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For the past few years, I’ve been fascinated by Ayurveda, the traditional medical system of India. Studying for my Nutrition Consultant certification really opened my eyes to so many new perspectives on food and nutrition, but Ayurveda jumped out the most, and so I began a deeper exploration of this field. The main goal to the article is really to help relate Ayurveda and keto – how can we incorporate Ayurvedic principals into the framework of a low carb diet?
The Absolute Basics of Ayurveda
This is a suuuuuuper basic introduction. But, if I had to narrow down the goal of Ayurvedic principals, it would be this: Ayurveda is about achieving balance. This means to balance your body, mind and spirit with your environment, with your activities, and with the foods that you eat. Ayurveda takes into account five different elements, and works to bring these all into a state of harmony. Sound hippie dippy? It kind of is, but there’s actually a lot of “real” (Western) science and medicine backing up Ayurveda.
The principals of Ayurveda are actually quite simple though. Ayurveda isn’t just necessarily about health and medicine in the way we typically think about it, but also about bringing balance to your whole life. As outlined by The Chopra Center, Ayurveda has the following guidelines:
- Take time each day to quiet your mind (meditate).
- Eat a colorful, flavorful diet.
- Engage in daily exercise that enhances flexibility, strength, and cardiovascular fitness.
- Sleep soundly at night.
- Eliminate what is not serving you.
- Cultivate loving, nurturing relationships.
- Perform work that awakens your passion.
The Five Elements of Ayurveda
The foundation of Ayurveda is understanding the five elements, and how they relate to one another. These are the basic elements of life, and they promote health and happiness when in balance. Dis-ease and discomfort are Ayurveda’s five basic elements are as follows:
- ether/space (Akasha): This is the most subtle and conceptual of the elements. Ether represents the space in all things (including in atoms!).
- air (Vatu): Air relates most closely with movement.
- fire (Agni): Fire represents motivation and drive, passion and metabolism.
- water (Jala): Water is easy going, and flows to move things from point A to B.
- earth (Prithvi): Earth is grounded, stable and has a strong structure.
There are more detailed explanations, and a fantastic chart over at: http://www.kimmana.com/five-elements-of-ayurveda/
The Three Doshas of Ayurveda
A Dosha is your unique balance of the elements, that will guide you to make decisions that are best for your health and wellness, based on your body and personality type. There are three doshas: Vata, Pitta & Kapha. We all have varying degrees of each dosha that make up our constitution as a whole (in fact, everything in the world has these doshas), and when these elements are in balance, we experience health. The three main doshas are as follows:
- Vata: Ether & Air
- Pitta: Fire & Water
- Kapha: Earth & Water
People tend to have a dominant dosha, which we will be talking about far more in the next few articles, though you can be a combination of two doshas. There are plenty of quizzes you can take online to determine your dosha, and this article provides a comprehensive breakdown of the doshas and how they function.
Think about how you function (Are you constantly in your head, flighty and on the go? Do you have strong motivation and a quick temper? Are you easy going, and slower to get moving?), to help determine what your dominant dosha(s) is/are. The article mentioned above can also provide guidance in determining your dosha, as can this fairly comprehensive (but not overwhelming!) quiz.
So…How Do Ayurveda and Keto Come Together?
Great question! A lot of Ayurvedic principals help to guide your food choices, and that’s where we can work keto, or other low carb options, into the mix. Once you’ve determined your dosha, the idea is to eat to best balance this energy, especially in terms of Agni (digestive fire). For instance, those who are Vata are typically cold, so eating warm or hot foods will increase fire, and bring balance. Balance can be achieved in many ways, but the dominating idea is that we pay close attention to what, when and how we eat, to best nourish our bodies.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll look at how balancing each dosha can work within the parameters of a low carbohydrate, or ketogenic way of eating. Before you continue, you should definitely check out the dosha quiz. This will help you to be able to choose the foods, activities, spices and herbs that are best for your particular constitution. My results were:
- Vata: 31
- Pitta: 7
- Kapha: 5
I’d love to see how your doshas compare. Feel free to share in the comments!
18 thoughts on “Ayurveda and Keto: An Introduction”
I don’t see any comments but i figure i’ll leave my test results here – i found some of the questions hard to answer accurately because with things like climate tolerance, i have equal difficulty with cold, heat AND humidity lol so i selected all three – wasn’t sure how it worked but i didn’t feel selecting just one would be accurate … anyway – thanks for the articles – i’ve been feeling a little pull to this lately so … we’ll see : )
Ooh, it looks like you might actually be pretty balanced!!
Thanks for sharing your results. It’s always fun to see what other people get!
Hi Liz. I am predominately a pita with some kapha and want to lose ten kilos. It would mean no porridge or rice. Can u give meal suggestions how to eat low carb ayurveda , Di
Hi, Liz. My scores were Vata: 20, Pitta: 15, Kapha: 6.
Results said I was Pitta-Kapha dominant, but with all those similar numbers it seems like it would be hard to tell.
Liz, if you have any further info, I am working to have an Ayurvedic Keto diet as well!!
Hi!! It sounds like you’re actually really balanced, Lindsay!
I’m working on a bunch of Ayurvedic stuff for the blog now! 😀
Let me know if there’s anything in particular you’re looking for!
I’m really interested in more about combining the keto with Ayurvedic if you could send me in the right direction I would appreciate it! I’ve definitely struggled with my pittavata for a long time even seeing a herbalist for it but the diet part is the hardest!
Hi my score was Kapha Pitta with 16 16 9 as my results. I am currently taking this ambrosia (fantastic product) https://www.amritam.it/portfolio-item/ambrosia/ But it has a high sugar content and I want to be sure it is not knocking me out of Ketosis.
Hi David! How many grams of sugar are in each serving? If you track ketone production, I would recommend doing so before and after consuming some of this (so right before, then an hour after and then four hours after, for example). That way you could see if there is a significant difference and if you easily bounce back from it. 🙂
Cool. Will do. A serving is 1 teaspoon, so the max is would be is 1 teaspoon of sugar, but there is ghee and other ingredients as well.
Ah, okay – that’s not so bad! It likely doesn’t kick you out of ketosis, so long as the rest of what you eat is low carb. 🙂
I use a greens powder pretty often that has a few grams of sugar in it as well, but I think the benefit outweighs the small amount of sugar. So, if you ask me, I’d say if you like it, then keep using it!
I think they use the sugar as the delivery system. It believe it is an effective way to get the medicinal medicine into the blood system. This product is wonderful. Really great.
Thanks a lot for your response!
My pleasure, David! It sounds like a great product – I’ll have to check it out 😀
I love the sign-off of “Happy Keto!” That’s great!
I love ayurveda and I love what keto can do. Finding this article and the ones that follow is a dream 😍 Plus, I love a good dosha quiz: pitta kapha
Given the heavy focus on Keto for FAT BURNING as Fuel, or Ketogenesis, I think Ayurveda has nuanced mechanisms to target Medha or Fat than just going High Fat on a dietary front. They focus on use of specific herbs & spices to fuel what is the primary driver of Metabolism.. which is called AGNI or Digestive Fire .. and they have various types and categories of Agni or Transformative fire that should be leveraged.
Hi! I love how informative and great your articles are. Can you recommend any other blogs that share information on>Spiritual Awakening or spirituality in general? Thanks a lot!
Hi Divya, thank you for the kind words! I really enjoy Dr. Frawley’s writing at Vedanet.com
Have a lovely day!