Diets like Keto eliminate more than you think

With so many fads and diets making waves, it's time to debunk and demystify some of the buzz around the most common diets

16 Mar, 2020

Nutrition

Tips & Tricks

Vitamins

Wellness

There’s a lot of buzz around about fads and diets like Keto, Atkins, Paleo and Intermittent Fasting. We’ve no doubt you know of someone who has recently lost weight and now looks incredible because they’ve been on the latest craze. In essence, all diets restrict your daily calorie intake, and if you eat less energy than your body burns, you’re likely to lose weight.

However, these diets do more than just reduce calories from your plate. They restrict and even eliminate major food groups, which means you’ll also be eliminating important micronutrients and fibre you need for optimal wellness.

a black pan with a keto meal garnished with herbs on a wooden table
Look AND feel your best

Considering we’re all about looking and feeling your best, we obviously suggest you steer clear of fad diets, especially if you have pre-existing conditions like diabetes or are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Let’s remove the hype of some popular fad diets and look at how they can affect the way you feel.

The Ketogenic (Keto) Diet essentially eliminates carbs from your diet

What is it?

The Keto diet has become popular in recent years and was developed as a therapeutic tool for patients with refractory epilepsy. The premise of the Keto diet is to put the body into ketosis by almost eliminating carbohydrates from your diet and increasing fat intake to up to 80% of your diet. When in ketosis, your body burns fat for energy, not the glucose it gets from carbohydrates.

a sliced avocado on a white surface

When the body doesn’t get enough carbohydrates from your diet, it uses glucose stores from the liver first, then breaks down muscle to release glucose. When you deprive your body of carbohydrates for long enough (around 3 or 4 days), these glucose stores will deplete, insulin levels decrease and the liver produces ketone, which is how you achieve the metabolic state of ketosis.

The Atkins diet is a similar low-carb diet rising to popularity in the 1970s and designed to stop blood sugar levels rising and releasing insulin. Where Keto requires significantly reducing carbohydrates in your diet to keep your body in ketosis, Atkins allows for slowly increasing the level of carbohydrates in your diet as you progress through the four phases of the diet (induction, ongoing weight loss, pre-maintenance and lifetime maintenance).

What are the drawbacks?

Carbohydrates are a macronutrient (meaning a nutrient our body needs in the largest amounts) which breaks down into simple sugars like glucose that your body uses for energy. In a normal diet, this should account for around 45-65% of your diet. Yes, carbs include bread, pasta and donuts, but also incorporates:

  • Starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn
  • All whole and refined grains and flour products
  • Legumes like kidney beans, chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans, white beans
  • Fruits (except berries), dried fruits, fruit smoothies and fruit juices
  • Anything with added or natural sugars in food and beverages

Unfortunately, by almost eliminating carbohydrates from your diet, you’re cutting out foods that would usually provide micronutrients and fibre, meaning you’ll probably need to supplement your diet with vitamins and laxatives.

Gut health is likely to suffer from this radical change in diet. Hunger, fatigue, low mood, irritability, constipation, headaches and brain fog are some of the common side effects of drastically restricting carbohydrates in your diet.

The Paleo Diet will reduce the necessary levels of fibre and calcium your body needs

What is it?

Referring to the “Palaeolithic” period in human history, this diet revolves around eating the same as our hunter-gather ancestors. The idea is that farming practices has influenced the modern diet, which is mismatched to the human body’s needs.

Eating paleo includes lean protein, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and oils from fruits and nuts. Calorie counting or portion sizes are not emphasised, but overall, the diet is high in protein, moderate in fat (mostly unsaturated fats) and low-moderate in carbohydrates, specifically restricting carbs to low GI carbs.

What are the drawbacks?

Paleo is a restrictive diet that eliminates:

  • Wholegrains and cereals, such as wheat, oats and barley
  • Legumes like beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas and peanuts
  • Dairy
  • Refined sugar
  • Salt
  • Starchy vegetables like potatoes
  • Highly processed foods in general

Because wholegrains and legumes are excluded, the benefits of fibre and other micronutrients may not be obtained from this diet. Restricting the amount of carbohydrates in your diet can lead to the same symptoms you can experience with Keto and Atkins (brain fog, fatigue, low mood). The exclusion of dairy makes it harder to eat the required amounts of calcium in the diet, so supplementation may be necessary to avoid cramping, muscle aches, tingling and coarse hair and brittle nails and more significant symptoms.

an empty plate on a blue surface

Intermittent fasting can negatively affect your blood sugar levels leading to weakness, dizziness

What is it?

The idea of intermittent fasting is that the stress of fasting causes an immune response that repairs cells and produces positive metabolic changes, including weight loss.

There are different versions, with varying fasting times ranging from two days to 16 hours.

What are the drawbacks?

Periods of fasting can cause huge problems at the start as the body needs time to get used to using ketones instead of glucose.

Until your body gets adjusted to the fasting periods you’ll be left feeling hungry, weak and could experience nausea, headaches or dizziness, and your mood can consequently suffer.

It’s well established that intermittent fasting should not be used by children, pregnant women, and people performing heavy physical work. It is certainly not a good diet for people with problems regulating their glucose blood levels and it is not recommended for the elderly. In some cases where caloric restriction is excessive, fasting can also result in hormonal dysregulations in both women and men.

And as with other diets, intermittent fasting has the potential to set up dangerous fixations on food. Particularly in people with underlying eating disorders, it can exacerbate episodes of binging and purging which can dangerously change their relationship with food.

top view of several people at a table sharing a healthy assortment of food
Here are our tips for healthy and sustainable weight-loss

Food should be one of life’s basic pleasures. If you follow any of these restrictive diets, you’ll probably consume less calories and, yes, probably lose weight. But at what cost? How good will you feel? How sustainable is it? What happens when you can’t go on any further? And are those choices really good for your unique body? We want your relationship with food to be a positive one, because it is one of life’s basic pleasures. And you want to make sure you feed your body what it needs.

Instead of trying to find a silver bullet solution, and yo-yo-dieting, we think you’re better off taking a balanced (and sustainable!) approach to losing weight.

Here’s our tips for healthy and sustainable weight-loss:

  • Safely reduce your calories. Work out how much energy you burn and simply consume a bit less than this.
  • Exercise regularly. The World Health Organisation recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week.
  • Eat wholesome, fresh and healthy food which will give you the adequate balance of Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat so you’re nourishing your body and fuelling it for exercise.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Get quality sleep.

myDNA’s Nutrition and Fitness test will reveal your ideal macronutrient breakdown based on your DNA profile, which can be the blueprint to managing your nutrition for life.

Plus, you get a personalised fitness plan and meal plan containing just the right amount of energy from the perfect mix of macronutrients for your body. Follow these plans, and you’ll give your body what it needs and responds to best throughout your weight-loss journey.

If you haven’t already, check out myDNA Personalised Nutrition and Fitness. You’ll see that it’s not a fad, it’s personalised wellness you can easily follow for the rest of your life.

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