One of the leading public health concerns in many countries including Australia is the increasing number of people who are obese and overweight. In a report published in 2018, according to the World Health Organisation, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older were overweight and of these, over 650 million were obese.(1 )It seems with this increase in the prevalence of obesity, there has also been a rise in the number of weight loss diets available including the ketogenic diet.
The Keto diet is a distinctive dietary approach for weight loss because of its recommendation of exceptionally high intake of fat. For decades, we have been led to believe that consuming fat will result in weight gain. But we have to ask our ourselves, why is it that as we have all cut back on fat, the obesity rate has tripled?
The foundation of a keto approach is to use fat as our body’s main fuel source and at the same time, deprive the body of glucose which is obtained by eating carbohydrate foods. Whenever we eat carbohydrates, our body floods the bloodstream with insulin. Insulin is a major energy storage hormone in the body and it also communicates to our cells to pick up glucose from the bloodstream. However, many would not realise, one of the ways that insulin contributes to obesity, is by blocking the leptin signal in the brain. Leptin is an important hormone that helps inhibit hunger and regulate energy balance, so the body does not trigger hunger responses when it does not need energy. Which is why we find people undertaking the keto diet are often amazed and delighted that they feel less hungry.
The main stimulus for insulin secretion is dietary carbohydrates. For this reason, the keto approach of eating very low carbs has attracted the attention of many scientists and the general public, as it has been shown to offer some real health benefits backed by science including weight loss and healthier insulin levels.
A fascinating 2013 systematic review of thirteen randomised controlled trials (1577 patients) revealed exactly why reducing carbs and increasing healthy fat may be the key to weight loss. The aim of the study was to determine whether overweight and obese participants assigned to a very low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet (VLCKD) achieved greater weight loss and managed cardiovascular risk factors more effectively than those assigned to a low-fat diet (LFD) over the long term (defined as 12 months or more post intervention). It was concluded that the individuals assigned to a very low carbohydrate ketogenic diet (a diet with no more than 50g carbohydrates/day) achieved significantly greater long-term reductions in body weight and diastolic blood pressure compared to individuals assigned to low-fat diet (LFD). Hence, it was suggested that VLCKD may be a great alternative tool to fight against obesity and the medical conditions associated with it.(2)
A huge element of why a very low-carb, high fat diet works is the appetite-control factor. The high-healthy fat diet allows much better control of our appetite which means it greatly enables us to regularly space out meals to burn fat easily and feeling less hungry. Also, dietary fat does not trigger a significant release of insulin. Controlling insulin levels is believed to be the single best way to manage body weight and avoiding fat in favour of carbs more often than not will undermine any weight-loss efforts. Fat is nutrient-dense in natural food sources as it promotes satiety and minimises inflammatory factors if eaten in natural, wholefoods that we humans evolved eating.
As I mentioned in my last article, we have in store an information sheet on how to get started on a Keto Diet. This sets out the foods to include in your diet and those to avoid, a suggested dietary regime as well as supplements, plus what to expect as you transition into this new eating regime. Our Clinical Nutritionist, Sophia Keady is now also practicing from our clinic and is specialising in the Keto Diet as well as other nutritional health regimes. You can also call by the store to chat to her on the shop floor.
If you want to know more about the relationship of keto diet and weight loss, call in to see Bev and the team at Go Vita, Your Health Shop in North Street, Batemans Bay or phone us on 44729737. Don’t forget to tune to Bev and Marianne on 2EC every Wednesday at 12.30pm for Go Get Healthy.
World Health Organisation. (2018). Obesity and overweight. Retrieved from https://www.who.int
Bueno, N., De Melo, I., De Oliviera, S., & Da Rocha, A. (2013). Very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet v. low-fat diet for long term weight loss: a met- analysis of randomised controlled trials. The British Journal of Nutrition. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov