Common Keto Myths:
- The Ketogenic Diet causes ketoacidosis.
- Restricting carbohydrates is bad for your health.
- If you don't eat frequently throughout the day your metabolism will slow down.
- Keto is just a new, fad diet is too restrictive to follow long term.
- Keto raises your cholesterol to unhealthy levels.
I am going to address all those keto myths, but first, there is something that really has me puzzled:
Why do so many people seemingly hate the Keto Diet?
One thing that has me baffled is, why are so many people firmly against the Ketogenic Diet. It's obvious it works, it's made thousands of people healthy. Beginners of a keto diet have a difficult time because of all the negativity from family, friends, and co-workers. So why do so many people hate it? The science behind it is absolutely solid.
This is what science says about the Keto Diet:
Read this study on body composition and hormonal responses to a carbohydrate-restricted diet.
I think I have figured out what's causing this Keto Diet hostility:
The theory was proposed by Social Psychologist Leon Festinger in 1957. According to the theory, individuals prefer for their ideas to be consistent with each other “consonant”. “Dissonance” is the mental distress individuals experience when their idea is in conflict with new information.
"Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn't fit in with the core belief." --Frantz Fanon
The anti-Ketogenic Diet mentality is an example of someone displaying cognitive dissonance hostility. It goes against their core beliefs and actually gives some people mental distress. Family members, friends, coworkers and other people that display hostility and negativity towards your improved eating habits are suffering from cognitive dissonance. They just can't open up their mind to a new way of thinking. The old, outdated dietary guidelines are so ingrained in their minds they can't perceive another reality is possible.
If you have success with the Ketogenic Diet, and you will if you stick with it. You’re going to hear it. People will see that you look better and feel better and they will ask you how you did it. So you might as well be prepared to answer some question from the skeptical.
Disclaimer: Any advice or recommendations I make are NOT for a type 1 diabetic. Type 1 diabetes is a serious medical condition and any diet program should under a doctor's supervision. The type 1 diabetic’s pancreas does not produce any insulin and they need to inject it into their bloodstream to control blood sugar.
A type 2 diabetic still has a pancreas that produces at least some insulin. The type 2 diabetic ingests the excess sugar and the pancreas can’t produce enough insulin to keep up and/or the cells in the body are resistant to the insulin.
Before starting a ketogenic diet it's advisable to get a physical with full blood work (lipid panel) and ask for a C-Peptide test in order to see if your pancreas is functioning and producing insulin. Also, get a C-Reactive protein test to check your inflammatory markers.
If you're going to stick with the Ketogenic Diet you have to believe it is safe and effective. Here are the top false myths associated with the Ketogenic Diet.
1. Be Careful or you'll get ketoacidosis.
This one is very prevalent. I even had a nurse at the VA warn me about this. It's actually correctly called “diabetic ketoacidosis” and is a serious complication of diabetes that occurs when your body produces high levels of blood acids called ketones. The condition develops when your body can't produce enough insulin. Insulin normally plays a key role in lowering ketones. To oversimplify it for the sake of brevity, if your body still produces insulin you won’t get ketoacidosis because your body will excrete insulin when needed which will lower your ketone acid levels. The condition primarily exists only for type 1 diabetics. Many people lump all diabetics together, but they are not the same and at the opposite end of the spectrum.
2. You have to have some carbohydrates, so keto isn’t healthy.
First of all, out of the three macronutrients: (Protein, carbohydrates, fat), carbohydrates are the only one that is NOT a necessary nutrient. You would eventually die of malnutrition without fat and protein but would get along just fine without carbohydrates. Yes, you do need some glucose, but your liver, through a process called gluconeogenesis, can make glucose without carbohydrates. When carbohydrate intake is inadequate for total energy requirements, protein is broken down in the liver through gluconeogenesis and utilized as an energy source.
Traditional Eskimos have eaten a low carbohydrate diet and lived free of heart disease, cancer, and most other chronic diseases affecting modern western civilizations. Research published in the mid-1970s tried to explain this "Eskimo paradox" of living healthy with very few plant foods, on a high-fat, high-cholesterol, no-dietary-fiber diet.
Secondly, the ketogenic diet is not a “no carb” diet, it is a low carb diet and I will contend it’s really not that low carb, it’s just the standard American diet has become so “high carb” that the keto diet just seems extreme. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that you eat between 225 and 325 grams of carbohydrates a day and the average American eats approximately 300-600 grams a day. Those numbers are absurdly high but unfortunately, have become thought of as normal. In the United States, 1 in 3 people will have Type 2 diabetes by 2050 if current trends continue, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what the problem is.
3. If you don’t eat frequently throughout the day your metabolism will slow down.
Another false assumption. The Ketogenic diet is low carb, not a low-calorie diet. Calories are not that important. When eating a Ketogenic diet, the body is using its fat stores for fuel, it maintains a speedy metabolism because there’s energy still being utilized—as opposed to slowing down when someone eats the traditional low-calorie diets by reducing their total calories. Research has also shown that when we fast or eat a ketogenic diet, our metabolism speeds up and growth hormones are raised, which is good in maintaining lean muscle mass. Also, the massive drop in insulin helps prevent insulin resistance.
This study shows the hormone norepinephrine is raised, which is what keeps our metabolism high. The bottom line is the ketones will keep your metabolism humming along just fine and without as much insulin in your system, you'll burn much more fat. When we get Fat Adapted our metabolism does not slow down or become catabolic. So there you have it, the Ketogenic Diet and/or intermittent fasting does not slow down your metabolism.
4. Keto is just a new, fad diet and it’s too restrictive to stick with long term.
Is the Keto Diet sustainable? Absolutely. It’s really not as restrictive as what people think, you can still eat rich, delicious food that curbs hunger and keep you satisfied. You can eat almost unlimited vegetables, meat, butter, cheese, olives, some nuts (walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts), cheese, avocados, eggs, bacon, coconut oil, kefir, zucchini noodles, cauliflower rice. You can even bake with, almond flour, coconut flour, heavy cream, cream cheese, baking powder, blueberries, vanilla extract and use artificial sweeteners like xylitol or stevia. There are literally hundreds of recipes available on Google and Youtube. More importantly, you have to think of it not as a short term plan to lose some quick weight, but as a lifelong decision to change your eating habits to live a more healthful life. Sugar is poison to the body and Americans are eating way too much of it. We must understand that carbohydrates convert to sugar in our body, so the less sugar we put in our system, the more healthy you will be. We decide to "eat to live, not live to eat."
5. That Keto Diet Food Will Give you a heart attack.
This is a tough one. The “high cholesterol” lie has been so ingrained in our minds for so long that most doctors even incorrectly think that high cholesterol directly leads to heart disease. A study published in the Lancet included 5,754 patients from Australia and New Zealand who had already had a heart attack. The average cholesterol level of this group of people was around 220 mg/dl (5.7 mmol/l). Data from the World Health Organization Global Infobase shows that around the same time, the average cholesterol level for the general population was also 220 mg/dl (5.7 mmol/l). People who suffered a heart attack had the same average cholesterol level as the general population. Read this cholesterol lie if you don't believe me.
A study published in the American Journal of Cardiology included 8,500 American men with existing heart disease. The average cholesterol level for this group of people was around 215 mg/dl (5.5 mmol/l), which again, according to the World Health Organization is around the same or even slightly lower than the average cholesterol level for the general population.
The truth is that Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL) or so-called “bad cholesterol” isn’t really bad all by itself. Cholesterol is a complex substance and it only becomes harmful when it becomes glycosylated by excess glucose. The problem develops when you add excess glucose into the equation. In a high glucose/insulin environment the LDL becomes glycosylated and oxidized. Oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is a harmful type of cholesterol that is produced in your body when normal LDL cholesterol is damaged by glycosylation and chemical interactions with free radicals. These and a related series of inflammatory responses can result in atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of the arteries. Actually Blood pressure, C-Reactive Protein (inflammation) test, triglyceride levels, and especial A1C (average glucose) level tests are a much better barometer of health than focusing just on LDL alone.
There is good fat and bad fat, and good fat is perfectly healthy. As long as you don't eat dirty Keto your cholesterol levels will be fine.
If your LDL does become high, do your own research and talk to your physician and it's OK to get a second opinion. I like what Dr. Sarah Hallberg says about cholesterol.
Dr. Berg also has a good video on high cholesterol.