Whether you’re walking down a supermarket aisle, browsing a restaurant menu, surfing the internet, reading what diet A-List celebs such as Halle Berry and LeBron James are raving about or listening to your friends boasting about their weight loss, it’s impossible to ignore the Keto diet.
A true ketogenic diet does restrict carbs but unlike other low-carb diets, which focus on protein, a keto diet is all about the fat. And the reason why more and more people are turning to a keto diet is because for most of us, it often delivers dramatic weight loss. Fast.
We are not endorsing the Keto diet. Health Discovery’s position is that we do not endorse any diet’s promoted in the market, whether is it weight loss, weight gain or other dietary programme. This is not a judgement on any recommendations, rather it is a position we take to inform rather than recommend. What we do support is a healthy lifestyle and a healthy diet for each person’s circumstances.
So back to Keto.
How does it work?
The keto diet forces your body to use a different type of fuel for your body’s energy needs. Typically, we use glucose that comes from carbohydrates such as sugar, grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits for energy. A keto diet relies on ketone bodies, a type of fuel that the liver produces from stored fat. After a few days of adjustment (almost totally excluding carbs) your body reaches a state of ketosis and your body burns fat. Say goodbye to sugar, bread and other high glycaemic foods like potatoes, white rice, apples and bananas. Oh, and alcohol.
So what should you eat?
Following a keto diet means eating a lot of fat at every meal. The macronutrient ratio (+ or – 5%) looks something like this:
- Fats 75%
- Protein 20%
- Carbs 5%
Some healthy unsaturated fats (such as those found in our new Super Seed Keto cracker) are allowed on the keto diet — like nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, Brazil, Macadamia), seeds, avocados, tofu, and olive oil. Saturated fats from oils (palm, coconut, avocado, lard, butter, ghee and cocoa butter are encouraged in high amounts.
Protein is part of the keto diet, but it doesn't typically discriminate between lean protein foods such as chicken and fish or protein sources that are high in saturated fat, such as beef, pork, and bacon.
What about fruits and vegetables? All fruits are rich in carbs, but following a keto diet means most fruits are not permitted because of their high sugar content. Only a few fruits (usually berries) are recommended and only in small portions. Vegetables (also rich in carbs) are restricted to leafy greens (such as kale, Swiss chard, spinach); cruciferous vegetables (such as cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts); asparagus, bell peppers, onions, garlic, mushrooms, cucumber, celery, and summer squashes.
So what are the benefits of Keto diet?
Once your body switches to fat burning, not carb burning, you could notice: increased energy; less adipose tissue (love handles); no more craving for sweets or sugary foods and drinks.
Weight loss is the biggie. Any diet that lowers your BMI and keeps you from becoming obese is going to help your body stay healthier.
OK, so are there risks?
There are no evidence-based trials (that we could find) to affirm the long term benefits of a keto diet and medical journals (including the Harvard Medical Journal) are urging caution for the following reasons:
It's high in saturated fat which can link to heart disease. I will note that some saturated fats in moderation are acceptable.
Without eating a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, and grains, you may be at risk of “nutrient deficiency.”
With so much fat to metabolize, the diet could make any existing liver and kidney conditions worse.
The keto diet is low in fibrous foods like grains and legumes and may cause constipation for some.
Our take is this, if you have any pre-existing conditions make sure that you talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian before starting a keto diet. A keto diet absolutely works as a weight loss diet. For most of us that means we can safely embark on this diet as a means to lose weight – for a limited time of say 30 days. As a lifestyle and ongoing diet choice, get some tests done so you know your body is getting all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy for longer. There are lots of keto recipes, so find the ones that appeal to you. And get to like spinach and fats. A lot.
Eating foods that help you lose weight that are low in carbs and bad fats is a step in the right direction. Whether you are full on Keto or just eating better foods and nibbling around the edges of the Keto diet that’s all OK. Moderation in many things is a good thing.