The Keto Diet: Is it for you?
The latest fad diet gripping the nutrition world, and seemingly the most talked about regime is the ketogenic “keto” diet.
The diet focuses on cutting out carbs and putting an emphasis on foods with high protein and healthy fats. Despite the buzz, it’s nothing new – Atkins and Paleo also suggest consuming high-fat, low-carb foods, and without the strictness that comes with maintaining the keto diet.
LeeAnn Cruz, a nutritionist from Mississauga, describes the keto diet as extreme carb deficit.
“[Keto] will result in weight loss for most people because they’re eliminating carbohydrates – even to the point of starchy vegetables putting you into this state of ketosis,” she said.
Ketosis is essentially the process of the body shifting from burning carbs as its main energy source to instead burning fats, so it is important to make sure fat intake is high enough to produce enough fuel for the body to function.
Chelsea Wolf, a 22-year-old student from the University of Guelph-Humber and self-proclaimed keto queen, has been keto for a year and swears by the diet, crediting it for helping her lose 40 pounds.
“I’ve tried a bunch of other diets [to lose weight] like low-fat, veganism… nothing really worked. I have a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). With that, keto is the best diet for me because it reverses the effects (of PCOS),” Wolf said. “Once I started seeing the results that’s when I was like, okay, I need to stick with this.”
Wolf said the disorder was the push she needed to change her sweet-tooth lifestyle and begin her path to healthy eating.
“I had to switch automatically to like eating meats, lots of like oils, vegetables – I wasn’t used to having so much fat in my system with so little carbs. At first, I felt kind of nauseous. I wasn’t sure if I could do [keto] for the long run, but then you start getting used to it, you start getting used to introducing new foods to your body… so it was fine after that,” Wolf said.
Like other diets, not everyone is on board with the concept.
“We want to maintain that perfect balance in our body. Our bodies require glucose to function,” Cruz said. “Brain fog and being forgetful can be a direct correlation with going off carbohydrates.”
Besides carbohydrates from grains, Cruz is also concerned about the restriction on complex carbs like fruits and vegetables.
“They [fruits and vegetables] are some of the most nutrient dense foods we could be eating,” said Cruz.
“You take that out of the equation, you’re going to become deficient in various vitamins and minerals. It’s not something that I would recommend anyone be on for long term. I think it’s best to enjoy whole foods, prepare them in a delicious way and appreciate them, and not feel that you’re so restrictive.”
For long term results, Cruz says whole foods, like oranges, are a better alternative and have great health benefits.