A beginner’s guide to the ketogenic (or keto) diet: is it for you?
Posted on 10th October 2019 at 06:56
Is the ketogenic (or keto) diet for you?
Have you heard of the keto diet? If you’re anywhere near social media this is an increasingly prominent way of eating that seems to promise massive weight loss results – and quickly.
But for every influencer on Instagram promoting a ‘new you’ in weeks, there are counter claims that it’s an extreme, unhealthy and unsustainable way to shed the pounds.
So who’s right and what’s the truth behind the keto headlines?
Ketogenic diet basics
A keto diet is a shortened way of saying ‘ketogenic’ diet – it basically means eating meals made up of very low carb ingredients alongside good protein sources and ‘healthy’ fats. For a society so used to a ‘low fat, low calorie’ mantra to lose weight, it can mean a substantial shift in mindset to understand that such a way of eating can be beneficial.
The keto diet can include a wide variety of nutrition-packed, flavoursome and versatile foods. It’s all based on staying within a limit of carbohydrates. That limit can vary depending on who is advising you, but between 20g and 50g of carbs a day gives you a sweet spot in our experience. You can track your carbs through food labelling or on a fitness app.
But the rise in popularity for the keto diet also stems from a growing number of people wanting to eat healthier in line with studies that have shown eating lower carb is a sensible way to slim down and boost health in other ways – notably to lower blood sugar and possibly even put Type 2 diabetes into remission. It’s also reported to be effective against epilepsy. There are even studies that link a keto diet with reduced incidences of cancer and Alzheimer’s.
Weight control and blood sugar control is becoming a major health issue. The NHS faces a massive challenge in stemming the tide of Type 2 Diabetes with an annual bill of millions and more people becoming what’s known as ‘prediabetic’. For some devotees of the keto diet, advice currently given by the NHS and what’s known as the Eat Well Plate is controversial as it still advocates eating a certain amount of carbohydrates with meals.
Ketosis and the Keto Diet
Ketosis is a process where your body releases natural ketones from your liver which instructs your body to burn fat rather than glycogen.
We are then able to adjust an individual’s eating schedule and calorie intake to dictate whether the body burns fat from ‘within’ – its own fat stores – or from ‘without’ – the food they are eating. An individual’s state of ketosis can easily be measured with blood monitors in at the same way as people measure their blood sugars. But it doesn’t happen overnight.
Potential keto risks
From so-called keto breath to feeling light headed because of ‘carb flu’ the road to keto success can be a rocky one.
Some people feel sick when they start to withdraw from sugar, they get dizzy and give up. It’s not a nice feeling and can also be known as a type of flu. Remember that sugar is the most addictive drug on the planet! Any addiction is tough to break.
Supporters say stick with it and it will get better.
Other people have reported an upset tummy – or on the opposite end of the scale, they don’t go to the loo enough. Our bodies are complex and whatever the science behind keto, these unpleasant side effects are well-documented.
Another widely accepted result of keto dieting in the early days is a lack of energy – but there are also lots of accounts of this disappearing as your body adjusts.
The keto diet isn’t recommended for people with a variety of health conditions including Type 1 diabetes.
Foods you can eat in abundance on a keto diet (and still count the carbs)
Fish and seafood
Vegetables (grown above the ground)
Meat and poultry
Plain Greek yogurt
Nuts and seeds
Butter and cream
Coffee and tea
Dark chocolate (with at least 70% cocoa)
Foods to avoid on a keto diet:
Diet or snack products
Chocolate and sweets
Bananas and other fruits
In order to have the most success you should read as much as you can about the keto diet and prepare well-balanced, colourful and varied keto diet plans.
A quick note about fat:
Plentiful fat in a keto diet is a huge worry for many. Put very simply, what keto diet followers have found is that so-called ‘good fats’ – that’s healthy fats from natural sources such as nuts and olive oil, fill you up. They don’t necessarily raise cholesterol. This is an area of significant debate and one you may want to research more.
Is it for everyone?
What if you find the basics of keto sound but are worried it could be a little extreme for you? It could be a good idea to adapt a simpler low carb diet that’s easier to sustain than a purely keto diet.
How can we help?
We work in a supportive and holistic way to understand our clients’ needs when it comes to diet, fitness and well-being. We can tailor a specific plan, unique to your requirements, lifestyle and time available.
We’d welcome the opportunity to listen to you explain your ambitions and aspirations when it comes to maximising your well-being through healthy eating, including following keto principles.
Please contact us if you’d like a free, no obligation consultation to see how we can help you reach your health goals.
If you want to know more about what it’s like to work with us or to see the experiences that some of the clients have had, please do check out our various case studies, look at the clients of the month, and we would be very happy to have a conversation with you to discuss how it can work for you.
For further information on the controversial Ketogenic diet and its potential to eradicate common illnesses have a look on Netflix at the ‘THE MAGIC PILL’ a character-driven documentary that follows doctors, patients, scientists, chefs, farmers, and journalists from around the globe who are combating illness through a paradigm shift in eating.
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