Recently released Google search data suggests we’re about to start hearing a lot more about ketogenic diets, but do they actually work?
Eat up. Image: Anna Hoychuk/Shutterstock
At nutrition industry trade shows such as the Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio, and the Olympia Fitness & Performance Expo in Las Vegas, one term has bulked larger than all the others: "ketogenic diet."
The ketogenic diet, several versions of which placed among Google's top 2016 search terms for diets, entails eating high-fat, low-carbohydrate foods while moderating the consumption of protein. Although some form of this diet has existed for centuries, the modern version of the ketogenic diet was developed during the 1920s and was successfully used to treat patients who suffered from epilepsy.
Anthony Roberts, a fitness journalist and co-author of Anabolic Steroids: Ultimate Research Guide, highlighted the ketogenic diet's long history as a way of explaining its recent resurgence. "It's an old diet—it's essentially the Atkins Diet," he told Motherboard. "These new variants are perhaps a little more extreme, but the foundation for the diet has already been laid over the past half century. People already have a considerable amount of intellectual currency in terms of the diet, so it's easily understood. Combine that with the fact that results are immediate for most people, and we have the perfect storm for a viral diet."
Quest Nutrition co-founder Tom Bilyeu concurs. "You have to have a ketogenic product line—that's where everything is going, and rightly so—and we're at the forefront of that," he said to a gathering of reporters at last year's Mr. Olympia Expo. "And we have the full complement of items ready to go: high-fat, low-calories cookies and chips that will cause the body to burn fat reserves even as they keep you satiated."
Quest, which prides itself on being at the cutting edge of nutrition research, believes that American diets are far too calorie-rich because calories are far too inexpensive. "We're going to raise the cost per calorie to starve our customers," Quest co-founder Ron Penna told Motherboard. "It sounds awful when you put it like that, but it's for their own good. You don't need 2,000 calories a day to be at your best; in fact, research shows that significant calorie restriction is the key to life extension."
Anthony Roberts emphasized that market imperatives, not humanitarian ideals, best explain this rapid transition toward ketogenic foods. "Remember all of those absurd fat free products of the 1990s through the 2000s? That was a multi-billion dollar industry. Now that keto dieting is big, we have another multi-billion dollar industry in the works, and a lot of vested financial interests working to keep their low/no-carb profits rolling in," he said.
And the Google search statistics appear to substantiate Roberts' claim. People who have resolved to improve their health and fitness in 2017 are looking for the next panacea, and the ketogenic diet seems primed to fill that bill. So as you shop for healthier foods on the internet, rest assured that nutrition companies will have plenty of high-fat ketogenic solutions available for you to purchase.