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The keto diet was one of the most googled health terms in Australia during the last three months. Recently, there has been a massive push in the weight loss space towards this diet regime by supplement companies and social media influencers. The question is, will it work for you? To answer that, we need to address why the other diets haven’t worked?

The keto, short for ‘ketogenic diet,’ is all about minimising your carbs and upping your healthy fats to get your body to use fat as a form of energy. While everyone’s body and needs are slightly different, that typically translates to 60-75% of your calories from fat, 15-30% of your calories from protein, and 5-10% of your calories from carbs.

In short, ketosis is a process where we convert fat into glucose, aka energy. It’s a pretty complicated mechanism involving things in our bodies called ketones and requires a lot of counting of the net carbs per 100 grams of all the food you eat. Unfortunately, in a lot of instances, the science has been ‘sexied’ up to sell the diet without giving people the information, or support, they need to achieve long term results. A common trend when it comes to the ‘selling’ of diets.

In the short term, as a weight loss strategy, the keto diet does in fact work. As will any diet that involves lowering one’s calorie intake. However, as is the case with all diets, there is little evidence things will work out long term. This isn’t the fault of the diet, rather it is due to a range of individual and societal factors we’re faced with today – upbringing and relationship to food, ability to maintain a changed eating program, personal resilience, access to and cost of healthy food options, etc. In other words, because of the perceived effort it takes to achieve a particular diet, the diet itself can quickly become something that is just too hard to maintain for most people.

How did we get to this point? Well, in a nutshell, it’s because we’re too smart for our own good… Our drastic evolution as a species in the last few hundred years has meant we are able to farm, produce, package and transport foods more efficiently than ever before. A fairly new phenomenon that has unfortunately resulted in most of the food in our grocery store and restaurants, being void of nutrition and cheaper than healthier whole food options. Our effectiveness at being able to feed ourselves comes at a cost…most of the food options available to us, are not actually good for us.

Along with that, unhealthy food options are shoved in our faces every day. Whether it’s on our televisions, phones, in the grocery store itself, at work, at the restaurants we frequent or on our friend’s dinner tables…food that has minimal nutritional benefit to our bodies is in front of us all the time. Making something like sticking to a healthy eating plan, an extremely difficult proposition to achieve. Our poor nutritional intake is ironically coupled with the fact that we’ve also never been as busy in our daily lives as we are right now. We have hundreds of demands placed on us every day, resulting in a natural drain on our concentration levels and ability to carry out the tasks we need to. Like running a car on dodgy fuel, our poor diets only serve to make our lives more difficult than they need to be. The car goes, just not as quick or as smoothly as it could, requiring more services than it should.

A good example of how poor nutrition and lifestyle manifests is something we’ve all felt but shouldn’t…the dreaded 3:30-itis. We know it well. It’s mid-afternoon. You’re starving. You need to perform a task that you would usually be able to do with your eyes closed, but in this moment, you couldn’t do it if someone pointed a gun at you.

There are a lot of reasons this type of fatigue and hunger sets in. Maybe you are anxious about an issue in your life and haven’t been sleeping correctly? Maybe you’re starting to become unwell and need time off? 99% of the time, however, it is because we made a lifestyle decision that we thought was ok to do, and now we’re paying for it. We skipped breakfast that morning and thought, “I’ll be right.” Well yes, you’ll live if that’s what you’re saying. It just won’t be at the level you could be living.

When you’re in this state, your body does a number of things. Hormones send messages to your brain that are related to our survival processes. An evolutionary response mechanism that drives us to hunt for sustenance, ensuring our survival. Unfortunately, our advancement as a species happened at such a speed our biological systems didn’t quite have the time to change and adapt. I mean, it would be great if chocolate cake was good for us. But it isn’t. Not yet anyway.

All this leads us to mismanage things like diets and exercise regimes. Mismanaging the keto diet, like any diet, can often result in binge type eating. Whole packets of Tim Tams or Oreos can disappear in a few minutes because we are in ‘survival’ mode. This then overloads our systems with large amounts of things like sugar and refined carbohydrates, giving us a short-term boost but long-term ill effects, such as extreme fatigue and ongoing hunger. This type of eating can also see stimulants, such as coffee and energy drinks, overused in order to chase additional boosts of fake energy. The cycle is difficult to break and extremely damaging on bodies which are not designed to process those types of substances at those levels.

So, with the focus back on what we need to do to try and optimise our general health and wellbeing, it’s clearly important to understand that we need to make space in our day to address our nutritional requirements and needs. Whether it’s going the keto route, the vegan route or the low carb route, not giving our bodies nutritious foods has a cascading effect on our eating processes and general output as a human being. Simply put – make time to eat nutritious meals three times a day and get a decent sleep every night. Couple that with regular movement and exercise and you will almost immediately increase things like energy levels and concentration. Correspondingly, things like the terrifying 3pm starvation zombie crisis will decrease.

Our bodies are designed to run that way…give them the right fuel, let them move and you will get more miles out of them.

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