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.
Important Nutrients to Support Immunity
Staying healthy in the face of a global pandemic is top of mind for most of us. But how do we do it? The key: Focus on the immune system. It's the body's defense against illness. When it's working well, the immune system can help protect against infections. Including essential nutrients as part of a well-balanced diet can improve your overall nutrient intake to support and maintain immune health.
The Nutritional Quality of Plant Proteins
Plant-based proteins have steadily been growing in popularity, and this trend is expected to increase in the next decade, with many people choosing plant proteins for health, environmental and ethical reasons. You've likely started noticing more plant-based products in your grocery store or heard discussions about them in the news. As plant proteins start showing up in more places, it's important to keep in mind that there are many different kinds — and they can vary in nutritional quality. If you decide to add plant-based proteins to your diet in place of animal proteins, you need to understand these differences. By keeping a few key points in mind, you can maintain (and enjoy) a nutritious and well-balanced diet. Here are insights and answers related to some of the most common questions surrounding plant-based proteins.
Pass the Soup: Warming Winter Recipes Your Whole Family Will Love
Whether you're wondering how to add more vegetables to your diet or are simply craving healthy, hearty winter recipes, it's a good idea to think soup! You've probably heard that soup might even ease the symptoms of a cold — but it does much more than that. Soup is an excellent source of fluids and electrolytes to help you stay hydrated. It's also a great way to work in key nutrients to help you feel your best all winter long. It's so good for you that people who eat soup were found to consume more vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber than those who don't, according to a study in the British Journal of Nutrition. While canned options abound, homemade options are easier to create than you might imagine. Designed right, homemade options are often much lower in sodium.
How to Support Your Immune System Through Nutrition
These days, immune health is at the forefront of everyone's minds. While there are many components to immune health nutrition plays a key role. In fact, a recent review in the European Journal of Nutrition & Food Safety found that a variety of vitamins and minerals play an important role in supporting immune health. Furthermore, the study also suggested that deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals can lead to a weakened immune system and greater susceptibility to infection. Thankfully, these nutrients are abundant in everyday foods. You can effectively support your immune system by eating a balanced diet that includes protein, iron and antioxidants and other key vitamins and minerals.
How to Build Your Best Plate To Support Immune Health
Remember, when you were told, “you are what you eat?” Even though you may think that is a silly saying, it rings true. Every bite, every choice, builds every ounce of our being. By choosing nutrient dense and functional foods to fill your plate, you can build your best self and support immune health. Now is the time to choose for the better and give your body the tools it needs. Hint: The color of your plate plays a considerable role. Watch this video from Pam Nisevich Bede, MS, RD, to understand which foods to look for to support a healthy immune system and start building the best plate possible.
Stay Nourished With Immune Supporting Foods
Your immune system works around the clock to keep you healthy and to support recovery when illnesses strike, but it can't succeed on its own. The immune system requires key nutrients to build protective antibodies, proteins and enzymes to keep your immune system functioning.
The Science of Sugar: How Much Sugar and Added Sugar Should You Consume?
We're all born with a natural liking for the sweetness that comes from sugars. As we get older, we learn that there is such a thing as having too many of them in our diet. But even with that knowledge, understanding sugars isn't always simple. Natural sugars or added sugars appear in a wide range of the foods you eat. It all starts with understanding the science behind sugars.
Plant-Based Diet Benefits and Challenges: What to Know Before Trying One
Scientists are increasingly digging up new plant-based diet health benefits and, in tandem, eating fewer animal products is becoming a popular way of life. Even fast-food restaurants are jumping on the bandwagon, offering veggie versions of their popular menu staples. It's now easier and more convenient to work plant-based nutrition into your busy life, but should you?
5 Protein Myths Debunked (And What Really Works)
Protein does a lot of great things for our bodies. It builds new cells, repairs old ones, keeps our muscles and bones strong, and even helps us feel full between meals. Dietary proteins are made of building block units called amino acids and these amino acids are needed to make required proteins in the body. We need to make sure we eat enough high-quality protein in our diets, especially as we age so that our bodies have the necessary amino acids for our bodies to function correctly.
Science-backed Nutrition for Every Stage of Life
Just as your body changes with each stage of life, your nutrition needs change too. Consider the role of protein in the body. In infancy, it's a critical part of growth and development; while in adulthood, protein may help you maintain a healthy BMI or body mass index. And as you age, it can help you support the lean muscle you need to stay active. The same holds true for other nutrients like vitamins, minerals and certain fats. Researchers at Abbott have been studying the role nutrition plays from early infancy to late adulthood to help people better nourish every stage of life. If you're wondering which nutrients you need now — and in the future — these experts share the latest insights from nutrition science. Pregnant Women
Make Healthy Holiday Eating a New Tradition
You might work hard on staying trim and sticking with your health goals all year long, but when the holidays roll around, it's not uncommon to pick up a few bad habits. The temptations are around every corner; holiday dinners, your mom's special homemade cookies and those indulgent, festive holiday cocktails. After a while, it can all add up, with the result appearing as an escalating number on the bathroom scale.
Common Hydration Mistakes You May Be Making
When you get down to it, the importance of hydration should come as no surprise. "If you look at our physiology, it becomes really clear. Children's bodies are about 70 to 75 percent water, while adults' are about 60 percent," explains Abbott research scientist Jennifer Williams, MPH. "And water is an essential part of keeping every cell in your body working at its best," she adds. However, when it comes to the best ways to keep hydrated, there seems to be an overflow of misconceptions — some of which can have the opposite effect. Here are some of the most common missteps to avoid.
How Staying Hydrated Helps Your Body
Hydration is important every day because it keeps you feeling and performing at your best. But it's even more critical to pay attention to fluid intake in hot temperatures, during extended air travel, vigorous exercise and after the occasional cocktail. Water makes up about 60 percent of the human body and it's needed for important jobs such as regulating body temperature, maintaining healthy skin and joints, digesting food, and helping the brain function at its best. That's why losing just one to two percent of body fluids can impact physical performance and, more seriously, it can affect cognition. The good news is that with a little know-how, you can defend against dehydration. How Much Fluid Should You Drink in a Day? Like food, there is a ton of information available about hydration, but knowing what's well-grounded can be more difficult to discern. "We've all heard the 'eight glasses per day' rule, but that amount is only a general guideline and may not be enough fluid intake during more dehydrating environments or situations," explains Abbott research scientist Jennifer Williams, MPH. The National Academy of Medicine recommends drinking more water daily to keep properly hydrated — 2.7 liters of fluid or 11.4 cups of water for women and 3.7 liters or 15.6 cups for men. Williams notes that fluid needs will vary depending on age and activity level, and adds that a variety of fluids can help with hydration, like water, tea, coffee or even milk. When you drink your fluids matters too, and Williams recommends hydrating before bed, upon waking and before, during and after vigorous exercise.
6 Surprising Reasons You May Be Dehydrated
You've heard the saying, "you are what you eat," but what you drink matters a whole lot, too. Water makes up close to 60 percent of the human body, yet we often underestimate the importance of hydration. Even though water keeps your brain firing at top speed, your muscles moving and your heart healthy, a lot of people still don't get enough water to stay properly hydrated.
How to Defend Against Dehydration in Kids and Older Adults
If you or a family member are feeling tired, headache-y or cranky, it's easy to assume that a cold or virus is coming on. However, the real culprit could be dehydration. "The stomach flu, fever, morning sickness, sweltering temperatures, exercising heavily on a hot day, and even travel are all common dehydration causes," says Jennifer Williams, M.P.H., a research scientist at Abbott.