In this article we want to help you out to filter through a lot of the nonsensical stuff that’s out there surrounding the keto diet right now. As the keto diet starts to gain more and more momentum and popularity, we’re going to be crowded with tons of misinformation that’s out there. And we’re not saying that everything in this article is gospel truth, but they are backed with science, so hopefully after reading this article you will have some basic understand of what keto diet is not.
You need carbs to live
The first myth is that you need carbs to live, but also too much protein is going to kick you out of keto. They fall into the same category. So here’s what we have to remember, our bodies do need carbs to live, but they create their own, we don’t need to be eating carbs in order to live. Even when we look back in history, it’s not like our bodies were able to just predetermine that we were automatically going to consume carbs with every single meal. Sometimes we probably consume carbs, sometimes we don’t, sometimes we go weeks or at least days without carbs.
The fact is our body has systems in place to create carbohydrates for energy, it’s called gluconeogenesis. It literally means making glucose from new substrates. So our body creates glucose carbohydrates from protein or from existing tissues or it even creates it from byproducts of exercise like lactate. So when someone tells you that you’re doing the keto diet and it’s unhealthy because your body needs carbs, you can tell them that your body already knows how to create carbs.
Gluconeogenesis or the creation of carbohydrates from protein isn’t going to kick you out of keto. When you consume protein, it’s not converting to sugar that’s knocking you out of ketosis, it’s converting into sugar that your body needs for specific demands. Gluconeogenesis is what is called demand driven.
You have specific cells in your body like red blood cells, like kidney cells, like specific portions of your brain that actually require glucose, they can’t run on anything else. So of course, the body’s going to demand some glucose. If you’re not eating carbohydrates, this demand driven process is going to trigger the creation of glucose from something else, in order to feed the kidneys, red blood cells and portions of the brain. It’s a perfectly natural and perfectly healthy process.
The calories don’t matter
The next myth is that the calories don’t matter on a keto diet. So this is where we can get all the Internet trolls together that fight about calories in, versus calories out or the opposite. The fact is, calories do matter, but at what time do they matter? Do they matter over the course of the day or do they matter right in the moment?
The fact is, thermodynamics apply, you cannot take in more energy than you burn and expect to lose weight, and vice versa. You can’t take in less energy than you burn and expect to gain weight. We have to keep it in balance. The problem is we don’t always know where that balance lies. Do we measure it over the course of a minute, a day, an hour?
It’s all varying depending on what our thermic dynamic load is at that point in time, but also just overall how much energy we’re expanding at that point in time. The other thing that we have to look at is the second law of thermodynamics and that says that any chemical reaction within our body takes some energy, so calories in versus calories out doesn’t necessarily take that into the equation, whereas like fats and carbohydrates don’t take a whole lot of energy to metabolize. Proteins take 20 to 30% of the overall caloric count of the protein just to metabolize it. There’s a strong thermic effect of protein, so calories in versus calories out don’t take into equation that.
Not all calories are created equal, so it’s like a two-part equation. Yes, calories in versus calories out matter, but a calorie is not equal to another calorie, so we have to apply both things. A lot of people think that on a ketogenic diet you’re completely immune to calories, you can just eat whatever you want because you don’t have glucose and insulin spikes. That is complete misinformation, that’s not how it works, but you have a little bit more metabolic flexibility, because you don’t have big rises and falls in it.
You will get ketoacidosis
Another myth is that you’re going to end up getting diabetic ketoacidosis. Alright, this one’s just silly nowadays, because ketoacidosis and ketosis are two very different things. Diabetic ketoacidosis is where you have so much in the way of ketones that are being produced, that your blood becomes thick and acidic, and ends up making you sick and can kill you. That sounds scary enough to really get a lot of people freaked out and afraid to do the keto diet.
But the fact is, that only occurs in those who don’t produce insulin, like type 1 diabetics. So very important to know this, insulin still can be released to regulate ketones. Basically, those ketones will be produced by the liver flow through the bloodstream, but in a diabetic person they’re not going to have insulin that ever allows the ketones to do their job, so they just compound and pile up and eventually make the blood viscous and acidic.
A healthy, normal individual that is not a type one diabetic will produce enough insulin to make sure that the ketones get either excreted or utilized by the cell, so do not freak out, you’re not going to end up ketoacidosis.
Fat is bad for the heart
All that fat will give you a heart attack, have you ever heard that before? Absolutely not true! Fat is only bad if you add carbohydrates, like in ice cream for example. And if you add sugar or carbs with protein, we’re not talking about vegetables and protein, we’re talking about sugar and protein, that’s bad because that combination creates what’s called glycation and it gets you to develop sticky blood and all sorts of products that are very damaging to the tissue. So it’s not bad for the heart, because you’re lowering your carbohydrate.
Keto diet is very restrictive
So the next myth and it’s really one of the most pervasive keto myths is that a ketogenic diet is restrictive and therefore difficult to follow as a long-term strategy. If you generally want to transform your health and lose weight, the reality is you have to make changes.
There are no magic pills that are available for weight loss and if there was one it would probably be dangerous. If you’re accustomed to eating nothing but processed foods such as pasta, bread and high carb snacks, I understand that opting for fresh nutrient rich foods can seem daunting, because it’s different from what you’re used to.
The great news is that there are hundreds, if not thousands of great tasting keto recipes and you can virtually make a keto version of any comfort food you enjoy the most.
You need to be in ketosis all the time
Here’s something else you should know. Living a ketogenic lifestyle doesn’t mean that you have to be in ketosis every minute of every day for the rest of your life. If you’ve been living in the keto lifestyle for years it’s okay to cycle out of ketosis with higher carb foods once every few weeks when you want to enjoy something.
After that brief respite you can return to your normal routine. You know, the most important thing is that you keep an open mind and know that you can have both healthy and delicious food.