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LET'S TALK KETO - what is a ketogenic diet?

Updated: Dec 18, 2023





Let’s talk KETO – What is ketosis? What’s a ketone diet? What are ketone supplements? Will it help my weight loss? Train well? And be healthy? THE RESEARCH.


BE CAREFUL of the claims made by ketone supplement companies, be careful of the agendas of people selling them to you, most are part of multi-level marketing schemes and claims are often made that aren’t evidence led. This isn’t me saying keto is horrific – this a balanced and evidence-based view and I’m sure many of the people that sell them genuinely believe most of the claims too!!


A keto diet is fairly low protein, 30g or less of carbs and high levels of fat. 30g of carbs is virtually nothing allowing you VERY little fruit and vegetables through the day – first red flag for me.


The idea is that the body is starved of enough carbohydrates to fuel the central nervous system and the brain, the brain prefers to be fuelled by carbs as fatty acids are unable to cross the blood-brain barrier. Ketones are produced by the body at this stage when carbohydrates are low and can be used as fuel for the central nervous system. People undertaking the diet then adapt for a period to utilising different fuel sources namely, fats, putting them into a position where the body is more adapted to burning more DIETARY fat as fuel. NOTE – this is NOT body fat, this is dietary fat. Of course, the body is burning more dietary fat as fuel…because you are eating more dietary fat as fuel. Makes sense?


· There is evidence to show that being in a state of ketosis MAY supress the appetite which could provide a benefit for those trying to lose weight.

· There are also reported benefits of improved metabolic health and dementia benefits – BUT it is unclear as to whether this is due to weight loss that results as a product of reduced calories that just so happens to occur on a person’s ketogenic diet or whether it is due to the ketones themselves.

· The weight loss we see occasionally with keto diets is largely water due to lack of carbohydrate intake, which need the body to hold water in order to be stored. If you aren’t eating carbs the body doesn’t need that water. It is NOT impressive weight loss coming from body fat which is ultimately, what I am sure you’re after. However, there is no denying that quick weight loss, be it water or fat, can be motivating, especially at the beginning of a health, fitness and weight loss journey, so it isn’t all bad news here! Perhaps it could help you stick to flying towards those goals?

· Additionally, there are anecdotal reports of better sustained energy levels through the day due to the lack of peaks and troughs that may occur with ingestion of carbohydrates. Another potential benefit to bear in mind perhaps?

· There are reported neurological benefits in those with epilepsy or Parkinson’s Disease but it is absolutely necessary to see a medical professional before embarking on such a diet for medical reasons and I hope that goes without saying.


· Eating to achieve ketosis is, however, VERY restrictive and extreme, it is hard to attend social occasions and stick to your diet if undertaking keto and staying in a true state of ketosis.

· A keto diet may also result in nutritional deficiencies owing to the lack of vitamins and minerals in the diet from limited fruit and vegetable intake.

· Studies into ketosis also generally take place over a short-time frame so we don’t know the long-term benefits or drawbacks here.

· Ketone supplements are super-duper expensive and contain calories themselves – the most sensible approach to consume these extra calories not from enjoyable food if dieting? Personally, I don’t think so. Maybe, just maybe, your pennies would be better spent with a coach that can teach you how to live well, without major restriction, within your lifestyle and your preference…just saying!

· Many of the studies simply show that taking ketones elevates ketone levels in the blood – so you ate something, and it appeared in your blood stream…interesting! Does it actually affect anything though? Just like when people eat more dietary fat, they burn more fat as fuel, when people eat more carbohydrates, they burn more carbs as fuel…of course!


I know these things are often convincing with many ‘reputable’ people behind the claims, please, all I’m asking is that you’re careful of bias and cherry-picked evidence. Of course, I am aware that I am writing this with my own personal bias, be aware of that too. Be sceptical and take your own view.


I would finish by concluding that unless you’re suffering from a neurological condition or taking part in ultra-endurance exercise like ultra marathons, Ironman triathlon and the like, due to the dietary fat burning being used as preferential fuel in such exercise being more efficient, I’d probably steer clear of keto if I were you. There are very few evidence-based benefits to keto as a weight loss strategy at the moment and until there are, I will not be implementing such an approach as a regular course of action with my clients!


I’d love to know – have to tried a keto diet? Or ketone supplements? What were your experiences? Love it? Loathe it? Talk to me!


Peace and love, A x

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A fiend of mine is following a strict keto diet (under a dietician) in order to try to get control of his drug resistant epilepsy. It‘s a very restrictive, all consuming diet and I struggle to believe people would choose that as their lifestyle unless they really had to. And as you said... the lack of fruit and veg raises a red flag! Thanks for another interesting read. Claire

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Thank you so much for your comment Claire. Under medical guidance for Epilepsy the evidence shows that it can be effective - I hope it worked out for him?

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