Keto is all the rage, but it’s not for everyone
New year, new you … new diet? The holidays and new year are quickly approaching, which for a lot of people means new health goals. Those goals usually come with exercise routines, self-care resolutions, and new “must-try” eating patterns. For the past few years going keto has been a popular choice for those looking to shed pounds, but is it healthy and sustainable? More importantly, is keto right for you?
What does “keto” mean?
The ketogenic diet was originally researched and developed to treat epilepsy in pediatric populations. The diet is high in fat (about 75 percent), low in protein (about 20 percent), and very low in carbohydrates (the rest—about 5 percent). That breaks down to, essentially, eating fats all day, having a bit of protein, and—depending on your total daily caloric intake—having about one to one-and-a-half fruits per day for your carb intake.
Is keto right for you?
There are a few things to consider when deciding whether keto is the right choice for your new year, new you journey:
- Consider the widely known health-related benefits of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. They’re rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber—not to mention that they’re low calorie and actually taste good. Additionally, glucose is your brain’s primary fuel source! Does it make sense for you to limit these healthful carbohydrates?
- Consider the possible benefits of decreasing your carb intake. Added sugar is an empty source of calories, containing zero vitamins and minerals. The calories from added sugar and non-whole grains add up quickly. Due to associated health risks and increasing rates of obesity, the American Heart Association recommends men limit intake of added sugar to less than 9 teaspoons per day (36 grams, 150 calories or less) and women and children limit intake of added sugar to 6 teaspoons per day (25 grams, 100 calories or less). Think about whether you’re going over that guideline.
- Consider the types of fat you will be eating. Be mindful of saturated and trans fats. Figure out exactly what fatty foods will be taking up 75 percent of your meals and decide if it sounds plausible to you.
- Consider the sustainability of the diet. Highly restrictive diets become difficult to follow as time goes on. Think about whether you like a lot of variety in your meals or whether having a rigid menu helps you stick with your goals.
It’s OK to consider a modified keto diet
Many people choose to follow a modified keto diet, which is still high in fat and low in carbs but focuses on higher protein intake. This option might make the diet a bit more palatable to you in the long term while still providing the health benefits.
At the end of the day, you know yourself best. Be your own detective and do the research before jumping into something new! Read the nutrition facts labels, create a plan, and set goals that are realistic and sustainable—and make sure to include food that nourishes your body and makes you feel good!
Bueno NB, de Melo IS, de Oliveira SL, da Rocha Ataide. Very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet v. low-fat diet for long-term weight loss: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Cambridge University Press. 2013:110(7). https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114513000548
What Should I Eat?, Vegetables and Fruits. The Harvard School of Public Health. Accessed November 20, 2019. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/vegetables-and-fruits/
How much sugar is too much?. The American Heart Association. Accessed November 20, 2019. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/how-much-sugar-is-too-much