You can hardly open a magazine these days or you can read about the Keto diet: Keto was a widely used keyword for diets on Google in 2018. But what exactly is the hype about? Read on for a crash course on the principles of the Keto diet, and the answer to the question “Can I really lose weight on bacon and butter?”
What is the Keto Diet?
‘Keto’ stands for Ketogenic Diet, an Extreme Form of low-carb diet. In short, you eat large amounts of fats, a modest amount of protein and very few carbohydrates. But it’s certainly not a matter of “eat it.” Ideally, with the Keto diet, you get about 70 to 80 percent of your daily calories from fats, about 10 to 20 percent from protein and about 5 to 10 percent from carbohydrates [i].
Fat contains more calories per gram than carbohydrates and protein. Eating more calories than your body needs can ultimately lead to weight gain. But it is possible to lose weight with a diet that is focused on fat, as long as you carefully adhere to the program. At first you lose your body moisture in response to the drastically reduced carbohydrate intake. Because you have to leave a lot of foods out of your normal diet (in this case carbohydrates) you may also eat less, which will cause you to lose even more weight.
There is some evidence that you can lose fat if a large proportion of your calories come from fat. This works like this: The cells in your body normally prefer to get their energy from glucose (sugars that come from the carbohydrates you consume) [ii]. If you follow a diet with very few carbohydrates and a lot of fats, your body will go instead from sugar burning to fat burning. This process takes place in the liver, releasing as a by-product so-called Ketones, which form an alternative energy source [iii].
Whether you’re on a high-carb or low-carb diet, you’ll only fall off if you eat fewer calories than your body burns.
Is the Keto diet new?
Despite the recent hype, the Keto diet is not new. This type of diet was first developed in the 1920s to treat children with epilepsy [iv]. In recent times, it has gained popularity in the diet world.
Does the Keto diet help you lose weight for good?
Not necessarily. We already told you that your body loses fluids with this diet. Once you eat more carbohydrates than is allowed according to the Keto diet, you can gain weight again by absorbing more fluids. And most people can – or want! – do not remove carbohydrate foods from their diet for the rest of their lives.
What foods can you eat with the Keto diet?
With the Keto diet you eat significantly less carbohydrates, such as bread and pasta plus fruits and a large number of vegetables, than with an average diet.
An overview of the foods you eat when you follow the Keto diet below:
|Fats: 70-80%||Protein: 10-20%||Carbohydrates: 5-10%|
Green leafy vegetable (these are the best vegetables according to keto philosophy)
With a normal diet of 2000 calories per day, this amounts to:
- 165 grams fat
- 75 grams protein
- 20 to 30 grams carbohydrates [v]
Do you think this is healthy?
What types of carbohydrates can you eat in the Keto diet?
The Keto diet only works if you start eating drastically less carbohydrates. This means that you should mainly omit pasta, bread, oatmeal, potatoes, most fruits and many vegetables from your dailydiet, which also causes you to miss out on the nutritional value of these foods.
It turns out that carbohydrates are hidden in many nutritious foods, such as wholemeal bread (47 grams of carbohydrates per slice), bananas (37 grams each) and oatmeal (27 grams per cup (cooked).
Is the Keto Diet Hard to Sustain?
Although the Keto diet has been shown to help you lose weight over a period of targeted lines, research shows that it can be difficult to maintain the diet in the long run. In addition, the diet contains a lot of red meat and fatty foods, which are increasingly thought to be unhealthy for you [vi].
Is the Keto Diet Safe?
If you follow the Keto diet, it means that you increase the amount of fat in your diet. Keto doesn’t distinguish between the quality of fats (saturated fat or unsaturated fat) and just requires you to eat a lot of it. There are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fats (or saturated fats): foods rich in saturated fat pose more health risks, including a higher risk of cardiovascular disease [vii].
The Keto diet does not meet the dietary guidelines 2015-2020 (drawn up in response to U.S. research), in which the emphasis is on eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains for optimal health.
Experts agree that the best nutrition programmes are those consisting of a wide variety of foods, which can be sustained in the long term. That is, you should not be required to choose from a list of ‘permitted’ foods. Some people have experienced that Keto works well for them, others that it can be difficult to keep up the diet.
If you suffer from an existing liver or kidney disease, heart disease or diabetes, talk to your GP before making major changes to your diet.