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Should you try the Keto Diet?

Samara Felesky-Hunt, B.Sc., R.D. Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist practicing in Calgary, Alberta.

Lets start with the current Standard American/ Canadian style of eating. Today, we see a typical diet that contains excessive amounts of refined carbohydrates, unhealthy fats and too much protein. As we all know, none of which is good for our health or wellness. Eating this way, cholesterol goes up, blood sugars elevate and it leads to chronic diseases. Consuming a poor diet that lacks nutrition causes fatigue and affects mental health. Research shows the end result is an increase in body weight and total body fat.

What is the hype about the keto diet? The ketogenic diet focuses on minimal carbohydrates, low protein and a very high fat consumption. Research shows the keto diet decreases appetite, and blood sugars therefore people lose weight. There is no question that if your appetite is reduced not matter what diet you are following, you will consume less calories than you burn. When you consume a diet with less refined carbohydrates there is less sugars and less spike in insulin.

Is then the ketogenic diet healthy? The ketogenic diet generally consist of 70% calories from fats, 5% calories from carbohydrates and 25% calories from protein. The keto diet is very low in dietary and soluble fibre which is necessary for healthy colon and optimal digestive health. The diet is extremely low carbohydrates and has shown to affect energy levels and mental focus. The low level of antioxidants, B vitamins, and minerals is also worry-some for heart and bone health, and cancer prevention. Many people on veto suffer from headaches, fatigue, and poor concentration. This type of diet very restrictive, hard to follow, and for some is too high in protein and healthy fats. For many it is hard to follow and it lacks variety. As well, many find it difficult to be social when eating this way. Finally, most can only follow kept for a week or two. Most individuals miss the joy of eating and eating healthy plant foods such natural whole high fibre grains, fresh colourful fruits, and beautiful vegetables. Many recognize quickly how unhealthy the diet can be on their long term health.

So…..Before jumping into a keto diet, START with these questions:

  • Am I eating a well-balanced diet, rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains? If not, begin here.
  • What adds extra calories to my diet? Is it too much added sugars, refined flours, or processed carbohydrates?
  • Do I add healthy fats to my meals such as avocado, olive oil, nuts or seeds that will add satiety?
  • Am I active enough?
  • Do I take the time to plan my meals and cook healthy meals?
  • Am I overeating at meals or snacking too much? Am I mindful when I eat?

So, re-gig your diet with a higher volume of different seasonal vegetables, leafy greens, and fruits. Try eating more fish and healthy plant fats to decrease your appetite and reduce blood sugar levels along with a higher intake of fibre rich foods. Eating well could be as simple as it’s time to “eat real food”. By revamping your kitchen cupboard, grocery list and snacks with healthier options you could lose weight without a being on a strict diet of any sort. Controlling your weight is about deciding what you will eat. Success begins with a lifestyle change.

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