The DASH diet often flies under the radar, especially when compared to buzzy diets such as the Keto diet, but it’s one of the most widely-respected diets out there. U.S. News & World Report has named it the “Best Diet Overall” for eight consecutive years in its annual diet rankings, and it’s recommended by the American Heart Association, who used it to develop their 2010 Dietary Guidelines.

And while the diet wasn't designed with weight loss as a primary goal, it's no secret that many of the nutritional factors that influence blood pressure also influence weight, she says. Think: processed foods, trans fats, and excess sugar. According to one DASH study, adults who who followed the diet lost more weight in a span of eight to 24 weeks than those adhering to other low-calorie diets. (Kick-start your new, healthy routine with The Woman's Guide to Strength Training!)
DASH was first introduced at a meeting of the American Heart Association in 1996 and later published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1997. [2] The DASH trial randomly assigned 456 people to different diets to test the effects of dietary patterns on lowering blood pressure. The authors surmised that eating a diet with many different foods with blood pressure-lowering nutrients would show a greater effect on blood pressure than eating single nutrients, such as found in supplements or in a limited diet. Three diets were tested: 1) a control diet, or a standard American diet, 2) a fruits and vegetables diet, similar to the control diet but providing more fruits and vegetables and less snacks and sweets, and 3) a combination diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and low-fat dairy foods with reduced amounts of saturated fat, total fat, and cholesterol. The last two diets were richer in nutrients associated with lower blood pressure, such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, fiber, and protein. All three diets provided about 3000 mg sodium, which is more than the recommended amount from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans but less than the average sodium intake for Americans. [3]
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.)
Recently, I had the chance to speak with the author of “The Mediterranean Diet Plan,” Susan Zogheib, a registered dietician about her diet plan. Susan will be joining me for an upcoming episode of HeartTalk presented by Capital Cardiology Associates this month (Sunday, June 24th). I wanted to share the highlights of conversation before YOU grocery shop this week so that you can discover the join of healthy eating this summer.

The ketogenic diet is not a benign, holistic or natural treatment for epilepsy; as with any serious medical therapy, there may be complications.[27] These are generally less severe and less frequent than with anticonvulsant medication or surgery.[27] Common but easily treatable short-term side effects include constipation, low-grade acidosis and hypoglycaemia if there is an initial fast. Raised levels of lipids in the blood affect up to 60% of children[37] and cholesterol levels may increase by around 30%.[27] This can be treated by changes to the fat content of the diet, such as from saturated fats towards polyunsaturated fats, and, if persistent, by lowering the ketogenic ratio.[37] Supplements are necessary to counter the dietary deficiency of many micronutrients.[3]
Another study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2008, assigned 322 moderately obese adults to one of three diets: calorie-restricted low-fat; calorie-restricted Mediterranean; and non-calorie-restricted low-carb. After two years, the Mediterranean group had lost an average of 9 7/10 pounds; the low-fat group, 6 4/10 pounds; and the low-carb group, 10 3/10 pounds. Although weight loss didn't differ greatly between the low-carb and Mediterranean groups, both lost appreciably more than the low-fat group did.
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.
For those who want to follow a ketogenic-type diet, Dr. Reynolds says it is important to first talk to your doctor and to discuss your goals so you can be sure that this approach is suitable for you given your medical and health history. Ongoing monitoring is needed if you do decide to adopt this very carb approach to eating. Seeing your doctor regularly is important to make sure that your blood pressure, lipids, blood sugar, mood, and medications are within normal ranges as you lose weight. Adjustments are likely going to be necessary from time to time.
"What I don't like about any commercial diet is that the focus is not on your actual food choices," Hogan said. "It's about calories or points or numbers, and that really takes away from your ability to be in tune with your hunger cues and your fullness cues and what you're really craving. If we become more in tune with those things, we naturally consume how much the body needs. Paying too much attention to numbers takes away from that."
Insulin is released in the blood and used to control blood sugar levels including signaling the liver to stop producing sugar. If this system is impaired and the body does not use insulin properly, which is called insulin resistance, individuals are likely to develop high blood sugar levels. In this study the researchers showed that for ketogenic diets this process for controlling blood sugar levels does not work properly and there was insulin resistance in the liver. When the liver is unable to respond to normal levels of insulin to control blood sugar levels this may lead to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.
I, too, am finding the keto diet to be beneficial. My weight is moving down. My recent A1c was 5.7. I am consistently below 90 each morning when I check my blood. I am learning to adapt my cooking to the needs of maintaining this way of eating. I have incorporated walking because now I FEEL like it. I don’t feel deprived. I feel empowered. No medications for diabetes!
A study with an intent-to-treat prospective design was published in 1998 by a team from the Johns Hopkins Hospital[19] and followed-up by a report published in 2001.[20] As with most studies of the ketogenic diet, there was no control group (patients who did not receive the treatment). The study enrolled 150 children. After three months, 83% of them were still on the diet, 26% had experienced a good reduction in seizures, 31% had had an excellent reduction and 3% were seizure-free.[Note 7] At twelve months, 55% were still on the diet, 23% had a good response, 20% had an excellent response and 7% were seizure-free. Those who had discontinued the diet by this stage did so because it was ineffective, too restrictive or due to illness, and most of those who remained were benefiting from it. The percentage of those still on the diet at two, three and four years was 39%, 20% and 12% respectively. During this period the most common reason for discontinuing the diet was because the children had become seizure-free or significantly better. At four years, 16% of the original 150 children had a good reduction in seizure frequency, 14% had an excellent reduction and 13% were seizure-free, though these figures include many who were no longer on the diet. Those remaining on the diet after this duration were typically not seizure-free but had had an excellent response.[20][21]

I am a big fan of the ketogenic diet and many of my patients have had huge success on it. Having said that, it’s not necessarily for everyone. This should be looked at as a long-term strategy, not a short one. Some people simply find the dietary restrictions too difficult to commit to. Since yo-yo dieting is bad for everyone, and can be downright dangerous for diabetics, you should only begin the ketogenic diet if you feel you can stick to it.
Starting on a ketogenic diet can influence your exercise performance in multiple ways, both positive and negative. During the first 1-2 weeks (the “adaption period,” which I will get back to later), you will most likely see a decrease in energy and athletic performance across the board while your body adjusts to the new diet. This is perfectly normal and should NOT be a cause for concern or make you abandon the diet.
Despite the promising evidence, we must remain skeptical. A few studies can only provide us with clues as to what might be the better dietary intervention for people with type 2 diabetes. To find out if carb restriction can take the throne as the most effective type 2 diabetes diet, we must look at the bigger picture of the data with the help of high-quality meta-analyses.
Gary D. Foster, Ph.D., Holly R. Wyatt, M.D., James O. Hill, Ph.D., Brian G. McGuckin, Ed.M., Carrie Brill, B.S., B. Selma Mohammed, M.D., Ph.D., Philippe O. Szapary, M.D., Daniel J. Rader, M.D., Joel S. Edman, D.Sc., and Samuel Klein, M.D., “A Randomized Trial of a Low-Carbohydrate Diet for Obesity — NEJM,” N Engl J Med 2003; 348:2082- 2090. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa022207.
High blood sugar levels coupled with high blood ketones, on the other hand, will mean that you have a pathologically low level of insulin – something non-diabetics do not suffer from. This can lead to ketoacidosis – a potentially life-threatening condition. If this happens, you’ll need to inject more insulin; if you’re at all unsure of what to do, contact a medical professional. Coveting really high blood ketones for weight control is not worth the risk for type 1 diabetics.

In January 2017, at 63 years of age, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I had probably been living with it unknowingly for years. In 2009 my doctor recommended the South Beach diet because I was showing blood-sugar levels that were considered pre-diabetic. I stayed on it for a while but then, as with all other diets I’ve tried in my life, I failed and put all the weight back on, plus some. When I was officially diagnosed last year with type 2 diabetes I was a whopping 284 pounds (129 kg). I was always fatigued, could barely walk a block without getting tired and my health was failing.
A 2012 study also showed that people on a low-carb diet burned 300 more calories a day – while resting! According to one of the Harvard professors behind the study this advantage “would equal the number of calories typically burned in an hour of moderate-intensity physical activity”. Imagine that: an entire bonus hour of exercise every day, without actually exercising. A later, even larger and more carefully conducted study confirmed the effect, with different groups of people on low-carb diets burning an average of between 200 and almost 500 extra calories per day.
Also, as I believe is mentioned, this diet has been around for along time and was the only way to treat diabetes. And some people did die. However, people still end up dead from t2d even after all the diet advice from educators and with all that pharmacy has to offer. An industry which gains nothing if people just choose to eat less. But has lots to gain if we just keep taking the tablets.
One downside to a ketogenic diet for weight loss is the difficulty maintaining it. “Studies show that weight loss results from being on a low-carb diet for more than 12 months tend to be the same as being on a normal, healthy diet,” says Mattinson. While you may be eating more satiating fats (like peanut butter, regular butter, or avocado), you’re also way more limited in what’s allowed on the diet, which can make everyday situations, like eating dinner with family or going out with friends, far more difficult. Because people often find it tough to sustain, it’s easy to rely on it as a short-term diet rather than a long-term lifestyle.
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