Ask The Nutritionist: Is the Keto Diet Healthy?
Have you noticed that everyone is talking about the keto diet? Keto has definitely turned into a buzzword and I know quite a few people who are trying it out. As a certified nutritionist, I get asked about the keto diet quite a bit.
So what’s all the fuss about? Why is it so trendy? Well for one, it can be very effective for weight loss. Whether you’re able to keep that weight off depends on how long you can keep up the diet.
Because in reality, the keto diet is a just that. A diet.
In this post, I’ll go over some of the general details of the keto diet and if I really think it’s worth trying.
What is the Keto Diet?
The keto diet is a simplified low carb, high fat, moderate protein approach to food. However, you still have to keep track of your macros. If you just eat a load of fat every day without measuring you’ll probably end up overeating and gaining weight.
The keto diet works by training your body to burn more fat for fuel rather than carbohydrates. You do this by eating primarily fats, some protein, and very few carbs and then entering into what is called ketosis.
Ketosis just means that your body has run out of carbohydrates to burn (in the form of stored glycogen) and is now burning fat as it’s primary source of fuel. This is what makes the keto diet especially effective for weight loss. IF you can keep that lifestyle up.
What are the benefits of the Keto diet?
The keto diet does have some benefits. I’ve even heard some doctors go as far as to say it can heal our mitochondria and prevent or reverse chronic disease and cancer. But that research is based on following a VERY strict form of the diet that most of us just can’t or won’t commit to.
So, here are some common benefits of following the Keto diet that are more likely.
* Can help reduce appetite
* Improves energy
* May increase fat loss
* Reduces blood sugar
* Trains your body to burn fat, rather than sugar
* Mental clarity
This is after your body enteres into and stays into ketosis. Often people experience what is called the “keto flu” before this happens as your body adjusts to the new diet.
What should you eat on the Keto diet?
So if you’re on a keto diet, that means you get to each endless amounts of bacon, butter, and guacamole right?
Not exactly, but unfortunately that’s what so many people think.
The type of fat you consume still matters if not for weight loss reasons but for overall health. Sure you could eat loads of processed bacon, but is that the healthiest choice? Probably not.
Here are some healthy sources of fats to enjoy on a keto diet, along with some that you should avoid.
* Nuts and nut butter
* Chia seed
* Hemp hearts
* Egg yolks
* Olive oil
* Fatty fish
* Coconut oil
* Grass-fed butter
* Full-fat Greek yogurt
These foods should be eaten in balance along with a low-carb and moderate protein diet. Keep in mind that certain nut butter and dairy products can contain added or natural sugars contributing to your overall carb intake, so eat those sparingly.
Fats to avoid:
Refined vegetable oils like:
* Canola Oil
* Corn Oil
* Soybean Oil
* “Vegetable” Oil
* Peanut Oil
* Sunflower Oil
* Safflower Oil
* Cottonseed Oil
* Trans fats of any kind (hydrogenated oils)
Research suggests that these types of fats can increase inflammation in the body and should be limited or avoided. These types of fats are mostly found in fast and processed foods, so if you steer clear of those types of foods, you shouldn’t have a problem!
Where should the majority of my carb intake come from?
You should be getting most of your carbs from fresh veggies like leafy greens, cucumber, celery, bell peppers, zucchini, and cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower.
Eating more of these types of veggies will help you get the nutrients you need as well as some fiber.
You’ll want to avoid eating lots of starchy veggies (corn, peas, potatoes) as well as processed sources like bread and sweets. Fruit and beans should also be eaten in small amounts as it does contain lots of natural carbs and sugars.
Does the Keto Diet Work? My Opinion of the Keto Diet
I appreciate that the keto diet helps people cut out processed sugar, but overall I don’t like the keto diet and don’t recommend it.
Not because it won’t work, but because it’s hard to maintain for long-term, cuts out too much food groups like important fruits and some veggies, and can limit your fiber intake.
I’ve heard of tons stories of people going on the keto diet and dropping weight almost instantly, but the second they’ve decided they’ve had enough and want to eat “normally” again they gain all that weight back. Worth it? Not in my opinion.
If you’re on the keto diet, love it, feel good, and can keep it up long term, great! Everybody is different and it might work better for some than others.
Personally, I believe in eating a variety of healthy foods and balancing a healthy diet with foods you enjoy. I think life is just better that way and it makes nutrition less stressful.
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