Beyond the keto diet

At 18, I did a diet that worked splendidly. I’ll share, but you’ll roll your eyes.

Dieting is our culture. One in two teenage girls tries dieting, including one-third with normal weight. Boys: one in four.

Dieting is also a necessity. Experts predict one in five teens today will be obese by age 35. Obesity affects 40 percent of adults.

The good news is structured diet and exercise can mitigate most complications associated with obesity.

The first question most people ask: Which diet works best?

That’s easy. Whatever you did or are doing, if you’ve lost weight in the first two days, it’s working.

A study comparing different diets – low-fat, low-carb, commercial programs – found them equally effective. Cholesterol and glucose levels improve with absolute weight loss – not with type of diet.   

Let’s use “keto diet” as an example.

Ketogenic diets restrict calories from carbohydrates and protein to 5% and 20% respectively. Fat calories are at 75%. But eating a lot of fat doesn’t mean you’ll burn more fat.

Our livers take fat and make ketones for fuel – happily all day long. At rest, fat provides almost 60% of the energy we use. More so during sleep, prolonged exercise, fasting. Vigorous exercise is one time our body prefers using glucose stored in muscles.

I consider the keto diet a more rigid form of the Atkins diet. It’s like a vegetarian going gluten-free vegan. What’s there left to eat?

And diets work largely by limiting food variety. You get food-bored, you eat less. The less you eat, the less calories you consume.

The unique aspects to keto diets:

  1. In the beginning, people can lose a few quick pounds from ketone-related dehydration. It looks good on the scale – a motivation boost.
  2. Diabetics and people on heart medications may see a drop in medication requirements. You shouldn’t do this diet alone if you have significant medical issues.

Reasons people quit:

  1. “Keto-flu” is fatigue, weakness, and all kinds of belly problems associated with the first few days of keto diet, usually gone after a week or two.
  2. This diet is so weird: most need to cook two different meals: self and family. That takes time.

Whatever you decide to do, I’m all hands on deck. But do consider certain lifestyle changes, like:

  1. Stop eating out.
  2. Sleep early. Sleep enough.  
  3. Figure out a way to cushion stressful days.    

Freshman year summer, I hit the perfect weight-loss stride. I had time, mind and a diet buddy (a puppy). I concocted a salt-free diet, ate mostly bananas wrapped in fried bread (why? beats me). Puppy and I ran a mile daily. The rest of the time, we moseyed in the yard reading "The Complete Sherlock Holmes." When I went back to school, I was a healthy 30 pounds lighter.

There’s no hard or easy diet. Either it works for you or it doesn’t. What works for me: I need a diet buddy; I can walk away from junk food; I can run. But no more bananas.

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Volume 12, Issue 4, Posted 10:02 AM, 02.18.2020