By now, many of you are aware of the various diets circulating around in public news and magazines. The keto diet is the latest trending in fad diets. It appears everyone is on board! Celebrities praise the diet for helping in losing their baby weight. Dr. Oz endorses Keto snacks on his show alongside athlete Tim Tebow. Bloggers share their life changing stories of how the diet helped “cure” them of their diabetes. However, how reliable are these sources?
Mass marketing of keto diet on websites, blogs, and articles makes it difficult to find accurate information. For this reason, this article will clarify the basics of keto diet for you! Proper education is important to any health or medical-related trend. Today you will learn what the diet is, what foods are eaten, and some benefits and drawbacks found in evidence-based studies.
What is the Keto Diet?
Surprisingly, this diet has been around for many years. Historically, it has been used as treatment for epileptic seizures in kids. It continues to be used under the specialized care of dietitians and healthcare teams today. The diet is similar to the famous Atkins diet. However, keto is very low-carb, while higher in fat with some protein. Carbohydrate consumption is usually between 20-50 grams per day. Most balanced meal plans would provide this range of carbohydrates per meal, not per day, based on the individual’s caloric needs.
The emphasis of the diet is to eat more fats. Normally, our bodies use glucose converted from sugars to be our main energy source. However, in this case, our bodies use fats as fuel. This process is called ketosis. The fats are broken down to “ketone bodies” and become the new energy supply.
What DO you eat on Keto?
The keto diet consists of foods like nuts, sausages, fish, oils, cheese, butter, seeds, and meats (processed & non). Some of you may be thinking this is terrific! You can now eat bacon every day! However, this is not true and is not the basis of the diet. The focus should be more health conscious. It is best to keep processed foods, sodium, saturated and trans fats at a minimum.
It is highly suggested to choose lean meats, such as turkey, chicken, and fish. Select healthier fats like olive oil, canola oil, walnuts, and avocado. Carbohydrates choices should come from foods like sweet potato, whole-wheat grains, quinoa and fruit instead of white grains, pastas and pastries.
Is Keto healthy? What does the evidence say?
It is always wise to be well informed before trying a new diet. Below are a few pros and cons from evidence-based research and input from health professionals:
- Weight loss: A number one reason many choose this diet. Studies have shown positive outcomes in shedding pounds in a faster & shorter duration. This is in part due to the utilization of fat stores while decreasing hunger from eating fats in foods.
- Blood sugar & cholesterol Improvements: This has been found to occur for people with Type 2 Diabetes. Studies also found an increase in HDL cholesterol (good) with the decrease in LDL cholesterol (bad).
- Neuro protective properties: Already used in treatment for children with epileptic seizures; studies see potential in treatment/prevention of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Autism, brain cancer, sleeping disorders, and Multiple Sclerosis.
- Lack of Long-Term Research: Most research only shows benefits for shorter amounts of time in relation to weight loss and diabetes management. Most don’t stay on the diet long enough or comply with the diet regime. There is very limited information on the long-term effects of the diet.
- RESTRICTIVE: Diets should be individualized. Not every person metabolizes nutrients in the same way. Keto restricts food groups. This restricts other essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, & fiber. Electrolytes (sodium, potassium, and magnesium) become altered.
- Not Heart Healthy: Most often individuals consume more of the keto foods higher in sodium, saturated fat, and red meats (i.e. steaks, bacon, hot dogs). All of which are not good for cardiovascular health.
- Possible harmful effects for those with Kidney Disease or Problems: Some studies show an increased risk for kidney stone development.
- “Keto Flu”: Complaints of some adverse reactions were noted in studies; tiredness, nausea, vomiting, constipation, bowel issues, bad breath, dizziness, dehydration, osteoporosis, & headaches.
Overall, most studies have found heart healthy, inclusive diets to be the most beneficial to health. This consists of eating a balance of colorful fruits and vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, dairy, nuts, seeds, and drinking water. Focus on portion sizes and include all food groups. As always, it is suggested to speak with your doctor or Registered Dietitian before trying a restrictive dietary plan.
Please post your comments and thoughts.