What is Keto?

One of the original medical treatments for epilepsy has turned into a trendy diet, taking London and the world by storm.

Based off of trends in the 1920s from epileptics experimenting with long-term fasting, the diet howed unsustainable but viable suppression of seizures.

The Ketogenic diet reduces carbohydrates, has just enough protein, and is high in fat to mimic a fasting state.

It seems, starving the body from carbs and proteins produces Ketones; which are an emergency fuel source created from burning fat in the body when carbs (found in fruits, vegetables, dairy and grains) are scarce.

This metabolic change naturally causes weight loss.

Medical mention

Fasting is obviously not a sustainable way to live. But with a medical team controlling the diet, it can stave off seizures.

Epilepsy Ontario states, ‘This Ketogenic diet team includes a neurologist, a registered dietitian and nurse and sometimes a nurse practitioner, pharmacist, social worker and other specialists.’

The reason for a such a large medical team is because the body cannot sustain this lifestyle for a long period of time without making tweaks along the way.

So, why is it so popular outside of the epileptic world?

Something different

Ketolibriyum CEO, Gloria Palcich says people are interested in the the Ketogenic diet, “Because they hear from others, who have started it, how different this way of eating is from every other diet.”

Formerly Keto Health Foods, Ketolibriyum started up earlier this year in September. They specialize in delivering Keto meal boxes from their 911 Commissioners Road kitchen and store.

“Ketolibriyum was born out of a desire to help others,” Palcich says. “After seeing what the Keto diet could do for myself and my family, I knew this was more than just a trend. Keeping up with the latest research on the benefits of Keto diets, and seeing the results first-hand, I decided to combine my love of food and new found passion for the Keto diet. And thus Ketolibriyum was born.”

Paula discovered Keto with her mother about two years ago. Formerly a vegetarian, she believes Keto is a simple diet to follow.

“It could easily be turned into a lifestyle for me. It’s not that hard,” she said. “I gave up bread and I like croissants and stuff like that. So, I think I could live with it as a lifestyle; as long as I give myself time for a cheat. Just every once in a while.”

She wasn’t happy with the measly five-pound weight loss with the diet alone, so she joined Old East Village Fitness. Now on a calorie restricted version of Keto and exercising regularly, she has already lost 10 pounds and can’t wait to lose more.

The sweet stuff

The diet appeals to Paula because she likes to watch how much sugar she has in a day.

“I think in North America, we eat way more sugar than they do in other countries. And I don’t think sugar is good for you at all,” she said. “There’s no vitamins in sugar. There’s no anything your body needs in sugar.”

In fact, our government warns against over-consumption of sugar. As stated on www.canada.ca, ‘Excess consumption of sugars is a concern, as it can lead to tooth decay and excess calorie consumption. Excess calories lead to overweight and obesity. Obesity is a risk factor for chronic diseases such as: type 2 diabetes, some forms of cancer and cardiovascular disease.’

The website also notes diets high in sodium, sugars and saturated fat, as one of the top risk factors for chronic diseases.

Fruity friction

It’s common knowledge that excessive sugars and refined sugars are bad for us, but what about fruit?

“You don’t eat bananas in the Ketogetic diet, because they’re really high (on the) glycemic index,” Paula says. “So things that are still very high in sugar you still avoid, like white potatoes.”

This is where The Keto Sweetery makes it mark. Located at 630 Dundas Street in The Food Incubator, Kelsey Steinburg creates treats that are low in sugar, Keto friendly, and delicious for everyone.

“For me it’s to see happy people.”

Starting off making simple fat bombs from a recipe she found online, Steinburg tweaked them to her liking and always kept a batch in the freezer. One day she noticed some missing and found her mother munching on one.

After exclaiming their deliciousness, she insisted Kelsey sell them to her friends starting Keto. Steinburg decided to give it a shot.

It started with teaching a group of friends recipes at her home, which grew to friends of friends. Then friends of friends of friends. To keep things organized, she created a Facebook group page that took off with hundreds of likes.

The internet is full of colourful, Keto-friendly recipes and pictures. But, what is the cost/benefit analysis?
The internet is full of colourful, Keto-friendly recipes and pictures. But, what is the cost/benefit analysis?

After being reported to the Middlesex-London Health Unit for running a business without a license and out of her house, Steinburg had to promptly decide whether to open up shop or shut it all down. All told, it would be a six-week process to get up and running officially.

“The intention wasn’t for it to get as big as it did,” she explained.

Those peanut butter fat bombs are what started it all, and they are still on the menu in a form, as the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup.

Phat fat

That fat bomb has caught a lot of attention. Prospective Keto dieter Jaydn Turner is assured he’ll be able to stay on track with the local bakery.

“I think it sounds fantastic. I’m all about it. The way I live and the food I eat, I’m in need of a drastic change,” he said. “And I think I am still allowed more than enough things to make it worth it. And the moment I’m craving something sweet, I have a new Keto sweet place in the back of OEVG [Old East Village Grocer]. So, I think I’ll be just fine.”

Turner plans to start the Ketogenic diet in the New Year for weight loss.

“I’ve been struggling to find a diet that could work for me, my body type and the type of physical activity that I do,” he said. “And it seemed to be the least restrictive diet out of the list of things that I have tried before.

“If it doesn’t work within three months, I will be trying something different.”

Successful Ketogenic dieter, Heather Bilyea has lost 100 pounds over two years. She found the diet while browsing the web one night. Connecting lessons from previous diets she’s been on with the Ketogenic principles, she created her own version.

“I can eat bacon, butter and cream,” she said. “What’s not to love? Of course I’m going to do this. And I’m losing weight.”

Risky business

Healthcare practitioners are not fans of Keto.

Dieticians say it’s just like low-carb, high-fat diets before, but slightly different and with a new name.

Nutriprocan’s Registered Dietitian Lisa Cianfrini says, what she typically tells people is no matter what diet you do, as long as you lose weight you’re probably going to improve your heart health and lower cholesterol levels.

“And this just throws the whole thing in my face and says, ‘No, you can lose weight and still eat really unhealthy and still raise your cholesterol levels.'” she said. “Which is a little bit scary.’”

Cianfrini and fellow Registered Dietitian Robert Thomas agree that a proper diet is eating whole foods, proteins and regular exercise.

“Look to things that break down slower in the body, like vegetables, fruits and whole grains.” Thomas says. “It’s going to have fibre in it. It hopefully has undergone less processing. It’ll provide you more of a consistent amount of energy, rather than digesting really quickly like a low glycemic carb would, such as white bread.

“I don’t think there’s any need to fear carbohydrates.”

Sweet shortage

What happens when there’s too little of sugar in the body?

Without glucose, the body doesn’t have energy to burn. The hormone glucagon is released from the pancreas, telling the liver to release it’s stored sugars for energy.

If the body doesn’t replenish the carb supply, the body can fall into reactive glycemia; which is: low blood sugar occurring within four hours after eating. Symptoms can include, anxiety, fast heartbeat, dizziness, blurred vision and difficulty thinking.

Cianfrini is concerned people aren’t doing enough research before committing to a lifestyle change.

“Really find out what’s right for you and your body. For anybody who’s looking to make changes, reach out to a health care practitioner, physician, dietitian, and get some advice,” she said. “Because there’s so much misinformation on the internet.”

Ultimately, while there are many claims of what the Ketogenic diet can do, and it’s possible that has led to its trendiness, there is only confirmed human tests and scientific data of the diet being used (and is still used) successfully for epileptics.

Whether the Ketogenic diet continues to rise in the mainstream or fade away as other trendy diets have, it is and will likely remain controversial.


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