6 Things You Should Know About the Keto Diet

The keto diet is very popular, especially since it is January and people are looking to make some changes to their routine. Unless you've been living under a rock, or in Europe, you've heard all about it and have probable read a few thing here and there about it. If you’ve decided to commit to the high-fat, very-low-carb plan after hearing about its touted perks — improved memory, less brain fog, more energy, stabilized blood sugar, or most common, quick weight loss — there are a few things you need to know first. Approaching this fad diet or any fad diet fully informed may better set you up for success:

1: Your Body Goes Into Ketosis

It is ketosis that causes the fat burn in keto. Ketosis a metabolic state where your body uses fat for fuel (as opposed to it preferred source of energy, glucose). During this process, the body breaks down fat and converts it into ketone bodies. This should not be confused with diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially life-threatening complication of diabetes that happens when your body does not get enough insulin and ketone levels are simultaneously high, according to the Mayo Clinic.

2: You Need to Stay on Keto for it to Work

Seesawing on and off keto will just lead you to gain all the weight back. Keto has become such a fad that people don’t really fully understand what they’re getting into and jump into the diet, say nutritionists. Because of that, people often follow the keto diet one day and then eat carbs the next, and won't reap the potential benefits of sustained ketosis this way. You can't really cheat on a keto diet.

3: The Keto Diet Is High in Protein

Eggs and smoked salmon for breakfast and a big cut of steak for dinner sounds like it’s on the keto plan, but protein needs to be eaten in moderation. This is not the Atkins Diet. Excess protein can be converted into glucose, spiking your blood sugar, taking your body out of ketosis. What’s more, the breakdown of amino acids in protein can also lead to increased ketones, which is not ideal for a person with high levels of ketones in their body to start. If you’re unsure about how much you should consume, a registered dietitian can help. You can find one at EatRight.org.

4. Carbs Affect People Differently

How many carbs you should eat really depends on your personal health. When you start a very-low-carb diet like keto, you may not realize how low in carbs it is. Followers typically consume 30 to 50 grams (g) of carbohydrates a day, often beginning on the lower end of that spectrum to help the body enter ketosis. Nonetheless, depending on factors like physical activity, you may be able to go higher. She recommends teaming up with a dietitian who can calculate your nutritional needs. What’s more, sometimes it’s not even necessary to go keto, she says. “Some people have genetic issues with using fat for energy, making the diet even more difficult or ineffective for them,” says Fleck.

5: You Can and Should Eat Vegetables on Keto

You need to eat produce to get fiber to avoid constipation, a keto side effect. Fruits and veggies are sources of carbohydrates. Still, that doesn’t mean you should avoid produce. In fact, these whole, unprocessed foods are important sources of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber — the latter of which is critical for avoiding constipation. Nutritionists recommend nonstarchy veggies, like zucchini, cauliflower, cucumbers, peppers, and broccoli, plus small amounts of lower-carb fruits, like berries — think strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. There are still some healthy foods that are not allowed on the keto diet, so you’ll want to consult a doctor.
 

6: The Keto Diet Isn't Necessarily the Best way to Lose Lose Weight

Just because a keto diet worked for someone you know, it doesn't mean it is the diet that’s best for you. Everyoe is different. There are a lot of trendy diets out there, but in reality, success comes from finding an eating plan that you can be consistent with.  Talk to a registered dietitian about all this, but before going keto, This will help you decide what diet is best for you.

 

 

 

Soylent: Is it Really Food?

Meals. They are necessary, can be fun and nutritious at times, and sometimes enjoyable even. But they can also be a pain in the neck, messy, time consuming, expensive and not very tasty. I am one of those folks who likes to lean toward fast and convenient when it come to my meals, but for me fast and convenient usually means unhealthy, which is why I set out to find a solution. Of course, I had an ulterior motive to disrupting my dietary routine. I was traveling East to visit family in New York and waned to drop 7 - 10 pounds before I went. I needed a sustainable crash diet without adding too much to my exercise routine, so I decided to give Soylent a try.Soylent

First a little background. I tried Soylent a few years ago when it first came out. It was pretty simple: you made up a batch of the mixture, using the Soylent powder along with a small vial vegetable oil ( I guess this was to satisfy the human body's fat requirement). I was provided a nifty plastic jug that help roughly a day's worth of the mixture. That jug sat in the fridge waiting for consumption. Easy, convenient and no mess. The Soylent guys had accidentally invented a replaceable nutrient formula while working on a software start-up. They were running low on their initial seed round cash and needed sustenance to get them through the last few months of their product development. Very Silicon Valley. Anyway, they researched what exactly the human body needed, and engineered a powdered formula, that when mixed with water (and a little oil) yielded a complete dietary supplement. I imagined it to be a hi-tech version of astronaut food or camping food: freeze dried and yucky. But is wasn't yucky, it just wasn't very tasty and I didn't make it through my fist box of around 35 meals. But, in the last year I have been keeping tabs on Soylent and saw that they were offering up new products (pre-mixed 8 ounce bottles) and new flavors like Cacao and Strawberry. It was time for a second attempt.

Days 1 - 5

For the first few days I carefully measured out each one of my 'meals', which was 1/3 a cup of powder mixed with 3/4 a cup of water. There is no vial of oil for formula version 1.9. At 400 calories per serving, I was able to maintain a pretty manageable program of 2 cups of black coffee in the early morning, followed by meals at 10am, 2pm and 6pm. Sometimes I had a 4th meal during the course of a day, depending on hunger and exercise, and ate a handful of protein (chopped up chicken breast) a few times. All told, these first 5 days went fine and I had dropped three pounds. I consumed no alcohol during these first 5 days, and began to feel the onset of ketosis around day 5.

Days 6 - 10

I began dispensing with the careful measurements and just started eyeballing the mix. Dump some powder in a glass, fill it with water, stir in some ice (it tastes better chilled), and drink. A meal in about 3 minutes. I was starting to notice that I felt less bloated during this time. I was eating no real food, so I was consuming no extra sodium, which meant I drank less water. My total weight loss by the end of day 10 was about six pounds. As with any diet, much of the success depends on the dieter's ability to fight through the hunger pangs, which I did by staying busy with writing and other work related projects. So far I was pleased with my efforts.

Soylent Ingredients

Day 11 - 14

While consistently fighting off the hunger, I felt good toward the end of my experiment. I had on 'cheated' a few times and had lost some weight. I had four meals a day during these last few days and felt like I could sustain this new diet I had conceived. I drank almost no alcohol during the 14 days, maybe 2 glasses of wine, and I suspect drinking more would mess things up. I believe this won't work for people who drink a glass of a wine a day or even 5 drinks a week.

Summary

A Soylent meal contains 20 grams of plant-based protein and I think this works even thought is strays from the dietary guidelines suggested by the US Government. I would recommend at least considering this diet if you don't have the time or patience to prepare healthy meals in your kitchen. I found Soylent to be functional, and even good tasting. As always, do your research and check with your doctor.

 

 

 

 

Slim-Down Summer Foods

Summer is a great time to diet, because when the mercury rises, your appetite tends to crash. (And of course, seeing yourself in a swimsuit can be all the motivation you need!) Still, at this time of year ice cream cones call your name and BBQs beckon; overdo it with either of these -- or other seasonal treats -- and you’ll enter fall a little, um, fuller-figured. The good news? Plenty of the foods that are prevalent this time of year tantalize your taste buds, offer important nutrients, and help you shed pounds. Here, seven to keep you slim and satisfied.

Slim-down summer food: Watermelon. “Not only is watermelon sweet and refreshing, but it's also low in calories at only 45 per cup of diced melon,” says nutritionist Elizabeth Fassberg, president and founder of EAT FOOD, a food and nutrition consultancy. Because it's mostly water, this juicy summer treat is also very filling. An added bonus? It's a good source of vitamins C and A, lycopene, and the water it contains is hydrating -- something that’s important on sweltering days.

Slim-down summer food: Gazpacho. This tomato-based, vegetable soup is served cold so it’s very refreshing. “Because it’s chock full of vegetables, gazpacho is filling but not high in calories,” says Fassberg. “It’s also full of flavor -- especially when the tomatoes are local and tasting sweet as sugar.” On top of this, it’s packed with different vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Slim-down summer food: Summer lettuce. “When it’s fresh from the farmer's market it has so much flavor that you'll want to make salads instead of rich, heavy foods,” says Fassberg. “Also, lettuce has almost no calories because of its high water content and depending on the type you choose, can contain vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, vitamin C and fiber to help fill you up!” Just watch the dressings since that's where the majority of calories come from. Steer clear of those that are cream-based.

Slim-down summer food: Whole grains like bulgur, barley, quinoa or millet used in cold salads. “Whole grains have more fiber and more nutrients than plain grains like pasta and white rice,” says Fassberg. “Because they're rich in fiber, you'll only need a small portion to feel satisfied.” They also have a lot more flavor than their less healthy counterparts. Enjoy them mixed with roasted beets and a bit of goat cheese or on top of your favorite green salad.

Slim-down summer food: Homemade herbal iced tea. “Our bodies give us the same cue for hunger that they do for thirst,” explains Fassberg. In other words, often when you think you’re hungry, you may just be dehydrated and need a good, long drink. Having a jug of iced tea all chilled in the fridge and ready to grab can help stave off the urge to devour the calorie-heavy snacks in the pantry. Simply steep your favorite flavor herbal tea bags in hot water, let this cool at room temperature, and then pour into a pitcher and chill in the fridge.

Slim-down summer food: Fish on the grill. Summertime is synonymous with grilling time. And it’s a good thing because this form of outdoor cooking can be a low-calorie way of making delicious meals. “There’s lots of flavor without needing to add too much fat which means the foods you grill typically have fewer calories,” says Fassberg. Fish is an ideal BBQ choice because it’s lean protein, doesn’t have a ton of calories and is very satisfying.

Slim-down summer food: Corn on the cob. This sweet, seasonal staple is ideal when you get it local from the farmer’s market. “It’s also very filling, because of the fiber, fun to eat and takes some time to eat,” says Fassberg. “Often, we eat so fast we don’t realize we are actually full before we stop eating. If we slow down, our bodies and brains have a chance to work together and we stop eating before we are overly full.”  Fresh corn on the cob also contains antioxidants, manganese, vitamin C, B3 and B5.

Cuisine That’s Lusciously Lean

I’ve been busy at work on my next cookbook. It’s all about low-calorie cuisine. My secret is making the recipes taste so luscious that you’ll never believe they’re light. After all, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have absolutely grin-worthy fare when trying to stay fit.

So what are some of my taste-tempting secrets? Lucky for you, I don’t know how to stay mum when it comes to clever tricks that can truly make a difference for your health.

1. Use Un-milk. Plain almond milk averages just 50 calories a cup. Replace regular milk with this nutty-flavored drink in recipes; it provides a good texture and doesn’t separate easily like fat-free milk.

2. Go Grecian. Zero-fat Greek yogurt is super thick, providing lots of nutritious creaminess for few calories. Whip some into eggs to create deceivingly rich scrambled eggs. Or, make a tangy condiment by combining equal parts yogurt and mayo.

3. Add Sass. Splash dark, leafy greens with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. The acidic nature cuts the bitterness and balances taste, as well as satisfaction.

4. Turn up the Heat. When reducing fat or salt, you’re also reducing flavor. Add depth to the taste by bringing on the heat. Add a few drops of hot sauce or a touch of curry paste to your favorite meals.

5. Experiment With Extracts.
For the essence of deliciously rich cuisine without the calories, add extracts. The tiny flavorful punches go way beyond vanilla with options including pure coconut, almond and chocolate.

6. Love Umami.
Umami is the fifth sense of taste. It’s associated with a savory taste due in part to an amino acid, called glutamate, in foods. When you can, embrace the ingredients that boast high amounts -- fully ripened tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms, naturally brewed soy sauce and green tea -- to add appeal to healthful meals.

Get Your Folic Acid Fix

Most of us know the prenatal perks of folic acid: Taking this B vitamin during early pregnancy helps prevent serious brain and spinal cord defects in developing babies.

However, new research suggests that it may help prevent autism, too. According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, women who take folic acid, or folate, before and during their pregnancy are 40 percent less likely to have an autistic baby.

Even if you’re not in baby-making mode, that’s no reason to forego folic acid. Vitamin B9, as it’s also known, prevents birth defects only when taken at least a month before getting pregnant and during the first few weeks of pregnancy (before a woman usually knows she’s pregnant). Because nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned, it's important that all women get their folic acid fix -- even if they’re not planning on expanding their family any time soon.

Besides the bonuses it can provide a baby, folic acid does your body good, too. You need it to produce red blood cells, prevent anemia and keep your DNA (the building blocks of your cells) functioning properly.

Only about 25 percent of women get the recommended amount of 400 mcg of folic acid a day. Telltale signs that you might not be getting enough: gray hair, mouth sores, gingivitis and fatigue.

Here’s how to get the recommended daily allowance.

Supplement your diet

Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant require 600 mcg of folic acid a day. Everyone else needs 400 mcg. The easiest and most surefire way to get your daily dose of folic acid: take a multivitamin, says registered dietitian Sarah Krieger MPH, RD, LD/N, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “I tell any girl or woman who has the chance of becoming pregnant to take a regular multivitamin,” she says. If you have a hard time remembering your pills, try taking them at the same time every day, like when you’re brushing your teeth.

Do it with food

If you’re not the vitamin-taking type, you may be able to get the folic acid you need by eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. However, cautions Krieger, because the body doesn’t store folic acid, it’s one of those vitamins that needs to be replenished daily.

According to Krieger, many brands of breakfast cereal are fortified with folic acid. Many healthy cereals offer 100 percent of your daily folic acid needs. Enriched flour, bread, and pasta products may also contain folic acid; check the nutrition labels to be sure.

You can also get your folic acid fix by eating plenty of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Some of the best sources include leafy greens like spinach and romaine lettuce; legumes, like beans, lentils and peanuts; asparagus; broccoli; liver; orange juice and tomato juice.

Here’s an example of what one day’s worth of folate (400 mcg) looks like:

  • Half a cup of cooked spinach (33%) or half a cup of black beans (32%)
  • One cup of orange juice (11%) or one ounce of dry-roasted peanuts (10%)
  • Half a cup of cooked asparagus (17%) or half a cup of chopped broccoli, cooked (20%)
  • One serving of romaine lettuce (29%) or one-quarter cup of hummus (26%)
  • One cup of diced cantaloupe (8%) or one small orange (7%)
If these foods don’t tempt you, create your own folate-rich diet plan. To do so, Krieger recommends using the SuperTracker tool at choosemyplate.gov.