Like any diet or lifestyle change that challenges a long-standing way of doing things, the keto diet has undergone its own fair share of skepticism, spread of misinformation, and confusion. Floating on the internet are a host of myths and half-truths about keto that may put you off before giving it a go, or worse, encourage you to jump in with only half the facts. We’d like to set the record straight on a few of these:
Myth #1: ‘Keto is dangerous’
Misunderstood diets are more often than not written off as ‘dangerous’ in an attempt to rule out the possibility that they might actually work. The claims that keto could be harmful stem from situations in which people were not fully informed before starting the diet, or had underlying conditions that weren’t taken into account when designing a meal plan. It is key to speak to a health professional before embarking on any major lifestyle change.
The science behind ketogenesis is becoming increasingly prevalent, as more clinical trials are taking place and peer-reviewed articles are being published. This work supports the idea that a lower intake of carbohydrates helps to maintain healthy levels of blood sugar in patients with Type 2 diabetes, alongside a host of other health benefits including weight loss, high blood pressure control, stabilised cholesterol levels, and reduced cravings for eating beyond what the body needs.
Myth #2: ‘Keto is too difficult’
Although it may take a few weeks to get into the swing of the ins and outs of keto, the diet doesn’t need to be complicated or difficult to keep up. What often makes dieting challenging is the food cravings. With keto, this shouldn’t be a problem. Reducing your carbohydrate intake means that your blood sugar levels remain stable within a healthy range, rather than spiking and plummeting throughout the day, which causes cravings for even more carbs. Steady blood sugar and insulin levels help to suppress feelings of hunger soon after eating and will allow you to go longer between meals.
Although this is still being studied in more depth, trials like this one are taking place more frequently to grow our understanding of appetite and hunger while following a ketogenic diet.
Myth #3: ‘Keto is too expensive’
This myth depends entirely on your approach to the ketogenic diet, which at its core, is about getting the body to produce ketones by itself to rely on as fuel instead of glucose. What causes some to shell out money when beginning their keto journey is the belief that they need a range of supplements, keto protein powders, and pricey gadgets for measuring ketone levels for the diet to work. At Adapt, we believe in encouraging people to follow the keto diet by eating healthy foods high in fat, moderate in protein, and low in carbohydrates. This should not drastically affect your grocery budget by any means.
Myth #4: ‘Keto is only for weight loss’
Although many follow a keto diet to lose weight, this is not the only reason the diet can be beneficial. Keto has been used to therapeutically supplement the treatment of ailments like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), epilepsy, and acid reflux. Research into several other conditions is not yet conclusive, but is rapidly growing each year and offering exciting opportunities to explore.
Myth #5: ‘Everyone who starts a keto diet will experience the keto flu’
The ‘keto flu’ is a series of symptoms that can leave you feeling a bit under the weather during the first few days of transitioning to a keto diet. This, however, is not the majority experience and most people have quite a smooth adjustment. It is perfectly normal to experience headaches and fatigue in the first week. This is because your body is getting used to consuming and burning fat, rather than carbohydrates. These symptoms are not the same as the keto flu, which is more intense.
Important to know, is that any symptoms after starting the keto diet will only last about a week or two, after which your body should be well adapted. We recommend adding a small amount of salt to your daily intake, like a bouillon cube, ready-made broth, or Himalayan sea salt. This will reduce and even prevent your chances of getting the keto flu. If you use homemade broth, be sure to add a generous pinch of salt, as broth is not naturally a source of sodium. If you have high blood pressure or heart failure, it is better to treat headaches with painkillers like ibuprofen, rather than adding sodium.
Myth #6: ‘Keto involves a high protein intake, which could be harmful to the body’
False. While a “high” protein intake is not required on a keto diet, higher protein intakes are not harmful for kidney function or for bone health. This is outdated thinking that has led some people to skimp on protein while going a bit overboard on fat–and this is a common reason for slow or stalled weight loss on keto. Protein has a slight effect on insulin secretion, although it’s much less than that of carbohydrates. . Most people are not in danger of consuming “too much protein” to the point that it would interfere with ketone production. Remember, the number one thing that makes a keto diet effective is keeping carb intake very low. Make sure you are getting a balanced amount of protein to maximise the benefits of the diet.
Myth #7: ‘Keto allows you to eat as much fat as you want’
This is one to be careful with. It’s true that the majority of your calories on a keto diet should come from fats, fat intake is not unlimited. Adding copious amounts of extra fats and oils to your food is a common stumbling block people run into when their main goal is fat loss. There’s no particular amount of fat you need to aim for. As a general rule, don’t be afraid of foods that are naturally fatty (such as a juicy steak, fatty fish, poultry with skin, etc.), but you don’t need to add lots of extra oil, butter, cream, and mayonnaise in order to “hit your fat macro” or arrive at a specific percentage of fat in your diet. We do recommend, however, getting a variety of different fats in your diet, such as from nuts and seeds, avocado, fish, olive oil, eggs, pastured pork, and grass-fed meats.
Myth #8: ‘Calories aren’t important on a ketogenic diet’
Calorie-counting on the keto diet is not vital for all who follow it, but they cannot be completely ignored. While we don’t advocate for obsessive calorie counting, it still isn’t realistic to aim for weight loss if you are consuming more calories than your body is able to burn. If you are on medication, tend to stress eat, and frequently go out for meals, calorie counting may have to start becoming part of your routine if you want to see solid weight loss results.
Myth #9: ‘You can start and stop the keto diet many times and still maintain weight loss’
This is known as ‘Yo-Yo Dieting’ and is not a good idea for those who want to maintain a healthy body for the long-term. Your body will simply regain the weight you worked hard to shed, which after countless repeats, can lead to a host of health issues, emotional stress, and frustration. At Adapt, we don’t see keto simply as a diet, for this very reason. We see it as a lifestyle, a change to how you approach food overall. Looking at keto through this lens will help you see that it’s not just about a quick-fix, but rather a mindset change towards yourself and your health.
Myth #10: ‘You can’t exercise while following a keto diet’
There is a lot of controversy surrounding the effect of the keto diet on physical activity. This is mainly due to the fact that a lot of research is yet to be done on the topic. One thing is for certain though: you don’t have to say goodbye to exercise while in ketosis. Give your body a break during the initial adjustment period, but after that, feel free to get moving again. Some high intensity routines may be more challenging, so incorporate lower intensity movement like yoga, jogging, rowing, and cycling. Once your body has adapted to your new way of eating, though, you can start ramping up the intensity. Keto, when followed correctly, is a powerful tool for developing a healthy body. Make sure to read up on it properly and meet with a health professional to get your journey started on the right foot!