3 Shocking Myths of the Ketogenic Diet: Good or Bad?

By December 3, 2018 No Comments

Find out about these 3 shocking myths on ketosis and ketogenic diets.

-Why you don’t have to eat more dietary fat to get into ketosis

-Why exogenous ketones are not necessary or even recommended for proper ketogenic diets

-Who is keto not for

Myth 1: You have to eat bundles of added dietary fat to get into ketosis

Not true. Here’s a number of other ways to get your body into a state of ketosis.

Option 1) you eat nothing (fasting). Eventually you burn through all your stored glycogen and the brain gets hungry. It tells your liver to start manufacturing  ketone bodies from your stored fat (adipose tissue). These are used to fuel the brain.

Option 2) You eat 100% CARBS. But the amount of carbs eaten is “starvation” level. Basically the same thing happens as number 1.

Option 3) You eat only protein. It’s more efficient for your body and brain to use FAT for energy instead of protein. Breaking down amino acids (muscle etc.) is a last resort for survival. It (catabolism) WILL happen, but to a much lesser degree. So this results in ketosis aswell.

Option 4) Eat one time per day. Similar to 1 and 2. But the brain recognizes there is extended periods of time between food and adapts to burn fats (and shifts into ketosis) in between these meals.

Option 5) Eat whatever you want alongside extreme amounts of exercise. Not recommended, but technically will also lead to being in a state of ketosis. You burn through all glycogen stored in your muscles and liver during training and don’t replenish with foods/supplement. Ketones will then elevate after training and kickstart some of the repair mechanisms needed. None of these are necessarily practical for regular use (other than fasting in the form of intermittent fasting). But if someone is telling you that “the only way to be in keto is to eat more fats” then they really aren’t a reliable source.

Myth 2: Exogenous Ketones Help You Become “Fat Adapted”

If anything, exogenous ketones will do the opposite and  will prevent you from becoming fat adapted and prolong your adjustment to a ketogenic diet. Exogenous ketones are immediately used for energy by your body and brain, so why would your body work to produce its OWN ketone bodies? There’s no need. This means that everytime you pop some exogenous ketones, whether it be ketone salts or ketone esters, you are training your body to NOT have to produce its own ketones. And that’s just counter productive.

Granted, exogenous ketones can be beneficial if properly used, particularly for athletic performance, but some of the claims these companies make are just ridiculous and unsupported, like “take this alongside treats to prevent weight gain.”

Myth 3: Ketogenic diets are great for everyone

diets are a funny thing, once someone finds success they feel the need to pressure others into trying it, claiming that it is the be all end all no matter your goal, genetics, or biochemical makeup. Here are a few examples of groups who need to atleast think twice before going keto:

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding. While there is no real harm, the ketone beta-hydroxybutrate (BHB) that is manufactured once fat adapted are powerful appetite suppressants. While the exact mechanism remains to be found, ketone bodies appear to modulate eating behaviour via hypothalamic circuits related to CCK, leptin, and ghrelin. (study)
  • Competitive athletes in a glycolytic sport. The rate of ATP production required to sustain physical exertion above the anaerobic threshold cannot be met by fat oxidation. (study)
  • People without a gall bladder. The gall bladder secrete bile that is responsible for breaking down fatty acids.
  • APOE4 carriers do not respond favourably to ketogenic diets because the variant impairs an indivdiual’s capacity to process saturated fats. Other genetic variants may put individuals into a similar category, such as the FTO gene. More on these genetic markers in future posts.