Almost anyone in the world is familiar with the word ‘keto’ by now, a new diet that has greatly grown in popularity in recent years. Being a diet that allows high fat intake in the form of cheese, eggs, butter and more, it is most especially attention-grabbing to those who love fatty-rich foods but are seeking to lose weight.
The keto (or ketogenic) diet is a diet that is high in fat intake and low on carbohydrates intake. Very briefly and simply put, the aim of the diet is to have one’s body burn fat for energy rather than glucose (sugar) which people generally obtain from carbs.
According to an article on Healthline explaining the keto diet, “This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy.” This in turn, also causes somewhat rapid weight loss – most especially towards the beginning of the diet.
More than a diet, it’s a lifestyle
Keto however, has rapidly evolved from being a mere diet, to being somewhat of a lifestyle. It has become so popular in fact, that it can be found stapled across social media as people worldwide share their ‘keto experiences’ or ‘journeys’ and it has even sparked new ‘keto businesses’ to grow. Just typing the word ‘keto’ into Instagram alone, will result in a number of local keto pages, as well as over a million hashtags for ‘#ketomeals’ posts and over three million hashtags for ‘#ketolifestyle’ posts.
What most people may not be aware of however, is that despite its recent spike in being the latest dietary lifestyle, the keto diet was actually initially developed in the 1920s as a way to help children with epilepsy. While many diet trends and fads have come and gone over the years, the keto diet is actually very similar to both the Atkins and Paleo diets.
In any case, with the recent surge in alternative dietary lifestyles – from keto to veganism – a surge in controversy over today’s most popular diets has also followed. While a lot of people who seek new diets may be seeking wight loss, there are also those who seek an overall generally healthier lifestyle.
When controversy arises
When it comes to keto however, many question how healthy or sustainable this diet actually is. According to an article on Harvard Health Publishing, it states that “A ketogenic diet has numerous risks… it’s high in saturated fat. McManus recommends that you keep saturated fats to no more than 7 percent of your daily calories because of the link to heart disease. And indeed, the keto diet is associated with an increase in “bad” LDL cholesterol, which is also linked to heart disease.”
Despite these controversies however, it is generally advised to conduct thorough research before taking on any new diet. What most people need to keep in mind is that everyone has different body types, and everyone’s body responds to various diets in different ways – in brief, there is no one size fits all when it comes to both dieting and general nutrition; people need to tailor their diets to suits their own needs.
Research, research, research
“Keto can be healthy and it can be unhealthy, you can have a healthy keto diet and an unhealthy keto diet,” comments Integrative Nutritionist and Health Coach Fatma Kamal, “what kind of food are you having? Think about the quality: are you having enough micronutrients? Are you having enough vegetables? Or are you going by calorie, which is something that could be very unhealthy, and you get these deprived nutrients non-food food, but you call it ‘I’m on keto’.”
Kamal stresses on the fact that being on keto, even an unhealthy keto diet, could still be better than the lifestyle one was leading before when it comes to that individual’s food intake. However, she also stresses the necessity of educating oneself before endeavoring on changing their diet, conducting thorough research and being in tune with their own bio-individuality.
“People need to ask themselves, does it suit me?” Kamal continues, “Am I doing it correctly or sustainably? Because knowledge is everything. Also, after keto, where do I go? Do I have a healthy house to go back to or will I fall back to what I was eating before? A nutritionist can help build that healthy base.”
Tried and tested
When it comes to pursuing a healthier lifestyle, in today’s world, it can be tricky to manoeuvre around finding the right food to it and it can be even more difficult sustaining that lifestyle. As a nutritionist, Kamal stresses on both conducting adequate research, as well as focusing on one’s bio-individuality (this could include everything from age, height and weight to one’s daily lifestyle and the amount of movement one undergoes as well as what their current diet usually consists of, and so on).
“I first heard about keto about four years ago; I’ve been on it ever since,” says 35-year-old Creative Director Mark Magdi, “a friend of mine told me a lot about it at first, but then I did a lot of my own research and I heard a lot of podcasts about it as well.”
Having undergone thorough research throughout the years, as well as experiencing being on keto himself, Magdi is a firm believer in the benefits of the keto lifestyle. “I love [keto]… also because I generally love fats,” he tells Egyptian Streets, “sweets are my soft spot, but apparently your craving for sweets has everything to do with your gut bio and the bacteria that feed on glucose. Bottom line is, when you stop eating sugar for a while, you stop craving it.”
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“I’ve been able to satisfy my dessert cravings by making keto brownies, keto pudding, keto cookies and I’ve even managed to do keto crackers and keto tortilla bread. So, generally speaking, whatever I craved I was able to do the keto version of it,” says 28-year-old Taline Aguizi, who has been on keto for about four months and is planning on continuing implementing the keto lifestyle.
Aguizi found herself loving the keto diet, however she also understands that it requires research and she even says that, “it may not be for everyone, some bodies react differently.” She plans to go back to keto, saying that it is partially to lose some weight, but mainly because she likes the lifestyle of it.
In fact, Aguizi is one of the people who found herself starting a small business as a result of starting to create keto versions of some foods. “I make and sell keto desserts and bread and stuff like that, and I would actually encourage anyone who is thinking of starting the keto diet to make themselves more aware of people or entities who supply keto alternatives in order to make things easier when it comes to satisfying their cravings,” she tells Egyptian Streets.
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To keto or not to keto
Ultimately, the keto diet may be met with some controversy and it may be a mere trend, however it is not much different than any other alternative diet that gets introduced into society. There will always be controversy due to the fact that everyone is different and therefore the diet will work (or not work) for everyone differently. In addition to this, there will also always be diets or lifestyles that could be considered mere trends, most especially in today’s social media driven world. However, with some people the trend could actually stick.
At the end of the day, one must be aware of the implications of trying our a new diet or lifestyle, both by conducting thorough research, being aware of their bodies and what they specifically need, and perhaps even consulting with a nutritionist if one may feel lost trying to go about it on their own. Again, there is no one size fits all diet. So, to keto or not to keto? That is a question only each individual person can answer for themselves.