In recent years, the keto diet has been constantly linked to discussions of healthy eating. However, there is a strong misinformation associated with misconceptions about the low-carb diet. Nutritionists are divided over two opinions: some argue that this is the optimal diet for good health, while others consider it unsustainable and potentially harmful.
It is because of this division that we have prepared 9 misconceptions about the keto diet that we can refute.
1. The keto diet is a fad that will fade away
“Fashion diet” began to be used most often for short-term diets, with which we quickly lose weight, but often after them appears the so-called yo-yo effect. They are gaining popularity due to the strong and rapid effect that is achieved on the body, but unfortunately it is lost immediately afterwards.
The keto diet has traveled around the world precisely because of the ability to quickly lose weight. However, its difference from other “fashion diets” is that it is not followed in the short term, but on the contrary. Entering a state of ketosis, in which the body begins to burn accumulated fat, usually takes about a month.
The important thing here is that misconceptions about the low-carb diet as “fashionable” can be easily refuted, as it does not cause the unwanted yo-yo effect. The lost weight is easily retained without starvation, which is essential for the body.
Low carb diets have been shown to be effective in dozens of scientific studies around the world. It helps not only to lose weight, but to deal with a number of health problems. It has also been popular for decades. In fact, Atkins’ first book was published in 1972, five years before America’s first set of guidelines for a low-carbohydrate diet.
Looking further back, the first book to focus on a low-carb diet was published by William Bunting in 1863 and was extremely popular at the time.
Given the long-term and scientifically proven success of low-carbohydrate diets, the rejection of this diet as “fashionable” is unfounded.
2. A low carb diet is difficult to follow
Nutritionists who do not support the keto diet claim that this type of diet is extremely difficult to follow. According to them, this is due to the strong restriction of carbohydrates. It, in turn, leads to deprivation, which makes dieting an impossible task.
In fact, these misconceptions about low-carb diets come precisely from the deprivations imposed by other strict diets (an example of this is the low-calorie diet). Keto diet does not lead to any deprivation, on the contrary. It is an extremely nutritious diet based on healthy fats. Thanks to them, we feel full for a long time and so we have control over our appetite.
Carbohydrate restriction can be replaced by healthy alternatives. Excluding sugar, gluten and replacing them with natural products allows you to make incredibly delicious desserts, but we do not fill them.
Following a low-carbohydrate diet has been shown to reduce appetite, so we can eat without starvation while losing weight healthily.
In contrast to this diet, a low-calorie diet monitors the exact amount that cannot be exceeded. In this case, the total food intake is reduced, which leads to deprivation and hunger.
3. Most of the pounds lost in the keto diet are water released from the body
With long-term adherence to the keto diet, the body really gets rid of water retention. This is due to the fact that it stores a lot of carbohydrates in the muscles and liver. The latter uses a form of glucose storage known as glycogen, which supplies our body with glucose between meals.
The glycogen stored in the liver and muscles tends to bind water.
When we reduce carbohydrates, our glycogen stores decrease and we lose water weight. But this does not mean that the total weight lost pounds are entirely water. On the contrary – the amount of fat we get rid of is due, as mentioned above, to ketosis. Thanks to it, fat becomes a source of fuel for our cells. This is how we get rid of them.
In addition, low-carb diets lower insulin levels, causing the kidneys to excrete excess sodium and water.
For these reasons, low-carb diets help to significantly and almost immediately reduce the weight of water. But also the percentage of fat – especially from the liver and abdomen, also known as visceral fat.
4. A low carb diet has negative effects on the heart system
Low carb diets are usually high in fat, which replaces the fuel source. This automatically leads most people to believe that with such a diet, cholesterol will also rise.
But low-carb diets can improve many risk factors for heart disease by:
- Significant lowering of triglycerides in the blood
- Increase HDL (good) cholesterol
- Lowering blood pressure
- Decreased insulin resistance, which lowers blood sugar and insulin levels
- Reduction of inflammation in the body
5. The keto diet leads to weight loss just because you eat fewer calories
Many people claim that the only reason people lose weight on low carb diets is due to reduced calorie intake. This is a true but one-sided statement.
In addition, appetite is greatly reduced because the intake of useful fats leads to satiety for a longer period of time. The food consumed in this way is reduced and this is the next major reason for weight loss.
6. A low-carb diet limits the intake of healthy plant foods
One of the absolute misconceptions about a low carb diet is that reducing carbs means eating less plant foods. In fact, you can eat large amounts of vegetables, berries, nuts and seeds without exceeding 50 grams of carbohydrates per day.
It is even possible to combine a vegetarian or vegan diet with a keto diet. This completely refutes the claim about plant foods.
7. Misconceptions about the keto diet: Ketosis is a dangerous metabolic condition
There are many ambiguities about the concept of ketosis. Simply put, ketosis is a condition that occurs in the body after a long period of reduced carbohydrate consumption. In some people it occurs on the 4th day, after eating less than 50 g of carbohydrates per day, in others – after about 3 weeks.
With limited carbohydrate intake, insulin levels in the body decrease and fat begins to be released from fat cells.
When the liver is “flooded” with fatty acids, it begins to convert them into so-called ketone bodies or ketones.
Confusion arises when comparing the terms “ketosis” and “ketoacidosis”.
The latter is a dangerous metabolic condition that occurs mainly in uncontrolled type 1 diabetes. It occurs when huge amounts of ketones enter the bloodstream, enough to acidify the blood.
Ketoacidosis is a very serious condition and can be fatal. However, it is completely unrelated to ketosis caused by a low-carbohydrate diet, which is a healthy metabolic condition.
For example, ketosis has been shown to have therapeutic effects in epilepsy and is being studied for the treatment of cancer and brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
8. Your brain needs carbohydrates to function
Many people believe that the brain cannot function without carbohydrates. It is claimed that carbohydrates are the preferred fuel for brain function and that it needs about 130 grams of carbohydrates per day.
This is partly true. Some cells in the brain cannot use fuel other than carbohydrates in the form of glucose. However, other parts of the brain are fully capable of using ketones.
However, even with high levels of ketones in the blood, some parts of the brain still need glucose.
This is where the metabolic pathway, called gluconeogenesis, becomes important. When we do not consume carbohydrates, the body – especially the liver – can produce glucose from proteins and by-products of fat metabolism.
Therefore, due to ketosis and gluconeogenesis, you do not need dietary carbohydrates – at least not to power your brain.
After the initial phase of adaptation, many people report having even better brain function on a low-carb diet.
9. Sabotages sports achievements and performances
Most athletes follow a high-carbohydrate diet and many people believe that carbohydrates are essential for physical achievement and results.
Reducing carbohydrates does lead to reduced productivity, but only in the beginning. It is normal for the body to take some time to adapt to burning fat instead of carbohydrates.
Many studies show that low-carb diets are good for physical performance, especially endurance exercise, as long as you give yourself a few weeks to adjust to the diet.