The ketogenic diet, popularly known as “keto” is a way of eating that has intrigued both health and wellness enthusiasts, as well as those wanting to shed a few kilos without having to give up the good stuff like cheese and bacon (although carbs are basically off-limits, so where’s the fun in that?).
In short, the low-carb, high-fat plan works in a way that it kicks your body into a state of ketosis, which the body enters when deprived of its primary fuel source, carbohydrates. As a result, it’s forced to burn stored fat for energy opposed to glycogen, hence why weight loss should occur. Some other benefits are said to include greater mental clarity, focus and more energy, just to name a few.
But in saying that, the keto world is well and truly divided and it definitely doesn’t come without its critics. Some swear by it, others fail to see the logic behind it and how the heck can eating foods so high in fat and depriving yourself of an important macronutrient possibly be good for you?
Then there are the downsides like the ‘keto-flu’ (legit flu-like symptoms including headaches, shakiness, irritability, nausea and fatigue).
So for those who want to reap the benefits of keto but want to be a bit more relaxed in their approach, co-founder and dietitian of Be Fit Food, Kate Save says that ‘mild keto’ is definitely the way to go.
Below, she helps explain further.
Amodrn: What are some differences between ‘mild keto’ and standard keto?
“A mild keto diet is less restrictive than a full keto diet, ensuring you can still eat from all five food groups which makes it easier to get 100 per cent of the recommended dietary intake of vitamins and minerals,” Kate tells Amodrn. A mild keto diet also produces less severe symptoms than a full keto diet, such as the ones listed above.
“Mild keto still induces [a ketosis state] within the body, but is less restrictive than a true ketogenic diet which prescribes no more than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day as opposed to the 50–70 grams permitted for mild nutritional ketosis.” This makes the mild keto diet easier to follow for a longer period of time whilst also producing the results people are looking for.
What health benefits does mild keto have over keto?
“The risk of following a true keto diet is that is often lacks key nutrients and offers unbalanced macronutrients which isn’t recommended,” says Kate. “In contrast, the mild nutritional ketosis meal plan we follow for Be Fit Food reduces carbohydrate and calorie intake to an acceptable level to ensure healthy, rapid weight loss as a result of ketosis while also ensuring the body isn’t deprived of the nutritional content it requires.”
“A mild keto diet allows for higher plant intake which has been proven to have the best general health effects while also increasing the bio-diversity of the microbiome to improve our all-important gut-heath.”
What is your personal take on a keto diet? As a dietitian, is keto something you’d be recommending to your clients?
“The keto diet has its place like any diet, and for people with specific medical conditions there is certainly scientific evidence to support the place of keto diets in managing conditions such as epilepsy and diabetes,” explains Kate. “Of course, I recommend anyone looking at a new diet to consult their doctor or a dietitian to determine if it is the right course of action for them. However, I am a big believer in this style of diet and have seen the long term success that followers of Be Fit Food have achieved in their weight loss and health goals as a result of a mild keto program.”
For those who are interested in following a mild keto diet, how would you recommend incorporating it into their everyday meals?
“It’s important to first understand the foundation of low carb eating and why it is good for us for health and weight management, and a great resource for this is the CSIRO Low Carb Diet book,” advises Kate.
“Once you can appreciate the science behind a mild keto diet, it becomes easier to incorporate the principles into your everyday life. People can certainly apply the low carb diet method into their regular routine by restricting carbohydrate intake, or they can follow a specific program like Be Fit Food which can be more convenient.”
Is there a specific rule of thumb when switching to a mild keto diet?
“If you can afford it, I would recommend seeing a dietitian to help formulate an effective mild keto diet which is nutritionally balanced with vitamins, minerals and wholefoods. Start by reducing carbohydrate intake to between 50 – 70 grams per day and choose only wholegrains. In addition, include around 1 gram of protein per kilo of body weight per day for general muscle maintenance, and include on healthy serve of fats with each meal such as nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil and oily fish.”