Ketogenic Diets Are B.S. for Weight Loss


(Dustin Sherrill) #1

So my family is always sending me articles about how Keto is bad. They see I am succeeding (down 70 pounds) yet they still think my diet is bad. Here is the latest article I received from my mom. Wondering what you all think about this article:

Ketogenic Diets Are B.S. for Weight Loss
By Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN JAN 23, 2018

Celebrities like Halle Berry and Kourtney Kardashian swear by it, it ranked within the top 10 most Googled diets in 2017, and it’s a clear Pinterest-favorite plan. It’s called the ketogenic diet, which aims to induce ketosis, a metabolic process in which we use fat for energy instead of the body’s preferred source, sugar.

Fans of the low-calorie, high-fat diet tout having more energy, lower appetite, and pretty immediate weight loss — all while chowing down on bacon, heavy cream, and butter.

But when I first heard that the next weight-loss “trend” was the ketogenic diet, I laughed out loud. “Absolutely not — no way! That’s IMPOSSIBLE!” I was caught saying one year ago.

That’s because my intro to this seemingly new plan was when I worked in a hospital, where ketogenic diets were specifically used as a medical nutrition therapy for pediatric patients with seizure disorders, for whom medication was no longer effective. In other words: It was used as an absolute last resort for families who felt otherwise hopeless in the face of a neurological disease, and under strict medical supervision.

Indeed, there’s plenty of research to support ketogenic diets in the treatment of some devastating neurological conditions. But can it really help the average Joe or Joanne lose weight? Well, yes, in theory — especially ultra low-calorie versions. But is it suitable for long-term, sustainable weight loss and improved health? The jury’s still out on that.

How the Keto Diet Works
In regimented keto diets, only 10% of total calories per day (about a measly 20 grams!) come from carbs, 20% from protein, and a whopping 70% from fats. Since our bodies preferentially use carbs for energy, cutting them means we have to use something else to keep organs functioning. Our bodies then turn to the glucose stored in our muscles as glycogen for fuel.

What else happens when we break down muscle glycogen? We lose water weight! Our muscles store about 3 grams of water for every gram of glycogen, meaning we can lose quite a bit of weight right away when we tap into glycogen stores for fuel. That’s why someone who loses weight in “just one week!” from a low-carb plan is likely losing water weight, not necessarily real weight that stays off over time.

What’s more, studies that have examined the efficacy of the ketogenic diet for weight loss have a few questionable similarities. First, they use the keto diet in conjunction with an extremely low-calorie plan (under 1,000 per day!), which makes it difficult to determine what caused the actual weight loss. Second, they all question the long-term impact on your heart of eating mostly saturated fat, not to mention how hard (and boring) it is to eat mainly coconut oil and butter for months on end.

The Keto Diet’s Undeserving Rise to Fame
So why is social media blowing up with all things #keto, all the time? Well, most of us eat too many carbs to begin with. About half of our calories should come from carbs, according to the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans. That’s about 250 grams per day for a 2,000 calorie diet. When you consider all of the grain-based foods and sneaky sources of added sugar, it’s easy eat a lot more than the recommended amount.

Contrary to what social media hashtags would have you believe, there’s not much to suggest that it will improve athletic performance. Keto also ranked dead-last (down with another joy-stealer, the Whole 30 Diet) on the U.S. News and World Report’s Best Diets list. The lack of research on long-term outcomes, hard-to-follow regimen, and potential health hazards all alarmed the panel of experts.

Science simply doesn’t support the notion that keto diets keep weight off in the long run, unlike the evidence-backed Mediterranean-style plans. Ketogenic eating may actually increase your risk for kidney and liver problems, plus osteoporosis.

Why the Keto Diet Will Probably Backfire on You
Since carb-filled foods contain the highest amount of water and dietary fiber, it’s crucial to consider both the immediate side effects (constipation) and future ones (increased risk of GI cancers and decreased immune function) of cutting them out.

Besides constipation, crabbiness, and making it difficult for others to make plans with you, keto may lead to other health concerns too. Since research has yet to follow participants for more than a year, it’s difficult to say with certainty that other problems (like an increase in LDL “bad” cholesterol) won’t arise as well.

But the real reason why keto plans fail most of us is that they’re not sustainable for the long term. Holidays, vacations, work functions … there’s likely at least one scenario in which you’ll find yourself eating higher-carb foods. And the same reasons why we see immediate weight loss on carb-restricted diets is the same reason why we see immediate weight gain after adding a seemingly harmless sandwich back into the mix: The water weight comes back instantly with glycogen storage.

The Bottom Line
Any diet that’s as extreme as keto — to the point where it’s often implemented under the supervision of an entire medical team — won’t translate into everyday life. And when it backfires (as it always does), the shame and feelings of inadequacy hit us even harder when we’ve put so much darn work into it.

It’s for that last reason alone that I don’t recommend the keto diet. It can be so downright discouraging when we “fall off the wagon” that it seems completely pointless to eat healthier at all.

Keto diets rely on an extreme technique to (temporarily) move the scale down a few pounds, and basically eliminates all joy associated with eating real food and living life. Since restriction for life is downright impossible: Cut back on ultra-processed, high-carb foods like sugary beverages and tons of refined grains, and fill up on more nutritious carb choices, like veggies, fruit, legumes, low-fat dairy, and 100% whole grains to maximize long-term weight loss, health, and happiness.

By Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN JAN 23, 2018


(Jessica) #2

Oh lord, I read that crap yesterday.

I cut out sugar, I cut out refined carbs…both of which all nutritionists recommend. So I don’t eat grains or much fruit, I still eat vegetables and lots of them.

My dinners of roasted meat, roasted vegetables and a salad are “unhealthy”?? They can bite me.

(Dustin Sherrill) #3

Now I want roasted meat, roasted vegetables and a salad. There is a place in my town called Buckingham’s that has a wonderful salad topped off with brisket burnt ends. Maybe that will be my lunch today.

(Mike Glasbrener) #4

Well… you know the answer. You’ve dropped 70 lbs. first off it’s an opinion price. There’s not one citation to back up any of her points.
From memory. Less than 1000 cal keto diet is a very poor plan. It’s a low cal diet which will have short term success at the risk of a lowered metabolism and low term failure.
Guaranteed long term failure. Hmm… I guess she hasn’t talked to anyone who had bad T2D and reversed it.
Extreme… I guess if your a carb consumer it might seem so.

Excuse me for a second I feel a rant coming on…

Why are all these low fat diet pushers metabolically healthy young waifs? Give the another 20 years, three kids, life stress and I bet a bunch of these pushers will be compromised… Arghhh!

Thanks. I feel better now.

(Randy) #5

F them and the horse they rode in on!

(Darlene Horsley) #6

What a can of crap! Oh and I always take “Good Housekeeping” articles as gospel. (Picture my eyes rolling here)

(Trish) #7

I’d like to counter the article point by point but that won’t be good for my blood pressure or mood. Will take a bacon snack and book and enjoy both in an Epsom salt bath instead while enjoying thoughts of the author being moooned by my 26 pound lighter butt. As for you family, I’m sorry that they feel the need to constantly challenge and argue with you. I very serious " you know mom, when I was little you taught me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say that I should not say anything at all. " and perhaps leave her to ponder that a moment while you go grab a steak and salad. LOL

(Darlene Horsley) #8

Start sending them scientific studies in return. :smile:

(Bunny) #9

Too much emphasis is placed on the word “keto” or “ketogenic diet.”

This is really about refined sugar or different types of saccharides and how dangerous it is!

Instead send them the horrific facts on the healthy refined sugar embedded in everything they are eating!

e.g. High Fructose-whatever severely damages your liver every time you eat it over time! Thing is, you would never know it until it’s too late!

(Brian) #10

I read it. Sounds very much like it’s written by someone who has no clue about the kinds of ketogenic diet we are all eating or the results we’re getting. The arguments are a bunch of little paper tigers with no teeth at all.

“Eat your carbs.” Yeah, right. Been there, done that. The outcome wasn’t good.


(Dustin Sherrill) #11

I should start doing that. I haven’t put forth the effort.

(Richard Morris) #12

You have to remember that it’s January and every shonk with a diet book is trying to snap up new years resolvers.

And the keto diet is hot right now because frankly it’s working for just about everyone who tries it. SO everyone with a diet book like Dr William Davis is throwing mud on Keto to grab some eyeballs, and magazines like this are slamming ketogenic diets as link bait to get people to read their articles and their ads.

(Dustin Sherrill) #13

I like Darlene_Horsley’s idea. I will start sending my mom the scientific studies that support the science of Ketogenic diets…

(Dustin Sherrill) #14

Good point.


So you just lost 70 pounds of water! Now eat one sandwich and it will all come back the next day.

(Trish) #16

With any luck she will take the time to read them. My mom just disregards what I say and thinks I’m being an extremist. As such she will have to continue to muddle through with her t2d. It’s too bad really that the people expect us to listen to them don’t afford us the same courtesy.

(Dustin Sherrill) #17

Yeah. My mom will probably will do the same and not read what I send her. Yet she did make a comment last week saying she thought she should try what I am doing. I will send her the articles and see how committed she really is making a change. She has weight health issues. She knows I weigh less than her now. She is conflicted. Maybe I can nudge her in the right direction.

(Brian) #18

I have to scratch my head a little bit when they talk about being so “restrictive”. We restrict the carbs and sugars and they think that’s extreme. They want to restrict the fats and sometimes the meats and act like that is no restriction at all, completely normal.

(Chris) #19

Follow the money. Someone’s paying a lot of it to make sure healthy ways of eating are buried.

(Darlene Horsley) #20

Excellent point. New year resolves didn’t cross my mind. Makes sense.