Selecting a weight loss program can be confusing. Which is the better way to go? Low carbs, as in the popular keto diet, or low fat?
Devon Moughan-Phillips, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center, offers some information that may help.
“The keto diet is a very low-carb diet and benefits quick weight loss,” Phillips said. “The drawback is the rebound. The weight often comes back. It’s difficult to maintain a lifestyle with the keto because it requires keeping carbs below 50 grams per day. That amounts to just one bagel or one cup of fruit. Typically 50 to 150 grams of carbs a day are recommended. “
For most people that won’t work for a long period of time. It could be helpful for quick weight loss, like getting ready for a class reunion, but it’s not a sustainable lifestyle or diet plan.
“Keto dieters are mostly ages 30 to 40,” Phillips said. “We don’t see the elderly community using it much, but anyone can use it with the same results.”
The low-fat diet is preferable for long-term lifestyle change and weight loss maintenance.
“Low-fat diets provide a healthy overall quality of life to help maintain our weight as adults,” Phillips said.
The diets most seen at Heart of the Rockies Medical Center are the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension).
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating primarily plant-based foods like fruit and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. Butter is replaced with olive or canola oil, and herbs or spices are used instead of salt for flavoring.
The DASH diet is designed to lower blood pressure without medication and emphasizes vegetables, fruit, low-fat dairy, low-fat dairy and moderate amounts of whole grain, fish, poultry and nuts as well as low sodium. This diet is intended primarily to reduce hypertension rather than weight loss but may result in weight loss because it results in healthier food choices.
“The common thing with these diets is they emphasize intake of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy,” Phillips said. “In any diet, the emphasis is on high quality of food. Too much of any food, high or low quality, results in too many calories. When considering a diet, you need to seriously consider your goal. Exercise is also important, improves endurance and helps with weight loss.”
High-protein diets, like the keto diet, can be hard on the kidneys, making it harder to filter. With the keto diet more hydration is needed, especially in our dry mountain environment.
Food high in antioxidants helps keep down inflammation. These foods include fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Antioxidant phytonutrients are also good for cancer prevention. Blueberries and garlic are in this category.
“My job as a dietitian is to take the myth out of food,” Phillips said. “We need carbs, protein and fat. The ideal ratio is 45 to 65 percent carbs, 20 to 35 percent fat and 10 to 35 percent protein. When we start skewing with these percentages, the body develops challenges. “
She recommends monitoring added sugar and reading nutrient labels. Food processors are now required to list added sugar on labels, which is different from fructose (fruit sugar). Fructose is OK.
Artificial sweeteners are beneficial when watching blood sugar, but they are still artificial and not easily recognized by the body.