We often read in the press about a new type of diet being followed by such and such a person and how wonderful this new diet is and how much weight we can all lose. But what are these fad diets and do they really work?
The diet everyone seems to be talking about recently is Keto. On the surface a completely unbalanced regime of eating only proteins and fats and avoiding carbohydrates. Surely this is not healthy when considering that you are being encouraged to eat high-fat foods such as butter and cream and to avoid some vegetables and fruit because they are high in carbs. So let’s have a look.
The idea of eating foods high in fat and low in sugar is to lower the body’s blood sugar and insulin levels and encourage the metabolism to adjust so that you start burning fat rather than carbohydrate. There are some health benefits associated with ketogenic diets that include lower blood pressure, weight loss and possible help with epilepsy and brain function.
Foods that are suitable for a Keto diet include fish, particularly those high in fats such as salmon and mackerel, eggs, vegetables and unprocessed meats. High meat intake should be avoided as the diet is about fat content and not protein. The downside of a Keto diet is potential heart issues, low blood pressure, kidney stones and nutrient deficiencies. Nutritionists advise only following a Keto diet for 3 to 6 months so as to avoid any nutritional deficiencies.
On a similar tone is the Atkins Diet. Another very low carb diet and high in fats with the aim of helping weight loss. Atkins came in for a lot of criticism due to concerns over heart disease but, unlike Keto, you are meant to gradually increase your carbohydrate intake.
Back in the 1920’s New York physician William Howard Hay developed a diet which involved classifying different foods according to whether they were acidic, alkaline or neutral. The idea was not to combine eating acidic foods like meat and fish at the same time as alkaline foods such as rice and potatoes. He claimed that the body can process and digest only one type of food at a time.
The diet plan progressed and is still used today although it is now better known as food combining diet. At each meal you only eat one food group such as protein and do not have, or a very small amount of, carbohydrate and vice versa. All food groups are represented, eaten in moderation, including plenty of fruit and vegetables. However, by eating only carbs for a meal can increase your blood sugar levels which is of particular concern for diabetics.
As you realise I am not a dietician or a nutritionist but I am passionate about my food. In my opinion every long term diet should be balanced and include all food groups. That said, I appreciate that certain health disorders will dictate what people can eat and that there will always be a new fashionable “wonder” diet that will produce amazing results. Remember this, we are all different, our bodies function differently but if you want to really lose weight then portion size, quantity and snacking may be what you need to look at in the first instance!