The ancient Greeks believed in the power of fasting to improve health. Though it wouldn't have been called 'keto' in those days, or any of the centuries that have come since, some of the effects and ideas behind keto are the same. Just over a hundred years ago, the ketogenic diet was popularised by medical professionals to treat epilepsy, before the introduction of modern pharmaceutical medications which treated patients more effectively. Recently, keto has come back into the spotlight along with other restrictive/fasting diets like paleo, vegetarian and AIP

The ketogenic, or keto, diet is a restrictive diet which reduces (or eliminates) the intake of carbohydrates and replaces the important nutrients with fats; generally used for weight loss or improve other aspects of health (depending on whose research you're listening to). First of all, how does keto work? 

Keto, particularly in terms of weight loss, is an alternate to fasting. When you reduce your intake of carbohydrates, your body produces energy by breaking down stored fat into compounds called ketones instead of glucose, which spends excess fat and powers your brain (adipose, anyone?). The benefits of weight loss are well-known: more energy, less stress on your joints, reduced risk of diabetes and cancers. In that way, keto can make a huge difference to life by reducing weight-related risks. 

Common foods in the keto diet include: 
Greens like bok choy, spinach and other seasonal leafy greens.
Low-starch vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower 
Full-fat dairy like milk, yoghurt, cheese 
Proteins, including animal and plant-based proteins, including nuts and seeds
Low-fibre fruits (in moderation).

Carbohydrates are found in many food staples including rice, grains like oats and wheat, bananas, sweet potato, as well as other potato products and snacks (popcorn, lollies, doughs and other bread products). People that avoid carb products in their diet include people looking to lose weight, reduce inflammation, protect against heart disease and type 2 diabetes, but for many people, carbohydrates are an important nutrient for a balanced diet.   

As with every restrictive diet, there are potential negative side effects which may impact keto dieters. For instance, high-fat diets can add extra stress to your kidneys, change your gut bacteria, dangerously lower blood sugar or damage bone health. A sudden drop in carbohydrate intake can confuse and de-stabilise the body, leading to the 'keto flu' and other side effects. People who are coeliac, diabetic or dangerously overweight may choose to go on a keto diet, or a hybrid of the diet, for their health. 

Ultimately, nutrition and diet are personal and different for everyone. If your body thrives with a balanced diet of carbohydrates, fats and other nutrients, keep doing what you're doing. If you thrive better with keto, we can help you. You can buy meat and other kitchen staples that suit the keto diet here — and try our most recent recipe: keto Mac and Cheese.