How To Reach Optimal Ketosis

How To Reach Optimal Ketosis #healthfulpursuit #fatfueled #lowcarb #keto #ketogenic #lowcarbpaleo #theketodiet

Interview with Vanessa Spina, chatting about blood glucose and ketone testing mistakes, how to calculate your ideal protein amount for your keto diet, the 3 obstacles that stand in your way to reaching optimal ketosis, and so much more.

For podcast transcript, scroll down.

Show Notes + Links


  • Blood glucose and ketone testing mistakes (09:19)
  • How to calculate your ideal protein amount for your keto diet (23:09)
  • The 3 obstacles that stand in your way to reaching optimal ketosis (26:10)

Partners of The Keto Diet Podcast

Transcript for This Episode

Leanne Vogel: You’re listening to Episode Number 83 of The Keto Diet Podcast. Today we’re chatting about blood glucose and ketone testing mistakes, how to calculate your ideal protein amount for your ketogenic diet, the three obstacles that stand in your way to reaching optimal ketosis, and so much more.

The show notes and full transcript for today’s episode can be found at

Two awesome announcements today is that we have changed the podcast format. It is spring. It’s time for a new format, and I’m really excited of the way that we’re doing things and we have a bunch of new and exciting things coming out soon, which I’m pretty stoked about.

Second is that I’m going back on tour. You can head on over to to see if your city is on the list, and to RSVP. I can’t wait to meet you.

Okay, let’s do this thing.

Announcer: Welcome to the Keto Diet Podcast. The show all about keto for women, so you can burn fat, balance your hormones, and heal your body.

And now, here’s your host. You might know her as the Keto Queen. She’d the international best selling author of The Keto Diet, founder of Happy Keto Body, and she loves dipping pork rinds in avocado oil mayo… Leanne Vogel.

Leanne Vogel: The podcast is sponsored by the following awesome brands. If you can’t find the links, no problem, just check out the show notes of today’s episode.

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Okay, so today’s guest is Vanessa Spina, and she is a world-wide speaker, author, and advocate of the ketogenic way of life. She is the author the best selling book Keto Essentials and the founder of, which provides effective ketogenic meal plans and coaching for healing the body with real foods, as well as achieving weight loss.

She has coached over 3,000 people to date on her popular program based on the therapeutic approach to keto, combined with intermittent fasting, which is known as the 28 day Ketogenic Girl Challenge.

Hey, Vanessa, what’s up?

Vanessa Spina: Hey, Leanne. It’s great to be here.

Leanne Vogel: Yeah. Thanks so much for coming on the show. I think it’s amazing that we actually haven’t talked yet. Like, how is this a thing?

Vanessa Spina: Following each other for a long time, it feels like the most natural thing to just pick up the phone and chat with you because I feel like, I don’t know, we’re keto sisters. We all have so much in common, so it’s really cool to actually get to chat with you, voice to voice, instead of just over the internet.

Leanne Vogel: Over the internet, yeah! For listeners that may not be familiar with your work, why don’t you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself?

Vanessa Spina: Sure. I would love to. I founded Ketogenic Girl several years ago. I’ve been running it as my full time job since then. I used to be a news anchor in finance for many years. I had my stock trading license, and that was my whole world. This was kind of my passion hobby, and I was doing it on the side, and I was getting up every morning at 4:00 AM just to scroll through keto posts on Instagram, and post stuff because I loved it so much. I had such incredible results on keto myself, I started getting a lot of requests for people asking me how I did keto, what are the mistakes that I made, and I eventually founded Ketogenic Girl and my meal plan programs.

It’s known as the 28 Day Ketogenic Girl Challenge, which is not really 28 days. It’s just a way of starting things out on the lifestyle. Sometimes, you just need to have kind of challenge in mind, that it’s a temporary timeframe, but then I find once people get started in this way of life, and they see how incredible it is, how much their body is thriving, that they want to keep going with it, so I founded that. I’ve been running that ever since I came out with my book in the fall.

Basically, it’s my full time occupation now. I live, eat, and breathe Ketogenic Girl. It’s honestly my passion, and it’s been so incredibly rewarding to get to spend all of my time focused on this, and doing this because I love it so much. I’m so passionate about democratizing health for people around the world, and about disease prevention. I know that it can be done in many, many situations through proper nutrient intake and proper nutrition with a really well formulated keto diet. That’s kind of my background.

Leanne Vogel: Amazing. I like to ask all of our guests this. What does keto mean to you?

Vanessa Spina: Keto, to me, means love. It means body love because one of the things I talk about in my book is, we live in these bodies, and they do so much for us. We have trillions of cells working on our behalf everyday just to make us healthy, keep us alive, and it’s really hard to get to speak to those cells, and to our bodies, and thank them. But, we can thank them, and we can communicate to them through the choices that we make with our health.

Every time I make a nourishing plate of ketogenic food, it’s a way of saying thank you to my body, and it’s a way of loving my body because our bodies love us. For me, all of this has been really a path that’s connected back to self love and loving your body.

We do that through giving our body what it needs, all those incredible essential fatty acids, essential amino acids, vitamins, and nutrients that our bodies crave, so that they can function well. For me, keto really just means body love, self love, and being able to appreciate your body for all that it does for us.

Leanne Vogel: That’s beautifully said. I love that. Today, we’re going to be chatting all about how to reach optimal ketosis. This is going to be a great episode for beginners, and even people that have been eating keto for a while, and they just find that they can’t get there.

Maybe the first off piece that we want to talk about is, the difference between ketones and glucose, and perhaps why the body prefers the ketones over glucose, and what’s happening in the body.

Vanessa Spina: Yeah, so ketones are really, really interesting. One of the most interesting things that I find about them, and I’m not sure if you’ve come across this as well, but they’re not considered an actual macronutrient, but it’s possible that they could actually be reclassified as one.

I don’t know about you, but I’d be all for that because even though ketones are created endogenously in the body, (although, you can also take them exogenously) they are one of the most efficient ways that you can fuel your body, and they’re just absolutely incredible. They’re anti-inflammatory. They have so many beneficial effects for the brain and the body.

If we’re talking about the main macronutrients, obviously, we have fat, protein, and carbohydrates. Our bodies are designed to be able to run off of either sugar, and be sugar burners, or fat, and be fat burners.

We’re designed to run off of both. Originally, our bodies are really calibrated towards being able to burn off of both, but having one fuel as primary. That would have been fat in ancestral times, and just a little bit of glucose, but because nowadays our diets are so inundated by sugar consumption, our bodies tend to be fed mostly from sugar.

Most people, if you take a random person on the street, they would be most likely a sugar burner, and they would be unable to be a fat burner. In my opinion, someone who is truly thriving has something called metabolic flexibility where they’re able to go in and out of either.

Once you go keto, you become a primary fat burner, secondary sugar burner, but you’re also able to go back and forth between the two, which is really more aligned with how we were initially designed, and how our bodies are designed optimally. The main difference between being fueled off of glucose and fueled off of ketones is just you’re either a primary sugar burner, you’re primary fat burner.

Ketones are a byproduct of fat being converted to energy in the body. They’re water soluble molecules that we can then use to fuel our bodies, to fuel brains because they can cross the blood brain barrier, whereas fatty acids themselves, cannot be used for energy in the brain because they can’t cross that blood brain barrier.

That’s basically the main difference between being a sugar burner and a fat burner, and the difference between glucose and ketones. I do hope that ketones become reclassified as a fourth macronutrient because they’re probably one of the best ones. They provide so much more fuel efficiency than glucose does. They provide all of these other incredible benefits in the body as well.

Leanne Vogel: I love that. I hadn’t actually thought about ketones being classified as a macronutrient. That’s brilliant, of course, it should be reclassified.

Vanessa Spina: Wouldn’t that be amazing?!

Leanne Vogel: Yeah, that would be great. That would be really great!

You did a really great video on YouTube about how to measure ketones. We’re going to be putting that in the show notes today, but can we just briefly review what’s the best time to test, how are we testing, what does it mean?

Vanessa Spina: Absolutely. One of the big mistakes that I see people make when they’re trying to do keto is not measuring ketones and blood sugar. I also tell people that they don’t have to. Obviously, if you’re doing keto, and you’re getting great results, and you’re feeling fantastic, you don’t need to measure. But, if you’re not like most people, or if you’re just a geek like I am, you want to measure because you want to know that you’re actually in ketosis.

I’ve heard so many people say, I hear from people who say that they’re in ketosis and they’re not getting any of the benefits, but they’re not measuring. You can’t know for sure, unless you actually have the numbers.

What I recommend doing, for most people, is really testing the blood. It’s sound super scary at first; I was terrified of doing it because I’m not a big fan of needles. The first time that I did it, I was staying at my in-laws’ house over the holidays, and I ordered the testing kit, and I watched a YouTube video on how to test. I closed my eyes, pulled the lancet back, took the blood, and it didn’t hurt at all. I literally ran into the living room where all my in-laws were and my husband, and I was jumping up and down. I’m like, “I did it. I did it. I like pricked my finger, and it didn’t hurt,” because I really thought it was going to hurt.

If you test on the side of your fingers, like I mentioned in the YouTube videos, there’s less nerve endings there and it hurts less. The ideal time, in my personal opinion, to test is fasted in the morning because what I’ve seen is that it really give you a great indication of the choices that you made yesterday in terms of how good your body is responding to the amount of food that you took in, and the kind of macronutrients that you took in. If you’re overdoing, say protein for example, or you’re overdoing carbs, you’re going to know by seeing the numbers in the morning.

You’re also going to be able to learn so much about your body, which is one of the coolest things about all of this. You can actually see how your body responds to various foods.

I really like testing in the morning, fasted always gives me the best data. I test blood glucose, I think is the most important measurement. People argue with this that you need to see ketones of .5 and above to technically be in nutritional ketosis, but because ketones and blood glucose are inversely correlated, when ketones go up, blood glucose goes down, so I like see a measurement of 5.0 millimolar of 90, depending on how your measurement, your glucometer is calibrated, as at or below that level. I find the optimal results tend to be around the 80 to 4.0. If you’re maintaining that then you’re going to be in ketosis, even if you’re not testing ketones. It’s just my personal opinion.

Sometimes, I’ll see someone post that they have blood sugar consistently in the 70s, and they don’t have any measurable ketones, or they’re not in the .5 and above range, but they’re feeling fantastic. They’re losing weight. They have mental clarity, all that stuff. It’s possible that they may just be using ketones a lot more efficiently than others, and so they’re not circulating as much in the blood in the form of BHB.

I like to see, obviously, those numbers of the blood glucose, and if you’re at .5 millimolar ketones and above, you should technically be in ketosis. In that video on YouTube, I do show a little bit more about testing. The reason I don’t recommend urine testing is the ketone, there’s three different kinds of ketones, acetoacetate, beta hydroxybutyrate, and acetone. Once you are in ketosis and you become fat adapted after a couple of weeks, acetoacetate, which you would be measuring in the urine, actually converts to BHB, so it’s not going to be measured in your urine anymore. You might want to try it out of a week or two, but after that, it’s not going to give you any tangible results.

Breath meters, some people use them. I tried it at the beginning, but it’s really just not as accurate as seeing those actual numbers. I really think it’s so important to be measuring, and also, if you want to also be journaling because it’s going help you find optimal ketosis for you. When you’re trying out different levels, different caloric intake, different macronutrient, you’re playing with the levels, and you’re testing yourself, and then you’re going to see where you do best based on that. Then, you can repeat that.

Leanne Vogel: That was such a knowledge bomb. Thank you so much for explaining that in such a way. I really want to hone in on something that you said. I think a lot of people get caught up in the ketone measurements, my husband included. He’s crazy about it, and when he tests, even though he’s gotten great results, he’s lost weight, his brain fog is totally gone, he is such a better human because of it. When he tests, his blood it’s not as high as say, somebody else, and he gets really caught up in it.

What you said is, there’s less ketones circulating in the blood because your body is actually using these ketones. Is it possible then for somebody to register quite low with their blood glucose, quite low in their ketones, but still exhibit all the signs of being in ketosis, and they’re feeling great, on top of the world, you’re saying that’s possible?

Vanessa Spina: I 100% believe that. I’m not a scientist and I haven’t done any actual studies on it, but I do see that in many cases, and it tends to be with men, where they will have lower ketones, it also happens in women. But there needs to be more studies for us to understand actually the efficient use of ketones, and want that efficiency means in terms of how much your body is utilizing it, how active you are, how much oxygen is used when you’re actually processing the ketones, all of that needs to be better understood.

We really don’t have enough data right now to understand it yet. I’ve been doing a lot of actually N=1 experiments on myself recently to do some findings, just based on my own data about the efficiency of ketones because I do believe that the blood glucose number is the most important because all of this comes back to being able to maintain a consistently low glycemic load in the body.

If you are able to have low glycemic load in your bloodstream, then that’s the whole goal of ketosis, to restore insulin sensitivity, to get all these benefits. If your blood glucose is nice and low, I would say if it’s in the 70s, if it’s in the 60s even, you’re probably most likely in ketosis even if you’re having low ketone numbers, if like you said, you’re experiencing all of the benefits. If you don’t feel good, and you don’t have ketones, then that may not be the case. But if you feel awesome and you’re getting all those benefits, it’s very likely that you could be.

Leanne Vogel: Awesome. Let’s chat a little bit about if they don’t feel good, and they’re trying to reach this optimal ketogenic space. What are a couple tools and tips that you find are helpful to push your body into that space?

Vanessa Spina: If someone, I guess, is stuck in low carb, maybe they’re doing low carb, but they’re just not quite dropping into ketosis, is that what you mean?

Leanne Vogel: Exactly.

Vanessa Spina: Yeah, I mean, one of the things that I always say to people is that it really comes down to how you feel. People ask me all the time, these are my numbers, what do you think? But how do you feel? Do you feel good, or do you feel keto flu? This is just my personal opinion, but I don’t think that keto flu is a necessary process for everyone to experience. One of my biggest hacks, and it’s kind of ironic, but one of my biggest hacks with getting into keto is taking it slow.

It sounds counterintuitive, but I didn’t have keto flu. I think that the main reason for that is because I took such a gradual approach. I’ve been doing this since I was in university, I first went off sugar. It took me all of this time to finally get to keto. I did a lot of different things on the way there.

Right before I went keto, I had been low carb for a while. I had been reducing my carbs very gradually over time. I had also been increasing healthy fats very gradually. I was taking it very, very slowly, so that my body could feel safe, and that it wasn’t under threat. It wasn’t in danger, so that my body could adapt very gradually and easily. If someone is experiencing low carb flu, I think sometimes, it can be related to just going too fast, and trying to get results too quickly, and not pacing themselves enough.

It could be that, that level of say, restricted carbs of 20 grams per day, is just too low, and you need more time to get down to that level, and you need to more time for your body to adjust slowly. That’s actually one of my biggest hacks. It’s just take your time because this is a lifestyle. It’s not something that you’re doing, hopefully, you’re not just doing it to lose a little bit of weight, or something, and then you want to go back to your previous life before that. To me, it’s a longterm lifestyle, so why not take your time to get there because you’re not going to have keto flu, you’re going feel a lot better all throughout the process.

There’s a few other things that I recommend to get you into ketosis, maybe if you’re not getting there. One of them goes back to testing, and protein levels. The biggest, number one mistake that I see people make on keto, and I’m sure you see it all the time Leanne, is overdoing protein because there’s a lot of misconceptions about protein levels.

Carbs, everyone knows, I have to restrict them. Keto is next to no carbs, so it’s easy to do that part, although, there can still be hidden carbs in things. People can overdo their carbs, by say, counting net carbs instead of total carbs.

With protein, it’s really a fine art of finding what is that exact number for you that’s going to benefit your body the most, that’s going enable you to stimulate growth hormone. It’s going enable you to provide your body with enough material to generate new tissue, which is how we generate new tissue in the body is from those amino acids consuming protein. It’s also going to fuel you, but not to the point where you’re overdoing it, and it’s too much for your body to process, it’s too much for your liver to process, your kidneys, all your organs to process, too much protein.

Because it’s moderated protein, overdoing protein can keep you out of ketosis very easily. I just did a podcast on finding your optimal protein, what I call, protein threshold. There’s a number where if you go over it, you will tend to take yourself out of ketosis because it is too high a number. What you can do is, you can use an equation. It’s very, very simple. It’s just your total body weight in pounds, I like to do, times it by .4 to find the lower level, and times it by .6. It gives you kind of a range to start with.

Say you get 50 grams to 80 grams, then do a day where you do 80 grams. Then in the morning, test yourself, and see what your blood glucose and ketones are. Then, if they’re too high or not in ketosis, drop it to 75, drop it to 70, and just keep playing around with those numbers. You can also try going to 90 or 100 because you might have a lot of lean mass in your body, and so you might be able to consume more protein and still be in ketosis. Testing, is why this is so valuable, is that you can learn exactly what it is for you because we’re all so different that our bodies have very different ratios of lean mass, of fat mass, body fat percentage, and also, obviously, insulin sensitivity or resistance, and other conditions.

It really comes back to testing. It will show you, it will exactly show you if you are eating the right amount of protein to be in ketosis or not. It really is the number one mistake that I see people make when they’re doing keto, or they’re trying to adapt, and they’re not getting there.

Leanne Vogel: Amazing. Let’s chat a little about the obstacles, too, for example, stress. I don’t know if you see this in your practice, and with people that follow on your blog, and YouTube videos that stress can massively affect ketosis. Can we chat a little bit about that and how that works?

Vanessa Spina: Absolutely. This is one of the things that I recently came close into contact with myself. We were chatting a bit before about going on a book tour. I thought I was doing pretty well, but my adrenals got totally shot from, I think I did over 33 flights, or something, in the course of those five months.

My adrenal hormones took a toll from the stress of that because obviously it was stressful having to be on a schedule, do all these things, but also the body just undergoes a lot of stress when you’re in different environments, especially when you’re on a plane, you’re flying, you’re traveling. There’s so much going on, and it really affected my adrenals. I noticed a lot of symptoms of adrenal fatigue, which I wasn’t used to having.

If you are stressed, you are going to remain a sugar burner no matter what you do. It can keep you out of ketosis. You can be in ketosis and be stressed, but it can be a big roadblock.

If you have a stressful lifestyle, and you’re not taking enough time to reduce stress, and you’re not doing activities in your life to reduce stress, it’s really going to be a major obstacle for you to get into ketosis because when you’re stressed, your body thinks that you are in danger.

We’re so programmed for survival, the body will shutdown a lot of things. It will shutdown fat burning because it thinks that maybe you are trying to escape from a predator. It will prevent you from burning any fat because it wants to keep you alive. It wants to keep you having energy to get away maybe from that predator. This is what the body thinks. The body doesn’t understand that the stress is coming from a deadline at work, or maybe a really stressful person in your life. It doesn’t get that.

It’s very important to reduce stress and get adequate sleep. I had heard this over and over again over the years from so many people, “You’ve got to get enough sleep. You’ve got to go to bed before ten,” but it makes such a huge difference. One of the things that it really made a difference for me is when I learned that fat burning happens at night, but it also happens right after you go to bed between about 11:00 and 12:00 PM.

If you are not in bed before then, say around 10:30, 11:00, you’re going miss that huge spike in growth hormone that happens, and all that fat burning that happens. You might still get some in other cycles, but the biggest one by far, happens right around that time.

It’s also another reason why you want to get to bed early and get a good seven to eight hours of sleep per night, if you can. Not everyone’s lifestyle permits that. Some people work night shifts. There’s all kinds of different things. You can still try to get eight hours of sleep during the day, if you’re, say, working a night shift, or something.

It’s really important to take the time to practice regular meditation, yoga, walking, all of those things that enable us to be in a more relaxed state, and avoid stress as much as possible because this is a lifestyle. We focus so much on macronutrients, and the diet, and the numbers, but keto is a whole lifestyle. It’s a holistic lifestyle. You’re eating real food. You’re nourishing your body, but you also have to nourish your body with proper sleep, and taking care of yourself, and not stressing yourself out, not stressing your body. That’s part of the whole lifestyle that is all of this. That’s what’s so interesting about keto, it’s not just a diet because it is a lifestyle in so many of these other factors.

Leanne Vogel: I love it and I couldn’t agree with you more.

Okay. What about inflammation? How can that affect keto, and even with the inflammatory foods that can sometimes be introduced in a ketogenic diet? How does inflammation stand in the way of us reaching optimal ketosis?

Vanessa Spina: Yeah. Actually Leanne, what’s interesting, what actually brought me to keto personally was a couple of autoimmune conditions that had come from chronic inflammation. I was in my early 20s, and I had throbbing arthritic pains in my hands, and I also eventually developed ulcerative colitis. I talk about this a lot, that this is what brought me to keto because at the time I was terrified, especially about the options for ulcerative colitis, which often involve invasive surgery.

I was lucky enough at the time that my husband’s cousin had just heard of this thing called gluten. She had done a gluten test, and my husband said to me, “Why don’t you just take this gluten test thing and see, you’ve got nothing to lose.” I took the test, and it came back off the charts, so I said I’m just going to go off gluten for two to three weeks and see what happens.

Within three to four weeks, all of the chronic throbbing pain in my hands was gone. I had been doubled over two to three times a week in pain from ulcerative colitis, and it was gone, and without any surgery, without any drugs. That’s when I knew there was more to this. I really wanted to keep digging, which eventually took me to keto. What was happening in my body was an autoimmune reaction from excess inflammation that was being caused by gluten, which is the protein in wheat.

Inflammation is a fabulous thing. It’s one of the best things for your body. If you get an infection or a cut, your body goes to work. It sends out these little armies to help, it creates inflammation in order to protect your body and to heal. The problem is when that inflammation doesn’t go away after a while, and it’s consistent, and it’s chronic.

That’s when all of those inflammatory chemicals that are sent out to repair your body, they start to really affect the bones, affect the joints. They cause, if you hurt yourself, you see that immediate reaction where all the blood inflammation happens, and say, you’re throbbing in that area. There’s a lot going on. That inflammation needs to go away after a while. If it persists, say you’re eating foods, like for me it was gluten, for a lot of people it’s gluten and sugar, was well, which is very inflammatory from chronic consumption.

All of this inflammation eventually causes a lot of damage. There’s been several studies on this recently. There’s been a lot of Framingham studies, but one of them found that some of the markers of inflammation, or one of the highest correlated markers of disease, like Type 2 Diabetes and cancer, and it was because of the white blood cell count. White blood cells are released when you have inflammation. These were some of the biggest indicators that you were going to develop disease later in life.

One of the coolest things about keto and ketones is that ketones actually provide a buffer. They have several anti-inflammatory effects. When you go keto, you remove, for myself, I remove, obviously, sugar and gluten together. So you’re removing some of the triggers of inflammation, but you’re also getting ketones, which are providing these fabulous anti-inflammatory effects. They block some of the inflammatory signals in the body. They block some of the signaling, and they provide this incredible therapeutic effect on the body to reduce inflammation.

That’s why so many people when the go on keto, like myself, they experience reduction in chronic pain, reduction in arthritis, which is an inflammatory condition, IBS. For myself, it was also ulcerative colitis. So many inflammatory conditions in the body go away because you’re cutting off the sugar and gluten causing the inflammation, and you’re also getting the therapeutic effect of the ketones. It’s a really, really cool thing about being in ketosis.

Leanne Vogel: Yeah. That’s awesome. I think part of the conversation too, is like food sensitivities, which can cause inflammation, and I think a lot of people don’t realize. Well, that’s one of the reasons I don’t include dairy in any of my resources, because I find dairy is good for some people, but when it’s not, it can actually stop you from maintaining a good ketogenic state because you’re inflamed because you’re sensitive to the food, and it’s not allowing you to maintain a good ketogenic state.

In fact, one of my clients, probably about two years ago, was eating not too much dairy. I think it was just a couple of tablespoons of full fat cream in her coffee every morning, and we just couldn’t get her into ketosis. We tried everything, and she wasn’t feeling good. She was so fatigued, and she was constantly in keto flu, and she just couldn’t get over it.

I kept telling her, “Maybe we should remove the cream in the coffee, maybe we should just try that.” She was like, “Yeah, but it’s such a small amount, it can’t make a difference.” Sure enough, finally, she removed the cream in her coffee for seven days, no problem, like totally different experience.

It’s great that you mentioned that, like that inflammation. And, if you’re sensitive to a food, it can really affect your ability to reach that optimal state. Would you agree?

Vanessa Spina: Yes. Yes, and all of my meal plans are dairy-free also because I do find it holds a lot of people back. My one caveat, I do have some dairy on occasion. I’m a cheese, a bit of a cheese nut. I love cheese. I was vegan for a really long time, and so I’m kind of, I think maybe compensating for some of that time when I was vegan. I just missed out on all these delicious cheeses all these years, especially high fat cheeses. But one of the things I would say is, if you are going to do dairy, make sure it’s organic and grass fed.

I say to people a lot, do what your budget allows, but if you are going to do dairy, a lot of dairy if you’re living in North America, is full of hormones. If you have an estrogenic body type or you’re estrogen dominant, it can really interfere with your hormonal system, with your endocrine system.

These hormones can act as endocrine disruptors because a lot of estrogens and growth hormone are added to the dairy. It’s really, really important also for balancing your fats, getting omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids in your body. If they’re grass fed, they’re just going to have a lot higher rates of that.

But there’s lots of different things that you can do. Like I said, all my meal plan programs are dairy-free. There’s so many ways of getting around dairy. As I’m sure you know, if yours are also dairy-free, you can see that there’s so many other options out there that don’t include dairy. You can have an extremely healthy keto diet, even without it. I definitely agree that it can be a big inflammatory source for people in their diets as well.

Leanne Vogel: Yes, completely. In fact, I’ve never had a ketogenic diet with dairy.

Vanessa Spina: Really.

Leanne Vogel: Over the last four years, I have not incorporated it. Yeah, I’m so allergic to dairy, no butter, no ghee, no nothing.

Vanessa Spina: Even ghee?

Leanne Vogel: No. It can be done, even ghee. Even ghee.

Vanessa Spina: I’d be interested to know if you, have you always been allergic to it?

Leanne Vogel: Always, since I was little. I’ve never had real cheese or milk.

Vanessa Spina: Oh, okay.

Leanne Vogel: Like, allergic.

Vanessa Spina: I guess with allergies it’s different. My husband, he’s pretty severely dairy intolerant, and he was gluten intolerant as well, but ever since we’ve been in Europe, he can do both, no problem. I really think it comes down to the fact that Europe is so protective over what they put in the dairy, in the meat. They don’t allow any of those hormones and antibiotics to be injected in them.

I was going to say, if you’re a little intolerant, next time you’re in Europe, you could try it and see there’s a different, but if you’re allergic, obviously. I thought I maybe saw you mention something about how, for you, not having dairy also just helped with your hormones, and hormone balancing.

Leanne Vogel: Yeah. There was a period of time when I first started keto where I ate a ton of butter to see if it would help. My estrogen did really crazy things. I think it was because of the inflammation, so it was just like, you know what? I’m just not even going to play around with this. I’m just going to cut it out, and I haven’t had it since. Yeah, it was probably about a week, and it was a hot mess. I’ll never do that again.

Okay, so I have your book, but for people that may not be familiar with Keto Essentials, why don’t you tell us a little bit about it?

Vanessa Spina: Sure. Keto Essentials came out in November. When my publishers, the same publishers as yours, Leanne, first approached me they wanted to do a cookbook. I wanted to just write a book about keto, so we compromised, and put together half cookbook half guide to keto.

The book is all about how to get into ketosis. It focuses a lot on the mistakes that I made because I made so many when I first started doing this because I would say there’s so much incredible information online about keto, but it’s almost too much, where it’s very difficult for people to decipher what’s real and what isn’t. You have to just try things out and make mistakes, and that’s how you learn.

I learned so much in making tons of mistakes at the beginning, which is how I was able to create my program. I talk a lot about, in the book, all the mistakes that I made, how to get into ketosis, how to test yourself, how to measure results, interpreting results, and a lot of my keto hacks for getting into ketosis, if you’re struggling, or you’re not getting in like we discussed earlier.

Then, I have about 150 recipes, which are all of my favorite foods that are, a lot of them are kind of comfort foods, and some of my restaurant favorites, and things that I love to have. But, I was able to make them keto, so that they could be just as delicious, and fun to eat, but also extremely nourishing.

There’s a lot of dairy-free recipes in there. Obviously, everything is gluten free and keto. I have the macronutrient breakdown for everything, and I also have some starter meal plans in the book as well.

There’s lots and lots of information if you’re a beginner and brand new, or you’ve been doing keto for a while, and you’re a keto veteran and you’re coming in looking for more ideas or recipes.

Leanne Vogel: Amazing. We’ll include a link in the show notes, so you guys can grab that book. Every time I go to a bookstore to sign a couple of copies, your book is right beside mine, so I know it’s in all the bookstores as well.

My final question is, where can people find you?

Vanessa Spina: Yeah. You can find me, my most active channel is probably Instagram @ketogenicgirl and on Facebook as The Ketogenic Girl. I just started a podcast in January, which has been so much fun. It’s called Fast Keto on iTunes. I do a mix of a lot of solo casts where I’m just sharing different tips and ideas on keto, and then interviews with experts on fasting for keto, on exercising and keto, on PCOS, hormones, anything that I think is going to add value, and have a ton of fun recording those. That’s Fast Keto.

Yeah, you can find me, which is where all the resources that I have are on as well.

Leanne Vogel: Amazing. We’ll include the link in the show notes to your new podcast. I checked it out yesterday or the day before. Well done.

Vanessa Spina: Oh, thank you.

Leanne Vogel: It’s a lot of work to do a podcast. I’m really excited for you.

Vanessa Spina: Thank you so much. I mean, you’ve done an incredible job. I’m just so thrilled for you. Like I was saying earlier, congratulations on all your success. It’s so incredible seeing your podcast. It’s like, in the top 10 of all podcasts on iTunes on health and fitness. Like your book has just been absolutely crushing it.

I’m so excited for you and all the hard work that you do to spread the message and knowledge on keto, and genuinely just want to help people in getting more health for themselves. Congratulations and thank you so much for having me on. It’s been so much fun to geek out on keto with you.

Leanne Vogel: Yeah. Thanks so much, Vanessa. You totally rock. We’ll have to have you again on the podcast soon because this is great. I have so many more questions for you. You’re such a wealth of knowledge.

Thank you for doing what you do. It’s so great that we get to do this for a living.

So until next time guys, you can find my show notes and full transcript for today’s episode at

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The Keto Diet Podcast, including show notes and links, provides information in respect to healthy living, recipes, nutrition, and diet, and is intended for informational purposes only. The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, nor is it to be confused as such. We cannot guarantee that the information provided on The Keto Diet Podcast reflects the most up to date medical research. Information is provided without any representations or warranties of any kind. Please consult a qualified physician for medical advice, and always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding your health and nutrition program.

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