The ketogenic diet is crazy popular right now. For a lot of people, it feels like a manageable shift in eating style which may help them feel and look much better. After all, how difficult can a diet be to sustain if you are permitted to eat butter, bacon, cheese, as much avocado as your heart desires?!
However there are so many things people get wrong about the keto diet–not only with regard to what foods to eat, but also how much to consume, the best approaches to implement the diet plan, and what the actual benefits (and risks) are. And keto pros are becoming tired of this. Here is what they want you to understand.
1. It is not only about eating fat.
Many people hear”keto” and instantly think”fat.”
But that is not the entire story. “You can eat more fat, but the type of fat you eat does matter,” says Molly Devine, R.D., a registered dietitian and adviser to KetoLogic.
“We really are what we eat and if the animals providing your dietary fat are eating poor-quality food, guess what? Their fat is pretty poor quality, too,” she states. “Grass-fed and free-range animals produce foods with higher nutritional quality, which is free of added hormones and other toxins that can lead to disease and metabolic dysfunction. Including a wide variety of fats, both from animals and plants will create a more balanced and interesting diet.”
2. It is also not only about eating animal products.
Butter. Bacon. Cheese. *Insert heart eyes emoji here. * These are things you can consume on keto, possibly in larger quantities than if you were following another kind of diet. However, you don’t have to consume them.
“This assumption that ketogenic diets require animal products is problematic because it sets up a false dichotomy between keto and vegetarianism,” states Catherine Metzgar, Ph.D., R.D., a registered dietitian and nutritional biochemistry specialist who works with Virta Health. “It is certainly possible to eat a vegetarian or lactose-free ketogenic diet.” In reality, lots of her clients do it, “ she says. It’s only an issue of some careful planning.
3. Nope, it is not a high-protein diet.
“This isn’t a low-carb, high-protein way of eating,” Devine points out. As it is so common nowadays to highlight protein consumption, a great deal of keto dieters accidentally OD on the substance, which takes you out of ketosis. “FAT needs to be your primary fuel source and that means finding pure-fat sources that don’t include protein. Your body will convert excess protein into glucose for fuel and this will spike insulin, preventing ketosis.”
4. Um, YES, you must be eating veggies and fruits.
“A lot of people also think that they cannot eat fruits or vegetables on a ketogenic diet,” states Pegah Jalali, R.D., a registered dietitian in Middleberg Nutrition. If you take something away from this guide, make it this: You certainly still should consume fruits and veggies, regardless of what sort of diet you are on.
Additionally, there are a number of veggies and fruits which are keto-friendly. “You can eat many low-carbohydrate vegetables like zucchini, cauliflower, mushrooms, cucumbers and more,” says Jalali. “Fruits are a little harder to fit into a ketogenic diet, but many of my patients enjoy raspberries and other low-carbohydrate fruits in portioned amounts.”
5. Nutrient deficiencies and other health problems are a concern.
There are a few frequent health problems which happen on keto, the majority of which may be prevented through careful preparation.
“The ketogenic diet has many side effects and this is why it’s important that individuals work with a medical professional like an M.D. or R.D. who has experience with the diet,” says Jalali. “Some common side effects are constipation, elevated cholesterol, kidney stones, vitamin deficiencies including zinc, copper, selenium, and vitamin D.”
Mineral and electrolyte deficiencies are also rather common in the first phases of keto. “Many people become dehydrated and deficient in electrolytes as the body sheds large amounts of water from carb restriction,” clarifies Devine. “Sodium, potassium, and magnesium are the big three that I supplement with at this stage.” (All these hydration supplements could be added to your own water .)
Cholesterol levels are also occasionally influenced by the keto diet. “It’s important to ask your physician to check a fasting lipid panel before starting a ketogenic diet and three months later if you plan to continue,” states Julie Stefanski, R.D., a registered dietitian and specialist in the ketogenic diet.
“In a recent study which used a ketogenic meal plan for a year, researchers saw a rise in LDL (bad cholesterol), but the change was felt to be minimal,” she states. “On the upside, they also documented a desirable increase in HDL (good cholesterol) and a decrease in triglyceride levels and inflammatory indicators, both of which are risk factors for heart disease.” Nonetheless, it is a good idea to involve a dietitian or doctor in your keto diet programs so that you can track the health impact.
Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list of everything which could go wrong on keto, however as you can see, there are a few valid concerns . Which leads us to…
6. It is traditionally a therapeutic diet–which has consequences.
The keto diet can improve your health. However, it’s also not a dietary choice to make on a whim–and it’s *not* merely a slightly-more-intense variant of other low-carb diets.
“Although ketogenic diets have recently come into vogue, it’s incorrect to label this as an offshoot of Atkins,” states Metzgar. “Ketogenic diets have been therapeutically used for over a century to treat refractory epilepsy in children. In addition, clinical trials of ketogenic diets demonstrate that they can result in profound health improvements and medication reductions for people living with type 2 diabetes. While there are many benefits to a ketogenic diet, it does change the body’s metabolism. People should consider it more like a medical choice they plan to commit to rather than just something to ‘try.’”
7. Cheat meals on keto aren’t a thing.
“To experience the full benefits of a ketogenic diet, consistency matters,” states Metzgar. This means not veering off track every week to indulge in a”cheat” meal. Every time you eat carbohydrates, you take yourself out of ketosis, and you’ll need to begin all over again to get back into it.
“Forgoing the staple of a modern diet, carbohydrates, requires effort, sacrifice, and in many cases navigating social situations,” she adds. “Without a strong motivation or medical need, it can be hard for an individual to commit long-term to a ketogenic diet.”
8. Keto does not guarantee weight loss.
“There’s a misconception that keto automatically leads to weight loss,” Stefanski states. In fact, weight loss isn’t the point of the keto diet. It is likely to lose weight on keto, however in addition, it is possible to gain it, she points out.
“I really wish that people considering keto as an option for weight loss would meet with a licensed nutritionist first to assess the real reason for excess weight gain,” adds Stefanski. “If the cause of a person’s obesity is stress eating or not enough exercise, keto isn’t going to fix those issues. When a keto dieter gets bored, they’ll be right back where they started.”
While keto is certainly a viable solution for many , it might also be worth it to explore different methods before making a decision about which eating style to pursue, such as mindful eating, IIFYM or macro counting, or intuitive eating.