Proper nutrition is a foundation for living healthy, active lives at every age and stage.
Low-Carb and Keto Diets: Which One Is Right for You?
The ketogenic diet, better known as the keto diet, is a popular style of eating that restricts carbohydrates — but it's by no means your average low-carb diet. While low-carb and keto diets overlap in a few key ways, from their potential health benefits to the foods they discourage, they vary significantly. We spoke with Pamela Nisevich Bede, a registered dietitian for ZonePerfect and medical manager for Abbott's scientific and medical affairs team, about low-carb and keto diets. Here are the insights she shared, as well as some tips to consider if you're looking to try either of these diets. What Is a Low-Carb Diet? Carbohydrates, proteins and fats are known as macronutrients — they provide calories for the body and are needed in larger amounts than micronutrients, which are primarily vitamins and minerals. Many eating plans, including keto and low-carb, involve emphasizing or restricting certain macronutrients. "Technically, any eating style recommending less than 45% of calories from carbs can be considered low carb," Nisevich Bede began, "but many research studies home in on approximately 10% to 25% of calories coming from carbs." A low-carb eating plan replaces the calories you'd normally get from carbs with protein-rich foods and certain fats. While the exact distribution of calories varies from plan to plan and person to person, an example of a low-carb macronutrient breakdown might include 10% to 25% of calories from carbs, 40% to 50% from protein, and 30% to 40% from fats. The emphasis on protein provides you with energy and supports appetite control and muscle health. "Some of the protein in the diet may be used to make glucose for energy," she explained. "If you're on a lower-calorie plan, watch out for signs of fatigue or muscle soreness." How Is the Keto Diet Different From Other Low-Carb Diets? While Nisevich Bede noted that people tend to use the terms interchangeably, the keto diet is very different than traditional low-carb diets in terms of its macronutrient breakdown. It requires you to get 5% to 10% of your calories from carbs, 15% to 30% from protein, and at least 70% to 80% from fat — that's nearly twice as much fat and half as many carbs as what typical low-carb diets recommend. "A ketogenic diet highly restricts carbohydrate intake, and it's purposely high in fat," she explained, "while a low-carb diet focuses on moderate protein and moderate fat." The keto diet outlined here is for the general consumer and is not therapeutic, she continued, with the ultimate goal being to promote ketosis — a natural metabolic process in which the body burns fat for fuel. Ketosis begins once the body's glycogen stores are depleted. How to Decide Which Eating Style Is Right for You
Carbohydrates: The Role They Play and Why You Need Them
Good nutrition helps nourish your body, and just like many things in life, it’s all about balance. Early on, we’re told to eat a wide variety of foods from all food groups – fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and protein – and this advice comes with good reason. To function and thrive, you need various foods to get all the essential nutrients the body needs, like carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals. In recent decades—and with the rise of diets like ketogenic, paleo, and Atkins—there’s been growing confusion about one nutrient’s role and importance in particular: carbohydrates. Yet, this macronutrient remains an important part of an overall balanced diet and is necessary for good health. Understanding the role of carbohydrates – and the foods they’re found in – can help you follow a nutritious, balanced diet. The Role of Carbohydrates: From Energy to Gut Health Carbohydrates, also known as carbs, are vital at every stage of life. They’re the body’s primary source of energy and the brain’s preferred energy source. Carbs are broken down by the body into glucose – a type of sugar. Glucose is used as fuel by your body’s cells, tissues, and organs. When your body doesn’t get adequate carbohydrates, it looks for another energy source, breaking down the protein in your muscles and body fat to use as energy. Glucose is significant for the brain, which can’t easily use other fuel sources like fat or protein for energy. While carbohydrates are most known for providing energy, some carbs can also help promote digestive health. The microbiome is an enormous collection of microbial organisms that live on and in your body, most of them within the gastrointestinal tract or the gut. Many of the microbes within the gut are healthy bacteria that help support immune and digestive health. Certain carbohydrates – like fiber – act as food for the good bacteria in the gut and promote their growth. Eating foods high in fiber, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, can also help with regular bowel movements, minimize constipation-related issues and may help lower cholesterol and blood sugar.
Keto-Friendly Recipes for the Holidays: Dishes and Strategies to Try This Thanksgiving
With Thanksgiving around the corner, many people are starting to plan their menus and recipes for the holidays. But for anyone following the ketogenic diet, navigating the carb-rich spread of mashed potatoes, stuffing and pumpkin pie can be tricky. Fortunately, you don't have to let one day derail your diet plans. Instead, you can use these tips and tricks to plan a Thanksgiving menu that has keto-friendly options. Here's what to know. What Is the Ketogenic Diet? A ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb style of eating. Those on a keto diet typically consume around 75 percent of their calories from fat, 20 percent of their calories from protein and 5 percent of their calories from carbohydrates. When the body is deprived of carbs, it starts to break down fat molecules, and rely on ketones to help fuel bodily functions. This is referred to as a state of "ketosis," hence the name "keto." The research on this style of eating is relatively limited but growing and a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that obese men following a short-term keto diet lost weight and felt less hungry compared to other dietary interventions.
Focus on Hydration for Recovery to Perform Like an Elite Athlete
From day to day, elite athletes' workouts change to emphasize a variety of different strengths and skills and prevent over-training of specific muscles or joints. Over time, intense athletic training improves performance by breaking down the body's muscles, depleting them of their energy stores, and then recovering and repairing them to allow optimal strength and performance. If athletes don't recover properly from their strenuous training regimen, they can't perform at the elite level, and that's where proper nutrition and hydration come into play.
Minding Our Muscles for Immune Health
Our immune system is always at work, protecting against unwanted microbes or infections. And while our immune system is always operating, it is not usually top of mind unless one is sick or trying to avoid a virus. Following good-health guidelines – like eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly and getting adequate sleep – are natural ways to keep the immune system strong and healthy. But should we also be considering our muscle health when thinking about our immunity?
The Benefits of Protein for Older Adults in Preventing Falls and Fragility
If you're an older adult, the occasional fall may not seem that serious. However, you might be surprised to learn that falls are the leading cause of injury and injury-related death among older adults in the United States. Considering that more than one in four older Americans experience at least one fall every year, according to an Abbott study published in OBM Geriatrics, it's crucial to take steps to protect yourself as you age. While changes in vision, balance and reflexes can increase your odds of experiencing a fall, you might be able to reduce the risk of falling by harnessing the benefits of protein. Health experts are now finding that consuming adequate protein might help protect older adults from recurring falls, fragility and other effects of aging. Here's what you need to know about this research and the advantages that protein offers aging adults. What Are the Benefits of Protein? From infancy through advanced age, protein provides our bodies with the building blocks it needs to build and repair cells, tissues, bones and muscles. Protein also helps our bodies make antibodies to help fight infection. As we age, protein has another important job: preventing muscle loss. Starting around age 40, the body naturally starts to lose muscle, losing as much as 8% of its muscle mass each decade. Over the years, this rate of muscle decline progressively accelerates, and it might even double in some people after age 70. Getting enough protein from a balanced diet is one way to combat muscle wasting.