Keto Diet- A Dieter’s Best Friend, Foe or Fad?

Over the last 10 years, I have seen countless people lose weight on a plant based diet full of carbs. I have also seen success with balanced diets of just LESS FOOD! So obviously the keto diet doesn’t have a monopoly on weight loss. While the Keto diet can work, in the long run, I believe plant based foods should always be a staple its all about balance & quality over quantity.

So unless you have been hibernating like a bear in the mountains in the middle of winter, you’ve probably heard of the Keto craze and things like – “Can I just have MCT oil in my coffee,” or “I went over on my diet yesterday and had 32 carbs.” So is the Keto diet a good idea or another dangerous / soon to fade diet trend?

Well, to start, the body is amazingly adaptive & can function on many different diets with various levels of proteins, carbs & fats. For instance, some indigenous tribes eat only meat and live long, healthy lives, other cultures rely mostly on grains and still others have decided to go completely vegan and never have cheesecake again. All three of these scenarios can yield a healthy, long life because of the enzymes that help turn all 3 macronutrients into fuel.

So what exactly is the Keto Diet? It is a very low carbohydrate diet consisting of 70-80% fats, 10-20% protein & 5-10% carbohydrates. It was started back in 1920 as a treatment to reduce seizures for those with epilepsy. When not enough carbs are provided for energy, AND calories are restricted, the body looks to its own fat stores for fuel, creating ketones as a byproduct- hence the name. Remember; no matter what diet you’re on- eating too many calories can lead to weight gain.

Is the keto diet doable? Yes. But you have to ask yourself- why and what is the long term impact on your health & the environment? If you ditch your regular diet for a shortened list of fats with factory farmed meat, poultry and even fish, you are not only filling yourself with excessive hormones, antibiotics, preservatives & toxins, but polluting the environment more as well. A better attempt at a keto-like diet would include many non starchy vegetables, some fruit, organic, free range & wild caught meat, fish & poultry (if eating meat) & healthy plant based fats like nuts, seeds, coconut / olive oil as well. 

Can you lose weight quickly on the keto diet? Well, of course, just listen to the many testimonials out there. It wouldn’t be so popular if it didn’t work. But the goal for me at least is to be able to sustain a lifelong healthy diet and weight lost forever is better than weight lost quickly that comes back. If you didn’t know how to eat before the keto diet, chances are you wont know how to eat balanced after the keto diet either.

Is the keto diet safe? Other than a mild case of the keto-flu, I would only do keto in the short term- 6 months or so, but there is going to be a large shift in your metabolism which has been running on a different fuel source for many years. Any kind of sudden change can be a shock to your system especially to those who are not in good health. That being said a study from 2004 in Experimental & Clinical Cardiology showed no significant side effects in 83 patients followed for 24 weeks. However some studies in children point to an increase in kidney stones most likely due to the increase in calcium excretion in the urine.

You can also increase your metabolism & lose weight by covering the basics including eating well, drinking enough water, plus getting enough rest & physical activity. And if you really want the secret to speeding up your metabolism, feeling younger and living longer, check out the Muscle Release tab and watch the video on the home page.

So to lose weight, you can try Keto, or you can simply EAT LESS & more NUTRIENT DENSE! Any reduction in carbs usually will be a huge improvement in the Standard American Diet. So try to focus on good carbs, avoid sugar & choose whole foods. I experienced carb deprivation first hand on my 7 day water fast so I know what it feels like to have your body literally eat itself for fuel, but this was short term & when I was done, I shifted right back into a balanced diet & felt great. Other proven weight loss options include Meal Replacement Smoothies and a 2 month Weight Loss Challenge. Email me at RichieHPT@gmail.com with any diet or health related questions & good luck on your weight loss efforts,

Richie Santucci, RD CDE CPT Dietitian, Creator of Muscle Release

References:

– Dashti, Hussein M et al. “Long-Term Effects of a Ketogenic Diet in Obese Patients.” Experimental & Clinical Cardiology 9.3 (2004): 200–205. Print. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2716748/

– “Ketogenic Diet” The Epilepsy Foundation https://www.epilepsy.com/learn/treating-seizures-and-epilepsy/dietary-therapies/ketogenic-diet

– Kidney Stones and the Ketogenic: Risk Factors &  Prevention https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17621514

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