The Ketogenic Diet seems to be continuously gaining popularity with even Kourtney Kardashian blogging about trying the diet. The diet actually dates as far back as the 1920s when it was introduced as a means to treat pediatric epilepsy.
The Keto Diet gained public interest in 2016 and according to Google Trends continued to gain interest throughout 2018. But what exactly makes this diet so popular? Here is everything you need to know about the diet.
What is the ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet involves eating high fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate meals. The diet particularly encourages whole foods including eggs, meats, nuts, butters, cheeses, seeds, oils, and low-carb green vegetables. Fruits, most vegetables, grains, potatoes, sweets, or other carb-rich foods are completely cut out of the diet.
The aim is usually to eat only 20 to 50 grams of carbs per day. The idea is to produce ketone bodies in your bloodstream to replace the need for glucose to fuel your cells.
“The body has two different ways of using the food we eat to make energy. The easiest is to use glucose – that’s what’s in sugar and carbs in our food – and it’s quite low intensity for the body. The other way is using ketones, which are produced in the liver, for energy. It’s a natural state you go into when food supply is low, a protective way for the body to keep going. And it’s very effective for quick weight loss. The weight literally drops off.”explains Nutritionist Sandra Greenbank.
Health Benefits Of Keto Diet
While most people stick to epileptic medication now, some still use the Keto Diet to help control their symptoms. Many have also found Keto a great way to lose weight if they are extremely overweight as it shows quick results which makes many people feel more motivated to stick to the diet.
“It has the potential to reverse prediabetes, improve cholesterol, and it can also be helpful if you have PCOS by reducing your sensitivity to insulin. It also reduces inflammation, which drives a lot of diseases like cancer and arthritis, and some people also say it makes them feel more mentally sharp and gives them focus.”adds Sandra Greenbank.
Controversial Side of The Keto Diet
However, even though the diet may be good for certain conditions, there are many concerns about the diet as well. Personal trainer Max Bridger insists that the Keto diet “isn’t something we think is ideal for health, fat loss or muscle gain goals.” He says:
“It’s unsustainable; it’s not compatible with normal life, especially when you consider things like family, friendship and professional circles, which all make it very difficult. In theory, eating this way causes the body to become more efficient at burning stored body fat and you lose weight quickly, but in reality, ketosis is unachievable for many people – even on a true ketogenic diet – due to their genetics.”
Even Greenbank warns that you should be careful when approaching the diet. She refers to the diet as “an extreme way of eating that doesn’t fit in the norms of society” thus it can leave you feeling isolated and struggling to stick to it.
“And some people believe it can be quite dangerous as it’s putting your body into starvation mode.”adds Greenback.
How To Safely Follow Keto:
“Everyone is different, so the level of carbs to get one person into ketosis is different to another. It depends on metabolism, genetics, size and lifestyle.”explained Greenbank to Cosmopolitan.
Before jumping straight into the diet make sure you fully understand the intricacies of it. Prepare yourself thoroughly and be ready for possibilities such as “Keto Flu” where you may feel sick especially in the first week of doing the diet.
Make sure you are eating enough food to sustain you for the day. Carefully calculate how much protein, fat, and carbs you need to eat for your specific body. There are many tools online to help you with these calculations including Macro counters. Ensure you are getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals in your diet.
“The way to know if you’re in ketosis is using keto sticks. You pee on them and the colour tells you what your level is. You don’t have to be at the highest level, just being in ketosis is enough. If you’re at the higher end, add in more carbs”advises Sandra.
Unless you have very specific dietary needs or health conditions, Keto is not advised for long term use as it could result in severe deficiencies. It is not advised that those who are pregnant attempt the diet unless specifically instructed by their doctor.