Founder of UAE’s leading keto brand, Francoise Albrando Crosbie shares her expertise with the Keto Goodies community by answering frequently asked questions about the keto lifestyle following her interview with The National.
- How would you describe the keto diet in layperson’s terms?
The keto diet is essentially a low-carb, low-sugar diet. Instead, the diet includes a moderate amount of protein and high amounts of healthy fats. By restricting the amount of carbohydrates we consume, the body’s response is to burn fat for fuel instead – this is known as ketosis – which can significantly help people manage their weight.
- What are some foods one can incorporate in the keto diet, and what are some foods to avoid?
One of the reasons that the keto diet is so popular is that you can still eat a wide range of foods. Everything from eggs, to lean meats and poultry, oily fish like salmon and mackerel, milk, cheese, nuts, avocados, non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, mushrooms and peppers, as well as many other low-carb choices.
In terms of foods to avoid, it is anything that is high in carbohydrates or sugars. Some of the hardest things for people to give up are bread and baked goods, which are traditionally packed full of carbs. This is why Keto Goodies has been helpful for the keto community as we specialize in providing substitutes for these daily staples. Similarly, many of us have a sweet tooth and we all know how much sugar goes into cakes and snacks. Instead, we use sugar substitutes that do not spike glucose levels in the body.
- Some sources claim that keto might affect gut health. What’s your view?
We often talk about three main macronutrients used for energy – carbs, protein and fat. Protein is really important for the body in building and maintaining muscle, while fats actually help the body absorb essential vitamins. Carbohydrates transform into sugars in the body, and having too many carbs can have both short-term and long-term negative effects. The keto diet keeps this in check.
In terms of the gut, actually the keto diet and the ketones that are produced, help reduce inflammation. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that a keto diet is beneficial to the gut microbiome, including as a therapy for autoimmune disorders affecting the gut. Whenever you change diet or lifestyle, we always recommend consulting a doctor or nutritionist because everybody is different. A consultation will help you understand the best individual approach for you, while also identifying if you have any underlying conditions that may need a specific diet.
- Is it possible to do keto in the wrong way? Are there any common mistakes?
Going on a keto diet is not a substitute for common sense. We all know that highly-processed foods are not going to be good – even if they are low in carbs. When we talk about the keto diet being high-fat, we are referring to healthy fats – things like salmon and avocado, for example.
- What conditions can the keto diet help?
Back when they were first researching low-carb diets, it was developed for people with epilepsy and diabetes. In epileptics, the keto diet can help to reduce frequency and severity of seizures. In diabetics, a low-carb approach helps to regulate blood sugar and insulin levels. There is also ongoing research that is looking into the keto diet as a promising therapy for certain mental disorders like anxiety and depression.
- What trends are there with people adopting keto? Does everyone go keto in the same way?
There is a growing trend of people pairing keto with intermittent fasting. As part of the keto community in the UAE, we have heard a number of success stories where people have adopted keto and intermittent fasting at the same time. It can accelerate the rate at which people can lose weight, as it combines putting the body into a ketogenic (fat-burning) state, while also ensuring a bigger calorie-deficit by fasting. The keto diet also helps people feel fuller for longer, so this may be one of the reasons it works for those doing intermittent fasting.
We’re supportive of people adopting lifestyles that work for them, but many people might find doing keto and intermittent fasting at the same time quite intensive. Plus, we have thousands of customers who have had great results from adopting keto alone without fasting. Our experience is that it’s far easier for people to sustain a keto diet, than one which is heavily restrictive on calorie counting.
- Is keto for life? Or should it be done for set periods?
It depends on the individual’s requirements and goals. If somebody wants to lose weight then keto is a great way of doing so. If that person then returns to introducing high amounts of sugar back into their diet, then they may easily put that weight back on. What we typically find is that people will adopt a strict keto diet in order to achieve certain weight goals, and then maintain those results by remaining on a low-carb, low-sugar lifestyle.
- Do you need to go to the doctor before adopting keto?
We would advocate regular check-ups anyway, whether you are following a keto diet or not. Those check-ups should be from an early age, as there are a growing number of young people developing Type 2 diabetes. Monitoring nutrition is important to ensure healthy development and physical and mental wellbeing.
The keto diet is one of the most studied and scientific diets in the world, with very specific guidelines on the amounts of carbohydrates, proteins and fats that one should consume. When followed correctly, it can be hugely beneficial.