NUTRITION NEWS

Diet & Wellness


From food fundamentals to nutrition and wellness, a healthy diet is not a one-size-fits-all approach.

Low-Carb and Keto Diets: Which One Is Right for You?

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

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.

How Staying Hydrated Helps Your Body

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.

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