What is the Keto diet?

I’ve been a bit AWOL the last couple of weeks because I’ve been trying to get my thesis results done, but in between the struggle, I’ve been planning some very interesting content for the next few weeks.

My first article for this festive season is about the keto/ketogenic diet. If you’ve seen some person on Instagram in the last two years that has lost a lot of weight “easily” and they most probably tried the keto diet.

The keto diet is not the same thing as Banting, even though both are low carbohydrate (carbs) and high fat, but keto is a lot stricter.

***Maybe just a side note here: I am not a pro-keto dieter at all!

So on this diet, you drastically reduce your intake of carbs and eat a lot more fat. This then forces your body into ketosis where your body starts to burn fat instead of carbs for energy. And to me, the most horrible side-effect is that as soon as you reach ketosis, your breath STINKS! The stinky breath is due to the ketone bodies in your breath (the same as you get from someone who is not controlling their diabetes well).

This is what ketone bodies look like. The figure was taken from the article by Prins 2008.

Some research has suggested that if you have a brain-“intensive” job, then the keto diet is really beneficial, due to your brain using ketone bodies for fuel.

On the keto diet, you don’t only restrict your intake of just unhealthy carbs like sugar, you also reduce the intake of healthy carbs like fruits and certain vegetables.

If you can get past the struggle of letting go of bread and sugar in your morning coffee (you can use xylitol instead of sugar), then you might start seeing the benefits of it. Some research has shown that the keto diet can help to control seizures in children with epilepsy and people with type 2 diabetes. But mostly you can lose weight.

Dieticians don’t usually recommend this diet because it is so restrictive and difficult to adhere to, but if you can stick to it and you believe that it works well with your body, then go ahead. Genetics makes a huge difference in whether your body responds well to carbs or not.

In my experience, I’ve found that the basic sum of what you put in must be less than what you use. Its basic maths and its called a caloric deficit. In short, the number of calories you put into your body MUST be less than the number of calories you use during the day.

So if you decide to eat a massive slice of chocolate cake, and you still want to lose weight, then just make sure the rest of your day’s calories will not push you over the total calorie usage/expenditure.

(Just don’t spend hours on the treadmill hating yourself because you ate that whole slice. Rather enjoy it and work on it again tomorrow – life’s too short to stress about calorie-counts. I’m all for #bodypositivity ).

I started to disbelieve in the whole keto diet after I saw what my grandmother eats. She eats only chocolate, slabs, and slabs of Cadbury’s chocolate, and biscuits and cookies and Milo and Ultramel custard… And she never picks up weight. The Banting diet’s Tim Noakes’ worst nightmare.

So, in the end, if you still want to lose weight during this festive season, you can give the keto diet a try. I’ve tried it multiple times before, but I just can’t seem to stick to it. I’ve been able to stick to the caloric-deficit though, and it seems to me like a good “plan” to follow during this season.

If you want to read more about the keto diet, here’s a few resources, then you can make your mind up for yourself:

  1. Ketogenesis
  2. Ketoacidosis
  3. How to start a Keto diet
  4. Dr. Berg’s Healthy Ketogenic Diet Basics
  5. Keto-friendly foods

Please let me know of your experience in the comments if you’ve tried the keto diet. I would love to hear what you thought/felt doing it. And even if you haven’t done it, if you ever would?

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