By Sally Kennedy and Rima Al-Faour
Introduction by Sally Kennedy: As most people now are aware of the perils of weight, healthy eating and staying their best, we hear more and more about diet options. Which is right for us? How do you choose and what is the “science” behind each.
Ketosis has gained popularity for weight loss, and many studies have shown that keto diets result in more effective weight loss and are easier to maintain than low fat or low calorie diets. The metabolic state of ketosis allows easier access to fat stores to burn off. Other less obvious benefits include reduction in hunger and appetite control, and increased energy and focus.
Diets inducing ketosis have been shown to have many therapeutic uses and have been applied in the treatment of many diseases, such as epilepsy and diabetes. They have also been shown to have a positive influence on age-related and metabolic disorders and may be associated with improved biomarkers such as insulin, glucose, inflammatory markers, lipid profiles and metabolic hormones.
A ketogenic diet can be used to control blood sugar and in the management and sometimes even reversal of type 2 diabetes. As the diet naturally lowers blood sugar level, this therefore reduces the need for medications.
What to eat on a keto diet
The two main sources of energy from diets are carbohydrates and fat. The most important thing when on a keto diet is to avoid eating too many carbs (carbs below 50 grams per day, and under 20 grams per day for maximum effect). The fewer the carbs, the more effective. It is also important to make sure you have enough natural fat (such as meat, olive oil, avocado..) to feel satisfied. Remember this is not a low fat diet, eating too little fat while also cutting down on carbs will make you feel tired and hungry. Make sure you stick to eating good quality, unprocessed, real low carb foods such as meat, fish, eggs, vegetables and natural fats.
What to eat:
- Meat (unprocessed meat)
- Fish and seafood (fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines.. are great)
- Natural fats like butter, olive oil, coconut oil.. etc. Do not opt for inflammatory vegetable oils such as corn or sunflower oil.
- Vegetables (mainly those grown above ground) such as leafy greens, cauliflower, cabbage, avocado, broccoli..etc,
- High fat dairy (butter, cheese, cream..) Although using milk sparingly in coffee is not a problem, milk however is better avoided as it is high in lactose, milk sugar.
- Nuts… These also are to be consumed in moderation as its easy to overeat! The two nuts most keto-friendly are macadamias and pecans.
- And finally, berries. Of all the fruits, a moderate amount of berries is ok on keto.
What to avoid
- Sugar: all soft drinks, fruit juice, sweets, candy, cakes, cookies, breakfast cereal… etc
- Starchy carbs: Potatoes, bread, pasta, rice. This includes wholegrain products as well. Legumes (lentils and beans) are also high in carbs and should be avoided.
- Fruit: Although ok once in a while, fruit is actually very sweet and rich in natural sugar, which will kick you out of ketosis if over-consumed,
Remember it is important to read labels for hidden sugars as many ready prepared or packaged foods do contain a lot more sugar than you think!
There are many food replacements and ways to have treats on keto diets including dark chocolate, keto breads and desserts made with almond or coconut flour and specific sweeteners such as stevia, xylitol, monk fruit sweetener..
Can anyone use these diet plans?
Ketogenic or low carbohydrate diets appear to be very safe for most people. However, the groups that need special consideration are:
- Type 1 Diabetes: Ketogenic diets can drastically improve blood sugar control. For those with type 1 diabetes, a ketogenic diet can induce the state of ketoacidosis, which is very dangerous. However, a closely monitored plan with monitored insulin doses and a low carb diet CAN help maintain steady blood sugar and result in fewer blood sugar fluctuations with extreme highs and lows.
- Type 2 Diabetes: For someone with type 2 diabetes and not taking drugs, there is very low risk of low blood sugar and they can benefit significantly. Those with type 2 diabetes and on medication such as insulin will need guidance. A strict low-carb diet may improve their condition and will therefore require to adapt pre existing diabetic medication with the lifestyle change. It is possible to eventually come off insulin completely if the lifestyle is maintained and blood sugar levels remain stable.
- Breastfeeding: Because mothers breastfeeding lose sugar via the milk, in some very rare cases following a strict ketogenic diet can be potentially dangerous, leading to ketoacidosis. It is therefore recommended to follow a moderate low carb diet (at least 50 grams of carbs per day) if one wants to maintain this lifestyle. This can be done by simply having two to three pieces of fruit a day.
- High blood pressure: A ketogenic diet can be very effective in lowering blood pressure. However, if you are on medication and the diet there’s a risk of low blood pressure and medication dosages will need to be monitored and adjusted. It is important to get enough fluid and salt on a keto diet.
*Can a person stay on these diets indefinitely?
Yes, this can be a lifestyle one adopts and can even cycle in and out of.
Low carb and ketogenic diets have gained popularity and are effective for weight loss and are believed to be beneficial for longevity. It has been used very commonly, since the 1920’s, as medical therapy for epilepsy. Many studies show that low carb diets positively impact multiple risk factors for lifestyle related diseases such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Other benefits include improved focus, concentration and energy.
So… She recommends Keto diet…I will do it… and let you know my success!!