Today I’m starting a new series here on the blog called “Ask Angie!” I’m giving you (my lovely readers) the chance to ask me questions about what’s on your mind. I’ll be answering your questions to the best of my knowledge and 15 years experience as a personal trainer.
Our first question on “Ask Angie” comes from Michelle in Little Rock, AR. Michelle was curious about the Keto diet she’s been struggling to follow and wants to know my opinion on it.
What do you think about the Keto Diet?
Before I get into what I really think about the Keto diet, let’s first discuss what the Keto diet consists of and why it seems to be getting so much attention right now.
What is the Keto Diet?
A Ketogenic or Keto diet is one that consists of high fat (70-80% of calories), relatively high protein (20-25% of calories) and low carbohydrates (5-10% of calories). It is typically made up of animal-based foods such as the following:
- Meat: Beef, Pork, Fish, Chicken
- Nuts & Seeds
- Oils & Fats (mainly avocado, coconut oil, ghee, butter and olive oil)
- Vegetables (typically limited to dark green leafy vegetables & mushrooms)
- Fruit (berries in moderation)
- Starchy vegetables (sweet potato, pumpkin, legumes, etc.)
- Grains (oats, rice, quinoa, corn, buckwheat, rye, barley)
- Fruits such as banana, mango, pineapple, apples, oranges
What is the theory behind the Keto diet?
The Keto diet is just another name for a LCHF (low carb high fat) diet or Atkins 2.0 (as some call it) and the basic premise of this diet is that by removing carbohydrates, the body will not absorb glucose into the blood stream. In doing this, you deprive the brain, and the body in general, of it’s primary fuel source and it begins to breakdown fats (fatty acids) and produce ‘ketones’ in the liver for the body to use as an alternative fuel source. The idea here is that by starving the body of glucose, you will initiate fat metabolism, which proponents of this diet suggest results in weight loss and greater mental performance.
It’s important to note this diet was originally designed back in the 1920’s as a way of controlling epilepsy symptoms in children. It is not well understood, but it is theorised that the shift in metabolism from carbohydrates to fatty acids and resultant use of ketones for energy has an anticonvulsant effect.
How Is The Keto Diet Different From Atkins?
Although they’re both low-carb, Atkins and keto are drastically different. Atkins is a diet made up of four phases that each last a few weeks. During the first phase, you up your intake of protein and lower your intake of carbs. You eat some fat, but not nearly as much as you do on the keto diet. You then add carbs back to your diet, adjusting them for maintenance so you don’t gain back the weight you’ve lost.
With keto, there is only one phase of the diet, which is high-fat, moderate protein, and low-to-minimal carbs. Once your goal is reached, there is no follow-up phase. It is keto for life.
Why is the Keto Diet so popular?
A Ketogenic diet has no doubt become popular for it’s promise of one thing: Weight Loss! Our culture is so obsessed with this outcome that it is willing to exclude entire food groups in order to lose weight. Combine this promise with the green light to consume so-called “bad” foods such as bacon, butter, red meat, etc. and you’ve got yourself a fad diet that is easy to promote and an even easier way to manipulate consumer behavior.
If you’ve been around long enough, you’ll know that fad diets come and go like the weather. Trust me, I’ve seen it all over the past 15 years. Some people will swear by their results and people will start jumping on the bandwagon with wild abandon. This must be the next silver bullet! But you know what they say, “If it seems too good to be true…”
The Dark Side of the Keto Diet
While the main attraction of eating Keto is quick weight-loss, the truth about this style of eating is that it’s REALLY hard to maintain long-term. It takes serious commitment. If you travel, entertain clients in restaurants, have kids around etc. then your life gets complicated quickly.
Everyone I have known to try the Keto diet has struggled to maintain it (not my clients but acquaintances). I think any time you go to an extreme, there will always be a pendulum shift back the other way. If it’s out of balance, then at some point most people will fall off the wagon. If you throw yourself out of ketosis every time you eat a carb, it’s going to be a very difficult road to live in the mainstream.
While I’m not a licensed nutritionist, I do advocate balance and finding what works for each individual. If someone wants to go extreme in order to get rapid weight loss then that’s certainly an option. My experience of training hundreds of women has taught me that this approach typically backfires and isn’t a healthy sustainable option for most people. Creating a calorie deficit can be done to lose weight without completely eliminating an entire food group.
My Take on it
I believe that your food should not be a source of stress and confinement. This is such an American way of looking at food, isn’t it? If we address the underlying issues of your food cravings, then finding a way of eating that you believe in is easy. I advocate eating for health, wellness, longevity AND your ideal weight. Sacrificing any of these things for the loss of a few pounds just doesn’t add up in my book. I think there’s a way to have it all!
Plus, I feel that attempting to manipulate your metabolism with an extreme approach can result in a yo-yo effect that can leave you with even more weight than where you started. I know some of you have probably lost some pounds eating Keto and if it’s working for you, then I’m happy. But it’s not an approach I am going to recommend to most people and definitely not my own clients. That’s my two cents!
Thanks so much for reading! If you enjoyed my post, please SHARE it with your friends! Also, I would love to hear what YOU think in the comments below! And if YOU have a question for me, let me know below and I’ll do my best to answer it in the next round of “Ask Angie!”
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