Halle Berry proudly showed support for Maria Emmerich’s ketogenic cookbook, Quick & Easy Ketogenic Cooking, via her Instagram stories back in May 2018 and has widely promoted her healthy book. So HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with the cookbook author to dish on how she teamed up with the 53-year-old Oscar winner and why her book works so well for the ageless star. “Halle is diabetic so she needs to control her blood glucose and a ketogenic diet is amazing for keeping glucose under control,” Maria explained. “She has all my books but I think she likes the Quick & Easy book so much because as a busy mom, she likes having quick and easy options that can be very helpful with our busy lives.”
“Not only does keto help her control her blood glucose, but it also helps give the energy to stay active and fuel her amazing workouts,” Maria continued. “On the keto diet, you have reduced hunger and cravings, more energy, more mental clarity and much more when the brain is running on ketones. This helps you stay on track because you feel so good.” Maria sat down and went over why the keto diet works so well and she also shared the perfect keto meal plan which you can check out below!
HL: Why does the keto diet work so well for losing weight?
Maria: The Keto Diet primes the body to use fat as fuel, removing much of its dependence on glucose. This makes burning the body fat that you want to lose, easier. It also balances the hormones so it makes cravings and hunger diminish which also enables easier weight loss.
HL: What exact steps does someone need to take in order to get started with the keto diet to lose weight?
Maria: Start by cutting carbs from your diet; We generally recommend clients consume less than 20g of total carbs per day. The next step is to make sure you eat enough protein since you need it to maintain and re-build muscle and skin tissues. You can adjust the amount of fat based on your needs, you can incorporate more if you want to maintain or gain and eat less if you want to lose weight.
HL: Macros can be very confusing and frustrating to calculate for some people. So, can you easily explain what macros are?
Maria: Macros are the grams per day – of the fat, protein and carbs you eat. The carbs are a limit, 20g or less. Protein is a goal based on lean mass (how big you are and how much muscle you have). We recommend 0.8 times your lean mass for grams of protein a day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds and have 33% body fat that means you have 100 pounds of lean mass. So your protein goal would be 80 grams a day. Finally, fat you adjust based on your goals. If weight loss is the goal, fat is a limit. In general, fat grams of equal to or less than your protein goal is a good target for weight loss. In this example that would be 80g or less fat. We have a calculator here that makes finding your macros easy: https://mariamindbodyhealth.com/keto-calculator/
HL: How important are calculating macros?
Maria: In the beginning, it is very important. Many people don’t know how much fat, protein, and carbs they are getting and so much food today has hidden sugars in it that add up quickly. So tracking, in the beginning, is very important. After you get the hang of it and know what food you can have, then it is less important. Our books (like the 30 Day Ketogenic Cleanse) have meal plans in them so following those take away the need to track macros!
HL: What are 5 of the best ways to safely lose weight with the Keto diet?
Maria: 1) Eat the protein first. Protein has the highest thermic effect of food (TEF) meaning you use up a lot of calories processing it. This means the 25-30% of the calories from protein don’t count! Fat and Carbs have a much lower TEF so more of the calories consumed count. 2) Keep carbs to a minimum. Shoot for 20g or less total carbs. 3) Use fat as a lever. Dial dietary fat down to allow the body to use more body-fat as fuel. 4) Avoid all dairy and nuts. This will help with weight loss. 5) Keep electrolytes up, especially in the first couple of weeks. If you have heavy legs, low energy, etc – it is from dehydration. Carbs retain water so when you reduce the carbs, your body releases the water it is holding onto. But that also means you lose electrolytes so you have to add them back in.
HL: What are 5 myths about the keto diet?
Maria: 1) Keto is bad for the kidneys. The studies on protein and kidney health are for very high protein intakes. Keto is a moderate-protein diet. We have helped dozens of clients reverse kidney disease with a keto diet. 2) The body needs carbs. Carbohydrates are a non-essential macronutrient. The body needs essential amino acids (protein) and essential fatty acids (fats) or you will die. The body doesn’t need dietary carbohydrates. It can make all the glucose the body needs through gluconeogenesis (making glucose protein and glycerol from fat). 3) Keto is bad for athletes. Many studies have shown that athletes actually perform much better when keto-adapted, especially endurance athletes. Zach Bitter is a keto distance runner and just broke the world record for the 100-mile race. 4) Keto causes gallbladder problems. Studies have shown that diets higher in fat actually prevent gallstone formation. 5) You just can’t stay on a keto diet long term. I am living proof that this is a myth. I have been keto for almost 20 years! My husband for over 15 years and our sons (9 and 10 years old) for their entire lives. All are thriving!
HL: What are your best tips on how to meal prep for keto?
Maria: I like to use my slow cooker. I put all the ingredients for a recipe in the shell in the evening. In the morning I just pop the shell into the cooker and turn it on. When we get home there is a meal waiting for us!
HL: Why is meal prepping so important?
Maria: Meal prep enables you to stay on track. If you don’t have meals planned you will grab something that is likely not a healthy keto option or cave and stop at a fast-food place. Having a tasty meal ready can make all the difference for staying on track. I make a big batch of my favorite recipe on Sunday and freeze in single servings size containers for the week. Each morning I take one out and just have to heat it up and eat. Doing this with my protein noodle lasagna is my favorite go-to meal.
In order to get you started on the right path with the keto diet, Maria has laid out the perfect and delicious keto meal plan. This meal prep includes three recipes from her cookbook, one for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Breakfast – Taco Breakfast Bake
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ pound 80% lean ground beef
½ cup chopped onions
2 tablespoons Taco Seasoning (page 110)
¼ cup tomato sauce
8 large eggs, beaten
¼ cup beef bone broth, store-bought or homemade (page 132)
¾ cup shredded Monterey Jack or sharp cheddar cheese (about 3 ounces)
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) cream cheese
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic, or cloves from ½ head roasted garlic (page 134)
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Sliced fresh chives and/or chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)
Marinara sauce, warmed, for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In large oven-safe skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the ground beef, onions, and taco seasoning and cook until the beef is cooked all the way through and the onions are translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and stir well to combine.
In large bowl, mix together the eggs, broth, cheeses, garlic, cilantro, salt, and pepper.
Add the egg mixture to the beef mixture and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, until the eggs are just slightly set, stirring continuously.
Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 27 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked through in the center. Remove from the oven and let rest for 3 minutes, then slice and serve. If desired, garnish with fresh chives and/or cilantro and serve with marinara sauce. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in a 350°F oven for 3 minutes or in the microwave for 30 seconds, or until heated through.
Lunch – Slow Cooker Chicken Ceasar Wraps
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 cups chicken bone broth, store-bought or homemade (page 132)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
½ cup Caesar dressing, store-bought (see Note) or homemade (page 116), plus more if desired
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces) (optional; omit for dairy-free)
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 head romaine lettuce, leaves separated
12 green onions, for tying wraps (optional)
Place the chicken in a 4-quart slow cooker along with the broth, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours.
Remove the chicken from the slow cooker using a slotted spoon and transfer to a cutting board. (Discard the broth in the slow cooker.) Shred the chicken using two forks.
Place the shredded chicken in a bowl and pour the dressing over the top. Add the Parmesan cheese (if using), parsley, and pepper and stir until evenly mixed.
Serve wrapped in romaine leaves on a platter. Tie each wrap closed with a decorative piece of green onion, if desired.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Dinner – Skillet Lasagna
1 pound 80% lean ground beef
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 (24-ounce) jar marinara sauce
4 thin slices roast chicken breast (from the deli counter)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces), divided
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano, for garnish
In a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, brown the beef over medium-high heat, seasoning it with the salt, until cooked through, about 5 minutes, breaking up the meat with a spatula as it cooks.
Add the marinara sauce and stir well to combine. Push half of the sautéed beef off to one side of the skillet and place a layer of sliced chicken breast on the bottom of the skillet. Top the chicken with ½ cup of the shredded cheese. Scoop the beef on top of the deli meat to create an even layer. Top with the remaining ½ cup of cheese and sprinkle with the oregano.
Cover and heat on low until the cheese is melted.