I'm a huge fan of the ketogenic diet (or "keto"). Not because it can help melt fat off your body like a snowman in Cancun (I'm too skinny already), but the various other health benefits that seem to positively impact my mental health and lifestyle. From inhibiting stress, aging, and neurodegeneration, to enhancing memory, cognition and energy levels. If you don't know what I'm talking about, just read this article by Scientific America.
What is the ketogenic diet? In summary, the diet consists of high fats, moderate proteins, and low or no carbs. The idea is to use fat for fuel by depleting your body of carbohydrates. I like to think of it in the following way: our bodies have a hierarchical structure for creating and using energy - it prefers to first use alcohol (i.e. the 4th macronutrient), then carbohydrates (sugar/ glucose), then fat, and finally muscle mass if it has to. The tendency towards these preferences is like some kind of survival fail-safe. By removing carbs (and generally not drinking a whole lot), we're forcing our body's survival mechanism to take effect. The liver begins to convert fat into ketones, which the brain can use as energy. Once adaptation has occurred (about 1-2 weeks sans carbs), the brain starts to convert fat into energy more efficiently than sugar, and produces the generous health benefits I've mentioned.
Why is this so important to me? Simply because, energy and happiness. The feeling associated with being in ketosis is often described as euphoric. It's had profound positive effects on my mental health, productivity, and socialbility. Producing energy in turn gives me clarity on life, and both are part of the six proven High Performance Habits.
What do I eat while in ketosis? I consume a lot of avocados, nuts, seeds, eggs, cheese, vegetables, fish, steak, chicken, seafood, coconut oil, olive oil, cheese, butter, tea and coffee. I mix these up with various spices to form an infinite palette of flavors.
What are the downsides? Adaptation is a hurdle, especially if you're starting keto for the first time. Perhaps you've never told your body that it has to stop using carbs as its preferred energy source. You will feel groggy and lethargic during adaptation. Societal food sources and social eating have also make resisting high carb foods difficult. But if you're like me and you come to realize the rewards in feeling, resisting or rejecting the norm becomes well worth it.
That being said, my plan while traveling with Remote Year in 2018 has been to cycle keto by having a cheat weekend every 2 weeks (staying in ketosis for about 25 out of 30 days of the month, or 84% of the time). It's a longer form of what bodybuilders know as "CKD", or Cyclical Keto Diet. This schedule will give me a decent balance of pleasure and healthy eating. It will allow me to enjoy as much of the local restaurants I can in the middle of the month, and during transition to our next destination. I'll cook for myself and shop at the local grocery stores for keto friendly ingredients (btw Remote Year provides awesome accommodations usually with full kitchens).
Home Cooking: Here's a few of the things I've been cooking specifically for ketogenic dieting. The best part is they're relatively simple to cook and very cheap! The most difficulty I had with any of it is locking down some coconut oil, which can be found easily once you know where to get it (search for "dietetica naturales" shops in google maps).
Local Restaurants: On one hand, Buenos Aires is ideal for keto because meat is served everywhere, and all of it is really quality. But that's not to say they don't serve it with carbs either. Regardless, here are a few foods I've found in the local restaurants.
Remote Year Gatherings: One last thing I'll add is the barbecues (or Asado's) we've held as a group to celebrate the love for meat in Argentinian culture. There were at least a couple of these experiences hosted by Remote Year itself, and the others were gatherings individuals from the group conducted.