Keto Diet For Beginners Review
By Nutritionist Sara Kirkham BSc (Hons)
"American measures and ingredients, inaccurate science!"
What's the theory?
This self-published book is written by someone who followed a ketogenic diet and lost weight doing it, so it is more of an introduction and simple guide to following a ketogenic diet, rather than a new diet in itself.
The idea behind this book is to try and explain how a ketogenic diet works, and simplify what you can/can’t eat. However, there are inaccuracies in the ‘scientific’ explanations behind the ketogenic diet, and whilst there are lots of recipes and some meal plans, these are written primarily for the American market.
What does the diet involve?
The theory behind the original ketogenic diet is that consuming more fat is satiating and so can reduce cravings, and therefore lead to a lower calorie intake, creating weight loss.
Ketosis metabolism in the body causes an elevated energy consumption, so it has also been proposed that this is what induces weight loss, although no change in resting metabolic rate is found on a ketogenic diet.
If carbohydrate intake is very low, fat (and ketones) become the primary energy source in the body, and fat stores can be used up, enabling a reduction in stored adipose tissue (body fat).
However, for fat stores to be used up, you must still create a calorie deficit, consuming fewer calories than you are using up during a typical day.
A standard ketogenic diet is typically 70 – 75% (or unrestricted) fat, 20% protein (40 – 60g daily) and 5 – 10% carbohydrate (usually no more than 30g daily, although everyone enters ketosis on differing carbohydrate intakes).
You can eat fats such as coconut oil, butter, olive oil, ghee, avocado oil, foods containing fat such as avocado, nuts, fish, eggs, meat and cheese. Plus a limited amount of non-starch polysaccharide vegetables and fruits, such as onion, garlic, leafy greens, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, apples, lemons, limes and some berries.
How much weight will I lose?
Losing up to 20 pounds in 3 weeks is the potential weight loss noted on some ketogenic diets and quoted in this book. However, this book is not a specific diet, but an overview of what a ketogenic diet is with some meal plans and recipes.
What can I eat in a typical day?
Buttered basil on scrambled egg
Hashed Brussels sprouts
Flaxseed, maple and pumpkin muffin
Stuffed instant pot chicken breasts.
What else does the book include?
The book mainly includes recipes for keto meals, but there are also shopping lists and meal plans for 3 weeks. There is a list of mistakes commonly made on a keto diet, 8 useful tips to follow on a ketogenic diet, top 10 ‘foods to avoid’ and top 10 ‘healthy foods to eat’.
Some of the explanations of ketogenicand general metabolism are not accurate and in some places are misleading.
For example, it is presumed that all ketones are formed from fats, whereas some can be formed from ketogenic amino acids.
It is also assumed that insulin is only produced in response to consuming carbohydrates, when in fact, it is produced in response to protein intake as well.
As the protein intake suggested in this book is a little higher than in many ketogenic diets, and the author is suggesting that ketogenic dieting provides better blood glucose control, this is something to be aware of.
The author also states that protein is converted into glucose via gluconeogenesis, suggesting that eating protein increases carbohydrate levels, but although approximately 50% of amino acids can follow this pathway, protein is primarily used for other things such as cell renewal, formation of hormones, enzymes and antibodies, so utilization of amino acids for gluconeogenesis is limited.
There is also a comment about this ketogenic regimen ‘reducing the risk of clogged arteries’ due to lower levels of triglycerides and cholesterol, which illustrates poor understanding of lipid metabolism and pathophysiology, as recent research indicates that elevated cholesterol is not linked to atherosclerosis, and arteries do not become ‘clogged’.
Additional statements such as ‘the ketogenic diet also drives the immune system into a frenzy’, shows a very low level of physiology understanding, and unfortunately there are a number of other statements that are scientifically incorrect.
The proportions of macros initially suggested then change later on in the book, yet this book is meant to be simplifying the ketogenic diet. The author states that the macro proportions are more important than actual calorie intake, which – although the proportions are important to enter ketosis - isn’t correct for weight loss.
The fluid requirements are a little low, especially as fluid-rich fruit and vegetables are limited on this diet, and a higher protein intake increases fluid requirements.
The author appears to be suggesting that combining intermittent fasting will help with weight loss too, which it probably would, but is not really the remit of the book.
The book is predominantly keto recipes, though it is not noted where the calorie and macronutrient weights for each recipe come from or how accurate they are.
The shopping list may be useful although the ingredients and measurements are for the American market.
The snacks for each day are the same (flaxseed, maple and pumpkin muffin), and several other meals are repeated in a sample week meal plan, so food choice and nutrient diversity could be improved upon.
A better option…
Read a well-researched review of ketogenic dieting in Sara’s latest book, Weight Loss – The Essential Guide.
Together with reviews of how intermittent fasting and paleo-style diets may help you to lose weight, the book also contains chapters on portion control and how to adjust your diet to make the most of the metabolic advantages of certain types of food.
Don't go on a 'diet'. You can use the tools in Weight Loss Resources to review your normal diet and make small changes that will help you lose weight in a way you can stick with. Try it Free for 24 hours
Read a comprehensive review of ketogenic dieting in Sara’s latest book, Weight Loss – The Essential Guide.
The Keto Diet for Beginners by Melissa Hoffman is available from Amazon