Despite having been around for a while, ketogenic diets are back in the limelight. First popular in the early noughties thanks to the Atkins Diet, there’s no denying that ketogenic, or ‘keto’ diets are effective. But are they a safe and sustainable approach to weight loss?
Here’s the lowdown…
WHAT IS A KETOGENIC DIET?
A ketogenic diet is a very low carbohydrate diet. Eating such a low carb diet induces ketosis – a state when your body runs out of carbohydrates from food for your cells to burn for energy and turns to burning fat instead. Ketosis is a normal metabolic process. When you wake up first thing in the morning, having not eaten all night, you will be in a state of ketosis. Ketogenic diets have become a popular approach to weight loss.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
One of the most attractive things about ketogenic diets is that they can be a very effective way to lose weight. They focus the body on burning stored fat and that results in fast, noticeable weight loss.
Being based on protein and fat, the diet is filling and satisfying. You won’t end up hungry with cravings that will make you want to raid the biscuit tin at 3pm.
Your energy levels should be consistently good. Ketosis is an effective way for the body to produce energy so you shouldn’t feel tired or lack concentration.
Optimal amounts of protein also ensures that muscle mass and your metabolic rate is preserved which means that when you reach your target weight, you have a much better chance of maintaining it.
There is evidence to show that ketogenic diets can be beneficial for individuals who have certain health conditions, such as epilepsy. It is also helps insulin regulation and prevention of type 2 diabetes.
WHAT ARE THE DOWNSIDES?
Keto diets are strict. There’s no two ways about it. The amount of carbohydrates you can have and stay in ketosis varies from person to person but it’s typically under 40g. That is not a lot.
Cutting out carbs not only means avoiding the standard bread, pasta, rice and potatoes that we think of as carbohydrates, but also a lot of other foods you may not have considered. One of the main drawbacks for those with an already healthy diet is the fact you can’t eat fruit and a number of starchy veg that are out too.
Ketogenic diets can be a healthy approach to weight loss but you can also do them in an unhealthy way. Think Atkins. It’s reported that the man behind the diet, Dr. Atkins, had a history of heart attack, congestive heart failure and high blood pressure. That says a lot! Sure, you can be on a ketogenic diet and eat a lot of fatty meat, butter and cheese but that’s not something I recommend!
It’s not easy to get an optimal amount of fibre when eating in this way. I always encourage anyone on a ketogenic diet to eat plenty of low carb veg. You can also take a fibre supplement. Ketosis can increase excretion of certain nutrients, namely electrolytes which regulate our fluid balance. For this reason it may be necessary to take supplements.
Ketogenic diets aren’t for everyone. They aren’t recommended for those with kidney or liver problems and it’s important to rule these out prior to starting a keto diet.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF A KETO DIET IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
If you are relatively young, fit and healthy and looking to try a ketogenic diet to optimise your health or lose a little weight, you’ll likely be fine to give it a try and see if it suits you.
However, ideally I would recommend that you seek advice from a qualified professional who can ensure it’s the right approach for you. As with most diets, it’s important to tailor a ketogenic diets to your own individual needs.
At my clinic, I offer a ketogenic diet called Proteifine. Proteifine is only available through doctors and nutritionists to ensure that it is followed safely and effectively.
Keto diets are effective, but they require commitment. That said, it’s easier to be committed to a diet that’s effective! They can improve aspects of health and won’t leave you feeling hungry or tired. Before embarking on a ketogenic diet it’s important to make sure that it’s the right approach for you.
If you would like to talk about which dietary strategy is best suited to your needs I offer a complimentary fifteen minute phone call to. To arrange this please don’t hesitate to contact us. I consult clients at my clinic as well as via Skype or over the phone if you do not live locally.