With the keto diet still being ranked as one of the most popular diets in 2019, we asked health and wellness expert, Vanessa Ascencao to share her views on the keto diet, plus reveal her best weight loss secrets.
What is the keto diet?
The ketogenic diet (also known as the keto diet) is a low carbohydrate, high fat diet that includes moderate amounts of protein. The keto diet promises quick weight loss for those who are overweight or at risk of becoming obese. The keto diet shares many similarities with the Banting diet and Atkins diet, and it’s best suited for people with insulin sensitivity or those at high risk for developing diabetes as it’s very effective at keeping blood sugar levels low.
How does the keto diet work?
The keto diet works by putting the body into a natural state of ketosis – a metabolic state that occurs when the body starts to break down fat for fuel instead of glucose. According to a report by Medical News Today, as the body breaks down fat, certain acids called Ketones build up in the blood and get excreted through urine.
Possible side effects of the keto diet
While this process is completely safe, some people do experience a few short-term side effects after starting the keto diet. A few studies have referred to these side effects as keto flu. They include:
• Difficulty in exercise tolerance
Numerous studies have shown just how effective the keto diet is for weight loss, but for many people, this type of diet is not suitable long-term and should be followed-up with a safe, maintenance programme – which includes certain types of carbohydrates, more fruits and veggies. The long-term side effects of the keto diet haven’t been established.
NOTE: It’s important to talk to your doctor or registered dietitian before starting any new diet programme.
What are the benefits of the keto diet?
“Although most people follow the ketogenic diet to lose weight, there are plenty of well-documented benefits of the keto diet including reducing inflammation, regulating blood sugar levels, reducing cravings and research shows it can be beneficial for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, cancer and many other health conditions linked to obesity and other metabolic disorders,” says Vanessa, who has done a lot of research on the keto diet. “The greatest benefit, I believe, is that the keto diet excludes sugar and processed food, and includes whole, real foods,” she adds.
Vanessa’s top weight loss tips
Keep your diet simple
If you like the idea of following a plant-based diet, Vanessa says it’s wise to focus on including plenty of nutrient-dense vegetables, good quality fats and less refined foods in your diet. Try to limit “meat alternatives” as many varieties are loaded with sugar, oil and excess salt which can contribute to water retention, warns Vanessa. The less processed your diet, the better!
Follow the basic keto principles
For long-term health, Vanessa suggests eating a predominantly plant-based diet which includes fruits in season and a small amount of good-quality protein daily. If you’re insulin resistant, limit or exclude grains (depending on your doctor’s suggestion) and exclude all sugar, refined and processed foods and artificial sweeteners. Your aim should be to invest in your health, not only to lose weight, so therefore eat whole foods, break any addictions to sugar and eat good-quality nutrients.
Consider keto cycling
Keto cycling involves following a keto diet for a few days in a row, then taking a break and eating more carbohydrates for a day, says Vanessa. “Women seem to do better with keto cycling, especially around their menstrual cycle. My recommendation is to aim for an intake of about 50 – 100g of whole food carbohydrates on the days when you want to take a break,” she says. But before you attempt this, speak to a registered dietitian or nutritionist.
Try intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is another simple way to lose weight and be healthy. Why? Because going without food for 12 – 14 hours, then eating two or three times a day with little to no snacks has also been shown to help reduce the amount of insulin in the body, explains Vanessa. Insulin is a fat storage hormone, so the less insulin in the blood, the more fat you’ll burn.
Choose the right supplements
In addition to a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle, Vanessa recommends using high quality supplements such as Bio-Berberine Complex. For instance, Bio-Berberine Advanced, R449, contains a powerful plant compound called berberine, which research shows supports gut health, helps to reduce inflammation and assists in regulating the metabolism.
It also contains a green tea extract called Origine 8, which helps to fight disease, plus chromium which has been found to regulate blood sugar levels and counter cravings. Berberine is often used by diabetics and for people with insulin resistance due to its blood sugar balancing qualities.
“I personally don’t follow a keto diet, as my aim is to eat at least 9-12 servings of vegetables a day to obtain all the phytonutrients and other incredible nutrients from plants,” she says. (the keto diet restricts fruit and only allows certain types such as berries, avocado, tomatoes and watermelon).
“I eat organic fruit in season, plant-based fats and some wild fish if I can get some,” explains Vanessa. I avoid anything from a box, and steer clear of sweeteners. I also aim to get lots of good- quality sleep and do exercise I enjoy. I don’t have a ‘label’ for my diet or lifestyle – but it’s a combination of a plant-based vegan diet with certain keto principles. You need to find what works for your unique biochemistry, lifestyle and follow what you can be consistent with,” she adds.
DISCLAIMER: You must not rely on the information on this website/newsletter as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.
By Freelance Writer, Tammy Jacks
A freelance writer and editor, with 15 years’ experience in the media industry. With a passion for health and fitness, Tammy loves nothing more than researching the latest wellness trends. And if she’s not running around after her sweet four-year old daughter, you’ll find Tammy on her bike, in the gym or exploring the great outdoors – followed by a good coffee, of course!