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As the season for weight loss diets is now in full swing, you may be wondering if the ketogenic, or keto, diet is one to embark on. The ketogenic diet is one of the newest weight-loss strategies to surface in the media, but it’s actually been around since 1920 as an effective treatment for epilepsy in children.

While there’s slight variances in the many versions of the keto diet, it’s basically a low carbohydrate (5 to 10 percent of daily calories), high fat (70 to 80 percent of daily calories) and moderate protein (10 to 20 percent of daily calories) diet.

The premise is putting your body through a state of ketosis, an adaption that allows the body to survive during starvation. When severely restricting your body of carbohydrates, which are the brain’s main source of energy, the body will metabolize fat instead of carbs, creating ketones. In the absence of carbs, the brain uses ketones for fuel.

The diet has been associated with short-term benefits, including weight loss, and improvements in insulin resistance and cardiovascular markers. It’s also been reported that the high-fat content helps keep people feeling full. On the other hand, the restrictive nature of the diet makes it very difficult for one to follow.

Prohibiting specific foods and food groups can lead to nutritional deficiencies and create unhealthy eating behaviors over time. As of now, there is insufficient evidence about the long-term effectiveness or safety of the ketogenic diet.

A ketogenic diet is not for everyone. Instead of fooling your body into thinking that it’s in starving mode, eat a balanced diet of unsaturated fats, lean protein and carbohydrates, which include whole grains, fruits and vegetables. If you do choose to go keto, it is recommended to consult with one’s physician and dietitian to closely monitor biochemical changes.

Eggroll Bowl

1 pound ground pork

⅓ cup lite soy sauce

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ginger, minced

1 (16-ounce) bag coleslaw mix

In a large skillet, brown pork over medium heat. Meanwhile, whisk soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and ginger in a small bowl; set aside. Drain pork. Add coleslaw mix and sauce to the meat. Stir and cook five minutes, until cabbage just begins to wilt.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutrition facts (per serving): 240 calories, 17 grams fat, 590 milligrams sodium, 7 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 15 grams protein

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Smith is nutrition and wellness educator for the University of Illinois Extension, McLean County. Contact her at 309-663-8306. 

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