By: Rick Bellanti Jan. 2020
Happy New Year everyone. We made it through another year, whether we stuck to our New Year’s resolution last year or not, we are still here (if you are reading this). The question you need to ask is are we in better health than we were last year at this time? If you are, congratulations for sticking it out and continuing with your healthier lifestyle. If not, have no fear as this is the time of year most of us start back up again. A new year and a blank slate, to start new goals and complete old ones that you are continuing.
Back in 2018 people started really pushing the Keto diet and it hit an all-time high in 2019. I myself have actually been doing a revised version of a Keto diet the last 90 days and have had some success, so I wanted to pass some information along to those that are curious, like I was. At first, the posts I was reading on social media about Keto diets were so confusing, so much so, that I didn’t want anything to do with it. As I learned more about it, I decided to take the information that I learned and adapt it to my lifestyle. You have to keep in mind there are so many diets out there, and you have to find the one that will work for you and adjust it as you need to, to help you stick with it.
Where did the Keto diet come from? In the early 1900s, doctors used the Keto fasting diet to control seizures in patients with epilepsy. This type of fasting encourages the body to burn ketones instead of sugar, a process that proved effective for treating epilepsy in children and adults. A doctor by the name of Dr. Russell Wilder at the Mayo Clinic in 1923 designed what is now known as the classic Keto diet, which measures four parts fat for every one-part protein and carbohydrate. All other Keto diets are based on this four-to-one macro nutrient ratio. The classic Keto diet follows a nutritional plan composed of 90% fats, 6% proteins, and 4% carbohydrates.
So, what is a Keto diet anyway? Keto comes from the word Ketones; Ketones are produced when you eat very few carbohydrates or very few calories. The Keto diet is a very low carbohydrate, higher fat intake diet, it’s similar in many ways to other low carbohydrate diets. While you eat far fewer carbohydrates on a Keto diet, you increase your intake of fat which allows the body to produce small fuel molecules called “ketones.” That sounds a little misleading after all these years of people saying we are fat because we eat too much fat, then everything became Low Fat food diets. The reduction in carbohydrate intake puts your body in a metabolic state called Ketosis, where fat from your diet and from your body, is burned for energy.
When the body produces these ketones, it enters a metabolic state called ketosis. The fastest way to get to being ketosis is by fasting (not eating anything for a long period of time) but you cannot fast forever (nor are we meant to). A few months back I had a column about intermittent fasting throughout the day. My lifestyle change now has incorporated both intermittent fasting and a form of Keto diet. (Low to almost no carbohydrates but added fats and proteins). I found it works for me and I don’t feel like I’m on some crazy fad diet.
And I will add, these last 90 days my energy has been through the roof. I’m no longer always tired or sluggish, nor am I craving sugary foods. It has brought my A1C sugar tests down to where my doctor is thinking of taking me off medications soon. So, for me eating fewer carbohydrates and adding in more fats and proteins has been effective in losing weight and improving my Type II Diabetes.
A true ketogenic diet for weight loss contains 80% fat, fewer than 5% carbs, and 15-20% protein. To achieve these percentages, dieters must get rid of carbohydrate-heavy food groups, including grains, dairy, beans, and fruits high in sugar, and load up on meat, fish, butter, eggs, avocados, oils, nuts, seeds and non-starchy vegetables. As we know eating greater amounts of protein while on the Keto diet might help keep your hunger at bay.
So, what foods can you eat? A few of my staples are olive oil, butter, coconut oil, a little cheese, red meat, fish, lots of eggs, vegetables that grow above the ground, such as zucchini, eggplant, broccoli, peppers and avocados. Nuts and seeds (find my article a few months back on the health benefits of adding nuts in your diet – October 2019). Lots of water, coffee (no sugar) unsweetened tea and red wine (in moderation).
What foods are not good on a Keto diet? Foods that a high in Carbs and definitely not good for Type II diabetics, my rule is easy: Nothing white! No bananas (yes, they are white on the inside), no bread, flour or wheat, pasta, rice of any kind (yes, including brown), no potatoes, no sugar or sweets of any kind – no sodas, energy drinks or fruit juices.
When following a Keto diet, your body switches its fuel supply to run mostly on the fat intake, burning fat in your body all day and night. When sugar levels become very low, fat burning can increase dramatically. It becomes easier to access your fat stores to burn them off. It is amazing if you are trying to lose weight but with the added benefit of making you less hungry between meals and steady increased energy throughout the day.
This will help keep you alert and focused, it also helps reduce inflammation in your body caused by high blood sugar.. This I know is true for me as I have felt these extra benefits firsthand these last 90 days since I started adding Keto lifestyle to my diet.
When beginning a diet, some people get highly motivated and push themselves to their limits. Be careful not to push yourself too hard doing a Keto diet, give your body time to adjust, or this could lead to burning out and giving up quickly. Since its beginning, the Keto diet has been effective for raising energy levels, lowering weight, and increasing quality of life. Like any other diet and exercise program, it’s up to you to keep it going long-term. Happy New Year!
Rick Bellanti is a wellness columnist and is on a journey himself to lose 240lbs and has lost 160lbs since the start of 2015. You can find Rick on Facebook at: Getting Healthy with Rick Bellanti ◊