Expert advice: what is the Keto diet?
The low carb, high-fat Keto diet is just as popular as it is controversial. Find out more about it in this article.
The ketogenic diet – also called the Keto diet – was developed in the 1920s to help reduce seizures in children with epilepsy due to its anticonvulsant effects. Today, this trendy diet is known to be a method to lose weight quickly and is used to improve the symptoms of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
How does it work?
The ketogenic diet uses fats as primary source of energy, by reducing carbohydrate and increasing lipid2 intake. It promotes consumption of healthy, natural and whole foods and good fats, avoids fats that contains too much omega-6 and eliminates processed products2. Daily consumption is 75% lipids, 20 % proteins and only 5% carbohydrates1.
- Foods allowed: Fish, seafood, meat, poultry, eggs, butter, vegetable oils, vinegars, low-carb vegetables (spinach, lettuce, kale, etc.), avocados, lemon juice, olives, firm cheeses, etc1.
- Foods allowed in moderation: High-carb vegetables, whole milk, whole milk yogurt, sugar-free coffee, wine, liquor, etc1.
- Foods to avoid: Sugar *, sugar-rich food (juices, soft drinks, pastries, cookies, pastries, fruit compotes, flavoured yogurts, jams, syrups, honey, sauces, chocolate, etc.), sweet vegetables (beets, carrots, corn, etc.), legumes, starchy foods, cereals, fresh and soft cheeses, etc1.
* Except erythritol, stevia and xylitol.
How does it promote weight loss?
Normally, the body’s primary source of energy comes from the carbohydrates consumed during the day1. However, since the ketogenic diet is very low in carbohydrates, it forces the body to find another source of fuel: fat. As a result, the liver transforms lipids into organic compounds (ketones) to nourish the cells, and a few days later, the body goes into a state of ketosis2. This condition causes a decrease in appetite, which promotes weight loss1.
Pros and cons
Just like any diet, there are pros and cons to the Keto diet. Its main benefits are that it provides a feeling of satiety, leads to rapid weight loss, has no caloric restriction, allows good intake of quality lipids and proteins, and has a potentially positive effect on blood lipid levels1. In contrast, this diet is also known to have unpleasant side effects during the first weeks due to its restrictions and poor diversification1. Indeed, the Keto diet eliminates many food groups (fruits, many vegetables, legumes, grain products), which can cause long-term deficiencies in fibre, antioxidants and vitamins2.