What's this Keto diet all about?!

If you aren't curious about the Ketogenic diet yourself, I'm sure you've heard a relative, co-worker, or someone at the gym spreading the news about how well it works. BUT HEY, not so fast! Do you know what this diet was created for or question how it could give results so fast? If there's one thing we've learned from fad-diets is that long-term isn't part of the plan. The word 'DIET' makes everyone cringe. It has such a negative connotation that even I hesitate to use it and choose 'healthy lifestyle' over 'healthy diet', as often as possible. We've got to start thinking about food choices as long-term sustainable commitments that we can be happy with. It's also very important to ask, "what will become of my body when I stop dieting?" 

I’ve done extensive literature review on the Ketogenic diet versus a balanced diet high in fiber in regards to chronic disease prevention and long-term brain health. Eating fiber-rich consistently wins by a long-shot based on evidence-based research, and common sense. 

The explanation:

The Ketogenic diet is actually a therapeutic diet for people who have epilepsy. I’ve seen this diet used to treat children who suffer from seizures and it’s been found to provide relief by decreasing seizure activity. It is an extreme diet high in fat, moderate protein, and very low in carbohydrates. There is a ratio determined for each patient that may be adjusted as seizure activity decreases. Patients on this diet are usually managed by a MD and dietitian because it’s miserable, very hard to stick to, and short-term so growth is not compromised. 

Unfortunately, this diet has gone mainstream without knowledge of how damaging it can be because, 1. carbs are necessary for growth (in kids), 2. Athletes risk inconsistent performance, poor recovery, and lean tissue loss from glucose depletion, and 3. it changes brain chemistry, which research to-date does not totally understand the mechanism.
My first reply to keto is usually: don’t mess with your brain function! 

This diet is appealing to people who want to lose weight because when the body is starved of glucose, which happens when we don’t eat enough carbohydrates, it is forced to find another energy source. So, we burn down our body fat. Fat produces a by-product called ketones which are toxic and eliminated through urine. So, the purpose of the keto diet is to produce ketones. Not something I would advise when trying to develop healthy habits and a balanced diet. It is particularly not appropriate for people at risk for heart disease and diabetes.

The reason ketosis does not work long term (and also why it’s dangerous) is that the body is literally eating itself alive. Weight gain is almost certain when transitioning back to a normal, healthy, balanced diet.

Please understand this: Carbs are not bad. Complexity is important. Carbs breakdown to glucose which is our #1 preferred energy source to store and burn. We just have to choose fiber-rich.

Side note: The DRI of carbohydrates begins when we are 12 months old at 130 grams per day minimum and that goes for our entire lifetime! Research has found that 130g per day is primarily to support the brain because it uses up the most energy especially when we are sleeping and repairing.

 

If you are more interested in brain health unrelated to the Ketogenic Diet, I would highly recommend reading: “The Alzheimer’s Solution” Sherzai MDs.

2018 is all about you, babe!

For many of us, January is about beating the weather. It’s dark, below freezing, and getting up early is extra hard. Who has time to make a New Year's resolution when the snow needs to be shoveled? Maybe you already go to the gym a few hours each week and eat a serving of vegetables each day. Maybe you’re doing just fine without setting the bar any higher and you don't need motivating. However, it only takes seconds to be influenced by "fit-sporation" or pursued to try a fad diet. Deep down, we all really want to be healthy but habit change is hard.  

I don’t know about you, but I get sick and tired of the constant flow of media trying to tell me how to eat. Titles like: 12 foods for a beach body and 10 foods for a slim belly might catch your eye because they suggest a quick fix. Truth is, we are all different. Not a new concept, friends.

Nothing is juicier than an enticing idea that might be the answer to getting something we really want. I’m a fan of goal setting but with goal setting often comes patience and that is not necessarily the desirable method.

If there is anything I know about metabolism, it doesn’t like to be jerked around. I often teach that no matter what we attempt in the course of weight loss, eventually, the body wins. Natural physiology will outsmart the process in defense. The perfect example is an extreme low-calorie or low-carb diet. The common outcome is fast weight loss. High protein intake beyond what your body actually needs is an easy way to dehydrate. Try sticking to this diet on vacation or during the holiday season. It’s just not sustainable for a handful of reasons.

The outcome of a depletion diet is inevitable weight gain as soon as the body begins to absorb an adequate amount of nutrients again. When energy stores (glycogen) are depleted for the sake of weight loss we start to breakdown lean tissue and lose muscle mass, while risking metabolic meltdown. The body interprets lacking nutrition as a threat and it will win the fight by retaining fat. Those intense headaches and sugar cravings are metabolic cries for help that you will eventually give in to. You’re not weak for craving chocolate. It’s about survival! Good luck trying to convince your metabolism to act appropriately the next time you attempt to lose weight by cutting out carbs. Our body fat keeps us alive and glucose, provided only by digesting carbohydrates, is our life source.   

IMG_1649.jpg

Here is my recommendation for 2018: EAT FOR YOU.

Take a solo trip inside your own body with a goal of self-discovery. You deserve to own the shape of your body and the specific type of nutrition and exercise that works for you. Spend less time searching for motivation and more time moving your body, meditating in thought, and internalizing positive energy.

We spend so much time looking for motivation from social media and magazines. Why pay for a trainer or dietitian when Instagram has millions of videos on diet and exercise? Because a video won’t check in, ask if you’re sticking to your individual plan, encourage you to get to the grocery store, and remind you that patience and consistency are the winning qualities to lifelong health.  

LET’S EAT. 

TATERS! Don’t be afraid. They actually ARE good for you!

As a Dietitian, I am constantly confronted with what I call “Carbophobia” towards all things starch. Last weekend a friend said to me with excitement, “I’m off the wheat and grains!” Instead of congratulating her I replied with a simple question, “why would you do a thing like that?”

The human gut is a wondrous contraption, and there is not a food-frontier that hasn’t been explored by an adventurous foodie looking for the thrill of tasting, swallowing, and digesting. In my opinion, just because we can eat anything we want on this planet doesn’t mean that we should. Hence, the reason I am perplexed as to the purposeful elimination of foods that are safely grown and extremely healthy, such as grains and potatoes. Certainly, there are bona fide reasons why a person should not consume specific food allergens. However, before assuming that your gut is better off without something that you may have once regularly consumed, we must first question overall diet quality. Also, keep in mind that most humans can digest wheat gluten, yeast, and grains. It would be a shame to eliminate foods based on assumption instead of consulting your doc and testing for absolute proof of allergy or intolerance.

Humans have depended on the nutritional value of the potato going way back in history. Numerous books are dedicated to the feast-or-famine of civilizations in regards to potato crops. In the 1500’s, taters got a bad rap. They were thought to be poisonous, a dangerous aphrodisiac, and the cause of leprosy. It took serious persuasion from chemists and the threat of starvation to convince Europeans to consider the potato a staple in their meager diet of the time. Even Marie Antoinette wore potato blossoms in her hair as an act to persuade the people to trust in the nutritional value of tubers (although this didn’t last for very long knowing how it ended for poor Marie). Maybe her famous quote was misinterpreted and “Let them eat potatoes” was more like it.

DON’T BE A TATER-HATER

Potatoes are incredibly versatile to cook with and highly nutritious. Get ready to be surprised by the nutritional information of the glorious potato! In general, potatoes are kings of potassium, vitamin C, and fiber, just leave the skin on for maximum nutritional value. Sweet potatoes are similar with an additional boost of vitamin A. Potatoes are a little tricky to quantify because of size variation, but this is rather accurate:  

1 cup of Yukon Gold (8 oz by weight) is approximately 166 calories, 40 grams of carbohydrate, 0 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of fiber, and 4.5 grams of protein. YES, protein! Plants contribute to your daily intake of protein, as well. 1 cup of sweet potato is approximately 114 calories, 27 grams of carbohydrate, 0 grams of fat, 4 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein. Go easy on the added fats, toss your taters with just about any spice known to man, and you have a healthy carbohydrate on your plate. Add roasted beets and carrots plus a serving of protein and Voilà! A low-fat, beautifully balanced meal. 

Take a look at this website for further information: https://www.potatogoodness.com

  Zoodles + sweet potatoes! 

Zoodles + sweet potatoes! 

Healthy. Affordable. Food.

Let’s be real- all the fancy pictures of food in blogs and feeds are awesome BUT probably took a lot more time to put together than most of us have. Convenience, budget, and practicality are priority for most households. Both parents work, students have jobs, and singles bust their buns trying to make ends meet. We aren’t often born knowing how to feed ourselves as we age and a lot of folks never learn! No wonder it’s so damn hard eating healthy.

Pictured is $25 well spent from Walmart. Recently I spent an hour helping my best gal pal put healthier meals together. She has 2 teenage daughters who eat very differently from each other, while she works 6 days per week. It's hard to know what's healthy let alone how to put it all together! The first task is simply to stock your kitchen. If the cupboards are full of items from the chip isle we have set ourselves up to make poor choices. Moderation works for some, while other folks need to keep it out of the house to begin with! Set your household up for success by excelling to expert status at the grocery store. 

  Fiber is the priority! 

Fiber is the priority! 

Can't BEET the science behind this Root Veggie

Beets are truly a gift from Mother Earth. Gorgeous in color and strong in flavor this root vegetable is rich in nutrients absorbed right out of the soil like folate, potassium, fiber, and iron. Beets are like Clark Kent with a super hero hidden inside of a common exterior. Rich in antioxidant capacity and anti-inflammatory, root veggies have what it takes to fight off the bad guys.

What’s the big deal with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods? Well, antioxidants have protective properties that can alleviate damage to tissues. You’ve likely seen oxidation in action when leafy greens blacken or guacamole turns to an unfortunate shade of green. Vitamin C happens to be a reducing agent so a squeeze of lime juice can halt the reaction. Therefore, if we eat a diet rich in antioxidants we reduce the damaging effects of oxidation on our tissues. 

Inflammation is a protective reaction from injured tissues that we recognize by the feeling of pain, redness, and swelling. A poor diet low in nutritional value, excess body fat, and lack of physical activity can worsen symptoms. A 2016 study found that foods with a high antioxidant capacity reduces the risk of non-communicable chronic diseases. Such foods include beets, collard greens, beans, onions, lettuce, and coffee. Eat a variety of these foods in combination with resistance training for maximum cardio benefit. 

Beets are currently a popular topic when it comes to athletic ability and natural performance enhancement with dozens of studies finding cardiovascular benefit. Beets naturally contain nitrate (NO3) which protects against heart disease, increases blood flow, and may boost athletic performance, which has been studied with particular interest in endurance athletes. 

The body converts nitrate to nitric oxide, which is a compound that has the ability to widen blood vessels, allowing cells to use oxygen more efficiently. This would be an excellent reason for runners, cyclists, and other endurance athletes to take interest in concentrated beet juice! You don’t need to be a well-trained athlete or even consider yourself fit to give beets a chance as an energy enhancer and stamina booster, which are qualities that most people would happily embrace and another great reason to have a diet rich in veggies.  

 

1 cup of beets = 60 calories, 0g fat, 13g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 2g protein

  This dish is quinoa, broccoli, beets, and mango dressing - seasonal from Trader Joe's. 

This dish is quinoa, broccoli, beets, and mango dressing - seasonal from Trader Joe's. 

Dietitian versus Nutritionist - What's the Difference?

REGISTERED DIETITIAN (RD) or REGISTERED DIETITIAN NUTRITIONIST (RDN)

Definition: A dietitian is a health professional who has university qualifications consisting of a 4-year Bachelor Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics or a 3-year Science Degree followed by a Master Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics, including a certain period of practical training in different hospital and community settings (in the U.S. 1200 hours of supervised practice are required in different areas). Some dietitians also further their knowledge and skills by pursuing various Specialist Dietetic qualifications. Dietitian is an expert in prescribing therapeutic nutrition.

Regulation: All qualified Dietitians should have met national/international standards for professional legislation. The title “Dietitian” is protected by law in many countries such as Canada, USA, South Africa, Australia, and the UK.

Work: Dietitians can translate the science of nutrition into everyday information about food. They also have special skills in translating medical decisions related to food and health to inform the general public. Dietitians can work in both the hospital and community. They may work with people who have special dietary needs, inform the general public about nutrition, evaluate and improve treatments and educate clients, doctors, nurses, health professionals and community groups. They undertake the practical application of nutrition with both individuals and population groups to promote well – being and to prevent nutrition related problems. They are also involved in the diagnoses and dietary treatment of many diseases, such as food allergies, kidney disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.

Your safety: Registered Dietitians are members of one or more professional bodies, and therefore they are held accountable for their conduct and the care they provide. Because of this, the reliability and safety of their professional advice and care are ensured.

NUTRITIONIST (no credentials) 

Definition and Regulation: A nutritionist is a non-accredited title that may apply to somebody who has done a short course in nutrition or who has given themselves this title. The term Nutritionist is not protected by law in almost all countries so people with different levels of knowledge can call themselves a “Nutritionist”.

Work: There are also qualified nutritionists, who are people who have completed University Degrees in Food Science, Human Nutrition, Food and Nutrition, or Food Technology. They are also called Food Scientists. University qualified Nutritionists and Food Scientists normally work for food manufacturers, retailed businesses, in research and public health promotion. Some may work as Dietitian Assistants or Food Journalists. Nutritionists do not have any professional practical training, and therefore they should not be involved in the diagnosis and dietary treatment of any diseases.

Your safety: Since the title ‘nutritionist’ has been used by many unqualified people to describe their involvement in food and nutrition related practice, you should be careful when choosing a qualified nutritional professional.

*NOTE* All dietitians are nutritionists, but nutritionists ARE NOT dietitians.