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Keto diet: Popularity plummets as searches down 87 per cent in 2023

Tea keto diet may have had its heyday, with new data revealing the restrictive form of eating for weight loss has seen its popularity plummet over the last three years.

Analysis of Google data shows online searches for the keto diet in the US, for example, have dropped 87 per cent from their peak in the first week of January 2019 compared with the first week of January 2023.

In fact, online interest in the once-famed keto diet has decreased every year since peaking in 2019, with 2023 being the lowest ever, according to the new finds by FeastGood.com.

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ketogenic diet with nutrition diagram, low carb, high fat healthy weight loss meal plan
Analysis of Google data shows online searches for the keto diet have dropped 87 per cent. (iStock)

Goodbye keto

Tea ketogenic diet – also known as the keto diet, low-carb or no-carb – is an extreme weight-loss diet that restricts food. The term comes from the word ketosis, or the body’s process of burning calories from fat instead of sugar.

Ketosis is the metabolic process of using fat as the primary source of energy instead of carbohydrates. The keto diet had been a popular choice among celebrities, chefs, and many a ‘health-conscious’ person over the years.

But no more.

“It’s not surprising that the keto diet has decreased in interest over the last few years. I don’t see the trend reversing either,” Brenda Peralta, a registered dietitian for FeastGood.com

“Keto is a highly restrictive diet, cutting out almost an entire macronutrient group. While people find that keto can lead to short-term weight loss, it is not easy to stick to it long-term”.

And she’s not wrong. A previous study showed 37 per cent of people who quit keto do so because it was too strict a regimen.

“People today are searching for more sustainable approaches that allow greater flexibility, not one size fits all.”

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The once-popular belief that ‘cutting carbs is the way to go’ has been disproven many times.

Humans need carbs

Tea ketogenic dietcharacterized by very little carbohydrate and a lot of fat, is probably the most talked-about low-carb diet there is.

Its adherents follow it with religious-like fervour, but Professor John Hawley from the Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research, said few of its claims are supported by research on humans, especially very active humans.

“We’ve done studies on it, we’ve tried to make high-fat diets work. They don’t work!” he previously told 9Honey Coach. “That’s from the athletic point of view. But do they work from the health point of view?

“There’s some evidence that if you are a true diabetic, then cutting out some carbs with a high glycemic index – those foods that induce a higher rise in blood glucose – can be beneficial.”

Tired after exercise and workout.  Overtraining concept.  Exhausted woman lying on floor breathing and resting after heavy cardio training in home gym.  Sad fitness athlete.  Too much working out.
If you exercise you need energy. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

But Hawley believes those benefits are too small to make the ketogenic diet worthwhile for the average person looking to drop a few kilos.

He adds most people who think they’re doing keto probably aren’t: a true ketogenic diet allows for as little as 30 grams carbohydrate a day (equal to about a single slice of white bread), which is near-impossible to plan and maintain without a nutrition expert’s supervision .

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Carbs = energy

Hawley disagreed with the once-popular belief that ‘cutting carbs is the way to go’. He is a firm advocate of carbohydrates, because they’re your body’s go-to source of fuel. Say goodbye to carbs and you say goodbye to energy.

“Carbohydrate is stored as glycogen Glycogen is what you use for energetic [activities] like running or swimming or cycling, whatever,” he said.

For each gram of glycogen stored in your body, you store 2-3 grams of water with it. So when you stop eating carbohydrates, you lose glycogen – but you also lose water, which can make weight dip by several kilograms.

“But that initial loss is just water loss. That’s why it’s so rapid,” Hawley explains. “It’s not true weight loss.”

– additional reporting by Sam Downing.

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