This 7-day, dairy-free meal plan uses just 20 in­gre­di­ents for the whole week to keep costs and meal prep to a min­i­mum.

Clean Eating - - CONTENTS - By Jesse Lane Lee

CE: What mo­ti­vated you to go keto?

ME: I strug­gled with my weight most of my life. I tried ex­actly what I was told to do – eat­ing low fat and work­ing out more and more. I even got to where

I ran a marathon and still ended up gain­ing weight! I knew there had to be an­other way. I spent years re­search­ing all the lat­est sci­ence, and that led me to a ke­to­genic life­style and I have never looked back. I cured my ir­ri­ta­ble bowel syn­drome (IBS), acid re­flux and poly­cys­tic ovary syn­drome (PCOS) and lost the ex­tra pounds.

CE: How does the keto diet work to help the body shed weight?

ME: It helps by re­mov­ing carbs and forc­ing the body to rely on fat for fuel. This sort of primes the body for us­ing stored body fat for fuel. It also gets hor­mones un­der con­trol, es­pe­cially hunger hor­mones like lep­tin and grehlin. It works be­cause it is a life­style, not a fad diet. Peo­ple can stick with it be­cause they feel so good, aren’t hun­gry and don’t have crav­ings any­more.

CE: Is in­ter­mit­tent fast­ing essen­tial with a keto life­style?

ME: It is not essen­tial. You can be fully ke­to­genic with­out any in­ter­mit­tent fast­ing. How­ever, most peo­ple find it nat­u­ral to do in­ter­mit­tent fast­ing as their hunger is re­duced to where they don’t need a third meal. Keep­ing feed­ing time re­duced to a smaller win­dow dur­ing the day en­ables the body to use stored body fat for fuel longer, which ben­e­fits weight loss. My hus­band Craig and I still do in­ter­mit­tent fast­ing every day as main­te­nance. It just makes life eas­ier only hav­ing to make two meals a day in­stead of three.

CE: How can peo­ple ex­pect to feel when start­ing out?

ME: There is a sort of three-phase process the body goes through as it adapts to burn­ing fat as its pri­mary fuel. Af­ter two to three days, you will show el­e­vated ke­tones [the buildup of chem­i­cals cre­ated by the body when it burns fat for en­ergy] in the blood. En­ergy will be low for the first week or two, but keep­ing elec­trolytes up such as sodium, mag­ne­sium, potas­sium [by us­ing sea salt lib­er­ally and con­sid­er­ing a sup­ple­ment if nec­es­sary] and drink­ing water usu­ally help. Af­ter about four to six weeks, the body ac­tu­ally makes more mi­to­chon­dria [the pow­er­houses of our cells], and that is when your en­ergy starts to soar. You also start see­ing amaz­ing men­tal clar­ity and fo­cus, crav­ings go away more and more.

CE: Are there any chal­lenges for women specif­i­cally when it comes to weight loss?

ME: Women typ­i­cally have a lit­tle harder time los­ing fat than men as men have larger lean mus­cle masses re­sult­ing in a higher basal meta­bolic rate (BMR). But stick­ing with it will re­sult in reach­ing your goals – it just might take a lit­tle longer.

CE: What does an av­er­age keto din­ner look like for you?

ME: A great ex­am­ple is a ham­burger with my keto ketchup and a side salad with my ranch dress­ing, tomato and let­tuce. Sim­ple and fast. You can have pretty much ev­ery­thing you love just by us­ing a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent in­gre­di­ents to make it keto.

CE: What do you say to peo­ple who think the keto diet is too com­pli­cated to try?

ME: Keep it sim­ple. Pick three or four recipes you like from my books or meal plans and just make a larger batch of those and eat them for the week. It’s re­ally just about shift­ing and find­ing sub­sti­tutes for higher-carb in­gre­di­ents.

You can in­clude many of the same foods you love in a keto diet, ac­cord­ing to Maria. You sim­ply make a few easy swaps to keep meals lower in car­bo­hy­drates.

Maria in the kitchen with her boys, Micah and Kai.

Maria has writ­ten sev­eral books in­clud­ing The Ke­to­genic Cook­book.

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