Another day, another diet. It’s hard to keep up with the wavering food trends lately, last year it was all about being a holy vegan and now everyone is binning carbs and doubling up on the bacon. Keto – short for ketogenic – diet is having a moment in Hollywood and Instagram’s ‘fitspo’ community are fans as well. Celebrities like KKW, Megan Fox and Halle Berry swear by it for rapid weight loss and its anti-ageing benefits (did your ears just prick up?). It was originally designed way back in the 1920’s for epilepsy sufferers, but the exciting thing about this diet is that you can lose weight while eating normal portion sizes. Wondering what the hell this diet is all about? Us too! Here we answer everything you need to know.
What is a ketogenic diet?
Similar to the paleo and Atkins diet, the premise of keto is to drastically reduce carbohydrates, only 20 grams a day, and replace it with an abundance of fats. When the body uses fat for fuel instead of carbs it creates a fat-burning state known as ketosis. Getting into ketosis can take up to 5 days and your primary intake of nutrients should be fats, supplemented with small amounts of proteins and vegetables. Like every weight loss venture, it doesn’t come easy (ugh why?!?!), keto requires hours of careful planning and constant tracking of what you eat to keep your body in ketosis.
Which foods are allowed?
Full-fat dairy: eggs, cheese, plain yoghurt, butter and ghee
Low-carb vegetables: avocados, leafy greens, broccoli, capsicum, cauliflower, zucchini, mushrooms and asparagus
Oils: olive, coconut, flaxseed, macadamia
Nuts: macadamias, pecans, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds. (***puts down the jar of peanut butter, too many carbs!)
Protein: grass-fed meat, chicken, fish, eggs and low-carb protein powders
Condiments: salt, pepper, mayonnaise, chilli sauce, yellow mustard, horseradish and worcestershire sauce
Is it safe?
A lot of doctors agree that being in ketosis is not necessarily harmful. Some studies, in fact, suggest that a ketogenic diet is safe for significantly overweight or obese people. However, some experts still maintain that the body and brain need carbohydrates to function optimally, after all it is the preferred energy source. This style of eating is not safe during pregnancy and anyone with a gallbladder or liver disease should steer clear! If you’re still interested in trying keto, ask your doctor first because it’s never one size fits all with nutrition.
- Reduces the ‘hard to lose’ body fat (like the stubborn tummy and back areas)
- Cuts sugar cravings by balancing your insulin levels
- Fights inflammation
- Improved mental clarity
- It’s expensive (all that meat and dairy don’t come cheap)
- You miss out on important fibre
- Not a lot of variety
- Almost impossible to go out for dinner with your girlfriends
- Requires constant meal prep and thought
Words by Jennifer Aitken.