In just about every study purporting to show that people or animals lowered their LDL bad cholesterol levels after starting to use olive oil, the subjects used olive oil in place of other dietary fats, often saturated fats like butter, coconut oil, or lard. Well, of course LDL cholesterol is going to be lower when olive oil replaces butter. The total amount of saturated fat and/or cholesterol in the diet takes a tumble when butter is removed.
Start by grating your cauliflower, so it looks like cauliflower rice. Put it all in a bowl and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. This helps to pack everything together to make your bread slices. Make the cauliflower into patties and then pop onto a baking tray. Just put in the oven on a medium heat for around 15 minutes. They’ll be ready to go!
Remove artificial sweeteners: If you have been including artificial sweeteners like aspartame or sucralose in your low-carb or keto diet, our experts recommend you wean yourself off them. “While there are not a whole lot of scientific studies, anecdotally we find when people get rid of artificial sweeetners, they were able to lose weight. Come off them as soon as you can,” advises Dr. Westman.
Your brain is largely made up of fatty acids, so you need a steady supply from your diet to feel your best, think clearly, perform well at work and stay sharp well into older age. Medium-chain fats are believed to be one of the most easily digested, utilized and protective fatty acids that exists. According to leading Neurologist Dr. Perlmutter, you can boost the availability of ketones for your brain by simply adding coconut oil or MCT oil to your daily regimen. But to make this effective, carb restriction is a must! “MCT oil not only feeds your brain cells, but also improves your gut health—which is largely connected to cognitive functioning thanks to the “gut-brain connection.”
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The study found that those people eating a Mediterranean diet that was supplemented with the olive oil deliveries were 30 percent less likely to die of heart attack, disease, stroke or death from cardiovascular causes than those eating a low-fat diet. (1) In fact, the study finished earlier than planned, because the results were drastic enough that it was considered unethical to continue conducting it. For those of us who advocate eating a Mediterranean diet, this study was a welcome validation.
Researchers attributed this to the increased metabolism and fat burning that comes with consuming MCTs. I love coconut oil because it provides the very best natural source of MCT oils to boost metabolism, cut your hunger, lower triglycerides, reduce fat storage, and even improve athletic performance. On top of all these benefits, MCTs make excellent brain and cellular fuel.
If you look at your diet and worry that there's barely a green to be seen, this is the perfect opportunity to fit in more veggies. A good way to do this is to eat one serving at snacktime, like crunching on bell pepper strips or throwing a handful of spinach into a smoothie), and one at dinner, like these quick and easy side dishes. Aim for at least two servings per day. More is better. At least three servings can help you bust stress, Australian research notes.
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Compared to other types of oils and fats, MCTs seem to have positive effects on fat burning and weight reduction. As part of a healthy diet, MCT oil can help increase satiety and even raise the metabolic rate at which the body functions. Does this mean eating large amounts of MCTs daily will make you drop pounds? Not quite. Not every study has shown that MCTs can produce weight loss necessarily, but some definitely have shown the positive effects of MCTs on metabolic function.
Polyphenols are antioxidant plant compounds that are linked with better heart health, including less oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a process that inflames the arteries and heightens the risk of plaque rupture and heart attacks. Plant sterols are another plant chemical that interferes with cholesterol absorption from the gut and helps lower LDL cholesterol.
At the same time, you need to remember to increase the amount of fat that you eat. Also, it doesn’t mean a complete ban on carbs. You just need to reduce the amount that you eat to 15g or less per day. On average, we tend to eat around a third to a half more than that on a daily basis. Reducing carbs won’t be easy for some, which is why having delicious recipes to try first is the way to go.
There are actually a few different forms of MCTs, some that are likely more effective than others. The four different kinds of MCTs include caprioc (acid C6:0), caprylic (acid C8:0), capric (acid C10:0) and lauric (acid C12:0) acids. Generally speaking, the shorter the chain (meaning the lower the number of carbons the acid has), the faster the body can turn the fatty acids into usable energy, in ketone form. Ketones are what the body produces when it’s using fat for energy instead of glucose.
Maintain adequate protein intake. Too little protein and you lose muscle mass and starve the few parts of your body that can’t use ketones as an energy source, like portions of your red blood cells, kidneys and brain. Too much protein and you inhibit ketone production. Make sure you consume enough protein to support your vital functions, but not too much that protein becomes your alternate glycogen source.
Weight loss often means feeling hungrier and fighting off more cravings, but that doesn’t always seem to be the case when you go keto. People report less hunger and a diminished desire to eat after adopting a ketogenic diet, according to an analysis of 26 studies. Experts don’t fully understand why, but it’s thought that very low carb diets could suppress the production of hunger hormones like ghrelin.
You may also want to try a cyclical keto diet, or carb cycling. You follow the standard keto diet for 6 days of the week, when you eat less than 50 grams of net carbs a day. But on one day of the week, you increase your carb intake to roughly 150 grams of net carbs. Doing this satisfies any carb cravings you might have, making it easier to sustain keto in the long-run. Learn more about the benefits of carb cycling and weight loss here.
"Even though it's called the Mediterranean diet, it's not really a diet," said Atlanta registered dietitian Rahaf Al Bochi, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "It doesn't tell you what to eat and not eat. It's a lifestyle that encourages consuming all food groups but gives more weight to those which have the most health benefits."
Generally a good source of fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants, fresh fruit is a healthy way to indulge your sweet tooth. If it helps you to eat more, add a little sugar—drizzle slices of pear with honey or sprinkle a little brown sugar on grapefruit. Keep fresh fruit visible at home and keep a piece or two at work so you have a healthful snack when your stomach starts growling. Lots of grocery stores stock exotic fruit—pick a new one to try each week and expand your fruit horizons.
Dr. Fung suggests not doing the same fasting routine, day after day, but to “switch it up”; 16:8 one day, 24 hours IF the next, then a day of regular eating. That is because the body has a strong physiological drive to seek homeostasis — energy balance. “Whenever the body is exposed to a constant stimulus, it will become acclimated to it,” he says.
What’s next for Flynn? With teaching, research, clinical and non-profit work on her plate, she still feels that there is much left to learn about the application of a plant-based diet that includes high-quality extra virgin olive oil. Securing funding remains challenging, which Flynn attributes in large part due to the “dismal failure” of low-fat diet research. She also is confident in the potential of using “food as medicine” to improve risk factors for chronic diseases among low-income groups, which offers dual benefits of improving lives as well as decreasing health care costs. She is also curious about the freshness of olive oil vis-à-vis its provision of health benefits and whether there is a cutoff at which these benefits begin to decline.
Research supports the health benefits of a Mediterranean-style eating pattern that includes several different foods. It is the combination of these foods that appear protective against disease, as the benefit is not as strong when looking at single foods or nutrients included in the Mediterranean diet.  Therefore it is important to not simply add olive oil or nuts to one’s current diet but to adopt the plan in its entirety.
Many versions of ketogenic diets exist, but all ban carb-rich foods. Some of these foods may be obvious: starches from both refined and whole grains like breads, cereals, pasta, rice, and cookies; potatoes, corn, and other starchy vegetables; and fruit juices. Some that may not be so obvious are beans, legumes, and most fruits. Most ketogenic plans allow foods high in saturated fat, such as fatty cuts of meat, processed meats, lard, and butter, as well as sources of unsaturated fats, such as nuts, seeds, avocados, plant oils, and oily fish. Depending on your source of information, ketogenic food lists may vary and even conflict.
To maintain ketosis (where you burn fat rather than sugar for energy), you need to keep your carb intake to around 20 to 50 grams daily. Some of my patients have to go to the lower end to get those results. That doesn't mean you can't incorporate some carbs: You can fit plenty of green vegetables and low-sugar fruits like berries and avocado into even a 20-gram carb allotment.
One of the “hearty healthy” effects of olive oil, argues the olive oil industry, is that it raises levels of HDL good cholesterol. But higher HDL levels do not always mean better arteries. Remember the study on monkeys discussed at the beginning of this article? The higher HDL levels of the monkeys consuming a diet rich in monounsaturated fat did not prevent them from developing plaque–ridden, diseased arteries.
Olive oil cuts hunger. You won’t burn belly fat (or any fat, for that matter) unless you first take in fewer calories than your body needs to fuel itself. “And you won’t stick with a low-cal approach if you’re constantly hungry,” says Palinksi-Wade. That’s why using olive oil to reduce belly fat and lose weight is a no-brainer. “You often hear that protein or fiber help control hunger, but I find olive oil is equally if not more powerful.” Explanation: Olive oil is made up of 75 percent oleic acid, a substance shown to help us feel content for hours longer between meals. For this reason, Palinski-Wade actually includes more olive oil on the lowest-calorie version of her plan. “Olive oil is extremely filling.”