01 Mar 2019
The Keto Diet: Yes or No?
Written by Amy Burch, RD, LD
Anytime I am asked “Is this diet good for me?” I usually answer no. The Keto Diet is no exception. I know, I know many people have tried it and have been very successful with losing weight. So, let’s start with the pros of the Keto Diet. The Keto Diet can be beneficial for some if it is followed correctly. Ketones in the blood help inhibit plaque buildup in the brain. The diet also eliminates refined carbohydrates and sugars. By eliminating these unhealthy foods your insulin levels decrease and insulin sensitivity is improved. This, in turn, can improve diabetes, heart disease, infertility disorders and even the risk of Alzheimer’s disease may be lowered. That all sounds great right? Right! Good news is you don’t have to follow the Keto Diet to reap these benefits. You can eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes carbohydrates and still get the benefits of the Keto Diet and you won’t be putting your health at risk by exposing your body to high levels of fat and depriving it of all the great things carbohydrates have to offer.
If your plan is to lose a lot of weight quickly, deprive your body of essential nutrients, never eat or drink carbohydrates on a regular basis again, starve your cells and force them into ketosis, put added pressure on vital organs to breakdown high levels of protein (if you’re following a true ketogenic diet your protein intake is restricted), and risk having elevated triglyceride levels that can lead to heart disease or stroke; then by all means continue your diet and stop reading now. If you want to live a healthy lifestyle, have a healthy body, and feel great then continue reading and I will give you my advice on how to make that happen for you.
Congratulations! You have chosen wisely. Step one complete! The key to a healthy lifestyle is truly wanting and choosing to be healthy. Being healthy involves eating carbohydrate containing foods. Before you get all excited, I don’t mean a diet of sugary drinks, white bread and pasta. I mean eating a balanced diet of good quality fats, lean proteins and complex carbohydrates with a doughnut on the side when you feel you’ve been doing well and deserve one. This lifestyle also includes exercise which is the best way to sensitize insulin. The better your insulin can work, the less risk you area at for becoming diabetic which can lead more disease and health problems. A workout of at least two hours a week is recommended. That’s just about 20 minutes a day. Start off with taking a daily walk. I find doing this in the morning is best. Another way to living your best life is to choose healthy foods to fuel your body. Choose whole grain and whole wheat products (whole wheat pasta, whole grain bread, brown rice, quinoa, bulgur, farro, oatmeal, etc.). These foods are an excellent source of phytochemicals, fiber, and antioxidants. They can promote satiety for longer periods of time than eating refined carbohydrates (white bread, low fiber cereals, white rice, white pasta, etc.). Choose lots of vegetables, the more color the better. Choose fruits when you have a sweet tooth. Berries are an excellent source of fiber and antioxidants. Choose lean, non-processed proteins like chicken, turkey, fish, lean cuts of beef and pork. And lastly, choose healthy fats. These include coconut oil, avocado and avocado oil, vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, EEVO and fish oils. The amounts of these foods you should eat will vary based on your body size and your goals so I recommended talking to a Registered Dietitian to help you determine what is best for you. Eating small meals every four hours and including a variety of nutrients will help jump start weight loss by reducing hunger and boosting metabolism. Protein intake along with exercise will help build lean muscle which will in turn burn that unwanted fat. If you want to benefit from the release of ketones into the bloodstream you can fast overnight while you sleep by not eating carbohydrates for about 12-16 hours. After the glycogen has been depleted ketones will start to be released into your bloodstream.
So, in conclusion, I say “NO” to the Keto Diet and “YES” to a healthy lifestyle. Losing a large amount of weight in an unhealthy way is a recipe for disaster. In most cases, those who lose a bunch of weight really fast by following these “fad diets” usually gain all that weight back and more because they start eating those foods they deprived their body of and those fat cells go into survival mode and bulk back up at any chance they get. If you are still on broad with trying the Keto Diet, I recommend making sure you do your research. Follow the guidelines and make sure you are taking proper supplements. I would also recommend incorporating a carb refeed into your plan to lessen the risk of causing thyroid issues. By choosing a well-balance diet that includes all nutrients, your chances of success in keeping the weight off and having a healthy body are much higher. If you need help making a plan and putting it into action, I recommend find a Registered Dietitian in your area to help you meet your goals. You can find a dietitian in your area by visiting https://www.eatright.org/find-an-expert. If you don’t have the time or skills to prepare healthy meals the chefs at SareFood.com can help you. They can make you well balance meals and even meals that are Keto friendly. To all I say good luck with your journey to becoming a healthier you and don’t forget to do your research.