With so many different nutrition fads out there, it’s often hard to distinguish between fad and fact. Which will help us achieve our goals and which are total nonsense? Our nutrition expert Leanne had a look at four of the big ones to see if they really walk the walk.
The Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic (or keto) diet is a high-fat, low carbohydrate diet. It has often been used in medicine to control conditions such as epilepsy, but more recently it has become a nutrition craze for weight loss.
This diet has been shown to be effective at controlling hunger and can improve body weight through the improvement of fat metabolism. As a result, the diet has often been used to control type II diabetes.
Scaling a keto diet
The keto diet is traditionally high in healthier, unsaturated fats. Some good sources of healthy fats in the ketogenic diet include eggs, broccoli, salmon, poultry and asparagus.
You should keep your protein intake at moderate levels. Women should aim for 40-50g per day while men should eat 50-60g per day while following a ketogenic diet.
Your carbohydrate intake should be low, usually less than 50g per day. The aim of a ketogenic diet is to allow body fat to be burnt for energy by keeping insulin levels low, a process known as ketosis.
The Green Tea Craze
Green tea has been shown to act as both an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. It’s also been used to treat cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and has even been used to enhance exercise performance.
Green tea is packed full of catechin, polyphenols and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a powerful antioxidant. EGCG is thought to prevent cancer cells from growing and kills them without harming other healthy, body tissues. EGCG and other antioxidants present in green tea also lower cholesterol levels, prevent the formation of blood clots and regulate fats.
You should drink your green tea warm, not boiling hot, as these are the optimal conditions for retaining the antioxidants. Be careful not to drink your green tea with an iron-rich meal as tea contains tannins which can interfere with the absorption of iron.
The rise of veganism and vegetarianism has no doubt helped the shift away from meat, but there are also environmental reasons why turning to plant proteins should be more than just a fad. Agriculture plays a big part in global warming; around 15% of all emissions are as a result of agriculture and more than half of this is caused by livestock.
Plant protein may even be better for us than animal protein sources. In one study, plant protein was associated with a lower risk of mortality whereas a high animal protein intake was associated with increased cardiovascular mortality.
If you’re feeling really adventurous when it comes to your diet, why not opt for insects. Yes, you read that correctly.
Insects and insect-based foods are being marketed as a sustainable food source high in fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals. They have low space requirements and emit fewer greenhouse gases than livestock, making them a sustainable alternative food source for the future.
Whilst we’re not saying that you should chow down on beetles and bugs for your next post-workout meal, what could be dismissed as mere fads sometimes have more substance to them. Keeping your diet varied and diverse is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle, and experimenting with new routines could open up a whole new nutritional world.
- Akhtar, Y and Isman, M, B. (2018). Insects as an Alternative Protein. Proteins in Food Processing (Second Edition).
- Azar, S, T et al. (2016). Benefits of Ketogenic Diet for Management of Type Two Diabetes: A Review. Obesity and Eating Disorders: 2(2.22).
- Paoli, A. (2014). Ketogenic Diet for Obesity: Friend or Foe? International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health: 11, pp 2092-2107.
- Roberts, J, D et al. (2015). The Effect of a Decaffeinated Green Tea Extract Formula on Fat Oxidation, Body Composition and Exercise Performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: 12(1).
- Sinija, V, R and Mishra, H, N. (2008). Green Tea: Health Benefits. Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine: 17(4), pp 232-242.
- Song, M et al. (2016). Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake with All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality. JAMA Internal Medicine: 176(10), pp 1453-1463.