Keto Diet: What’s the fuss about?
So the first thing to note is that the keto diet is only one of many, many [truly, there are many] different types of diets out there, and it’s been around for a long long time. In fact, the ketogenic diet was originally developed as a method of treatment in children around the early 1920s after the first modern scientific study into fasting as a form of treatment for epilepsy was conducted in 1911.
What is Keto Diet?
The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet. It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. For those who know about ketoacidosis, don’t be alarmed: ketosis is a much much milder form and like already stated happens in the average person whilst ketoacidosis is a gravely feared occurrence in, especially, type 1 diabetes (read more here)
What’s the principle behind Keto?
The principle on which the diet is based is as old as time itself. In the usual state, the human body cells would much rather metabolise( break down) sugar in the bloodstream which largely comes from the carbohydrates we eat. But over 2-4 days of starvation, the body resorts to breaking down stored fats to generate energy. The products of that energy-generating process are termed ketone bodies and they become the replacement for that blood sugar.
As you may have heard by now, the keto diet is famous for being a strict no-carbohydrate diet (unless you still want to count 30/40 g of carb). This means no rice, no flour( so no cakes, biscuits or bread), no yam, no chips, no plantains and certainly no fufu, ugali, or eba.. catch my drift?
As you can imagine, this is extremely difficult for most taste buds as a great many diets are rich in carbohydrates. But it appears to work because it mimics almost exactly what happens to you when you’re deprived of food for about 2-4 days: to start off,
- The diet causes your body to directly attack the stored fat which is precisely what we’re always trying to achieve.
- It’s thought that the higher fat content of the meals decreases your appetite and consequently how many calories you consume overall.
So, should all who want to lose weight badly resort to the keto diet?
Well, the jury is still out on the matter.
The simple truth is that no one diet is best for everyone — and what works for you may not work for someone else.
In the first place, many people tend to get what is termed the “keto flu” when they start the diet: lethargy, weakness, vomiting and a tummy upset. It’s just this generally unwell feeling but luckily it passes.
Because this diet causes the break down of fat and muscle mass and insists on limited carb intake, it really isn’t for sportsmen and other forms of bodybuilders. A loss of muscle mass is likely to affect one’s metabolism also.
Particularly of note is the fact that the ketones that are produced aren’t exactly best friends with your kidneys so individuals with renal impairment (kidney problems) are better off avoiding it altogether.
Again, for a diet that’s rich in fats, the question is immediately raised about whether those fats are heart-healthy or not?
[ watch out for our article on which edible oils and fats you should be using]
Do note that the keto diet regimen you follow should have lots of vegetables and lean meat.
In summary, the keto diet has both advantages and disadvantages. You’ll have to carefully weigh each, and consult your doctor if you decide to indulge. Just remember that a lot of the literature isn’t very clear on the long-term effects so you may not wish to do it for more than a few months at a time.
Like they say, “there’s no free lunch in Freetown.”