The Keto diet started to gain popularity in the 90s, but has recently taken the internet by storm. Seen as a potential weight loss choice to some, but a long term lifestyle choice to others, this way of eating is certainly different to how people normally eat.
Keto is short for ketogenic. Ketosis is when there are not enough carbohydrates for your body to burn for energy, the body burns fat and makes ketones.
To fulfil the keto diet, you must cut your carbohydrate intake to less than 20g per day, and a slice of bread, for example, is nearly 19g. The average person’s diet probably contains around 50% carbs, and on keto you’re ideally aiming for 5%. Foods containing carbs aren’t always obvious, though. On a keto diet, vegetables which are high in starch (such as carrots, sweetcorn) and fruits like bananas and grapes are full of sugar, therefore are carbohydrates. However, leafy vegetables and berries are naturally low in carbs, so can be heavily incorporated into the diet.
On a ketogenic diet, fats are the main staple. Some of the main sources of fat that can be eaten are:
- Nuts, seeds and good oils such as olive oil
- Greek yoghurt
Poultry and fish/seafood, too, are low in carbohydrates and therefore ideal for the keto diet. The appeal of the keto diet for improved health may be great for some: the ability to keep good fats in your diet is not something which fits in with a classically calorie focussed diet. Although carbs are restricted, if that is not something you would overly miss, it could really work for you. Nuts are well known for being a source of good fats. Here are some of our nuts which are naturally low on carbs, perfect for the keto lifestyle:
Carbs per 100g –
Blanched Almonds – 6.9g
Whole Brazil Nuts – 3.1g
Whole Hazelnuts – 6.0g
Mixed Nuts – 9.3g
Raw Thick Chipped Coconut – 6.4g
Roasted and Salted Pistachio Nuts – 8.2g
Pine Nut Kernels – 4.0g
Pecan Nuts – 5.8g
Macadamia Nuts – 13.4g
Broken Walnuts – 3.3g
According to Lloyds Pharmacy, a keto diet can also do the following:
- Lower high blood pressure
- Lower levels of triglycerides
- Raise levels of “good” cholesterol
Here is what a day on keto may look like:
Breakfast: scrambled eggs on a bed of sauteed greens and sun dried tomatoes.
Lunch: prawn and avocado salad, with feta cheese
Dinner: beef stew with onions, mushrooms, celery, herbs, beef broth
Snack ideas: cheese and peppers, nut butter smoothie, boiled eggs
An exact diet based on macros would be determined for every individual, which can be done online. We would always recommend consulting your doctor before you decide to embark on a lifestyle change such as this. There are no two ways about it: the keto diet is incredibly restrictive, but perhaps no more restrictive than other diets.
There are some marked issues with the keto diet, however. Nutrient deficiency is possibly the key one, and registered dietitian Kathy McManus suggests that “if you’re not eating a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, and grains, you may be at risk for deficiencies in micronutrients, including selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamins B and C”. It is also documented that the keto diet can make liver conditions worse due to the large amounts of fat intrinsic to the diet, and similarly kidney problems due to the large amounts of protein consumed. Constipation is also prominent due to the lack of fibrous foods allowed, and people can even suffer from mood swings and brain fog due to the lack of sugar from the restriction of carbs.
Since the 1920s, the ketogenic diet has been used to regulate epilepsy, generally for children. The Epilepsy Society UK writes:
A clinical trial at Great Ormond Street Hospital in 2008, and other studies since then, showed that the diet significantly reduced the number of seizures in a proportion of children whose seizures did not respond well to AEDs. After three months, around 4 in 10 (38%) children who started the diet had the number of their seizures reduced by over half, and were able to reduce their medication. Although not all children had better seizure control, some had other benefits such as increased alertness, awareness and responsiveness.
Of course this is not a form of treatment for epilepsy, but it has marked results in the field and for other brain based conditions such as Parkinsons. This is certainly something not to disregard, the ability to make improvements to your lifestyle in such a way is wonderful, but the impetus should be on lifestyle. The keto ‘diet’ although is a diet, it is certainly not something to be dipped in and out of. Not only does this defeat the whole point of the diet, due to ketosis taking consistency to achieve, but longevity forms the foundations of this way of eating. Taking supplements may improve some of the aforementioned problems, and research is key into considering whether embarking on a lifestyle change is suitable for you.
The information in this article is correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. This should not be used for health or diet recommendations. Third party sources have been provided where used. Some estimates have been used in this article and should be checked by the reader prior to consideration. Hides Fine Foods takes no responsibility for the subsequent use or application of the information provided in this article.