It really doesn’t seem that long ago that I was a dietetic intern…what, 9 months? Well, nevertheless, now I have my very own intern! And it turns out she’s got something to say.
By Sydney Spiewak, Dietetic Intern at the University of Saint Joseph
Why is everyone so keto obsessed? The ketogenic diet or “keto” diet is THE diet right now. It seems to be that every few months there is a new “it diet” on the market that everyone gets behind.
The keto diet is becoming trendier, especially with celebrities and people on different social media platforms such as Instagram promoting it. Not only are people promoting it, they are flaunting their successes from the keto diet. The more celebrities and others post, the more curious others get to try it out for themselves.
By now most people can generally give a definition of ketogenic diet if you ask them. Most will say it’s no carbs and a lot of fat. You may be the small percentage the keto diet does not appeal to, but when you hear that the ketogenic diet is paired with weight loss, everyone’s ears seem to perk up.
What is it about the words weight loss that gets everyone’s attention? I could go on about the diet culture in today’s society and how weight loss shouldn’t be our emphasis, but you’d be reading this post all day. So I’ll save that for another time.
Now, back to keto.
Let’s be real. You can’t go onto Instagram anymore and not see people flexing their muscles in every picture or promoting products from companies such as It Works or Sugar Bear Hair. The more I go on Instagram, and I will fully admit I spend a lot of time on Instagram, the more I see fitness stars promoting ketogenic products and the keto diet. I don’t know about you, but the thought of putting a stick of butter in my coffee and thinking I’m going to magically be healthier just doesn’t sound right to me.
If you’re reading this right now, ask yourself if you know what is actually happening in your body on the ketogenic diet.
The odds are you probably have some kind of idea what is happening but don’t understand the big picture. Here’s a quick lesson on the keto diet.
Ketosis is achieved when ketone bodies are produced from fat stores and used for energy instead of glucose, which is the body’s preferred source of fuel. When we consume carbohydrates, the body converts carbs into glucose, which circulates in our blood stream acting as energy for our cells and muscles to use. In the absence of glucose, the body is forced to look elsewhere for fuel to sustain our everyday activities. Fat is eventually broken down to create ketone bodies, which then act as the new source of energy in the body.
The body may reach a state of ketosis with an intake of no more than 20-50 grams of carbohydrates per day, but it’s important to note that this is a highly individualized process. As an example to put how low this carbohydrate amount is in perspective, one medium sized banana can contain 27 grams of carbohydrates.
Just let that sink in.
Under medically necessary situations, ketosis has been shown to help with seizures, particularly in children.
The keto diet has become a synonym with low carb, but as we discussed above that is not accurate. The process of reaching ketosis is much more complex than just eating fewer carbs. The problem becomes that healthy, active people of all ages are now taking up the keto diet because they are attempting to lose weight, drop body fat, get a six-pack, or just follow a trend their friends have tried.
The facts are that we need fat on our bodies in order to function and survive. Having too little fat on our bodies can lead to heart disease, low energy, hormone imbalance, severe mood swings, fertility issues in both men and women, and fat soluble vitamin deficiencies.
Also…weight is NOT the best or even necessarily a good indicator of health.
At the end of the day it is your body and your call with what you do with it, however don’t base your way of eating on a trendy diet that everyone else is on. Educate yourself on the facts and consult a registered dietitian with any questions you may have.