The Skinny on… The Keto Diet
Unless you are living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the keto diet or you – or someone you know – has tried it. This latest version of a low-carb diet is touted by everyone from A-lister celebrities to slimmed-down friends and family members to self-anointed diet gurus.
So what’s the bottom line? Will this trendy weight-loss program actually work for you? Better yet, is it an eating plan you can sustain for the rest of your life?
Let’s tackle the first question – will it work? The simple answer is YES. Like most diets, you will lose weight following this plan.
But, can you sustain it for life? This one is a bit trickier, but speaking solely as someone who has lost weight following Atkins and other low-carb plans, the answer is NO. I always find myself yearning for pizza crusts, sandwich rolls and other yummy carb-heavy foods.
Let’s take a closer look at the keto diet.
According to Health.com, “The high-fat, very low-carb keto diet lets you enjoy lots of avocado, butter, bacon and cream—but requires cutting way back on added sugars, most processed foods, sweets, grains, and starchy veggies. The eating plan is mega-popular among Hollywood A-listers (including Halle Berry, Megan Fox and Gwyneth Paltrow); but if you don’t have a private chef who can futz with fats to make delicious meals and snacks, the carb-restricted lifestyle can be extremely challenging to follow.”
The Health.com website flat-out states the keto diet is super hard to follow. They do offer three variations that can make it easier to swallow.
The site notes, “On a modified keto diet, your body will go in and out of ketosis, but still shed weight and body fat.”
Check out the website to see which plan works best for you – if you are willing to forego some of your favorite foods.
So, how does it work?
According to the Harvard Health Letter: “The keto diet aims to force your body into using a different type of fuel. Instead of relying on sugar (glucose) that comes from carbohydrates (such as grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits), the keto diet relies on ketone bodies, a type of fuel that the liver produces from stored fat.
“Burning fat seems like an ideal way to lose pounds. But getting the liver to make ketone bodies is tricky: It requires that you deprive yourself of carbohydrates, fewer than 20 to 50 grams of carbs per day (keep in mind that a medium-sized banana has about 27 grams of carbs).
“It typically takes a few days to reach a state of ketosis. Eating too much protein can interfere with ketosis.”
The standard ketogenic diet has a macronutrient ratio of 75% fat, 15-20% protein and 5-10% carbs. I personally hate weight loss programs that require you to do math.
The eggheads at Harvard note that the keto diet is advertised as a weight-loss wonder, but they warn that the eating plan is actually a medical diet that comes with serious risks.
“The keto diet is primarily used to help reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures in children. While it also has been tried for weight loss, only short-term results have been studied, and the results have been mixed. We don’t know if it works in the long term, nor whether it’s safe,” warns registered dietitian Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
So, what are the risks? In a nutshell:
- It’s high in saturated fat. Nutrition experts recommend you keep saturated fats to no more than 7% of your daily calories because of the link to heart disease.
- It’s associated with an increase in “bad” LDL cholesterol, which is also linked to heart disease.
- It promotes nutrient deficiency because you’re not eating a wide variety of vegetables, fruits and grains.
- It can trigger liver problems because there is a lot of fat to metabolize.
- It can also spark kidney problems because your kidneys help metabolize protein and this diet may overload them.
- It can make you constipated because it’s low in fibrous foods like grains and legumes.
- It can lead to “fuzzy thinking” and mood swings because your brain needs sugar from healthy carbs to function properly.
Now that you know the risks, here’s what’s on the menu for typical keto followers.
You must eat fat at each meal. In a 2,000-calorie diet, that might break down to 165 grams of fat, 40 grams of carbs and 75 grams of protein.
You get to eat some nuts like almonds and walnuts, seeds, avocados, tofu and olive oil. You can indulge in saturated fats from palm and coconut oils, lard, butter and cocoa butter in high amounts.
You can also pig out on meat, meat and more meat because protein is a key part of the keto diet. Yes, fatty beef, pork and bacon make the cut.
Fruits are rich in carbs, but you can sample certain fruits like berries. Veggie intake is restricted to leafy greens – think kale, Swiss chard and spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, bell peppers, onions, garlic, mushrooms, cucumber, celery and summer squashes.
So, does it sound like a plan for you? I prefer healthy, well-rounded meals such as those promoted here at MealPlanMap.com. We promise you’ll never get bored – or feel restricted – while following the menu you map out with our user-friendly program.
Check it out today and start the New Year with a “diet” you can stick with for life.