Despite common perceptions, low carb doesn’t have to mean low taste!
The keto diet has been one of the most widely researched and widely adopted diets in recent years. This has been the case for a myrid of reasons, many of which we’re going to delve into today.
First of all, what exactly is a keto diet?
Keto – or ketogenic, to give its full name – is a diet that is high in fat, moderate in protein and low in carbohydrates (usually allowing just 20-50g per day). Some keto diets can even be as high as 90% fat! We know what you’re thinking: ‘hold on, don’t I need carbohydrates for energy? And isn’t too much fat a bad thing?’ Well, not necessarily.
It’s true that the body requires carbohydrates for energy. However, carbohydrates are not the only nutrients that your body sources its energy from. Both protein and fats supply energy to the body, with fats actually being the most energy-efficient form of food. While one gram of carbohydrate supplies four calories to the body, one gram of fat gives nine calories (protein also gives four).
When your body takes in fewer carbohydrates it adapts to get more of its energy through fats. In the keto diet, the main source of energy comes from fats stored in the liver, which are broken down to produce ketone bodies. Simple, right?
Think of it as eating more fat to burn more fat. And that isn’t the only benefit of a keto diet.
The Multiple Benefits of A Keto Diet
Numerous studies have found the keto diet to be not only be effective for weight-loss, but to actually be more effective than a low fat diet. A 2013 study by Bueno et al. compared the two, finding that those on a very low carbohydrate keto diet (one with less than 50g carbohydrate per day) showed decreased body weight over a 12month period along with lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels. A further study by Yancy Jr. et al., also found that those on a keto diet enjoyed a better quality of life and improved mental health in comparison to those on a low fat diet. This tallies with evidence that keto diets may have positive effects on mood in overweight people.
A keto diet doesn’t just reduce weight by burning more fat; it also makes you less hungry. Entering ketosis, the state where the body doesn’t have enough carbohydrates for energy production, suppresses appetite by reducing elevated insulin and blood sugar levels and altering hunger hormones such as leptin and grehlin. That means that those on a keto diet no longer need to worry as much about calorie counting!
While losing weight is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of diseases like high blood pressure and improve heart health, a keto diet also has positive effects on other health risks. It is an effective treatment of type 2 diabetes – particularly when medication is not available – and able to treat difficult-to-control epileptic seizures in children. Further research suggests that a keto diet can improve the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, and even potentially slow the growth of cancerous tumours. And that’s all on top of weight loss!
What Can I Eat on a Keto Diet?
Before you chuck the fruit and go reaching for the biscuit tin, it’s worth knowing what kind of food is best for a keto diet. And even then, you’ll need to decide whether to go with clean keto or dirty keto.
While clean keto focuses on quality sources of nutrients such as grass-fed beef, free-range eggs and olive oil, dirty keto allows for much more processed food such as burgers from your local fast food takeaway, full-fat cheese and beef jerky. Though it’s often cheaper, quicker and more convenient to choose dirty keto, such foods lack the micronutrients typically found in clean keto and also tend to be high in nutrients such as sodium.
No matter which keto you decide to go with (we recommend clean), one thing should be clear: carbohydrates are pretty much banned. There’s no room for sugary sweets, cakes and ice creams. Most fruit should go too, though there are certain fruits such as berries that can be enjoyed in small portions. If you still want your five-a-day fix, choose leafy green vegetables like spinach or low carbohydrate options such as sprouts, asparagus and onions.
Protein options are abundant, with meat, fish and dairy products high in saturated fat all great to eat (especially if you go with dirty keto). Saturated fats from oils, lard and butter are all good to go and actively encouraged, while healthy unsaturated fats from nuts, seeds, avocado and olive oil are also fine (though not quite as encouraged).
Unsurprisingly, ‘low-fat’ versions of your favourite foods are not an option…
How Can I Start a Keto Diet?
The popularity of the keto diet is soaring, proven by the more than 25 million Google searches for it in 2020. However, a keto diet is not for everyone. Given the changes that take place in the body, pregnant women, children, people with a pre-existing liver condition, those at risk of heart disease, individuals with type 1 diabetes and anyone who has suffered kidney damage should steer clear.
As a result, prior to starting any diet we recommend checking first with your doctor to assess whether it is for you.
For those who do choose to try a keto diet, we’ve got you covered. Our Keto snack boxes, sourced by our Healthy Nibbles nutritionist, are a great way to sample a range of keto-friendly snacks from a variety of brands. With no need to check the dietary information, you can simply enjoy tucking in and focusing fully on our wonderful sweet and savoury nibbles while keeping your diet on track.
Find your Keto snack box today at Healthy Nibbles.