My friend Caroline asked me an excellent question this week…
‘What do you think of the keto diet?’
She’d had a friend visiting who was pretty strict keto and espousing the virtues.
And was curious for a second opinion.
Here’s what I said.
Why I’m not keto
1. It’s unnecessary for me.
My BMI is 19.6 and my HbA1C is 5.4 so I’m not trying to lose weight or reduce my blood sugar.
I’m happy so there’s no need to make changes now.
2. It’s too restrictive for me.
While I’m a huge believer that restriction can be positive, too much restriction. Is, well, too much!
To get down to 20g carbs / day for a keto protocol would mean cutting out big bowls of broccoli, and cabbage and roast cauliflower.
While I never miss bread or pasta.
I would struggle without my favourite veg.
And I can’t help but wonder about the gut health implications of restricting vegetables over the long term.
When can keto be useful?
For someone who is very over-weight or has insulin resistance. Or both.
And if the intense restriction isn’t going to freak them out, then keto can be a useful tool.
If you’d like to learn more the Diet Doctor website is an excellent resource.
What about you?
Have to tried keto? Are you a fellow low carber? Or do you think that carbs are the best?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Have fun in the kitchen
While you may not be thinking you’re following a ketogenic diet because you aren’t counting or sticking to the often prescribed 20g carbs, you may in fact still be in ketosis.. Have you ever tested, say right before dinner? Ketosis is just a body state of producing ketones to use for fuel, and for many people it happens naturally on a lower carb diet, without ever going near that 20g “magic number.” So, while you may not “be keto” in your goals or beliefs, you might be surprised by the amazingness that is your body
I’m always surprised by the amazingness of my body!
I haven’t played around with testing ketones but I do practice intermittent fasting so you’re right I would be in ketosis for at least some of the week.
I’ve been eating Keto for exactly one year now and you just named 3 of my favorite veggies that I eat all the time. LoL. You can have plenty of veggies with keto. You just need to track your macros and make sure you’re making smart choices about the carbs you do consume. I’ve lost 100 LBS on keto and doing intermittent fasting. and have massively changed my life :)
Good for you Regis!
I eat a lot of low carb veggies which puts me over keto – but small amounts will work :)
I envy you your 5.4 HbA1c! I am hoping that when mine is done at the beginning of next month that it goes down, because I’ve gotten my BMI down to 25, and am losing .4 pounds a week, just by eating lower carb. I’m a lot like you: I don’t really miss bread or pasta (tortillas are another matter…) but I have grown to love cabbage more and more. And other brassicas. The problem I have with a keto diet as I understand it, is getting enough fiber. When I had a colonoscopy a couple of months ago, my doctor said I needed to take in a lot more fiber. I’m taking psyllium, and was eating more fruit until I read something you wrote that said fruit is not a good choice for dealing with blood sugar issues. I don’t mind imposing reasonable restrictions on what I eat, but I don’t want to do anything that requires counting anything – because I refuse to be on anything that resembles a weight-loss diet. I did that for way too long. My goal has become eating like a normal person, and I have pretty much reached that goal. Making healthy choices (such as lower carb) is part of that. A more regular diet is also more sustainable when traveling. I think that a sustainable style of eating is the best goal.
Yes sustainable is key Susan!
And psyllium is a great choice for fiber. I personally like flax seeds and have them every day. Works like a charm :)
I was eating very low carb for a while mostly due to blood sugar issues, managed to lose 50 pounds and get my food sugar to manageable levels with medication. I didn’t feel like that diet was sustainable for me though as I missed fruit and while I’m not a vegetarian I don’t like a lot of meat in my regular diet. I found Bright Line Eating which is basically low carb but you do eat fruit daily and they recommend no exercise unless you’ve been doing it for a long time, and I was in. I’ve lost another 90 pounds and am only 30 pounds from my goal weight.
Thanks for sharing Bette! And good for you :)
I stumbled onto a Ketogenic diet by accident but I am so glad that I did. Being strict is not necessary, or counting kilojoules.
When I am full I stop.
I was a mature-age uni-student with type two diabetes, and I had a very poor diet.
Because of this perfect storm, I dropped-out of law a couple of times, and withdrew from an honours year in politics.
If only I knew what I had to do to remove a constant feeling of tiredness, poor concentration, and a foggy brain, I may have enjoyed a better life.
I warmly recommend a Keto diet to anyone who wants to lose weight, has type-two diabetes, has PCOS, and wants more physical and mental energy.
Thanks for sharing your experience John!
Low carb has helped my PCOS
I agree with your assessment. I am a fan of complex carbs and good fats. Do you have any suggestions for people who need to gain weight?
Interesting question Doris!
And hard to say. I think you’d need to uncover the reason the person is underweight. Is it a gut thing? Gluten? Or are they just not eating enough?
I have been on the low carb bandwagon for a long time, starting back when Atkins was first popular. My body does sooo much better when I remove refined carbs. I am addicted to them, they lead me to eat more and eat poorly. I love my vegetables and I like to get physically full on them, so like Jules I find it hard to do Keto. But I have another reason, I not only have to limit carbs, I cannot lose weight on Keto unless I also restrict my fat to less than is allowed. The Keto ‘fat bombs’ make me fat. I am constantly refining my diet for what is right for me, like now I am seeing if sprouted bread has the same effect on my cravings that regular bread does. Keto has worked miracles for my daughter and son-in-law, but just does not work for me.
Thanks for sharing Clara! And lovely to hear from you.
I think there are many people who go overboard on the fat with Keto – a good reminder.
Curious to see the results of your sprouted bread experiment :)
Jules, thanks for posting this! I’ve heard of keto, haven’t paid much attention to it, and now I know I don’t need to consider going keto. I’m thankful that I don’t need to lose weight and I don’t have insulin issues. :-)
You’re welcome Dawn :)
I have been Keto for 4 months and have lost 30lbs. I eat lots of greens, salad, broccoli, cauliflower and still be in Keto. I do miss crisps, bread, pasta, rice and potatoes but having tried many diets before it is the only one that has worked for me. Once I reach my target I will try low carb and see if I can maintain my ideal weight. Time will tell.
Good for you David – if it’s working then keep going :)
I’ve been on Keto for 10 months … lost a heap of weight I had been struggling to shed ! I did this along with intermittent fasting … no breakfast. I struggled for 10 days and after that it has been a breeze. I have to say I am a fan of Keto !!
That’s awesome if it’s working for you Adele.
I’m a fan of IF too :)
The UK’s Dr Michael Mosley is a medical doctor who regularly appears on television, and has written ‘The Fast 800’ which is an update of ‘The 5:2 Fast Diet’.
I have a quirky but useful fact for everyone about pasta, rice, and potatoes.
According to Mosley, you can halve the carbohydrate content of rice, pasta, or potatoes by cooking it once, allowing it to cool, and then cooking it a second time.
I try to restrict or minimise pasta, rice, potatoes, and bread while following a Keto diet, but I will use this ‘cook-cool-cook again’ method to reduce the carbohydrate in pasta or rice.
The following is a quotation from a recent email from the ‘Fast 800 Newsletter’.
‘Second-day pasta can keep off the pounds.’
‘One way to reduce blood-sugar spikes after you eat carbs such as pasta, potatoes or rice is to cook, cool and then reheat them. This was first shown a few years ago when Dr Denise Robertson, of the University of Surrey, asked volunteers who had fasted overnight, to eat pasta with a tomato sauce for breakfast for an experiment.’
‘The volunteers either got the pasta hot, cold and or reheated. She discovered that cooking, cooling and reheating the pasta had a dramatic effect, cutting the average rise in their blood sugar levels by 50 per cent. That’s because it changes the structure of the starch in the pasta, making it more resistant to digestive enzymes, so you get smaller blood-sugar spikes. Less of this ‘resistant’ starch is digested, leaving more to travel down and feed the ‘good’ bacteria in the large intestine.’
‘Since that experiment, a group in Sri Lanka have done something similar with rice. They found that if they cooked rice with coconut oil, cooled it, then reheated it in a microwave, they could increase the levels of resistant starch 15-fold. Animal experiments suggest eating rice this way halves the number of calories you absorb. At the very least, it is a good excuse to use up leftover pasta or rice in the fridge.’
Thanks for sharing John!
I love Michael Mosely and when cooking rice, pasta and potatoes for my boys try and use this cook and cool method :)
The source of the above quotation is from a section of the latest ‘Fast 800 Newsletter’ from the link below.
I was on keto on and off for over 2 years. Great for weight loss but it’s not sustainable, at least for me. I missed fruits and vegetables. It can also be dangerous over a long period of time, I’m pretty sure that’s how I ended up getting a kidney stone….
Thanks for sharing your experience Laura. Hope the kidney stone is on the mend :)
I am a follower of Dr Fung, so I’m pleased to see you are an IF advocate. I have lost over 20 lbs in under 3 months by using a LCHF and IF way of eating. Right now, I am within 10 lbs of my goal weight.
I saw Dr Fung speak at low carb Denver earlier in the year Ronald. I’m a big fan.
And well done on your fasting and LCHF results. Keep up the excellent work!
I think keto works better for men than women. Women tend to need to eat smaller + more frequent meals to keep their hormones happy.
I tried keto for a while and was always tired, started to become obsessed with the food I could not eat, lost my period, my hair was thinning… never again.
A balanced diet of whole foods is what works for me – getting my carbs from pulses, vegetables and fruit.
I’m glad you found an approach that works for you Julia!