Even if you're not interested or following anyone in nutrition, fitness or the health and wellness industry, chances are still that by now you've at least heard the word “Keto”. Short for Ketogenic, this diet that recommends removing almost all carbohydrates from your diet and replacing them with fats is being touted by many as the be-all end-all for weight loss. But is it really?
Let's start with the basics. All foods, regardless of what they are, will fall into one of three macronutrient categories; proteins, fats and carbohydrates (carbs). Feeding your body enough of each macronutrient on a daily basis is essential for good health and to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Protein is needed for growth, helps build and protect muscle mass, and is responsible for hormone and enzyme production, tissue repair as well as assists with immune function. Healthy fats support cell growth, protect organs, allow absorption of fat-soluable vitamins, give the body energy and help keep it warm. Carbs are the body's primary source of energy and are used to create glucose for fuel. Although many people think of carbs only as being bread, pasta, rice, potatoes or anything refined and processed, fruits and vegetables are also considered carbs – healthy carbs that provide our bodies with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
As defined by Webster's online, a Ketogenic diet is, “a diet supplying a large amount of fat and minimal amounts of carbohydrate and protein and used especially formerly in epilepsy to produce a ketosis and alter the degree of bodily alkalinity”. The Ketogenic diet was actually developed as a last resort in an effort to help control seizures in epileptic patients in lieu of, or with very little, medication. It's very restrictive, limiting carbohydrate intake to between five and ten percent of your daily intake (which equates to about one small banana per day total carbs), while increasing your fat intake to between 65 and 70 percent. Protein then makes up the remaining 20 to 30 percent. So how did a diet designed specifically to help epileptics become something people would try for weight loss? Let's go back a few decades...
More than a few decades ago scientists decided that too much fat in a person's diet wasn't healthy and began recommending whole grains (carbs) instead. Low-fat and fat-free foods quickly became the trend as North Americans began eating massive amounts of carbohydrates thinking they were being “healthy” by staying away from fat. As we have seen the obesity rates continue to climb since that era, clearly this was not a healthy move. What scientist failed to realize at the time was that carbohydrates, especially the processed carbs, are digested and enter the blood stream very quickly creating a spike in blood sugar. Every time the blood sugar spikes it also stores fat. Eating a fat and ideally a protein as well, with the carbohydrate actually helps slow down digestion and prevent that spike in blood sugar. And of course without the spike in blood sugar, no fat is stored. Take it one step further and replace the refined carbs (all those recommended whole-grain snacks still touted as “healthy”) with fresh fruits and veggies and your body's metabolism is now turned on and burning fat. The problem of obesity and being an overweight nation did not come from eating carbs, but rather eating too many processed and starchy carbs and/or failing to combine them with a protein and a healthy fat.
You'll hear comments like; “Carbs are the enemy....”, “Carbs make you gain weight...”, “Cut carbs if you want results...” from the Keto community, and if you've been eating a “healthy” diet of fat-free whole grains for the last decade and wondering why you can't shake the jiggly bits from around your middle you may be inclined to think carbs should be eliminated. But if carbs, fruits and vegetable carbs especially, give the body energy, and provide vitamins and minerals, etc., is Keto really something that will, a) allow people to get results and b) be something people can maintain for life..? Personally, I think not.
My advice has always been when looking to improve health or lose weight, ask yourself these questions; 1. Is what I'm about to do backed by science? 2. Does it make sense to me? 3. Would I put a child on this program? 4. Can I see myself doing this for life?
The Ketogenic diet does have science behind it for sure and as with all diets, the question isn't will you get results, but rather will you be able to maintain them for the rest of your life. In my mind giving up almost all fruits and veggies forever isn't something I could do. And I certainly would not consider restricting a child's fruits and veggies intake unless it was deemed medically necessary. Our bodies, growing bodies especially, need the nutrition. And supposing you did decide to try it for a short time, without a follow up plan once you stop, the weight will come right back on again.
Optimal health and achieving and maintaining a healthy weight rarely happens using a diet. In fact statistics say that less than one percent of people can maintain a diet for life. And that's were PFC every 3 comes in. A food-based program that teaches people how to stabilize blood sugar by eating a balance of a protein, fat and carb every three hours. Metabolism is turned on, stored fat is released and burned as energy, weight is lost, energy increases, cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar decreases, immune function increases, hormones are balanced, focus and concentration is improved, depression is reduced, moods are regulated, all without eliminating an entire food group. What began in Canada and the US has developed into a global movement to restore health and end the dieting madness around the world. Currently, there are more than 500,000 people around the world today living PFC every 3 and loving their lives.
If you've tried to lose weight only to regain it, or have unresolved health issues, consider joining Tania's next 8 Weeks program. Classes begin June 25. Class size is limited, call 250.870.8719 or email [email protected] to register.
Kelowna Nutritionist STOP dieting, start living! Lose the Bloat, Melt your Belly, Love Your Life!! Last thing, last time, believe it! Sign up to receive my bi-weekly FIT Nutrition blog, and get started today.