The Ketogenic Diet – known as ‘keto diet’ – is definitely having it’s moment in the limelight with plenty of celebrities throwing their name in the hat as an advocate.
With the increased popularity and buzz word ‘keto diet’ flying around social media and our gyms it can be increasing confusing with all the options – low carb, high carb, zero carb?
The basic idea is that you can cause weight loss by replacing your bodies preferred fuel source, carbohydrates, with fat. The Keto Diet is a low carb, moderate protein, and high fat diet which puts the body into a metabolic state known as ketosis. Traditionally, weight loss diets are linked to low fat intake so this ‘new kid on the block’ has caused some confusion.
The Keto Diet
- KETOSIS: Sounds a bit ‘science-y’ but when your body is in a state of ketosis, the liver produces ketones which become the main energy source for the body.
- STILL CONFUSED? It’s based around the premise that your body was designed to run more efficiently as a fat burner than a sugar burner. Which sounds appealing for many especially those trying to shed the pounds.
What exactly does a keto diet look like?
It consists of high fat foods, with staples such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy and oils, strictly forbidding carbohydrate rich foods such as pasta, rice, all grains, potatoes and even certain fruit and vegetables.
Usually, when we eat and digest, we break down carbohydrates into molecules of fructose, galactose, and glucose, the last of which serves as the body’s primary source of energy. When the body can’t get glucose from carbohydrates, it looks for other forms of energy. By putting your body into a state of ketosis, you release fat as an energy source, utilise it and essentially burn fat rather than sugar.
What’s the risk?
Like all elimination diets, cutting out carbohydrates from your diet can put you at risk of deficiency of nutrients leading to addition health effects. Replacing carbohydrates with fat and proteins runs the risk of increasing your intake of saturated fat, associated with increasing cholesterol and cardiovascular issues. With that said a Keto diet should not be taken lightly and without knowledge of appropriate nutrition. Initially, reducing your carbohydrate levels causing ketosis can lead to headaches, weakness, nausea, dehydration, dizziness and irritability.
This confusion is understandable. As comparison studies have found low-fat diets leading to more fat loss but low-carb diets leading to more weight loss overall. Read more about the Low Fat vs Low Carb for weight loss conflict. What must be remembered, is that if your calorie intake is more than what your body burns from whatever source, you will gain weight. Furthermore, when you have a calorie deficit, you will see weight loss. The negativity surrounding carbohydrates is targeting high sugar foods, which can often scare us into eliminating them altogether, whereas focusing on consuming quality carbohydrates such as wholegrains, legumes and vegetables will lead to quality fuel for your body.
All in all, a well-balanced diet where you consume a variety of foods of all macronutrients is the place to start. Ironing out your nutrition downfalls of over consumption of saturated fats and refined carbohydrates is the place to start. Also, ensuring you have the basis of your nutrition sound before you make such extreme macro choices.
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Rebecca is a registered Associate Nutritionist with the UKVRN through the Association for Nutrition. She completed her Bachelors of Science Degree in Nutraceuticals in Health and Nutrition before achieving her Masters Degree in Public Health Nutrition in Queen Margaret’s University, Edinburgh. Before joining the GourmetFuel team, Rebecca was a Nutrition & Allergen Menu Analyst. She is passionate about food and promoting ‘real food’ diets! She is also interested in Childhood and Elderly Nutrition.
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