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Protein Sparing Huevos Rancheros

Protein Sparing Huevos Rancheros

Pure Protein and Fat Days

I use to really enjoy sitting and reading women’s health and fitness magazines. But since children came into my life, those days are put on pause until they are no longer demanding toddlers that prefer to sit on my lab whenever I open a book. I cherish these times, so I don’t mind. I did happen to pick up a Women’s Health magazine at the local fitness center while I was waiting for a weight lifting class and I was shocked that I ever wasted my time reading them. Not only did they push healthy “whole grains” but they also pushed lean proteins. No fat. This is the “clean” diet that so many people succumb to in order to try to lose weight. Our brain and cells are over 60 percent fat!

To many clients I see remain slaves to the belief that glucose is the dominant source of fuels, so they live their lives in a fear of running low. The truth is, fat is the ideal energy source and has been for most of human evolution. We actually need only minimal amounts of glucose, most or all of which can be supplied by the liver as needed on a daily basis. The simple SAD fact that carbs/glucose are so readily available and cheap today doesn’t mean that we should depend on them as a primary source of fuel or revere them so highly. In fact, it is this blind allegiance to the “Carb Paradigm” that has driven so many of us to experience the vast array of metabolic problems that threaten to overwhelm our health care system. I can’t believe that there is still a large segment of the so-called health and fitness community that defend carbohydrate and glucose as a fuel source with such tenacity.

There are 2 sources for fuel, you can burn fat or you can burn sugar. Being a fat burner is referred to as keto-adapted and it is the preferred metabolic state of the human body; it is why we have all this fat on our bodies, it’s an awesome source of fuel! To understand what it means to be normal, it’s useful examine what it means to be abnormal, which is when you are a sugar-burner. Do you ever find yourself as “hangry” (hungry and angry) when you skip a meal? This is not “normal.”

1. A sugar-burner (bodies main fuel is glucose) can’t easily access fat stores for energy. What that means is our muscles cannot oxidize fat. I know, I know, the Runner’s Magazine you are reading says you burn glucose for energy, which is why marathoners eat a huge pasta dinner the night before and oatmeal for breakfast. Sure, keep doing that. I did for years and I ran some pretty good marathons, but I was overweight and I had lots of joint pain. But on a more serious issue, I basically wanted an IV-glucose drip hooked up to your veins because I was always hungry or “hangry.” When I was a sugar-burner and I would go two, three, four hours without food, or – dare I say it – skip a meal, watch out… I was “hangry.” I was the definition of a suffering sugar burner. Our bodies have evolved to depend on on beta oxidation of fat for the majority of our energy needs, so in a keto adapted body, fat tissue releases a bunch of fatty acids 4-6 hours after eating and during fasting, because your muscles should be able to oxidize them. But since I kept eating bananas, granola bars and carbs when I would get “hangry,” my cells were burning sugar and not fat, and once my blood sugar was all used up (which happens quite quickly), hunger would set in and my hand would grab for yet another banana.

2. A sugar-burner cannot use the fat in their diet for energy. The detrimental side effect of this fact is that more fat is stored than burned. Unfortunately, sugar burners end up gaining lots of body fat. A low ratio of fat to carbohydrate oxidation is a solid predictor of future weight gain.

3. A sugar-burner relies on a short-lived source of fuel for energy. You can only store about 50-90 grams of glucose in your liver for energy conversion, which really isn’t a lot. You can also store glucose in your muscles which is very individualized (trained athletes usually have larger storage sites if they train with carbohydrates). You can’t store very much of it unless you count the grams of glucose in the snacks that are in your pockets. Let’s compare a very lean man at 12% body fat who is 160 pounds, he has over 19 pounds of fat to burn for oxidation, but his glucose as muscle and liver glycogen are limited to about 500. Think about this for a second… 19 pounds of energy or 500 grams… I’m choosing the longer lasting energy source.

4. A sugar-burner uses up their glycogen stores rapidly during exercise. Whenever I run the Twin Cities Marathon I love the “Wall” we all run under at mile 20. This signals “the wall” that the sugar-burner runners are experiencing. The glycogen stores are pretty much depleted by mile 20. This is where many runners start to walk. I remember this pain and exhaustion quite vividly, it is hard to forget such pain and determination it takes to keep going. As a former marathon sugar-burner, I wasted my glycogen on efforts where fat should be able to power.

Now that I am keto-adapted, it looks quite differently:

1. Keto-adapted means you can effectively oxidize dietary fat for energy. If you’re adapted, your post-prandial fat oxidation will be increased, and less fat you consume will be stored in adipose tissue. Keto-adapted means can rely more on fat for energy during exercise, sparing glycogen for when you really need it. Being able to mobilize and oxidize stored fat during exercise reduces an athlete’s reliance on glycogen. This helps athletes save the glycogen (which your body can make from protein too) for the truly intense segments of a session, and burn more body fat. If you can handle exercising without having to consume carbohydrates, you’re most likely keto-adapted. If you can perform a quality work out in a fasted state, you’re definitely fat-adapted.

2. Keto-adapted means you have plenty of accessible energy, even if you are lean. If you are keto-adapted, the genes associated with fat metabolism will be unrestrained in your muscles. You basically reprogram your cells.

3. Keto-adapted means you can burn stored fat for energy throughout the day. If you can handle intermittent fasting and skip a meal and are able to go hours without getting “hangry” or craving carbohydrates, you’re likely keto-adapted.

4. Keto-adapted means you are able to burn glucose if available and needed, but a sugar-burner has no choice, they can’t flip back and fourth. This is why a sugar-burner hits a wall during the day and may need a nap. Being keto-adapted means metabolic flexibility. Keto-adaption allows you to empty glycogen stores through intense exercise, refill those stores, burn any consumed fat that isn’t stored, and easily access and oxidize the fat that is stored when it’s needed. This would be the ability to exercise in a fasted state. But since glucose is toxic in the blood, we’ll always want to burn it first, then a keto-adapted person can start burning fat. A sugar burner gets exhaused and needs more sugar because thier body doesn’t have the abilty to switch back and fourth. This isn’t a suggestion to start adding tons of carbohydrates once you are fat adapted. Fuel your body with fat!

There’s not a home test that you can take to determine if you are truly keto-adapted. It is more about how you feel. Things like low satiety after eating, hunger a few hours after eating, waking up in the night because of low blood sugar, impaired fat burning, and carbohydrate cravings are all signs of a sugar-burner. You could technically test your ratio of carbon dioxide you produce to the oxygen you intake to see if you are keto-adapted, but it isn’t really practical. An RQ (respiratory quotient) of over 1+ signifies that you are burning sugar; if you have a RQ of 0.7 that would signify fat-burning. If you are around 0.8 would mean you are somewhat keto-adapted or in the process of becoming keto-adapted. Clients with high body fat and diabetes have higher RQs. People who are night owls and are nighttime eaters also have higher RQs and low fat oxidation rates. The good news is that you can change your fate!

And instead of trying to figure out your respiratory quotient, let’s ask ourselves a few questions to determine if you are truly keto-adapted:

1. Can you exercise without eating beforehand?
2. Can you go longer than 3 hours without eating?
3. Do you have even energy throughout the day?
4. Do you need a nap in the afternoon?
5. Do you have brain fog?
6. Do you have headaches?
7. Do you wake up in the middle of the night with hunger?
8. Do you experience “Hanger” (hungry anger?) If you answered “yes” to the first 3 questions and “no” to the last 5 questions, you are definitely keto-adapted.

If you want to become “keto-adapted” fast and take the planning out of what to eat on Pure Protein and Fat days, the Accelerated 30 day Meal Plans would be just what you are looking for!

huevos rancheros


Protein Sparing Huevos Rancheros

Maria Emmerich
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 2


  • 1 tablespoon Coconut oil/ghee/butter for frying
  • 3 egg separated
  • 2 TBS unflavored egg white protein powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • Optional: 1 tsp Mexican spices
  • 1/2 cup ground beef 85% lean OR my Chili Recipe, browned
  • 4 Fried Eggs
  • 1/2 sliced Avocado
  • 1/2 cup Salsa
  • 1 whole Green Onions sliced


  • Place the egg whites (no yolks at all...or it won’t work) in a bowl and whip with a hand mixer or stand mixer until they are very stiff.
  • Slowly add in the unflavored protein powder and spices.
  • Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Fry tortilla dough one at a time until firm, but not crisp.
  • Remove onto paper towels to drain excess oil.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the beef and other desired topping.
  • When tortillas are done, fry eggs over easy in the skillet.
  • Place “tortillas” onto plates, and spread a layer of meat on them.
  • Top with your desired toppings. I love my chili, a fried egg, crumbled bacon, avocado and salsa.


436 calories, 24g fat, 45g protein, 8g carbs, 4g fiber

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huevos rancheros


Testimony of the Day

“Hi Maria! I want to thank you so much for helping me! Here are photos of before and after eating your way of soy free, gluten free,  and eating locally and real food.  The picture doesn’t show all the gastrointestinal, pain and general icky feelings that disappeared as well! I can’t thank you enough.”

To get started on your “after” photo, click HERE! You deserve to feel and look the best you can!

huevos rancheros


Maria Emmerich

Maria is a wellness expert who has helped clients follow a Ketogenic lifestyle to heal and lose weight for over 20 years. She has helped thousands of clients get healthy, get off medications and heal their bodies; losing weight is just a bonus. She is the international best selling author of several books including "Keto: The Complete Guide to Success on the Ketogenic Diet.".


  • Jane says:

    Maria this is my favorite blog post yet! What a phenomenal explanation of the difference between a fat vs. sugar burner! I am for sure a sugar burner and a fat burner “wannabe!” Thank you again for providing inspiration and motivation!!

  • Maggie says:

    You have NO idea what that picture is doin’ to me. I want it in my belly right now!!

  • Joy says:


    I have an organic buying club and pass on your AMAZING information to all. I have a young member who has a child with asthma. Any info on that???

  • Marcy Schneider Hoffman says:

    Just listened to the podcast. Great info as always Maria!

  • Claudette Melanson says:

    Hi Maria, I don’t understand what is going on with me. Yes I know we need to do the assesment and you probably can’t answer this until then, but I haven’t had grain or sugar since the beginning of July. I believe I was adrenal fatigued….just NO energy because of my RA and the meds I was on. I have also upped my fat intake. 1 T of MCT oil in my coffee, 2 T of coconut oil in my moring egg protein shake, 1 T of MCT and 1 of Macadamia oil in my lunch shake – almond milk with avocado and vegegreens & parsley. I have 2 slices of coconut flour ‘bread’ with 1 T of coconut butter for a snack in the afternoon. At dinner I have steak ususally (grass fed) sometimes some mock mashed potato (cauliflower) with grass fed butter or coconut oil for dairy free. I still crash hard at about 2 in the afternoon at work….granted I work a lot, 44 hours usually, 54 this and last week. I get around 5-6 hours of sleep at least. I try hard to go for six. Is there any way I could NOT be keto burning? Or maybe I just can’t get past the RA? BTW the weight dropped a couple of lbs but I’m stuck again…..ARGHHHHH!!!!

    • cemmerich says:

      As you said I would know a lot more with a health assessment but the low sleep is an issues. There are supplements and other things that can help. There are also diet and supplements changes that can help with the crash. Hard to say which without knowing where you are deficient. 🙂

  • Kathy King says:

    First, I just want to say that I was thrilled to find the bread recipes on this site. I like them because they are simple to make, and this one I especially like because it is nut-free. I wish though that you could have seen me trying to shape them! It was fun and I finally had to ‘make do’ by putting them on a cookie sheet. I sprayed parchment with oil, put the mixture down, sprayed another piece of parchment and placed it over the dollops of egg mixture. then I carefully pressed them into the right shape, which was pretty easy because you can see through the parchment. Then, I flattened them further with a a pan and baked them until just firm. They turned out perfect. I think a tortilla press would be great for me on this. I really appreciate this website and have ordered all your books!

  • Claudette Melanson says:

    Just a warning…I went to Progressive’s site to see what kind of lecithin is in their Harmonized shake and I just found out I’ve been ingesting Gluten in their vegegreens! Vegegreens is NOT gluten free. I’m not supposed to have it at all. I thought for 3 months I was gluten free….I’m bummed 🙁

  • Ann H. says:

    Maria…. i wanted to ask you about whole flaxseed. i know the body needs the ground flax to get the nutrition … but does the body get ANY calories from eating whole flaxseeds? or do they just pass thru
    with no calories taken for the body ?


    • cemmerich says:

      Not sure about that. Also, use flaxseeds very much in moderation. They are more estrogenic than soy.

      • Ann H. says:

        thanks Maria….. i do try to limit what i eat but i really wish i knew if the body gets anything from the whole flax or not. i’ll keep looking for an answer

      • Ann H. says:

        Update on whole flaxseed. …. Maria… from what i found out after talking to the Flax council in Canada ….. you DO NOT get any calories from any whole flaxseed that doesnt get broken up in the chewing process. they told me…. very little calories would be had from chewing them whole… as most would pass thru your body undigested.

        i am glad to know this because i like bulking up cookie recipes with whole flax and not have to worry about extra unwanted calories.
        i dont eat that much of them anyway….. but this is good to know.

        just thought i would pass it along

  • Vanessa says:

    When you are keto adapted what would you recommend eating before and after a workout? Is it appropriate to have protein as long as you add fat? What would be the best ratio?

    • cemmerich says:

      I still try to stay with the same ratio of fats, protein and carbs. I add l-glutamine after a workout to help muscle healing. 🙂

  • Emillea says:


    I am not a client (yet!) but a huge fan. I have lost roughly 20lbs on Keto thus far and finding your books/blog is an amazing inspiration as I am getting burnt out on what to make (especially for the carb-loving significant other). I am only 21 but struggled to lose weight for all of my life. Even the 20lbs on keto took over 6 months, but I am not deterred. I don’t have the finances yet (I type from the library computer) but someday I will get a consultation with you!

    One more person who appreciates all you do.

  • Linda says:

    Could you not use Ketosticks and test your urine to tell if you are burning keytones?

  • cemmerich says:

    Well said! 🙂

  • Julie Mckean says:

    Dear Maria
    I love your foods, but so many contain eggs or whites. Do you have any ideas for substitutions? Also do you soak your nuts, before cooking. I would like to feel better and avoid food allergies,yeast,parasites,ect.. Any ideas?

    • cemmerich says:

      Yes, I soak my raw nuts. The almond flour is already soaked (that is how they blanch or remove the dark outer part). There is a flax egg replacer you can try (just google for recipe). 🙂

  • Angela says:

    Maria!! I’m changing my eating habits, two weeks ago I eliminated all grains from my diet and I’m trying to eat low-carb, the only problem is that I cannot exercise like before, I feel really sluggish and lacking not only energy but also motivation, I looked up preworkout meals and they are all filled with carbs, what would you recommend?

    Thank you!

    • cemmerich says:

      Your liver releases much of the salt that it hold onto when eating higher carb diets. So you need extra salt and potassium. That will help with energy. 🙂

  • Amelia says:

    Hi Maria,

    As someone who’s been at this for almost 3 years, it always amazes me that there’s always more to learn. Reading this post today is an example of this. You did such a great job explaining what Keto adaptation really means and what it involves. I was on the fence about signing up for your webinar this weekend, but now I think I’m going to do it. You have a unique perspective and such practical tips. Love your work!

  • Holly says:

    Two of my favorite people on one podcast! The world should explode with awesomeness! 🙂

    Also – the huevos rancheros looks amazing! I can’t wait to try it.

  • Claudette Melanson says:

    Ok I guess I’ll have to wait :(… maybe it’s the flax. I didn’t realize it was estrogenic!! I put it in my breakfast shake every morning….DOH! I lost 4 lbs when I gave up dairy but I gained 3.8 of it back and all this week. For the time being I’ll cut the flax and I’ve stopped the gluten filled vegegreens. Maybe that will help! Thanks for the info!

  • Claudette Melanson says:

    Ok so I think I’ve been doing myself in…to add to that other post..sorry to post again. The gluten in the vegegreens and all the flax every morning. I even made a coconut flour bread and put the flax in it and had that for snack since about Thurs of last week. I’m hoping that is what caused the gain. My hormones were all messed up from Prednisone already :'( . Is psyllium ok for extra fiber in a shake cause I don’t remember reading the estrogenic thing in your book about flax. Thanks Maria!

    • cemmerich says:

      Psyllium is ok, but I don’t use it (or worry about extra fiber) on pure protein and fat days. 🙂

      • Darlene says:

        That is disappointing about the flaxseed-we’ve been using it in blender drinks for over a year now. It’s used in many of the Wheat Belly recipes, so I thought I was doing a good thing!

        • cemmerich says:

          Yes, I love what Dr Davis does but one thing I differ on with him is he uses a lot of flax in his recipe book. 🙂

  • Claudette Melanson says:

    I know Darlene I thought I was doing a good thing too 🙁 . But I didn’t have the flax bread yesterday or the gluten containing vegegreens and I dropped 2 lbs overnight! We are going on a cruise on the 21st and I’m really worried about eating while we’re away. We went to Cora’s up here in Canada with my inlaws a few weeks ago. They are an upscale breakfast/brunch chain up here…synonymous with quality. Because of Maria I asked what their eggs/meat were fried/griddled in. The girl went to check and it was SOY based MARGARINE. I almost fell over. I sat and had green tea while everyone else ate. But I was shocked. I shared that on Facebook and my healthy minded friends refused to eat there anymore. So I guess it’s going to be a rough ride. At least Royal Caribbean has gone trans fat free and has many dietary options. Universal Studios the weekend after will be much more of a challenge I’m afraid.

    • cemmerich says:

      Crazy! I will not dine at a restaurant if it doesn’t have butter in the kitchen! We ate at a joes crab shack a couple years ago thinking we could just get crab legs and butter to dip it in. They didn’t have eny butter! Not even those butter pats. Never going back!

      • Claudette Melanson says:

        That is insane! Crab and butter were made for each other. Yes you really have to check. I already called the IHOP in Florida. They use butter in their kitchen. I was actually kind of surprised lol.

  • I am totally confused. I follow your blog and your posts come up in my Feedly but the recipe is never there when I come over to read it. So where is the recipe for today’s Rhubarb Scones?????? Happens everytime and I search on your post but it is nowhere to be found.

    • cemmerich says:

      When I moved my blog to wordpress a bunch of posts come up as posted, but they weren’t scheduled to go out. They are future posts. 🙂

  • Meg says:

    Hi Maria!
    I stumbled upon your website (somehow!) and found myself here. I love this article. I recently became very serious about getting ‘toned’ and I am definitely NOT keto adapted. I always wake up in the middle of the night hungry and I have to eat before I work out. The problem is I am allergic to a ton of things (wheat, dairy, avocados) and I really don’t like meat (I’m not vegan because of animal rights issues or anything). I do eat eggs because my neighbor raises chickens and they are fresh. Could you suggest one of your books? Over the past 5 years I have lost 60 pounds through diet and exercise, but I really just want to feel better. 🙂 I eat a clean diet but I’m obviously missing something!!
    Thank you!

  • Ashley says:

    Hi Maria! I was hoping that you could answer a question for me. So, I read your blog often and have your book, “Secrets to a Healthy Metabolism.” You mention pure fat/protein days, but I’m not exactly sure what the rules are for that. What exactly is not allowed on that day, nuts and vegetables? I know you have the MCT pesto recipe for the pure fat/protein days, so I’m assuming herbs like basil are allowed on those days too. I know you don’t really eat fruit normally, so how does the pure fat/protein day differ from your normal eating day? Any clarification on pure fat/protein days would be greatly appreciated!

  • kitty says:

    dear maria, thank you so much for all of your great work! i just recently found your website and have already tried some recipes and all of them were delicious and nourishing for my body and soul~
    now i would really like to give your “healthy metabolism” book as a gift to a dear friend who i excitedly have told a lot about your theoretical background over the last weeks. she is really interested in trying this way of eating herself, however, she has only got one functioning kidney. could you tell me if becoming keto-adapted can be a problem for her with this condition? i would like to contribute to her health as she is really important to me but i am concerned i could even harm her…

  • beth says:

    Made these tonight, a huge hit with the guys as they asked for it again this weekend while watching football..thank you, thank you!

  • Kim Stephenson says:

    Hello I was wondering if anyone knew how many pure fat/protien days one should do to jump start our metabolism. Was it 2 weeks I read or untill we reach a weight loss goal? I would think staying on it too long would keep other nutients from being eating as they would be in a regular keto adapted diet that allows 30% carbs.

    • cemmerich says:

      I don’t think you get deprived of any nutrients on a well formulated keto adapted diet. Also, 30% carbs is no where near ketogenic. It has to be more like 5%. Also, we eat this way all the time and plan to forever. This is a lifestyle change, not a diet. 🙂

  • Zachary says:

    Hi Maria,

    What is your opinion on Targeted Ketogenic Diets and Cyclical Ketogenic Diets (TKD and CKD)? Evidence seems to show that selective carb-loading before intensive activities (eg. maxing weights or endurance running) can have a very beneficial effect on keto-adapted people. I am curious how you would recommend keto-adapted athletes to prepare for high intensity activities.

    • cemmerich says:

      I believes are more in line with what Volek and Phinney have shown in their studies. The only thing I would suggest around carbs, is if you are a top athlete (we are talking professional) then I would work closely to calculate the glycogen deficit after each workout and get them just enough Super Starch to restore their glycogen stores. For everyday people like me, there is no need to carb load anytime in my opinion.

  • C Lyons says:

    Hi Maria…great looking tortillas!!! I was hoping you have a wrap recipe you can direct me to; for caesar wraps and also a recipe for basic tacos tortillas. We love chicken, homemade ranch w/chipotle blended in and fresh cilantro, but haven’t found a tortilla that is grain-free and still tastes authentic. Thank you!

  • Ashley says:

    Mariah, have you heard of bullet proof coffee? Thoughts?

  • sula says:

    I make the bullet proof coffee, but I add a square of 99% chocolate to it! Yum, and I believe keto appropriate

  • Darlene says:

    Back to the flaxseed issue, can chia seeds generally be subbed for them in a recipe? And should they be ground? Thanks!

  • MissMaar says:

    Hi Maria,
    I have a request…can you do a blog post on dreaded cellulite? Did keto/ low carb diet help with burning this stubborn fat too? I sure hope it did make a change 🙂

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