Weight loss is never easy. The newest diet craze is the low-carb keto diet. But some nutritionists are not fans. (Photo: Arttanja, Getty Images/iStockphoto) Al Roker says it’s great. Jillian Michaels says quite the opposite.
And with all the controversy surrounding the keto diet, more and more people are intrigued by it. Kristine Sullivan-Peters, a registered dietitian at Eskenazi Health, said she has been hearing from a lot of patients wanting to know more.
Sullivan-Peters is not a big fan, and when she tells people more about what the regimen entails — a highly limited diet — they frequently rethink their enthusiasm.
“Often times it doesn’t take any persuasion” for patients to forego the diet, said Sullivan Peters, who also is a certified diabetes educator.
Here’s a window into the information she shares: What the keto diet is
The keto diet refers to a food regimen in which a person consumes mostly fats, about 75 percent of his or her calories, about 20 percent protein, and a minuscule, or about 5 percent, amount of carbs. That one should eat no more than 50 grams of foods such as pasta, breads, rice, whole grains, beans and fruit are for the most part off-limits. Foods you can and can’t eat
Meat, fish, seafood, eggs, butter, some full fat dairy products, some nuts and other fats like olive oil and coconut fat. Some vegetables, particularly those grown above ground like lettuce, eggplants and avocados, are also acceptable.
Stay away from foods with sugar, grains and starches, fruit except for berries in small portions, potatoes, beans, rice and alcohol. How the keto diet works
By starving the body of carbohydrates, the keto diet decreases your body’s store of glucose. In the absence of sugar, your body starts breaking down fat for its energy, a state known as ketosis. Where did the keto diet come from?
The keto diet is not new, Sullivan-Peters said. In fact, it’s been around for about 100 years. In the 1970s, doctors started using it to reduce seizures in children who have a form of epilepsy. For some reason, the diet has gained popularity of late.
“We usually see a lot of these diets popping up and circling through,” she said. Some benefits of the diet
Many people who follow it lose weight — and fast. They may also see improvement in their blood glucose and blood pressure numbers.
It’s that quick weight loss that likely is the reason behind the diet’s popularity, Sullivan-Peters said. And some bad parts
Hunger and low-carbohydrate intake can have a dramatic effect on one’s mood, Sullivan-Peters said. In the short term, the diet can lead to fatigue, irritability, constipation and headaches, a condition that some refer to as the keto.
If you’re able to stick to the diet long term, you may experience nutritional deficiencies since so many food groups are off-limits, she said.
Advocates of the diet say that as long as you stick with it, you should be fine. But Sullivan-Peters cautions that in extreme cases a person on the diet could go into ketoacidosis, a condition in which excess ketone builds up in the blood. That can lead to a variety of dangerous symptoms, even death. How it differs from the Atkins diet
The high-protein eating plan that gained prominence a little over 15 years ago was a tad more generous about what you can eat than the keto diet. It encouraged people to focus on eating protein, far more than allowed on the keto diet, which limits protein to about one-fifth of a person’s caloric intake. The bottom line
The keto diet may be all the rage now, but the reality is that most people do not wind up staying on it long term, Sullivan-Peters said.
“Usually what we see is that people don’t stick with it,” she said. “Someone might follow the diet for a month, get burned out and gain back the lost weight and sometimes more.”
That can happen with any weight loss but is even more likely to happen when a person loses weight on a restrictive diet, Sullivan-Peters added.
Call IndyStar staff reporter Shari Rudavsky at (317) 444-6354. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter : @srudavsky.
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