Dispelling Some Keto Diet Myths
It’s been exciting to see the growth in popularity and acceptance of the ketogenic diet throughout the last several years. That means more people are waking up to the reality of what’s really good for their bodies, and that what we’ve been told all our lives is good for us (high carbs, and low fat) just isn’t true.
…But, the rapid growth of the keto movement is a bit of a double-edged sword. A natural result of more people talking about keto and creating buzz about it, is the proliferation of myths and fallacies. Some are based in truth, and many are just flat out wrong.
I want to take the time in this post to dispel some of the biggest and most common keto diet myths…
Myth #1: Ketogenic diets are dangerous because they put your body into ketosis
Anyone who says this is confusing ketosis with ketoacidosis. Sadly, even some medical professionals confuse the two.
Ketosis is a normal, healthy state in which your body uses fat as a fuel source when glucose availability is low. It happens to all people while fasting or when carbohydrate intake is low. This well-regulated process of the body creating ketones (from fats) is designed to keep us alive when we go without food for long periods of time.
Whereas, ketoacidosis is an abnormal form of ketosis, in which levels of ketone bodies build up to extremely high levels. It’s caused by a lack of insulin…without insulin, blood sugar rises to high levels and stored fat releases from fat cells. This excess of fat metabolism then results in the abnormally high production of ketones. Subsequently, the combination of both high blood sugar and high ketone levels can throw off the normal acid/base balance in the blood…This process – which is ketoacidosis – IS dangerous, but ketosis is NOT.
*See this reference paper.
Myth #2: The high protein consumption will damage your kidneys
As soon as I hear somebody say this, I know they haven’t read a single low-carb/high-fat ketogenic diet book that is available. They’re simply repeating what they’ve heard from somebody else. A ketogenic diet low carbohydrate diet is a HIGH FAT diet, with only moderate protein intake…and actually, because you’re satiated (full) by fat, you will eat less and likely consume less protein than the average person on the Standard American Diet.
Myth #3: Ketogenic diet weight loss is only water loss
While it is true that some of the weight loss in the first week or two will be from the loss of water, as your body adapts from a standard diet to the ketogenic diet, after that water loss will diminish (if you’re getting enough sodium).
Water retention, along with high blood pressure, are two very common side effects of a standard high-carbohydrate diet. So, if you’re switching from that to a ketogenic diet, it would make sense that their would be initial water loss, because the kidneys are no longer retaining salt (which causes the water retention).
Myth #4: The ketogenic diet and other low carb diets don’t work because you gain back all the weight after going off the diet
This statement is absurd because if you go off of ANY diet, reverting back to what you ate before, you will gain back weight…it was the unhealthy lifestyle and eating habits you had previously that caused the excess weight in the first place.
Nonetheless, it is something I’ve heard often, so I’ll address it.
The ketogenic diet should be seen more as a lifestyle change than a temporary miracle weight-loss diet. Reducing your carb intake should be a permanent change, one that will make you healthier for the rest of your life.
Myth #5: Low-carb high-fat, ketogenic diets are low in fiber, which is bad for your colon
This is untrue. In fact, people who eat a ketogenic diet typically consume MORE fibrous vegetables than they did before on a standard American diet. Foods like cabbage, spinach, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and salads comprise a majority of the carbohydrate calories one can have on keto diet.
Myth #6: A ketogenic diet will clog your arteries and give you heart disease
This is probably the most common myth connected with the keto diet…and it stems from the lies and misinformation that led us to believe saturated fat and cholesterol cause arteriosclerosis and heart disease.
Did you know, there’s never been a single scientific study that has linked saturated fat and cholesterol with heart disease? …crazy, but true! This 2010 meta-analysis eliminates any link between the two.
Here are just a few studies that show low carbohydrate, high fat diets can actually improve heart disease markers, and result in faster weight loss without adverse changes to vascular health.
- Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN Diets for Change In Weight and Related Risk Factors Among Overweight Premenopausal Women
- A Ketogenic Diet Favorably Affects Serum Biomarkers for Cardiovascular Disease in Normal-Weight Men
- Low-Carb, Higher-Fat Diets Add No Arterial Health Risks to Obese People Seeking to Lose Weight
On the other hand, there are numerous studies that show high carbohydrate diets along with elevated blood sugar and insulin ARE connected to heart disease and arteriosclerosis.
Lastly, in this video, Dr. Jeff Volek discusses how the ketogenic diet affects cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides: