I was introduced to a standard low carb diet also known as the "keto" way of eating in my early 20's when I started lifting weights and training for fitness figure competitions. I am still fascinated at the body's ability to change composition, based primarily on how you eat and how you train. In the early days, I was a real gym junkie…training 6 days a week and carefully monitoring my low carb diet to support the high-intensity workouts I was putting my body through. I learnt a lot, in particular, how to fine tune my diet and in order to support a lean physique.
BODY SHAPING WITH THE KETO DIET
The key to a keto eating plan is not to obsess about any one ingredient. Just because a ketogenic diet is a relatively high-fat, it doesn’t mean you should start eating large spoonfuls of coconut oil and almond butter throughout the day. Like any diet, it's about moderation, and being ketogenic is about eating lower carbohydrates, fresh vegetables and including some protein at every meal.
Ketosis works mainly because it focuses on a nutrient-dense low carb eating plan - this also helps us in reducing the amount of sugar we tend to eat on a daily basis. Numerous studies show that a ketogenic diet is a safe and natural approach for weight reduction.
I find that a ketogenic diet helps reduce my insulin levels, which makes me feel less wired, and keeps my appetite under control. The diet also supports my gut issues, so it's wonderful therapy for the management of my SIBO. This is essentially what keto is all about – restricting carbohydrate intake and balancing daily fat and protein. By doing this, you allow your body to shift into ‘ketosis’, which is when your body becomes incredibly efficient and burns fat for fuel, instead of glucose.
Insulin is an anabolic hormone that increases storage of fat, protein and glucose. It’s main effect in regard to fat is to block lipolysis (oxidation of fat). In fact, research has shown that a ketogenic diet can result in efficient weight loss since it lowers circulating insulin and shifts the body into burning fat.
A ketogenic diet is a dietary approach that focuses on minimal carbohydrates, moderate amounts of protein and a moderate healthy fat consumption. This is essentially what keto is all about – restricting carbohydrate intake and balancing daily fat and protein. By doing this, you allow your body to shift into ‘ketosis’, which is when your body becomes incredibly efficient in burning body fat.
One study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that people on a ketogenic diet lost 2.2 times more weight than those on a calorie-restricted low-fat diet. Triglyceride and HDL cholesterol levels also improved.
WHAT DO YOU EAT ON KETO?
The way I eat has always been consistent with what is now popularised as keto. But while many people are fanatical and count every gram or calorie of their macronutrient intake, I am not an advocate for this. I listen to my body and let my hunger and satiety cues tell me how much food I need to eat.
Food is to be enjoyed and you have to do what feels good for you. Having said this, I am always mindful of what I eat and drink and where my food comes from – it needs to be fresh and made from wholefoods. In this way, I know that I’m supporting my health in every way and maintaining a lean and healthy physique.
My diet basically includes good quality protein sources from wild caught fish, eggs, poultry and Healthy Chef protein which i designed to be low in carbs and sugars. I add Healthy Chef Protein into my smoothie each day, as it helps keep me full and energised all morning.
I also consume high-fat foods such as avocado, olive oil, nuts and nut butters, grass-fed butter and coconut oil. My carbohydrate sources come mostly come from lots of leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables such as kale, zucchini and cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli.
I also consume high-fat foods such as avocado, olive oil, nuts and nub butters, cultured butter and coconut oil. But don't go overboard.
For many people on keto, there is a tendency to miss out on probiotics and nutrients from high-fibre fruits and vegetables, which is why I like to supplement my diet with The Healthy Chef Green Smoothie, which is an easily digestible blend of organic greens and probiotics. I also include The Healthy Chef Superfood powder in my smoothies, which offer good prebiotics to help feed the probiotics for better gut health.
BETTER FOR YOUR HEALTH
Research shows that the benefits of a ketogenic diet go beyond weight loss. According to The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, ketogenic diets may even have benefits against cancer, epilepsy and neurological diseases.
In my case, going keto has helped my ongoing digestive issues. Because I suffer from SIBO and Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS), I need to avoid certain foods that cause bloating and digestive issues.
In fact, one of the primary dietary treatments for SIBO is the restriction of fermentable carbohydrates, known as FODMAPs, which I have written a lot about in Perfect Digestive Health.
Keto allows me to enjoy the foods I love. I eat delicious protein and high-fat foods, many of which are featured in my best selling cookbooks Purely Delicious and Perfect Digestive Health. This automatically reduces the foods that can trigger my gut issues.
That is why I have designed my Healthy Chef protein as it allows me to hit my protein requirements, when I need a quick, convenient and easily digestible meal on the run.
A ketogenic diet lowers insulin and blood glucose levels and can be an effective way of eating for those with diabetes. A study published in Nutrition & Metabolism found that 7 of the 21 participants with type 2 diabetes were able to stop all diabetes medications.
FIND A BALANCE THAT WORKS FOR YOU
While there is a lot of confusion and conflicting information about keto and other diets out there, it’s important to note that everyone is individual and what may be a way of life for some, could be unsustainable and not necessary for others.
The key for weight loss and optimum health and wellbeing is eating wholefoods and finding a good balance that works for you. Combine this with regular exercise, adequate sleep and stress reduction techniques, you will never have to follow strict dietary guidelines, count calories or lose the pleasure of enjoying delicious meals with loved ones.
The key for weight loss and optimum health and wellbeing is eating wholefoods and finding a good balance that works for you. Customise your eating plan based on your unique requirements and live the 80/20 lifestyle.