What is a ketogenic diet?

Does the hugely popular weight-loss regime really work?

The key to weight loss?


It seems everyone who’s anyone is on the ultra low-carb ketogenic (keto) diet. But is it safe? Does it work? And is it easy to stick to? To answer these questions – and with the added incentive of losing the extra pudge around the middle that winter delivered – I tried out the keto diet for two weeks.

In this article:

  • What is a ketogenic diet?
  • What do dietitians make of it?
  • What can you actually eat on keto?
  • Is the keto diet safe?
  • Does the keto diet work?
  • Tips for sustainable weight loss

What is a ketogenic diet?

The ketogenic diet was developed as a treatment for epilepsy in 1924 by Dr Russell Wilder at the Mayo Clinic. Research has found the diet to be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of seizures in patients with severe epilepsy, but many people, including Hollywood’s A-list, have adopted the extreme diet for quick weight loss.

The keto diet involves eating very small amounts of carbohydrates, medium amounts of protein and getting most of your daily kilojoules from fats. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy. When we starve the body of carbs, ketone bodies (or ketones) are produced by the liver from fat, and used as fuel for the brain and body. So on a ketogenic diet, ketones replace carbs as the body’s main energy source, meaning it runs almost entirely on stored fat.

Ketones are also produced when your total kilojoule intake is low, as when you run short of stored energy your body will burn stored fat instead, resulting in weight loss. This process is referred to as being in the ‘state of ketosis’.

What the expert thinks

According to Professor Clare Collins, an accredited practising dietitian and spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia, there is a whole range of dietary approaches that come under that ‘ketogenic diet banner’.

“The classical ketogenic diet has a ratio of 4g of fat to 1g of combined carbohydrates and protein. So basically it’s 85–90% fat, [which] isn’t a palatable or exciting diet, as you can imagine, due to the massive restriction in types and quantities of foods that contain carbohydrates, including breads and cereals, fruit, some vegetables and even dairy products.”

Professor Collins stresses that “the ketogenic diet should not be considered flippantly as something that anybody and everybody should be following. The individual needs to be under the supervision of a doctor and dietitian and be monitored for side effects, particularly if they’re on medications.”

What can you actually eat on keto?

The keto diet limits carbohydrates to just 20–50g a day. A single slice of bread typically has 15g of carbohydrates, so you can imagine how restrictive this form of eating can be.

The diet – or popular adaptations of it that you’ll find in books and on the internet – suggests consuming high volumes of animal products (so vegans and vegetarians may find this diet very difficult to follow) with a variety of the following foods:

  • Proteins – beef, lamb, poultry, pork, fish and seafood, eggs, tofu (if you are vegetarian).
  • Above-ground vegetables – spinach, rocket, kale, broccoli, mushrooms, celery, cabbage.
  • Fats – coconut oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil, oil-based salad dressings, macadamia oil.
  • High-fat dairy – cheese, high-fat cream, butter.
  • Nuts and seeds – macadamias, walnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, flax seeds, nut butters.
  • Certain fruits – avocados, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, lemons, limes.
  • Sweeteners – stevia, erythritol, monk fruit, and other low-carb sweeteners.
  • Drinks – almond milk, coffee, tea, water, sparkling mineral water.
  • Herbs and spices – salt, pepper, coriander, rosemary, basil, garlic powder.

What’s in my trolley

I fire up UberEATS more than my stovetop, so this diet was a drastic change for me. Keto requires a lot of planning and preparation, which may be a deterrent for some. On day one I did a massive food shop, drawing inspiration from low carb recipes I found online. My trolley was filled with meat (so much meat), cheese, butter and high-fat dairy – basically a lot of foods I don’t normally allow myself. I also bought loads of the ‘allowed’ vegetables and fruits as nutrient deficiencies can occur on diets that are too restrictive. I also picked up a multivitamin supplement.

The kilojoule-counter app MyFitnessPal helped me track how many carbohydrates I was consuming and kept my kilojoule intake in check. But the biggest challenge of this diet was the lack of variety – and the enticing allure of carbs at every turn. I was ready to throw in the towel on day four when a cafe owner refused to make me a bacon and egg roll without the roll. “What am I meant to eat?” I blubbered. In fact, studies in keto diets have found attrition rates are one of the highest challenges of the diet.

When starting the keto diet, people also report initially getting the ‘keto flu’ from eliminating carbs from the diet, with symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, brain fogginess and nausea. I didn’t experience any major issues and actually felt quite sprightly (besides my aforementioned meltdown) during my first week on the high-fat diet.

Is the keto diet safe?

The most common side effect of the diet is constipation as a result of cutting out vital sources of fibre in the diet – fruits, vegetables, beans and grains. Lack of fibre can also increase the risk of bowel cancer and heart disease in the long term. I negated this by drinking lots of water, eating plenty of the high-fibre ‘allowed’ vegetables and taking a fibre supplement.

Other possible side effects of long-term adherence to the diet include:

  • raised cholesterol levels
  • renal stones
  • poor growth (in children)
  • reductions in bone density
  • altered immune function
  • altered liver function
  • nutrient deficiencies.

While little research has been done specifically around the diet’s long-term effects, some studies suggest there are health benefits in following such a strict low-carbohydrate diet, such as its ability to improve type 2 diabetes and shrink some forms of brain cancer. However, more research on humans is needed and, as Professor Collins warns, this diet is used in medical nutrition therapy as a short-term test diet for specific medical conditions such as epilepsy and should only be used medically under the supervision of experts.

Professor Jennie Brand-Miller, professor of human nutrition at The University of Sydney says, “There’s not a lot in the scientific literature to judge [the health effects of the keto diet]. On the basis of current science, I wouldn’t recommend it. Several observational studies suggest this diet [actually] increases mortality, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”

Does the keto diet work?

After imagining I’d have a Biggest Loser-type reveal, after two weeks on the diet, I was disappointed to find I’d only lost 1.5kg. But I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of hunger I experienced. For example, if I started the day with bacon and eggs, I wouldn’t get hungry again till the afternoon, whereas my typical instant oats breakfast leaves me ravenous by 11am.

A 2008 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared a medium-carbohydrate, high-protein diet with a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet and found that after 4–6 weeks the 17 subjects lost significantly more weight and were less hungry on the ketogenic diet than the medium-carbohydrate diet. However, according to another study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, low-carb diets were found to be no more effective than low-fat diets in the long term (more than one year).

CHOICE verdict

While the ketogenic diet may be an appropriate short-term solution under strict supervision for some, and will result in weight loss, it could lead to serious health complications over time.

If you’re looking for a sustainable weight-loss solution, Professor Collins says visiting your GP should be your first port of call. “They will measure your blood pressure, blood lipids and blood glucose, and potentially look at kidney function and liver function,” she says. “You should ask to be referred to a dietitian as well.”

Your GP and dietitian will then assess your current state of health, weigh up the positives and negatives of different weight-loss regimes and recommend the appropriate one for you.

As for me, I’m thankfully allowed to eat the full spectrum of fruits, vegetables and whole grains again. Going on the ketogenic diet made me realise I still held onto the belief that fats are the enemy. But good fats are vital for optimal health, so I’ll be keeping the olive oil dressings and lashings of avocado in my diet, while definitely eating less bacon.

For more information on how the ketogenic diet can help treat epilepsy, visit Epilepsy Action Australia.

Tips for sustainable weight loss

Rather than letting fad diets deprive your body of essential nutrients, simple lifestyle changes can help you not only lose weight, but also maintain it in the long term.

  • Go slow and steady – aim to lose 0.5–1kg a week. Any more than that and you’re probably losing water and muscle, not fat.
  • Avoid high-glycemic index foods (sugary treats and highly-processed foods) – “They stimulate insulin secretion and drive fat deposition and they aren’t as satiating,” says Professor Brand-Miller.
  • Fill up on fruit and veg – they’re bursting with phytonutrients and an analysis of three weight-loss studies of more than 130,000 adults found those who increased their intake of high-fibre, low-GI fruit and vegetables (your leafy greens over your stodgy potatoes) were more likely to lose or maintain weight.
  • Drink plenty of water – sometimes when you feel hungry, you’re actually dehydrated, so keep a water bottle nearby to keep you hydrated during the day.
  • Up your exercise – according to a US study called the National Weight Control Registry, 90% of people who’ve lost an average of 30kg and kept it off for over five years exercise for an average of one hour a day.
  • Start the day with a healthy breakfast – that same study found 78% of respondents eat breakfast every day.
  • Watch your portions – eating from smaller plates can help keep portion sizes in check. A US study found that switching from a 10-inch to a 12-inch dinner plate (equivalent to switching from a 25cm to 30cm plate) caused people to consume 22% more kilojoules during a meal.
  • Experiment with herbs and spices – you don’t need sugary dressings or sauces to add flavour. Try lemon, chilli, garlic, herbs and spices for heaps of flavour without adding kilojoules.
  • Cut back on ultra-processed foods and drinks – healthy wholegrain carbs are not the enemy, but junk food certainly is, says Professor Collins. “In Australia, one third of our total daily kilojoule intake comes from ‘discretionary choices’.” Always being prepared with healthy snacks is a great way to stop you from going to the vending machine mid-afternoon.

Read More

Keto diet: Shed a stone in six weeks with the help of these three weight loss recipes

WEIGHT loss diets require some level of regiment – cutting back on certain foods and trying to eat more of others. Many people fall into the trap of making the same meals day in, day out, which puts you at risk of becoming bored and falling off the diet bandwagon. If you’re looking for food inspiration try out these three recipes that follow the increasingly popular keto diet.

The keto diet – its full name the ketogenic diet – is a high-fat and low-carbohydrate plan.

Health and performance are among its supposed benefits, but the keto diet – as it’s also known – is said to force the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates, leading to weight loss.

The diet is specifically designed to result in a process called ketosis – one 2010 study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that in six weeks a group following a low carb diet lost 13.7 lbs, almost a stone.

So how does the keto diet work?

For those that already know, Dr Axe offers three keto diet recipes that will help you stay on track with your weight loss plan.

Keto diet food: Shed a stone in six weeks with these three weight loss recipes

Keto smoothie

1–1¼ cups full-fat coconut milk

½ frozen avocado

1 tablespoon nut butter of choice

1 tablespoon chia seeds, soaked in 3 tablespoons of water for 10 minutes

2 teaspoons cacao or cocoa powder OR 1 scoop of chocolate bone broth protein powder

1 tablespoon coconut oil

ice (optional)

for topping: cacao nibs and cinnamon

¼ cup water, if needed

Method

  • Add contents into a high-powered blender, blending until well-combined.
  • Top with cacao nibs and cinnamon.

Keto diet food: Shed a stone in six weeks with these three weight loss recipes

Gluten-free cauliflower mac and cheese

1 large cauliflower head, cut into small florets

½-¾ cup kefir

½ cup goat’s milk cottage cheese, pureed

1½ tsp Dijon mustard

1½ cups grated sheep’s or goat’s milk cheddar cheese, plus additional for topping

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

⅛ teaspoon garlic powder

ghee

Method

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 8” x 8” pan with ghee.
  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add cauliflower and cook until slightly tender, about five minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Spread in prepared pan.
  • In a saucepan over medium-high heat, mix together kefir, cottage cheese, and mustard until smooth.
  • In a saucepan over medium high heat, mix together the cottage cheese, kefir and mustard until smooth.
  • Stir in cheese, sea salt, black pepper, and garlic powder until cheese just starts to melt. Pour over cauliflower and stir. Top with additional cheese if desired and bake for 10–15 minutes.

High-Fat, Low-Carb Pancakes

½ cup plus 1 tbsp almond flour

½ cup grass-fed cream cheese

4 eggs

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter or avocado oil, for frying

Method

  • Mix all ingredients in a blender.
  • In a frying pan, over medium heat, add in the butter or oil.
  • Pour in two to three tablespoons of batter per pancake and turn over once the centre begins to bubble (usually takes about three to four minutes).
  • Top with butter and cinnamon.

 

Read More

How Do You Know You’re In Ketosis?

Ketosis kinda sounds like the medical term for bad breath, but it’s actually what the “keto” in keto diet stands for. And, if you follow the keto diet or are interested in it, getting your body into ketosis is what you’re going for.

In case you’re not familiar with keto, it’s a diet that is very high in fat and low in carbs. The goal is to get yourself into a state called ketosis, which requires eating less than 30 to 40 grams of carbs a day, explains Alissa Rumsey, R.D., C.S.C.S.

“When you only eat a very limited amount of carbs, your body breaks down fatty acids from your fat stores and forms ketones, which are released into the bloodstream by the liver,” Rumsey says. “Ketosis occurs when blood ketones are higher than normal.”

When this happens, your body also starts using fat for fuel—hence, the results that celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian and Vanessa Hudgens have raved about it.

Only one problem: How do you actually know if you’re in ketosis? Experts say there are six big signs and symptoms you should look for—besides the weight loss you’ll probably be super-tuned-into.

1. You Have Bad Breath

Speaking of halitosis… It’s unfortunate, but true: One of the major signs of ketosis is stinky breath. When you’re in this state, your body breaks down fat and proteins for energy, creating byproducts that have to be eliminated, says Scott Keatley, R.D., of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy. There are a few ways it does this, he says: through your poop, pee, sweat…and breath.

A byproduct of this breakdown of fat and protein into energy is a ketone body called acetone (the same stuff that’s in nail polish remover). “A little bit of acetone on the breath has a fruity smell, but a lot has a very distinct astringent smell that is quite unpleasant,” Keatley says. “This is a general sign that you’re in ketosis and you’re burning protein or fat as a source of energy.”

2. You Feel Totally Wiped Out

When you first go into ketosis, your body gets confused by the fact that it doesn’t have the normal amount of carbs to burn for energy, says Peter LePort, M.D., a bariatric surgeon and medical director of MemorialCare Surgical Weight Loss Center at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Calif. As a result, you feel completely exhausted.

3. …But Then You Super-Energized

Eventually, your body figures out that you can get by just fine by burning fat and protein for energy, and so you start to feel a little more energetic, LePort says. But that’s likely a placebo effect more than anything, given that it’s basically just an improvement from feeling super tired all the time, he says.

4. Your Appetite Decreases

This is a legit phenomenon that happens, but it’s not totally clear why. There are some theories, though, Keatley says. It could be that the bacteria in your gut changes due to your new diet, he says. It could also be that the ketones affect the hypothalamus in your brain and cause a different release of hormones, making you less hungry in the process, LePort says. Whatever it is, it’s not uncommon to feel less hungry when you enter ketosis.

5. You Spend Tons Of Time In The Restroom

When you go on keto, your start eating some serious fat, and your body just isn’t ready for it, Keatley says. “Your body doesn’t digest it properly and the bacteria in your gut is not ready to break it down,” he explains. This can lead to diarrhea or a temporary disorder called steatorrhea, which causes really smelly poop. “This should subside after a little bit but you can always ease into a keto diet rather than jump all in to avoid these issues,” Keatley says.

 

Read More

Is Keto Diet Really Effective for the Obese People?

Now, it’s high time that you lose that extra fat from your body and look even more gorgeous! Are you not looking forward to a simple way of losing weight and get into the shape? The keto diet is a low carb diet that has indeed shown some proven results. There are different names for this diet program such as low carb diet, ketone diet etc.

What is the keto diet?

When we talk about the ketogenic diet or the keto diet, it consists of high fat and moderate protein while making sure that you consume the lowest amount of carbs. Once you start eating minimal carbs, your body would start producing ketosis which can further be used as energy instead of carbs.

With the help of fatty acids, ketones get produced in the liver. This means that your liver is responsible for burning down fats and make ketones which can further be used as energy. Once the body makes use of your body fat for energy, you start losing weight.

Ketosis is known to be a natural process and the body takes the responsibility to help an individual survive when there is lower food consumption.

How ketogenic diet encourages weight loss?

If you are enthusiastic about reducing weight, then it is essential to follow the ketosis diet in a proper way that would finally promote weight loss.

  • Consume more proteins: The ketogenic diet encourages individual to emphasiseon more protein intake which can finally lead to weight loss.
  • Suppress the appetite: When you start following the ketosis diet, it is possible that youlose the appetite. It has a positive impact on hunger hormones such as leptin and ghrelin.
  • Reduces stored fat: Once you start following the keto diet, it is possible to decrease the lipogenesis which is a process that helps to convert sugar into fat.
  • Enhances the insulin sensitivity: Knowing what is the keto diet can surely surprise you with the immense benefits. Through the diet plan, you can improve insulin sensitivity which can finally allow for enhancing the metabolism system and make use of fuel.

Ways to follow the keto diet

By now you must be aware of what is keto, and this is sufficient for you to emphasise on choosing the right food.

  • Make sure that you consume no more than 30 grams of carbs per day
  • Emphasize on having whole eggs, cheese, nuts, avocados and fish. These would become the staple food.
  • You can also try ketogenic recipes to make your meal tastier, while ensuring that you consume less carbohydrates.
  • Fill up your plate with low carb veggies and keep yourself full.

It is possible to make your diet exciting and tasty while making ketogenic brownies, pasta, pudding, ice cream etc. There are different ketogenic recipes available which can undoubtedly help to reduce weight.

Foods to eat and not to eat

Apart from knowing what is the keto diet, it is also essential that you learn about the food that you should consume and avoid while maintaining ketosis diet. To complete the diet plan, you can add some of the best tasting meals that include lean meats such as beef and chicken. You need to intake protein-rich food that consists of olive oil, eggs, butter and avocado.

Some delicious leafy vegetables include spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, chard etc. Apart from having these foods, you can even include sprouts and nuts. The food that you would be having in the diet will certainly help you gain fantastic health benefits. The keto diet will give sufficient nutrients to the body which can keep up the metabolism.

What is the keto diet? While being on a ketogenic diet, you should cut down the carbs intake and any sugary items which are utterly unhealthy for your body. Processed foods, vegetable oils, margarine, milk and any other sugary food should be avoided. Once you are aware of what is keto and its various intricacies, it is possible to see a visible change in yourself within a week.

A delicious keto recipe

If you are following a keto diet and want to make a delicious meal, then you can definitely try this recipe:

Keto stuffed meatloaf

The recipe is for 8 serving. To make a ketogenic diet weight loss recipe, you need to have the following ingredients:

  • 500 grams ground beef
  • ½ teaspoon garlic
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cupchopped green onions
  • ¼ cup chopped onions
  • 6 slices of cheddar cheese
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • ½ cup spinach
  • ¼ cup mushroom

Preparations

  • In order to prepare the ketogenic diet weight loss recipe, you should follow the steps:
  • Clean the meat and mix it with pepper, garlic, cumin and salt. Take a greased bread or a loaf pan, place the bottom and sides with beef and keep a hole for stuffing
  • To have a healthy keto diet, now add the cheese layer on the bottom of meat load
  • Add some onion, mushrooms and spinach
  • Bake the pan for an hour at 350°F

How to reach the ketosis goal?

Our body produces the energy from the glucose intake, which is finally gathered from carbohydrates. But while being on the ketosis weight loss, the body undergoes hormonal shifts and can surely get discharged of fat that comes from fat cells. Once you are aware of what is the keto diet, you will understand that the energy is obtained from ketones that are usually obtained when you are into ketosis weight loss plan.

Certain symptoms would depict you have reached into a state of ketosis:

  • You will stop craving for food as your appetite is in control
  • Feel thirsty
  • Strong odour while urination
  • Metal taste in your taste bud

Though it is indeed very difficult to say how much time you would need to reach the desired goal while following keto diet, as different body responses differently. If you check the carb consumption and reduce to 20 grams per day, then within few days, you will see results. There are many people around who have seen the change within 3-4 days.

Read More