Participants were recruited from the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) outpatient clinics. Inclusion criteria were age 35–75 years; body mass index (BMI) >25 kg/m2; and fasting serum glucose >125 mg/dL or hemoglobin A1c >6.5% without medications, or treatment with oral hypoglycemic agents (OHA) and/or insulin. Exclusion criteria were evidence of renal insufficiency, liver disease, or unstable cardiovascular disease by history, physical examination, and laboratory tests. All participants provided written informed consent approved by the institutional review board. No monetary incentives were provided.
A ketogenic diet is high in fat and low in carbohydrates. It’s called “ketogenic” because people on this diet shift from using glucose (a type of sugar) as their main fuel source to ketone bodies, which are derived from fat. In other words, people on the ketogenic diet can use their bodies’ fat stores as fuel—and this is why many studies show that this diet is superior for sustainable weight loss.
Finally, people eat about nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day on a Mediterranean diet. (1) Produce packs an array of disease-fighting antioxidants, and people who fill their diet with these foods have lower risk of disease. Yet as the National Institutes of Health points out, it’s not known if it’s the antioxidants or other compounds (or general healthy eating patterns) that are responsible for these advantages. (5)
We do recommend everyone eat something every 4-5 hours to maintain a healthy metabolism. If your meals are more than 4-5 hours apart, a snack consisting of a protein and a carbohydrate is a great choice. The protein will help fill you up quicker and keep you feeling satisfied between meals. The protein also has a slower effect on your blood glucose than most carbohydrates, so when paired with carbohydrates, your blood sugar will not spike nearly as high. We recommend eating a protein with every meal and snack.
First, a little background: Eric Westman, MD, director of the Duke Lifestyle Medical Clinic, explained to Health in a previous interview that in order to successfully follow the keto diet, you need to eat moderate amounts of protein, reduce your carb intake, and increase fats. When you reduce your carb consumption, your body turns to stored fat as its new fuel source—a process called ketosis. To stay in ketosis, followers of the keto diet must limit their carbs to 50 grams a day, Dr. Westman says.
The average American consumes approximately 15.5 pounds of pasta each year—and most of it is the refined white stuff. Unfortunately, this type of noodle is usually void of fiber and micronutrients. Spaghetti squash, on the other hand, boasts only about 40 calories per cup—more than 75 percent fewer calories than a cup of plain pasta—and is an excellent source of vitamin A and potassium. Make this simple swap to jumpstart your weight loss and you’ll be fitting into your skinny jeans in no time! For more swaps to save you calories, don’t miss these 25 Food Swaps That Cut 2,500 Calories a Week.
Sodium reduction is part of the DASH equation, but it’s not the only focus. Eating by DASH recommendations also increases your intake of potassium, calcium, magnesium and fiber—all nutrients that play a role in cardiovascular health, as well as the prevention of other chronic diseases. It’s thought to be the combination of increasing your intake of these nutrients and decreasing your intake of added sugar, salt, sodium and unhealthy fats that leads to lower blood pressure and a laundry list of other long-term health benefits.
Finally, the ketogenic diet has been shown to be an effective adjuvant for the treatment of certain cancers. The beneficial effects have been demonstrated for various cancer types, including prostate, colon, and brain cancer, such as glioblastoma. Its efficacy has been documented in animal models as well as in humans, including in pediatric patients.
Make things yourself. While it’s extremely convenient to buy most things pre-made or pre-cooked, it always adds to the price per pound on items. Try prepping veggies ahead of time instead of buying pre-cut ones. Try making your stew meat from a chuck roast. Or, simply try to make your mayo and salad dressings at home. The simplest of things can work to cut down on your overall grocery shopping.
Grains and beans are high in lectins, and it’s no surprise that the top allergen foods also have a high lectin content. The lectins in nightshade vegetables can be troublesome for some people, while others handle them just fine. Cooking and peeling removes some of the lectin content in vegetables (but not grains, they’re pretty heat stable), but some super-sensitive people have to avoid them completely.
Control portion size. Ideas for how to do this include downsizing your dishes, eating without watching TV or being otherwise distracted, and keeping unhealthy food out of sight. An important component of the DASH diet is also to eat smaller portions more frequently throughout the day. This is a way to reduce the risk of overeating and to distribute your energy evenly during the day.
If you ate a hearty breakfast, you won’t be hungry until lunch. It’s best to brown-bag it because you can control the ingredients and portions, but if you eat out, look for grilled fish and salad as a menu option. Don’t eat at your desk while writing a report, but go to the park with a friend or join your co-workers in the lunch room. Bringing leftovers is also a good lunch option.
The herbs and spices associated with the Mediterranean diet shine at dinner. Meal options include fish like grilled salmon or pan-seared trout, seasoned with lemon and dill; chicken baked with a little olive oil and rosemary; grilled lamb chops with mint; mussels cooked in a tomato, garlic and wine broth; chili made with ground turkey, kidney beans and cayenne, or vegetarian-style with a mix of beans; and scallops sauteed with mushrooms and leeks. Have a 4-ounce serving of protein, and fill the rest of your plate with cooked veggies, like cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, or green beans.
After about two to seven days of following the keto diet, you go into something called ketosis, or the state your body enters when it doesn't have enough carbs for your cells to use for energy. That's when you start making ketones, or organic compounds that your bod then uses in place of those missing carbs. At this point, your body also starts burning fat for more energy, says Beth Warren, R.D., founder of Beth Warren Nutrition and author of Living A Real Life With Real Food.
As both study groups acknowledge, additional research is needed to tease out any and all of the factors that may be producing the weight loss and decrease in HbA1c, says Dr. Gonzalez-Campoy, for example there may be other mechanisms of action that are helping these individuals to achieve weight loss, including changes in the gut microbiome, increased insulin sensitivity, enhanced leptin response, and decreased ghrelin levels, each of which contribute to weight loss.
A survey of 1,580 low-carb consumers published in late 2017 by the Journal of Insulin Resistance45 found that while more than 11% of respondents reported using sleep-aids before beginning their low-carb diet, less than 5% reported using them after their diet. Moreover, nearly seven in 10 reported improved quality of sleep after dieting while only 3.4% said their sleep quality had worsened.
The Mediterranean diet has long been recognized as one of the healthiest and most delicious ways to eat. The core concept behind this healthy diet is to eat like the people who live in the Mediterranean region—fill your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, legumes and fish and enjoy moderate amounts of red wine. This 7-day Mediterranean meal plan features these good-for-you foods and delicious flavors for a week of healthy of eating. Plus, at 1,200 calories you're on track to lose a healthy 1 to 2 pounds per week.
Make this spread in advance and bring it along to work. Recipe makes two servings. Have half the recipe today, and save the rest for Wednesday's snack. Use remaining chickpeas from Monday's lunch (half a 15-ounce can). Mash the chickpeas lightly in a bowl with a fork. Mix in 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1 clove minced garlic, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt. If desired, add 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin. Mash all ingredients together thoroughly or, if a smoother spread is desired, use a food processor to blend the ingredients. Bring along 1 cup broccoli flowerets and 1 sliced red, orange or yellow pepper for dipping.
Full disclosure: I have followed a low-carb diet for nearly a decade and find no problem adhering to it. I’ve lost weight and all my cardiovascular biomarkers have improved. Moreover, I’ve studied the science and history behind low-carbohydrate diets, so beyond my personal experience, I bring an evidence-based perspective. (Previously, for 25+ years, I adhered faithfully to a “mostly plants” regimen of fruits, veggies, and whole grains, including my own homemade 7-grain bread, while exercising religiously. Yet during that time my blood lipids were unhealthy, and I never could shake an extra 10-20 pounds.)
Your body uses the carbohydrates you eat for energy, so if we restrict how many carbohydrates we eat, the body has to get its fuel source from fat. A byproduct of this fat burning state are ketones which are produced; this is called nutritional ketosis. You can determine if you are in this fat burning state by purchasing urine ketone testing strips from your local pharmacy.
A slew of articles in recent months have referred to the ketogenic diet as a “fad” or “trend.” It’s “dangerous,” claimed one article, and an anonymous post by the Harvard Public School of Public Health said the diet “comes with serious risks.”1 Yet strangely, these critics seldom cite scientists or doctors who work with the diet, and many—including the Harvard article—cite no medical literature to substantiate their allegations. Without substantiation, many simply rehash long-contradicted, outdated claims.
The classic ketogenic diet is not a balanced diet and only contains tiny portions of fresh fruit and vegetables, fortified cereals and calcium-rich foods. In particular, the B vitamins, calcium and vitamin D must be artificially supplemented. This is achieved by taking two sugar-free supplements designed for the patient's age: a multivitamin with minerals and calcium with vitamin D. A typical day of food for a child on a 4:1 ratio, 1,500 kcal (6,300 kJ) ketogenic diet comprises:
Con: Results can vary depending on how much fluid you drink. By drinking more water, you dilute the concentration of ketones in the urine and thus a lower level of ketones will be detected on the strips. The strips don’t show a precise ketone level. Finally, and most importantly, as you become increasingly keto-adapted and your body reabsorbs ketones from the urine, urine strips may become unreliable, even if you’re in ketosis.