Keto diet? Should I try it?


By Alana Olson, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

The ketogenic (“keto”) diet is an eating plan that is very low in carbohydrates. The goal is to push the body into using stored fat as its energy source. Most cells use glucose as their preferred fuel, but in its absence, they will start to break down fat—a process called ketosis.

Without carbohydrates, these diets are high in fat and protein, which can be an issue. Some individuals end up choosing foods that are high in saturated fats, sodium and cholesterol (think meats, butter, bacon, cheese) because many other foods are restricted due to carbohydrate content. We know that this is not good for long-term health.

The keto diet was originally developed as a method of treating symptoms associated with epilepsy but is now being used, by the general public, as a means of losing weight. Though some studies have indicated that the ketogenic diet may be an effective way to lose weight and possibly improve blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, its effects are generally pretty short-term. It is also very restrictive and tends to be hard to maintain over an extended period of time. Cutting out food groups can lead to nutrient deficiencies, especially for individuals without sufficient knowledge of nutrition.

Following a strict ketogenic diet can also result in a dangerous condition called ketoacidosis, in which the body stores too many ketones (acids produced as a byproduct of burning fat) and the blood becomes too acidic, causing damage to the liver, kidneys, and brain.

Weight loss and good health are most successfully attained when one follows a well-balanced and realistic lifestyle that can be followed over an extended period of time. It is also important to remember that since we are all different, what works for others may not work for us and vice versa. If you are considering going on a ketogenic diet, talk to your healthcare providers about the costs and benefits of doing so based on your own individual nutritional needs.

Source Consulted:

Campos, M., MD. (2018, July 06). Ketogenic diet: Is the ultimate low-carb diet good for you? Retrieved from

A new school year begins…


Welcome to academic 18-19!  As you dive into the hectic Fall quarter, keep in mind that taking time to care for yourself goes a long way towards emerging at the other end having accomplished your goals.  There are so many resources around you on campus and in the community to help in times of stress.

The Student Health and Counseling Center has your back for anything healthcare related as well as excellent advice on Self Care for the Busy College Student.  Check it out!

We are the Healthy Aggies, a group of students passionate about nutrition and living a healthy life. We emphasize striving for a balanced diet as a way to achieve wellness, and we promote health as a life time goal!  We host nutrition and food activities all around campus to advocate for health!

Where to find us:

UC Davis Farmers Market, Wednesdays, 11am – 1:30pm, Oct 3 through Nov 7.  We have some fresh local produce for you to sample.  Stop by and pick up a recipe and taste UC Davis’ own olive oil and vinegars.

Free Nutrition Drop-in services at the Aggie Compass, Memorial Union.

Mondays:  2 – 4pm with Rheanna

Tuesdays:  11am – 1pm with Zona

Wednesdays:  12 – 2pm with Joel

Thursdays:  1 – 3pm with Alana

Fridays:  11am – 1pm with Haley

We would love for you to stop by and share how you fit healthy eating into your busy schedule.  The peer counselors are graduating seniors in Nutrition studies and are ready to answer any questions you have or share how they make healthy eating happen!

Instagram  Watch for our contests!  Engage with our posts.

Facebook We look forward to seeing you there!

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Tips for Staying Cool this Summer


By Rebekah Shulman, Dietitian Assistant

Summer is finally here! Whether you’re staying in Davis or traveling elsewhere, these tips on how to stay cool in the summer heat may come in handy over the next couple months, especially if you don’t have AC.  Here are seven quick tips to beat the heat and stay hydrated this summer.

1. Fill a spray bottle with water and keep it in the refrigerator to use as a quick refreshing spray after being outdoors.








2. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as these will promote dehydration

3. Instead of large, hot meals, try lighter, more frequent cold meals or snacks.  Choose salads, fresh raw food, vegetables and fruit.  Avoid eating meat and protein-heavy foods , which can increase metabolic heat production.  Large meals will also produce more heat for your body to process.  Here are a few cooling summer recipes to try out:

Easy three ingredient popsicles


Berry Watermelon Fruit Salad


Easy Gazpacho Recipe


4. Keep blinds and curtains closed during the day to keep hot air outside. Open windows at night to enjoy the cool evening air.

5. Rinse your wrists and/or feet with cold water before you go to sleep, which has a full-body cooling effect.

6. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.  Monitor your urine color to ensure that you’re staying hydrated.


7. Wear sunscreen when you’re exposed to the sun; SPF 15 at the minimum, but preferably SPF 30 or higher.

In addition to staying cool this summer, don’t forget to relax and de-stress from finals madness!  Have a great summer, Aggies!


Why should I eat locally?

By Jessica Bonilla, Dietitian Assistant

Have you ever wonder why we can eat certain fruits, such as bananas and pineapples, that don’t grow in the area naturally? Or how are we able to get certain vegetables all year round even when they’re not in season? Surprisingly, the food industry has been taking care of this issue for decades, and the seasons and distance are no longer an obstacle to get the food we want at any point of the year. However, not all of us are aware of the implications that these actions may have in the long run because we don’t see it directly.


Clearly, there are fruits and vegetables that are not produced in the US due to the environment and soil conditions (for example tropical fruits, such as mango and papaya) which only grow in very specific areas. This type of produce is usually imported from other countries, which implies huge expenses in transport, conservation techniques, and huge carbon monoxide emissions.

By consuming locally, we can avoid this mass production, which is not based in seasons, natural cycles and biodiversity and that encourages cultivating only a few types of fruits and vegetables. Here are five reasons why you should buy locally:

  • Fresh fruit and veggies

Seasonally fresh fruits are picked up when they are at their peak and therefore will have a more optimal flavor versus the fruits that have traveled thousands of miles and got harvested way before they were ripped.

A bag full of carrots on the soil in Dambulla

  • Reduces carbon footprint

Local produce doesn’t have to travel long distances, which will result in a reduction in energy consumption and greenhouse gases. Also, it will be cheaper because transport charges are not added.



  • Support local businesses

Money invested locally will help farmers and the money will stay at our local community, which will benefit all of us directly.

Image result for handshake farmer

  • Increase your creativity

By having a wide variety fruits and veggies every season, you will be able to challenge yourself to cook differently and to use your creativity.


  • Increases education and makes you more aware about where your food comes from

We are usually disconnected from the food process. We don’t know how and where our food is produced, and this perception can affect the agricultural process and the way we consume foods.

Serving Sizes: a visual guide


By Rebekah Shulman, Dietitian Assistant 

When’s the last time you measured out half a cup of ice cream, ate exactly 15 chips, or leveled out two tablespoons of peanut butter? You may be surprised about what a serving of these common foods actually looks like.  While using measuring utensils and counting calories isn’t necessary to maintain a healthy diet, it doesn’t hurt to be aware of the recommended serving sizes for the foods you’re eating on a daily basis, particularly if they’re calorie dense.

Below are some visual representations to think about the next time you reach for a pint of ice cream, a bag of trail mix, or a jar of peanut butter.

Peanut Butter


Serving size = 2 Tablespoons



Serving size: ½ cup, or a tennis ball

Ice Cream


Serving size = ½ cup, or a tennis ball

*This means that there are 4 servings per pint!

Trail mix


Serving size: ¼ cup, or a golf ball, or a small handful



Servings size: 1 oz or 24 nuts

Potato Chips


Serving size: 1 oz or 15 chips



Serving size: ¼ cup or an egg



Serving size: 2 cookies

Salad dressing


Serving size: 2 Tablespoons

Did any of these surprise you? It’s unnecessary to obsess over exact measurements, but being mindful of your portions can help you reach your health goals. As you can see, many “healthy” foods are higher in calories, fat, and/or sugar than you may think. Furthermore, eating smaller portions leaves room for a larger variety of foods within your daily intake, which can help you reach your macro- and micro- nutrient requirements.


Are you a supertaster?

Image result for tongue

by Jessica Bonilla, Dietitian Assistant

It has been demonstrated that there are different ways in which people perceive the intensity of food. A supertaster is someone that can perceive the intensity of a flavor stronger than the average person. Supertasters tend to taste certain foods, such as vegetables and black coffee, very bitter.  Actually, it’s believed that only 25% of the population are supertasters, (the majority of them being women) and that their preferences for sweet and bitter foods is highly reduced. Non-tasters, on the other hand, have a reduced palatability and sensitivity compared to the average person. Lastly, regular tasters, which comprise around 50% of the population, are in between supertasters and non-tasters and have average sensitivity.

Sensitivity is determined by the number of taste buds on the tongue: the more taste buds you have, the stronger the perception of the flavor. Supertasters have a high amount of taste buds while non-tasters have only a few. These taste buds, which are small bumps that are located in the surface of the tongue, allow us to perceive five different elements: salty, sweet, umami, sour and bitter.

It’s still not known why exactly why women are more likely than men to fall into the category of supertaster. One theory suggests that this is because women, when pregnant, may prevent possible toxins going into the baby and protect it by being more sensitive to bitter and acidic flavors.

Supertasters tend to be described as “picky eaters” and usually don’t consume a wide variety food. A way to increase veggie consumption among them is by combining them with other foods in purees and smoothies. It is believed that supertasters are thinner and to have a lower body mass index (BMI) compared to normal tasters and non-tasters because they tend to eat less, however, there is still not enough evidence to support the idea taste intensity is related to weight gain.

To determine if you are supertaster, you can make this easy test at home by counting the number of the papillae on your tongue HERE.


Veggie Burgers: Plant-based never tasted so good!



By Rebekah Shulman, Dietitian Assistant

A little bit about me: I’ve been vegan my entire life…and have tried pretty much every vegan product out there.  Over the course of my journey, I’ve noticed a huge improvement in the quality of these products, veggie burgers being one of them. No longer do vegan “meats” and “cheeses” deserve the bland and dissatisfying reputation they’ve acquired back from when veganism wasn’t so common.  This overview on veggie burgers is a reflection of my personal preferences after trying almost every plant-based product the market has to offer.

Veggie burgers are great meat alternatives for vegans/vegetarians, anyone trying to cut back on meat consumption, or for the average consumer who wants to switch things up.  In 2018, there are so many options out there on the market, as well as recipes for homemade veggie patties.  Most traditional veggie burgers are made from some combination of beans, tofu, grains, seeds, and vegetables.  However, there is now an increasing demand for “mock-meat” burgers, which tend to be higher in protein and contain soy, wheat gluten, or pea protein as the main ingredient.  The more traditional grain-based patties do not necessarily aim to mimic a meat patty, but can still be enjoyed as a nutrient-dense and flavorful plant-based option.

Here is a break down of my personal favorite plant-based burgers on the market:

Most realistic “meat” patty: The Beyond Burger

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This new plant-based burger has been blowing up in the media due to its almost identical appearance, taste, and texture to a real beef burger (it even bleeds!).  This burger is a great choice for fooling meat lovers and is inarguably the most realistically mock-meat on the market.  It has a whopping 20 grams of protein, but is also high in fat and calories (which resembles a real beef patty…minus the cholesterol).  If you’re switching to veggie burgers for nutritional reasons alone, I’d aim for one of the other version listed below. But if you’re really in the mood for an authentic beef burger, this revolutionary product is a great option.

Less expensive/caloric “meat” burger: Boca Original Vegan Veggie Burgers

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Boca burgers are one of my favorite mock-meat options at the grocery store.  At only 70 calories per patty, it has 13 grams of protein, almost no fat, and 16% of your daily fiber intake.  Although they aren’t as realistic as the Beyond Burger, this is a less expensive, readily available, and high protein options on the market.

Grain-Based: Hilary’s “World’s Best Veggie Burger”


This brand claims to be the “world’s best veggie burger”…and as far as ingredients goes, this burger is definitely one of the healthiest out there.  With lots of whole grains and vegetables, this burger packs in the nutrients, fiber, and flavor (although with less protein at only 4 grams).   In my personal experience, I’ve found that this burger tends to lose it’s integrity easily (aka crumble), so I’d recommend crumbling it over a salad, or being particularly careful when transferring it onto a hamburger bun.  However, as far as flavor goes, this burger is definitely 10/10.

Grain-based: Amy’s California Veggie Burger


Amy’s brand veggie burgers are simple yet delicious, and easily accessible at most grocery stores.   The bulgur wheat and mushrooms give these burgers an amazing meaty and hearty texture.  I wouldn’t say they’re able to mimic a beef patty, but I love these burgers as a healthy, plant-based protein source.  These burgers are only 150 calories and contain 16% of your daily fiber intake along with 6 grams of protein.  Its one downfall is the high level of sodium, but just be mindful of your sodium intake for the rest of the day.

Homemade: Vegan Black Bean Burgers


Recipe from

This is a simple and quick recipe for homemade black bean burgers.  The main ingredients are black beans, bread crumbs, flour, vegetables, and spices.  You can simply combine all ingredients, form them into patties, and bake them in the oven.  This recipe is easily adaptable, so feel free to change up the vegetables and spices as you see fit.  Homemade burger patties are a great option for students because they’re cheap to make and freeze well for quick and healthy meals!

My favorite ways to eat veggie burgers are crumbled up on a salad, sliced inside of a wrap, or placed inside of a sandwich.



Veggie burgers can be used to substitute or mimic meat, but are also enjoyable as a nutrient dense, flavorful addition to any meal.  Brands such as Beyond Meat are revolutionizing the plant-based meat industry, which is much needed as vegan and vegetarian diets increase in popularity.  If you’re in a pinch, veggie burgers are great for quick lunches and dinners.  They aren’t just for vegans either; anyone will benefit from incorporating plant-based burgers into their diet.