Keto Diet Myths: Uncovered and Debunked
Although the ketogenic diet has been researched and employed by healthcare professionals for nearly a hundred years, it has only recently entered the public eye.
The keto diet and its benefits for health and weight loss have been making headlines for the past decade, but it’s only in the last couple of years that it’s become a household name.
Imagine keto as the new student in the school of nutrition and wellbeing, receiving the same skeptical glances and unfounded assumptions that often befall fresh faces in high school. People hear about keto’s potential to help lose weight, boost energy levels, improve skin clarity, combat diseases, and more – causing them to jump to conclusions as if keto were the charismatic star athlete with top grades who also volunteers at a nursing home.
Many struggle to grasp the numerous benefits associated with the ketogenic diet, leading them to make presumptions aimed at undermining its seemingly flawless reputation.
In other words, the bad press and damaging myths surrounding the keto diet often stem from detractors relying on assumptions influenced by dubious science we’ve been exposed to over the last six decades.
It’s time to debunk two main categories of Keto Myths:
Firstly, let’s tackle the misconceptions about implementing a successful keto diet.
Secondly, we’ll confront myths concerning potential health risks associated with keto.
To fully enjoy the incredible benefits of keto, you need to follow its strict guidelines. That’s why addressing these myths is crucial – not only for ensuring a smooth transition into ketosis but also for maintaining your progress along the way.
MYTH: Keto is all about protein.
Think again! Pursuing this misconception will keep you from achieving ketosis, the main goal of the keto diet. High-quality fats are what drive ketosis, not an abundance of protein. Excessive protein intake leads to gluconeogenesis, which stimulates glucose production and inhibits ketosis.[Read: 21 High Protein Low Carb Snacks for a Keto Diet]
MYTH: Keto can’t be maintained long-term.
On the contrary, countless people have been thriving on the ketogenic diet for a decade or even two. Many individuals choose keto as a lifelong commitment to manage chronic health conditions or as an effective way to maintain optimal wellness. Not only can the keto lifestyle last your entire life, but it may also enhance its quality and duration.
MYTH: Exercise and keto just don’t mix.
Incorrect! Many athletes have experienced exceptional performance improvements while following a keto diet. Just ask Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, or numerous NFL players who have turned to keto to shed fat without sacrificing muscle. Targeted and cyclical keto are specialized versions tailored specifically for high-performance physical activities and training.
MYTH: Keto exists solely for weight loss, so you’ll end up underweight.
This myth is laughable at best. Your weight depends on your calorie intake versus your calorie expenditure. By consuming an appropriate number of calories, you can prevent excessive weight loss on keto. Our keto calculator can help you determine the right caloric intake based on your unique needs, ensuring that you don’t lose too much weight.
MYTH: There’s no scientific evidence supporting keto’s effectiveness.
Let’s bust this myth with just a simple online search. Over 100 years of medical research has been dedicated to studying the safety and efficacy of the keto diet. This wealth of information is readily available for anyone willing to look into it.[Read: 5 Studies That Show Why Keto Diet Is Powerful for Weight Loss]
MYTH: Keto means indulging in any fat your heart desires.
At DietingWell, we emphasize consistently that only HEALTHY fats should fuel your keto journey. Proper macro ratios are also essential. Aim to obtain 70% of your daily calories from wholesome fats, avoiding trans fats due to their negative health impact. Opponents of keto like to gloss over this distinction, but we’re here to clarify: Say no to trans fats![Read: 17 Healthy Foods High in Starch]
MYTH: Fasting is mandatory for successful keto.
Not at all! While intermittent fasting can assist with weight loss and autophagy, it’s not a prerequisite for the keto diet. This misconception likely stems from the idea that combining intermittent fasting and keto produces impressive results for those seeking rapid fat loss. At the same time, some may misinterpret keto’s natural appetite-curbing effect—due to slow-digesting fats—as intentional food avoidance. That’s not the case; you simply don’t experience hunger pangs as frequently on keto, leading you to feel full and satisfied longer.
MYTH: Wave farewell to alcohol and fun times.
Fear not, you can still relish in spirited drinks while on keto. Most beers don’t make the cut due to their grain and carb-heavy ingredients that elevate blood glucose levels. Wine, often high in sugars, should be consumed in moderation. However, distilled spirits like vodka, whiskey, tequila, and gin boast a low carb count and only contribute about 100 calories per shot to your daily intake. The only impact of alcohol on keto is its temporary pause on ketone production until completely processed and burned off – a small concession for an enjoyable evening.[Read: 30 Keto Alcoholic Drinks That Won’t Kick You out of Ketosis]
Next up, let’s debunk some myths involving so-called health risks associated with the keto way of life.
MYTH: Keto inevitably causes kidney stones.
If kidney stones were a guaranteed side effect of keto, nobody would dare try it. This myth stems from the reality that improper keto habits can result in kidney stone development. As a diuretic, keto prompts more frequent urination, flushing out both fluids and crucial electrolytes and minerals. Consequently, this may set the stage for kidney stones since keto encourages eating oxalate-rich cruciferous veggies. However, this risk can be easily addressed by consuming adequate magnesium, potassium, sodium, and food-sourced calcium. Pro tip: Squeeze a bit of lemon juice into your water – its citrate content aids in dissolving stone-forming elements.[Read: 11 Best Superfoods for Kidney Health]
MYTH: Ketosis equals Ketoacidosis.
It’s easy to get confused due to their similar names but they’re not related. Ketoacidosis is linked to type 1 diabetes when the body can’t produce enough insulin to transport glucose out of the blood for energy use. The absence of insulin signals the body lacks glucose for energy; thus, ketones are produced. The combination of ketones and glucose in the blood results in dangerous ketoacidosis which can be fatal. Those with normal insulin production need not worry about ketosis causing ketoacidosis.[Read: Type-2 Diabetics and Keto Diet: Everything you Need To Know]
MYTH: Keto Causes Muscle Loss
Surprisingly, a growing number of high-performance athletes are embracing the ketogenic lifestyle, as it aids in maintaining muscle while shedding fat. Adopting a fat-based fuel signals your body to rely on the fats you consume, and when those are depleted, to burn your stored fat. It eliminates the need to turn to muscle for fuel, as is the case with glucose-based diets. Since the body can only store between 1500 and 2000 calories of glucose at once, it quickly burns glucose in the blood before targeting muscle, which contains protein that can be converted into glucose. Keto steers your metabolism towards utilizing stored fat for ketones instead of jeopardizing your hard-earned muscles.
MYTH: Keto is Harmful to Your Heart
A simple internet search will swiftly disprove this common myth. Whether you’re on keto or not, your heart relies on ketones to function optimally. In fact, even when you’re consuming carbs abundantly, your heart requests the liver to create ketones specifically for its maximum effectiveness. Fatty acids and ketones contribute to a strong, protected, and efficiently pumping heart. It’s no surprise that regardless of your diet, your heart benefits from ketones, signaling the liver to generate them for its exclusive use.
MYTH: Keto Increases Cholesterol Levels
While this statement holds some truth – keto does raise cholesterol – it’s crucial to clarify that it promotes HDL cholesterol (the healthy kind) and not LDL (the harmful type). HDL cholesterol gathers unused and harmful cholesterols from your body and transports them back to the liver for recycling. This process helps prevent LDL cholesterol from accumulating in your arteries. The primary misconception in this myth stems from people’s lack of understanding regarding the differences between HDL and LDL cholesterol. They hear ‘cholesterol’ and automatically assume it’s negative. But, always remember: HDL = good, LDL = bad, and Keto supports HDL cholesterol.[Read: Does the Keto Diet Help Lower Cholesterol?]
MYTH: Say goodbye to alcohol and lively gatherings?
Worry not, the keto lifestyle still allows you to revel in some boozy beverages. Most beers, unfortunately, are off the table due to their grain and carb-loaded ingredients that can raise blood sugar. Wine, often packed with sugars, should be savored in moderation. However, distilled spirits such as vodka, whiskey, tequila, and gin feature a low carb profile and only add around 100 calories per shot to your daily consumption. The sole effect of alcohol on keto is a brief halt in ketone production until it’s fully processed and burned off – a minor compromise for an entertaining night.[Read: 10 Keto-Friendly Low-Carb, Low-Calorie Cocktail Recipes]
Next, let’s tackle some widespread myths about alleged health hazards tied to the keto way of living.
MYTH: Keto drains brainpower.
On the contrary! The brain operates more effectively on ketone-based fuel. Heightened alertness and mental focus are just a few of the remarkable advantages of keto. Ketones offer a more efficient energy source, facilitating consistently high energy levels without glucose-induced shifts. Moreover, ketones enhance mitochondrial function, culminating in increased brain cell capacity. The protective impact of fat on nerves and synapses also decelerates the progression of degenerative brain disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. In summary, keto actually feeds your brain.
MYTH: Keto results in nutrient deficiencies – Busted!
Well, that’s only true if you’re not paying attention to your nutrient intake. This misconception arises from keto’s low-carb nature and the importance of vegetables in providing essential nutrients. But let’s be clear – this concern is associated with all diets, not just keto. With proper guidance, keto allocates 5% of your daily calorie intake to carbs, ideally sourcing them from nutrient-packed cruciferous or dark green vegetables such as spinach, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli – all keto-friendly choices! Just listen to your body and be mindful of what you eat; you’ll feel fantastic!
MYTH: Keto causes gall stones – Debunked!
Your gallbladder is a tiny organ that generates bile to help your liver break down fatty acids and proteins. Consuming fat ensures your gallbladder remains active, as it plays a crucial role in fat breakdown. Inactivity or insufficient activity in the gallbladder could lead to excess bile sitting idle, forming gallstones mostly constituted by hardened high-level LDL cholesterol. Since the keto diet aids in producing HDL cholesterol that removes LDL from your system, eating a fatty keto diet actually helps prevent gallstone formation! Should you already have unnoticed gallstones when starting keto, the increased demand for bile will make their presence more obvious due to heightened gallbladder activity.[Read: The Benefits of Low Carb Dieting for Gallbladder and IBS Issues]
MYTH: The keto flu is inevitable – Not Quite!
The only individuals likely to experience the keto flu are those who don’t research and learn how to prevent it before onset. It results from electrolyte depletion due to keto’s diuretic effect – excess minerals are removed through urination, leaving you feeling drained. Be proactive, armed with this knowledge beforehand, and consume keto foods rich in sodium, potassium, and magnesium to stay ahead! The keto flu might be uncomfortable but it’s entirely avoidable.[Read: Complete Guide To Keto Flu: Symptoms & How To Avoid It]
MYTH: Keto equals starvation diet – Unfounded!
The ultimate goal of any fat loss diet is to consume fewer calories than you burn. Starvation occurs when calorie intake is consistently lower than calorie expenditure, but Keto doesn’t encourage this! Instead, it emphasizes eating a well-balanced mix of nutrients for optimal results. Some might assume the carb restriction in keto implies a scarcity of this energy-providing macronutrient, leading to starvation. However, carbs are entirely unnecessary (pg.11); that’s the key message in keto. Fat will take center stage as your new superior fuel source, and you’ll not only avoid starvation but also enjoy remarkable benefits!
- 7 Mistakes You’re Making on Keto
- The 10 Best Tips for Keto Diet Success
- 17 High Carb Foods to Avoid on a Keto Diet
- 3 Day Keto Diet Plan to Jumpstart Ketosis