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April 24, 2019 by Dr. Kyle Varner in Ketogenic Diet
If you ask the average person why they haven’t tried keto, it’ll sound something like this:
‘I need carbs for energy.’
‘Ketosis is unnatural.’
‘I can just cut calories.’
The keto diet has answers for all of these anxieties, but there’s a looming issue that still plagues people who would consider going keto but aren’t quite there yet.
And that’s the long-term effects of a keto diet.
I get it, the scientific consensus isn’t quite on keto’s side…yet.
But increasingly, the medical community is changing. Previously, we thought that fat causes ‘bad’ cholesterol, inflammation and heart disease.
Nowadays, we are more familiar with the idea that sugar is the enemy.
But some old vestiges still remain. The science on why keto is bad is laughable, and relies on these old theories.
It makes for nice clickbait, but it’s dangerous, false information.
So what exactly are these false claims? Read on to find out…
A 2015 study by The Journal of Pediatrics suggested the keto diet could cause constipation, high triglyceride levels, high cholesterol, diarrhea, lethargy, iron deficiency, vomiting and kidney stones.
It also suggested the “processed foods with sugar alcohols allowed on the keto diet” have their own negative effects.
They took 48 children with epilepsy (people originally used keto to treat this condition) and monitored their progress.
The first problem is that they assume the ‘traditional’ keto diet, a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) diet, and a modified Atkins diet are all the same thing.
This is simply disingenuous from the get-go. These are carefully curated diets for people with an unpleasant condition, and to lump them all together and say they’re bad for the average person is quite the stretch.
Moreover, this is a group of 48 people. Who says these children ate a balanced diet within the constraints of low-carb, high-fat? I certainly was a picky eater as a kid…
Yes, constipation can happen on keto if you don’t search out foods with pre and probiotics and fiber.
Yes, iron deficiency can happen if you don’t eat spinach and other keto-friendly, iron-rich foods.
Yes, your cholesterol can increase, but the good cholesterol goes up, and the bad cholesterol goes down.
But these symptoms have nothing to do with the low-carb, high-fat keto diet. A vegan who just eats carrots will have nutrient deficiencies, just like someone who is keto who just eats coconuts.
Also, who in their right mind advocates for ‘processed food’ on keto, or any diet for that matter? Yes, sugar alcohols can be good in sweeteners, but some are better than others.
It’s simply laziness. Yes, the keto replacements for ‘traditional’ sources of some nutrients aren’t obvious, but there’s nothing to suggest that if you eat keto, you’ll suffer. You just need to find them…
There’s a myth that says keto can wreak havoc on your immune system. The way it supposedly does this is because the gut is the ‘bodyguard’ of your immune system, and when your gut is in trouble, so is your immune system.
This can impact your risk of chronic disease and your gut-brain connection.
People on keto tend to eat less fiber and a lot of saturated fat, apparently. This reduces the amount of pre and probiotic bacteria, which leads to all of the problems above.
Except this is wrong for the same reasons the first point. Just consume more pre and probiotic food. It’s really that simple. Asparagus and sauerkraut are your friends here. And if you want both types of fiber, avocados are the food to get.
This relates to the myth that you can’t get enough veggies on keto, and that’s simply not true. There’s a consensus among dieticians, (and most people, really), that vegetables are good for you.
Vegetable-rich diets point towards better health and longevity, and if you skimp on them you’re more at risk for chronic diseases.
I’m going to make this very clear: Vegetables should make up the bulk of your plate on keto. There’s no excuse for vitamin and mineral deficiencies on keto at all. You can take a multivitamin supplement if you want, but you should be able to get enough vitamins and minerals from the keto-friendly foods you eat.
All you need to do is find the low-carb vegetables. (They just so happen to be the most vitamin and mineral-dense ones too!)
Moreover, fatty fish is fine. I simply don’t understand why people think you can’t eat these foods on keto. Salmon is full of omega-3, an essential fatty acid –and it’s packed with nutrients.
It’s a common opinion that dieting is a bad idea because it leads to ‘weight cycling.’ That is to say, you put back on all the weight you lost when you come off the diet.
Moreover, the change in hormones from when you’re on the diet acts as an elastic band, and ‘snaps back’ even stronger when you eat traditionally again. When you’re keto, you feel less hungry, but you’ll feel even hungrier than before you started keto when you come off, supposedly.
This is based on the idea that keto is an unsustainable diet, and that’s just wrong.
Keto can cover all of the bases that carbs do, and more. Anecdotal experience isn’t often valuable, but I can say for sure here that I’ve been keto for years, lost a ton of weight and am healthier than ever before.
And I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon…
Yes, you may gain weight back when you stop following a keto diet. But whose fault is that, the carbs, or the keto diet?
Do you know what will cause weight cycling? A high-carb, low-calorie diet that keto critics recommend.
Think of the hunger, the cheating, the starvation mode, the restriction. If that’s not a recipe for a very toxic relationship with food, I don’t know what is…
It’s simply a myth that we don’t know the long-term effects of keto. The thing is, the long-term health effects are good.
All of these clickbait articles and ‘studies’ simply aren’t up to scratch. They miss the important points and assume because someone is following a diet badly that the diet is bad.
This is bad science and utter nonsense. The experiences of millions of people worldwide have shown that keto is good for weight loss and for your health. You just need to plan ahead and find ways to replace the nutrients you used to get from carbs.
Individual laziness has nothing to do with keto, and we shouldn’t conflate the two.
This information is intended to help readers be more informed about their health options when speaking with a professional, but it should not be used alone to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition. Be sure to speak to a qualified doctor before taking any action to make sure that your choices reflect your actual health situation.