Keto, like everything else in life, is all about balance. You consume the three major contributors to nutrition in a pre-determined and monitored ratio. This is called (in the keto world) your macros.
My macro numbers (as calculated by this handy-dandy Keto calculator) came out to
120 gram fats, 100 grams protein, 25 grams carbohydrate per day.
My first concern was, quite naturally, howinhell am I going to eat THAT much fat in a day when I’ve been 1) trained since the 70’s to eat less of it – and 2) trained to swallow any fat that does manage to sneak in my diet with a large side-order of guilt?
The food industry has sold this guilt-trip with utter abandon, making everything leaner and drier and stuffed full of inexpensive (read: more profit!) fillers and carb-heavy sweeteners to make up for the lack of flavor that happens when you strip out all of the fat.
The fitness industry follows hot on Food’s heels with a maniacal grin – advising millions of people to eat more fruit stuffs & products containing whole grains (and dontchaknow – we have just the thing!) while trotting out their patented, revolutionary, extremely expensive lines of hand-crafted (by blind Tibetan Nuns!) smoothies, cans of sludge, exotic waters, and tubs of strange-smelling white powder…most of them packed with, yup, you guessed it, easy-to-digest simple sugars with names 20 letters long and profit margins 20 digits long.
American Nutrition Recommendations (produced by the US Department of Agriculture) continue to recommend heavy grain/fruit/veggie/LOW-FAT dairy intake patterns (about 80% of your total daily consumption) with 15% lean (again, LOW-FAT) protein, and extremely low (5%) solid or liquid fat intake.
These recommendations allow our Public Health Advisory Boards to moan about how Americans are getting fatter & fatter & sicker & angrier…thus paving the way for the Health Industry to sell us more pills & procedures & therapies (greatly enhancing THEIR balance sheets) while lobbing the ball back to Fitness (who sell more gym memberships, workout apparel, and self-torture DVD’s) who deftly deflect it to Food (who sell more low-fat, high-carb, nowhere-near-natural frankenfoodstuffs) where the defense is “We’re just following the set nutritional guidelines.” Lather, rinse, and repeat ad nauseaum.
What – you think any of these groups care about YOUR health???
Our ‘body’ industries love fat – it’s the big, scary devil on your plate they’ve used to terrify more money out of the average American Consumer than any other scapegoat ever conceived.
And we all swallowed it – hook, line & sinker.
Turns out, fat wasn’t that big a problem once I got off the “fat…makes you fat” guilt-rollercoaster, and found acceptable methods of incorporating more of it into my diet…sautéing my evening veggies in a generous dose of real butter – good egg salads with real mayo – heavy cream instead of milk – full-fat cheeses & the world of fat bombs.
Carbs, oddly enough, were also not that big a problem, once I cut out all the uber-processed junk masquerading as food & got over my body’s attempts to blackmail me with cravings. I can now grab a single kernel of popcorn out of the SQO’s movie theatre bag, and be happy with the little bit of salty, carb-y crunch. Or get a single lick of frozen custard from Kopp’s – letting D enjoy the rest of his cone.
Kopp’s, incidentally, makes Milwaukee’s BESTEST frozen custard, and the SQO & I have a long history with them 😀
Protein, oddly enough, is where I hit my snag. Not that I can’t cut out enough protein to get down to my macros, but because I can’t consume enough protein to get UP to that target number.
I’ve always found it simple to cut protein out of my daily diet – I’ve been fully veggie (not vegan, as I’ve always allowed myself eggs & cheese) a couple of times in my adult life – with timeframes in years each. It’s like a switch turns on in my brain that suddenly says: ‘animal protein bad…do not eat…’ and the appetite naturally switches gears.
I usually end my veggie stints being seduced by cheeseburgers…
When I do eat meats – I’ve always chosen lower-fat, drier, and/or highly processed products…partly because of the childhood conditioning in the above rant, but more so, if it resembles an actual animal carcass, that little switch turns on in my brain again (animal protein BAD!). For me, bones & skin have no business being on a dinner plate, and visible fat is only barely tolerated.
Don’t invite me over for BBQ ribs…
Soooo, given the perplexity of my taste buds – white meat only on chicken & turkey; either lean cuts of (or ground) beef & pork; industrial sausage-products & lunch meats; and the lamb-cicle meat cones for Greek gyros are acceptable protein options. That’s it. All others – exotic meats like duck, goose, venison, bison, bear, rabbit, etc? Too weird. Too greasy. Too wet. Too gamey.
And don’t get me started on seafood. There are exactly 2 different water-based proteins I will eat if forced to – shrimp (if it’s de-tailed, breaded, deep fried, and served with enough cocktail sauce to kill the taste) and cod (again, breaded, deep fried, and served with enough lemon juice to kill the taste).
Finally – all meat products have to be COOKED. None of this rare to medium-well done nonsense for me. My meats have to be dry, chewy, and tough as old shoe leather.
Sushi is NEVER an option…
I yell at the TV when I watch cooking shows…
I’m as picky as a 3 year old when it comes to meats…the only exception I can find to my personal rules for eating animal proteins is bacon…visible fat is OK on bacon as long as its crisp.
soft bacon is … slimy…
So what’s a girl like me to do for good protein sources, easily found and within my narrow protein parameters?
Questing for the Holy Grail in 3..2…1…
I tried a hemp-based protein powder and got weirded out with the grainy texture.
Other protein powders? Too. Freaking. Expensive.
Nutmeats and nut-butters are good (Macadamia and Almond are especial keto-world favorites) – but add to overall carbs. Nut butters are also, with the exception of peanut butter with lots of added sugar, grainy.
Weirded out, take II.
Eggs? Absolutely. One of the best (and cheapest) protein sources out there. But, one can only eat so many eggs before getting sick of them, no matter how you prepare them. And eggs, I think, have a high-insulin spike included with them – they leave me hungry unless paired with lots of fat (like in egg salad).
Beef jerky/sticks. Slim Jim’s have a permanent place in both my purse & my ’emergency’ rations (if I’m out & hungry – I’ll grab a stick from the checkout line) to quell hunger pangs until I can get back to my kitchen, but also contribute to carbs. Plus – like the eggs, one can only eat so many highly processed meat & spice sticks before no longer wanting to ‘snap into ’em!’
Enter: The Quest Bar.
Now, Quest Nutrition bars have a huge fanboi base on the ‘net – I’ve read a lot of gushing reviews on them – with people swearing up & down that Quest Bars quell their hunger, replace multiple meals, and cure everything from toe fungus to an exploded brain stem.
I tend to take all rabid fanboi cheerleading with a bunch of grains of salt…
and a lime…
and a shot of Tequila…
I’ve also read a lot of grumbling about Quest Bars. That the ingredients got changed, they look like taffy, hard to choke down, threw out an entire CASE of the things, and they gave someone the clap.
Ditto on the bitch-fest.
One Tequila… two tequila… three tequila….
Soooo – discounting both the rave and rage ends of the review spectrum (and my resulting tequila hangover) – I took a read of the label and the macros in the bars.
The first thing I noticed in these bars is the HUGE amount of insoluble fiber, with most topping 12 grams. Insoluble fiber doesn’t impact your carb macros, because your body can’t digest the stuff. It just passes it on through.
Don’t make me say WHERE…
The second thing I noticed is the whopping 20 grams of protein from whey isolates. Now – from everything I’ve read, whey protein isolates are a mixed bag. It’s a by-product of cheese making – so obviously it has dairy roots and is heavily processed. Whey isolates also (from what I’ve read) cause an insulin spike – so those who are insulin-resistant or full-blown diabetic may want to avoid them.
The heavy processing and dairy roots don’t faze me in the least, but the insulin spike does give me pause, as I have Geriatric Diabetes in my family lines. So, with a tentative toe in the water, my personal ‘master plan’ on consuming these will have to be at the end of a regular meal, where insulin has already been put into play, and has plenty of fat to process as well as protein.
Third – they limit (or eliminate) the amount of sugar by adding in Erythiol (a sugar alcohol which also…passes through…) and Stevia to make them a bit sweet. Both these artificial sweeteners I’ve tried before with no uncomfortable issues.
They sounded like a reasonable but cautiously-workable product that may fit into my Keto diet. They had the potential to be the Holy Grail of my Protein quest…
I found some Quest bars at Woodman’s, and picked up a couple of different flavors. At over two bucks a bar, they will NOT be the Holy Grail. Sadly, these will end up being confined to an occasional expensive treat…
But price isn’t everything – how’s it taste???
Chocolate Brownie was the first toe dipped into the Quest-water. Removing the product from its packaging was a bit trickier than I thought it would be – the bar is a long-ish strip of taffy-like, slightly sticky, dark brown glop…more like partially dehydrated brownie batter than an actual cake-like brownie. Not a surprise, however, because the ‘doom & gloom’ reviews pretty accurately spelled out the look and feel of the product.
It smelled pretty damn good…and the chocolate flavor really came through… so score one for the fanboi seating! The texture wasn’t too off-putting, and it didn’t stick to my teeth. In fact, the texture was kinda fun to play with in my mouth with minimal actual chewing absolutely necessary. By the end of the bar, I was getting the ‘full tank’ feeling in my stomach that says ‘that’s enough…you’re satisfied.’
The second one I tried was the Cinnamon bun. The consistency, texture and mouth-feel of the bar was the same as the chocolate brownie. There were also little bits of almonds mixed in with the paste. This one is, by far, my favorite of the bunch, with cinnamon, sweet, and yeast-bread notes.
Next, I tried the strawberry cheesecake. Yuck. The missed the flavor on this one – it was waaaaay to chemically.
Finally, I went to the one everyone on the web seems to be gushing over – Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Sorry fellas – but I don’t agree with the masses on this one. It is also too chemically for my taste buds.
I have yet to try the vanilla nut or the chocolate mint bars, but they’re next on my list…
Now for the important part.
All that insoluble fiber has to work its way through the GI tract, down the intestines & bowel, finally ending its journey in the colon. Because there’s such a large amount of this fiber stuffed into a small serving size – I wouldn’t recommend more than 1 bar every few days – that’s a lot of bulk to process, and my digestive system was rather noisy in its processing.
At least I didn’t have a ‘never trust a fart’ moment…
So – Quest bars have their goods and their bads…which is pretty common for consumables in today’s world. I’ll probably continue with the occasional bar, either as an emergency foodstuff I can keep in my purse, or a dessert-type bar when I’m craving something sweet. The cinnamon bun in particular…
The search for the holy grail of protein will continue…