Keto is the latest fad in the weight loss world. Celebrities swear by it, others claim to have had incomparable results. But, just as with any restrictive diet one must ask, how healthy is it?

For years we’ve been taught to eat a varied diet mainly composed of carbohydrates, vegetables and fruit as it was thought the more fat we consumed, the more fat we’ll store.

Keto challenges this principle. Instead, it recommends restricting the consumption of carbohydrates even from plant sources to 20-50 grams a day and replace it with foods high in fat content. 

This, places our bodies in a state of Ketosis, using fat for energy rather than carbohydrates thus leading to weight loss. It is also said to reduce blood sugar and support brain function by turning fat into ketones in the liver.  

Foods you can eat on a Keto diet

This diet is not compatible with other already restrictive diets such as veganism and vegetarianism as the number of foods suitable to eat on a Keto diet are already very limited.

  • Seafood – Fish and shellfish 
  • Meat and Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Berries
  • Shirataki Noodles
  • Low Carb vegetables – cauliflower, cabbage, avocado, broccoli, zucchini, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, asparagus, cucumber, onion, mushroom, spinach, lettuce, green beans, olives
  • Fats and oils – butter, coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, lard, avocado oil, mayonnaise
  • Dairy- heavy cream, cheese (soft and hard), cream cheese, sour cream
  • Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Powder
  • Unsweetened Coffee and Tea
  • Nuts and Seeds

A doctor answers our questions

We reached out to Zava, an online doctor’s surgery, and Doctor Claire Grainger who answered our questions on Keto. 

  • Do you believe this diet is healthy in the long term? If not, what are the possible effects of it? 

“As high fat, low carb diets like the ketogenic diet are relatively new there are not yet any studies on the possible long-term health effects and it’s not possible yet to say how safe these diets are long term. Further studies are needed to check the long-term effects on the body including how these diets affect organs like the heart and kidneys and cholesterol levels.” 

  • Who would this diet be recommended for and who would you recommend shying away from it?

“A doctor might recommend a ketogenic diet for people with certain health conditions, such as certain types of childhood epilepsy, though this should always be under the supervision of a doctor and dietician. If you are overweight, it is a good idea to chat to your doctor or nurse about evidence-based changes you can make to your lifestyle to help you lose weight and to find out what support is available. You should not start a ketogenic diet if you are pregnant, have a normal BMI or have any pre-existing health conditions (unless you have been advised to do so under the supervision of a doctor and dietician).” 

  • Are there any possible psychological effects of adopting a restrictive diet?

“Excessively restrictive diets can, in some cases, lead to psychological problems including preoccupation with food and binge eating. However, some studies have shown that properly supervised ketogenic diets in specific groups of patients can have psychological benefits (such as better behaviour control in children with epilepsy). Generally eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight is not likely to have any negative psychological effects.” 

  • What do you believe might be the positive and negative effects of keto?

“A ketogenic diet can help with symptom or disease control in very specific groups of patients with certain health conditions under the supervision of a doctor. When it comes to weight loss, there is some evidence that this can be achieved using a ketogenic diet though further studies are needed to determine if any weight loss can be sustained long term and if it is safe on your body and mind to continue on a ketogenic diet long term.” 

  • Can individuals still remain healthy by cutting down essential food items for their diet?

“Unless you have been recommended otherwise by your doctor, a balanced diet containing all the major food groups in moderation is likely to be the most beneficial for your health. The NHS “Eat well” website has some really useful dietary information for adults to keep you healthy. Cutting out certain food groups or items completely is generally not recommended for most people as this could lead to vitamin or mineral deficiencies.” 

If you’d still like to try Keto make sure to consult your doctor before adopting it. Even though keto can include nutritious foods you would still be restricting yourself from many other healthy foods such as all fruits besides berries. Unless you have a health concern, sticking to a varied balanced diet is best.