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s much as veganism seems to be ruling the roost when it comes to the nation’s dietary choices, the pendulum does swing the other way.

On the opposite end of the scale is another community that favours the exact opposite of plant-based plates – those who swear by keto.

The lifestyle promotes adopting a low carb, protein-heavy meal plan which can help some people shift pounds so dramatically that some health experts even recommend it to help manage Type 2 Diabetes.

Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist for Dietitian Fit & Co. Reema Patel is on hand to tell us more about keto and answer our burning FAQs.

What is a keto diet and how does it differ from low carb?

“A ketogenic diet severely restricts carbohydrate intake to as little as 5-10 per cent of energy intake (this calculates to be between 20-50g carbs per day for most people). This is whilst substantially increasing fat intake to around 70 per cent, with protein intake remaining around 20-30 per cent of overall energy intake. Carbohydrate restriction comes not only from typical foods such as bread, rice, pasta and potatoes, but also many vegetables, fruits, beans, pulses and dairy products. Macronutrient counting is important to ensure you are sticking within percentages for ketosis.

“However, a lower carbohydrate diet is not as restrictive – this often focuses on consuming mainly proteins and non-starchy vegetables whilst limiting grains, sweetened foods and beverages, starchy vegetables and possibly fruit.”

How does a keto diet plan help weight loss?

“A keto diet encourages ketone bodies to be produced, as fat eaten then turns into ketones, which can be used to supply energy to the brain. A ketogenic diet can help to reduce insulin levels, which improves blood sugar management. The body will start to convert fat into energy, and this can help decrease overall fat storage.  A ketogenic diet may also help reduce appetite and food intake, which can lead to a reduction in overall calories consumed.”

How much can you expect to lose from doing a keto diet?

“Typically weight loss can be between 1-2 lbs a week (0.5-1kg a week). At the beginning, weight loss may be larger, though this is often due to water weight loss. However, overall weight loss really depends on your body type and specific goals, as there is no average or normal weight loss expected with keto diets in the long term.”

Can vegetarians do keto? How?

“Yes, vegetarians can do the keto diet, though it is more difficult due to the lack of most animal products, and vegetarian diets typically contain more starchy foods. If a person consumes eggs and dairy, these can be good options for protein. However, regular vegetarian protein options such as beans and lentils need to be restricted. And some vegetarian burgers can often be quite high in carbohydrates. You may need to plan ahead to ensure meals are balanced enough to get in low carb vegetables and fruit and plant-based fats, such as avocado, coconut, certain nuts and olives. You will also need to consider certain nutrients that can be harder to obtain from a keto vegetarian diet, such as vitamins B12, D, zinc, calcium, iron and omega -3. Speak to a dietitian who can advise you on supplementation if necessary.”

Is keto healthy, for either the short or long-term?

“The keto diet can be healthy, if you feel that it is sustainable and enjoyable and fits into your lifestyle. For most people, it is not something they feel they can maintain for the long term, especially when socialising. It is particularly important to check if the keto diet is suitable, if you have certain health issues as explained below. Certain nutrients need to be considered when following a keto diet for the long term as mentioned above, as well as certain vitamins and minerals, which may be harder to obtain through a keto diet.”

Who should try a keto-diet?

“As with all diets, it is not for everyone! Though if you are looking to lose weight and have no health indicators as listed below, you could give a keto diet a try. We recommend following the diet alongside an experienced Registered Dietitian, who can ensure you are not missing out on any key nutrients.

“However, a subset of people should not try keto diets. This includes those with liver failure or fat metabolism disorders, pancreatitis, diabetes controlled by medication or insulin. If you are unsure, speak to your GP or doctor before embarking on the changes.”

If you want to try keto or low-carb, what’s the best way to start?

“Start by researching what foods are higher in carbohydrates, and working on reducing or eliminating these, depending on if you are following a keto or low carb diet. You may also need to reduce your intake of protein to a lower-moderate amount – calculate your protein requirements and stick within this level. Include lower carbohydrate fruits and vegetables in appropriate portions and evaluate the best sources of fat for your diet.

“Be aware that the keto diet is very high in fat and can take some time to get used to. Some people experience what is called the ‘keto flu’, which is a short-term period at the start of the diet whilst their body adjusts, leaving some feeling lethargic with brain fog and potentially diarrhoea due to changes in fibre intake.

“Planning and prepping meals can be very helpful when doing a keto diet, to ensure you have meals ready to eat or a schedule to help you with organisation for the week.”

According to research, some 12.9m Americans said they followed a keto diet in 2022, while UK users average around 300,000 searches a month for the term.

If you’re curious about trying keto or want to see if a low-carb meal plan works for you, we’ve rounded up some of the best options and alternatives around to fill your larder.

See the list below

Lo-Dough Original Bases 56g

Lo-Dough

It can be hard to completely cut out carbs when you’re starting out on a keto lifestyle. There’s so much to rethink, but if you’re starting slow by going low-carb first, there is a way to keep enjoying guilty pleasures like pizza and fajitas. Reach for Lo-Dough’s bases, vegetarian flatbreads that can be used in all sorts of ways. The sugar free alternatives contain just 39 calories and 2.2g carbs per wrap and can be used as a pizza base, for quiche and flourless cakes, or to make filled wraps for lunch.

Keto8 Keto Sesame Bagels 240g

Keto8

With 3g of carbs per bagel, you can put brunch back on the weekend menu thanks to Keto8. The brand’s vegan sesame bagels check multiple boxes for both keto and vegan preferences, not to mention taste too. Toast and fill to your heart’s content without wrecking your goals.

Keto8, a female founded company, has a range of keto-friendly foods that would usually be off-limits: think cakes, brownies and crackers.

Heylo Bread Keto & Low Carb Sliced Bread Loaf 450g

Heylo

Heylo offers all sorts of bread substitutes with a snip of the carbs as traditional versions. This loaf contains 15 slices, each with 0.3g of carbs, making it a viable alternative for everything from morning toast to open sandwiches for lunch. It’s full of fibre too, with 4.3g of the stuff per slice. Keep the bag in the fridge to help it last for as long as possible.

Heylo Keto Granola Bundle

Heylo

If you’re used to a quick breakfast, Heylo offers a low-carb granola alternative with this triple pack of three flavours to ensure you don’t get bored eating the same thing, day in, day out. There’s No Nuts Caramel, Heavenly Cocoa and Nice & Natural, a mix of seeds and coconut oil. Each portion contains 1.5g of net carbs, and it’s suitable for vegans too. Sprinkle over full fat yoghurt or eat with milk to keep hunger at bay for longer.

The Fast 800 Chocolate and Vanilla convenience shakes

The Fast 800

From the doctor who popularised the 5:2 intermittent fasting diet comes these low-carb, high fibre and high protein (20g) shakes, available in chocolate, vanilla and strawberry flavours. If you regularly find yourself at a loss come dinnertime, these 500g packets are on hand to help keep you on track. Made from natural ingredients and nutrients, each portion contains 200 calories, with 10 portions per pack.

Ember Snacks – Biltong Beef Jerky

Ember

Cold cuts and charcuterie make excellent keto snacks as most contain practically zero carbs and are full of protein. Ember is a British made snack charcuterie and biltong company, designed to be eaten on the go, making it perfect for busy workers or taking on picnics and days out.

Conceived by the Mayhew brothers, all snacks are made with nutritional value at the forefront: think British quinoa from East Anglia and Surrey in with the home-reared meat.

The bite-sized pieces offer half the fat and 40 per cent more protein compared to similar products in the market.

Shop the range on Ember’s Amazon store.

CHEESIES Crunchy Cheese Keto Snack, Variety Pack 6 Bags

Cheesies

Calories: from 115 per 20g

If you’re following a keto diet, snack ideas can feel limited as carbs are off limits. Thankfully Cheesies is here to answer your crunch yearnings. Made from 100 per cent baked cheese in varieties from Red Leicester and Gouda to Emmental and Cheddar, they’re tasty on their own or as a stand-in for salad croutons. And as it’s cheese, the protein should help keep you feeling fuller for longer.

ACTI-SNACK Buffalo BBQ Keto Crunch 12 x 40g

ACTI-SNACK

If you’re looking for a swap for your usual packet of lunchtime crisps, flavoured nuts can be your hero. Full of healthy fats, the medley of almonds, cashews and Tamari Pumpkin Seeds have been dusted with an addictive buffalo bbq flavouring with 18g of protein per portion of 40g.

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