I recently wrote about 10 nutrition lies. And, since there are WAY more than 10, here’s the second list.
- Salt is bad
- Just eat in moderation
- It’s okay to cheat
- Carbs are essential
- Ketosis is dangerous
- Keto is bad for your kidneys
- Keto will clog your arteries
- Keto causes vitamin deficiencies
- Keto is unsustainable
- Keto causes muscle loss
- Keto causes bone loss
Well…not really. Salt is necessary for proper balance in your body. The problem with salt is that, when combined with a high-carb diet, it causes water retention and swelling of critical soft tissues (cardiovascular tissues). This is bad. Very bad.
Keto, though, because it’s very low-carb, does not have the same salt response. In fact, you’ll need MORE salt when you’re keto (at least 2 tsp/day), because you are not holding on to the salt anymore. So eat lots of fat and get that salt. You’ll feel better for it.
This is one that is particularly puzzling to me, mostly because there is an overwhelming amount of empirical evidence to show that this type of thinking is faulty. Never mind the fact that folks who are insulin resistant cannot tolerate even the smallest amounts of sugar, bleached flour, or processed carbs without negative metabolic consequences. The idea that all you need to do is eat food in moderation has been a prevalent idea for the past 50 years…the same amount of time that has seen massive increases in overweight and obesity (not to mention metabolic diseases). I’m not even going to mention the fact that a HUGE amount of folks who suffer from theses afflictions are NOT capable of moderating sugar. If they could moderate sugar, they wouldn’t be suffering from these afflictions.
The truth is, moderation has nothing to do with it. The key to successful nutrition is to eliminate the stuff that causes negative responses. We call those carbs. It’s health by elimination, not moderation.
Nothing maddens me more than this one. As you may have read before here, I do not believe there is any place in a successful journey for cheating. If you’re looking to cheat, you’re looking to fail. It’s just that simple. You may try to argue to the contrary, but there is nothing you can say to convince me otherwise.
It’s not okay to cheat. Period.
Planning to cheat is planning to fail. Period.
That’s not negotiable.
Now…I want to make sure I’m as clear as possible. I do not advocating a “cheat day” or “cheat meal” or a “cheat anything.” But the reality is…sometimes, intentionally or not (I have, in fact, accidentally eaten sugar…it’s a long story) you go off target. It happens. That’s life. It’s not appropriate to beat yourself up if you screw up and make a bad decision. If that happens, here’s my advice.
The truth is, you’re never more than one meal away from getting back on track.
The difference between incidentally or accidentally eating bad foods and actually PLANNING to eat bad foods is your mental focus. If your focus is on cheating, your focus is not on your success. That’s a big difference.
This one is easy.
There are three primary macros (fat, protein, and carbs). Only two of them are essential. Those would be the fat and protein. The reason those are essential is that your body cannot produce them without dietary help. Your body can produce glucose via a process known as gluconeogenesis. Your body breaks down EVERY carb, no matter what the source, into glucose, because that’s the preferred sugar fuel for your body. Since your body can already produce glucose, which is a carb, then carbs are completely unessential. Now, many folks might say that I’m wrong because there is a small portion of the human brain that MUST have glucose, or it will die. And they are right. There is a part of the brain (and a few other cells in various parts of the body) that cannot operate on anything but glucose.
But, again, that glucose can be created from amino acids or glycerol molecules (which are set free when fatty acids are metabolized). So there is no need to eat carbs, because your body can produce the glucose it needs already.
This is most often parroted by people who have confused the idea of ketosis with the condition of ketoacidosis. Ketosis is the situation when your body is producing ketones (typically at a rate of 0.5 mmol/l to 3 mmol/l). The ketone production is a result of very low carb intake. This forces your body to burn fat. It’s also completely natural.
Ketoacidosis is a situation where your body has a massive amount of blood sugar AND a very high level of ketone bodies (typically higher than 20 mmol/l). This situation is almost solely restricted to type 1 diabetics, who do not produce insulin naturally. If you are not a type 1 diabetic, you can rest assured that you won’t have to worry about this at all.
So, in summary, ketosis is completely natural and safe. And it is nothing like ketoacidosis. Just because the words start with the same letter (or the same two sounds), or because they end with the same four letters, does not make them the same.
This is mostly an argument from ignorance (which, by now, you should notice, is a common theme). This argument, typically, comes from folks who say it because they have heard that high-protein diets can hurt your kidneys. But, since keto isn’t high-protein, this argument is mostly irrelevant. However, this study seems to indicate that even a high-protein diet does not have a deleterious effect on kidneys or kidney function (assuming no pre-existing kidney ailment).
This is probably the mother of all nutritional myths. I’ve dealt with this over and over and over. The ketogenic diet and lifestyle is high in fat, hopefully high in saturated fat. That high level of saturated fat does not, in any way, clog your arteries. Saturated fat will likely increase you cholesterol (not a bad thing), but it will also likely increase the size of your LDL particle sizes, which will actually prevent them from being able to clog your arteries.
In short…no. Meat and fat, depending on the variety, can certainly provide plenty of vitamins and minerals. There are plenty of keto-friendly vegetables that can provide any needed vitamins, if you don’t have the variety of organ meat, fish, poultry, pork, and seafood in your diet currently.
Oh…one more point. One of the most essential vitamins is B12, which is ONLY available in meat. Vegetarians and vegans have to supplement B12. Just sayin’.
[UPDATE: Awesome reader Lydia Chong brought to my attention the fact that fermented vegetables do have good amounts of B12. I completely forgot about that. Thanks, Lydia.]
This one has always bothered me because, it’s entirely too vague. I don’t really even know what it means.
Are they saying it’s not sustainable for themselves? How do they know that?
Are they saying it’s not sustainable for you? How, exactly, does someone else know if YOU are able to eat ketogenic food for the rest of your life?
If someone eats keto for 20 years, and one day eats some ice cream, is that proof of unsustainability? This argument is a total non-argument. Not to mention silly.
This could not be more incorrect. You can read for yourself in this study and this study that keto is, in fact, muscle-sparing. Because the primary fuel source of keto is fat, there is no requirement to burn muscle to fuel the body. Of course, if you’re a carb burner, and you run out of blood sugar, your body is going to turn to protein (muscle) as a fuel source. Of course, your body doesn’t WANT to destroy itself by burning protein, but if it thinks it needs energy, and there’s not other sugar, then it’s going to find a source for sugar burning.
So, in short, keto is protein-sparing, because fat as a fuel source allows your body to preserve it’s protein (muscle). High-carb diets, on the other hand, WILL result in protein breakdown when blood sugar/glycogen stores are diminished.
I’ve talked about this, somewhat, in previous articles, but suffice it to say that keto does not cause bone loss. In fact, because keto is high-fat, and vitamin K2, which is needed for efficient calcium absorption, is fat-soluble, keto is ideal for preventing bone loss. This is doubly true for those folks who eat dairy. Here’s a list of foods high in vitamin K2:
Hard and soft cheeses
Eggs (particularly the yolks)
Ground beef (fatter is better)
Every one of them are ketogenic.
So what DOES cause bone loss? Well, there are a few things:
Carbs – especially grains and high-fructose corn syrup.
Vegetable oils – yet another reason to NOT eat them.
Magnesium – actually, a LACK of magnesium can lead to bone loss.