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Keto dieters see success, but is it sustainable?
HALIFAX -- Many Canadians know at least one person who is following the ketogenic diet, with some of those dieters experience success. Restaurants and grocery stores are also following the trend by offering keto-friendly products. However, when it comes to the Maritimes, how is the keto lifestyle fairing, and is it sustainable?
Dartmouth resident, Susan Abboud, began following the ketogenic diet in 2017 and hasn't looked back since.
"I started out at 205lbs in March of 2017,” says Abboud. “By May, I was down 25lbs, and by July I was 40lbs and 31 inches."
Three years after beginning her new lifestyle, Abboud maintains her weight loss and continues to eat low-carb – mainly lean meats and proteins, along with fruits and vegetables.
"A lot of it was mindset,” says Abboud. “A lot of it was deciding that this was the way I wanted to be – I didn't want to ever go back to where I was."
With so much hype around the ketogenic diet, Dalhousie food distribution and policy professor, Sylvain Charlebois, launched a Canadian survey, in partnership with the Angus Reid Institute, to learn more.
"The number of people who have actually tried the keto diet and gave up on it actually is twice the amount of Canadians who are actually still on the diet,” says Charlebois. “The number of Canadians that are on the diet is barely four percent – which is much lower than we were expecting.”
The survey revealed people stopped following the diet because they didn't see any results; it was too expensive or too confusing, and largely because they felt it was too strict.
However, a bakery in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia, is hoping to change the perception that the diet is too restrictive by offering a variety of keto-friendly foods – including tasty treats such as peanut butter hearts.
“They taste like Reece’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cups at Easter time – the old fashion full of sugar ones –people love those,” says Locally Baked Outlet owner, Kelly Hemeon. “Our mini cheesecakes that we started this year are a huge hit."
Despite the tasty food options, registered dietitian Angela Dufour suggests that those who are curious consult a health professional before beginning a ketogenic diet.
"You're looking at 75 percent or more of your total daily calories coming from fats,” says Dufour. “Where those fats come from, whether they're healthy or not so healthy – your saturated versus your unsaturated or polyunsaturated fats – can lead to some risks in terms of cardiovascular disease if you have a history of that in your family."
And Abboud agrees, noting she sought expert advice and researched before getting a taste of keto.
"I did it slowly, and that's how I recommend anyone try it,” says Abboud. “I omitted one thing at a time. I didn't just dive into this and say ‘this is going to change my life overnight.’"
Meanwhile, the Dalhousie survey found people earning over $100,000 per year are three times more likely to follow the ketogenic diet than those earning less than $50,000. Additionally, it also revealed the diet is equally popular amongst men and women and that the main motivator to start the diet is weight-loss.