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What is so special about “Keto” and why could it be an option for your weight loss phase?

If you have been in the weight loss game for a while you might have realised that it doesn’t matter what diet you adopt to lose weight. Provided your new eating regime is lower in calorie intake than your energy usage you most likely will drop a substantial amount of weight.

There are many variations of restricted carbohydrate and high protein eating plans. You have probably heard of “The Paleo Diet”, “The Atkins Diet” and the variations of nutritional ketosis. All of these diets follow the same principal, utilising fat as your primary source of energy and developing ketone bodies (a type of fuel that the liver produces from stored fat).

In practical terms for a diet to be ketogenic you need to reduce your carbohydrate (sugar / starch) intake to a minimal amount (less than 20-50 grams a day) and consume the correct amount of protein given that eating too much of it can interfere with ketosis. By eating high fat, very little carbohydrate and a moderate amount of protein you will eventually use your muscular sugar reserves (they typically last 3-4 days) and will then start consuming your own fat which will be used for energy in the form of ketones.

What foods can you eat:

  • A moderate protein intake is recommended (the exact amount depends on your needs). Discuss this with your doctor or dietitian.

  • Preferably healthy unsaturated fats: nut based, seeds, avocado, tofu, olive olive and dairy in moderation.

  • High fibre vegetables (don’t forget that veggies also contain carbs but the high fibre/low absorption types).

  • Herbs and spices

  • Almond meal and coconut flour to replace flour

  • Dressings and aioli with no added sugar

What foods should you avoid on the ketogenic diet:

  • Foods that are high in sugar: juices, cake, ice cream, candy, sugar

  • Grains and starches: wheat based products, rice, pasta, cereals

  • Fruit

  • Legumes: peas, beans, chickpeas, lentils and so on

  • Starchy veggies: corn, spuds, squash, parsnip, yams and sweet potatoes

Under medical supervision the benefits of a ketogenic diet during the weight loss phase generally outweigh the risks. It promotes a rapid weight loss without reducing your portion intake and has the potential to reduce your appetite.

The risks of this diet are a vitamin and mineral deficiency that can be reduced by taking a daily multivitamin whilst on it. Constipation due to the low intake of high fibre food and transient low energy levels secondary to a low carbs intake can occur (“Keto flu”).

In general terms, a medical supervised ketogenic diet can be a good starting point for your weight loss phase. This diet like any restrictive approach will need a careful and guided re introduction of carbohydrates to avoid regaining weight.

If you decide to undergo a ketogenic diet plan ahead and make sure you have the approval and support from a doctor or dietitian. Don’t forget, any restrictive diet will make you lose weight. The difficulty remains in avoiding putting the weight back on.

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