Dispelling Keto Myths
August 13, 2017
When something becomes popular, it’s usually not long before naysayers start to tear it down. Such is the case with the ketogenic diet, a low-carb, moderate-protein and high-fat approach to nutrition that has risen to popularity in the last year.
In our opinion, part of the reason for the haters is a lack of understanding. People seem to think of ketosis as a form of magic, when really, the biology is quite simple. Let’s use a car as an example. Today, you go to the gas station and fill up with diesel. Your car recognizes diesel as fuel and burns it to perform its regular functions. Tomorrow however, you decide it’s time to give your car an upgrade. You replace the diesel with super unleaded fuel. Your car recognizes this new fuel source and goes about business as usual.
Similarly, on a ketogenic diet, you are simply teaching your body to replace its regular fuel source, glucose, with a new fuel source, ketones. Poof! You are now a fat-burning machine! No magic needed. Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s tackle some of the most common myths.
Myth: As Long as It Has Fat, You Can Eat It
The most common misconception about the keto diet is that it’s a fats free for all. As long as you hit your macros, you can eat all bacon, all the time, right? The truth is, all fats are not created equal. There are four types of fats: monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, trans fats and saturated fats. Unsaturated fats are known as the “good” fats. They can help improve cholesterol levels, lower your risk of heart disease and control insulin levels. Trans fats and saturated fats are the “bad” fats that can raise cholesterol, clog arteries and increase your risk of heart disease. Try to base your keto diet around “good” fats and avoid animal fat (bacon, ice cream, cheese) and processed or deep-fried foods.
Myth: High-Fat Diets are Bad for You
In the 80s, there was a phase when fats were completely villainized. As a result, fat was all but removed from many products and diets. Today, we know better. Your body needs fat. “Healthy” fats give you softer skin, protect your organs, produce important hormones, support cell growth, keep your body warm, encourage absorption of nutrients and vitamins, and are a great source of energy.
Myth: The Brain Cannot Function Without Glucose
The brain does, in fact, run on glucose, but it only requires about 30-50 grams per day. Although the easiest source of glucose is carbs, it can also be synthesized from protein. When you remove these sources of glucose, your brain starts to run on ketones. The brain of a fully keto-adapted individual gets up to 75% of its energy needs from ketones. The remaining 25% is obtained from the glucose synthesized from dietary protein.
Myth: You’ll Lose Muscle
Your body starts to break down muscle when it cannot find an energy source, normally glucose. So it could then be reasoned that on a low-carb diet, without glucose, your body would start to burn your muscle as fuel. However, that reasoning does not take ketones into account. As explained above, once you’re in ketosis, your brain is able to use ketones for 70-75% of its energy needs. The remaining 25% is supplied by the protein in your diet, which means your muscles are safe!
Myth: The Keto Flu is Unavoidable
By committing to a keto diet, you are essentially switching from a water-retaining diet to a water-flushing diet. As you decrease glycogen, you drop water and as you lose water, you lose electrolytes. This is one of the main reasons people transitioning into ketosis sometimes experience flu-like symptoms. However, there are ways to mitigate your water and electrolyte loss. Drink at least a gallon of water a day and eat foods rich in the key electrolytes: sodium, potassium and magnesium.
Supplementing your keto diet with Keto Aminos™ is another way to fight the keto flu. With both medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) salts, Keto Aminos™ supplies a “healthy” fat source and exogenous ketones to keep your body and brain sufficiently fueled.