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Wednesday, August 29, 2018
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Keto Diet Tips from ND expert-589178-editedMany celebrities including Halle Barry and Gwyneth Paltrow have been touting the weight loss benefits of the Ketogenic diet. But before celebrities began using the diet for weight loss, did you know it was first recommended for those with certain health conditions?

Originally created to help people with seizure disorders, the Keto diet can also benefit patients with pre-diabetes or non-insulin dependent diabetes. Some studies suggest the diet may be able to help those with mental disorders like Alzheimer’s Disease, autism, bipolar disorder and depression, as well. 

The diet is very high fat (70-80 percent of daily total calories), low to moderate protein and very low carbohydrates (usually less than 5 percent of total calories). Because of the very low carbohydrate and very high fat content, the Keto diet changes what fuel your body runs on. Instead of glucose (a sugar), ketone bodies derived from fat become your body’s energy source. This process helps to stabilize blood sugar and decrease appetite allowing for more efficient weight loss.

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or you’re trying the diet for other health reasons, here are some tips that can help ensure you are successful with the Keto diet.

Do your research

It’s important to do your research before pursuing any diet plan. Since reputable sources can be hard to come by online, try not to rely on a single source. Find medical experts in the field and choose sources free of commercial interests. You should also be wary of resources that promote or sell their own products to help you stay on the diet.

To get you started, some good resources include the Women’s Health Magazine, Healthline.com and US News and World Report.

Have a plan

You don’t have to cut out restrictive foods all at once. You may be more successful if you start slow by cutting out a few food items and seeing how that affects how you feel. Try planning out your meals ahead of time so you’re less tempted to eat restricted foods. Create a shopping list and stock up on the type of high fat foods you enjoy most. You may also need to purchase supplements like fiber and magnesium that are typically found in carbohydrate-rich foods like bread.

Not only can you find plenty of easy Keto diet meal ideas online, but you can also find recipes that substitute the foods you’re supposed to avoid like burger buns, taco shells and pasta.

Be cautious of potential side effects

It’s important to note certain side effects that may result from the Keto diet. These typically include fatigue, headaches, constipation, muscle cramps and other signs of dehydration. These symptoms can also be a sign that your body is low on minerals like magnesium and calcium. The nutrients that tend to be low in the Keto diet are nutrients high in carbohydrate-rich foods like fiber and plant-based antioxidants.

Depending on your food choices, these deficiencies and side effects can be reduced at least for the short term. Whether the Keto diet is safe for the long-term is actively being researched.

Find an experienced health care practitioner

Just because the Keto diet is trendy right now with celebrities, does not mean you should get your health advice from them. Ideally, you should find a health care practitioner who has experience guiding patients through restrictive diets like the Keto diet.

Naturopathic doctors, for example, can offer valuable assistance. We first look at the whole person and all aspects of a patient’s life that are affected by their weight. Based on these individual factors, we identify and remove the obstacles that may impede weight loss. These obstacles may be psychological blocks, practicality issues, other health conditions or a combination of factors. Then we create a plan that improves overall health while allowing the patient to lose weight.

Since NDs are well versed in all types of diets and lifestyle modifications that can improve health, we can individualize these changes to maximize the patient’s ability to lose weight. We also work with patients both through a weight loss program and after, so their results can be better sustained and their overall health improved.

Enlist the support of family and friends

As with any major diet change, know that it does change other aspects of your life too—in both positive and negative ways. Enlist the support of your family and friends so you can be successful on the diet. It may help to partner up with a friend who’s also trying to lose weight. Together, you can share tips and advice to help you stay motivated.

The Keto diet while effective for many may still not be the best diet plan for you as an individual. Keep in mind there’s a plethora of other diets and weight loss tips that may work better. Your health care practitioner or naturopathic doctor should be able to suggest the best weight loss plans for you. As long as weight loss methods are healthy, it never hurts to keep an open mind. 

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Posted by Kristina Conner

Kristina Conner, ND, MSOM, is a faculty member and chair of the Clinical Sciences Department at National University of Health Sciences. She teaches courses in diet and nutrition and naturopathic hydrotherapy. She has also written articles on women's health for Naturopathic Doctor News in Review, and continues to develop her knowledge in the area of natural women's health, which is her primary clinical focus. She received her doctor of naturopathic medicine degree from Bastyr University and her bachelor's degree from St. John's College in Maryland. In 2013, she earned her master’s degree in oriental medicine from NUHS.