What is keto?
More officially referred to as a ketogenic diet it is essentially a very low carbohydrate, minimal protein, and high fat diet.  The ketogenic diet, which has exploded in popularity in the past few years, actually dates back to 1920 when it was used to treat refractory epilepsy (Gupta, Khandelwal, Kalra, Gupta, Dutta & Aggarwal, 2017).
Lack of sufficient carbohydrates forces the body into a metabolic state referred to as ketosis, where the body burns ketones for fuel, in lieu of the more typical glycolytic state where the body breaks down glucose for energy.

Ketosis is a normal process, and there are numerous benefits…
The reality is none of us would be here if our ancestors hadn’t been able to get into nutritional ketosis, it is a normal metabolic process which facilitates survival through periods of famine.
Nutritional ketosis is worthy of a dedicated post (coming soon).
In the interim, it may be worth exploring if you want/need to do any of the following:
(1) lose weight without feeling hungry (Johnstone, Horgan, Murison, Bremner & Lobley, 2008)
(2) enhance cognitive function (Krikorian, Shidler, Dangelo, Couch, Benoit, Clegg, 2012)
(3) minimize the risk of cancer (Chung & Park, 2017)

As with any extreme dietary change, there can be some downsides…
In my nutrition practice, one of the main complaints I hear about is constipation.  This is often the result of a very literal interpretation of the diet, which involves minimal (to non-existent) consumption of vegetables, i.e., minimal (to non-existent) fiber consumption which is critical for overall health and wellness, in addition to gastrointestinal health.
I like to remind my clients of a quote from Dr. Denis Burkitt (a fellow-Irishman, who became known as fiber man in the 70s!) , “if you pass small stools, you have to have large hospitals” (Sonnenburg & Sonnenburg, 2015, p. 119).

This simple breakfast recipe includes leeks which a good source of prebiotics.  Prebiotics are fiber-rich, complex carbohydrates which are not absorbed or metabolized by us and instead provide fuel and nourishment to the bacteria in the colon, aka your microflora.

Leek frittata recipe:

Ingredients:

  • One medium sized leek (mainly white part only), finely chopped, and washed well*
    * Note, once you’ve chopped it, I recommend putting it into a sieve (with a medium, not too fine, mesh) and rinsing it well.
  • 2 eggs, whisked briefly (to break up the yolks)
    Note, I like to add a little salt and pepper at this stage.

Method:

  • Heat a medium, non-stick, frying pan
  • Add ½ tsp coconut oil*
    * Insider chef tip:  hot pan, cold oil = no stick!
  • Then add the washed and chopped leek and cook until very lightly browned
  • Then add the whisked eggs, and cook on one side for ~2 minutes, and then flip it over to cook the other side for ~1-2 minutes
  • Enjoy with some of your favorite extra virgin olive oil drizzled ontop

References:

Chung, H. Y., Kyoung, Y. (2017).  Rationale, feasibility and acceptability of ketogenic diet for cancer treatment.  Journal of Cancer Prevention, 22(3), 127-134.  doi:  10.15430/JCP.2017.22.3.127

Gupta, L., Khandelwal, D., Kalra, S., Gupta, P., Dutta, D., Aggarwal, S. (2017).  Ketogenic diet in endocrine
disorders: Current perspectives.  Journal of Postgraduate Medicine, 63(4), 242-251.  doi: 10.4103/jpgm.JPGM_16_17

Johnstone, A. M., Horgan, G. W., Murison, S. D. , Bremner, D. M., and Lobley, G. E. (2008).  Effects of a high-protein ketogenic diet on hunger, appetite, and weight loss in obese men feeding ad libitum.  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 87(1), 44-55.  Retrieved from: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/87/1/44.long

Krikorian, R., Shidler, M. D., Dangelo, K., Couch, S. C., Benoit, S. C., Clegg, D. J. (2012).  Dietary ketosis enhances memory in mild cognitive impairment.   Neurobiol Aging, 33(2), 19-27.  doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2010.10.006

Sonnenburg, J. & Sonnenburg, E. (2015).  The good gut: Taking control of your weight, your mood, and your long-term health.  New York: Penguin Press.