The Ketogenic Diet might seem to be all the rage amongst nutrition-savvy people, right? Not really. While it may be well-marketed to people who are genuinely in search of the healthiest nutritional practices, the ketogenic diet (as it is understood by many of its followers) is not all it is cracked up to be.
Take a moment to review Dr. Gundry’s list of the Top 5 Ketogenic Diet Myths. Here, Dr. Gundry will offer his perspective on the Ketogenic Diet fad, how it is misunderstood, and the ways in which you can use some of its principles to your advantage.
The Top Ketogenic Diet Myths And Why They’re Not True
1. Saturated Fat Is Good For You
It’s just not true. So many Paleo Diet and Ketogenic Diet followers think that the more saturated fat you eat, the better. In fact, saturated fat consumption was first explored in The 7 Countries Study in the 1960s — the study proposed that the more animal fat people ate, the higher their risk of heart health issues.1 This study contributed to the birth of the low-fat health movement. People thought Ancel Keys’ 7 Countries Study was demonizing fat, but he was primarily demonizing animal fat. Turns out animal protein is a big-time mischief-maker.
There are so many different types of fats. And Ancel Keys knew it. That’s why he actually consumed significant amounts of olive oil. Olive oil is not saturated fat. Good monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can come from lectin-free vegetables, lectin-free nuts, and even lectin-free seeds.
So, how do monounsaturated fats differ from saturated fats? Well, monounsaturated fats have fewer hydrogen atoms tied to their carbon chains.2 Some excellent food sources of monounsaturated fats are olive oil, avocados, and walnuts.
Close-up on the 7 Countries Study
Again, the discovery that monounsaturated fat could be healthy came from the 7 Countries Study. Now, the 7 Countries Study revealed that residents of Greece and certain parts of the Mediterranean experienced a significantly lower rate of heart health issues in spite of having a high-fat diet. The primary fat in these residents’ diets was not saturated animal fat. It was olive oil, plain and simple. So, it turns out that consuming monounsaturated fats (primarily from the olive oil you eat) the better your chances may be at having a longer, healthier life.3
2. Animal Protein Is Extremely Important For Your Health
It’s a tough concept to truly embrace, isn’t it? The idea that you should be cramming bacon, sausage, or marbled meat down your throat is a myth of epic proportions.
The fact of this specific matter is that too much animal protein can be detrimental in the long term. And it doesn’t really matter if your animal protein comes from fish, cheese, or eggs. A recent study even reported that a reduced protein intake diet can actually help play a critical role in your longevity and overall metabolic health.4
Furthermore, recent epidemiological studies show that higher intakes of animal protein (especially red meat) may encourage the promotion of age-related health struggles.5
3. You Can’t Get Into Ketosis On A Plant-based Diet
One of the major mistakes that many people associate with a Ketogenic Diet or Paleo Diet is that you can only get your body into ketosis if you are consuming animal proteins. But think about it: the Keto Diet and Paleo Diet are just variations of the old and outdated Atkins diet.
The big misunderstanding is that many people think that just avoiding carbohydrates is the key to mastering and succeeding with a ketogenic diet. Why?
Because the human body actually has no real storage system for protein. So, when you consume protein, it gets converted into sugar. In the United States, the adult population consumed approximately 16% of its daily calories from protein. And this statistic hasn’t really changed since 1909.6
That means that a daily intake of 2,500 calories results in almost 100 g of protein consumed each day. That’s almost twice as much protein as one needs to replace lost protein (daily). The thing is, all those extra amino acids have to be converted into other storage products. So, it turns out that excess ingested protein could end up producing glucose (aka sugar). That 100 grams of daily protein could produce around 50 grams of daily glucose.7 It’s not good. So what can you do?
You can become an “Italian gorilla”. Why an Italian gorilla? Well, gorillas really only eat leaves and twigs. They get their fuel from plant-based foods. And Italians and Greeks use a lot of olive oil in their plant-based recipes. So, an “Italian gorilla” would ideally douse it’s leafy greens in a liter of olive oil each week.
In fact, one Spanish study followed a group of 65-year-old people for 4 years. One group had to consume a liter of olive oil for each week for 4 years and follow a Mediterranean diet. Another group had to rely on a low-fat Mediterranean diet (meaning a lot less olive oil). The women in the group that consumed olive oil regularly had a 68% lower incidence of significant female-related health concerns.8
4. The Keto Diet Works Because It Limits Carbohydrates
Next up is the myth that some keto plans work because they reduce carb intakes. Sure, that’s one way to look at it. But the real reason most low-carb diets like Paleo, Keto, and Atkins work (initially) is because they’re eliminating most of your lectin-containing foods like grains and beans. It’s actually not about the carbs.
Turns out, that lectin elimination wasn’t really discussed much when these diets were created because those that created them didn’t know to look at lectin-reduction as a part of their high-protein diets.
However, after phase one on those diets, you’re allowed to reintroduce grains and beans back into your food plan. And that’s one reason Atkins people may regain the weight they lost only to suffer other potential issues if they remain on the diet. Atkins’ low-carbohydrate plan is among the lowest in plant-based foods and fiber and among the highest in terms of red meat and trans fats consumption.
Recent metabolic studies show the potentially detrimental effects of Atkins-inspired trans fat consumption on factors related to bloating, swelling, and irritation as well as issues with insulin resistance.9 So, the longer you stay on such a program, the more the intake of saturated fats and trans fat you consume which may put you at risk.10
5. All Fats Are Created Equal
Finally, not all fats are created equal. Ketogenic fans don’t usually decipher between all of the different types of fats they consume. But, are the fats in bacon and butter the same as the fats in an avocado or a tablespoon of olive oil? No way, no how. In fact, one recent report clearly illustrates that vegetable ‘fats’ (like monounsaturated fats in olive oil) decreased plasma cholesterol whereas animal fats (like saturated fats) tended to increase plasma cholesterol levels.11 So, not all fats are created equal.
So, if you’re putting too much heavy cream in your coffee, it won’t metabolize the same way in your body as the omega-3 fats found in olive oil. Omega-3s will help your fat-burning genes in the liver. Evidence points to the possibility that regular consumption of omega-3 fatty acids can influence fat metabolism and help improve your heart health.12 Bottom line: Swap your bacon fat and butter for the omega-3s in olive oil… you’ll become much more efficient at burning fat.
Say Goodbye To Keto Myths
Now that you know the score when it comes to keto-type diets, you can make the appropriate changes to your own eating plan — for the better.
In summary, swap out butter and animal fats for olive oil and avocados. Reduce your consumption of animal protein and stick to lectin-friendly vegetables to make up the majority of your meals.
Of course, indulging in animal proteins like wild-caught salmon every once in a while should be okay. But if you’re a regular meat-eater, check yourself before you wreck yourself.