If you haven’t heard of the keto diet – the hyper low-carb dietary craze of celebrities and bloggers – you may have been living under a block of cheese. In fact, it has entered that phase in the lifecycle of a fad diet where it strays from its original meaning and people use it to describe all sorts of pseudo-dietary choices. These are a few common mis-keto-ceptions about the keto diet.
Myth 5: The keto diet works like Atkins, only more extreme
Yes, keto is all about relying on fats and protein – that is, eggs, steak, cheese and fruits and veggies – rather than carbs such as bread, pasta, rice and sugar. In that way, it’s similar to the Atkins diet. Unlike the Atkins, though, keto is not so much about cutting carbs as changing the way your whole metabolism functions. When you go for a time with very, very few carbs (in the case of keto, 5-10% of your caloric intake) your body enters a state called ketosis in which it taps into fat stores for energy instead of the more readily accessible carb energy (glucose). Think of it as keeping your body’s checking account empty so that it has no choice but to dip into savings.
Myth 4: You can “go keto” for that weekend cleanse retreat
Ketosis doesn’t kick in immediately. Emptying your body’s checking account (to reuse the metaphor) takes several days or even a full week. And if you leave the ketosis state, you have to transition all over again – that means no cheat days. Sorry.
Myth 3: You can tell keto is starting to work because you’ll feel great
If your coworker tells you she started keto over the weekend and has “never felt better!” she’s either lying or doing it wrong. That week-long transition period? It sucks. People often experience physical withdrawal symptoms, including weakness, fatigue and headaches, that are known as the “keto flu”. Fortunately, your body will balance out in time, and you will feel a lot better. So if you believe keto is right for you, stick with it.
Myth 2: Keto brings your body closer to its natural state
Keto is 100% non-natural. It isn’t like the paleo diet, which tries to bring back the dietary habits of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Keto instead forces your body into metabolic emergency mode and then leaves it there for much longer than nature intended. That’s not necessarily bad; we do all sorts of non-natural things to maintain good health. In fact, dieting itself isn’t natural – which is why it’s so hard!
Myth 1: Unlike other diets, Keto is proven by science
You may have heard the keto diet was recommended by scientists as far back as the 1920s. This is true… but it wasn’t to promote weight loss. Inducing ketosis was found to help reduce epilepsy symptoms in children (but not adults, for some reason). Although modern epilepsy medication has made it obsolete as a treatment for the condition, the keto diet has re-emerged as a weight loss solution.
Zooming ahead, studies seem to show the keto diet actually does help people lose weight, but the jury is still out on whether or not it works better than other restrictive diets. People do shed pounds when they go keto – but is that because of ketosis induced by an ultra low carb intake, or simply because they are finally starting to eat less bread and processed sugar?
On the other hand, does it even matter? As they say: If it’s stupid, but it works, it ain’t stupid. Try for yourself with this 14-day guide for beginners.