Dubunking the Myths About Keto Diet
The Keto diet is a diet that is very low in carb, moderate in protein, and very high in fat. This type of diet has been one of the talks of the media these days as an effective diet for Weight Loss, Type 2 Diabetes, and people with Blood Sugar and Insulin Resistance problems. However, this type of diet is not new and has been around since the 1920s—the Keto diet primarily as an alternative treatment for Epilepsy.
Through the years, it has gained popularity for the broad coverage of health benefits people can get from the diet. However, along with this popularity comes an equal force of critics and controversies about the diet.
Whether you are already started on your keto diet journey but is bothered by the controversies surrounding the diet, or someone who is still thinking whether to dive into the keto lifestyle, this article is for you.
What is the Keto diet?
The Keto Diet comes from the root word “keto,” short for Ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state wherein your body sources fat as your body’s fuel rather than glucose. You can reach this state of Ketosis by revamping your diet and taking in high amounts of healthy fat, a moderate amount of protein, and a minimal amount of carbohydrates.
As much as you want to, you can’t only reach the state of Ketosis by skipping on your morning muffin. This type of diet may require sacrifice and diligence on your carbohydrate intake from all sources, including vegetables and fruits.
Considerable research shows that there are many health benefits to this diet to achieve weight loss, manage diabetes and other health conditions. However, there seems no stopping to the myths we hear about the diet that may scare you from trying the Keto diet and miss on the benefits a keto diet can give your body.
How does Keto Diet Work?
Instead of using sugar or glucose from carbohydrates such as legumes, starchy vegetables, and grains as the primary source of fuel for your body, the keto diet uses fat as an alternative source of energy. The liver uses these fats to produce ketone bodies, which are consequently used as your body’s new main source of energy.
A keto diet requires you to reduce your daily carb intake only to 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates. Ideally, for your body to function really well, it needs a steady supply of about 120 grams daily of glucose. However, with the reduction of the supply, it requires to use another fuel source, the ketone bodies from fat. When you fast, or when carb intake is lesser than what your body needs, your body alternatively pulls the stored glucose in your liver and temporarily breaks down your muscle to reduce glucose. If you continually reduce your carb intake for a few more days (typically three to four days), the glucose stored in your liver will fully be depleted. Simultaneously, the blood levels of your hormone called insulin will also decrease, which allows your body to begin to use fat as its primary fuel.
As your body continues to use the “new” fuel source, the ketone bodies will accumulate in the blood. This accumulation is called Ketosis. It needs to be noted that a healthy individual can naturally experience mild Ketosis during fasting periods or when they do strenuous exercises. If you follow the keto diet religiously and carefully, the accumulation of ketone bodies will not reach a harmful level since a healthy individual will typically maintain enough insulin levels to prevent excessive ketones from forming. The optimized and well-regulated ketone level is also called Ketoacidosis. If you are wondering how soon can you experience the state of Ketosis, the answer is variable. It really varies from person to person. At the same time, the number of ketones that the body produces and can tolerate varies from person to person too. How soon can you reach it and the level depends on factors such as your body’s fat percentage and your metabolic health.
Myths about KetoKeto
Myth 1: Your Body Goes into the state of Ketoacidosis.
Truth 1: Your body enters the state of Ketosis that helps you burn your fat.
The terms Ketoacidosis and Ketosis are two similar sounding terms with very different implications that can sometimes be confused. But you mustn’t mistake one from the other. These two terms involve a very different set of circumstances with significantly different implications on your body.
The Keto diet works by reconfiguring your metabolism to burn fat more efficiently over time. The keto diet uses specific levels of macronutrients (60-80% fat; 15-20% protein; 4-10% carbohydrates) to help your body reach the state of Ketosis.
The Ketoacidosis, on the other hand, is a condition caused by a “lack of insulin available for the cells to adequately uptake glucose in the blood to use for energy.” Ketoacidosis happens when your body does not have enough indulin that it starts to break down fat for energy where they cause a chemical imbalance in the blood.
Whereas Ketosis is a metabolic state that is harmless and completely natural, diabetic Ketoacidosis can pose serious health risks when left untreated.
Bottom line: When you follow a keto diet, your body reaches the metabolic state of Ketosis, where your body uses fat for fuel. Ketosis is different from diabetic Ketoacidosis. Diabetic Ketoacidosis is a severe complication of diabetes that takes place if your body runs out of enough insulin, and ketone levels are high.
Myth 2: You can swing in and out of a Keto diet and keep losing those pounds.
Truth 2: Going on and off on keto may help gain all your weight back.
The Keto diet is a very low-carb diet that helps you eliminate your bloating and program your body to burn fat for energy. Consequently, it helps you significantly burn those pounds. However, like many other types of diet, the Keto diet has become a fad. Because of this, people start jumping in and out of the diet.
As a consequence, people religiously follow this diet one day, then eat carbs the next. However, Audrey Fleck, RDN, an integrative and functional dietitian nutritionist and a certified diabetes educator in Perkasie, Pennsylvania, says that if you do that, you’re not going to experience the maximum benefits of sustained KetoKeto.
But does this mean you can never reintroduce carbs into your body? The answer is no. There’s a way to work around this, provided you become thoughtful during and after your carbohydrate transition. While you can easily resign on the keto diet, especially when you’re traveling or making significant life transitions, make sure you follow a slow change off KetoKeto and continue to stick with a clean diet that consists of real, whole, unprocessed foods.
Bottom line: You can’t just seesaw your way on and off Keto diet. Doing this not only helps you gain your weight back but also impedes you from fully harvesting the benefits of sustained KetoKeto.
Myth 3: Everyone has equal, and the same carb needs.
Truth 3: The number of carbs you should take primarily depends on several factors like personal health, age, nutritional goals.
If you’re a beginner, starting a very-low-carb diet may be difficult for you. Don’t worry; almost every beginner started that way. For standard keto dieters they usually consume 20-50 grams of carbohydrates every day. But does this mean that you can’t go lower or beyond this range? Certainly not! While a keto diet provides specific macronutrient ratios for you to follow, you need to remember that these ratios merely serve as guides.
When starting a keto diet or any diet, your body and health concerns should remain your utmost priority. Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all type of diet. As much as possible, consult your body before starting the keto diet or talk with your registered dietician if it is the best diet for you.
Bottom line: The number of carbs you should take primarily depends on some factors like personal health, age, nutritional goals. Before starting a keto diet, consult your registered dietician on whether this is the perfect diet for you.
Myth 4: Doing a Keto diet means lacking in micronutrients
Truth 4: Micronutrient deficiency is indeed a problem, but it is not exclusive for people on a keto diet.
Doing your keto diet wrong means ending up deficient in various vitamins and minerals. As mentioned, when you are in a keto diet, you are making your body undergo a carbohydrate restriction since you are not eating non-starchy vegetables or relying only on whole grains, or grain-feed cheeseburgers in your every meal. An improper keto diet often results in micronutrient and distribution. However, even when you are not in a keto diet, and you are following the low-fat, low calorie, low carb diet, or standard American diet, you will still suffer nutrient deficiencies.
But can we avoid being micronutrient deficient when we are in a keto diet? Sure, you can! If you do and follow keto correctly by eating real food and whole foods, micronutrient deficiency will not be a problem. In fact, eating red meat, lean meat, keto-friendly vegetables, and healthy fats such as monosaturated fats are the most nutrient-dense foods in our food chain. These alternatives are more nutritious in comparison to high-sugar fruits and other glucose-loaded foods.
Moreover, sticking to a keto diet may be more beneficial to you. For instance, most standard existing diets lack magnesium. When you lack adequate magnesium, it impedes your body to regulate your muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure. It can also impair your body to create and process protein and deteriorate your bone mineral density. When you follow a keto diet, these problems will be solved or prevented since, in a keto diet, you are encouraged to eat leafy greens, almonds, nuts, and seeds. If you are still not confident enough in whether you have consumed enough micronutrients, you can add quality greens powder in your meals, a powerful arsenal to prevent in you in being micronutrient deficient.
Bottom line: If you have a well-formulated balanced diet (keto focused), micronutrient deficiencies can easily be avoided.
Myth 5: Ketogenic Diets encourage the consumption of any type of fat
Truth 5: There are many subtle distinctions in any diet; even the ketogenic diet is not exempted. However, eating low carb and high fat is not enough. The kind of fat you are also consuming matters.
When you follow a keto diet, you are expected to follow the hight fat diet consumption rule. However, it is emphasized that not any fat is allowed to be consumed. Fats that can be obtained in processed foods are deemed to be unhealthiest. For instance, processed oils like vegetable oils, soybean oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, and peanut oil are contested to be some of the unhealthiest processed foods available in the market. If you are curious as to why “vegetable” oils are unhealthy, here’s why. Vegetable oils are high in om high in omega-6 linoleic acid. It may sound “healthy,” but it is not. Omega-6 linoleic acid in vegetable oils is known to cause inflammation and obesity. Cooking using vegetable oils also generates oxidized lipids, which are particles that can contribute to heart disease.
Indeed, a diet that consists of high-vegetable oil cab be harmful since it increases disease risks, inflammation, and cellular damage. However, this type of unhealthy “vegetable” oil should not be generalized to all kinds of oils. A well-crafted keto meal plan from the right keto sources should tell you that there are various sources of good fats in oils for your keto diet that will surely improve your overall health.
So, what types of fats you should go for? What are the different healthy sources or specifically oils, to obtain the “right” and “healthy” fats? One good and the right type of healthy fats are monosaturated fats such as olive oil, avocado oil, and palm oil. Another type of healthy fat is saturated fats like egg yolks, animal fat, and coconut oil.
Bottom line: When a specific type of diet requires you to consume certain macronutrients like fats, for example, bear in mind to always choose the right and healthy kind. Again, not all fats are the same and created equal. Always choose healthy fats and avoid processed types of fats.
Myth 6: Saturated fat causes heart disease and other types of cardiovascular risks
Truth 6: There has yet to have conclusive evidence that links saturated fats to heart diseases. However, consuming the right type and in proper amounts points to better health benefits.
Following the myth of how keto diets encourage all types of fats, this myth is quite specific, and it focuses more on one particular type of fat-saturated fats. It can’t be denied that most keto diets are focused on high fat diet. Most keto diets are rich in saturated fats like butter, animal fat, olive oil, coconut oil, etc. With this, there are various recommendations to make the switch and use vegetable oils instead. This recommendation is rooted in the 1995 experiment by Dr. Ancel Keys, where he found that dietary saturated fat causes cardiovascular disease. The study’s hypothesis and findings were based on the worldwide population data he gathered that emphasized that there were specific populations that ate more saturated fat and had a higher correlation of being linked to acquiring cardiovascular risks.
However, as for most research, correlation does not prove causation. Though Keys pointed out that specific populations had a high consumption of saturated fats that led them to acquired cardiovascular risks, the worldwide population data did not fully support his claims. Some results gave inconsistent results. For instance, Italians, despite consuming saturated fats, provided the opposite effect and instead had good heart health.
Despite the strong recommendation, there has yet to be conclusive evidence regarding the matter. However, recent studies findings such as the Japanese sample suggest that saturated fat intake was inversely associated with stroke. Also, compared to polyunsaturated fat obtained from vegetable oils, saturated fat is heat stable and doesn’t oxidize when you cook it. It was earlier emphasized that there have been research-based findings in the detrimental effects of “vegetable” oils, especially the processed oils.
Bottom line: Saturated fat is not bad for your heart or health, especially those obtained in natural and healthy sources.
Debunking the most common keto myths does not make the keto diet the holy grail for all of your weight loss or health problems. When it comes to decisions concerning your health, you should not base your decision on others’ opinions alone. Your decision should be backed with a sufficient amount of data and reliable sources. The most important thing is to listen to your body, track your progress, and monitor your lab work. Lastly, you have to give everything you read or see a healthy dose of doubt, no matter how popular the source is.