Do fad diets really work?
You’ve heard this before: If you continue to do what you’ve always done, you’ll continue to get what you’ve already got.
People always want a quick fix. Fad diets have been around for centuries. Unfortunately, you can’t fix a bad habit with a quick-loss diet. Fad diets like the Keto diet and high protein diets don’t promote a sustainable lifestyle.
In this article I am talking about the keto diet, and what it has to do with diabetes.
- I will talk about how it’s supposed to work
- How it’s being mis-used
- Its effects on diabetes
- And the importance of incorporating sustainable changes
Let’s talk about the Keto diet
Many people are losing weight on keto diets combined with intermittent fasting. Is it sustainable over a long period of time? Although it can be done, I predict that less than 1% of people will sustain this lifestyle. Will the participants gain weight again when they go back to their “normal” lifestyle? Most likely, yes.
Keto diets are widely touted as a solution for reversing type 2 diabetes. This diet includes 20% protein, 75% “healthy” fats, and extremely low (5%) carbohydrates. Since the average diet includes well over 300 grams of carbohydrates, this is a huge shift in your eating habits. Chances are when you go off this diet, you will return to your carbohydrate-rich lifestyle.
The problem with it
Many people don’t follow the Keto diet correctly. They misinterpret the extremely low carbohydrate diet to mean they can eat high protein. They’re also eating too many high-fat proteins. The keto-diet promotes mainly vegetable sources of protein. People are eating high protein from animal sources, checking their blood sugar two hours after a meal and believing they are controlling their blood sugars.
Many people go on fad diets and lose weight. They may even reverse their diabetes by losing weight and reducing their insulin resistance. But when they go off the diet, they go back to their old eating habits of high carbohydrates and more daily calories than they need. The weight returns.
They have not learned a sustainable lifestyle change
Changing old habits is difficult. You must replace the old habit with a new improved habit.
The general population of Americans are eating too many calories. The average female consumes 1778 calories per day (the average female in her 20’s consumes over 2000 calories per day) (Appleby, n.d.) The average male consumes 2512 calories per day with the average increasing to 2730 for 30-40-year-old males. (Appleby, n.d.) It is this overall increase in calories that has contributed to the obesity crisis in America.
American’s also eat too many simple carbohydrates. In 2011, the US National Institute of Health reported the average American consumes 39% – 51% of their calories in carbohydrates. (Cohen E., 2015) The average American consumes 119 grams of sugar each day (i.e. 476 calories in sugar). The American Heart Institute recommends limiting sugar to 100-150 calories per day (i.e. 25-38 grams per day) (Appleby, n.d.)
The traditional Keto diet requires less than 5% carbohydrates in your daily diet. It is recommended to limit carbs to 15 grams or less per day (not including the carbohydrates contained within healthy vegetables). This is challenging not only to the individual but also to their family and friends.
American’s celebrate with food
Christmas, we have cookies, candy, and Christmas Dinner. Birthdays we eat cake. Weddings we eat at the reception. Easter is baskets with candy. Our society celebrates with food, particularly high carbohydrate foods.
When individuals go on a keto diet, they place a burden onto their family and friends. I have heard this complaint from my diabetic children. At least they have a significant health issue to be considered. But the unusual and strict diet places a burden on your family and friends, and this is one reason why it becomes an unsustainable lifestyle.
Keto diets are not just a high protein diet
The traditional keto diet contains 5% carbohydrates, 20% Protein and 75% fats. It is recommended to limit meat to 3-6 ounces per day. Many of them advise to limit dairy too. This means that the majority of your protein should come from plants. Beans and legumes are good sources of protein too, as well as mushrooms. To avoid some of the long-term side effects like heart disease and kidney disease, you must follow this diet’s restrictions correctly. This includes limiting animal protein and focusing on plant-based proteins.
You also must include healthy fats
Healthy fats include monounsaturated, polyunsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids. Saturated fats should be limited in a healthy diet. Unhealthy fats are trans fats and they should be eliminated from your diet completely.
Monounsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. These include olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, and sesame oil. Other food sources include avocados, peanut butter and many nuts and seeds. (Monounsaturated Fats, 2017)
Polyunsaturated fats contain essential fatty acids (which means the body cannot produce them). A healthy diet should include safflower oil, corn oil, walnuts, almonds, and other nuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, egg yolks or other foods containing essential fatty acids. For a nice list go to Anne’s Healthy Kitchen. (Guillot, n.d.)
Omega 3’s are also important to include in a balanced diet. Foods containing Omega 3 include Flax seeds, a wide variety of fish including anchovies and shrimp, lentils and dried beans, spinach and avocados. (Guillot, n.d.)
Trans fats are dangerous. They occur mainly in processed foods. Products include margarines, ice cream, and shortening. Most process foods contain trans fats. This include chips, crackers, cereals and granola, canned soups and sauces, salad dressings, cake mixes, frozen pizzas and even some vegie burgers.
Many restaurants use partially hydrogenated fats to prepare fried foods. This practice has been discouraged by the FDA since 2013. (American Heart Association, 2017) Unfortunately, when they contain less than ½ gram, they are not required by US law to include the information on their label. This can be misleading for people who eat a lot of processed foods.
Other hazards with keto diets
One of the main health concerns with a high-meat-based diet is heart disease. To avoid clogged arteries, hypertension (high blood pressure), and heart attacks, you need to focus on plant-based proteins and healthy fats. (daveywaveyfitness.com, n.d.)
If you don’t include enough vegetables on the keto diet, you are at risk for potassium deficiency. Side effects include keto-flu, keto rash, fatigue, sleep problems, gout, kidney stones, heart arrhythmias, and some other medical conditions. Obviously, you can avoid these by taking a potassium supplement of at least 600 mgs.
Another common problem can be low B vitamins. Supplemental nutritional yeast is recommended.
Is it sustainable?
Obviously, it can be done. People can lose weight on these diets and reduce their insulin resistance. Is it safe? Long term health issues have yet to be determined and it may be a long time before scientific evidence proves the safety of this method.
Let me refer to the Biggest Loser Show. Many of their participants worked really hard to lose weight. After they are off the show, many of them gained the weight back because they didn’t develop good new sustainable habits.
We know yo-yo dieting can be hard on your body.
Changing your old habits takes a lot of work and support!
The earlier you change your lifestyle, the better your chances to prevent or delay diabetes.
People with a high BMI are at risk for type 2 diabetes. Many of the people who try these diets are trying to reverse prediabetes. Diabetes is a progressive disease. As you get older (if you get older) your pancreas will continue to slow down. If you have prediabetes, or type2, your blood sugars will continue to be a challenge.
The American Diabetes Association has a scientifically proven program to reduce your chances of diabetes. Their success rate is as high as 71% in some age groups. (American Association of Diabetes Educators, n.d.)
This program helps individuals develop healthy lifestyle changes and establish these changes over time.
Why do we challenge ourselves with quick fix tricks?
If there is a scientifically proven program available nationwide, why don’t people want to try it?
I know it can be expensive and sometimes insurance will not pay for it.
I know it requires participants to go to multiple meetings.
Participants must be 18 years or older to qualify. That is the reason I started my Kids at Risk for Diabetes program. Parents know there is a genetic connection with diabetes. Every parent who has been diagnosed with type 2 or prediabetes should warn their children of the risk and encourage them to establish a healthy lifestyle.
Here’s what I can offer you
I want to help families and children delay and even prevent the onset of diabetes. Go here to learn more about my program for the whole family.
If you’re trying to conceive but you have Type 2 diabetes, or you’re concerned about gestational diabetes because of a previous pregnancy, or from genetics, check out my Happy Healthy Baby program.
If you aren’t sure what you need, but want to talk, set up a free call with me. We can talk about your situation and figure out what you need. I want to help!
I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this subject. You can email me directly at Julie@kidstariskfordiabetes.com.
American Association of Diabetes Educators. (n.d.). Prediabetes & the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program. Retrieved June 22, 2018, from AADE: https://www.diabeteseducator.org/prevention
American Heart Association. (2017, March 24). Healthy for Good Home. (American Heart Association) Retrieved June 22, 2018, from Trans Fat: https://healthyforgood.heart.org/eat-smart/articles/trans-fat
Appleby, M. (n.d.). Chron.com. Retrieved June 22, 2018, from The Average American Diet & Calorie Intake: http://livehealthy.chron.com/average-american-diet-calorie-intake-2960.html
Cohen E., C. M. (2015, May 31). Statistical review of US macronutrient consuption data 1965-2011: Americans have been following dietary guidelines, coincident with the rise in obesity. Retrieved June 22, 2018, from Pub/Med US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25837220
daveywaveyfitness.com (Ed.). (n.d.). reference.com. Retrieved June 22, 2018, from What happens if you eat too much protein?: https://www.reference.com/health/happens-eat-much-protein-cbbbb4a137c59476?aq=Good+Fats&qo=similarQuestions
Guillot, A. (n.d.). Anne Guillot Dietitian. Retrieved June 22, 2018, from Anne’s Healthy Kitchen com: https://www.anneshealthykitchen.com/top-30-foods-high-in-polyunsaturated-fat/
Monounsaturated Fats. (2017, March 24). Retrieved June 22, 2018, from American Heart Association Healthy for Good: https://healthyforgood.heart.org/eat-smart/articles/monounsaturated-fats