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Fad diets: Let’s talk about Keto

Today let’s jump into the second fad diet in this series “Fad Diet Demystified.” Today’s fad diet – the ketogenic or “Keto” diet – promises quick weight loss and lower total-body inflammation.

As we learned last month, the thriving $193 billion dollar weight loss industry markets fad diets to Americans by enticing them with health benefits and fast weight loss, but the failure rate of these diets should be a huge red flag for consumers.

While most fad diets tout big promises without much independent scientific data to back their claims, there are a few that are supported by science, can be sustainable longer term, can produce significant weight loss, and most importantly can build health if done correctly.

Today, let’s discover the Ketogenic diet and determine if it makes sense for you.

The Keto diet allows you to eat all the dairy and cheese you missed while following the Paleo diet. It replaces carbohydrates (such as grains, most fruit, bread, pasta and potatoes) with vegetables and high fat consumption. In fact, it relies on fatty foods to provide 60% to 75% of daily calories. Eating everything from heavy cream, butter, and loads of cheeses to avocados and fatty fish are all part of the ketogenic diet.

Keto is considered a fad diet because it promises quick weight loss and better health while eliminating the entire carbohydrate food group. It’s much stricter than its fad diet predecessors such as Atkins, the Zone and South Beach as carbohydrates are never reintroduced with the Keto diet. The underlying principle of the Keto diet is to restrict carbohydrate foods to an extremely low level to lower insulin, decrease glucose energy usage, and adapt the body to use ketones from fat as its primary fuel source.

Using ketones as the primary fuel source has been shown to improve carbohydrate metabolism, reduce abdominal fat, reduce inflammation in the body, and produce quick weight loss. Keto has been shown to be beneficial to people with traumatic brain injury, epilepsy, obesity, polycystic ovarian syndrome, some cancers and some digestive disorders. It’s important to talk with your medical practitioner before starting a keto diet, because it can be harmful for some medical conditions.

Keto is generally not recommended for athletes or those with very active day jobs; pregnant or breastfeeding women; those who have a genetic disposition to higher dietary cholesterol; those who have suffered from adrenal fatigue (or any other stress dysfunction); those with kidney disease (or who have had kidney stones in the past); those with gallbladder disease or who have had the gallbladder removed; and those who do not digest fat easily due to a genetic disorder or disease.

Keto can be beneficial to your waistline and health if done correctly, but it’s not meant to be your lifetime eating plan because it falls short in a few areas. First, there’s a potential for nutrient deficiencies such as electrolyte imbalance. It’s also unnatural and difficult to eat 20 grams or less of carbohydrates in a day long term without continued guidance and accountability.

Don’t miss next month’s column where we’ll talk about the 3rd fad diet in this series. This diet is getting a lot of attention with its potential to improve hormone balance, food digestion, weight loss, and brain health to name a few.

Fran Sutherlin is a local registered dietitian, health coach, speaker and owner of Sustainable Nutrition, which has offices in Durango and Bayfield and offers virtual-coaching options. She can be reached at 444-2122 or fran@fransutherlin.com.