In case you haven’t jumped on the keto train and are wondering what exactly all the hype is about, here you go: The diet is very high fat and (almost) no carb. The ratio of fat to carbs and protein is 4:1. The goal of the ketogenic diet is to burn fat for energy rather than carbohydrates, resulting in weight loss. And, advocates claim there are many benefits beyond the number on the scale going down.
The 2019 rankings include 41 of today’s most popular diets. New to the list this year is the Nordic Diet, a plant-heavy eating plan that incorporates Scandinavian traditions and ranked 9th best overall. Here’s how the rest of the rankings shook out this year, and what experts have to say about the good, the bad, and the trendy. (Here’s a hint: They’re still not crazy about keto.)
If the diet is a quick fix rather than one that promotes lasting lifestyle changes, this could pose a problem. In particular, extreme diets that promise big weight loss up front aren’t always sustainable — and you may end up overeating or even binge eating if you feel deprived. “Consider if the diet’s habits are ones you can continue throughout your lifetime, not just 21 or 30 days,” says Angie Asche, RD, a sports dietitian in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Elena Paravantes, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Writer and consultant specializing in the Greek Mediterranean Diet and Cuisine. She has been active as a clinician, consultant and lecturer for 20 years, both in the U.S. and Greece. An expert on the Greek Mediterranean Diet, her interviews and articles have been published in many publications including CNN, U.S. News and World Report, Prevention, NPR, and Shape. Elena has collaborated with a number of organizations including Loyola University, Yale University, University of Missouri, Louisiana State University, and the American College of Greece.
I was hypoglycemic as a teen because I avoided eating most carbs because obesity and diabetes runs in my family. When I got pregnant the dietician scared the he’ll out of me by telling me I was going to starve my baby if I continued to eat like I was. I immediately added good carbs into my diet and developed grata Iona’s diabetes and had a hell of a time controlling it. After I had my baby I went back to avoiding carbs and got back from yo where I was before my pregnancy. My brother died from complications due to his diabetes and at my mothers urging I went to a dietician and talked about food and what’s healthy and what’s not. I was once again scared that I was making a grave mistake and added in the carbs, I never should have. I developed diabetes and 80+ pound weight gain. After trying like hell to control my diabetes their way I’m back to my way. I’m tired of beating myself up for not being able to “apply” their recommendations correctly and the condescending attitude of the dietician when I tried asking about my old way of eating. I know me best and that’s it.
Cyclical keto diet: The Bulletproof Diet falls into this category. You eat high fat, low carb (less than 50 grams of net carbs a day) five to six days of the week. On day seven, you up your carb intake to roughly 150 grams, during what’s called a carb refeed day. Carb cycling this way helps you avoid the negative effects some people experience when they restrict carbs long term, like thyroid issues, fatigue and dry eyes. Learn more here about how carb cycling works.
A myriad of different teas have been shown to aid weight loss, and green tea is no exception. In fact, a study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that after just two weeks, those who sipped four to five cups of the green brew each day, in addition to working out for 25 minutes, lost more belly fat than those who didn’t imbibe. Scientists attribute green tea’s ability to shrink waists to the beverages catechins, a type of antioxidant that hinders the storage of belly fat and facilitates rapid weight loss.
Meanwhile, more than 70 trials have examined the health effects of a low-carb diet. They attest to the benefits64 associated with ketosis and low-carb diets, including a reduction in body weight and body mass index, improved cardiovascular risk factors including blood pressure, and the reversal of Type 2 diabetes. It is virtually impossible to imagine that a diet with so many health improvements in the ‘near term’ (2 years) could ultimately shorten life—and the study authors offer no possible mechanism to explain how this might happen.
What the diet advocate says: 'The classic keto diet was very strict and nowadays what’s become more popular even to use from a clinical scenario is called the Modified Keto diet which is more liberal in protein. And that’s generally what people are following for weight loss and energy. That would be roughly 65-70% fat, 20-30% protein with a very small carb amount 5-10%,’ says Dr Dominic D’agostino, professor of neuropharmacology at the University of South Florida.
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You’re transitioning. Your body is equipped to process a high intake of carbs and a lower intake of fat. Your body needs to create enzymes to be able to do this. In the transitional period, the brain may run low on energy which can lead to grogginess, nausea, and headaches. If you’re having a large problem with this, you can choose to reduce carb intake gradually.
The results showed a 49%-62% decrease in diabetes risk in individuals who adhered to the diet on a medium to high basis, meaning they stuck to it as closely as possible. What’s even more interesting is that the research noted that the participants who benefited the most from the reduction were men with a waist circumference of 94 or more, and women with a waist circumference of 80 or more.
Use fat as a lever. We’ve been taught to fear fat, but don’t! Both keto and low carb are high fat diets. Fat is our source of energy as well as satiety. The key to understand, though, is that fat is a lever on a low carb or keto diet. Carbs and protein stay constant, and fat is the one you increase or decrease (push the lever up or down) to gain or lose weight, respectively. So if your goal is weight loss, eat enough fat to be satisfied, but there’s no need to “get your fats in” once you’re satisfied.
“This is a good example of a study where you should not directly apply the information to what you are eating as an individual,” Stefanski says. “The research is interesting, but the study period examined was only three days. While this study showed insulin resistance, it did not in fact show that the mice had diabetes. Making the leap from the results of this study to a headline that concludes a ketogenic diet will cause type 2 diabetes is not supported.”
When you're deciding to go on a diet, there are so many options to choose from. You can go keto and focus on healthy fats, try intermittent fasting, or just eat a certain amount of calories a day. One option you might not have tried yet, though, is the DASH diet, which has a simple goal: keeping your body (especially your heart!) as healthy as possible.
As Tammy points out, diets are diets, and many people nowadays think/feel that diets are a “time/value-based goal”. “If I just get my weight down, or if I just fix this, then I’ll be all set…” WRONG!!! There in lies the first problem. How long can it be maintained? Well that’s a good point. The real question is, how long is one committed to changing their life, and how strong is their desire to do it. ALL things that one wants to change in life, require a change in to the way their living and/or perceiving life. They require a life-style change. One could attempt a Mediterranean diet, and yet relapse back to “normal” eating after 3mos, 1yr, 3yrs, etc.. It doesn’t really matter if the change isn’t first on the mental and emotional level. Unfortunately, many first-world daily diets (namely American) incorporate many foods that are addictive which can cause cravings. And yes, the cravings are scientifically prove-able, and have been proved. We grow up thinking that it’s “normal” to have your cake (since its the carb of debate lol) and eat it too, because why?… Well because that’s how they were raised. Simply as that. Conditioned living if you will. There are many cultures on this planet that DO NOT grow up eating as many carbs and sweets as the American Diet, and do perfectly fine without all the sugars and carb cravings. And incidentally, they also lead healthier lives too… Go figure.
Now, about that whole low-fat and low-sugar thing. It can be tricky come dessert time, but Gorin has a hack for surviving that as well: "One way to feel like you’re getting the dessert that you crave while still following the diet is to eat a fruit-based 'nice cream,' like my chocolate-banana recipe. By combining frozen bananas and unsweetened cocoa powder, you'll wind up with a treat that resembles the texture of ice cream yet contains no added sugar and also counts toward your daily fruit servings."
In 1921, Rollin Turner Woodyatt reviewed the research on diet and diabetes. He reported that three water-soluble compounds, β-hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate and acetone (known collectively as ketone bodies), were produced by the liver in otherwise healthy people when they were starved or if they consumed a very low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. Dr. Russell Morse Wilder, at the Mayo Clinic, built on this research and coined the term ketogenic diet to describe a diet that produced a high level of ketone bodies in the blood (ketonemia) through an excess of fat and lack of carbohydrate. Wilder hoped to obtain the benefits of fasting in a dietary therapy that could be maintained indefinitely. His trial on a few epilepsy patients in 1921 was the first use of the ketogenic diet as a treatment for epilepsy.
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Still, the headlines keep coming. Men’s Health declared, “Ketogenic Diet Side Effects: How the Trendy Low-Carb Diet Can Give You Acne.” The health and fitness website Livestrong.com warned about “The Ketogenic Diet and Insomnia.” Other articles raised fears of bloat and constipation or cautioned that the regimen requires inhuman willpower from its followers.
The Mediterranean Diet was identified in the 1960s as research continued to show populations from Mediterranean regions, particularly Southern Italy, the isle of Crete, and Greece, were considerably healthier, with less incidence of disease and longer lifespans than seen in other regions. Studies indicated that the way these populations ate seemed to be the common denominator and through research, the Mediterranean diet was formally born.
Cons: Teaching your body to burn fat instead of carbs takes time, so you have to be patient while you feel sluggish during the weeks it takes to become fat-adapted. And not every body burns fat as efficiently as carbs, so your endurance may never measure up (though, as we said before, others actually see an improvement here.) Without carbs, your body’s ability to generate explosive energy will most likely decline, so if you love sprinting or HIIT, you might need to consume more carbs than other low-fat dieters. And while you’ll probably lose body fat, this kind of diet is actually keeping you focused on the wrong macro: Studies have proven that the higher protein aspect of a low-carb diet helps promote weight loss, rather than the lower carb count.
The more doctors test it, the more they find that eating Mediterranean is the absolute best way to lose weight. Based on the cooking and eating styles of Italy, France, Greece, Spain, and other Mediterranean countries, the plan features olive oil, fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, fish and poultry, whole grains and, yes, wine! It's high in heart-healthy fats and, unlike other diets, doesn't forbid any food group. "It's hard to stay on extreme diets," says Harvard nutrition expert Walter Willett, MD, PhD, whose book Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy popularized the approach in the United States. "This diet has lots of variety and wonderful flavors so people stick with it."
The benefits above are the most common ones. But there are others that are potentially even more surprising and – at least for some people – life changing. Did you know that a keto diet can help treat high blood pressure, may result in less acne, may help control migraine, might help with certain mental health issues and could have a few other potential benefits?