Science repeatedly backs up this claim. A recent study published by Plos One followed members of a hunter-gatherer tribe in Northern Tanzania. Researchers obtained physical activity, metabolic and nutrition data and compared it with the average Jack and Jill who indulge in the common Western diet. What they found was that the tribe members are comparable in every way except for their nutrition habits. Rather than the fat and calorie-laden diets we typically enjoy, they eat only whole, natural foods. The study’s findings are simple and common. Basically, you can keep running 5Ks or Sweatin' to the Oldies, but chances are high that results will be disappointing unless you change what and how much you’re eating. To get healthy and stay that way, the trend has to continue -- not just for a week or a month, but for the long-term.
“A lot of people think the foundation of a paleo diet is high-fat meat, but I suggest that it’s vegetables,” says Hultin. The concept is to eat only foods — including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, fruits, and vegetables — that would have been available to our Paleolithic ancestors. This means grains, dairy, legumes, added sugar, and salt are all no-no’s.
On the ketogenic diet, carbohydrates are restricted and so cannot provide for all the metabolic needs of the body. Instead, fatty acids are used as the major source of fuel. These are used through fatty-acid oxidation in the cell's mitochondria (the energy-producing parts of the cell). Humans can convert some amino acids into glucose by a process called gluconeogenesis, but cannot do this by using fatty acids. Since amino acids are needed to make proteins, which are essential for growth and repair of body tissues, these cannot be used only to produce glucose. This could pose a problem for the brain, since it is normally fuelled solely by glucose, and most fatty acids do not cross the blood–brain barrier. However, the liver can use long-chain fatty acids to synthesise the three ketone bodies β-hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate and acetone. These ketone bodies enter the brain and partially substitute for blood glucose as a source of energy.
When a person goes off the ketogenic diet and regains much of their original weight, it’s often not in the same proportions, says Kizer: Instead of regaining lean muscle, you’re likely to regain fat. “Now you’re back to your starting weight, but you no longer have the muscle mass to burn the calories that you did before,” she says. “That can have lasting effects on your resting metabolic rate, and on your weight long-term.”
Following a healthy diet can be as simple as following the guidelines, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, that is. These guidelines have been updated and released every five years since 1980 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA). The goal of these guidelines is to promote health and reduce the risk for major chronic disease for people 2 years and older. The Guidelines also address ways to maintain a healthy weight.
In addition, watching your weight may reduce the risk of dying from prostate cancer. According to a study by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the risk of dying from prostate cancer is more than double in obese men diagnosed with the disease compared with men of normal weight at the time of diagnosis. And obese men with local or regional disease have nearly four times the risk of their cancer metastasizing, or spreading.
The guidelines are extensive, but you do not need to meet every recommendation all at once. To establish a healthy eating plan, the goal is to begin to make gradual changes to your eating and activity. You can select one or two guidelines a week or month to focus on. Over time, you will be able to make most, if not all, of the guidelines a part of your life.
But beyond that, experts aren't convinced that the keto diet has any other scientifically-proven health benefits. In fact, it may have some distinct downsides. If you follow the keto diet incorrectly, for example (like by eating lots of saturated fats, versus healthy unsaturated fats), you're at risk of raising your cholesterol levels. “The best strategy to keep your heart healthy is to get as much fat as possible from unsaturated sources such as olive, avocado and canola oils, nuts, seeds, avocados, and olives," says Ansel.
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