Is the keto diet for you?



With the Keto diet being very popular right now, you may be thinking about trying it yourself. Is it the right diet for you?

Before deciding, what exactly is a keto diet? The diet is characterized by a dramatic reduction in carbohydrates and a LARGE increase in fat intake. A classic keto diet is 87 percent to 90 percent fat, with the other 10-13 percent being a combination of protein and carbs. Without carbs (the body’s typical go-to fuel) the body goes into ketosis, in which the liver breaks down fat for energy.

Most people try the keto diet to lose weight and/or improve blood glucose/ sugar control. There is evidence that this diet works for those purposes. However, the bulk of evidence for the effectiveness of the keto diet is for people who have drug resistant epilepsy.

The question becomes, can you stick with a diet plan that eliminates bread, pasta, rice, beans, corn and other starchy vegetables, fruit, milk and sugar? Fats (zero carbs) should make up the bulk of your diet. Recommended fats are olive oil, flaxseed oil, avocado oil, butter, coconut oil, cheese and animal fats. Note that the American Heart Association recently warned that coconut oil is loaded with saturated fat and may raise LDL (bad cholesterol). A keto diet can be followed without the use of coconut oil.

Also allowed are small to moderate amounts of protein such as fish, eggs, seafood, poultry and meat. Small amounts of low-carb vegetables are allowed as well, leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cucumber, celery, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and herbs. While there is no calorie counting involved, carbs need to be carefully tracked to maintain the state of ketosis.

In my weight loss counseling experience, a significant decrease in a macronutrient group (carbs, fat and protein) is very difficult for most people to follow long term. And, numerous studies show that what’s most important for long-term weight loss success is adherence.

Generally, for most people trying to lose weight I don’t recommend diets that are very high or low in specific macronutrient groups. There are easier more balanced approaches to weight loss. Plenty of evidence supports that having a more balanced diet plan, while decreasing calories can help you lose weight.

There are some people who prefer and can adhere to a very restrictive diet long term and for a small percentage of people the keto diet may be a good choice.

Side effects are possible following a keto diet, such as the “keto flu”- fuzzy thinking, nausea, fatigue and headaches in the first four to five days as your body begins to adjust to your new way of eating. People may also experience hypoglycemia/low blood sugar, dehydration, nutrient deficiencies, kidney stones and GI issues, such as constipation. Vitamin and mineral supplementation is recommended. There are pre-made ketogenic specific vitamins available.

Here are some keto-friendly recipes.

Chicken and Cheese Stuffed Peppers

• 4 large green bell peppers, washed
• 3 c. shredded chicken breast
• 5 Tbsp. olive oil
• 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
• 1/2 c. mayonnaise
• 4 Tbsp. cream cheese
• 8 oz. salsa verde

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Cut peppers in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Arrange the pepper halves in a baking dish, cut side up.

Mix the shredded chicken, mayonnaise and cream cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fill pepper with chicken mixture. Generously drizzle the peppers with the olive oil. Top with the shredded cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until they are done to your liking. Servings: 8

Naked Fish Tacos

• 1 c. coleslaw mix
• 1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
• 1 green onion, sliced
• 1 tsp. chopped, seeded jalapeno pepper
• 4 tsp.canola oil, divided
• 2 tsp. lime juice
• 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
• 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
• 1/4 tsp. pepper, divided
• 2 tilapia fillets (6 oz. each)
• 1/2 medium ripe avocado, peeled
and sliced

Place first four ingredients in a bowl; toss with 2 teaspoons oil, lime juice, cumin, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Refrigerate until serving.

Pat fish fillets dry with paper towels; sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat; cook tilapia until fish just begins to flake easily with a fork, 3-4 minutes per side. Top with slaw and avocado. Servings: 2

Teresa Farrell is a registered and licensed dietician at Essentia Health.

Do you have recipes to share? We’d love to hear from you. Email your recipes to kirstenr@htfnews.us. Please include your name, city of residence and a telephone number.

More keto-friendly recipes from www.allrecipes.com

Simple Cauliflower Keto Casserole

• 1/2 head cauliflower florets
• 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
• 1/2 c. heavy cream
• 1 pinch salt and freshly ground black
pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of slightly salted water to a boil and cook cauliflower until tender but firm to the bite, about 10 minutes. Drain.

Combine cheddar cheese, cream, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Arrange cauliflower in a casserole dish and cover with cheese mixture. Bake in the preheated oven until cheese is bubbly and golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Easy Asparagus Frittata

• 1 Tbsp. olive oil
• 2 tsp. butter
• 1/2 lb. asparagus, trimmed, cut into

1-inch pieces
• 8 eggs
• 1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese, or more
to taste
• 7 Tbsp.
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to
taste
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
(optional)

Heat olive oil and butter in a 9-inch nonstick pan over medium heat and cook asparagus, stirring occasionally, until soft but still firm to the bite, 10 to 15 minutes.

Beat eggs in a bowl until frothy. Stir in parmesan cheese and milk; season with salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture over asparagus and cook until eggs are set, 10 to 15 minutes.

Invert frittata onto a plate and garnish with parsley.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Easy way to cook bacon. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Lay strips of one pound of bacon in an even layer on a large cookie sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until desired doneness – Kirsten Reichel, Staff Writer

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