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Are You Doing Keto Wrong? Dr. Steven Gundry Explains

March 14, 2022

With its strict rules about carb consumption, the ketogenic diet is not for the faint of heart (or lovers of bread and pasta). 

So if the idea of reaping the benefits of the keto diet without quite so much restriction sounds too good to be true, you’re going to want to pick up a copy of “Unlocking the Keto Code: The Revolutionary New Science of Keto That Offers More Benefits Without Deprivation,” the new book from cardiothoracic surgeon and best-selling author Steven Gundry, MD. In it, he reveals an easier, less restrictive, and more enjoyable way to go keto.

First, a quick refresher on the ketogenic diet: When you follow an eating plan that’s high in fat and relatively low in protein and carbohydrates, the body switches from burning glucose to fat for energy. As a result, the liver releases fat-burning compounds called ketones.

When we hosted Dr. Gundry on IG Live recently, he told us that while he’s a big believer in the benefits of the keto diet, he realized that the widely accepted explanation for why it works — by making the mitochondria of the cells more efficient at producing fuel — was wrong. 

According to research, “even at full ketosis, our body can only get 30% of its energy needs met by burning  ketones,” Dr. Gundry explains. “And the brain needs 30 to 40% of its energy not from ketones but from burning glucose. So what the heck are ketones doing that is so good if they aren’t a super-fuel?”

Dr. Gundry dove into the existing research on ketosis, then came up with a new theory: ketones, along with polyphenols from plant-based foods, work by unlocking a biochemical process called mitochondrial uncoupling, which he explains in depth in his new book. “In fact,” he says, “you don’t need to eat a boring, high-fat, low-carb diet to get the benefits that ketones can provide. This makes keto so easy.”

In “Unlocking the Keto Code,” Dr. Gundry explains that his new take on the keto diet is much more lax when it comes to carbohydrates, in part because total elimination of carbs is unrealistic. “We actually are wired to seek out carbohydrates. All of us will eventually fail on a high-fat diet without carbs,” he explains. 

He realized that medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs, could trigger ketosis even in people who are also consuming carbohydrates. This means that by incorporating MCTs into the diet — whether with a few spoonfuls of MCT oil stirred into coffee or through dairy products from goat and sheep milk, which are high in MCTs — you can enjoy keto benefits without cutting out all carbs. “How liberating is that?”

Ready to take Dr. Gundry’s revamped ketogenic diet for a spin? Try a recipe from his new book below — a light, springy arugula and fennel salad with a bright citrus vinaigrette and irresistible “croutons” filled with that keto superfood, goat cheese— and stock up on some of his Thrive Market picks here

If you missed our IG Live conversation with Dr. Gundry, you can watch it here.

Keto Pistachio-Crusted Goat Cheese Salad Recipe

From “Unlocking the Keto Code: The Revolutionary New Science of Keto That Offers More Benefits Without Deprivation.” 

Yield: 4 servings
Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

1 (4-ounce) log fresh goat cheese
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1/4 cup Thrive Market Non-GMO Almond Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons psyllium husk powder
4 tablespoons Thrive Market Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or try this Polyphenol-Rich Olive Oil from Gundry MD)
2 tablespoons Thrive Market Organic MCT Oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon Thrive Market Dijon Mustard
2 tablespoons Thrive Market Organic Red Wine Vinegar
Zest of 1 orange (save the orange for another use)
8 cups arugula
1 fennel bulb, shaved
1 avocado, diced
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds (optional, if in season)

Instructions

Cut the goat cheese log crosswise into 8 equal-size coins. Set aside.

In a food processor or high-speed blender, pulse the pistachios until finely chopped (you can do this with a sharp knife, but it takes much longer). Transfer the pistachios to a small bowl, add the almond flour and psyllium, and whisk to combine.

Coat each goat cheese coin with the nut mixture, then refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to overnight.

Meanwhile, in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the MCT oil, lemon juice, mustard, vinegar, and orange zest. Cover and shake to combine.

In a large bowl, combine the arugula, fennel, and avocado. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the goat cheese and cook for 1 to 2 minutes per side, until the nuts are fragrant and toasty.

Top the salad with the goat cheese and pomegranate seeds (if using), then serve.

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before changing your diet or healthcare regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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Kirby Stirland

Kirby Stirland is a writer, editor, and New York transplant living in Los Angeles.

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