Wednesday, 5 February 2020 / Topics:

There are countless diets and healthy eating plans to choose from nowadays, many of which promise big results, but it can be difficult to know which one is best for your health and lifestyle. The Ketogenic diet, also known as the ‘Keto’ diet, has become a very popular eating regimen recently among celebrities, with many jumping on the bandwagon.

To help us understand what the Keto diet is all about and if it’s really the best eating plan to be following, dietician and co-founder of Sprout Cooking School, Themis Chryssidis, has a chat to us.

What is a Keto diet?

Themis says, “The Keto diet is a low carbohydrate, high fat eating habit.”

The reduction of carbohydrates (carbs) puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis, which means your body is burning fat. Usually people who follow this diet eat only 20 to 50 grams of carbs per day.

A typical Keto diet significantly reduces the intake of rice, pasta, fruit, grains, bread, beans and starchy vegetables like peas and potatoes.

Types of food in the Keto diet

  • Seafood
  • Low carb vegetables
  • Cheese
  • Avocados
  • Meat and poultry
  • Eggs
  • Coconut oil
  • Plain yoghurt and cottage cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Berries
  • Butter and cream
  • Dark chocolate and cocoa powder

How did the Keto diet begin?

“It was designed in the 1920’s mainly to help treat children with Epilepsy,” Themis says.

Evidence shows that the diet may also be suitable for some people with other medical conditions like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Autism, Alzheimer’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis.

However, there is very limited research that healthy people should use it as a long-term diet.

Why would people choose to do the Keto diet?

Themis says, “The only reason someone would choose to do it is because they want to lose weight. This diet has been shown to help people lose weight initially very quickly.”

“People forget about the health consequences and sustainability of this diet though, unlike many other diets that people go on where you’re trying to use willpower to avoid certain foods,” says Themis.

The draw card of the Keto diet is that it has a lot of fat content, which means it’s satisfying. This way of eating will keep you feeling fuller for longer, making it easier to adhere to than other conventional diets.

Themis says, “It is probably comforting because these are the sorts of food you’re told you should never eat in the past, on a low fat diet.”

When is the Keto diet helpful?

Themis says this diet is great for helping you achieve your short-term health goals.

It also may be an option for some people who have had difficulty losing weight with other methods. However, it’s recommended to be under the supervision of a doctor or accredited dietician if you choose to go on the Keto diet.

When is this diet unhealthy?

“From the beginning it’s unhealthy as you’re cutting out entire food groups and you’ll initially feel lethargic and fatigued, says Themis.

Each food group has a unique nutrient profile and that’s why they exist, so as soon as you take out one of those food groups you’re limiting your intake of nutrients specific to that food group.

Saturated fat is also the primary source of food that you increase in your diet when consuming a Keto diet.

Themis says, “You’re potentially increasing your LDL cholesterol and increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, which is the number one killer in Australia.”

Possible side effects of a Keto diet

  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Headaches
  • Bad breath
  • Feeling sick
  • Dizziness
  • Dehydration

Moderation is key with eating habits

A well balanced diet, eating from all of the different food groups, is encouraged by the majority of health professionals.

“I often say to people eat everything, but not too much of anything. You have to think about the diet and the implications that it’s going to have on your health not just today but in the long-term and the goal has to be to create healthy, positive habits that you can sustain forever,” says Themis.