I am quite certain all of us have heard friends and family tell us that they’re trying a new diet. They can’t go out for a girls night because of their new diet. This famous celebrity swears their new diet will work for you too. The doctor you just started seeing wants you to go on a certain diet. It’s safe to say those four little letters can instill a sense dread and make people flinch.
But here’s the deal: the word “diet” really should not be on the list of bad 4-letter words.
A diet is, by definition, what you make a habit of eating. It’s a lifestyle.
I’m not going to get in-depth in all these different diets you’ve probably heard about lately, but I am going to touch on what the idea behind the diet is, and whatever pros/cons they may or may not have.
KETOGENIC DIET aka KETO
What it is: a diet that puts your body into a state of ketosis (NOT ketoacidosis) low carb AND high fat with moderate protein. Your brain will still need those carbs for energy, but the rest of your body uses fat for energy production.
How it got started: decades ago, a doctor started prescribing this for his patients with epilepsy. It worked. Patients were having fewer and/or less severe seizures. Why? Because even though the brain uses carbohydrates for energy, the brain needs good quality, natural fats to protect and enhance the neuron pathways. Now, it’s being prescribed by doctors to treat different health problems – cardiac, neuro, and endocrine – with promising results.
Should you try it: you should talk to a doctor or registered licensed dietician – not a personal trainer or nutritionist – first. Be prepared with credible information (Pinterest and self-proclaimed keto experts don’t count) explaining why you think this diet might be right for you.
Pros: I’ve already mentioned it can be beneficial for different health concerns. It has also been known to help people get past a plateau when it comes to weight loss.
Cons: It is expensive when done right for the low-budget household. You also need to test to make sure you are in ketosis; those tests are usually done using urine sample strips. You also feel incredibly sick if you slip out of ketosis, like if you go out to eat and end up getting simple carbs you weren’t expecting or used to anymore.
What it is: a hunter-gatherer diet – meats and veggies mostly. High protein and high complex carbs with some clean fat from nuts.
How it got started: Back in the 70s and 80s, several scientists started looking at the way our ancestors ate and lived, how lean and disease-free they were (disease-free as in no diabetes or heart disease) and compared their lifestyle to ours. Obviously, there are quite a few differences, but diet and activity level are the two big ones. Our ancestors didn’t have the refined sugars; they ate fruit, maple syrup, and honey with the seasons. They didn’t have the grains or processed foods we do.
Should you try it: I can’t tell you yes because that would be outside my scope of practice, but there’s really no reason not to. I think it would be hard to find a doctor who disagrees with the foods in this diet!
Pros: Health benefits galore. Seriously, weight loss, stabilize your blood glucose levels, stabilize your cholesterol, increased energy. It’s also not overly expensive – especially if you have a garden or local farmer’s market.
Cons: It makes some assumptions when it comes to what our ancestors ate and didn’t eat, like grains. We know our ancestors had grains, like einkorn. The ancient grains often have gluten, but a different type of gluten, a purer, unaltered gluten that does not have the same detrimental effects as the gluten in modern day grains.
Do you remember the side dish I shared last weekend? You can refresh your memory, or read it for the first time, here. That easy and tasty side dish falls under both Keto and Paleo – green beans are the complex carbs and bacon pieces are the natural fat. To have a meal with that side, for both Keto and Paleo, I would go with a beautiful steak. For Keto, twice-baked cauliflower with cheese. For Paleo, add a grilled or baked sweet potato, drizzled with maple syrup and crushed walnuts.
The Keto and Paleo diets are two popular ways of eating you’ve probably heard. There are a few more we will touch on in “4 Letter Word, part two!”