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What is the ketogenic (keto) diet and is it a safe way to lose weight? Our infographic offers a handy overview of the ketogenic diet for beginners.

A Brief History of the Keto Diet

The Ketogenic Diet is high-fat, low-carb eating strategy that was first developed in the early 20th century by Dr. Wilder at the Mayo Clinic as a method of treating epilepsy. It resurfaced in the 1970s with the Atkins Diet which also focused on ditching carbs in favour of fats with the aim of inducing ketosis. Around 2013, the keto diet caught public attention again following the publication of a study in the Science journal which revealed that the diet could potentially “slow the aging process and may one day allow scientists to better treat or prevent age-­related disease, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and many forms of cancer.”



The Keto Diet Explained

The aim of the ketogenic (or, keto) diet is to send the body into a state of ‘ketosis’ by using a very strict low-carb diet. In essence, it can be broken down into three core principles:


  1. Keep carbs low
  2. Keep protein moderate
  3. Focus on fat as your primary calorie source

The keto diet meal plan typically comprises 60-75% fat, 15-30% protein, and 5-10% carbohydrates.

What is Ketosis?

Normally, our body produces energy by burning glucose from carbohydrate foods.
However once carbs have been eliminated from the diet, the body will start to burn fat instead. Ketosis occurs when the body starts to derive its energy instead from burned fat which comes in the form of molecules called ketones. Ketosis typically sets in after two to four days of maintaining a strict low-carb diet (however this can vary based on a range of factors).


Potential Side Effects

As a result of the extreme restriction of carbs, many people who adopt the Keto Diet experience “the Keto Flu”. Symptoms of Keto Flu include:


      •Dry mouth
      •Bad breath
      •Sleep problems
      •Difficulty focusing


These symptoms usually begin within the first day or two of starting the diet, and generally can last for a week or less. However in extreme cases, these symptoms can last up to a month. One way to reduce potential side effects is to gradually decrease your consumption of carbs over a few weeks

What’s more, as your body adapts to the diet, your body loses excess fluid and this mild dehydration can cause many of the symptoms associated with the keto flu. You may find that your body needs more water than usual. In addition to upping the amount of water you drink, you should also eat plenty of water-rich foods such as watermelon and cucumber.

What are the Benefits of the Keto Diet?

Over 20 studies show that this type of diet can help you lose weight. It has also been found to help lower risk factors for diabetes, cancer, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease. Research has also indicated that keto could be used to reduce some cases of acne that are related to diet and blood sugar.


Some examples of keto diet foods including tomatoes, avocado & boiled eggs

Is The Keto Diet A Safe & Healthy Way to Lose Weight?

Before starting on a Keto Diet, you must first consult your doctor to confirm if it is safe for you to do so. As with any diet, it’s also important to read trustworthy sources and to educate yourself on the risks. You should also bear in mind that there is limited research about the long-term effects of keto.

Some characterise the diet as “extreme” and caution that it should only be adopted as a short-term measure under the strict supervision of a trained physician. Critics of the ketogenic diet also argue that many people tend to eat excessive protein and poor-quality fats from processed foods, with very few fruits and vegetables. The long-term cutting back on carbohydrates without replacing with healthy substitutes could put you at increased risk of insufficient intakes of certain nutrients (such as fibre) and this may lead to health problems down the line. What’s more, the increased intake of high-fat foods is likely to increase your saturated fat intake which in turn can raise the amount of cholesterol in your blood; putting you at a higher risk of heart disease.

Read our handy infographic below for a beginner’s guide to the ketogenic diet.

the keto diet explained infographic

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