It’s known by many names, Ketogenic diet, Keto diet, low carb diet and high fat diet. But what exactly is it and should you try it??
The Ketogenic diet refers to eating in such a way that it forces the body into ketosis. Ketosis is the processes of the body using fat as an energy source, instead of carbohydrates.
When you eat carbohydrates your body produces glucose and insulin, which is then used as a primary energy source. By eating a ketogenic diet, which is very low in carbohydrates, you are attempting to put your body into ketosis. Meaning, when the body runs out of carbohydrates to utilise as energy, it starts to convert fat to energy.
This keto diet requires you to eat foods that are high in healthy fats, as that’s where the body is getting its nutrients from. Fats should make up 70-80% of your calorie intake. Protein is also an essential part of the keto diet, it should make up 20-25% of your calorie intake. Ideally you only eat about 30g of carbohydrate a day, maximum, which you will probably unknowingly consume in the approved foods.
A ketogenic diet usually consists of:
-A wide selection of meats, poultry and fish
-Nuts, seeds, avocados and berries
-Dairy: Butter, cream, cheese and yoghurt
-Coconut and olive oil
What you shouldn’t eat:
-Certain fruits: Apples, bananas, oranges (high carb fruit)
-Processed meats: Hotdogs, salami and other deli meats
-Breads, cereals grains
-Starchy vegetables: Potatoes and beets
Many people report cold and flu like sessions when going on the keto diet, especially if your current diet is very high in carbs. The sudden reduction in carbs can bring on flu like symptoms and leave you feeling low in energy. But these issues are short lived, and if you can push through your energy will be back with gusto.
So should you try the ketogenic diet?
Firstly, before undertaking any diet you should always consult your doctor to ensure its safe.
Essentially, like any diet, it only works if you can stick to it. The keto diet is far less forgiving than other diets, as your body is either in ketosis, or its not. If you ‘accidently’ eat a burger or bag of chips, your body is no longer in ketosis and your effort has been wasted. So you have to be very strict about your eating for it to work.
Think about why you are doing it. Is it just a short term plan to perhaps loose a few kilos and see what happens, or this a new lifestyle choice. If it is short term and you loose a few kilos, what happens when you stop? Does the weight come back on again?
Some people undertake the keto diet to break their dependence on carbohydrates or sugars. If you can get through the first few days, it can be an effective way to break the cycle.
Just a final thought…. Diets are just that… Diets… I always think the best ‘weight loss’ eating plan is one that is sustainable. There is nothing wrong with trying a ketogenic type diet for a period, if you feel the need to lower your carb and sugar intake. But it may not be the best long term solution for sustainable weight loss.