Ketogenic diets and low carb diets are all the rage these days! You may have read on the internet or heard from a friend that it is the diet of the future… but why are keto and low carb diets gaining so much popularity and are they worth the hype?
We often get questions about if our products are “keto friendly”. Our hemp seed oil most definitely is, while other products in our range aren’t so suited to the keto diet. We thought it would be a great opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of the keto diet and how you can use hemp seed products to your advantage!
What exactly is the keto diet?
The ketogenic diet is high fat (55-60%), moderate protein (30-35%), and very low carbohydrate (5 to 10%). This is slightly different to a low carb diet that is considered to have less than 30% of our overall calories from carbs. When we eat a large amount of fats, we switch our primary fuel source from glucose (found in carbohydrates) to ketone bodies (breakdown of fats).
Ketone bodies are the breakdown of fats through a process called ‘ketosis’. The aim of the ketogenic diet is to be in a constant state of ketosis, this is when our the ketones are in a specific range in the blood.
What can the keto diet be used for?
The ketogenic diet was first used by Russel Wilden to treat epilepsy in 1921, however now people consume the ketogenic diet for a variety of different reasons that include the management of type 2 diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), blood sugar regulation, lowering cholesterol, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, certain cancers, multiple sclerosis (MS), psychiatric disorders and neurological disorder (1).
Although the ketogenic diet shows promising results in many conditions, further research has been suggested to understand how the keto diet can influence these conditions.
Keto diet and weight loss
While you may have heard that keto diets can support weight loss, this has yet to be significantly proven. Generally people will experience rapid weight loss in the first two weeks or less when starting the keto diet, this may be due to the diuretic effect of the diet causing water weight loss, followed by fat loss. After sometime, hunger pains dissipate and may lead to a reduced intake of calories that supports weight loss. So in this aspect the keto diet may aid in weight loss (1).
However, The single most important factor to weight loss is energy balance (energy in from foods, energy out from movement). One study that reviewed multiple studies explains that weight loss was greater in the low fat group compared to keto or low carb groups diet, suggesting that the keto diet may not be the miracle fat loss diet that it’s claimed to be! (2).
Keto diet and diabetes
Another study discusses how reduced carbohydrate intake may help to improve type 2 diabetes by improving glucose (sugar) metabolism, however may not be necessary for all individuals. Suggesting that maintaining a healthy weight and implementing regular exercise may be enough to support type 2 diabetes (3).
Keto diet and cardiovascular disease
There is some evidence that the keto diet or low carb diets are more beneficial in reducing cardiovascular disease risk factors. However, one study explains that this may just be short term with more evidence and longer studies required to understand if keto diets and low carb diets are in fact more beneficial in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (4)
Complications with the keto diet
One of the serious complications of the keto diet is Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA is a life-threatening condition that results from dangerously high levels of ketones. DKA mostly occurs in people with type 1 diabetes whose bodies do not produce any insulin, however can also occur in type 2 diabetes (5)
People may also experience short term side effects of the keto diet that include fatigue, headaches, nausea, insomnia, dizziness and constipation. However, these often subside after a couple of weeks.
Long-term adherence is the biggest complication of the keto diet. People will often struggle to comply with the high fat diet for long periods of time because of the abundance of carbohydrates in the western diet. Furthermore, some people may experience vitamin and mineral deficiencies that can cause further complications (1)
Are Hemp seeds keto friendly?
It depends on what hemp seed products you use. For example, our hemp seed oil is a great source of essential nutrients that includes essential fatty acids (omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids), and an impressive range of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Hemp seed oil is also 100% carbohydrate free, making it a great addition to the keto diet. Other products in our range like our hemp hearts, hemp protein, hemp muesli and products in our range contain higher amounts of carbohydrates and protein would be considered not so keto friendly!
A well-formulated keto diet or low carb diet may help to improve blood pressure, regulate blood sugar, and improve cholesterol markers. Furthermore, studies have shown that the keto diet has shown promising results in a variety of conditions that includes epilepsy, alzheimers, brain injury, acne, certain cancers and diabetes.
Hemp seed oil is also a great way to increase your healthy fat intake while on a keto diet. Keep in mind that a diet isn’t one size fits all and is about what works for you. If you do decide to try a keto or low carb diet first consult with your health professional.
If you have any questions about plant-based diets feel free to get in touch with our Head of Nutrition Ben at firstname.lastname@example.org for further support
This article does not constitute medical advice and does not take into consideration your personal circumstances. Please see your medical professional before implementing the above.