I was asked yesterday if I stick to a keto based diet and what I thought of it. For those who are unsure, a keto diet is a method of eating that encourages your body to burn fat and is an excellent way of reducing weight. When you restrict your carbohydrate intake to around 50 grams a day your body starts to produce ketones which are a by-product in the breakdown of fatty acids. Water soluble they show up in your urine, so with the use of ketone sticks, easily purchased from the chemist, you are able to tell if your body is breaking down fat as fuel. To put 50 grams of carbohydrates into perspective, this equates to 2 tablespoons of honey or 5 thin slices of white bread.
For this diet to work you really need to have a good understanding of which foods contain carbohydrates and how much. Also, many of these diets contain large amounts of protein which puts a strain on your kidneys. You should really only be consuming around 1g of protein per kg of body weight per day, one egg contains around 13g of protein. Please note that this amount changes depending on your current health situation and age.
Initially you may suffer from sugar withdrawal which can leave you cranky and hard to get along with but it tends to only last a couple of days. You also may experience a sweet, acetone smelling breath. It’s barely detectable you are the only one likely to notice. This is a result of the ketones being exhaled, it’s a good sign that means you are burning fat for fuel. Depending on how long you continue with a low carbohydrate diet this side effect will end as will the appearance of ketones in the urine.
I have a few issues with this or any other diet with a label. It is difficult to maintain without help and support, you need a good understanding of what you can and cannot eat. It is very easy to throw your body out of ketosis so then you need to start the process all over again. The fact that it has a label ‘The Keto Diet’ means that food companies employ clever marketers to produce packaged foods targeted at people that are trying to lose weight. Any product with a label; keto, paleo, low fat, high fat, gluten free, low carbohydrate etc., that gains popularity gets the attention of packaged food companies and suddenly we have a ‘keto’ range or a ‘paleo’ range of products on our supermarket shelves. This diet label does not mean that these packaged foods are healthy, very few of them are. I encourage you to read the label, if the ingredients include numbers, names that you can’t pronounce, or you have to google to find out what it is, it is not good for you do not eat it!
Now to answer the second part of the question, do I stick to a keto diet? Here’s the ‘label’ or not for my lifestyle choice; low simple carbohydrates, high healthy fats, a wide selection of seasonal organic or spray free vegetables, quality moderate amounts of protein, and fermented foods. Good luck marketing companies trying to come up with a strategy for that!
This is general advice only, before commencing any diet you should first be checking with a qualified nutritionist. Everyone has different dietary requirements, for example anyone with kidney issues should be careful with their protein types and amounts.