Is Keto a cult or groupthink?

(Shelly) #22

Nah, not a cult. Keto woe is a new thing to most people and not well received by typical medical professionals yet so we all cling to and suck as much info from each other as possible. Many of us have health problems we’re trying to fix so may come across as a little desperate and also come in to discussions a little defensive as we’ve been told we’re not right by our doctors and friends. my son takes cannabis oil for seizures and those online groups are incredibly similar—not a lot of support from docs, we’re desperate yet hopeful and seeking tons of info from each other. People can be defensive about what works for them and what they believe and sometimes it gets ugly.

Seems every online forum or group has its own personality and usually it’s hard to figure out whether you fit in or not until you make a few posts that are accepted or rejected so that also feels a bit isolating at times but not to the level of a cult. Maybe a clique? :blush:


I think there are issues with groupthink on these forums, just like on most forums about anything. There are few things that I hear people claiming over and over that just aren’t true, but they fit with the general sense of what most posters who are already here have experienced, so it must be true. But this is just one slice of the keto/low carb world. Go to another keto forum where people are more focused on body building, and you’ll hear a slightly different groupthink. Or one where people are more focused on weight loss than T2 diabetes, and you’ll hear another. Groupthink here is all about no seed oils, grass-fed, etc. On a forum that focuses on dirty keto, you’ll hear something different. People tend to really dig into these positions and write posts based on their revised version of the history of very low carb diets. I find it tiresome.

I also really appreciate the focus on science that people try to have here. Yeah, sure, sometimes people just can’t absorb facts or twist things to their liking, because the alternatives don’t fit with their world view on keto. But I think most people are trying. Calling out bad science when we see it is critical to healthier eating for us and for everyone that is sucked into following current nutritional guidelines.


Part of that history is looking at early attempts to formulate a diet for epilepsy and why some of it failed. One such formula neglected to include selenium and resulted in heart complications. They also used PUFA oils. Grass fed vs. grain finished tends to get a bit dogmatic and based on things other than how it affects the human organism. Seed oils - high amounts of omega 6, that is - has quite a bit of research backing up its inflammatory properties, and inflammation is linked to metabolic health via insulin and cholesterol response.

(Art ) #25

I appreciate everyone’s input to date. It gives some credibility to the idea that this group is self-policing and science based and maybe it’s just a few that are lining up for more of Jim Jone’s Kool Aid.


There’s an interesting podcast here which includes a rebuttal of some unfounded criticisms of the keto diet (by a doctor who treats patients using keto):

(Bacon enough and time) #27

Dr. Berry’s lecture at Ketofest traced the history of low-carbohydrate diets for weight loss. The original observations were made in France in the early 1820’s, William Harvey picked up on the idea at a medical conference in Paris in the 1850’s and passed it on to Willam Banting, whose successful weight loss prompted his Letter on Corpulence, which spread the word widely. The use of an extremely high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet for the treatment of epilepsy goes back to 1908, I believe. The use of what we would call a “regular” LCHF/keto diet for fat loss was standard advice in medical texts, well into the 1980’s, but was displaced by the SAD after the publication of the U.S. dietary guidelines.

(PJ) #28


Art, I see your point! But every group that is working together, directly or indirectly, toward similar goals, has groupthink. It’s a given.

If they didn’t have groupthink there would be very little to bind them. We wouldn’t need keto forums we’d all just yell across the chasm on reddit. :rofl:

We do this groupthink on purpose in business, in sports, in hobby groups, in age-ethnic-area associations.

I’ve always said that humans can make bad religion out of anything, though, which is where things shift from mere groupthink – which is both a blessing, in its binding and sharing, and a curse, in its creating paradigms and cliques – into dogma-based cultism.

Anything can operate like a cult. The homeowner’s associations can operate like cults. (Actually I think they may be more cult-like than most actual cults. :roll_eyes: )

At least we’re not Pastafarians. Now there’s a wonderful cult. :rofl:

We might be in danger of becoming Baconators though. :smiley:
I hear that word in Arnold’s voice. :rofl:


I would give you a :bacon: for that, but the only option is :heart:

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #30

Additionally, Villjamur Stefansson was instrumental in his writings and public life, as noted here and here.

(Full Metal KETO AF) #31

That Was Me!!! I thought it was merely a healthy discussion that had a couple of points we disagreed on, that’s what the forum is for. And I love debate no matter the outcome. If I am wrong I learn something new, if I feel unconvinced then that might mean something from my position maybe helped someone else. :cowboy_hat_face:

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #32

:rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl: I almost peed my pants. And I’m not wearing my Depends either!

(Bacon enough and time) #33

The point of the experiment on Stefansson and Andersen, from the researchers’ point of view, at least, had more to do with micronutrients, than with the low-carb nature of the diet. The original contention was that the men could not be telling the truth, because they would have developed scurvy. See McClellan & Du Bois, “CLINICAL CALORIMETRY: XLV. PROLONGED MEAT DIETS WITH A STUDY OF KIDNEY FUNCTION AND KETOSIS,” J. Biol. Chem. 1930 87: 651-667.

Though I must say, there’s a lot of interesting data in that study.

(Katie) #34

Well…I think there is a bunch of cult or group think characteristics surrounding Keto.

But, I think there is a lot of grounded people too. In fact, this forum seems to be populated with mostly ordinary people astounded by the keto journey and feeling the health benefits that came with it.

Unfortunately, Keto is viewed more negative than positive in the western world today…so we all tend to gravitate to each other as the only positive influence we usually find.


Hey @ArtMeursault I developed atrial fibrillation at the age of 52 (like your example) while following a low carbohydrate high fat way of eating. Daily measurements of morning fasting ketones has me in ketosis since December 2014. So the atrial fibrillation experienced in a series of events over a few months was after following the way of eating for a number of years. Now I wonder, if it is a risk in males in the 50 - 55 year old age group? Rather than my current hypothesis below. Hmmm, interesting.:thinking:

I have a hypothesis, that like veganism, eating in the pursuit of nutritional ketosis has the potential to be a draw-down nutrient depletion risky way of eating for some people. Especially in folks who focus on the aspect of ordered eating a limited menu of foods that they prefer; ordered eating becomes disordered nutrition.

Anyhow the way I was eating, in the environment in which I was eating (where soils and water sources are magnesium depleted) led to an eventual nutrient deficiency. Well that is what I found once I had fixed the problem and did some back tracking through data I had recorded and collected. This is n = 1. It further led to more investigation, diagnosis and cure. That is the good part. I encourage people not to stop at the being, and accepting being, sick part.

I can blame my choice to eat in a nutrional ketosis inducing way for the problem. You will notice I blame my choice, not the diet. I still eat low carbohydrate and healthy fats and maintain ketosis for the myriad other health benefits I have from doing so. The insulin lowering effect of the nutritional ketosis does affect the electrolyte balance. For me, I have to supplement to cover the clinical symptoms of the deficiency I discovered.

The value of my story in these forums is that it is a black swan on the beautiful, scenic lake of nutritional ketosis. Something to be aware of, something others may experience, and my experience and further onward steps may help light a path out of and away from their concerns. The experience is not evidence that keto is dangerous but that it can be depending on the factors behind it.

The nutritional ketosis way of eating should not get a free pass as benign in terms of side effects. Once again for some people in some situations.

I got to tell my part of a keto story here in the forum and there was no purge, no recriminations, just helpful discussion and ideas input.

Thanks for your thought provoking initial post up the top there. If people are looking for a keto cult, they can interpret posts that way to their liking. Posting provocative ideas may be a digital pheromone for the cult-like? If you go fishing with the right bait you may catch the fish i.e. the cult concern becomes self-fulfilling because it is a topic that attracts and engages the cultish. Crikey, I’m on the verge of using the word cuttlefish. If people are not so concerned about “cult” labels and some seemingly dogmatic personalities, those things are easily skipped over, and the forum has a wealth of knowledge and support about nutritional ketosis and its health benefits for the people who need it.

(Parker the crazy crone lady) #36

OMG. I’ve met too many of this group to count, including my most recent ex-boyfriend. What a buzzword, domineering nightmare. Yep, people can drown themselves in any group, including eating keto. But at least here, there’s a “Show Me The Science” area which kinda shows that it’s not much of a problem.

(Family, Honor, Freedom) #37

The “low-carb group” consumed about 44% carbs… Umm, yeah. I don’t think anyone here would have trouble seeing the fallacy in that one. @ArtMeursault - one really should read a study before linking to it.

In any case, it’s not a controlled study. Had there been an actual LC group, or even an LCHF group, the study would still be useless for any sort of conclusions. Whether the researchers are paid by “Big Food” or by the burgeoning “Big Keto” industry, researchers or journalists who try to ascribe definitive conclusions to epidemiological studies can be safely ignored. The studies themselves can provide interesting theories, pending actual, real studies. But when we try to draw conclusions from them? Way better than even odds those conclusions will be largely wrong.

So, is keto a cult? No, not at this time. Right now, it’s still in the, “be ultra skeptical about accepted science” phase. Big Food is a cult - if a cult is defined as those who zealously defend their entrenched beliefs, rejecting any evidence to the contrary. Big Medicine, Big Government, Big…pretty much anything.

Any idea can become cultish, when its adherents stop listening to the other side. Keep your skepticism healthy, read the articles and “studies” of the brainwashed. Once in awhile, you’ll come across something that is actually worth while, makes you think, and might even improve your understanding.

Really? Sounds like bait from a troll, to be honest. But he’s not wrong: the fact that it’s not going to be deleted - and that it’s received so many thoughtful replies - makes it clear that most keto adherents are NOT afraid to consider opposing views.

Polite debate, thoughtful consideration of opposing views, and a sincere appreciation for those who make us recompose our thoughts - even those who maybe we see as evil extremists (not you, ArtMeursault, just in general). These are beautiful ideals to strive for in any society.

Thanks ArtMeursault: whether artful troll or truly inquisitive, you’ve encouraged many of us here to spend a little time reviewing our internal thought processes.

(Briana) #38

A cult is something that punishes you if u leave. I do not believe Keto is a cult. Your able to transition anytime you want.

(Art ) #39

From the research I’ve found lack of selenium may be a factor for paroxysmal Afib.

Then there are the usual culprits in order of importance AFAIK for the general population: ‘americanism’ (diabetes, obesity, high bp, sedentary lifestyle), sleep apnea, potassium magnesium, CRP, Interluekin - 6 and other BIs, hereditary and unknown.

(Karim Wassef) #42

We are more of a resistance movement against the false cult of processed and carb overloaded foods.

We have no cult leader (a requirement to be a cult). We have no false doctrine - we follow the science not hype. We don’t force or punish others who don’t agree with the data. We don’t make false promises or bilk people out of their money. We share real experiences.

Anything can be labeled a cult… western civilization could be a cult with cultish devotion … but it isn’t. It was based on reason & freedoms first.

(Full Metal KETO AF) #43

You didn’t name names, I identified myself! No problems Art. :ok_hand: