Every time the TV is on or the internet is pulled up, information about diets are thrown our way. We are constantly inundated with different words like “keto” and “intermittent fasting.” Read on to learn about considerations to make regarding current diet trends.
Keto: This diet promotes ketosis, which is a condition where the body burns fat instead of carbs for energy. However, to achieve and maintain ketosis, you must avoid carbs, skimp on protein and eat mostly fat sources. One side effect of this diet is “keto flu,” which can consist of symptoms like nausea, vomiting, headache and muscle cramps, and can occur as a result of your body switching to fat-burning mode. Another side effect of this diet is high fat levels in the blood due to eating mostly fatty foods. There are two types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fat is found in animal products like meat and dairy, and is solid at room temperature. This is the form of fat that can clog arteries and lead to heart problems. A good way to think about it is if a fat is solid at room temperature, it is likely solid in your body. Unsaturated fat, on the other hand, is liquid at room temperature, so is less likely to cause heart problems. This fat is found in sources like olives, olive oil, nuts and avocados. If you do choose to follow a keto diet, be smart about your fat sources to avoid negatively affecting your heart.
Intermittent fasting: This trend is popular as a way to decrease the amount of time you have to eat throughout the day in an effort to reduce how many calories you consume. However, the body requires a certain amount of nutrients each day, and if you do not allow yourself enough time to eat several times daily, you may become deficient in certain nutrients. This eating pattern may also not be appropriate for people with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, as blood sugar levels could drop if too much time passes between meals or snacks.
Juicing: People “juice” for several reasons, such as to boost their immune system or lose weight. However, a key nutrient that is found in whole fruits and vegetables, fiber, is lost when these foods are turned into juice. Most people do not get enough fruits and veggies into their diets, and therefore not enough fiber. If you are able to tolerate whole fruits and vegetables, I recommend eating the whole food when possible, and looking at “juicing” as a bonus if you’ve already consumed the daily recommendation of five servings of fruits and vegetables.
Despite these different food trends making their way onto the scene, the tried and true, classic Mediterranean diet is what has been shown to be sustainable and heart healthy, and is a favorite of many registered dietitians, including myself. This eating pattern emphasizes mostly unsaturated fat sources, lean protein foods such as fish; whole grains and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Because this diet does not cut out any food groups, many people find it easy to stick to for the long term, and the emphasis on unsaturated fat promotes heart health.
While keto, intermittent fasting or juicing may work for you, it is important to look at the pros and cons of each, and to discuss whichever trend you are looking to try with a doctor or registered dietitian before making changes to your dietary habits.