For years we have seen diet programs as a joke in the United States. Fad diets monopolize our television screens either by ad space or through subversive promotion in shows and movies. Fad brands take up retail space in our drug and grocery stores, and “diet and fitness” books account for a good deal of self-help and lifestyle publications in the book store. For all the help we have at our very fingertips, there are still 160 million people in the U.S. who are obese or overweight (adults and children). Either consumers don’t understand the dangers of obesity, or we don’t understand how to stop it. Perhaps it’s because of the mixed signals we’re getting from the diet and fitness industry—a money-making machine that is just as dangerous as obesity itself.
Keto, Paleo, and Atkins, Oh My!
“My sister lost 60 pounds in six months!”
“I lost 10 pounds in ten days!”
“The weight is coming off like never before!”
These are just some of the things that my friends have said when they kiss carbs good-bye. The weight comes off in pounds each week. No more counting fractions! No more weigh-in dread. The three biggest low-carb diets in the U.S. today work. They work because Americans eat too many carbs, not enough of the complex carb, and too much sugar and not enough fiber. Low carb diets cut calories drastically and replace it with healthy proteins and fats which results in significant and sometimes fast weight loss. Though they’re similar in that they are low-carb, the keto, paleo, and Atkins diets are quite different.
The Keto Diet is a low-carb, high fat diet in which a person enjoys any and all fatty foods they want while restricting carbohydrates drastically. The danger with the Keto Diet is that restricting carbs to less than 50 grams per day results in a state of ketosis—the goal of the diet. As your body enters Ketosis it responds with what has become known as “the keto flu” in which you have all the symptoms of regular Influenza. Body aches, fever, flushing, fatigue, vomiting, and diarrhea are common. When you maintain ketosis for an extended period of time, your physical performance begins to suffer, and in people with undiagnosed illnesses such as Diabetes or pre-Diabetes, a Keto Diet plan can cause Ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition that can cause permanent damage to essential organs.
The Paleo Diet brings humanity back to the cave-man era. Carbs are restricted because processed foods are not permitted, and many of today’s foods are processed. Instead of the usual staples, Paleo focuses on high-protein, healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables—just like the hunters and gathers did it. The problem with this type of diet is that the hunters and gathers of the Paleolithic Era had physically demanding lifestyles from sunup to sundown. Americans who have sedentary lifestyles and only exercise at the gym a few times per week do not need this type of diet high in fats and proteins, especially red meats and saturated fats.
The Atkins Diet is specifically branded as a low-carb diet. First, participants maintain a diet comprised of only 20 to 25 grams of net carbs per day. Then, slowly, this amount is raised to 80 to 100 grams per day. A healthy, balanced diet should include 225 to 325 grams of carbohydrates per day, according to Mayo Clinic, so both phases of Atkins are low-carb and will fail to provide enough sugar and fiber to your diet.
Too Good to Be True
The old saying goes, “if it’s too good to be true it usually is” and the best, most sustainable weight loss happens when a 2,000 calorie per day diet is maintained along with healthy activity and exercise as well as medical oversight for conditions which contribute to weight gain and unhealthy eating habits. You may lose weight on a fad diet, but the weight will return because the underlying cause of the weight gain is not addressed. If you suffer from an eating disorder, unhealthy eating habits, or serious and life-threatening weight gain, talk with your doctor about healthy weight loss options today .