GRASS-FED: KETO RECOMMENDED BUT NOT REQUIRED
Grass-fed meat and dairy is something you hear almost immediately when starting your keto research for a diet done right. It’s true that keto has a strict set of rules, practically laws, which need to be followed in order to optimize the keto experience and lifestyle. Low carb, drinks lots of water, get your electrolytes, eat leafy greens… but is grass-fed meat a hard and fast rule? Luckily for our wallets, no. Grass-fed is not a make or break for keto, but it is highly recommended. The big reasons for choosing typical, grain-fed meats over grass-fed has mostly to do with cost and availability. Grass-fed meat is substantially more expensive than grain-fed and often times harder to find. The same goes for dairy-products that come from grass-fed cows and eggs that come from pasture-raised chickens. Price is often prohibitive when it comes to grass-fed and pasture raised livestock and having to choose between grass-fed steaks for a keto dinner and gas money shouldn’t ever be an issue you come up against. So, let’s take a look at why grass-fed is recommended and the work-arounds for the budget conscious.
OMEGA 3 VS. OMEGA 6
Grass-fed meats and dairy are naturally higher in omega 3 fatty acids. Why does this matter? It matters because beef and other land-based meats already tend to be higher in omega 6 fatty acids and it is strongly recommended, no matter what diet or eating habit you chose, that a person eat omega 3 and omega 6 in an equal ratio, 1:1. Land animals don’t carry a 1:1 ratio naturally, but grass-fed animals have a much closer ratio than grain-fed animals do. Grain-fed beef can be as disproportionate as 8:1 omega 6 over omega 3, whereas grass-fed is a bit closer to the ideal ratio at around 3:1. Either way, you’ll need to supplement your beef, pork, or poultry with omega 3s in order to get into omega balance. One way is to eat more fatty fish (here is one of our favorite ways to prepare a good salmon dish). You can also take fish oil supplements to get the omega 3 balance, just make sure you take enough in comparison to the omega 6s you’re getting with your meats.
ORGANIC? ANTIBIOTICS? MCT OIL
Aside from the omegas contained in grass-fed vs. grain fed meats, there are arguments about what else comes with grain-fed that grass-fed supposedly cures. Many have made a correlation between grain-fed meats and animal antibiotics, and while it’s true that some livestock raisers will use antibiotics with their grain-fed cows, the two are not mutually exclusive. Grain-fed doesn’t mean antibiotics. Many grain-fed cows aren’t given antibiotics nor hormones, and the quickest way to know the truth is to read the packaging; those farms that supply meat raised without antibiotics are very proud of that fact and proudly put in on their product. Also, grass-fed and organic aren’t one in the same, you can easily find organic, grain-fed meat and still save some money.
One more thing to consider: grass-fed meats are naturally higher in MCTs (medium chain triglyceride fats) which is how they get the omega 3 bump. Taking an MCT supplement is a great idea on keto no matter what, but taking it around the meals where you’ll be eating more land based animal meats -especially if they are grain-fed makes even more sense as the MCT will help in the fat-chain balancing act.