The Undertaker Who Invented Keto

The Ketogenic Diet

Ketogenic Diet (Keto for short) is a low-carb, high-fat diet that has been shown to promote weight loss and improve overall health. The main idea is to replace carbs with fat. This puts your body into ketosis.

Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body produces ketones from fat and uses them for energy instead of carbs.

Ketosis occurs when the body has limited access to glucose, resulting in reduced insulin levels and the release of fatty acids from stored fats.

The liver transforms these fatty acids into ketones, which are molecules your body can use for energy (instead of using carbs).

The very first person to adopt a Keto-like diet for weight loss was William Banting, an undertaker who lived in London during the mid-1800’s.

image of undertaker

“Of all the parasites that affect humanity,” wrote Banting, “I do not know of, nor can I imagine, any more distressing than that of Obesity.”

Banting tried everything he could to lose weight: heavy exercise, dangerous medications and laxatives, Turkish baths, horseback riding, and calorie restriction. Nothing worked.

At age 65, Banting weighed 202 pounds and was 5’5”. He had trouble bending down to tie his shoes. He was prone to light-headedness and was having trouble with his vision and hearing. He wore a special belt to keep a painful hernia in check.

All of that changed when he visited Dr. William Harvey, who put Banting on a special diet plan that restricted starches and sweets and emphasized meat and veggies.

Banting was furious to hear that he couldn’t enjoy pastries and beer every day, but he soon started to notice positive results. Within the first year, Banting lost 46 pounds and recorded significant health improvements. His vision and hearing issues disappeared and he didn’t have to wear the hernia belt.

Banting wrote about his experience in an essay titled “Letter on Corpulence: Addressed to the Public.” Banting said he was “fully persuaded that hundreds, if not thousands, of our fellow men might profit equally by a similar course” and particularly recommended a low-carb diet for “artists and men of sedentary employment who cannot spare time for exercise.”

Banting’s essay sold tens of thousands of copies. He donated all the proceeds to local hospitals.

    animate picture of avocado

Fast-forward to 2020, and people all over the world are still turning to low-carb diets to lose weight.

The Keto diet as we know it was originally designed to treat neurological diseases including epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and cancer.

It is particularly beneficial for diabetics and pre-diabetics, in some cases allowing patients to stop taking diabetes medication

Additional benefits of Keto:
  • Weight loss
  • Appetite suppression
  • Improves triglyceride and HDL cholesterol levels
  • Increased protein intake
  • Decreased blood sugar and insulin levels
  • Improved insulin sensitivity
  • Increased focus and energy
  • Less acne

For those interested in trying Keto, here are some foods you will need to reduce or eliminate from your diet:

  • Sugary beverages including soda, fruit juice, and smoothies
  • All desserts and candy
  • Grands and starches, including pasta and cereal
  • All fruit with the exception of some berries
  • Beans and legumes
  • Root veggies and tubers, including potatoes and carrots
  • Most condiments and sauces
  • Unhealthy fats like mayo and processed vegetable oil
  • Most products advertised as “sugar-free” or “low-fat”
  • Alcohol

The majority if your diet should focus on the following foods:

 Fatty fish like tuna and salmon

  • Red meat (yes, you can eat bacon and steak)
  • Eggs
  • Butter, cream, and cheese
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Healthy oils like EVOO and coconut oil
  • Avocados
  • Low-carb veggies
  • Replace condiments and sauces with salt, pepper, herbs, and spices

For the first few days, Keto can cause side effects (AKA “the Keto flu”) including: upset stomach, nausea, increased huger, poor energy, reduced mental function, insomnia, and decreased exercise performance. An increase in ketones can also cause bad breath and fruity-smelling urine.

You can decrease the potential side effects of Keto by gradually altering your diet over the course of a few weeks. Since Keto can also change the water and mineral makeup of your body, experts recommend adding extra salt to your meals or taking potassium and magnesium supplements.

Are you ready to try Keto? Have you already lost weight by eliminating carbs from your diet? Share your story in the comments section below!

By April Kuhlman


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