Tag Archives: diet 101

Diet 101: The Ketogenic Diet

The latest fad diet riding on the coat tails of the low-carb trend is the ketogenic diet. This nutrition plan has been around for ages, and has been effectively used in the treatment of epilepsy, but it’s also become popular to help folks shed pounds. Here’s what you need to know about this diet plan before you hop on another fad diet bandwagon.

About the Diet

This diet promotes low carb, moderate protein, and high fat intake touting health benefits such as weight loss and improved overall health.  It promotes an extremely low intake of carbs: about 30 grams per day. For the average American on a 2,000 calorie diet, this would be 120 calories of any type of carb per day. You can find carbohydrates in fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and legumes — which, when minimized in the diet, limits food choices dramatically. The distribution of macronutrients recommended is 5% carbohydrates, 25% protein, and 70% fat.

The fats recommended include both unsaturated like avocado and fatty fish along with saturated like whole milk, sour cream, and mayonnaise. Flour, sugar, and other such carbs are not recommended on the plan. Fruits are eaten in very small amount, low carb vegetables are recommended, and nuts in moderation.

The purpose of taking in so few carbs is to put your body in a state called ketosis. As carbs (AKA glucose) is the body’s primary source of energy, 30 grams of carbs runs out quickly forcing the body to utilize fat and some protein (or ketones made from fat) as a source of energy. When excess fat and protein is used for fuel, it creates an acidic environment in the blood, known as acidosis. Long-term acidosis can cause damage to your organs and is potentially deadly. While in this state, the body acts as if it is in starvation mode and other side effects include headaches, fatigue, irritability, and loss of muscle mass.

The Costs

Although this diet eliminates added sugars, the plethora of protein and fats can cost you a pretty penny (avocados and meat aren’t cheap!). Further, it’s very tough to follow a diet with a maximum limit of 30 grams of carbs, which is equivalent to 2 slices of bread.

This plan also eliminates many food groups, especially fruits and vegetables which have been shown to help lower the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease. The 2015 dietary guidelines found that 90% of Americans don’t eat the recommended amount of vegetables, while about 85% don’t eat the recommended amount of fruit. Eliminating most fruit and vegetables also takes away many important vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that can help keep you healthy in the long run.

Other huge costs include taste and sustainability of the diet. Eating loads of meat, cheese, and avocado can get boring without fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts. Go ahead and try it for a few days, or even a week or two, and you’ll miss out on those other food groups in no time.


The Good

  • The diet has been shown to be effective with those with epilepsy to help reduce the number of seizures. These folks are very carefully monitored by a physician.
  • Added sugar is decreased dramatically

The Not-So-Good

  • It’s a dangerous diet! Setting your body into ketosis can lead to increased acid levels in the blood, which has severe health consequences.
  • The elimination of multiple food groups removes many nutrients the body needs to stay healthy.
  • Many of the foods recommended are high in saturated fat, which can increase your risk of heart disease.
  • It is tough to follow this diet at social events or when travelling, and isn’t conducive to a household filled with children.
  • The meal plan isn’t tasty, and it’s extremely tough to sustain over a long period of time.


Bottom Line

Between the lack of nutrition, health consequences and lack of flavor, this is one diet plan that just isn’t healthy (or tasty!) to follow.


Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

Diet 101: The Low FODMAP Diet

Last month, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics held its annual Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo, at which it shared the latest nutrition research and hottest new products with thousands of dietitians. One of the most-popular trends to emerge was the focus on gut health and low-FODMAP food products.

What Is a FODMAP?

Coined by researchers at Monash University in Australia, the term FODMAP refers to different types of carbohydrates in foods. With a “short-chain” chemical structure, these carbohydrates are not absorbed in people with digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

FODMAP is an acronym for:

Fermentable, or carbs that are quickly broken down by bacteria to produce gas

Oligosaccharides. Humans do not have enzymes to break down and absorb these types of carbohydrates, leading to fermentation and gas.

Disaccharides, specifically lactose. Many IBS sufferers cannot digest lactose, which causes gastrointestinal discomfort.

Monosaccharides, or fructose, which is not well-absorbed if there is excess glucose present.


Polyols, or sugar alcohols. These are not completely digested by humans, and they are sometimes marketed as a laxative.

The Low-FODMAP Diet

Because foods that contain FODMAPs are poorly absorbed in the small intestine, eating them can cause distention, cramps, diarrhea, constipation, weight loss and anemia in a person with IBS. Some sufferers follow a low-FODMAP diet in an attempt to alleviate these symptoms and identify and eliminate trigger foods.

The plan is extremely strategic and begins with a two-to-six-week elimination phase, in which all high-FODMAP foods are removed from the diet. Following this diet is no small task, because FODMAPs are prevalent in many foods, including:

FruitsVegetablesGrainsBeans & LegumesDairySugar & Sugar Alcohols
apples, apricots, cherries, nectarines, plums, prunes, avocados, watermelon, pears, peaches, mangoes, sugar snap peas, dried fruit, fruit juice, persimmonsartichokes, asparagus, beets, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, mushrooms, garlic, leeks, onions, shallotswheat
kidney beans
baked beans
ice cream
soft cheeses
agave or honey
high-fructose corn syrup products like ketchup
BBQ sauce and syrup
artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol and xylitol


During the elimination phase, a registered dietitian provides guidance and encourages the use of a food journal to track food intake and correlating symptoms. Based on these results, the dietitian will create an individualized, well-balanced meal plan that allows the reintroduction of certain foods and the eventual easing of IBS symptoms.


The low-FODMAP diet offers relief from the constant gastrointestinal issues related to IBS. Plus, this diet is not a fad or a trend; it is based in scientific evidence and research. In other words, it has been tested and proven safe and effective. The low-FODMAP diet also offers peace of mind, eases anxiety and expands food choices for IBS sufferers who were once scared to eat many types of foods.


Obviously, the low-FODMAP diet is extremely restrictive, and it’s not easy for people to remember the long list of foods that contain FODMAPs. Also, with the limited nature of the diet comes the risk of compromising overall nutrition. For example, limiting fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts and seeds can also lead to a less-than-ideal intake of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Avoiding dairy reduces calcium and vitamin D intake, which can affect bone health. Without proper guidance from a registered dietitian, the low-FODMAP diet can definitely cause nutritional deficiencies.

Bottom Line

Anyone considering a low-FODMAP diet should consult a medical professional first. If suitable, a low-FODMAP diet can help ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Natalie Rizzo, M.S., R.D., is a media dietitian, food and nutrition writer, spokesperson and blogger at Nutrition à la Natalie.

Don’t Buy Into the New Year Detox

After spending the past month enjoying one-too-many cookies, peppermint mochas and spiked eggnogs, eliminating last year’s dietary sins seems like the perfect start. Supplements, coffee enemas, juice fasts, heat wraps and teas all promise a new, detoxified body, but do they actually work?

Detoxing is a rare medical need that’s been turned into a billion-dollar industry. Over the last decade, pills, juices, bars and shakes have been promoted as a magical formula to do everything from improving your health and digestion to getting you back into your skinny jeans.

More often than not, detox diets are nothing but liquid calories that lack the major nutrients our bodies need to function optimally. Following one of these cleanses often results in not consuming enough calories, which can leave you grumpy, hungry, and craving sugar, fat and carbs. In other words, starving yourself for a 3-day juice fast may backfire in additional weight gain once completed.

Fasting doesn’t support the body’s natural detox pathway. Our bodies are designed to clean from the inside; detoxing unwanted material daily through our liver, lungs and kidneys. Eating foods rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber will help your body’s detox pathway function optimally — more than any pill or supplement could.

If you’re motivated to start 2017 out right, follow these 5 simple tips for a healthy start to the new year.

Eat whole foods
A diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds is full of the nutrients needed to support metabolic processes. In addition to an overall balanced diet, you can include certain foods that aid and promote the body’s natural detoxification process. Artichokes, avocados, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, leafy greens, garlic, green apples, lemon and lentils should get the job done.

Stay hydrated
Fluids help flush out our system, and maintain energy and focus. Since it can be more challenging to get in enough water during the colder months, remember that all liquids count. Try hot green or herbal tea, warm lemon water, broth or broth-based soups to help reach your hydration goals.

Focus on fiber
A balanced diet containing whole, plant-based foods makes it easy to reach the 25-38 grams a day recommendation for fiber. Foods high in fiber include raspberries, blackberries, dried figs, avocado, asparagus, broccoli, chickpeas and oatmeal. If you are not used to a high-fiber diet, introduce these foods slowly and to prevent any intestinal discomfort.

Get moving
Breaking a sweat naturally eliminates impurities through the skin. Exercise stimulates our blood circulation and lymphatic system, which moves fluid through our liver and kidneys for filtration. While running, walking and biking are great aerobic activities, anything that allows you to move your body works. The key is finding a form of movement you enjoy and sticking with it.

Take a probiotic
New research is showing that bacteria found in our gut plays an important role in how our body functions in connection with overall health. Taking a daily probiotic helps ensure we have enough good bacteria to properly digest food and keep things moving.

Alex Caspero MA, RD, RYT is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Yoga Teacher. She is the founder of Delish Knowledge (delishknowledge.com), a resource for healthy, whole-food vegetarian recipes. In her private coaching practice, she helps individuals find their “Happy Weight.”