Expert: Low carb, keto diets benefits differ on your needs

Expert: Low carb, keto diet benefits differ on your needs


Staff Writer

HARLINGEN — For Bobby Muniz, wanting to lose weight became a personal fitness goal after realizing he wanted to be healthier.

“At the time I realized I was over 30 percent body fat and needed to lose about 40 pounds of fat in order to be healthier,” Muniz said.

“I reevaluated what I needed to do and used keto to drop 20 pounds.”

Health conscious people like Muniz, as well as nutritionists, believe there is no specific diet that works for everyone. Different bodies, schedules and lifestyles require different nutrition and exercise habits.

Eating Lifestyle

Muniz first heard about the keto diet in 2012 at a presentation for the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.

Not only was he eating under the keto guidelines but also combined it with high interval training workouts (HITT) weight training. This combination allowed Muniz to drop to 17 percent body fat.

He has been using keto as his eating lifestyle ever since. He said his performance in the weight room has improved and he feels better.

“One thing I always talk about in my seminars are the four pillars of health — proper sleep, stress management, exercise and nutrition. When done correctly you can live a wonderful life,” he said.

Muniz, a pharmacist and now a certified coach, said he lives his fittest lifestyle yet.

“I hate to call it a diet,” he said.

“I want to emphasize it is an option and when choosing the best diet I always like to say the best one is the one that works for you.”

Other options

Melanie Munoz, 29, started keto eight months ago but decided to transition into counting macros. This is another dietary option to lose weight and make healthier choices.

Counting macros entails keeping track of calories to achieve macronutrient goals.

“I started with a meal plan and a 30-day challenge. Before keto I didn’t eat as healthy. I used to at some point but then let it go,” Munoz said. “I really liked it and felt like I had more energy, not only that but I enjoyed the foods I ate. I didn’t miss bread even though I used to love it. I never felt deprived.”

Munoz stopped doing keto in March and switched to counting macros. She wanted to increase her protein intake in order to reach her fitness goals.

“The balance that you get with macros is different. You are still eating the same things but now I can eat brown rice. Keto is high in healthy fats and has very little dairy and reduces carbs, I wanted to try something new,” Munoz said.

“Everybody is different. Depending on your goals, you adjust what is needed. It is a process figuring out your own body and how certain foods work with it,” Munoz said. “We have different willpower, styles and needs. Stick to something you really like, because not everybody is the same.”

Dietician weighs in

What might work for one will not for someone else. That is what nutritionist, accredited dietician and UTRGV Clinical Assistant Professor Rachel Villarreal explained.

Villarreal, Muniz and Munoz all agree one specific eating lifestyle will not fit everyone. Different needs call for different ways to eat, and there is no correct one, just the right one for you.

However, Villarreal believes some diets could do more harm than good in the long run.

“These diets that are so popular right now do help you lose weight. They work but only for a short period of time,” Villarreal said. “They might allow you to lose the weight, but it becomes harder to keep it off because people tend to eat everything they were not allowed to once they break it.”

Diet warnings

Diets such as keto eliminate food groups from your daily diet that have a high calorie intake. This allows people to shred the pounds, but according to Villarreal, they become more vulnerable to cravings.

“When you eliminate carbohydrates from your diet completely it will make you crave them more than ever, anything too drastic will never work in the end,” Villarreal said. “People want a quick fix but don’t think about long-term goals. More than just trying to lose weight it should be about changing habits and making it a lifestyle.”

The keto diet also restricts from eating fruits except berries that have beneficial nutrients for your body.

Valley culture revolves around food, but Villarreal believes there are healthier options to those who love Mexican food.

“Instead of eating flour tortillas you can transition to corn or have ‘calabacita con pollo’,” Villarreal said.

“My suggestion is cutting back. It’s not necessarily what we are eating but how much we are eating. If you are used to getting large sizes, don’t get large sizes anymore,” she said.

“Make those small changes and a little at a time they’ll become habits and then the habit will form the change over the lifetime.”

What You Should Know

• Low-carb diets generally limit foods like bread, pasta and sugar to less than 30 percent of calories, or around 750 calories for someone eating 2,500 calories a day.

• The idea of restricting carbohydrates has been around for decades, and many remember the Atkins craze.

• The ketogenic diet has been used to treat people with epilepsy and has resurfaced as a very low-carb diet embraced by celebrities.

• Low-carb diets can work well for people with type 2 diabetes who are more sensitive to carbohydrates.


• Make small changes

• Seek professional advice that is reputable

• Do not fall for testimonials that aren’t scientific or food blogs without credentials

• Cut back on portions

• Exercise