Get Thin by Eating More Fat. Is the Keto Diet Too Good to Be True?
Books about this weight loss method are flying off bookstore shelves. We tell you what you need to know before you join the masses in "ketoing" your food choices.
The ketogenic diet is an invitation to eat eggs, cheese, bacon, keto chicken nuggets and butter while attempting to lose weight. It allows you to pack the fat onto your plate with the promise of inches disappearing from your hips, waist and thighs. It encourages you to ignore calories.
Yes, you read that right. According to Body Building magazine, you’ll eat 70 to 75 percent of your calories as fats on the Keto diet, 15 to 20 percent as protein, and the remaining 5 to 10 percent as carbohydrates.
The Keto Diet Blog recommends:
- Eating all the fats you like, including butter, duck fat and lard. Protein can include beef, pork, lamb, eggs, fish and chicken.
- You’ll eat only 30 grams of net carbs (that’s carbohydrate grams minus fiber grams), which could include green leafy vegetables like kale and bok choy, cauliflower, mushrooms, avocados, peppers and asparagus.
- Berries like raspberries, blueberries and blackberries are fine.
- Breads, cookies, cake, rice, potatoes, pasta, and anything containing sugar or corn syrup are strictly off limits.
How the Keto Diet Works
According to a study in Frontiers in Psychology, after three or four days on the diet, your body recognizes that it can’t make enough energy from carbohydrates in food, so it starts using the fat stored in your cells. The process is called ketosis: Your liver is making ketone bodies, which are then used to make energy. When your body begins using fats instead of sugars for energy, your brain registers an “aha” moment. You now have a more efficient fat-burning metabolism.
The Science Behind Keto
The ketogenic diet dates back to 1920, when it was first used to help reduce epileptic seizures in children. It’s still used for that purpose, according to a study published in the journal Epilepsia. It was adapted in the 1970s as the Atkins Diet, by physician Robert Atkins.
In a 2014 National Institutes of Health (NIH) study, people on a 24-week ketogenic diet lost an average of 33 pounds. Pretty good, but almost any diet can help you lose 1-1/2 pounds per week. On the Keto diet, however, participants cut their triglycerides by more than 60 per cent. Triglycerides are lipids, or fat in the blood, usually stored around your hips and belly. Be happy about losing them.
Participants in the NIH study who had insulin resistance (aka pre-diabetes) “showed dramatically improved markers of metabolic syndrome than with diets lower in fat.” Metabolic syndrome is the term for fat carried around our bellies. So with this diet you’ll even look better.
What Do Health Professionals Say?
Physician Marcelo Campos, a contributor to the Harvard Health Blog, uses the diet in his practice and reports successful weight loss in many of his patients. “But,” he warns, “it’s hard to follow and can be heavy on red meat and processed and salty foods. We also do not know much about its long-term effects, probably because it’s so hard to stick with that people can’t eat this way for a long time.”
Most registered dietitians don’t like the diet because it virtually eliminates carbohydrates, a food group they say is essential to health.
Ultimately, the best way to lose weight, maintain optimal nutrition and keep the pounds off, according to most healthcare experts, is to eat a balanced diet of proteins, carbs and fats. So Keto if you’d like, but you may want to consider trying these quick and healthy recipes first.