With the inundation of diets on FaceBook and social media, I feel like I need to say a little bit about this, and true to form, let me be blunt. I am not a huge Ketogenic Diet fan. That being said, I’m not a huge fan of any “diet.” I think keto, has its place for some people (it was designed for kids with epilepsy) and it might help people lose weight. But its not because people are using ketone bodies for fuel, it’s because most of these people will end up eating at a deficit. ANY weight loss comes down to one principal: calories in vs. calories out (CICO). It doesn’t matter which diet you refer to, people lose weight because of the CICO balance and that’s all it is in the end.
I have a few complaints with keto specifically. First, any diet that eliminates whole food groups is just not one that I want to get behind. Unless there is a diagnosed health reason, I don’t believe any food groups should be totally off limits. There are already known mineral deficiencies for some who go keto (sodium, potassium and magnesium, selenium) along with the possibility of vitamin deficiencies as well (mostly B and D).
Second, it’s extremely hard to stick to (for long period of time). For the diet to work as intended you need to limit almost all carbs, with the exception of non-starchy vegetables. That means it’s not just no sugar or grains like paleo; it’s no fruits, no legumes, no higher carb nuts and seeds (ie cashews, pistachios), no whole grains, no starchy vegetables or even non-gluten whole grains (quinoa, oatmeal, buckwheat etc). Going out to eat suddenly becomes very difficult, as does being social. Unless of course you’re the type of person that just thinks “no carbs” but not really about what you’re eating. For example, I went to a birthday party this last weekend at a restaurant and two of the people attending were drinking but weren’t eating. They said they were keto and were just going to keep drinking because that was allowed. How on earth can that be a healthy way to look at your diet? Whether weight loss is the goal or not, substituting alcohol for food is never the answer.
Third, since it seems most people are jumping on the keto bandwagon to lose weight, I worry for those reversing out of it. Science has proven that diets don’t work. Maybe you’re an optimist and consider a 15% success rate to work. We can agree to disagree. That means there’s a high likelihood that not only are you probably going to regain the weight, you’re might regain more than you lost.
Fourth, if it’s all the hype, it’s probably not. We’ve seen this over and over. Keto is basically The South Beach Diet revisited which is Adkins revisited. The Cabbage Soup Diet was similar to the Grapefruit Diet. Dexatrim in the 70s, fen phen in the 90s, Ephedra and Hydroxycut in the 2000s. The list goes on. For each person that loves and thrives on keto, another will crash and burn. Studied side effects of the keto diet included kidney stones, disordered mineral metabolism and decreased bone density can occur.
The recently published Stanford study on low carb vs low fat proved that it doesn’t matter which option you choose. The results were almost identical (here’s the layman’s version and the JAMA version). What it comes down to is what works for you. If you can follow keto and you feel great and your workouts are off the hook, then high five! Keep up the good work!
However, if you’re like (what I’m guessing is) the majority of people and can’t get over the keto flu, do yourself a favor and educate yourself. Learn how to eat right, throw out the processed crap, figure out what works for your body long term and commit to that. No “diet” necessary.
If you need help learning what or how to eat, send me a message. I can probably help.