As far back as 500BC, people followed a low carbohydrate, high fat diet to treat epilepsy. In fact, by the 1920’s, a full ketogenic diet was the primary treatment for seizure disorders. Fast forward to today, and keto diets/low carb living are making a comeback, but for much more than just seizure disorders. Low carb eating has been shown to reduce your risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and more. And, probably its biggest bonus, it helps you lose weight. But how do you know if it’s right for you? And is it possible to maintain with the holiday season approaching?
The fact is, there are many different ways to lose weight, and it may depend on a person’s genetics or body type to determine which diet plan is best. However, there is increasingly strong evidence that processed food and excess sugars should be avoided if you want to trim that waistline or stop chronic inflammation. Then, you can add more healthy fats to your diet to feed your brain the necessary nutrients for clear thinking and preserving memory.
Eat more fats
After decades of being told that we should minimize fats in the diet, this is quite the paradigm shift. But those who follow low carb eating or keto-friendly diets swear by the results. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is typically high in carbohydrate content, and the burning of carbohydrates for fuel results in a yo-yo pattern of fluctuating energy, fatigue, and chronic hunger and cravings. Remember: carbohydrates are broken down into sugars, which cause the insulin to surge and switch metabolism into “storage” mode. While keto-producing diets break down fats into ketone bodies that generate more ATP (energy) than glucose. When you switch to burning fats as your fuel system by following a low-carb or ketogenic approach, the energy levels are consistent. Fats are more satisfying, so there is less hunger, and you won’t need to eat as often. A low carb diet will literally reduce your blood sugar and insulin resistance, and therefore reverse type 2 diabetes. Yes, that’s right. It actually can reverse type 2 diabetes!
The Insulin Test
The Kraft insulin test is one of the best ways to find out if low carb living is for you. In this test, a blood test is taken to determine your fasting insulin level. After drinking a glucose-containing drink, the blood is drawn again every 30 minutes for a total of 2 hours. A person with a healthy hormonal response will have a rapid and mild increase in insulin, with quick return to low levels. On the other hand, a person with a damaged pancreas will show a delayed and prolonged increase in insulin. These people have pre-diabetes and are already experiencing dysfunction of the beta cells, the work-horses of the pancreas. But have no fear, there may be time to reverse this! It is sugar and processed foods that cause the damage to the beta cells in the pancreas. And if you learn to successfully avoid these foods, you can save your pancreatic function.
Prepare for the holidays
With holiday season around the corner, you know you’ll be faced with sweets and treats and temptations. You have the power to make good choices, and low-carb/keto-friendly meals are the way to keep yourself feeling full and stop your sugar cravings. Focus on moderate portions of protein at each meal, allow liberal healthy fats (like extra virgin olive oil), load up on non-starchy veggies, and you shouldn’t even feel the need to reach for those carbohydrates! Although variable among individuals, keeping your daily carbohydrate count below 40 should be enough to keep you in fat burning mode. And you’ll fly through the holidays with great energy, a clear mind, and a smaller waistline!
Dr. Judi Woolger is the Chief Medical Officer at the Agatston Center, where patients are successfully following low carb/ keto friendly eating plans with amazing success. The Agatston Center has concierge offices in South Beach and Pinecrest. We encourage you to talk to your doctor to see if the low carbohydrate eating plan is right for you. You can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org