Keto or Paleo: The Answers to Midlife Weightloss?
Keto or Paleo - The Solution to Midlife Weight Gain?
I’ve tried every diet under the sun. You name it. I’ve been there - from carefully weighing slices of bread to being a Weightwatcher Gold member, from juice detoxes to 5:2. I’ve given them all a go.
When you’re looking for way to lose weight and feel better in midlife I know more than most that the latest diet looks very appealing.
Today, I’m going to look at two diets you might have heard of and been wondering about: Keto and Paleo (also known as the Caveman Diet). Both are promoted as easy ways to shed the pounds. So, could one of them be the answer to your midlife weightloss wish?
What is the Keto Diet All About?
Let’s start with the Keto, or ketogenic diet - it is a very low carb, very high-fat way of eating.
The easiest way to think of how your body processes food is imagining your body as a fire, which needs fed to keep going. Carbs are like paper -they burn really quickly. Protein is more like wood; it can still fuel the fire but takes longer to burn. Fat is like coal, it burns really slowly but steadily and this slow burning fat is what a Keto diet heavily relies on to keep you going.
When very low amounts of carbs are available for fuel, your body starts making compounds known as “ketones.” These are your body’s “backup fuel.” And your body makes them from fat.
That’s the principle of the Keto diet - it changes your body’s metabolic state so that after a while being on a diet very low in carbs, your blood level of ketones increases. This is the metabolic state known as "ketosis." It's the same process that your body goes through if you've fasted for 72 hours and depleted your supply of carbs as fuel. That's the trigger for turning fat into ketones.
What Can You Eat on a Keto Diet?
The foods to focus on for a ketogenic diet are meat, fatty fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, avocados, and low-carb vegetables (like cucumber, celery, peppers, leafy greens).
The main thing to avoid is foods that are high in carbs. These include sugary foods and desserts, grains, fruit, legumes, starchy vegetables, alcohol and “diet foods.”
Benefits of Keto
Fans of Keto will tell you it can also have better results than low-fat diets. At least one study showed that people lost 2.2 times more weight on a ketogenic diet than those on low-fat or calorie-controlled diets.
As you can imagine, having very low levels of carbs can help reduce blood sugar and insulin issues. One study showed improved blood triglycerides (fat) and cholesterol numbers. Others show lower blood sugar levels, and even up to 75% improvement in insulin sensitivity.
Cards on The Table with Keto
Despite those claims, I’m really not a fan of Keto and I’ll tell you why.
There are certain food groups, which are banned completely like fruit and starchy vegetables. As a qualified nutritionist I don’t see missing out whole food groups as a healthy way to lose weight.
Also, Keto can be really difficult to follow. The ketogenic diet involves getting 60-75% of your calories from fat, 20-35% from protein, and just 5% from carbs. Many people find it quite restrictive and are unable to stay on it for a long time. And you will most likely have to take supplements because your body will be missing out on the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients form fruit and starchy veg.
Plus, there’s a couple of really unpleasant side effects: 1) Keto flu - where you feel dreadful as your body tries to adjust to the new state and 2) bad breath! Is there any point in a way of eating, which makes you feel dreadful, and puts people off speaking to you?!
If you’re struggling with midlife weight gain, then sign up for the FREE webinar I’m running all about what might be causing it and what you can do about it. It’s online so you can watch from the comfort of your own home! Be lovely to see you there.
OK, what about Paleo?
The Paleo diet takes the view that we weren’t designed to eat grains and a reliance on grains came about with agriculture. It’s based on what hunters and gatherers ate thousands of years ago and advocates eating a variety of meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.
Science has shown that it can help some people to lose weight, reduce risks of heart disease, improve glucose tolerance, and reduce inflammation.
So far, so good?
What You Can (and Can’t) Eat on the Paleo Diet
Of course, being a "diet," Paleo has food guidelines. The Paleo diet was created to increase the amount of whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods while reducing the number of gut-disrupting, hormone-disrupting, and inflammatory foods.
You can include fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds, meat (including organ meats), seafood, healthy fats, fermented foods, herbs, and spices.
But the Paleo diet excludes processed and refined foods (e.g. sugar, vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, etc.), grains (e.g. wheat, oats, rice, etc.), dairy, and most legumes (e.g. beans, lentils, peanuts, etc.).
Benefits of Paleo
Some of the research has shown that the Paleo diet can help with weight loss and belly fat. You can read more about my tips for belly fat loss here in a previous blog post.
Not to mention its effect on several modern-day chronic diseases. For example, it can improve risk factors for heart disease. It has also been shown to reduce inflammation, improve glucose tolerance, and even reduce symptoms of some autoimmune diseases.
It’s also thought to be “gut-friendly” because it includes a lot of high-fibre foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts & seeds), fermented foods (which contain gut-friendly probiotics), as well as being full of nutritious natural foods.
It’s a diet that seems to be easy to maintain, and with little to no negative side effects. There is no measuring or counting of calories or carbs. So no flashbacks to weighing food!
In Praise of The Caveman?
I’ve got less of a problem with Paleo although I still don’t like the way it is promoted as a quick weight loss solution. And there does seem to be a tendency to binge on eating meat, which is not great when we really should be reducing our meat consumption for the sake of the planet’s future.
That said, on our 12 week programme we encourage people to go grain free because it gets people thinking about alternatives and I do believe that we use wheat too much as a convenience food these days - for cereals, for lunch and dinner.
The Real Solution: Long Term, Sustainable Midlife Health
The issue I have with both Keto and Paleo is that it is all about the quick fix and that’s not the Midlife Menu way to stay healthy long-term.
One thing I have learned over the years is there is no such thing as a quick way to better midlife health. It’s all about small, sustainable steps with a different mindset rather than sticking to rules which, let’s face it, will be broken at some point and feed into a pointless, negative cycle of diet success and failure.
So, if you are struggling with weight and want to know what to do about it, don’t think trendy diets - click here to sign up for my FREE webinar all about midlife weight gain, how to tackle it and get some real life midlife advice?
The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this blog are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this blog. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this blog. Midlife Menu Ltd disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this blog.