Recently a lot of people have been asking me about the keto diet. They want to know if it works and is it safe to follow. The keto diet also known as the low carbohydrate diet was first made popular by Atkins. He used it more as a weight loss diet. The Atkins diet became very popular but after his death the diet lost some of its glamour but recently it has made a return. However the recent study that showed that those on low carbohydrate diet had a higher mortality was quite worrying.
So why does this diet work and help people lose weight? To understand this we must understand what our body uses as fuel for energy. The body’s main source of fuel is usually carbohydrates. In fact the whole obesity epidemic is because of the excess of carbohydrates, especially refined carbs that we are all now consuming and not burning the excess for energy which than gets stored as fat. Now in the ketogenic diet what they do is basically eliminate all carbohydrates from the diet and the body has to use an alternative for energy which is fat. Hence the easy thing than is to burn the extra fat that we have on us, hence the weight loss. If we exercise the weight loss is even faster. This alternative pathway will produce ketones hence the name ketogenic diet.
I find that the ketogenic diet is a good way to kick start a weight loss regime. I recommend it for two weeks and then follow a low refined carbohydrate diet and exercise. Also avoid too much of saturated fats and use good fats like oily fish and avocados and nuts. The problem with long term ketogenic diets is the high consumption of saturated fats which will increase inflammation and protein especially red meat which increases the risk of cancer and heart disease. This is the reason for the higher mortality in people who follow a ketogenic diet in the long term.
The ideal diets for longevity are the Mediterranean and Okinawan diets. You need to consume four to five portions of fruits and vegetables per day. One portion been the size of your palm. If you want to lose weight than you should take four portions of vegetables and one portion of fruit. If not three portions of vegetables and two portions of fruit is ok. Each meal should also have one portion of protein. This can be from eggs, tofu, fish or chicken. Keep red meat for occasions only. Sometimes if you crave for red meat you can try duck, turkey or ostrich meat. Also this meats are less contaminated than chicken (unless it is free range chicken). Try to get at least one portion of good fats a day. Avoid all junk food and artificial foods. Go natural as much as possible. Combine this with exercise and manage your stress and you will have no problem maintaining your ideal weight and Live Long and Live Well.