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“What do you think about keto?”

I get that question a lot.

Before I answer, did you know the keto diet was developed to treat epileptic children who didn’t respond to medication? It’s a medical intervention.

But lately it has become the IT diet.

What is keto?

The ketogenic diet is an eating style that is high fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrate. That flips general healthful eating recommendations, which place more emphasis on carbohydrates. But with keto, carbs are reduced to such a low level that fat is broken down to ketones and these become the energy source. And that is ketosis.

Maintaining ketosis requires a consistently low level of carbohydrates — 20 to 40 grams per day. Grains, cereals, and breads are the first to go. Many fruits and vegetables are also off the menu.

And that’s the problem.

Keto limits some of the healthiest foods — most fruits, many vegetables, low-fat dairy, beans and whole grains. Those same foods supply the carbs that fuel your brain and make your muscles move. They also feed the gut microbiome, which requires a variety of fibers and starches. Gut health impacts our weight, physical, and emotional well-being. No popcorn on movie night, no sliced bananas on cereal, heck, not even a crunchy apple. Thinking about emotions, that would make me grumpy.

Maintaining ketosis is so restrictive that it can be dangerous with

  • salt and other
  • electrolyte imbalances
  • nutrient deficiencies
  • heart arrhythmias
  • hair loss
  • flu-like symptoms
  • headache
  • dizzy spells
  • fatigue
  • trouble sleeping

And lots complain of constipation. Without high-fiber foods, it’s not surprising that constipation is a concern.

So, what do I think about the keto diet?

When people ask me what I think about the keto diet, they really want my support. But I can’t give it.

I’ve watched people gain weight, lose weight, regain and re-lose. Extreme diets are not what most people need to lose weight. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans are not the big contributors to weight gain. When you track what you eat, you are more likely to lose weight. Much more. The more we pay attention to what we put in our mouth, the less likely we are to open it.

Oh, I know there are keto enthusiasts. I’m not one of them. Keto is low in heart- and brain-boosting nutrients. There isn’t enough research to support the benefits of it as weight-loss plan. Plus we just don’t know how a high-fat diet and the choices that someone makes to fill their fat requirements affects health long term.

And that’s the other thing. It seems everyone has his or her very own keto plan. There are as many variations of keto as there are the numbers of people who claim to be on it. Some folks eat more protein, some eat more fat, some do it 3 days a week. Many people are just lowering overall calories by paying more attention to what they eat, which is something I support.

Are you sorry you asked?

At the end of the day, we still need to eat. And I’m all about the yum. This recipe is an easy, delicious dinner solution. Pair it with carrots or broccoli and a salad.Baked Lemon Chicken

  • 3 pounds quicken, quarters (legs and thighs)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary

Heat oven to 350°F.

Lay chicken in 9 x 13” baking pan. Scatter ingredients over chicken then massage them over all the chicken.

Bake 1 hour 15 minutes until chicken reaches 165°F. as measured by food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.

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Judy Barbe is a registered dietitian, speaker and author of “Your 6-Week Guide to LiveBest: Simple Solutions for Fresh Food & Well-Being.” Visit her website www.LiveBest.info for every day food solutions.

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