Can Low Carb Be Good For You?

The keto diet, sometimes called the ketostick, has recently gained enough popularity to be featured in national news outlets. What is the keto diet? It’s a high-fiber, low-carb diet that in mainstream medicine is commonly used primarily to treat children with epilepsy. The keto diet forces your body to use up fats instead of carbohydrates for energy. For many years, we have been told that dietary fat is bad for us and that consuming it causes obesity, heart disease and even cancer.

If you’re on the keto plan, there are certain foods you should keep away from. You will want to eliminate all pre-made cooked vegetables (no potato chips, cheese, or cream cheese), all starchy vegetables, all fruits with skin except for watermelon and pineapple, all legumes except for black beans, all dairy products, egg yolks and bacon fat. Also, as far as protein goes, you should stay away from peanut butter, refined white bread and muffins, avocado, most vegetables except for onions, peppers, mushrooms, spinach and cauliflower. These are all foods that are typically high in fat and therefore likely to make you fat. But do note that you may be able to consume some dairy and non-starchy vegetables if you pay special attention to how much net carbs (breads, pasta, potatoes) you eat.

So what can you eat? High quality proteins include net beans (such as kidney beans and chickpeas), eggs, fish, tofu, nuts, seeds, olives and olive oil. Low quality proteins include lean meats (such as chicken, turkey, bison, venison, salmon), dairy (less cheese, cottage cheese, ice cream, yogurt), potatoes, corn, fruits with skin except for berries and grapefruit. Nuts and seeds are okay with a limited amount of saturated fat because they contain good fats that your body needs. However, they are not the best sources of conjugated linoleic acid.

A good source of conjugated linoleic acid is walnuts. However, as mentioned earlier, walnuts are typically high in calories, which will make you fat. If you are going to have walnuts on your ketogenic diet, choose unsalted ones so you don’t increase your total fat intake. You should also try to find a brand that contains no hydrogenated oils. Refined or processed oils can increase your LDL or bad cholesterol and raise your blood sugar which is definitely not good for you.

The bottom line is that there is no clear cut answer on whether low carb or ketogenic diet will work for you. There are too many variables involved. In general, I would advise beginners to go with the low carb diet because it will allow you to quickly lose weight while keeping your metabolism up. You will have to monitor your food intake and make educated guesses about how many carbs you are taking in versus how much you are burning off as fuel. The more information you get about how to count your carbs and your bodily fat production, the easier it will become.

I would suggest that you stick to a natural grass-fed beef and grain diet. Grass fed beef has higher levels of naturally occurring antioxidants and conjugated linoleic acid. For carbohydrates, stick to unrefined vegetables and preferably organic asparagus, spinach, broccoli, carrots, celery, beets, parsley and green peas. Also stay away from red meats and seafood (tuna, mackerel, trout, salmon, etc.) These types of foods will add too much sodium and can increase your LDL levels as well.

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