the ingredients of sauces, processed meats and frozen foods as they could contain traces or have come in contact with wheat during processing. On our website, you can look for the purple Gluten-Free marker on our products if you have a gluten intolerance!

Stay Connected

We hope that you found this guide useful for managing allergies while on a low carb diet. If you would like to share your thoughts or experiences, head over to our Facebook and Instagram pages. We also love to read and respond to our reviews on Google, so please share any experience you’ve had with us over there!

Also, be sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletters for special updates on the latest products and to find the best low carb sales!

Explore the many health benefits of chocolate today!

Buy Healthy Low Carb Chocolate

Buy the Best Chocolate – And Surprise, It’s Healthy!

Chocolate and cocoa have several surprising health benefits! Buy these low carb and sugar-free chocolate at The Low Carb Grocery – and discover the benefits.

Chocolate lovers might be on to something! In this article, we explore the many health benefits of chocolate and products made from cocoa beans. Chocolate does not have to be off-limits for low carb or keto dieters, as certain forms can still be incorporated into many diets – in moderation – for those looking to improve their health. Keep reading to learn about this powerful and delicious substance and discover our favourite low carb and keto-friendly chocolate products!

Below, we’ve gathered 6 surprising health benefits of chocolate and cocoa. 

  1. Powerful source of antioxidants.

Cocoa beans are one of the best sources of antioxidants in the world! Antioxidants are compounds that we obtain from our diet that help fight inflammation in the body. Inflammation occurs when there is a build-up of free radicals (toxins), which are the natural by-products of chemical reactions that occur through metabolic processes. Things that can cause the build-up of too many free radicals in the body include fast foods, alcohol, tobacco smoke, air and water pollutants, pharmaceutical medications and high stress levels. While we always have some level of free radicals circulating around the body, persistent build-up of these toxic waste particles can cause damage to cells, proteins and DNA. This is why it is extremely important to consume antioxidants that help fight off these particles on a daily basis.

Raw, unprocessed cocoa beans are some of the best free radical-fighting substances on earth. While eating raw cocoa beans may not be very palatable, you can still get most of the same antioxidant benefits from organic dark chocolate (it is important to choose organic when possible to avoid inflammation-causing chemicals found in non-organic farming practices). Always aim for 70% cacao or higher when buying dark chocolate to get a good dose of antioxidants and other beneficial minerals.

For those looking for healthy options, check out our vast inventory of keto-friendly or low carb chocolate products!

Another great way to get the antioxidant power of cocoa beans is to buy raw cocoa powder or cacao nibs. These can be added to smoothies, granola, cereal, yogurt and homemade baked goods. These pure forms provide even more benefits than chocolate and still add great flavour to foods! If the taste is too bitter, you can also add a natural sweetener for a delicious, sugar-free way to enjoy chocolate flavours in just about anything!

Cacao vs. Cocoa

You might have seen these names used interchangeably when describing different chocolate products, but there is some distinction to be made between cacao and cocoa. The main difference is in the processing of these two products. Cacao beans are dried, fermented and heated at a lower temperature, making them richer in antioxidants and less sweet. Meanwhile, cocoa is heated at higher temperatures to bring out more of the natural sweetness, but this process sacrifices some of the naturally occurring nutrients and antioxidants. Both are great options and can be used for different functions. For example, cocoa is better for baking (given its sweeter taste), while cacao can be added to more healthful recipes for a powerful boost of nutrients.

  1. Can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.

Some of the chemical compounds found in dark chocolate have been shown to have a mild relaxing effect on the arteries, thus lowering blood pressure and allowing blood to flow more easily to all parts of the body. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can cause a number of physical complications. Many people with diabetes may experience high blood pressure as there are some common underlying causes for both of these conditions. High blood sugar levels can cause blood vessels to contract, which can lead to high blood pressure or worsen this condition if it already exists. Low sugar or sugar-free dark chocolate can be a great solution for diabetics wanting to lower their blood pressure levels and substitute other sweet snacks! 

  1. Can reduce insulin resistance. 

Insulin resistance is defined as a decreased sensitivity or responsiveness of the body to the hormone, insulin. Insulin is involved in the processing of glucose (sugar) that converts it into useable energy for the body. When our bodies are unable to produce enough or properly use insulin, glucose can remain in the bloodstream and reach dangerous levels that have toxic effects on our health. These include increased risk for heart, kidney and liver diseases, higher risk of infection that particularly affect the limbs, poor vision and brain deterioration. Sustained insulin resistance can also lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, which can have life-threatening complications.

Polyphenols, one of the antioxidants found in dark chocolate, have especially beneficial effects on lowering insulin resistance. This occurs through different mechanisms, one of which involves promoting the uptake of glucose into the tissues and out of the blood stream, thus lowering blood sugar levels. Polyphenols can also improve insulin sensitivity by promoting the secretion of insulin from the pancreas and the activation of insulin receptors in insulin-sensitive tissues.

If you are interested, some other foods that contain high levels of polyphenols include:

  • Berries
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Onions and shallots
  • Olives and virgin olive oil
  • Sesame seed oil
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans and legumes
  • Coffee, green tea and red wine
  • Spices and seasonings such as cloves, oregano, rosemary, sage, peppermint, ginger, cumin and cinnamon
  1. Can protect against heart disease. 

One of the many ways that dark chocolate lowers several risk factors related to heart disease is by lowering levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. This again relates to dark chocolate’s antioxidant properties, as LDL cholesterol becomes especially dangerous when it reacts with free radicals in the body. By making both LDL particles less reactive and by fighting against free radicals, dark chocolate can lower bad cholesterol levels in the body and protect against heart diseases related to high cholesterol.

As mentioned previously, dark chocolate can also aid in lowering blood pressure and reducing insulin resistance. Both of these conditions, if left unmanaged, can increase the risk for heart complications. Therefore, by lowering risks associated with high blood pressure and insulin resistance/type 2 diabetes, one can also reduce their risk of heart disease.

  1. Can protect your skin from sun damage.

Flavanol compounds found in dark chocolate have also been shown to protect the skin from damaging UV rays by raising the threshold at which skin begins to burn or show redness. Flavanols also increase blood flow to the skin and can increase skin hydration, which can improve the appearance and health of skin cells. All of these effects can slow premature aging, which is often most apparent in the texture of our skin. Once again, the higher the concentration of cocoa in the chocolate (70%+), the richer it is in these anti-aging nutrients. Be sure to also avoid chocolate with high amounts of sugar in it, as sugar is one of the top contributors to premature aging. This is because excess sugar in the body can bond with proteins and trigger processes that damage collagen (the protein that improves skin elasticity). The Low Carb Grocery carries a number of sugar-free dark chocolate.

  1. Can improve brain function.

As we now know, cocoa can improve blood flow to several areas of the body – including the brain. This can help improve memory and cognitive function, especially in elderly individuals and those with mental impairments. In addition, dark chocolate contains stimulating substances including caffeine and theobromine. These can help improve brain function and mental focus in the short term. Theobromine, in particular, may prove to be especially helpful in this area since it does not cause feelings of jitteriness and is non-addictive (unlike caffeine). Try snacking on some dark chocolate while you work and find yourself needing a midday boost without having to reach for another cup of java.

Dark chocolate and cacao also contain an amino acid called tryptophan, which gets converted into serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a hormone involved in stabilizing our mood and is known for producing feelings of happiness! Thus, eating chocolate may help alleviate symptoms of mood disorders and improve mental health. Elevated feelings can also help with stress reduction, which is a big contributor to mental health.

Stay Connected

We hope that you learned some interesting facts about dark chocolate and cocoa from this article! If you’d like, please share your thoughts with us by leaving your review on Google. You can also join our low carb online community on Facebook and Instagram – join over 65,000 people with similar interests! And for low carb news, updates and weekly sales, please feel free to subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter. See you there!

Healthy Bars

Protein, Low Carb & Snack/Meal Replacement Bars

Where to Buy the Best Low Carb Bars

Discover delicious low carb protein and snack bars to help you get started on a low carb or keto diet.

It’s always a good idea to keep a stash of protein bars in your pantry for snacks, quick breakfasts, or pre- and post-workout fuel. They are one of the most convenient forms of food, but the problem is that many protein bars on the market are filled with added sugars and other harmful ingredients – despite health claims on the packaging.

In this article, we cover the best snack and protein bars for low carb and keto dieters. We put together a list of the healthiest, highest protein and tastiest bars that are low in sugar and net carbohydrates. We have also included some simple recipes for homemade low carb and keto-friendly bars!

Love Good Fats Bars

Love Good Fats has become a keto-household name across North America! Their products are always made with “good” fats, that is, healthy fats from plant sources. These ensure that their bars not only provide great taste and meet the needs of low carb high fat dieters, but are also healthy and nutritious. When your diet consists mainly of fats, it is important to choose the right kinds. Bacon, margarine and hydrogenated vegetable oils just can’t compete with the raw, plant-powered nutrition of foods like coconuts, avocados, nuts and seeds. Healthy fats provide the following health benefits:

  • Increase energy
  • Boost metabolism
  • Reduce inflammation that causes chronic diseases
  • Improve brain function
  • Improve mood balance
  • Improve the appearance of skin and prevent signs of premature aging
  • Improve cholesterol levels
  • Improve eyesight and eye health

Love Good Fats Bars are made with a proprietary fats blend of nut and seed butters, organic palm stearin and coconut oil. Some may claim that these are too high in saturated fats, which are said to increase bad cholesterol levels. However, when it comes to saturated fats, the source matters. Saturated fats from plant sources are actually not bad for you; the real culprits of cholesterol-raising saturated fats are butter, cheese and red meats. Coconut oil is also especially good for keto dieters because its medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are easily and rapidly converted into ketones, helping you get into ketosis faster.

Love Good Fats Bars also provide a good serving of protein and fibre to help keep you satiated. Available in both regular (containing whey protein) and plant-based versions (containing whole grain brown rice protein) and a wide variety of exciting flavours from Rich Chocolatey Almond to Lemon Mousse and Peanut Butter and Jam. If you can’t decide, try our Chocolate Lovers Variety Pack or the What’s New Variety Pack!

Good To Go Bars

Good To Go snack bars are a revolution in the bar category! Described as a cross between a soft-baked cake, muffin and a snack bar, they are truly a delicious – but healthy – treat. With 13g or more of plant-based fats and 7-8g of dietary fibre from organic inulin, they are a smart and convenient choice for low carb dieters. Plus, each bar contains 5g of protein and just 2-4g of net carbs. They are also gluten-free, non-GMO, Kosher, peanut-free, and Keto Certified by the Paleo foundation. Try some of our best-selling flavours such as Cinnamon Pecan, Vanilla Almond and Raspberry Lemon! Throw one in your bag and you’re “good to go”!

No Sugar Keto Bars

The No Sugar Company kept keto dieters in mind when they made No Sugar Keto Bars. Each bar is made with a recipe that provides 75% of its calories from healthy fats, 20% from plant-based protein and 5% from carbohydrates, so you can eat these bars and not worry about balancing out your macros later on. These bars are packed with healthy ingredients like almond butter, coconut oil, fava bean protein, sprouted brown rice protein, and fair-trade dark chocolate. As the name implies, there is also no sugar added; these bars are sweetened instead with erythritol and stevia extract. Try fun and tasty flavours like Chocolate Mint, Birthday Cake and Fudge Brownie!

For all those keto-tarians or keto dieters trying to incorporate more plant-based foods, No Sugar Company also offers No Sugar Vegan Pure Keto Bars. With the same ratio of fats, protein and carbs these vegan bars offer the same nutrients and no sugar. Available in Chocolate Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavours.

Dang Bars

Dang bars have one of the shortest ingredients lists out of all of our keto bars, making them a favourite for anyone who doesn’t like reading long ingredient lists! These bars were designed for the keto diet and offer a plant-based, whole foods approach to snacking. Key ingredients include almonds, chicory root fibre, pea protein, coconut and chia seeds to provide a 15-16g of healthy fats, 6g of fibre, 9-10g of protein and just 4-5g of net carbs.

Founded by two Thai American brothers who were inspired by their mother’s original recipes, these bars are available in unique flavours with the intent of sharing their culture for a healthier, more flavourful world! Choose from Almond Cookie, Lemon Matcha, Chocolate Sea Salt, and Cardamom Chai flavours.

Keto Bars

Simplicity is the key behind the ingredients (and the name!) of these bars. Keto Bars are “honest by design” – they contain just a few simple, keto-friendly ingredients to provide a balance of nutrition, flavour and convenience. The main ingredients are chocolate, almonds and coconut to give you 20g of healthy fats in each bar, as well as 6g of protein, 6-7g of fibre and just 3g net carbs! They contain no added sugars and are instead sweetened with all-natural non-GMO erythritol and stevia. Check out these decadent flavours: Dark Chocolate Coconut Almond, Chocolate Peanut Butter and Mint Chocolate! They make for a great midday pick-me-up snack.

Kiss My Keto White Chocolate Protein Bars

White chocolate is usually off-limits in a low carb diet since it is notoriously sweet, but Kiss My Keto Protein Bars were designed with low carbers, keto dieters and diabetics in mind! These gluten-free sweet treats won’t throw off your macros as they contain 19-20g of fat, 10g of protein, 13g of fibre and just 3g net carbs per bar! They are made with all-natural ingredients including medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are especially great for keto dieters. They also contain protein from whole eggs, almonds, cashews and whey protein. Try their delicious flavours such as White Chocolate Birthday Cake, White Chocolate Maple Doughnut and White Chocolate Salted Caramel. Yum!

YoFiit Keto Bars with Fermented Plant-Based Protein

Last but not least, YoFiit Keto Bars offer a truly unique snack made with fermented organic pea protein. Fermented foods are full of prebiotic fibre and are great for gut health. A healthy gut is the key to optimal digestion and absorption of nutrients, clear skin, a strong immune system, better moods and healthy sleep! Whenever possible, it is great to include fermented foods in your diet. Some other low carb fermented foods you can try are kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso and raw apple cider vinegar.

YoFiit Keto Bars are a great snack for low carb and keto dieters because they contain 12-13g of healthy plant-based fats, 10g of protein, 8g of fibre and just 2g net carbs per bar. They are flavoured with all-natural ingredients such as freeze fried strawberries, organic vanilla extract and organic cocoa. Choose from two delicious flavours: Strawberry Vanilla and Almond Chocolate!

These are just some of our favourite keto snack and protein bars. Browse our full catalog of keto bars today!

How to Make Low Carb Protein Bars from Scratch!

Protein bars are a simple and easy snack to make at home with ingredients that suit your specific dietary needs and preferences. An entire batch should last you and your family several days – if they don’t get eaten all at once! This is a great way to include your family in healthy eating habits and have some fun in the kitchen.

To get started, you’ll need a few things:

  • Fats Blend

You’ll want to choose some healthy fats as the base of your low carb or keto protein bars. Some good choices include:

 

  • Protein

You can’t have a protein bar without some protein! Although protein should be consumed in moderation on a ketogenic diet, it is still good to include it, especially in snacks, as it can help keep you full and energized throughout the day and before or after exercising.

Here are some good sources of protein that you can add to your protein bars:

 

  • Fibre

It’s always a good idea to add some fibre to your protein bars as well to make them more filling and easier on the digestive system. Some great options include ground flaxseed, coconut flour, chia seeds, oat fibre or psyllium husk. Adding raw, whole nuts and seeds will also provide some fibre and more healthy fats and protein!

  • Flavours and Sweetness

Your homemade bars should already taste pretty good, thanks to all the delicious plant-based fats we’ve included so far, but if you want to add a little extra flavour or sweetness, here are some ideas:

For some added zero-carb sweetness, choose a natural sweetener. Stevia, erythritol, xylitol and monk fruit sweeteners are all great choices. Swerve Icing Sugar (made from erythritol) has a great texture for baking and will mix well with the other ingredients in the bars. See our article “Know Your Sugar Substitutes” find out which one is right for you!

To make the bars, simply combine all of the ingredients mentioned in a bowl or food processor and spread the mixture onto a tray to set in the fridge or bake in the oven (depending on the recipe).

Here are some recipes that can help you with the measurements and give you some flavour inspiration:

Stay Connected

We hope that you found the perfect low carb or keto-friendly protein bar and we hope you enjoyed learning different ways to make your own! If you’d like to join others who also love low carb and keto foods, be sure to check out our low carb communities on Facebook and Instagram. We also love to hear your feedback, so if you’d like – please leave us your Google Review! Also, for the latest updates, specials and sales – consider subscribing to our email newsletter!

Explore the health benefits of the Keto diet

The Keto Diet – Getting Started

Getting Started with The Keto Diet – Is the Keto Diet Right for You?

Learn about the keto diet, its health benefits, and how to get started!

The ketogenic, or keto, diet has received a lot of attention for being an effective weight loss diet that still allows people to enjoy indulgent, high-fat meals. While it has shown to be successful for many people, this diet is not suited for everyone and must be done correctly and safely in order to achieve weight loss results. In this article, we cover the basics of a keto diet, the potential benefits and how you can get started if you determine that it is right for you. Speak to a health care advisor first, especially if you are managing diabetes or another medical condition, to make sure you have all of the knowledge and tools you need to get started.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is not medical advice. A low carb diet may not be suitable for you. Consult your health care provider before making any changes to your lifestyle or use at your own risk.  

What is the Keto Diet?

The keto diet aims to put the body into a metabolic state known as ketosis. During ketosis, the body switches into a fat-burning state as reduced levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood force the liver to start generating an alternate fuel source known as ketones. The body actually produces a small amount of ketones on a high carb diet as well, but this mainly occurs overnight and while fasting, since there is not enough glucose to provide energy during those times.

The way to promote sustained ketosis, other than fasting and sleeping, is to consume high amounts of fat, low to very low amounts of carbohydrates and moderate amounts of protein. We have been told for so long that consuming fat will only make us fatter, but this is not the case if the body is in a state of ketosis. That said, eating keto-friendly foods when you are not in ketosis can add extra calories to your diet and can cause you to gain weight. To achieve ketosis, it is recommended to eat fewer than 50g of carbohydrates per day, or less than 10% of your daily calories.

Benefits of The Keto Diet

  1. Less hunger and steady supply of energy.

One of the main things the keto diet is praised for is its ability to help with weight loss without hunger! Keto dieters are able to enjoy delicious foods that leave them feeling satiated after a meal while their bodies do all the fat-burning work. Since fat is burned more slowly by the body than carbohydrates, many people report better appetite management and sustained energy levels. Lower levels of ghrelin, the “hunger hormone”, have been reported in keto dieters, which can make it easier to avoid overeating and manage cravings.

  1. Management of diabetes and prediabetes.

Diabetes and prediabetes lower insulin sensitivity. Insulin is a hormone involved in converting glucose into energy. It also instructs our bodies to store fat. So, with reduced sensitivity to insulin, the body doesn’t recognize when blood glucose levels get too high, which can cause increased hunger, higher blood pressure and weight gain. Excess glucose can remain in the bloodstream and cause severe damage to organs and tissues inside the body. As such, it is often recommended for those with diabetes and prediabetes to lower their intake of carbohydrates (glucose) to keep blood sugar at safer levels. A ketogenic diet makes sense in these cases since it is very low in carbs, thus reducing insulin levels and promoting weight loss.

  1. Increased mental function. 

One of the main arguments against the keto diet is the belief that the brain needs carbs, or glucose, in order to function. While it is true that the brain requires very large amounts of energy, it doesn’t necessarily have to be from glucose. In fact, many people who switch to a ketogenic diet notice improved focus, better sleep and other mental benefits. One simple suggestion, if you’re experiencing a foggy head or low energy, is to include MCT oil into your diet. MCT oil can act like a carb by carrying nutrients from your keto diet to your brain! We wrote an entire article about the keto diet and its relationship to our minds called, Mental Benefits To A Low Carb Diet. In addition, many neurological disorders such as epilepsy and seizures can be treated with a ketogenic diet. Neuron function seems to be stabilized with the keto diet, perhaps because glucose is burned so quickly and requires quick replenishment, while ketones are a more efficient fuel source, providing more energy per unit of oxygen used.

  1. Focus on real, whole foods.

Since the keto diet eliminates most carbs such as bread, pastries, candies and sodas, it automatically gets rid of a lot of highly processed and refined foods from the diet. These foods are poor sources of nutrition and can contain harmful chemicals, preservatives and refined starches and oils – all of which are not so great on the body. The best way to achieve ketosis is by eating meat, seafood, full fat dairy products, fresh vegetables, nuts, seeds, and healthy oils and fats. This type of diet can reduce oxidative stress, or inflammation, in the body which is responsible for a number of chronic diseases. Basically, oxidative stress is the buildup of toxic waste particles in the body which can damage our cells. By eating a diet rich in antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, as well as omega-3 fatty acids from things like fish and eggs, we can reduce oxidative stress and promote optimal functioning of our bodies.

Who Should Not do a Keto Diet?

While the benefits we’ve mentioned might sound great to a large number of people, there are some individuals who should avoid a keto diet or speak to a physician before making any dietary changes. These include:

  • Those taking medication/insulin for diabetes, as your doses may need to be adjusted.
  • Those taking medications for high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Breastfeeding or pregnant women
  • Children and teens

How to Get Started

If you have decided that a keto diet is right for you, or are curious about how to get started, here are the initial steps you should take and what to expect.

  1. Invest in a journal to log your meals, download a nutrient tracking app, and get a kitchen scale to measure your food.

Yes – this might sound a little obsessive. But, if you are going to commit to a keto diet, it needs to be done right and it will require some accuracy. These tools can help make it easier to track your macronutrients, plan ahead and stay organized.

  1. Measure a typical day of eating for yourself (pre-keto).

This will give you an idea of your typical carb, protein and fat intake and what needs to change. Be prepared – the results might surprise you!

  1. Figure out if you want to cut carbs all at once or gradually.

Cutting carbs all at once is an efficient strategy for transitioning into ketosis, however, it will come with some unpleasant side effects including brain fog, cravings, headaches, trouble sleeping, and possibly nausea or constipation. Gradual elimination will make these side effects less severe, but they will persist for longer.

  1. Calculate how many calories from carbs, protein and fat you will need to consume.

A typical keto diet consists of about 5-10% of calories from carbs, 20-25% from protein and 70% or more from fats. Based on the number of calories you aim to consume in a day, calculate how many calories of each macronutrient you will need. While you don’t need to count your calories each day, this planning tool can help give you an idea of what and how much you will be eating on a keto diet.

  1. Learn how to count net carbs.

Certain carbs, like fibre and sugar alcohols are listed as carbohydrates on nutrition facts. However, these won’t release glucose into the blood and are therefore safe to consume on a keto diet. You want to avoid sugars and starches, which do constitute non-keto carbs. You can calculate the net carbs (i.e. the real number of carbs you should be concerned with) by simply subtracting fibre and sugar alcohols from the total number of carbohydrates listed on food labels. To get the full scoop on Canadian food labels, see our article, “How To Understand Canadian Nutrition Labels

  1. Make a grocery list and plan out some meals! 

Meal planning is a great dieting technique that can help you stay on track and avoid falling out of ketosis when hunger strikes and you have nothing prepared. Browse the internet for some keto-friendly recipes (there are tons) and make a grocery list. While you’re at it, be sure to get rid of anything in your pantry that isn’t compliant with your new diet (but be mindful of other family members in the house).

Here are some other things to keep in mind when you start a keto diet:

  • Stay hydrated! Ketosis can cause more frequent urination, which means our body is losing more water and electrolytes. This can be dangerous if you lose too much, so be sure to drink 2-4L of water a day and don’t shy away from adding extra salt to your meals. Aloe vera, magnesium powder, lemons, leafy greens, nut and seeds are also great sources of electrolytes. Remember, Gatorade is not keto-friendly.
  • Exercise weekly. Physical activity can help stimulate ketosis and make your diet more efficient and effective. Aim for around 150 minutes a week (about 20 minutes a day), even if you simply go for a brisk walk or do a quick at-home bodyweight workout.
  • Choose healthy cooking oils. This is a big one for keto dieters, since you’ll likely be going through a lot of oil. Ditch low quality vegetable oils (corn oil, hydrogenated palm kernel, soybean and canola oil) and opt for higher quality sources of fats such as coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, grass-fed butter or ghee. For salads and homemade dressings, you can also use sunflower oil, safflower oil or flaxseed oil (these are not recommended for cooking as they are not as stable at high temperatures).
  • Try intermittent fasting. Fasting can accelerate fat-burning. Once a week, try to follow a 16:8 (fast for 16 hours, eat during an 8-hour window) or 18:6 intermittent fast. Fasting has incredible benefits not just for weight loss but also overall health as it allows the body time to repair its cells without having to expend energy digesting food.

Keto-Friendly Products

There are thousands of keto-friendly products out there, but we want to share our favourite products that will make the keto diet way more enjoyable and easier!

Low Carb Bread and Wraps

A lot of first-time keto dieters struggle to replace their favourite breakfast and lunch meals such as toast and sandwiches. That’s why there are so many low carb breads and wrap options available. Some of our best rated brands of low carb bread are:

  • Unbun made with almonds, coconut, flaxseeds, psyllium husk, eggs, and apple cider vinegar. These healthful ingredients make for a low carb, gluten-free bread that tastes and toasts just like regular bread!
  • Baker’s Deluxe Dream Breads, which are high in both fibre and protein to keep you satiated for longer! Also made with healthful ingredients such as golden flaxseeds, oat fibre, almond meal and olive oil (note: these are not gluten-free).
  • Nuco Organic Coconut Wraps are made entirely from coconut meat, which is great for people with food allergies or sensitivities. They come in 4 unique flavours and are highly versatile; use them to make any kind of lunch wrap or even breakfast/dessert crepes!

Low Carb Pasta, Noodles and Rice

Other foods that are hard to give up on a carb-restricted diet are pasta, noodles and rice. Miracle Noodles truly are a miracle, not only because they taste like regular pasta, but also because they reduce the glycemic index of your meal and help you feel full faster. Made from konjac root fibre and water, they are very low in calories and highly versatile.

Choose from a variety of styles such as ziti, angel hair, fettuccine, capellini and rice! We also carry lightly flavoured versions and ready-to-eat meals to make cooking low carb simple and easy.

Keto Bars

Bars are a great snack option to keep in your bag, the car or your desk at work. We carry a wide selection of keto-friendly snack and protein bars which can help fuel you through your day. Some of our favourites are Love Good Fats Bars and Good To Go Bars – both high in healthy plant-based fats and available in delicious, low sugar flavours. We broke down many keto bars in our article, “Know Your Health Bars (Protein vs. Fat vs. Energy).”

Keto Granola

A great snack or light breakfast. Many of our keto granolas are made from blends of nuts and seeds and sweetened with natural sweeteners. Try them with plant milk, over yogurt or by the handful. Nolaa Granolaa Keto Power Blend is the perfect-sized pouch to take with you anywhere hunger might strike. KZ Clean Eating also offers a keto-friendly take on breakfast cereal in crave-worthy flavours like chocolate & strawberry. Also check out KZ Clean Eating keto-friendly crispbreads – a perfect low carb, high fibre cracker or toast replacement.

Low Carb Chocolate

Dark chocolate is the perfect treat for keto sugar cravings, since it is naturally high in fat and provides a number of other health benefits! Check out some of our favourite keto-friendly chocolates from Ross Chocolates and Lily’s.

Natural Sweeteners

Last but not least, natural sweeteners are a must-have for keto dieters. Since you’ll want to ditch sugar, and artificial sweeteners can be incredibly harmful to our bodies, natural sweeteners are your best guilt-free option. Plus, you’d be surprised to find out how many natural substances exist that are zero glycemic, zero calories and still taste surprisingly sweet! Stevia, erythritol, xylitol and monk fruit sweeteners are all great options. Add them to your coffee, tea, smoothies, yogurt, cereals, homemade baked goods – really anything that calls for a little sweetness! Check out some of our top-rated sweeteners from SugarLike, Krisda, Lakanto and Swerve.

Stay Connected 

We hope that this article helped you increase your knowledge about the ketogenic diet and helped you prepare to take on the journey!

If you have any questions about the keto diet, ask us on Facebook or Instagram! We also love to read our reviews on Google Review, so please share your experiences with us there. We also offer a Weekly Newsletter, which will keep you up to date on all the latest keto news, trends and product sales!

Removing harmful processed sugar from your dieting habits.

Cutting out Processed Sugar

The Top 5 Healthiest Ways to Remove Sugar from Your Diet

Learn how to effectively cut sugar from your diet based on science, plus find the best selection of sugar-free products to help you get there.

Chocolate, soda, muffins, cupcakes, doughnuts, cookies – why do these things taste so good? Because our brains love sugar and constantly crave more of it. So, it’s no wonder we get those midday energy crashes after we’ve eaten sugar-y cereal, pancakes and granola bars for breakfast and our sandwich on white bread for lunch. Plus, we may have drank a few too many cups of coffee with milk and sugar along the way.

The problem is, sugar is destructive to our bodies and it’s not the most efficient source of energy we can get from food. And, this is just 1 reason why so many people try to cut sugar from their diets – but often with limited success. We all wish we had more willpower to quit sugar, but the cravings always strike back! This is because sugar is a physical addiction that is difficult to break. What’s more, is the food industry thrives on getting us hooked on sugar in order to guarantee sales of their products.

This is why quitting sugar is not all about willpower – it’s actually about biochemistry. Don’t worry if you’ve struggled to cut sugar from your diet, you may have been going about it the wrong way. Understanding how our bodies react to sugar is the first step to quitting successfully, which is what we dive into with this article.

The Low Carb Grocery carries the best selection of sugar-free products in Canada! And, that can help you cut down on sugar-y foods, without having to sacrifice your favourite snacks.

 

Disclaimer: The information in this article is not medical advice. A low carb diet may not be suitable for you. Consult your health care provider before making any changes to your lifestyle or use at your own risk. 

 

Sugar and the Brain

The way we learn anything in this world is based on our brain’s reward systems. If a positive outcome is the result of a certain behaviour, our brains learn to do more of that behaviour. On the other hand, if the outcome is a negative response, then our brains avoid this behaviour in the future. Think back to when you were a kid – maybe your parents rewarded you with ice cream if you got a good grade, cleaned your room or did something nice. Since childhood, many of us have come to associate sweet things with doing something good. This psychological response may be the reason many of us look to sugar when we are feeling stressed, sad or bored.

When we eat sugar, our brain’s reward system is also activated on a chemical level. Sugar causes the release of dopamine in the reward centre of the brain. Dopamine plays a big role in motor control, motivation and reinforcement – which can literally have us impulsively reaching for another candy bar. Dopamine produces feelings of pleasure and satisfaction that are hard to ignore, and these feelings provide us with the motivation to keep repeating the behaviours that produced the dopamine response.

Dopamine is responsible for addictions – and pretty much anything can become addictive if it activates our brain’s reward centres. But special attention should be paid to substances which naturally produce dopamine in our brains, such as sugar and other drugs. When someone takes highly addictive drugs, a lot of dopamine is released in the brain due to the effects of the drugs. When too much dopamine is released, the brain experiences a rush of euphoric sensations, followed by an unpleasant crash that can last for hours or days. This also raises the brain’s threshold for dopamine, and consequently, it requires more of the substance next time in order to achieve the same level of pleasure and satisfaction. It even causes the production of dopamine in anticipation of these feelings of pleasure. This can cause our attention to be drawn to sweets even when we are not hungry, resulting in cravings. Daily habits also play a big role in the activation of the dopamine system; if we normally have a chocolate bar or soda in the afternoon, our brain will get used to this timed-release of dopamine and crave these foods at the same time every day.

Sugar and the Body

On a cellular level, excess sugar in the blood causes our veins and arteries to become inflamed, grow thicker and stiff. This puts stress on your heart and causes serious damage over time, leading to heart failure, heart attacks and strokes. Unsurprisingly, heart disease is the number one leading cause of death in America – and we know the standard American diet is loaded with sugar.

Consuming excess sugar can also lead us very quickly down the path to obesity. When we eat sugar, insulin is produced which instructs our body to convert food energy (glucose) into fat and also prevents stored fat from being broken down. With reduced insulin sensitivity, blood sugar and insulin levels can go up significantly – meaning more fat storage in the body. In addition, sugar is not satiating, so it can easily cause us to overeat and gain weight. Obesity poses a wide range of health complications from joint pain to asthma, dementia, infertility, cancer and, again, heart disease. But don’t worry, we’re getting to some awesome alternatives soon!

Here are some other physical consequences of eating too much sugar:

  • Tooth decay
  • Decreased immunity
  • Depression
  • Acne
  • Allergies
  • Digestive problems
  • Improper metabolic function
  • Impaired memory and learning (especially in childhood)
  • Higher cholesterol
  • Faster aging
  • Retina decay and cataracts
  • Bone decay
  • Oestrogen production in men (over-development of breast tissue)
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Kidney disease

Sugar and the Food Industry

Sugar is good for food producers for two reasons: it’s very inexpensive and, as we mentioned, it’s highly addictive. Adding it to foods is a cost-effective way to achieve great taste and more sales. That’s why you can find it in just about anything – bread, sauces and condiments, soups, processed meats, cheeses, yogurt, cereals, snacks and of course, desserts.

While we aren’t overtly encouraged to eat a lot of sugar, we are still fed advertisements for products containing sugar on a daily basis. These products also come with friendly price tags, that are especially entrapping to those in less accessible or more vulnerable situations (i.e. low income, rural or remote locations).

Even for consumers who are actively trying to cut down on sugar, there are many ways the food industry “hides” sugar. Sugar can go by many names, which can be hard to identify on food labels. Some of these include:

  • Glucose
  • Fructose
  • Sucrose
  • Dextrose
  • Dextran or malt powder
  • Sucralose
  • Barley malt
  • Malt syrup
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Invert sugar
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maltose
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Oat syrup
  • Rice bran syrup
  • Rice syrup
  • Carob syrup
  • Golden syrup

A lot of consumers have become aware of how to properly read food labels; they know that the ingredients are listed in descending order of the amounts used in the product, the first items on the list being the main ingredients. See our article “How To Understand Canadian Nutrition Labels” to get our full scoop on this information!

However, food manufacturers have also become aware of this increased consumer knowledge and subsequently, have begun using new tactics to hide sugar in their products. One of these tactics is using many different types of sugar in varying amounts to camouflage it amongst the other ingredients. When consumers see these other forms of sugar listed further down the ingredients list, they may assume the product is low sugar. But, cumulatively, there could still be a lot of sugar in these products. Protein bars are one of the foods to be especially careful with when reading the ingredients list.

Food manufacturers may also make other health claims about their products that distract consumers from the sugar content. The most common examples of these include “natural”, “organic”, “low-fat”, or diet/light versions of original products. Try to ignore these sneaky marketing claims and review the nutrition facts and ingredients list before making a blind purchase. In addition, look for the use of “healthy” or unrefined sugars. These might include agave nectar, honey, raw/organic cane sugar, birch syrup, coconut sugar, beet syrup and maple syrup. While these might be natural sources of sugar, they are still high-glycemic and constitute as added sugars. If you are trying to cut sugar from your diet, your best bet is to buy whole foods and minimally processed products, and always read food labels.

How to Cut Sugar Effectively

A sugar detox has many health benefits, although it may be difficult to withstand the side effects of removing sugar from the diet at first. Since frequent sugar consumption can constitute an addiction, expect there to be withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can be different for each person, depending on how much sugar the body was used to consuming. Some of the physical and mental side effects of cutting sugar include:

  • Light-headedness, dizziness or headaches
  • Nausea
  • Tingling sensations
  • Fatigue
  • Low mood/depression
  • Anxiety (nervousness, restlessness, irritability, feeling on edge)
  • Changes in sleep patterns (finding it harder to fall or stay asleep)
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing on tasks
  • Sugar and carbohydrate cravings (including bread, pasta, chips, etc.)

While it may feel terrible to experience some of these symptoms, they should be short-lived. According to trial studies, most people can break a sugar addiction within 10 days. Once you cut, sugar, you will notice that you no longer crave or desire sweet things, since the brain is not dependent upon it anymore. Below are some tips to help prevent or limit the side effects of a sugar detox to get you on your way to success:

  1. Quit Sugar Gradually 

Although eliminating sugar from the diet may cause unpleasant symptoms to persist for longer, they should be less intense. If you prefer, you can quit cold turkey, but be prepared for more severe side effects. The good thing about quitting sugar all at once is that your body will become accustomed to living without it much faster and your diet or weight loss progress can begin immediately.

Be sure to have a plan if you choose to quit sugar gradually, and don’t use this gradual elimination technique as an excuse to continue consuming sugar for a prolonged period of time. We suggest figuring out how many grams of sugar you normally consume in a day (there are several apps and online tools to help calculate how much sugar is in the foods you eat) and gradually decreasing that by a certain amount (ex. 10-20g/day each week). You can also choose to eliminate certain foods from your diet one or two at a time (ex. no candy one week, no ice cream the next, no chips the week after, etc.). Remember that things like white bread, pasta, rice and other high-glycemic carbohydrates can also contribute to sugar addictions, so eliminate these foods as well.

  1. Keep Yourself Full 

To prevent snacking on sugar-y foods, try eating foods that will keep you more full after mealtimes. These include foods high in fibre and protein. Fibre and protein are digested more slowly by the body, so they keep us full longer. In addition, fibre can help stabilize blood sugar levels so we don’t experience energy crashes that can only be relieved by consuming more sugar. Stabilizing your blood sugar levels can also prevent the physical side effects of a sugar detox, including headaches and nausea. Try adding these following foods to your meals:

  • Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables
  • Leafy greens
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Mushrooms
  • Legumes (beans, hummus, lentils, etc.)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Tofu

Including fibre and protein at breakfast is especially important, as the first meal of the day dictates a lot of how we feel and what we crave over the next several hours. Having a high fibre, high protein breakfast can help fight off sugar cravings, keep you satiated and elevate your mood and energy levels. Here are some healthy breakfast ideas:

  • Omelette with mushrooms, spinach, bell peppers and feta cheese
  • Green smoothie with almond milk, frozen cauliflower or zucchini, spinach, avocado, nut butter (or powdered protein) and a small handful of berries
  • Low carb bread topped with avocado, cottage cheese or nut butter
  • Oatmeal topped with sliced pears, nuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds and/or flax seeds
  • Low carb granola topped with berries, cherries or dried apricots
  1. Drink More Water

Often, we confuse feelings of hunger or sweet cravings for simply being dehydrated. When sugar cravings strike, try to drink some water, wait 10-20 minutes, and see if you still feel hungry. You can also add things like cucumbers, berries and citrus juice to your water for a light and satisfying flavour.

Staying hydrated also helps us feel better in general and can combat some of those unpleasant side effects such as headaches and nausea. It is also important to increase your water intake when you include more fibre in your diet to prevent constipation or digestive problems.

  1. Manage Stress

Stress and emotions can impact our food cravings, and many studies have shown that sweet foods can have a calming effect on stress hormones. Before you make any major diet or lifestyle changes, it is extremely important to make sure your mental health and stress levels are managed properly. However, sometimes our diet can also have a reverse positive effect on our moods; so, improving your lifestyle could also help alleviate some of the emotional stress we endure when we do not take care of ourselves properly. Either way, stress and lifestyle go hand-in-hand.

Some ways to combat stress include talking to a friend, family member or trusted support person, doing something you enjoy every day or taking a walk in nature. Exercise, especially, has proven to be beneficial for relieving stress because of the mood-lifting hormones that are released when we sweat and move our bodies. If you constantly feel stressed, exercising may be the last thing on your mind, but try to get yourself to do some kind of physical activity at least a few times a week – whether it be a light walk, yoga, stretching or hitting the gym.

  1. Swap Out Your Old Products

Finally, it can help to find healthy replacements for foods you once loved so you don’t feel like your options are limited when you cut out sugar. Feeling deprived can lead to more intense cravings and can even cause complete regression.

Below, we put together a list of our favourite sugar-free products to buy, which can make the transition to a sugar-free diet easier:

Stay Connected

We hope that this article helps you in achieving your goals to cut or reduce sugar in your diet. If you would like to share your thoughts or experiences, don’t forget to head over to our Facebook and Instagram pages. We’d also love if you could share your thoughts through a Google Review. Please also consider subscribing to our Weekly Newsletters for updates on the latest products and getting first access to weekly sales!

What impact salt has on the keto diet

Ketogenic Dieting & Salt

The Importance of Salt on a Keto Diet

Learn how to prevent the keto flu and why getting enough electrolytes when following a ketogenic diet is extremely important.

We have been told over and over that eating too much salt is bad for our health. This is generally the case for most people – unless you follow a ketogenic diet. Sodium is an essential nutrient, especially when the body undergoes the changes involved with ketosis. In this article, we explain why you should manage your sodium and electrolyte intake if you follow a ketogenic diet or low carb diet, plus tips and recipes that can help.

The Role of Sodium and Electrolytes in the Body

The six essential electrolytes we need in our diet are:

  • Sodium
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Chloride
  • Phosphate
  • Magnesium 

Electrolytes are chemicals that facilitate nerve and muscle function, regulate blood pressure, balance the amount of water in the body, stabilize the pH (base/acid) level of the body, and help rebuild damaged tissues. Sodium and potassium, in particular, are two electrolytes that help our bodies stay hydrated. It goes without saying that hydration is essential to proper functioning of the brain and our other vital organs. Sodium also plays important roles in nerve cell communication and the functioning of muscle tissues.

A certain level of water is required inside and outside our cells in order for them to function optimally. But how do our cells know how much water to hold onto and when to expel or take in more water? Chemical signaling is the answer, and this is where sodium and other electrolytes come into play. Basically, when there is a high concentration of these molecules on one side of the cell membrane, a process will occur that allows them to pass through the cell membrane until concentration levels are rebalanced. This amazing intuitive process is known as osmosis, and it is one of the ways our body is able to maintain a stable inner state for optimal functioning. It also allows for proper absorption of nutrients and removal of waste materials from various organs.

The Effects of Electrolyte Imbalances

We obtain electrolytes from the foods, fluids and supplements we consume. When we consume too little or too much of them, we can experience side effects. Electrolyte imbalances may occur when we lose fluids (via sweat, urination, vomiting or diarrhea), not drinking or eating enough and due to certain medications or certain heart, kidney and liver disorders. It is unlikely that you are getting too much of these electrolytes in your diet, apart from sodium which can be found in very high amounts in processed foods and restaurant meals. It is best to avoid these types of foods, but still consume sodium in other ways.

The side effects of electrolyte imbalances include:

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Thirst
  • Muscle weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Heart problems
  • Respiratory problems

Extremely low levels of sodium can also induce comas, seizures and even death in certain cases (a condition called hyponatremia). As you can tell, electrolytes are extremely important to our health! If you suspect you might be deficient in any of these electrolytes, you can get your levels tested after speaking with a physician.

What Happens to Your Body When You Enter Ketosis?

The initial transition into ketosis often comes with a number of uncomfortable physical side effects, which have popularly referred to as the “keto flu”. These side effects usually occur and peak within the first 3-5 days after starting a ketogenic diet, or if you become dehydrated and/or lose a lot of electrolytes while in ketosis. Keto flu symptoms usually include fatigue, brain fog, nausea, constipation, irritability, difficulty sleeping, sugar cravings and muscle soreness. These are all signs that you should increase your water and sodium intake, whether you are just starting a keto diet or experience these symptoms any time during ketosis.

One of the main reasons people experience these symptoms is due to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. As mentioned, this is usually due to a loss of too many fluids. Ketosis causes more frequent urination, which means that the body’s stores of water and electrolytes get depleted more easily. This fluid loss occurs because the storage of sugar, or glycogen, requires three water molecules for every molecule of glycogen. When the body starts to burn through all of its glycogen stores as you cease consuming more carbs, a lot of these water molecules that were stored previously are expelled as well. This tends to cause rapid weight loss at the beginning of a ketogenic diet, which is mainly water weight. While this can be a good sign that the keto diet is working, it can also lead to severe dehydration if you are not increasing your water and electrolyte intake proportionately.

Restricting carbs from the keto diet also lowers insulin levels, which can further promote water loss. When insulin levels drop, the kidneys react by excreting more sodium and water. If sodium and water levels are not replenished, you can experience the symptoms of keto flu.

How to Consume Sodium Properly

There is a lot of salt (sodium chloride) in processed foods and restaurant foods – but this is no free pass to start eating these frequently to combat the keto flu. These foods tend to contain a lot of other harmful ingredients and there are healthier ways to increase your sodium and electrolyte intake.

Here are some ways you can increase your sodium intake to relieve side effects of keto flu:

  • Drink 1 or more cups of salty bone broth every day – this is also a great source of protein and other important nutrients!
  • Add 1-2 teaspoons of salt in daily meal preparations.
  • Eat pickled foods such as olives, pickles and sauerkraut.
  • Choose standard rather than “low-sodium” sauces and seasonings for cooking.
  • Shake some salt into a glass of water a couple of times a day. Adding some lemon or lime juice can also help boost hydration.

Keep in mind the difference between sodium and salt. Sodium is a pure mineral, while most table salt is a compound mixture of sodium chloride. While this commodity product might seem all the same to you, there are some healthier choices on the market when it comes to salt. Some of your best choices for salt include:

  • Pink Himalayan Salt, which also contains calcium, potassium, magnesium and other beneficial minerals.
  • Iodized Salt, which contains iodine that helps with thyroid health.
  • Kosher Salt, which is similar to regular table salt (sodium chloride) in composition, except that is prepared in accordance with traditional Jewish law. The larger flake size also adds a different texture and more intense flavour when used in cooking or sprinkled over food.
  • Dulse or Dulse Salt – dulse is a type of seaweed that is a great source of sodium, calcium, potassium and iron. Sprinkle dried dulse flakes or dulse salt over food for a great boost of ocean-derived minerals!

Food and Drinks Rich in Electrolytes

Before we dive into some recipes, we developed a list of low carb and keto-friendly food and drinks that are rich in electrolytes. Try incorporating these options into your daily meals to ensure you maintain healthy levels of electrolytes on a low carb or keto diet.

Calcium-Rich Foods:

  • Fortified dairy products and plant milks
  • Tofu
  • Sardines
  • Dark leafy greens such as spinach, collard, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens etc.
  • Okra

Potassium-Rich Foods:

  • Leafy greens
  • Mushrooms
  • Cucumbers
  • Avocados
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini
  • Eggplant
  • Coconut water

Chloride-Rich Foods:

  • Seaweed
  • Tomatoes
  • Lettuce and leafy vegetables
  • Celery
  • Olives

Phosphate-Rich Foods:

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish and seafood
  • Organ meats (liver, kidneys, etc.)
  • Nuts – salted nuts are also a great way to get more sodium in your diet (and they’re tasty!)
  • Dairy products
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Soy

Magnesium-Rich Foods:

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Nuts
  • Spinach
  • Dark chocolate (aim for 70% or higher and eat in moderation!)
  • Avocados
  • Tofu
  • Salmon, mackerel and halibut
  • Leafy greens

Low Carb Electrolyte Recipes

Below, we’ve included some helpful recipes that can make getting your daily electrolyte dosage easier! Use these recipes when you are just starting keto, or when you feel particularly low on electrolytes. Consider bookmarking these recipes for meals to have after a workout, a long day of activity or if you notice yourself experiencing any symptoms of the “keto flu”.

Drinks

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner 

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