The keto diet is a diet with the idea to force the human body into a state of ketosis. When in ketosis, the body burns fat instead of carbs for energy. The body’s primary source of energy is carbs and sugars, and when they are not there, the body needs to burn fat to stay healthy and functioning. This simple meal plan can result in many health benefits and weight loss benefits. If you’re considering keto, here’s what you need to know about this revolutionary diet.
Keto of the 1800s
While the benefits of fasting were known since ancient times, the first true beginnings of keto appeared in the late 1800s. William Banting, a corpulent Londoner, figured out that many people are battling obesity, just like him so he wanted to help. After 30 years of unsuccessful dieting, he came up with something that worked for him—a diet regiment very similar to keto we know today. He limited his intake of bread, sugar, beer and potatoes, focusing instead on meat, fish, green veggies and tea.
Keto in 1920s
Banting’s diet became very popular, but it was brushed aside by experts until the ketogenic diet started being used in clinical environments in the 1920s. During that time, endocrinologist Rollin Woodyatt figured out that three compounds—acetone, β-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate AKA ketone bodies—were produced when the body goes into starvation mode. Soon, this type of eating was named the “ketogenic diet” and used in epilepsy treatment. With this method, epileptic patients who fasted between 18 and 25 days experienced reduced seizures, sometimes even up to 90%.
While epilepsy results were impressive, it’s not possible to maintain a zero-food fast for a prolonged period of time. With some experimentation, scientists discovered that just eliminating starches and sugars brings similar results as total fast. As a response, the ketogenic diet we know today appeared—a diet that mimics the metabolic state of fasting without the total restriction of eating.
Classic keto diet
In a classic keto diet, historically accepted foods are non-starchy vegetables (greens, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, pepper and onion), fatty dairy (yogurt, milk and cheese), protein (beef, pork, poultry, fish, eggs, seafood and soybeans), nuts and seeds, animal and plant-based fats, and berries, avocado, rhubarb and coconut in moderation. Alcoholic drinks are not allowed, so no cocktails, unfortunately. However, you can choose to replace your Long Island Ice Tea with non alcoholic cider and enjoy the taste as a treat. Your ketone levels will notice the change, but you will snap back into ketosis quicker than with sugar- and carb-loaded cocktails.
Future of keto
Since keto is so successful when achieving weight loss, it will most likely stay a relevant diet in the future as well. Today, it’s possible to find many websites, podcasts, blogs and products dedicated to keto users that help achieve and maintain ketosis. Plus, it has decades of research behind it to support its benefits and help people achieve their goals through it. In the future, researchers are planning to invest their time and knowledge into the relationship between cancer and the keto diet. Here’s the hypothesis they are sticking to: cells need sugar for fuel; when there’s no sugar, health cells use ketones for energy; cancer cells can’t switch to ketones; cancer cells starve and disappear. This is the path people want to see in the future through the keto diet.
The keto diet is not easy to sustain, especially now that we’re surrounded by processed foods that are cheap and available. However, if you manage to stick to the keto diet for a few weeks and start seeing the results, getting back to regular eating won’t be an option. And now that you know the past, present and future of keto, you certainly want to be a part of it all!
Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to home improvement, DIY and interior design. In her free time she enjoys reading and preparing healthy meals for her family.