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Keto Diet vs Second Nature

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In recent years, the Ketogenic (or ‘Keto’) diet has been gaining popularity as an effective weight-loss strategy. However, what exactly is the Keto diet and is it a sustainable option long term?

Our accredited dietitians have written a guide below outlining exactly what you can expect on this diet and how it compares to the Second Nature program.

What is the Keto diet?

Put simply, the Keto diet involves eating foods high in dietary fat and limiting your intakes of carbohydrates. Over time, this way of eating deprives the body of its primary fuel source, glucose, and ketones (which are produced from the breakdown of fat) start to be used by the brain and other organs for energy. This process, called ketosis, typically occurs within 2-4 days and results in rapid weight loss. 

What are the pros and cons?

Recent human studies have found the Keto diet may result in a number of health benefits, including weight loss and blood sugar control (References 1,2,3,4). Promising results have also been seen for a variety of neurological disorders (Reference 5). However, it’s important to note these studies have been conducted on a small scale and results have only been looked at short-term, so more robust evidence is needed to draw firm conclusions about the long-term health benefits.

Additionally, whilst this approach might sound tempting, it’s quite challenging to follow long term for the following reasons:

  1. It’s easy to slip out of ketosis. Eating more than 50g of carbohydrates per day (that’s less than a bowl of muesli!) is enough to take you out of ketosis, meaning you switch back to burning glucose instead of fat. From here, it can take another 2-4 days to get back into the ‘ketosis’ state.
  2. It’s really restrictive. The Keto diet eliminates or restricts virtually all sources of complex carbohydrates (i.e grains, root vegetables, fruits, and legumes). This reduces our intake of macro and micronutrients (including carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants), all of which have important health benefits and help us to function at our best.
  3. Diet isn’t the only factor that affects blood glucose levels. Research has shown that stress, inadequate sleep, sedentary behaviours, and the quantity of food we consume can also raise blood glucose levels. Therefore, you can slip out of ketosis while following the Keto diet if these other lifestyle factors are not addressed.

What’s the difference between the Keto diet and Second Nature?

The main difference is the amount of carbohydrates consumed each day. The Keto diet involves reducing your intake of carbohydrates to <50g per day, whilst the Second Nature program adopts a lower-carb approach. Specifically, Second Nature recommends including up to three servings of complex carbohydrates and two servings of fruit per day, providing around 50-130g of carbohydrates. This has been shown to maintain daily energy levels, improve blood glucose control and aid weight loss. Additionally, whole food sources of carbohydrates (including wholegrains, potatoes, sweet potatoes, legumes, and fruit) are high in beneficial nutrients and fibre, essential for our bowel health and for aiding satiety. 

Another notable difference is that Second Nature is a 12-week online program that addresses health and well-being holistically.. Individuals on the program receive daily support and guidance from a qualified dietitian, as well as peer support from other members on the program. In contrast, the Keto diet focuses purely on nutrition. Anyone can follow this diet using information available online or in books however,  it’s important to note this information is often unregulated. 

Why do people lose so much weight when they first start following the Keto diet? 

Many people report drastic weight loss during the first week on the Keto diet. However, this is mainly ‘water weight’, not fat loss. 

When we eat carbohydrates, they are either; used by the body immediately, stored as ‘glycogen’ to give us energy between meals, or a combination of both. For every gram of carbohydrate in your body (floating or stored as glycogen), four (4) grams of water are carried with it. Since the Keto diet restricts carbohydrates, the body naturally holds onto less water, resulting in weight loss. 

The Second Nature program also reduces carbohydrates, so some water weight is also lost during the first two weeks of the program. However, the loss is not as drastic.

Do I need to follow the Keto diet to lose weight? 

While it may sound tempting to start the Keto diet for weight loss, there’s little evidence to prove it’s superior to other methods of weight loss, such as the principles followed at Second Nature. 

It’s also important to recognise that everyone is different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to weight loss. It ultimately depends on what suits your individual needs, fits into your lifestyle and can be sustained long term. This is why the Second Nature program provides you with the tools and skills to learn how to make balanced choices without being too restrictive, including mindful eating and identifying distorted thoughts. 

Take home message:

  • The Keto diet involves eating a high fat diet with very little to no carbohydrates. 
  • The Second Nature program supports a lower-carbohydrate approach to eating, recommending including up to three servings of complex carbohydrates and two servings of fruit per day. These foods are important for supporting healthy bowels, energy levels, blood glucose levels, and are high in beneficial nutrients.
  • There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to weight loss. The best diet for weight loss is the one that you can stick to long-term.
  • Before deciding to follow the Keto diet, consider whether this is a realistic and sustainable approach for you to continue long term.

References: 

  1.  Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients
  2. Weight loss, improved physical performance, cognitive function, eating behavior, and metabolic profile in a 12-week ketogenic diet in obese adults
  3. Effects of a high-protein ketogenic diet on hunger, appetite, and weight loss in obese men feeding ad libitum
  4. Low-Carb and Ketogenic Diets in Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Ketogenic Diet in Neuromuscular and Neurodegenerative Diseases

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