The new year brings in new resolutions, and those often lead to changes in diet and health. Often, a trendy diet or a superfood that will solve all of your problems seems to be the answer, and that may be so. I, too, have fallen into the trap of those crazy fad diets in the past, and more often than not I end up failing miserably at them. I obviously enjoy food and dining out, and I have a strong bond with food; otherwise, I wouldn’t be here every week talking to you about my latest craving or restaurant find. If you’re anything like me and calorie counting is a joke and meal prepping the same meal for every day of the week makes your insides hurt, then perhaps you should look into a diet with fewer restrictions that still has great results. I give you the lo-carb, high fat (LCHF) diet, otherwise known as the keto diet.
What is considered LCHF?
This diet is simple in its restrictions: avoid fruits, grains, pasta, starch and vegetables that grow underground like potato. Foods that should be consumed are poultry, meat, eggs , fish, cheese and natural fats like butter and lots of vegetables. There is no need to calorie count or restrict portions; eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. It’s as simple as that. Another plus is that there is no reason to buy artificial or specialty foods to maintain this diet, as it’s natural and easy to prepare.
How does it work?
Many of you may be skeptical because your mother has probably warned you of the dangers of butter, cheese and bacon your whole life, and every time you ingest a cheese stick you helplessly panic and wait for cellulite to appear on your thighs. So how could bacon possibly help you lose weight? Well, when your body is consuming carbohydrates, it will use these easy molecules for energy, but when a lack of carbohydrates is present, the body will turn to its stored fats and break those down for energy, thus burning fat and shedding pounds.
Is it safe?
A state of ketosis can be beneficial to your weight loss, but it is important to know that any sort of restricting diet comes with its health risks. It is not recommended for those who suffer from diabetes or high cholesterol, or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. And if nutrients and vitamins are not either supplemented or monitored in your diet, improper nutrition can lead to many health risks including dizziness, nausea, dehydration, constipation and, in serious cases, kidney stones and gout. It is definitely not something to do without proper advisement and correct nutritional levels.
Will the weight stay off?
Like any fad diet, LCHF works as intended during use but when reverting back from ketosis, weight gain is likely to happen. Your body has been burning all of its stored fat resources, so once it has a new source of fuel for energy (carbohydrates), it begins to want to store fat once again. Water weight gain can also occur. The important thing to remember is that diets do not keep the weight off. They help lose weight quickly and rapidly, but in order to create permanent results, you need to make lifestyle changes like permanent amends to your diet and exercise regimens.
Ketosis definitely doesn’t work for everyone, and many health advisors would say that the risks outweigh the benefits, but for rapid results with minimal restrictions, this diet does work. I’ve personally tried it and lost five pounds in a week, but my Irish roots’ love for potatoes always sneaks back up and causes a lapse in ketosis, making it impossible to keep results consistent. The important thing I’ve taken away from my experiences with LCHF is not to be carb-restricted but rather carb-conscious. I’m eating better, I’m cooking more of my meals and I’m still feeling satisfied. Whether you want to go extreme or just try and make tweaks to your habits, it’s always important to find a balance that works for you and makes you happy.