The Keto Diet
Much More Than a Weight Loss Programme
The ketogenic diet is a low carb, high fat, minimum protein diet that mimics the state of fasting while giving the body enough nutritional value to function. By drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat, this diet puts the body into a metabolic state called ketosis.
When this happens, the body burns fat for energy, making this diet an ideal weight-loss choice. It also triggers significant reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels, turning fat into ketones in the liver.
What is Ketosis?
Ketosis is a metabolic state in which the body uses fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. It is triggered by significantly reducing the consumption of carbohydrates, which are found in starchy foods like pasta, bread, and white potatoes as well as vegetables like sweet potatoes and fruits. This process limits the body’s supply of glucose and switches a person from being a sugar burner to a fat burner.
A ketogenic diet is the most effective way to enter ketosis. Carbohydrate consumption will need to be limited to around 15g a day while filling up on good sources of fat, such as avocados and healthy oils.
Protein consumption should also be moderated because protein can be converted into glucose if consumed in high amounts, which may slow the transition into ketosis.
The Health Benefits of a Keto Diet
The ketogenic diet originated in the 1920s to treat epilepsy in children. Studies have since shown that the diet can have benefits for a wide variety of different health conditions such as:
- heart disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- polycystic ovary syndrome
- and brain injuries.
According to Tina Christoudias Spyrou, Neomed’s Functional Medicine Practitioner and Nutritionist the keto diet are also “very good for anyone going through the detoxification process.”
“The keto diet takes the pressure off the liver,” says Tina. “One of the functions of the liver is to regulate blood glucose, so if there’s less glucose to regulate, it gives the liver the opportunity to focus on the detoxification process. In addition to this, by decreasing the amount of glucose available from carbohydrates, you stop feeding the bad things in your system like parasites, fungus and bad bacteria. So, it’s a very effective tool for detoxification purposes.”
The Keto Diet for Weight Loss
Keto is an effective way to lose weight with studies showing that people who followed the diet lost an average of 2lbs (0.9 kg) more than those who followed a low-fat diet.
Another study found that those who followed a ketogenic diet for eight weeks lost nearly five times more body fat than those who followed a low-fat diet.
Excess fat is closely linked to type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and metabolic syndrome, and another study found that the keto diet improved insulin sensitivity by 75%.
“Although studies have shown that the keto diet can be very effective in the treatment of epilepsy and autism in children as well as Alzheimer’s patients, the craze these days is to use the keto diet to aid weight loss,” says Tina.
“I get a lot of patients with weight loss resistance, meaning that no matter how little they eat they cannot shed fat. They are sugar burners, not fat burners. So, when you put them on a ketogenic diet, and they become fat burners, that’s when they start to see the scales move in the right direction.”
Keto Diet Foods to Eat and to Avoid
Any food that is high in carbs should be limited, such as:
- sugary food
- grains or starches
- fruit, except for small portions of berries like strawberries
- beans or legumes
- low fat or diet products
- unhealthy fats
- and alcohol.
The foods you can enjoy include:
- palm-sized and fattier cuts of meat
- cheque-book sized fatty fish
- goat cheese or sheep milk (if dairy is tolerated)
- nuts and seeds
- healthy oils
- low carb vegetables
Why You Should Consult a Nutritionist
Though there are a number of health benefits associated with this diet, it should only be followed as a temporary measure, preferably under the guidance of an experienced nutritionist.
Although the ketogenic diet tends to be safe for healthy people, there may be initial side effects while your body adapts, known as the ‘keto flu’. Usually lasting for only a few days, the symptoms can be unpleasant and include diarrhoea, constipation, vomiting, low energy, brain fog, hunger cravings, insomnia and digestive discomfort.
“Like all diets, the keto diet is not necessarily good for everyone,” says Tina. “As many people get their information from the internet, they sometimes switch immediately to a lot of dairy and high-fat foods, incorporating very few vegetables into their meals that may not necessarily be good for them and their diet.
“For this reason, the keto diet should be tailored to the individual and it should be guided by an expert who knows the patient and the right way to help their bodies.”
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