Even though my business is focused on exercise, I have several conversations each week with people that want to address the other side of getting healthy – what they eat every day that either works for them or against them. It’s worth talking about too. The truth is, the hour you spend exercising is huge, but what you put in your body during the other 23 hours will make or break weight loss goals.
The dieting culture is just as crazy as workout culture; maybe even worse. Both feed on the craving to lose weight and achieve an ideal body image. While exercise and healthy eating habits are both critical to your best self, it’s easy to get lured in by quick fixes, shortcuts, and things that seem crazy, but have just enough truth to make you try it out.
The ketogenic diet has been around for decades, but the fad has gained popularity and runs a continuous loop in social media world for the last 5 years. No doubt the results are quick and many people experience rapid weight loss, but are they sustainable? Is a keto diet healthy at all? Let’s look at the details and I’ll share what’s worked for me and hundreds of others (spoiler alert: It’s not keto).
Is A Keto Diet Heart Healthy Or Heart Harmful?
The hallmark of a ketogenic diet is higher fat intake while restricting protein and carbohydrates. This imbalance of macronutrients causes the body to a state of ketosis where energy comes from the breakdown of fat. Fat is transported through the blood as triglycerides in lipoproteins wich cholesterol.
Keep an eye on cholesterol.
While keto diets can have positive short-term effects on HDL (good cholesterol) levels, many studies also link this high fat diet with an increase in LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. No doubt you’ve seen the keto recipes with lots of butter, cheese, and bacon. Going overboard with animal-based fats is a fast way to spike bad cholesterol. This can lead to cardiovascular risk factors like heart disease and ultimately death.
What about long-term damage?
If the possibility of heart disease isn’t enough to make you think twice about a ketogenic diet, there’s more. One study published recently found that a keto diet eventually loses the metabolic benefits that contribute to weight loss after many months. Also, the general list of common keto-friendly foods leave out fruits and vegetables that are rich in carbohydrates, along with whole grains. What’s left are many foods that are linked to increased risk of chronic diseases including cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Stick To What’s Always Worked; No Fads Needed
I’ve never been a fan of short-term fixes or a restrictive diet. When I gained over 50 pounds during three pregnancies, I didn’t jump on the bandwagon of the latest weight loss fad. I stuck to what I know works, and I was able to lose weight every time.
That doesn’t mean I’m not intentional about what I put in my body. It takes a balanced diet, a dose of reality, and exercise for overall health and wellness.
Balance is key.
Rather than going extreme on a low carb diet or low fat diet, do your body a favor and keep a balance of macronutrients for the greatest health benefits. That means 50% carbs (shocking for keto fans), 25% fat, and 25% protein. If you are in a season of weight loss, restrict your calorie intake slightly, but never go below 1500 calories per day.
Don’t restrict too much.
I’ve always preached the 80/20 rule when it comes to fitness and diets. Do the right thing 80% of the time, and don’t feel bad the other 20% of the time if you get off. This is for your sanity, because it is easy to get obsessed with perfection. The minute you slip even a little, negative self talk creeps in and you’ll eventually give up altogether. Give yourself some grace and don’t quit.
Take care of your heart muscle.
It’s crazy how many health conditions can be avoided by keeping your heart healthy. Cardiovascular workouts keep your heart healthy by putting it under controlled stress. These exercises train your heart to quickly increase or decrease blood flow on demand. You’ll also help your lungs by increasing capacity and efficiency to oxygenate your blood.
Take care of the rest of your muscles.
In addition to cardio workouts, keep a regular strength training routine in the mix of your weekly exercise. Protein is the building block of muscle tissue and necessary for growth and repair. That’s why it’s important to keep a balanced diet! Don’t forget that your muscles also burn calories to build and repair after workouts.
Don’t Overthink It
Rather than following a popular diet or looking for shortcuts, stick to what works for life. A balanced diet and workout routine are easy to turn into habits. Skip the rollercoaster of weight loss and weight gain and the emotional toll of chasing magic bullets.
McClure Fitness Online has the exact workouts you need, organized in programs to get you in the habit of five sessions per week. There’s also a huge library of healthy recipes so you can stay on track. Join us today and start your fitness journey on the right path to success!