Choosing the Right Diet
By Nutritional Counselling | INmoderation | HEALTH SERVICES
Choosing the right diet can be as tricky as sticking to one. New diets seem to crop up all the time—met with rave reviews one week and dire warnings the next. So how do you know which, if any, actually do what they say they do? Here’s a run-down of a few that have recently been making headlines.
Remember to always consult your doctor before starting a new diet regimen.
The Ketogenic Diet
Finally! A diet where you can dine on bacon at every meal! Well, not exactly though it seems many keto followers up their bacon intake exponentially. The high-fat, low-carb keto diet can deliver major weight loss, and it’s also been said to boost your energy and fight disease. But many find it very hard to follow, making weight loss unsustainable over the long term.
The idea behind keto is that by significantly lowering the amount of carbohydrates you eat, you’ll force your body into a state of ketosis, meaning it burns fat instead of carbs for energy. However, there’s not much scientific research to support this claim yet.
With keto, only about 5-10 percent of your daily calories come from carbs while roughly 75 percent comes from fat, like avocado, nuts and oil; the rest is protein. So bread is out, but also many starchy vegetables, oats, and fruit. And say goodbye to milk, juice, soda, and alcohol too.
It takes three to four days to induce ketosis so don’t fall for any supplements or regimens claiming to kick start ketosis. It will only happen by cutting out carbs. You may also experience the “Keto flu” as your body gets accustomed to eating fewer carbs. Prepare for headaches, nausea, fogginess, muscle cramps and fatigue in your first week.
What our dietitians have to say:
Our dietitian, Kelly Anne Erdman, agrees that you’ll lose weight following the Ketogenic diet but she cautions that there are a number of negative side effects most dieters are not aware of, including a significant increase in cholesterol, loss of muscle mass, reduced testosterone, and the stripping of healthy gut flora and bacteria.
With increased bacon consumption (or other high fat proteins), it’s not surprising that keto can lead to a significant increase in cholesterol; Kelly Anne had a client whose cholesterol went from 5 to 10 in just three months. As your blood cholesterol rises, so does your risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
Kelly Anne’s solution: instead of keto, it’s preferred to control your daily carbohydrate intake – more on active days, less on inactive days.
Plant-based diets focus on foods primarily derived from plants. This includes fruits and vegetables, of course, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes and beans. Following a plant-based diet doesn’t mean that you never eat meat or dairy. Rather, more of your foods come from plant sources.
A lot of nutritional research has examined plant-based eating patterns such as vegetarian/flexitarian diets and the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet has a foundation of plant-based foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and seeds, and a hearty helping of extra virgin olive oil, but also includes fish, poultry, nuts, eggs, cheese, and yogurt a few times a week. Meat can make an appearance, but more as a garnish than a main.
The Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, colon, breast, and prostate cancers, and depression. It’s also been linked to a decreased risk of frailty in older adults along with better mental and physical function.
An added plus is that the Mediterranean diet encourages eating with others, socializing over meals, and mindfully choosing healthy foods you enjoy eating, making it more of a lifestyle choice than a diet and therefore easier to maintain.
Intermittent Fasting (IF) means not eating at certain time intervals. It doesn’t specify which foods you should eat but rather when you should eat them. So IF is not so much a diet, but an eating pattern. Common IF methods involve daily 16-hour fasts or fasting for 24 hours, twice per week.
Basically, IF forces the body to use its stored energy or fat. If you don’t eat, your body will draw on its own fat for energy.
It seems obvious that eating less results in losing weight, but there is currently no evidence showing that IF is any more effective for weight loss than other diets that restrict calories. That aside, IF proponents also claim improved gut health, increased energy and longer life.
With IF, there are no complicated or expensive food regimens to follow. You can fast anywhere, and it’s easy to try out. That said, rebound eating, or overeating during eating times, is a real risk, and fasting can make socializing hard, especially if you enjoy dining out.
IF is not recommended if you have diabetes, are pregnant or breastfeeding, take prescription medication at a specific time with food, or have an eating disorder or history of eating disorders. Note that it’s not safe to exercise strenuously on days when you are fasting. You can exercise moderately, but on fast days or the days immediately following, you may feel weak as your energy stores are depleted.
What our dietitians have to say:
According to Kelly Anne, clients that follow IF diets lose weight at the same rate as a “healthy” approach so it’s not a quick fix, plus it can lead to significant muscle loss. In her opinion, the main benefit of IF is that it stops you from eating again after dinner but may also trigger binge eating patterns on non-fasting days.
Kelly Anne’s solution: aim for a 12-14 hour overnight fast.
DASH, or the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet, is a flexible and balanced eating plan aimed at heart-healthy eating. Studies show that DASH lowers blood pressure, particularly if you have elevated levels. It may aid in weight loss, and could reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome and some cancers.
The DASH diet does not list specific foods to eat. Instead, it’s focused on servings of food groups. For instance, it recommends eating 4 to 5 servings of veggies a day, and five or fewer servings per week of added sugar. It focuses on vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean meats. It includes low-fat dairy, fish, poultry, beans, nuts and vegetable oils. It limits foods that are high in saturated fat as well as added sugars and salt.
For many people, it’s fairly simple to adjust their existing diet to DASH. Just eat more fruits and vegetables, choose low-fat products including proteins, and limit your intake of processed, high-fat and sugary foods.
MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH-diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. Quite the mouthful, right? But it just might help you preserve your brain function as you age, so you can remember what the acronym means!
Like the Mediterranean and DASH diets it’s based upon, the MIND diet includes plenty of whole foods—fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and nuts—as well as olive oil, fish and poultry. But, the difference is, the MIND diet recommends eating certain foods at certain frequencies. For example, it calls for at least six servings a week of leafy green vegetables and at least two servings a week of berries.
The MIND diet also specifies how often to eat less-healthy foods: fewer than four servings of red meat per week, less than one serving of cheese per week, less than a tablespoon of butter each day, and less than five servings of pastries and sweets per week.
MIND works on the premise that what you eat combined with what you limit, combats brain cell death, chronic inflammation in the brain and plaque build-ups. Studies have found that older adults who adhere to a MIND diet can have a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s development.
As we all know, there’s no silver bullet when it comes to dieting and weight loss. These recent trends are no different. INLIV’s registered dietitians, Kelly Anne Erdman and Kim Wagner Jones, promote sustainable, healthy eating choices and patterns that are evidence-based, to support individual health and performance goals.
Kelly Anne and Kim can create a customized plan that takes your history, habits and goals into account. Plus, they check in on your progress and can help you navigate any road blocks.
Current INLIV clients can book a Nutritional Counselling appointment using one of their flex credits (if applicable). Call us at 403.538.8881 to find out more and book an appointment.