If we had to name one diet THE diet of 2017 and 2018, it would definitely be keto. The low-carb, high-fat eating plan is everywhere — from news articles to cookbooks to the Instagram feeds of health and fitness bloggers. It’s not hard to see why the ketogenic diet is so popular, as it allows you to shed fat quickly while still eating delicious foods like cheese and bacon.
The premise of keto (and other low-carb diets) is that carbohydrates break down into glucose, which stimulates the release of insulin. Insulin helps the body store the energy from the food as fat. So, naturally, by ditching carbs, your body isn’t going to store as much fat, Right?
Well, according to academics, Duane Mellor from Coventry University and Paul D McCardle from the University of Birmingham — not exactly. The pair has penned an article for The Conversation where they debunk popular diets like keto, paleo and 5:2. They argue that it’s not only carbohydrates that spike the body’s insulin resistance, but certain fats and proteins. In fact, beef is known to increase insulin to the same level as breakfast cereal!
So, if this is the case, why do so many people have immense success with a ketogenic diet (myself included?). Well, for the same reason any diet works — you’re simply consuming less kilojoules, because carbs are such an easy, convenient energy source.
“The reason for the drop in energy (calorie) intake is that carbohydrates normally make up a large part of the Western diet. Banishing carbs makes it difficult to make up for the lost energy intake because the food industry is geared to providing plenty of carbohydrate-rich foods.” — Duane Mellor and Paul D McArdle via The Conversation
The thing that sets the LCHF approach apart from other diets is that it involves lots of fat — which tends to be satiating and keeps you full for longer. For this reason, you may feel less restricted.
At the end of the day, the ketogenic diet isn’t a magic bullet for fat loss — or at least no more so than other diets. Shedding fat is simply a matter of eating less kilojoules than you eat, and how you go about doing that doesn’t really make a difference. However, if you enjoy eating the types of foods involved and don’t find it too difficult you may have success with the keto diet.