The Keto diet involves eating very low levels of carbohydrates, a controlled amount of protein and more fats than you may be used to. Someone following this program will eat 30 – 40g of carbohydrates, 75g of protein and 165g of fat for a 2,000 calorie per day diet. A plate of pasta contains 25g of carbohydrates so you have to be very careful with your ‘carbs’.
Dieting in this way, induces a state of ketosis. The liver produces ketones from stored fat and burns these for energy instead of carbohydrates. Burning fat is the most efficient way to lose weight and many studies show that weight loss on low carb diets is about twice that on other diets. but that the improvements tail off after 12 weeks – use the Keto diet in short bursts for greatest effect.
I’ve tried the Keto diet and it works! In early 2019, I lost 10kg in three months using these methods. It takes three to four days for ketosis to kick-in (you can measure ketone levels with a cheap hand-held meter). Like many people on diets, I hated the constant need to weigh food and calculate calories. My ketone levels were in the bottom range of those expected to give weight-loss but I still managed to achieve good results.
One of the key things about developing your own, easy to operate, Keto system is understanding ‘net carbs’. The 30-40g target for carbohydrates I mentioned in paragraph one is actually the grams of carbohydrates less the grams of fibre. Almonds, for example, contain 1.6g of carbohydrates in a 30g serving and 3.4g of fibre so the net carbs are a negative 1.8g – you can eat as many as you like. A 145g can of tuna in sunflower oil contains no carbohydrates at all. a 15g serving of chia seeds with almond milk and blueberries would contain about 2g of net carbs. In this way, I built up a range of ‘go-to’ keto-friendly meals that meant that I didn’t have to stand in my kitchen for hours with a calculator. And the great thing about the Keto diet is that my list of ‘good things’ included bacon and eggs, steak with a creamy sauce and cheese!
All dieting carries some risks – maintaining a healthy weight and eating well throughout life is always the best way to go. But if you do have a need to lose weight, be careful of the following:
(1) If you are on medication to reduce blood pressure, make sure that it doesn’t drop too low as your weight reduces. Speak to your doctor if you feel light-headed or dizzy or weak – it may be a sign that you are becoming too healthy for your current dosage!
(2) A change in diet, particularly to a low carb one, may cause headaches. Experts recommend increasing your fluid intake to compensate for this.
(3) ‘Keto-flu’ – about one in four people on a Keto diet find that they get fatigue through to vomiting and diarrhoea for a few days after starting. Rest and fluids will help it pass and ensuring that your fibre levels are high will help.
(4) If you have diabetes – don’t do Keto without speaking to your doctor – it could be dangerous!
(5) Don’t go wild on the meats and fats. The best way to control weight in the long-term is:
(i) Eat plenty of vegetables, pulses and nuts.
(ii) Cut out processed foods and refined sugars.
(iii) Take more exercise.