Keto is by far one of the most talked-about dietary trends of the last few years, but it’s known to be an extreme and largely unsustainable way of eating. Mild keto, on the other hand, still offers maximum fat-burning but is more manageable. Clinical dietitian Kate Save describes how it works.
There are two distinct types of ketogenic diets; the ‘traditional’ ketogenic diet — which involves consuming only 20g of carbohydrate a day—and the ‘mild’ ketogenic diet, which contains 50-70g of carbs per day.
As the name suggests, ‘mild’ keto is a less extreme version of the traditional keto diet which is very strict and can be taxing on the body. But this doesn’t mean mild-keto is any less effective. In fact, mild keto has been proven to be a very sustainable method of weight loss and has many health benefits.
What is ketosis?
But first, let’s start with how ketosis works more generally.
Ketosis is a natural process where the body is almost always only burning fat. The preferred fuel source of our bodies is glucose which is consumed in the form of carbohydrates found in food. The secret of ketosis is to eat low amounts of carbohydrate and moderate amounts of protein and fat to keep you full. It allows the body to use stored fats for fuel, instead of relying on dietary intake.
Like what you see? Sign up to our bodyandsoul.com.au newsletter for more stories like this.
A traditional ketogenic diet is typically very high in fat, very low in carbohydrate and contains a moderate amount of protein. This type of diet was originally used for therapy in treating epilepsy in patients who were non-responders to anti-epileptic medications.
By drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat (90 percent of your diet), the body is placed into a metabolic state of ketosis; essentially becoming a fat-burning machine.
While a full keto diet has been shown to have some benefits including weight loss and blood sugar stabilisation, the excessive amount of fats involved (including lots saturated fats) has been linked to raised cholesterol levels in the blood.
What’s more, the extremely strict and restrictive nature of this diet can limit dietary variety to levels which could compromise overall nutritional balance longer-term.
A more sustainable option
A mild keto diet on the other hand is made up of 30-50 percent fat, 20-40 percent protein, and 10-20 percent carbohydrates from your overall macronutrient intake each day. It boasts a more balanced approach and means people do not miss out on any essential food groups or micronutrients. It induces a state of ‘mild’ nutritional ketosis, and while it’s termed ‘mild’, it still very effectively burns fat and results in rapid weight loss—much like its traditional cousin.
Mild keto diets can improve energy levels through various mechanisms. One of these is by promoting stabilisation of blood sugar levels thereby reducing insulin levels (fat storage hormone) which can often take energy unnecessarily out of the blood and convert it into fat stores making us feel tired and hungry shortly after eating.
The lower carbohydrate content of mild keto diets also reduces the spikes and dips in blood sugar that are experienced with higher levels of refined carbohydrates, thereby stabilising energy levels. Fat stores are not limited in the body and our bodies can make endless ketones for consistent energy unlike carbohydrates which are limited to around only 600g of storage of glucose in our muscles and liver.
Mild keto diets also restrict all refined carbohydrates meaning they are Low GI and therefore help to stabilise blood sugar levels and reduce food cravings.
If the ultimate goal is weight loss and improved weight-related health benefits, then mild nutritional ketosis is the best first port-of-call.