The Keto Diet: Facts & Misconceptions
The Ketogenic or “keto” diet is one of the hottest diet trends today, but what is it exactly? The Ketogenic diet is a low carbohydrate, high fat, moderate protein plan introduced in the 1920s as a therapeutic diet to treat medical conditions. Keto was most commonly used to treat epilepsy in children for which medication was ineffective.
Today, many have turned to this diet as a tool for weight loss due to the low-carbohydrate aspect, but how does it actually work?
Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy and is essential for many major processes. The idea of the ketogenic diet is to replace your carbohydrates with fat for energy.
When your body is deprived of carbohydrates, the body goes into a catabolic state--the break down of fat and muscle. Once your glucose stores have been depleted, your body then looks for an alternative energy source; this is known as ketogenesis.
This ketogenic state produces ketone bodies that accumulate in the blood and is then used as a primary source of energy. While in this state, fat is not being stored and is instead being broken down and used to ultimately sustain the body.
The average American diet consists of approximately 55% carbohydrates, or roughly 200 to 350 grams per day. The ketogenic diet cuts carbohydrates down to an average of 5-10% and increases fat intake anywhere from 55-80% of total daily calories. Too much protein intake on the keto diet is said to prevent ketosis; Therefore, protein is kept at a moderate level of 20-35% of total daily calories.
The percentages of fat, carbohydrate and protein are individualized based on a combination of your body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage and resting metabolic rate (BMR), so not everyone will have the same numbers to follow.
This diet does not have any boundaries when it comes to fatty foods. It allows not only unsaturated fat, but saturated fats as well, to meet the high fat intake demands. This includes fatty meats such as beef and pork, butter, high-fat dairy products as well as nuts, seeds, fatty fish such as salmon, coconut oil and avocado.
Foods that are eliminated with the keto diet include: all grains and starches such as bread, pasta, rice, quinoa, corn and flour. Other banned foods include fruits and fruit juices, beans and legumes, sweeteners and root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots and parsnips.
The carbohydrate portion of the diet can be met with non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce/spinach, peppers and zucchini to name a few. Berries and nuts also provide carbohydrates and are allowable when following a keto diet.
There is growing research linking the ketogenic diet with weight loss. Researchers have estimated that weight loss from this diet can be due to increased fat loss, improved insulin sensitivity, increased calorie expenditure, as well as an increase in sense of fullness (satiety) and decreased appetite simply by being in a state of ketosis in the short-term.
Research suggests calorie intake is reduced due to limited food options, resulting in weight loss as well. But as a fair warning, diets that are restrictive (such as this one) are challenging to maintain long-term. There have also been significant studies showing the ketogenic diet may have positive outcomes in patients with neurological disorders in addition to weight loss benefits.
As a caveat though, all of this is pulled from short-term data. There is little research for the keto diet long-term, but it is suggested that there may be an increased risk for kidney stones, bad cholesterol or LDL cholesterol, hypoglycemia, vitamin and mineral deficiencies and electrolyte imbalances.
Does the Ketogenic Diet Actually Work for Weight Loss?
There is no real answer to this question, or for any diet out there for that matter. Bottom line-weight loss was not the intended purpose of this diet. The research overwhelmingly shows that this diet has significant advantages when used therapeutically for epilepsy and other medical conditions when carefully managed by health care professionals.
While there is some research that “going keto” may have a positive impact on weight loss and overall health, the figures are only for a short period of time. Diets high in saturated fat have always been associated with increasing the risk for heart disease, but in regards to the ketogenic diet it has not fully been studied. The long-term research is lacking and that leaves many questions unanswered as far as safety, longevity and side effects.
Gear up for Summer with These Simple Changes to Your Diet
Living a healthier lifestyle does not have to mean making major changes or depriving yourself of the things you love. Bigger does not always mean better, especially when it comes to your health. Too many changes at once can seem overwhelming, unattainable and you may feel tempted to revert to old habits. It’s about making small, simple changes that are manageable and maintaining those changes until it eventually becomes a habit.
Here are some easy tips that can help you achieve a healthier you for the fast approaching summer.
Planning your meals ahead of time is one of the easiest ways to help stay on track from week to week. Packing lunches for the week saves time in the morning, especially if you are always on the go.
Put a few chicken breasts or pulled pork in the crockpot on Sunday and use the meat to create different meals throughout the week. This also goes for snacks – pre-cutting fruits and vegetables or setting out protein packed snacks the night before, such as non-fat Greek yogurt, will decrease mindless eating and will help keep you satisfied throughout the day.
Looking for a simple crockpot recipe for a protein packed lunch? Try Chipotle Chicken Bowls with Cilantro Lime Quinoa!
Let’s not forget the most important meal of the day – breakfast. Easy, grab & go options for breakfast will set you up for success in the morning and keep you on track until lunch time. Veggie Egg White Muffins are super quick and simple to meal prep. Overnight oats or nutrient dense smoothies are also easy to prep ahead and take little to no time. Traditional hard-boiled eggs is another simple food to prep ahead and can be added to any meal or snack to get a little extra protein.
It is important to stay hydrated, especially now that the warmer months will soon be upon us. Hotter temperatures cause you to sweat at a higher rate, which results in water loss.
We all know water is essential for many important processes in the body. Having a reusable water bottle on hand will make drinking water more convenient. You will be more likely to consume more water if it is always within reach.
More consumption of water throughout the day will increase your sense of fullness and decrease overeating at meal times.
Sugary beverages, such as fruit juice and soda, are full of empty calories and will only leave you bloated and not feeling your best. Don’t drink your calories, and limit sugary beverages if you can.
Add fresh fruit and herbs, such as lemon and mint, to your water bottle for a refreshing and flavorful substitute. If it is the carbonation you are missing, opt for a natural flavored seltzer. Fresh fruit and herbs are also great when making cocktails at home to add flavor and sweetness without all the sugary calories. Replacing syrupy cocktail mixers with flavored seltzer or kombucha will also help cut down on the sugar.
The key to a balanced and wholesome meal: make half of your plate vegetables! Put vegetables as the main star of your dish, or add vegetables to meals you wouldn’t normally such as an omelet or on your favorite sandwich.
One of the simplest meals to prepare if you are lacking on the vegetable front for the week is a lean-meat burger or veggie burger, instead of using a bun, put the burger on top of veggies and greens. Incorporating veggies in each meal will not only add color for a more appealing dish but will also fill you up and decrease the chances of going back for seconds or indulging in dessert.
All good things come to those who wait. Be patient and trust the process. Incorporate these healthful tips to a better you and these changes will become a part of your daily routine before you know it.
What are some of your best tricks to stay on track and prepare for summer? Comment and share below!
There’s nothing worse than having a bloated stomach. Finding ways to get rid of bloat can be a big struggle. The digestive system is where it all begins, so it is important that we keep our guts happy and healthy. The foods we choose to consume play a major role in our overall gut health. A healthy gut will ultimately lead to less bloating and less discomfort. Here are some flat-belly foods that will help combat bloating!
Ginger and Turmeric are from the same root family and have anti-inflammatory properties to help settle the stomach and keep bloating at bay. Try Golden Milk Bites made with ginger and turmeric for the perfect debloating snack! Peppermint relaxes muscles in the intestines, which provides relief for cramping, bloating & gas. Peppermint tea is also a great alternative to reduce bloating.
High sodium foods cause your body to retain fluid, which can substantially increase bloating. Cucumber helps to decrease water retention in the body and acts as a diuretic to help flush out sodium due to its high-water content.
Yogurt is a great food source to help reduce bloating because it contains live cultures, known as probiotics. Probiotics are the “good bacteria” that live naturally in your digestive tract and is essential for maintaining overall gut health. These live bacteria are found in cultured and fermented foods and help to improve digestion, inflammation and boost immune system function. Looking for a savory way to use yogurt? Try nonfat, plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream on taco night or to make dips and dressings.
Banana is a great source of fiber and potassium. Potassium is important when it comes to bloat because it relieves water retention. Fiber and potassium also help to facilitate digestion.
Berries such as blueberries and raspberries are said to be a ‘superfood’ because of their numerous health benefits. Not only are berries a great source of fiber, but they also contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Adding berries to yogurt, smoothies or even on top of a salad is a great way to keep bloating to a minimum.
Leafy greens are an excellent source of fiber. Studies have shown that leafy greens support the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut as well as relieve water retention. An easy way to get your greens in is to add spinach or kale to your morning smoothie!
Foods high in mono and polyunsaturated fats are said to help promote a healthy digestive function. These healthy fats can be found in olive oil, nuts, seeds and fish. Mono and polyunsaturated fats also possess anti-inflammatory properties that can help calm the gut.
Ultimately, you should not let the bloating win! Ditch the high fat, high sodium foods, increase your fiber intake and incorporate these foods into your diet on a regular basis to ultimately have you on track to a better, less bloated you!
What are some of your tips to help get rid of bloating? Let's keep this conversation going on social!