What is the Keto Diet?
The Ketogenic diet was created by Dr Gianfranco Cappello, an associate professor of surgery at the Sapienza University in Rome, Italy. Similar to Atkins and various low-carb diets, the Keto or Ketogenic diet is a low carb, high fat eating plan aimed at putting your body into a metabolic state known as ketosis. When your body goes into ketosis, it becomes efficient at burning fat for energy and it also turns fat ketones in the liver, supplying energy in the brain. The aim is that your body loses fat and you feel more energetic and mentally alert.
Are there Different Types of Keto Diets?
There are several types of Keto diets. Firstly, the standard one known as SKD which is an extremely low-carb high-fat diet. It is composed of 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% of carbs. Secondly there’s the Cyclical one known as CKD which encapsulates 5 days of the standard Keto diet followed by two days of high carbs. There’s also the Targeted Keto diet which means you can add carbs on the days that you workout. Lastly there is the High Protein Keto diet which is similar to the Standard Keto diet but includes more protein composed of 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbs.
Has it been scientifically proven to work?
The creator Dr Gianfranco Cappello conducted a study thousands of dieters and found that at least 19,000 of those who trialled the diet, experienced significant weight loss, losing an average of 10 kilos after two cycles of being on the Keto plan.
Other studies have shown that the Ketogenic diet is more effective than a calorie controlled or low fat diet. One study showed that those on a Keto diet lost 2.2 times more weight than those on a calorie restricted diet. Various studies recommend the Keto diet for weight loss and because the diet is not calorie restricted, it suits those not wanting to count calories while losing weight.
Is it safe?
Although proven to be safe, various experts warn against its long term affects. “Once your body enters ketosis, you also begin to lose muscle, become extremely fatigued, and eventually enter starvation mode. Then it actually becomes even harder to lose weight,” says clinical dietician Lisa Cimperman.
“Keto diets should only be used under clinical supervision and only for brief periods,” adds Francine Blinten, R.D. and certified clinical nutritionist. Francine says the diet can also damage the heart and is not recommended for cosmetic purposes.
Keto side effects
Some people complain of Keto flu while on the diet which is said to include fatigue, headaches, brain fog, irritability, dizziness and nausea. Some people have also suffered from constipation and bad breath while on the Keto diet.
What are the health benefits?
Apart from weight loss, the Keto diet has shown to lower cholesterol levels and as well as reduce insulin and blood sugar levels. Blood pressure has also been shown to go down and is an effective treatment against the metabolic syndrome associated with diabetes and heart disease.
Can diabetics do it?
The Keto diet is ideal for diabetics as it is an effective treatment against the metabolic syndrome associated with diabetes. It also is shown to reduce insulin and blood sugar levels.
What Can You Eat?
On the Keto diet you can eat seafood and fish as well as lean meat and poultry, dairy, eggs, cheese, butter, cream, coconut and olive oil, nuts, seeds, berries, low carb vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, olives, shirataki noodles, dark chocolate and cocoa powder. You can also drink tea and coffee or have a soup made from low carb vegetables.
Sample Meal Plan
For breakfast you might have something like eggs with bacon and avocado and for lunch some grilled chicken with salad or low carb vegetables. For dinner you could have zoodles (zucchini noodles) with bolognaise sauce. For dessert you might have a few squares of dark chocolate or a sugar free cheesecake.
Cauliflower recipes are often popular on the Keto diet as the vegetable can be used as a swap for rice or make a pizza base using processed cauliflower in a food processor and mixing with oil and shaping into a base and baking in the oven.
You can snack on foods such as seeds, nuts, cheese, olives and dips made from avocado.
What Can't You Eat?
You can’t eat the following foods while on the Keto diet. Any fruit other than berries, grains and starches, root vegetables, grain products such as bread, pasta, muesli, rice cakes, legumes, sweeteners other than Stevia and sucralose, lollies, any oil other than coconut and olive, alcohol other than champagne, hard spirits and dry wine, sweetened drinks, low fat dairy and sweetened sauces and dips.
Can you drink Alcohol?
You can only drink champagne, hard spirits and dry wine. This means no beer, cider, sweet wines or sweetened alcoholic drinks.
Is the Keto diet recommended?
If you are diabetic or wanting to lose weight, the diet is ideal. It is extremely restrictive, however and would be hard to keep up long term. You might want to kick off with the standard Keto diet then move onto the Targeted Keto Diet where you can enjoy carbs twice a week, on a longer term basis.