Keto is short for ketogenic. It is a low carb (5%), moderate protein (20%), high fat (75%) diet, which alters your metabolic state into a state known as ketosis. This is a normal process that happens when your body doesn’t have enough carbs to burn for energy. Instead, it turns fat into ketones, which it effectively burns for energy, instead of storing for a later day. This metabolic reset is the reason why the diet is so effective for anyone wishing to lose weight.
The recommended net carb intake is <20g, though you can stay in ketosis while consuming more carbs. Fat is what gives you the energy on keto, but it’s about eating the good fats like monounsaturated or saturated sources including butter, fish, olive oil, and avoiding highly processed polyunsaturated sources such as soy, corn or cottonseed.
The one crucial thing about keto is that one eliminates sugar. This includes all sugars, including fructose found in fruits, dried fruits (yes dates are a dried fruit), and most syrups. As a general rule, all sugars are processed in the body the same way as refined sugar, affecting your insulin response, leaving your body in shambles and pulling you straight out of ketosis. It is very important that you do not combine a high fat and high sugar diet, as this will have a negative effect on the body. However, for those with a sweet tooth, there are a few syrups and sweeteners that are zero carb and contain insoluble fibre, making them acceptable for a keto diet. Such sweeteners include stevia, monk fruit, erythritol and xylitol.
KETO IS LIKE ATKINS, RIGHT?
Keto and Atkins are similar but different. During Atkins you only aim to go into ketosis during the induction phase of the diet, and then you reintroduce more carbs, although still this is a low-carb diet. With keto, once you're ‘keto-adapted’, your body becomes used to the absence of carbohydrates and will naturally get that satiated feeling from fats. Dr Jong Rho, division chief of neurology at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego, has called this a return to homeostasis for your body: a return to normalcy or natural state. Humans are born in a mild state of ketosis, meaning fat-adaptive.
WHY WOULD YOU DO KETO?
Here’s 10 reasons.
Following a ketogenic diet can…
- Help reverse diabetes, if done at a clinical level – which maintains approximately 90% caloric intake from fats.
- Be beneficial for Alzheimer’s, as ketones are easily absorbed by damaged brain tissue unfit to respond to a carbohydrate diet.
- Decrease the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, such as fatigue, pain and cognitive impairment.
- Treat epilepsy, especially with children. The clinical keto diet has been used since the 1920s to treat this condition.
- Help to reverse certain cancer growth (though research before embarking – while many cancers feed off sugars and keto definitely helps restrict this, some cancers like prostate cancer feed off fats).
- Give you astounding lasting weight loss results – if your body only has fat as an energy source, it will be a fat-burning machine.
- Improve your health in the long run as the diet is low in deuterium and high in nutrition.
- Reset your taste buds and cravings, which is great for enjoying food and spending less money on bad nutrition!
- Protect the body from free radicals through ketones, and nuclear radiation – hence it is a useful biohack before embarking on a flight.