Pros: Technically a subtype of low-carb diet, the keto diet is unique: By depriving your body of carbohydrates, you not only force your body to become fat-adapted, but also, if you keep protein low as well, elevate your levels of ketone bodies, which is basically a sign your body is running on fat. The keto diet puts you in a unique metabolic state called ketosis wherein your brain burns ketones instead of glucose—and, in doing so, supposedly leads to clearer thinking. Physically, eating such a high amount of fat significantly increases your body’s ability to burn body fat, according to the study analysis. Research also shows keto athletes have a higher VO2 max, and are able to lose fat without losing strength or power.
The plan promotes long-lasting, sustainable changes, and undoubtedly a bounty of research backs this up. In fact, one December 2013 study in the American Journal of Medicine shows that people following Weight Watchers were close to nine times more likely to lose 10 percent of their body weight, compared to people following a self-help diet plan. (20)
Essentially, the Nordic Diet is based on 10 core concepts: eating more fruits and vegetables every day; eating more whole grains; eating more seafood; choosing high-quality meat, but less meat overall; seeking out food from wild landscapes; using organic produce whenever possible; avoiding food additives; basing more meals on seasonal produce; consuming more home-cooked food; and producing less waste.
The diet suggests a specific number of servings of the recommended foods listed above. The sample plans provided by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) are based on 1600, 2000, or 2600 calories daily. For 2000 calories a day, this translates to about 6-8 servings of grains or grain products (whole grains recommended), 4-5 servings vegetables, 4-5 fruits, 2-3 low fat dairy foods, 2 or fewer 3-ounce servings of meat, poultry, or fish, 2-3 servings of fats and oils, and 4-5 servings of nuts, seeds, or dry beans per week. It advises limiting sweets and added sugars to 5 servings or less per week. The plan defines the serving sizes of each these food groups.
Lele Jaro has been on a ketogenic diet for over two years to help with her type 2 diabetes, and has successfully got off insulin. She’s been documenting her health journey on Instagram with keto-friendly food ideas, keto tips, and workout motivation. She’s lost over 80 pounds on her journey, and inspires others to try keto to improve their health. Connect with her on her YouTube channel or Facebook.
If you’ve decided to move forward in trying the keto diet, you will want to stick to the parameters of the eating plan. Roughly 60 to 80 percent of your calories will come from fats. That means you’ll eat meats, fats, and oils, and a very limited amount of nonstarchy vegetables, she says. (This is different from a traditional low-carb diet, as even fewer carbs are allowed on the keto diet.)
Wondering what fits into a keto diet — and what doesn’t? “It’s so important to know what foods you’ll be eating before you start, and how to incorporate more fats into your diet,” says Kristen Mancinelli, RD, author of The Ketogenic Diet: A Scientifically Proven Approach to Fast, Healthy Weight Loss, who is based in New York City. We asked her for some guidelines.
While it’s true that low-carb diets do raise the so-called bad LDL-cholesterol in some people, it’s important to note that LDL-C, when influenced by diet, has never been shown to have any effect on cardiovascular risk. Large clinical trials and observational studies show that one’s level of LDL-C and the lowering of LDL-C through diet is not reliably linked to cardiovascular outcomes.21, 22, 23
Emerging evidence suggests that eating this way may offer protective effects for those with and at risk for type 2 diabetes. For one, Mediterranean eating improves blood sugar control in those already diagnosed with the condition, suggesting it can be a good way to manage the disease. What’s more, given those with diabetes are at increased odds for cardiovascular disease, adopting this diet can help improve their heart health, according to a paper published in April 2014 in the journal Nutrients. (4)
The other nutritional remedy for T2 diabetes is carbohydrate restriction. In a large, ongoing university-based study, 60% of patients with Type 2 diabetes reversed their diagnosis of diabetes after just one year on a ketogenic diet, supplemented by support via a mobile phone app.11 On this protocol, 94% of participants reduced or eliminated their need for insulin medications while improving the vast majority of cardiovascular risk factors.12
Unlike other weight-loss plans, the DASH Diet Weight-Loss Solution plan does not involve counting calories. Even better? Thanks to the book The Dash Diet Weight Loss Solution: 2 Weeks to Drop Pounds, Boost Metabolism, and Get Healthy ($14.24, Amazon), all the hard work has basically been done for you. The plan comes with 28 days of meal plans and more than 45 recipes you can make. Accompanying this plan is the cookbook The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook: Over 150 Fresh and Delicious Recipes to Speed Weight Loss, Lower Blood Pressure, and Prevent Diabetes ($13.77, Amazon), which is there to give you a helping hand along the way if you're stumped on recipes.
"The eating plan focuses on reducing sodium intake and eating more fruits and vegetables," says Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area. "It also emphasizes eating whole foods — such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils — and limits foods high in saturated fat. That includes fatty meats, full-fat dairy, and tropical oils like palm kernel oil, palm oil, and coconut oil. It also limits sugar-sweetened beverages and foods."
The following measurements were made every other week: anthropometric and vital sign measurements; urine testing for ketones; and assessment for hypoglycemic episodes and other symptomatic side effects. Weight was measured on a standardized digital scale while the participant was wearing light clothes and shoes were removed. Skinfold thickness was measured at 4 sites – the average of 2 measurements at each site was entered into an equation to calculate percent body fat . Waist circumference was measured at the midpoint between the inferior rib and the iliac crest using an inelastic tape; 2 measurements were averaged in the analysis. Blood pressure and heart rate were measured after the participant had been seated quietly without talking for 3 minutes. Certified laboratory technicians assessed urine ketones from a fresh specimen using the following semi-quantitative scale: none, trace (up to 0.9 mmol/L [5 mg/dL]), small (0.9–6.9 mmol/L [5–40 mg/dL]), moderate (6.9–13.8 mmol/L [40–80 mg/dL]), large80 (13.8–27.5 mmol/L [80–160 mg/dL]), large160 (>27.5 mmol/L [160 mg/dL]). Hypoglycemic episodes and symptomatic side effects were assessed by direct questioning of the participant and by self-administered questionnaires.
Yet it’s an incredibly well-rounded way to lose weight that ditches gimmicks and doesn’t require calorie or macronutrient counting as other diets do. And with the emphasis on healthy fat, it’s satisfying, too. That said, the 2019 U.S. News & World Report Best Diets ranked the Mediterranean diet as No. 1 for Best Diets Overall and it ranks 17 in their list of Best Weight-Loss Diets. (3) The reviewers note that it’s not a slam dunk, and all depends on how you eat. Even healthy diets like the Mediterranean aren’t free-for-all eating plans.
It seems like everyone is talking about the keto diet — the high-fat, low-carb eating plan that promises to turn your body into a fat-burning machine. For that reason, keto has surged in popularity over the past year as a lose-weight-fast strategy. Thank Hollywood A-listers and professional athletes like Halle Berry, Adriana Lima, and Tim Tebow who’ve publicly touted the diet’s benefits, from shedding weight to slowing down aging. Here’s everything you need to know about going keto.
Water is a weight loss ally in a number of ways. For starters, if sipped prior to a meal it can help ensure you eat less. A British study published in the journal Obesity that asked participants to chug 16 ounces of H2O prior to eating found said participants lost an average of 2.87 pounds in 90 days—which translates to nearly 12 pounds in a year! Water helps you blast even more fat because it is a much better beverage choice than diet soda or fruit juice, both of which are full of artificial sweeteners that can pack on belly fat super fast.
Although some studies have indicated that a ketogenic diet is associated with dyslipidemia (cholesterol and triglyceride perturbations), many of these results were obtained from studies on rodents and did not always agree with what the data show in human studies. A recent review summarized the controversy, highlighting the discrepancies in the literature. In part, the discordance is likely due to the exact composition of the diet, specific study design, as well as the metabolic differences between rodents and humans.
I suffered through a year on 20 grams of carbs per day and it was the worst year of my life. Yep, I lost weight, but at my current weight of 130 lbs and eating 30 carbs per meal and remaining in a prediabetes state for 15 years, I am healthy AND happy now. None of us know the long term effects of most of what is offered to us…medications, diet drinks, processed foods, restrictive diets. The point I was trying to make was eating healthier, more natural foods will be better in the long run, I believe we all have the common sense to agree on that, even if we can’t agree on how many carbs we will eat!
In terms of weight loss, you may be interested in trying the ketogenic diet because you’ve heard that it can make a big impact right away. And that’s true. “Ketogenic diets will cause you to lose weight within the first week,” says Mattinson. She explains that your body will first use up all of its glycogen stores (the storage form of carbohydrate). With depleted glycogen, you’ll drop water weight. While it can be motivating to see the number on the scale go down (often dramatically), do keep in mind that most of this is water loss initially.