The Ketogenic Diet

What is the ketogenic diet?

The ketogenic diet, or keto for short, is essentially a very high fat, low carbohydrate, and moderate protein diet. Our body’s main source of energy is from carbohydrates. With a drastic reduction in carbohydrate consumption, the body will enter a state of ketosis. This is when the body burns fats instead of carbohydrates from food and produces ketone bodies (ketones) which are acids that can be used as an energy source. However, this process is individualized, so some people might need a lower carbohydrate intake than others to be able to produce sufficient ketones.

While there are several versions of the keto diet, the standard keto diet usually comprises 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% carbohydrates. On a standard 2,000-calorie diet, that equates to 156g fat, 100g protein, and 50g carbohydrates. However, the exact ratio would still depend on individual needs, and it can take a few days for the body to enter ketosis.

This is what a keto lunch could look like! An avocado toast made with our Low Carb Nut and Seed Bread, boiled eggs, pumpkin seeds and a side of leafy greens is one of the keto friendly meals you can find at our Bakery Cafe.

Origins of the keto diet

Between the years 1910 and 1920, it was found that fasting, or the lack of carbohydrates in the body resulted in better control of seizures in patients with epilepsy. This is due to the change in body metabolism that forces the body to use ketones. It was then proposed that the benefits of fasting for treatment of epilepsy can also be obtained from a diet with a high proportion of fat and a low proportion of carbohydrate. The ketogenic diet was created and frequently used in patients with epilepsy, especially children.

With the creation and availability of new medical therapies such as antiepileptic drugs, the keto diet is being used less in the clinical setting.

Keto diet today

In recent years, the keto diet has resurfaced into a popular weight loss diet. Some short-term studies have also shown that keto might be as effective for weight loss and fat loss as low-fat diets. It has been regarded by most as a more sustainable way to lose weight. The high content of fat and moderate content of protein helps with satiety for a longer period. Ketones also provide an alternative fuel source for body functions, so there is no feeling of “starvation”. With the body burning more fat than it gains, weight loss will occur.

While it has been used mainly for weight loss today, there are also other current health claims with following the keto diet.

Other health claims

  1. Improving prediabetes and diabetes

Insulin is the hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels and impaired insulin function are the symptoms of diabetes.

Studies conducted on people with type 2 diabetes have shown improved insulin sensitivity, blood sugar management, and hemoglobin A1C – a measure of blood sugar management over 3 months.

The weight loss following the keto diet is also beneficial as body weight is linked to type 2 diabetes.

  1. Improving overall heart health

Results of some short-term studies have shown that the keto diet can help improve heart health through weight loss and better cholesterol profile. In some, the keto diet lowers the levels of triglycerides and LDL “bad” cholesterol and increases the levels of HDL “good” cholesterol, which reduces the risk of heart diseases. 

  1. Helps with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is the most common endocrine system (hormones for body function) disorder seen in women during their reproductive age. It can lead to infertility and other serious diseases such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Some of the clinical features of PCOS include insulin resistance, hormone abnormalities, obesity, and increased body fat around the belly area (visceral fat).

Research done on women with PCOS suggests that the keto diet might be considered as an effective non-pharmacological treatment. Results show significant weight loss, improved blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and a shift toward hormone regularities.

It is important to note that as the keto diet is relatively new in terms of treatment for these particular conditions. Keep in mind that there are no long-term studies yet to solidify the benefits of following the keto diet for a longer period of time. 

How to go keto safely and healthily

While the basics of going on a keto diet might seem easy – avoid carbs, eat more fat, the quality and sources of low carb and high fat foods should also be considered.

Here are some nutritious whole foods to base your keto diet around:

  1. Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are high in healthy fats, low in carbohydrates, and have a significant amount of protein. Regular nut consumption has also been linked to heart health and a reduced risk of chronic diseases. The high fibre content in nuts can also help with increasing the feeling of fullness.

All types of nuts and seeds are generally low in carbohydrates, but they vary within types.

Here’s a list of the net carbohydrates (carbohydrates absorbed by the body) of some nuts and seeds per 30g:

Almonds: 3.2g
Brazil nuts: 2.1g
Cashews: 8.5g
Walnuts: 2.1g
Chia seeds: 1g
Flaxseeds: 0g
Pumpkin seeds: 4.3g
Sesame seeds: 3.2g 

  1. Low carb vegetables and fruits

Most fruits are excluded from the keto diet as they are high in carbohydrates. However, all kinds of berries are actually low carb and high in fibre! They have about 6-18g of net carb per 100g, depending on the type. Berries are also packed with antioxidants which help reduce inflammation and risk of diseases.

When it comes to vegetables, look out for the leafy, non-starchy kind. Non-starchy vegetables are high in fibre, making their net carbohydrate count low as fibre is a type of carbohydrate that is not digested and absorbed in the body.

Here are some examples of low carb vegetables to include:

Spinach
Lettuce
Cabbage
Bok Choy
Avocado
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Green peppers
Cucumber
Zucchini
Tomato
  1. Meat & poultry

Meat and poultry are great sources of high-quality protein and contain no carbohydrates. They are also a good source of B vitamins and minerals such as potassium, selenium, and zinc. Grass-fed meat is the preferred source as they contain higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants as compared to grain-fed meat. When it comes to chicken, it is important to source good quality chicken without antibiotics and hormones injected to promote growth that might be harmful to our health. Here’s a detailed guide on where to get quality and additive-free chicken in Singapore.

  1. Seafood

Fish and shellfish can be included in the keto diet. Some shellfish contain a small amount of net carbohydrates, but all fish are carb free. Oily fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel are also high in omega-3 fatty acids.

For heart health, it is recommended to consume fish 2-3 times a week.

These food groups should make the basis of the keto diet but there are also other foods that can be included such as healthy oils, cheese, and yoghurt.

As always, we encourage everyone to find out what style of eating and what foods work best for you. Our bodies will react to various diets differently according to our own bio-individuality. The keto diet might be helpful for some, or might be suitable for a certain health goal at a particular point of time but not necessarily for all individuals and at all times.

5. Tempeh

Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans and is high in protein, making it a great plant based protein alternative. One 90g serving of tempeh contains 16g of protein and 10g of carbohydrates. 

Tempeh also contains other nutrients like calcium and iron. The fermentation process of tempeh makes it easily digestible and improves nutrient absorption. It’s also rich in prebiotics, which acts as food for the good bacteria in our gut for a healthy digestive system.

These food groups should make the basis of the keto diet but there are also other foods that can be included such as healthy oils, cheese, and yoghurt.

As always, we encourage everyone to find out what style of eating and what foods work best for you. Our bodies will react to various diets differently according to our own bio-individuality. The keto diet might be helpful for some, or might be suitable for a certain health goal at a particular point of time but not necessarily for all individuals and at all times.

Alternative sweeteners: Monk fruit

 

Alternative sweeteners are widely used in the keto diet as a replacement for sugar. One of the more popular sweeteners is monk fruit.

Monk fruit, also known as luo han guo or “Buddha fruit” is grown in Southeast Asia. It has been commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, before hitting the limelight as an alternative sweetener.

The sweetener is extracted by crushing the fruit and filtering the juice. The remaining solution is dried into a concentrated extract. What’s unique about monkfruit sweetener is that it gets its sweetness from antioxidant compounds called mongrosides. While monkfruit itself contains natural sugars fructose and glucose, they are filtered out during the processing, leaving the extract essentially sugar-free and calorie free. The mongroside compounds give the monkfruit sweetener antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. 

Monkfruit sweetener is about 100-250 times sweeter than sugar, so only a little is required to achieve the desired sweetness. However, some manufacturers might reduce the intensity of the sweetness by mixing in other sweeteners like erythritol so it’s important to check the labels.

Here’s why monkfruit sweetener is our best choice:

  • It’s extracted naturally from fruit and is considered a whole food sweetener
  • Pure monkfruit sweetener does not contain any additives
  • It won’t raise blood sugar levels as it doesn’t contain carbohydrates or calories
  • Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties 

 

Introducing our new Keto Basque Burnt Cheesecake

We’re always looking to expand and create more products that are inclusive to different dietary requirements. We’ve come up with a new keto-friendly Burnt Basque Cheesecake that is rich, creamy, and sweetened only with monkfruit. Aligning with our all-natural ingredients philosophy, we’ve made sure that the monkfruit extract we use is 100% pure with no other fillers or alternative sweeteners added.

Even if you’re not on a keto diet, you’ll still enjoy this delicious treat!

Check out our other Keto friendly products here

Written by Adlyn Abdul Halim 

Sources:

Mount Elizabeth SG: https://www.mountelizabeth.com.sg/healthplus/article/guide-keto-diet

Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/monk-fruit-sweetener#what-it-is

Paoli, A., Mancin, L., Giacona, M. C., Bianco, A., & Caprio, M. (2020). Effects of a ketogenic diet in overweight women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Journal of translational medicine, 18(1), 104. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12967-020-02277-0

 

 

 

 

 


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