Is the Keto Diet Healthy or Unhealthy?

Is Keto Healthy, and Are Carbs Unhealthy? We don't think so.

So, is the Keto Diet Healthy or Not?

You might remember that Dr. Atkins popularized low-carb diets a few decades ago, but you may not know that doctors first used these kinds of diets as long ago as the early 20th Century to help manage epilepsy. According to Harvard Medical School, keto diets may be an effective way to help reduce seizures, but is the keto diet healthy for people who simply want to lose weight?

A Brief Intro to Keto Diets

Just in case you’re not sure exactly what following a keto diet means, you can look at this graphic from Dr. Jockers. Basically, you reduce your carbohydrate intake to only five to ten percent of your total calorie consumption. About 20 percent of your consumption should come from protein, and the rest is fat.

Most people call a keto diet a type of low-carb diet, but you should also know that it’s also a very high-fat diet. By the way, Dr. Jockers is an advocate for his version of the keto diet, so you can’t say that we’re not fair and balanced here. He says it works, and this article doesn’t even argue that it might work. The point is that keto diets might be unhealthy and not work for you.


Why Do Some Doctors Say the Keto Diet is Unhealthy?

Dr. Campos, the contributor to the Harvard Medical School blog, isn’t such a fan and offered several reasons why a keto diet may be unhealthy as a weight-loss tool. Consider some of the doctor’s very sensible reasoning after observing his patients before and after trying a ketogenic diet for weight loss:

  • Yo-Yo dieting: A lot of the health problems with the ketogenic diet center on the basic premise of our diet failure infographic. The diet may mainly cause health problems because it’s notoriously tough to stick to over time, so it can contribute to yo-yo dieting, an healthy practice. You can’t underestimate how important it is to find a healthy eating plan that you can live with and not one that may help you shed a few pounds quickly and then regain it and more just as fast.
  • Initial weight loss with a keto diet is mostly just water: People tend to get encouraged by their initial results on the keto diet. Indeed, lots of dieters may lose about 10 pounds very quickly. The problem is that most of this first weight loss is just water weight because carbs hold water in muscle. When people don’t consume carbohydrates, the body sends this water away.

Are Keto Diet Fans Relying Upon Survivor’s Bias?

So, if most people can’t stick to this extremely low-carb diet much past the first loss of water weight, why do so many people strongly argue that a keto diet is healthy? Turn a critical eye to this thread on a popular Reddit sub about the survivor’s bias with the keto diet. The whole point of this diet is that if you reduce fat and protein and minimize carbs, you will continue to lose weight and cut cravings.

Yes, you can lose weight if you can stick to a keto diet. Short-term studies, at least, have also confirmed that low-carb diets may help with blood-sugar and cholesterol control. Does that mean that keto diets are healthy? Well, you can lose weight if you can stick to almost any diet.

You Can Lose Weight on Almost Any Popular Diet — Will it Last?

This report from a team of Canadian researchers found almost the same, average weight loss from common low-fat, low-carb, or other sorts of diet plans. They tested 48 different diets, including Atkins, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and Ornish. With a year, people on all of these different kinds of diets lost an average of 16 pounds, if they stuck to the plan with any regularity.

Most of these diets advertise more than 16 pounds of weight loss for very overweight people people within an entire year. The takeaway is that most people probably didn’t stick to the plans religiously, and of course, you should have your treats and cheat. This study would have really been golden if it would have followed up a year or two later to see if they had managed to at least maintain this weight loss or had regained weight and maybe even gained more.

If you Can’t Stick to a Keto Diet, it Doesn’t Work!

When people dared to say that a keto diet didn’t work for them, other sub members accused them of eating too many calories. Ah ha, so this diet really isn’t working to reduce cravings, and it still requires restricting calories. Again, the main point against the keto diet being healthy or effective comes down to this:

  • If you cannot stick to a diet, it doesn’t work.
  • If you need to watch your calorie intake, why not do it in a more pleasant, sustainable, and healthy way than eliminating entire, healthy food groups?

If the keto diet failed you, you didn’t fail. Apparently, it works for some people who enjoy eating lots of animal protein, but it certainly doesn’t work for everybody. Diets that don’t work for you are diets that make you fatter in the long run.

Other Reasons Keto Diets Are Not Healthy for Everybody

It’s easy to get stuck on the point that keto diets aren’t healthy because they are too hard to stick to and encourage yo-yo dieting. In the end, you lose a little weight and then fall off the wagon and end up gaining more weight than you lost. While some people say they feel satiated on the keto diet, a lot more people never curb their cravings. Again, those cravings simply mean that your body and brain are telling you that you need to eat certain nutrients, but they don’t always communicate in a way that you can interpret well.

Look, some people thrive on a keto or other low-carb diet plan. Because they can finally lose weight, the diet may even save their life. In order for that to be true, these folks have to be committed to their keto lifestyle and make sure they follow a good plan very well. If you’re interested in exploring keto diets, try that Reddit sub about keto diets that you can find linked to earlier in this post.

So, is a Keto Diet Healthy for You?

Really, you should not ask if a keto diet is healthy. You should ask if keto diet plans are healthy and sustainable for you. Before you decide to commit to a low-carbohydrate eating plan, consider some advice about red flags about keto diets from this nutritionist with a master’s degree in public health:

  • Be wary of keto diets if you’re pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or having reproductive or menstrual cycle issues.
  • Athletic and very active people tend not to thrive on low-carb diets, though there are some exceptions.
  • Low-carbohydrate intake can aggravate or even cause symptoms of hypothyroidism.
  • You’re only as healthy as your gut biome, and keto diets reduce the diversity of gut flora.

Anyway, if a keto diet works for you, that’s great. Sometimes, a short-term keto diet of only a few days can help people reset their appetite and lose a craving for carbs. It’s not something we tend to suggest as a long-term solution because it simply doesn’t work for most people for months or years, and you need a lifetime eating plan and not another yo-yo diet.

Tips to Eat 50 Grams of Cheap Vegan Protein a Day

Plant Sources of Protein

Can Vegans Eat Enough Protein?

First, you don’t have to be vegan to benefit from Most of us here do lean towards veganism or vegetarianism for a variety of reasons. We’ve already discussed that protein deficiency can cause weight gain, and average people should plan to consume 50 grams of protein or more each day. Larger or very active people may need more. The point of this article is to explain that you can consume enough protein every day by relying upon cheap, vegan food sources, but you are free to select your own eating plan.

How Much Protein Should You Consume Each Day?

A good rule of thumb is to multiple your weight in pounds by .36. Using this formula, you would need 36 grams of protein at 100 pounds, and 72 grams of protein at 200 pounds. You can learn more about dietary protein recommendations at the National Library of Medicine page on protein too. Obviously, you should adjust that number based upon your activity level.

A Word About Complete Protein

You may have heard that most plant-based protein sources are not complete proteins. This is true, but it might not be as big a deal as was previously thought. In the old days, dietary writers would tell you that you had to consume a complete protein in one sitting or meal. These days, writers will usually tell you that you’ll be fine if you simply consume complete proteins in the same day.

Anyway, a complete protein has eight amino acids, but some kinds of food has less than that. These are examples of food combinations that will give you a complete protein:

  • Legumes and grains: There is a reason that rice and beans go together like peanut butter and whole-grain bread.
  • Legumes and seeds: Alternatively, you can combine nuts and seeds for a complete protein dish.
  • Quinoa, buckwheat, and hemp seeds contain a complete protein by themselves. Even though people use quinoa and buckwheat as grains, they are actually seeds. Soy is also a source of complete protein.

Of course, if you eat eggs and dairy products, you can get some protein from them as well. You may have heard that some vegetables, like broccoli, contain protein, and it’s true! However, broccoli doesn’t have enough of certain amino acids to be considered complete. You have plenty of reasons to enjoy broccoli, so you can always add seeds, whole grains, or a cheese (even a soy cheese) sauce to your vegetable dish.

Graphic Guide to Vegan Protein

Here’s a simple graphic you might refer to:

meat free_plant based protein

How to Consume at Least 50 Grams of Protein Each Day From Cheap, Vegan Sources

Let’s look at some examples of good food choices that will help you eat at least 50 grams of protein a day without relying upon animal protein or anything expensive or exotic. You also might be interested in this doctor’s take on ways to consume enough protein on a vegan diet.

Vegan Protein for Breakfast

Steel-cut oats and soy milk offers you over 13 grams of protein alone. Sprinkle in a tablespoon of ground flax or chia seeds for an extra boost. If you’re not a fan of oatmeal, you can also find other low-sugar, high-protein cereal choices at the store. As an alternative, two slices of sprouted grain or high-protein bread should offer you at least eight grams of protein. Go ahead and smear on peanut butter or even avocados, and don’t forget that sprinkle of seeds. Depending upon your protein requirements, you can try to aim for at least 15 to 20 grams of protein at breakfast.

Vegan Protein for Lunch and Supper

At lunch, you can start experimenting with buckwheat noodles, quinoa, or even that old standby of rice and beans. Broccoli with cheese sauce, or a salad that includes high-protein vegetables, seeds, and legumes will also serve you well. One favorite around here is a nice tofu stir-fry dish with vegetables. Alternatively, you can center your meal around potatoes or sweet potatoes by including high-protein toppings. Of course, you’ve always got the peanut butter sandwich on whole-grain bread as a backup.

Protein Boosts From Snacks

You can boost your vegan protein intake and curb cravings by choosing snacks wisely. Of course, a handful of seeds or nuts makes a good choice, but so does nut butter on whole-grain toast. Roasted chickpeas are a satisfying, crunchy snack you may enjoy. Of course, a reasonable amount of popcorn works well too.

Yes, You Can Consume Enough Protein From Vegan Sources

Really, if you focus on eating plant-based sources of protein, you requirements for fiber, fat, and other nutrients are likely to take care of themselves. If you’re pregnant or have other exceptional needs for protein, you might speak with your doctor or a nutritionist.

Tip: If you’re also worried about consuming B12 on a vegan diet, check this out.





Your Two Brains: Why Your Gut Bacteria Matter for Weight Loss

Can Gut Bacteria Impact Weight Loss?

Yes, Walnuts Look Like Brains!

Scientists have known about the trillions of bacteria that live in your gut for at least a century; however, in those early days, they just thought the bacteria took advantage of free rent and board. Only recently, have doctors come to understand that the relationship between you and the incredible ecosystem that lives in your gut was a symbiotic one.

You feed your bacterial zoo, and in turn, you could say that your gut bacteria help to feed you. Does the unique balance of specific bacteria keep you lean or overweight? A few years ago, a lot of doctors would have scoffed at the idea; however, may of them are changing their mind.

Do Scientists Think Your Gut Biome Impacts Your Weight?

Some very credible studies say your gut biome may very well impact how hard or easy you find losing weight. Harvard Medical School reported on two studies of the impact of gut bacteria upon weight. One involved mice; however, the other one explored the impact of the gut biome on humans.

  • In the first study, scientist used three strains of mice. The first strain tended to be lean, but the second strain tended to get plump. The third group was bred to lack gut bacteria. When the researchers injected that third strain with gut bacteria from the lean group, they mice stayed lean. However, when they injected mice from the third group with bacteria from the plump group, the mice gained more weight.
  • A related study took the gut bacteria from two identical twins. One twin was lean, and the second twin was obese. When these bacteria were injected into the gut of two groups of no-bacteria mice, the results were predictable. The mice that got the lean twin’s bacteria remained lean, but the second group became plump.

Does Gut Bacteria Determine Your Destiny?

Your gut bacteria may have so much impact over your weight for a few reasons. Frankly, some bacteria are much better at breaking food up into suitable food to send back up into your bloodstream than others. If you’ve got too many of those efficient bacteria, you may fair well during lean times, but you’re probably not suffering from lean times. When overweight people contend that they have a harder time losing weight than leaner people, they’re often right.

Still, your gut bacteria don’t have to be your destiny. Dr. Mark Hyman believes you can change your diet to help promote the growth of more helpful bacteria that can crowd out the less helpful critters:

1. Eat More Omega-3 and Less Omega-6 Food Sources

He attributes one problem to an overabundance of Omega-6 vs. a deficit of Omega-3 fatty acids in typical diets. For instance, walnuts have a lot of Omega-3 fatty acids, so maybe it’s not even an accident that a walnut looks like a brain. It’s smart to eat them!

Other good choices include olive oil, avocados, other nuts and seeds. Also, you can’t depend upon every plant oil as a good source of Omega-3. Other fantastic gut food includes coconut oil, fatty fish, and butter from grass-fed cows.

2. Change Your Plate

One easy rule to remember is to consume at least 75 percent of your daily diet from plant-based foods. If you make that one change, you’re bound to impact your health positively.

What Does Your Gut Have to Do With Your Brain?

The headline promised something about having two brains. Well, the interesting thing about your gut-brain connection is that several times more nerves run from your gut to your brain than run the other way. That means that your gut probably spends a lot more time sending your brain information and possibly requests than your brain sends back.

Because of this collection of nerves and the way digestion works, many scientists have referred to the gut as a second brain. It’s likely that keeping your gut biome balanced can also help relieve food cravings and may even improve mood and other health issues. They don’t call carb rich food, comfort food for nothing.

Change Your Gut to Grow Lean Naturally

Your gut may be your diet destiny today, but you can impact it. Remember the study with the identical twins who have the same DNA but very different body types. Illnesses, antibiotics, and food choices have impacted your gut bacteria your entire life, but you still have some control.


Dr. Hyman’s Video on Gut Bacteria

3 Big Reasons Diets Make You Fatter

The Truth About How Diets Make You Fatter

Why Diets Make You FatSad but true, 95 percent of dieters fail. What’s worse, their stoic attempts to starve themselves by restricting all food or entire groups of food. usually end up making these dieters gain weight and lose lean muscle. In the end, the weight-loss diet has make them fatter than they were before they attempted to become more fit. If your diet made you fatter, you followed a bad diet. Take a moment to understand why.

Reasons That Most Diets Make You Fatter

Honestly, there are dozens of reasons that popular diets don’t work well in the long term. The reasons may also vary with the diet. These are the big three that most of the reasons can be categorized into:

1. You Restricted Calories Too Much

Lisa Young, an NYU professor, compared dieting to budgeting. She said that budgets should help you become more frugal as you learn to spend less money; however, you can reach a point where you don’t spend enough money to maintain some reasonable level of comfort and security. Most diets make you fatter for exactly the same reason.

You see, your body needs calories to provide the fuel that it uses to burn more calories. If you restrict you food too much, you won’t give your body the kindling that it needs to ignite the fuel it burns to give you energy. Basically, your body thinks you’re starving, because you actually are, and slows down in an effort to conserve precious fuel. In addition, your normal routine may seem like too much effort, so you may find yourself opting for Netflix instead of a nice walk in the sunshine.

2. You Can’t Stop Thinking About Food

You know what slim people don’t do; they don’t think about food as often as chubbier people do. Slim people may enjoy delicious food, but they don’t always dream about their next meal or snack. If nothing else, Cravings Cured hoped to underline the point that easy-to-fix nutritional deficiencies spark cravings.

If you’re dreaming pie right now, your body is probably crying out for some quick calories, fibers, and other nutrients that pie contains. Of course, you can find better ways to feed that craving than with piles of white sugar, but you’ve got to feed them.

3. Your Diet Doesn’t Feed Your Body

Your brain needs energy to function, your muscles need protein to maintain themselves, and your gut needs fiber to stay healthy. You can actually damage your body’s balance of microbes, hormones, and metabolism by restricting food too much and for too long.

Why do people create diets that mess with people’s health? That’s a question for another article; however, it’s obvious that the diet industry earns more profits when it keeps people fat than when they’re thin.

How to Fix Your Diet to Keep it From Making You Fatter

Most people can turn their diets into healthy eating plans that help them lose weight by following these three basic steps:

  • First, make sure you’re eating enough protein. Every cell in your entire body needs protein to function. Protein deficiencies can cause weight gain, muscle loss, and lots of other bad news. Typical Western diets contain enough protein, but that might not be true if you’ve been restricting calories or groups of food.
  • After you check protein consumption, ensure that you’re eating about twice as much fiber as the average American.
  • Finally, add a reasonable amount of healthy fat.
  • Typically, requirements for macronutrients like fat, fiber, and protein depend upon your  size, gender, and activity level, but you can easily research this information.

What’s a reasonable amount of calories to consume?This tips can provide rough estimates:

  • One rule of thumb says to multiple your goal weight by 100. If you hope to weight 120 pounds, you might try to eat about 1,200 calories a day. Typically, this formula was meant for fairly sedentary people. If you’re active at play or work, you’ll need to eat more.
  • Most nutritionists advise people not to drop their calories under 1,200 a day, so you may need to add more activity if you think you need to weigh less than 120 pounds. Few adults are actually overweight at 120 pounds, but people have different body types.

If you want to lose a lot of weight, like more than 10 pounds, I suggest setting goals of losing 10 pounds at a time. For instance, if you weight 190 and would like to weigh 150, set 180 as your first goal. Give your body time to adjust to a new weight and yourself a chance to celebrate. You might try to eat about 1,700 calories a day to see how that impacts the way you feel about food.


Protein Deficiency Weight Gain

How Protein Deficiency Causes Weight Gain

Pinto Beans - Great Source of ProteinIf you’re having trouble losing weight, suffer from cravings, or lack muscle tone, you might suffer from a protein deficiency. If you’re losing weight without consuming enough protein, you can bet that your starving body is cannibalizing your muscles.

That’s why your brain is screaming at you to send it more of this essential nutrient. The idea behind any solid weight-loss plan is to lose fat and not muscle. Protein deficiency can lead to weight gain, but even if it doesn’t, you can bet it is bad news. Every cell you carry around in your body needs protein.

You might want to glance at this article in Runner’s World about protein — or what it calls the “most important nutrient” that you can consume. They also include a U.S. Army study on protein, associating adequate intake with lower BMIs and other health markers.

How Much Protein Should You Eat?

The FDA says that most Americans eat enough protein; however, I wonder if this is really true.  They give a general guideline to consume 50 grams of protein a day for somebody on a 2,000 calorie daily diet. Of course, you need to adjust this for your personal body type, activity life, and so on.

If you’re the type of person who skips breakfast, eats a scant lunch, and is ravenous by dinner, you’re probably suffering from protein-deficiency cravings, so simply adjusting your consumption of this macronutrient could help you get your cravings cured.

I find that including high-quality protein in my breakfast is one of the most helpful things that I can do to curb cravings all day, and this has been backed up by research. A couple of eggs, fried tofu, yogurt, and soy milk are some suggestions. If you need something portable, you can plan ahead by boiling eggs or even just making a cheese sandwich with sprouted wheat bread. Also, slow-cooked oatmeal with dairy or plant milk and a few berries will give you what you need to keep your cravings subdued until lunch.

It’s Easy to Avoid Protein-Deficiency Cravings and Weight Gain

The FDA doesn’t say that you have to get all or any of your protein from animal products, though you need to eat a diet that works for you.In fact, their list of protein-rich foods doesn’t even list meat first. It lists legumes, dairy products, eggs, and grains over meat.

For example:

  • A cup of cooked lentils has about 18 grams of protein, so you can certainly enjoy plant-based sources of protein for some or all of your meals without suffering from a deficiency.
  • A cup of peas has nine grams, and even a cup of broccoli will give you 2.5.

In any case, a Harvard study linked protein from yogurt, nuts, and fish to less weight gain, and it also linked meat to more weight gain.

If You Eat Meat, Choose High-Quality Sources

Also, if you do eat a lot of meat, you are probably consuming more protein than you actually need and plenty of saturated fat and other unhelpful stuff. An 8-ounce steak is more than twice as big as a portion for most people. A typical four-ounce steak gives you over 20 grams of protein, so you probably don’t need to sit down at a restaurant and order a 12-ounce steak to fill your protein requirements for the day.

If you eat meat, it’s better to consider it a condiment for a stir fry, salad, soup, or other plant-based dish. That way, three or four ounces of meat, poultry, and seafood can give you a satisfying meal.