When asked why she feels the keto diet has become so popular, noted author Pascale Naessens smiled, then said: “Because it’s going viral. And, it works.”
Naessens, co-author of The Keto Cure, acknowledges that the ketogenic diet is “extreme” and that the low-carb, high-fat diet – which mimics fasting – isn’t for everyone.
That said, she also feels the diet’s results largely speak for themselves. Naessens has seen enough post-diet photos of slimmed-down people and spoken to enough Type-2 diabetics that turned their health around to think otherwise.
“A lot of people have tried several diets, for years,” Naessens told The Food Institute, during a recent video call from Europe. “If you’re hungry, you cannot follow diets. If you’re hungry, you start a battle with yourself.
“You’re not hungry with the ketogenic diet. You’re able to eat delicious foods – you can eat until you’re satiated, and you will slim down. And I think that, for a lot of people, is an eye-opener… and I think that’s the success of the keto journey.”
The keto diet has earned millions of followers, stretching from Naessens’ native Belgium to America. The purpose of the diet is largely to bring a person’s body to a state of ketosis, during which their body switches from burning sugar and carbohydrates for energy to using stored fat in the body.
The popularity of the diet is evident by looking at grocers’ shelves with no shortage of keto-friendly products – even Duncan Hines brownie mix, for example.
Naessens, renowned for her cookbooks in Belgium, said there are many misconceptions about the keto diet. It’s not about eating copious amounts of butter, she noted. In fact, the typical keto dinner can contain plenty of nutritious elements, like fish, fresh greens and zucchini.
To be clear, Naessens also promotes “cycling” between a keto and moderate-carb diet. She doesn’t feel anyone should go on a keto diet for more than a few months, considering it’s fairly intense.
“It’s not for everybody,” she said. “When you’ coming from a diet with a lot of sugars, and you go to a ketogenic diet, you will feel it, because it’s from one edge to the other. … When you eat a lot of carbs, your body gets its fuel from carbs. But, when you go on a ketogenic diet, it switches to fats for fuel. Your body’s really switching to a totally new way of fueling — your body has to adapt.
“I tell people do [the keto diet] as a journey,” she added, “to explore your body, and to explore foods, and to feel what food is actually doing to your body.”