The Keto Craze

Posted on Posted in Continuing Education, Homestudy, Nutrition, Seminars, Webinars

By Dr. Laura Pawlak

Unlike any time in history, Americans are faced with an obesity epidemic.  The sensible weight-loss guidelines of a mere decade ago appear to be failing.

“The best foods to eat on a diet?  The best foods to eat to keep weight off?  The same foods you should eat when you are not on a diet, but just less of them.”  Dr. Frank Sacks, Harvard School of Public Health, 2009.

The above statement was based on the study of 48 popular diets. All diets failed to produce significant differences in sustained weight loss.

Fast-tracking to 2019, the American diet has drifted far from the standard of what should be consumed. The foods we eat are primarily processed, containing almost 90 percent of the diet’s added sugar.  Also, these foods contain too much salt, very little fiber, and lots of saturated fats.  Eating less of these foods may result in weight loss, but the body and brain remain unhealthy.

When it comes to dieting, today’s fast-changing lifestyle demands novel, quick fixes.  The hype in the latest keto diet craze is infectious:  Fast weight loss without exercise;  novel tools to measure rising ketone levels;  easy-to-find processed keto foods; and keto pills when the diet is too tough to follow.

You eat lots of fat (at 80 percent of calories), moderate amounts of protein (at 20 percent), and very few plant foods, sugar, or starch (at 5 percent).  The excess intake of calories from fat triggers metabolic, nutritional, and hormonal changes not meant to be sustained for long periods of time.  Guidance by a registered dietitian is definitely recommended.

The Atkins program proposes a moderate approach to the keto craze:  A choice of 20 percent or 40 percent of the diet as carbohydrates for a limit of one month — and progression toward more plant foods.

If weight loss is achieved on a keto diet, a major challenge still remains:  The need to maintain your lower, healthy weight with a diet that offers protection against disease — not a keto plan.

A 25-year study evaluating healthful longevity and diet, published in 2018, identified the foods you should eat for a long, disease-free life:  Consume approximately 50 percent of your calories as carbohydrates, primarily as whole plant food; eat proteins, mainly from fish and plants; and add healthy oils from olives, avocados, nuts, and seeds.


Dr. Laura Pawlak (Ph.D., R.D. emerita) is a world-renowned biochemist and dietitian emerita.  She is the author of many scientific publications and has written such best-selling books as “The Hungry Brain,” “Life Without Diets,” and “Stop Gaining Weight.”  On the subjects of nutrition and brain science, she gives talks internationally.

Changing To A Mediterranean Diet

Posted on Posted in Continuing Education, Homestudy, Nutrition

By Dr. Annell St. Charles (PhD, RD)

olives-473793_640The Mediterranean Diet has been a hot topic in both scientific articles and the popular press for many years because of its reported benefits for improving health and reducing overall mortality. However, the truth is that these benefits are the result of not only the diet traditionally consumed by people living in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, but also the overall lifestyle enjoyed by that populace.

The Mediterranean Way embraces a lifestyle that seeks balance between work and leisure; movement and relaxation; solitary and social time; and fresh food and convenient food products. It’s about enjoying life to the fullest, which includes maintaining good physical, emotional, and mental health throughout life.

The process of changing to a Mediterranean diet can be approached step-by-step, for example by:

  • replacing one or two meat meals each week with fish to change the composition of fat consumed.
  • adding one more daily serving of vegetables to the current average number of servings to help ease the move toward a daily goal of five servings or more.
  • emphasizing more colorful vegetables will also increase the availability of antioxidants.
  • substituting fresh fruit for one fatty, sugary dessert per week to help make fresh fruit a habit; even if desserts are not regularly eaten, planning a weekly meal that begins or ends in fresh fruit will be a helpful. dietary change.

Additional suggestions for making a gradual change include:

  • switching from refined bread and grain products to whole grain products to help boost fiber and nutrient intake.
  •  substituting beans for grains a couple of times a week.
  • getting in the nut habit—all natural, raw, or roasted nuts are good, and be sure to include walnuts.
  •  if drinking a cocktail is a daily event, switching to the more antioxidant and anti-inflammatory-rich red wine.

The dietary habits of the people of the Mediterranean region are greatly influenced by the climate, which for much of the year in the southernmost region tends toward warm, sunny days that cool off at night. The long, sunny days encourage a pattern of midday meals designed to create a break in work activities, often followed by a stroll and a nap to restore energy for the rest of the day and night. Dinner tends to be eaten late and is typically enjoyed with friends or family, often in an outdoor setting, and always with a glass or two of wine made from locally-grown grapes. Meals are often long and slow-paced. Other lifestyle habits of the Mediterranean region that are thought to influence health are the tendency to spend more time walking, tending to gardens, and biking for recreation and transportation.

Our homestudy course addresses “the Mediterranean Way,” the way of life that includes the diet, activity, and social habits of people living in that part of the world.

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