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Diet Confusion

I haven't been able to turn on the television in the past two weeks without hearing some expert or another talk about the diet they are promoting. It is enough to drive a person mad! Many of us approach the new year as a way to change some bad habits to good ones and perhaps lose a little weight. When you are constantly bombarded with different options it becomes overwhelming so I am going to break down two diets that are popular right now, The Ketogenic Diet and the Bulletproof Coffee Diet.

The Ketogenic Diet: The premise behind this diet is that carbohydrates raise insulin levels. As a result, raised insulin levels promote fat storage and Type 2 Diabetes. This diet prescribes increased meat intake while decreasing carbohydrates. However, the logic is flawed. The reality is that the mechanism for Type 2 Diabetes is not carbohydrates but saturated fat which is only found in animal products. In fact, research indicates that vegans and vegetarians have lower insulin levels by 50% compared to meat eaters. Furthermore, there have been no long-term studies to look at the effects of these types of low carb/high fat diets. We have no data to show us what these diets do to our heart health after 10 and 20 years of being on this diet.

The Bulletproof Coffee Diet: This diet is another low carbohydrate/high fat type diet. It asks you to consume 20% of your calories from protein, 20-30% from vegetables and 50-60% from fats. In order to maintain these ratios it asks you to eliminate certain foods like sugar, most oils, gluten, additives and legumes. In place of these things it proposes that you eat a large amount of grass-fed meat and fat. The bulletproof coffee name comes from the coffee they recommend that is coffee with ghee and coconut oil. The claim is that the fat causes hunger suppression and will help you lose weight. Just like the Ketogenic diet it will, in fact, raise your insulin levels. While it may suppress your appetite and you may lose weight from consuming fewer calories, none of it will matter when you have a heart attack or develop Type 2 Diabetes.

The Verdict: Both of these diets are disease promoting and while you will lose weight in the short-term secondary to eating less processed foods and refined carbohydrates, in the end you are setting yourself up for heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes. I do like the fact that both of these diets ask you to eliminate sugar and other refined carbohydrates and both of them promote eating vegetables. However, that is where my praise ends. A much more health promoting diet is one that is whole-foods and plant-based. Even if you can't completely give all animal products up, the research (long-term research) all indicates that this type of lifestyle (not diet) is the way to go. You should always be wary of anyone that wants to sell you a product, a book or a supplement as your key to a long, healthy, skinny life. You don't see broccoli and it's friend the banana getting any royalties from a plant-based diet do you?

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