KETO Angela Showers

Tennova Healthcare – Harton Director of Nutrition Services Angela Sowers suggests that portion control and exercise are the best ways to achieve a healthy weight loss. She warns that the keto diet cuts carbs to a dangerously low level that can interfere with brain functionality, leaving you lethargic, dizzy and even confused.

The ketogenic diet, “keto” for short, is among the latest diets fad have caught on in popularity lately. It promises rapid weight loss without the workout.

In the grand scheme of things, the keto diet does deliver results. However, according to Tennova Director of Nutritional Services Angela Sowers, what people are doing to their bodies when they participate in the keto diet is damaging and could become detrimental to their overall health.  

The basis of the keto diet is cutting carbs completely out or to an extremely low level, increasing the amount of fat and protein consumed and cutting out the dairy food group completely. The result is rapid and significant weight loss without the hours in the gym.

“The keto diet was created in the 1930s for patients that suffered from epilepsy and seizures,” said Sowers. “The diet cuts carbs. The brain uses carbs to function. The diet worked for patients with epilepsy and seizures because it was eliminating the main power source of the brain. The diet isn’t meant for weight loss.”

Carbohydrates are a source of energy that the brain uses to function on a daily basis. Cutting carbs extremely low or completely out could have serious neurological effects. Depleting the brain’s energy source could result in gastrointestinal upset, dizziness, fatigue, confusion, and hypoglycemia for diabetics.

“People sometimes don’t research diets before they begin,” Sowers said. “They often think that carbs are really bad for you. That’s not true. Carbs are used by the body to produce energy. Carbs in moderation is what works, not cutting them out completely.”

Sowers also warns that the long-term effects to the keto diet have not been researched, so the diet could lead to more serious problems within the body as cutting carbs out affects the neurologic system as well as the gastrointestinal system.

The keto diet also calls for an increased amount of fat intake. The diet suggests by cutting carb and increasing fat, the body will begin to burn the fat. However, when the body begins to burn fat, it also begins to burn the muscle tissue as well. For those participating in the diet who have a risk of heart disease or stoke, the fat increase could be put their lives at risk.

“I do not recommend the keto diet,” Sowers said. “There are much healthier ways to lose weight that won’t cause other problems in the long run.”

Sowers stressed that individuals who participate in the keto diet are also more likely to gain the weight that was lost right back. She pointed out that fat takes three times the amount of time to burn off during regular exercise, and the increased fat intake that the diet calls for can cause gastrointestinal disorders. 

“Moderation is key,” stressed Sowers. “There are now Tupperware containers that help with portion sizes. There are apps that help with keeping up with exercise and calorie intake. Portion control paired with exercise will yield the healthiest results and help you keep the weight off.”

Exercising or engaging in physical activity for 30 minutes to an hour three to five times a week can aid in weight loss. However, Sowers adds that correct nutrition is 75 percent of the weight loss.

“You can spend two hours in the gym but ruin it with a bad meal,” said Sowers. “Incorporating all the food groups in proportioned sizes throughout the day is the best way to not only lose weight, but to also control appetite. Restaurants are also making it easier to eat healthier with calorie counts on the menu. Now people are able to make mindful choices when they go out to eat.”

The key to successful weight loss is not eliminating carbs or any other food groups from your diet.

Try switching the way you look at carbs. Instead of seeing them as bad for your body, look at them as energy for your body. Carbs fuel the brain, and when partaking in exercise, they are beneficial in giving your body what it needs to replenish.

Portion control, lean meats and exercise can help you lose the weight and keep it off.

Starting at the end of the month, Tennova Healthcare - Harton will begin a series of classes geared towards diabetes management and meal planning.  Held on the fourth Wednesday of each month, the next class will be from 3 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 23.  Classes are free and open to the public.

The class will talk about counting carbs, healthy diets and exercise. It is geared towards individuals with diabetes and for those just seeking more information about carbs and healthy eating.

Registration is not required, but it is helpful.

For more information or to pre-register for the class, visit www.tennova.com/classes-events, or call 931-393-7899.

Faith Few can be reached by email at ffew@tullahomanews.com.

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