Low Carb Diet vs. Keto Diet

With the start of a new year, I’ve watched with the usual fascination as all the diet plans and health products start making a new surge as people once again make a “resolution” to lose weight and get healthier.

I always marvel at how complicated people try to make it.  It honestly just doesn’t have to be so.

Anyway, one of the things I’ve been itching to get to is writing this post doing a little comparison of a low carb diet and the keto diet.

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Are they the same? What makes them different ? Is one possibly any better than the other?

I hope to offer some educated perspectives to this current trendy topic.

What’s the difference?

A low carb diet is simply that. You can make adjustments in your eating and modestly or greatly cut back on carbs. You become more selective about your carbs and where they come from.

For instance, I can really do without the carbs in cake or chips,  while the carbs in an apple or sweet potato offer my body lots of good vitamins and minerals along with those  complex carbs all for very few calories.

But hold up.

Not all carbs are equal as you may know. Simple carbs like the ones found in refined sugars meaning…. breakfast cereals, muffins,  pastries, chips, cookies, crackers, baked goods,  boxed snacks, sodas, sugared drinks, candy, alcohol etc… are ones that should be looked at critically first.

Simple carbohydrates are made up of just one or two sugar molecules. As such, it doesn’t take much for your body to break them down and absorb them (as glucose) into the bloodstream. For this reason, simple carbohydrates raise blood sugar much faster and usually higher than complex carbohydrates.

Often people may find with an awareness of exactly what they consume in a day they will realize those simple carb foods are the ones who need to be reduced in their daily diets. Doing so can almost painlessly lead to a slow steady loss of weight.

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Complex carbs ( starches made up of long chains of sugar molecules—are considered good carbs because they take longer to digest and thus don’t spike blood sugars as quickly as simple carbs) are found in good foods like whole grains breads and pastas, legumes, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, low fat yogurt, milk,  and tons of good for you fruits and veggies. So many veggies…..

Not only are they good for supporting all systems of your body they provide crucial energy as well. Find my post on carbs here…… https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/04/11/carbs-are-not-the-enemy/

Being on a low carb diet doesn’t mean you are on a keto diet although some tend to think that.  I hear so many people say it but honestly, many are on just an extremely low carb diet.

That being said, keto is a low carb diet. An extremely low carb diet to the exclusion of many of those healthy, good for you good carbs I mentioned along with most fruits and veggies.

In order to truly follow a ketogenic diet you need to be in a state of ketosis. This simply means your body is burning fatty acids (ketones) for energy instead of carbohydrate stores (glycogen in liver, and glucose in blood) and your carb intake must be at, and stay at, a consistently  low level to achieve that.

The levels of ketones produced can be varied depending on daily macros. ( Macro nutrients are the daily protein, carbs and fats you eat)  And the amount of carbohydrates consumed is one of the big differences when looking at low carb vs keto.

a ketogenic diet demands specific changes to all three macronutrients. For this reason, it’s hard to recommend a keto diet to someone unless they know how to track their macros or are really serious about learning.

When you have normal levels of ketones in your bloodstream, your brain and the rest of your body are fueled by stored body fat. But the only way to know for sure if you’re in a state of ketosis is confirming it through daily testing.

This can be done through blood, urine, or a breath analyzer test.

Urine strips are perhaps least confirming because they merely show the excess that you’ve eliminated.

Blood and urine strips are also more expensive as they are a one time use.

Breathe and blood tests show more up to the moment ketone levels.

So to clearly state… you could believe you are doing a keto diet but without actually testing for ketone levels and tracking your total macros, you could just be doing an extremely restrictive low carb diet.

Saying you’re doing keto doesn’t really mean you’re actually doing that without evidence to show that you truly have your body in a state of ketosis, this is where your body is actually using the fatty acids for energy and not glucose. Just because you reduce the amount of carbs you eat doesn’t mean you are using body fat for energy.

Lowering carbs can help you lose weight.

If you’ve been consuming more food than your body requires, and a lot of it in forms of the simple carbs we discussed, then lowering those carb levels will contribute to weight loss.  You can reduce these carbs that contribute to spiking insulin levels and that produce wildly fluctuating blood sugar levels.

Cutting back can definitely help with those issues, but again, it’s lower carb, not keto, but you will lose weight. Learning to replace those carbs with healthier choices will keep you feeling satisfied while your body adjusts to not having those foods.

If you’re goal is to lose weight but not be in ketosis, then eating  plenty of veggies and a healthy dose of exercise will get you to your goals.

For me, when I want to lean out more, I stick to just tons of healthy veggies, fruits, some whole grains as needed and protein. I’m not restrictive and I’m not hungry.

As you can see the differences between low carb and keto is more than “just” carbs.

What can I eat?

With just a low carb diet you have the ability to manage your macros a bit more easily. Low carb with lots of healthy veggies and protein will keep you full and satisfied. You won’t necessarily be overly concerned at carbs in veggies because they will fill you up especially with added protein.  Not only that, your body loves all the vitamins and minerals that are loaded into veggies and fruits.

You will be more mindful of carbs found in grains, rice, breads, pastas etc. as well as your simple ( non-essential) carb consumption.

You can however, if you want to, have a small slice of birthday cake at grandmas 90th birthday and  know it will knock you out of ketosis because you did so.

That’s kind of a win 😉

If you think the keto diet is something you must do, a typical macro breakout for your daily diet is 25% protein, 70% fats and 5% carbs.

Yes. You are seeing that correctly. 5%.

These are recommended macros for keto. Lowering your carbs to this level will force your body into ketosis meaning it will begin to use fat for energy.

Maybe unwillingly, but it will.

If you choose this path, ideally, you would want to do it in steps as drastically cutting all carbs will make you…. want to eat a wall…

well… maybe you wouldn’t but you might feel ridiculously hungry and all kinds of other awful things from immediate restriction. It’s best to do a gradual reduction to allow your body to prepare for what’s coming.

Another common mistake on this diet is to lower calories while cutting carbs which isn’t the best idea. Lowering carbs will lower calories. Don’t push for both.

put in my body

So what’s the best choice?

I have a personal opinion, for sure. I wrote a post comparing the keto diet and the DASH diet… you can get a lot of my thoughts and also the comparisons of these two diets in this post… find it here….  https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/07/21/keto-and-dash-diet-review/

I’m honestly not a huge supporter of the keto way for lots of reasons. It’s just a hard sell to convince me that a higher fat diet is better than the many, many veggies and fruits and food groups that are eliminated on this diet.

And really, I gave up a long time ago following anything that tells me “foods I can eat and foods I can’t eat” plans. #rebel

And besides, I kinda like bread once in a while…and cake… and eating those things definitely wreaks havoc on the keto plan as it can knock you out of ketosis.  Not only that, to many people I know who are on it seem to live for “cheat” days so there’s that thought as well.

Don’t do a diet plan that you look forward to cheating on.

I think going a more low carb approach is less restrictive, easier to maintain, and has a broader range of foods you can consume which leads to less feelings having to do with out or deprivation. Not only that there isn’t the constant manipulation of macros and counting and all that other stuff which seems kinda tedious.

Maintaining a less restrictive diet will give you freedom and let you lose weight as well.

However, we’re all different. One method works for one and not the other. Find what is easiest to live, what let’s you still enjoy life, and what doesn’t leave you feeling left out because you “can’t have” what’s being served.

I still find at the end of the day, balance, moderation, and mindful eating are where it’s at when it comes to weight loss and no one thrives being deprived and hungry.

And don’t forget no matter what “diet” you may pursue, Paleo, Keto, Whole 30, South Beach, gosh there are so many, even my favorite, the old school sensible, moderate eating plan, at the end of the day weight loss occurs because of a calorie deficit and nothing else.

There is no magic diet.

Your best opportunity to be successful is to find the plan that you can easily stick to and is long term sustainable leading to a permanent lifestyle change while achieving weight loss.

Tell me…do you have experience with either of these options? If so, did you have success or have tips to someone considering it?

 

 

Monday Musings

Good morning beautiful people! If you’re reading this, then it means my mission was successful on Sunday night of actually sitting down and churning something out for you while you toss down your coffee and eat a stale bagel. Welcome to my Monday musings.

I can’t contemplate the week ahead without feeling some level of success over the past week.

A good week back on with my workout schedule and getting to a more focused eating plan. I just feel better when I’m in my normal routine after all the holiday festivities.

Speaking of that…. am I the only one who ever wonders… does anyone REALLY use those little replacement bulbs for those strings of lights? I have like… 10,000 of them. I can literally guarantee you I have zero patience with the idea of going through bulb after bulb trying to find the dead culprit.

None. Nada. Zilch.

I just wanna meet someone who might actually have the skill level and the patience of multiple saints to sit and do it…

It’s not this chick.

Oh. And I finished getting all of my Christmas decorations down and put away so there’s that. I’m just bummed when it’s all taken down. It looks so empty and non-festive. If you read my Christmas post you’ll know I enjoy decorating a little…ha.. well…a lot….  https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/12/08/the-most-wonderful-time-of-the-year/

I did a few new things this year I loved so much. They were of course, the last things to go.

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I’m still having coffee in my fun Christmas mugs though.. ’cause why not ?

 

 

However, once it’s all put away I do enjoy a fresh start and re-doing things and changing the house around. Sometimes, this confuses hubby who is a creature of comfortable habit. I’m sure though, he will adjust 😉

I got to work in the Batcave today ( my newly married son’s room he’s now vacated) so I’m excited over finally getting to do something fun with it that doesn’t reflect “20something bachelor guy lived here”

I’m also chomping at the bit to get back to a new interest I picked up at the end of the year… chalk painting. I’m a little bit hooked on it now that I have a couple projects under me (like my bathroom cabinets that look stunning) and I now have a list of things to do.

Seriously, that paint can make the ugliest thing ever look rather amazing. Perhaps I’ll do a fun lifestyle post on it sometime.

in other news….

my blog for my keto- dash diet review I wrote last year is still trending at the top of Google search so there’s that.  Seriously, ya’ll out of millions of  postings on this topic I’m currently #2… actually it bounces between there and #1 but I’m good with both….so I think it’s just a bit super cool.

You can find it here if you’ve not seen it…. https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/07/21/keto-and-dash-diet-review/

I’m working on a book review for the new release of the paperback “Lean Habits”  which will be coming to you soon.. right here… so hang around for that.. or you can read my first review while you wait…  https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2015/10/07/lean-habits-for-weight-loss-book-review/

Pinterest is at the top of my focused list so I’ve been pinning and learning more about working that avenue. Find me there as well and follow my healthy food boards. I’ve got some tasty things pinned.. check it out… @sassyfitnesschick  If you’ve got any good blogging tips with it, offer them up, please.

Speaking of tasty. I’m doing a fun little project on my social media experimenting with different veggie recipes with the hope someone might want to eat more of those yummy morsels. On my experiment list is cauliflower.  I know you’ve heard of all the crazy things you can do with it besides you know, eat it in it’s given form 😉  I decided once and for all I’m going to see if it can really be used to make pizza crust or my new interest.. cheesy breadsticks???

SAY WHAT?!

I’m gonna be your lab rat and will report to you my findings.  I will admit, at this point, to being rather skeptical. I guess we’ll see.

Regarding my athletic shenanigans, I’m pretty sure I did my coldest ride, ever, on Saturday.

By that I mean it was in the low 30’s with a wind chill dipping into the mid 20’s. That mind you, was if you were standing still, NOT flying down the road at fast speeds riding a bike in it like some crazy fool.

I only did 13 miles but it was better than nothing and anyway by then my extremities were numb so that made it a lot of fun too.

Coffee was really…really… good after that… but when isn’t it?

And in regards to coffee.

Topping my list of new favorite things for the week, Starbucks is featuring their Blonde roast right now and I’m kinda into it. Have you tried it?

And speaking of my lovely bike. I ordered a new saddle that should be here any day and a fun bag to stash my random stuff in while I sail down the road… like my camera for those on the run selfies.

Because #socialmedia, right? Keep up with me there on Instagram and Pinterest as well as my Sassyfitnesschick page on Facebook.

Now here’s to Monday and a week of new opportunities!

 

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Hello Monday!

Keto And Dash Diet Review

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It’s midafternoon and I’ve landed at my favorite coffee cave to write. I know it’s crazy but sometimes I’m more focused and less distracted writing in the mix of elevator music, the chatter of the baristas ( even when they go on break and sit and talk with me for awhile) and the low rumble of customers conversations.

Today, yesterday too, my goodness there were a few that felt like they had to talk over everything going on in the café.

Like… didn’t your mommy teach you about inside voices??

OK on to todays topic!

If you’ve followed me for awhile then you know I’m kind of “anti” diet person.

As in a structured plan for “x” weeks where you eat foods someone else has generated for you to eat, in the quantities they think you should eat, based on a caloric intake that has nothing to do with your person/life/fitness level.

No. Just no.

I think it’s ’cause I’m a free spirit and just want to do my own thing… and it’s worked… and if you missed me blabbing about that in my blog the other day … you can check it out… “The Dangerous Game Of Off Limits Foods”….

BUT… I fully realize some people do need that structure and it’s the vehicle that gets them to success….

So I thought I’d discuss one diet that flies under the radar and is balanced, sane, normal and has years of support from the medical community.

The other side of the coin is one that’s on the “popular train” right now and it’s like a newer, more hyper, version of Atkins. It shows up a lot on my social media sites and if I see it, I’m sure you do too.

Ok the first one….

The Dash Diet

DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) was designed to target those with high blood pressure (hypertension) but anyone can benefit from this plan.

It’s a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean meats and whole grains. It’s similar in many ways to the Mediterranean diet, but it focuses particularly on whole foods rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium — minerals crucial to regulating blood pressure. The heart-healthy diet also includes loads of fiber and steers clear of sugar, processed foods, and saturated fat, supporting weight loss, which, in turn, can lower blood pressure and heart disease risk.

What do you eat? the diet has a strong focus on :

Whole foods. Processed foods account for most of the sodium Americans consume, which can elevate blood pressure. DASH’s focus on whole foods over processed can help reduce sodium intake. Making an effort to scale back your salt intake further can boost the diet’s effects on blood pressure.

Fruits and vegetables are rich in blood pressure-lowering potassium and magnesium, and low in sodium and fat. They also contain lots of fiber.

Whole grains — like whole wheat bread, brown rice and oatmeal — are also packed with potassium, magnesium, and fiber.

Fat-free or low-fat dairy, like skim milk, feta cheese and low-fat yogurt, are important sources of calcium, and their low fat content supports weight loss and heart health.

Lean meat, poultry, and fish contain magnesium and protein, but not the high levels of saturated fat found in fattier cuts of red meat, which can raise blood pressure and heart disease risk.

Nuts, seeds, and legumes contain protein, magnesium, potassium, and fiber. Nuts and seeds are also a great source of monounsaturated fats, which can lower LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol, and boost HDL, or “good,” cholesterol.

Mono- and polyunsaturated fats, found in vegetable oils, nuts, fish, and avocados, are important sources of energy and nutrients, but don’t increase cholesterol or pack on the pounds.

Keep sweets to a minimum.  Sugar-sweetened foods and beverages can make it harder to maintain a healthy weight.

The same for alcohol and caffeine, which can raise blood pressure.

Of course it also focuses not just on food, but on maintaining a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise.

What are health benefits?

Keep blood pressure in check, improve heart health, prevent type 2 diabetes, shed pounds, strengthen bones, keeps your memory sharp, and curbs cancer risk.

The Dash diet is easy to follow as it doesn’t eliminate certain food groups. It includes all food groups with the foods being practical,affordable and easy to find at your local grocery store.

The main goal of this diet is to improve overall health. With a consistent lifestyle change and adhering to it, weight loss will come.  The Dash diet is practical and offers all food groups with a focus on reducing sodium/salt intake to lower blood pressure and other potential health problems.

Overall, this is a good program anyone could benefit from. It is not restrictive which will lead to a higher level of long term success.

On the flip side of diets….

The newest hype on the diet market is the Ketogenic (keto) Diet.  I have to say, researching it I found a couple things swirling through my head…

1… it sounds just like the Atkins thing my Mom did in the 70’s. In fact Keto is like Atkins, it’s a high protein, low carb diet. ( and you don’t get birthday cake on either one)

2…. it sounded very much like my (brief) stint with the Whole 30/Paleo thing I experimented with in a fitness challenge a few years ago. The foods you eat, the food groups excluded, the high protein/fat only Paleo doesn’t  focus on being in ketosis.

Ahhh there’s a word you may be unfamiliar with.

What does ketosis mean anyway?

I’m going to keep it super simple here.

Normally your body burns carbohydrates for fuel. When you drastically cut carbs your body goes into a metabolic state called ketosis and it begins to burn it’s own fat for fuel. Basically, you burn out your glycogen stores ( as an athlete just typing that makes me nervous) When your fat stores become your primary fuel source you may lose weight. You maintain a level of ketosis by keeping your carb level at next to nothing which keeps your body burning fat for energy.

Interestingly enough, the keto diet has been used since the early 1900’s to treat uncontrolled epilepsy in children.

Supporters of this diet also say it also controls blood sugar, helps with mental clarity, increases energy and normalizes hunger.

In my research it seems there are two camps… those who think it’s the cat’s meow of he perfect diet and those who are conservative about it’s  success rate and overall long term affects on the body.

Of course I have my own thoughts. I’m just not sure it’s long term sustainable.

The diet is ridiculously high in fats. Perhaps this is where I get hung up, I just don’t see consuming vast amounts of butter, meat, bacon, cheese etc in my best health interest.  The desired ratio of fat consumption is 3-4 grams of fat to every 1 gram of carb and protein which amounts to getting about 75-80% of your daily calories from fat.

The diet is all about the fat to carbs/ protein ratio, so even though you aren’t technically counting calories meals have to be planned carefully to adhere to the strict formula.

I found these words about the diet…. ” Just stay strict, remain vigilant, and be focused on recording what you eat.”  Let that be your guide on if this could be a good choice for you.

What foods do you avoid?

Carbs. And that means no birthday cake for you… or ice cream.

Seriously though, carbs are in almost everything and you must account for them in your daily diet to stay in ketosis. Even good veggies have small amounts of carbs and therefore have to be counted.  When you are working with…. 20-30grams……. or less a day you don’t get much wiggle room. The bread/grains//beans etc food group is completely eliminated with other food groups being kind of scarce in what you’re allowed to have (like fruit)

Can you lose weight on this diet?

You can because your body is burning fat for fuel. The other thing to consider is you are not eating any of your favorite foods like crusty breads, pastries, chips, cookies, crackers, cereals, potatoes or sugars so that will definitely knock weight off.

Ok.. the food groups. The nuts and seeds category could be overrated. It sounds good, like there’s so much to eat, but after awhile you want something more than nuts or avocado. And honestly, so many of the “foods” listed just aren’t where I’m at or they aren’t easy to get, or they are costly.

( Seriously, I love nuts and avocados and they are in my daily diet but I’m not dependent on them to not starve)

Of course I see more “eat all the bacon, fat, cheese, butter” posts and articles than I see on eating a plethora of veggies and fruits. Mainly because you can’t have many of them or you have to be restrictive of them too if you are truly going to keep yourself in a state of ketosis.

The diet is low in fiber so that could cause digestive problems for people. You may not get certain vitamins and minerals from this diet so you may need to supplement or take vitamins.

There are also a host of issues that can come along with this diet but if I’m to believe my research, those things can possibly go away once your body adjusts to not having carbs.

Weight loss can be seen as maybe, impressive? in the first week or two someone is on the diet but you must remember this.

Carbs hold water. A huge reduction of them will cause a lot of water loss in the first few weeks. This can’t be counted as fat loss but it could be the kick start someone needs to get going on their weight loss.

This diet can be helpful for those who are over weight or  obese and needing to lose a good amount of weight . It’s not recommended for heart patients or people with kidney disease.

On an athletic level, I’m not sure it would deliver what I would need to perform well, or that it would for any athlete.

In summary…

it can be costly since high quality meats, cheeses, proteins are encouraged. Some foods on the accepted list might not be easy to find and others might not be on your personal palate.

This isn’t recommended long term, but it seems most people don’t last that long on it. I mean after awhile you just want some crusty bread for your pricey grass fed butter!

Hear me on this. It’s not a bad thing for any of us to reduce (simple) carbs in our daily diets which are found in foods like cookies, crackers, chips, baked goods, fast foods, sugar drinks etc.  and increase healthier snacks like whole raw nuts, fruits/veggies, low fat dairy and other heart healthy foods. Simple steps like this might be all someone needs to have some changes on the scale and we’d all be healthier adopting this attitude towards food.

From a purely personal perspective, I don’t see it sustainable for anyone long term. I don’t think if offers enough nutritional value by cutting so many of the good fruits and veggies we need for health as well as a minimal focus on other food groups, and I don’t think a high fat diet is in anyone’s best interest and you’d have to sell me really hard on that idea. Really hard.

It can lead to weight loss but overall it’s a restrictive program that many will quickly end the relationship with… because…well….. birthday cake 😉

Tell me… have you tried either of these diets? Or was there a diet that helped you get started on your weight loss efforts that worked for you?