When it comes to trying to lose weight, there are many options available—like keto. A popular choice for seniors in assisted living, the keto diet involves consuming more fat and significantly cutting carb intakes, allowing you to change how your body processes food and lose a few pounds.
The keto diet can be safe and beneficial for seniors, aiding in weight loss, boosting energy, and enhancing cognition. However, it’s vital to carefully manage food intake to ensure you’re consuming adequate levels of vitamins and nutrients.
Taking care of your health is essential, so it can be helpful to consult with your healthcare support system, including your physician, before making significant changes to your diet.
What Is the Keto Diet?
The keto diet is a diet that replaces the regular consumption of carbohydrates with fats. This change forces the body to undergo a process known as “ketosis,” where the liver begins processing fats into ketones that can be used for energy. Simply put: rather than turning carbohydrates into glucose to be used as your body’s primary energy source, you begin burning fat instead.
However, this diet also greatly restricts what foods you can and can’t eat. On the standard keto diet, you consume less than 50 grams of fats per day, and while protein is encouraged, there’s a restriction on how much depending on the diet.
These restrictions can make it difficult to sustain the diet long-term.
What Foods Can You Eat on the Keto Diet?
Typically, the diet encourages the consumption of the following:
- Seafood and fatty fish like salmon or mackerel
- Fatty meats and poultry
- Cheese and other dairy products
- Leafy green vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Dark chocolate or cocoa
However, since not all vegetables are low-carb, it restricts some more common foods, including:
- Anything potato-based
- Some kinds of squash
- Most fruits (other than berries)
Benefits of the Keto Diet for Seniors
Keto can be an excellent way to lose a few pounds that may be difficult to eliminate. The diet forces your body to burn fats rather than sugars, which can be extremely beneficial for seniors looking to lose weight. This diet can improve your metabolism, which can help many seniors who may be struggling with appetite problems.
However, one benefit of the keto diet is that it can improve cardiovascular health. Even though the diet is based around eating significantly fattier foods than normal, it forces your body to burn this fat rather than store it. As long as you’re eating the right types of fat, this diet can help improve how healthy your heart is by burning stored excess fat.
Arguably the biggest benefit of the keto diet is that it can help boost your cognitive health. The ketones produced by this diet are an excellent fuel source for the brain, as they can:
- Provide your brain with long-lasting energy
- Increase and strengthen the growth of nerve cells
- Improve communication between cells in the brain
Is The Keto Diet Healthy?
For most people, the keto diet is a healthy way to lose a few pounds, but that doesn’t mean it can work for every person. One problem with this diet is that it can change your blood sugar levels, which can be risky for seniors with diabetes. If you’re taking medication or using a form of treatment for diabetes, the keto diet may work against this.
It’s common for people to struggle to find different foods to eat, as this diet restricts the options significantly. Thinking of new meal ideas or different ways to change your food can be challenging when the options are limited. This can also make it hard to get the vitamins and nutrients needed for healthy living.
The diet also can often cause mild side effects as the body transitions into ketosis, often called the “keto flu.” These can include:
- Temporary sleep issues
This often leads to people following the keto diet for a short period of time to lose weight rather than as a full-time nutrition plan. However, if you’re properly monitoring your nutritional levels to get the necessary vitamins and nutrients, this diet can be an excellent way to lose weight.
Healthy Senior Living
One of the most important things to consider when changing your diet is simple: will you be safe following this diet? The keto diet can be safe for seniors if appropriately monitored and carefully. However, you should always speak with your primary healthcare provider before making any serious dietary changes so they can determine whether or not it’s a good idea to follow a diet like keto.
If you live in assisted living or independent living, it can be beneficial to reach out to the team around you and let them know that you’re considering switching to keto. They can help monitor any serious changes and provide up-to-date information, allowing you to follow your new diet and reach your dietary goals safely.