Food

What Can The Keto Diet Do?

Despite being invented as a treatment for epilepsy in the 1920s, the keto diet has gained mainstream traction as a modern weight loss trend.

The diet is now well known for being a low carb plan, that encourages the body to produce ketones in the liver to be used as energy. It has a few names, including the ketogenic diet or simply, the low carb high fat diet.

But what exactly does it involve? What are the possible benefits? And is it really worth it?

What is it?

The keto diet is essentially a high-fat and low-carb diet plan – that involves a drastic reduction in the daily intake of carbohydrates, and then replacing them with fat.

With more common, higher carbohydrate diets the body will use glucose as a predominant source of energy – but by lowering the intake of carbs, the body can be eventually induced into a state known as ketosis – which helps encourage the body’s efficiency in burning stored fats.

Forcing the body into this metabolic state through the starvation of carbohydrates, results in the build up of acids known as ketones, broken down from fats in the liver – that can effectively raise the body’s energy levels. These Ketones then become the primary energy source, encouraging weight loss, as well as physical and mental benefits.  

The foods involved

The specific foods to include in the keto diet plan can vary depending on how quickly someone wishes to reach the ketogenic state.

Obviously the main aim is to limit carbohydrates, getting them from sources like nuts, vegetables and dairy is recommended. However, the plan discourages any intake of refined carbs, from foods such as cereals, bread, pasta, potatoes, or beans – basically anything that contains an abundance of starch or wheat.

Exceptions include avocados and low glycemic berries, like blackberries that can be eaten in moderation.

Consumption of high fat dairy, such as cheeses, creams and butters – as well as vegetables and greens, like spinach, kale, broccoli and cauliflower, is also highly encouraged when taking the keto diet.

Potential benefits

The keto diet claims numerous short and long term benefits to the body through sticking to it’s low-carb, high-fat regiment.

Firstly, it helps to enhance the body’s ability to burn fat – by essentially using any stored fat as an energy source. Whilst on the diet, insulin levels naturally drop, and the decrease in this fat storing hormone can lead to faster weight loss.    

It claims to naturally lower blood sugar levels due to the type of food being consumed, and therefore be beneficial to those suffering from diabetes.

Improvements in focus and concentration can occur with the lower carb intake, as it helps to avoid spikes in blood sugar. Along with various other benefits – the diet also claims to help with alzheimer’s disease and lowering cholesterol levels.

Possible concerns

The keto diet is still yet to be sufficiently scientifically supported, in regards to being an effective way to achieve successful long-term weight loss. Unlike similar plans, like the Mediterranean-style diet, which is currently backed up with more significant evidence.

There are concerns when it comes to cutting out a large amount of carbs. As foods containing carbohydrates have the highest amounts of water and dietary fiber, removing them from your regular diet for long periods could increase the risk of certain side effects. Such as bowel problems, decreased immune function, and other health issues like an increased risk of gastrointestinal cancers.

The lack of research on long-term results, combined with a regime that could be difficult to follow, and potential health hazards could indicate that the keto diet may not be the best solution for future health.

Have you tried the diet? Or any other new health trends? Let us know your thoughts and join in with the discussion on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

If you’re looking to get healthier and don’t know where to start – take a look at our Gourmet Menu, Meal Plans or our Mixed Maintenance Meal Plan – all tailored to help you, whether you want to start losing weight, keep in shape, or just improve your diet.