A high fat, low carb diet? The good – and bad side – of the Keto Diet

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I had a considerable response to my recent column about how we Americans too often have a knee jerk response to fad diets that promise overnight weight loss and improved health. Invariably, such diets fail miserably and you get fatter and less healthy as a result.

Ironically, savvy folks who would never fall for a get rich quick scheme or be duped into buying swamp land in Florida, fall for one fad diet after another, refusing to realize that they all have a major flaw in common. They offer a short term solution to a long term problem.

Even so, there is always a brand new “amazingly successful” diet that promises the moon. And with 70.7 percent of American adults being either overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, plus our epidemic of chronic diseases (heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and various forms of cancer) there are millions of folks ready and eager to sign on.

I say it again, as I have said countless times in the past, true and lasting change requires a commitment to making good choices many times a day, every day, for the rest of your life. If you are not willing to do this, admit it to yourself and keep doing what you are doing, because it probably is no worse than jumping into a crazy diet.

Anyway, despite my stance stated clearly above, I received several email notes from folks who are certain the Keto Diet is the exception to the rule because they have experienced short term success. When I respond to such notes, I am always polite and I congratulate them on losing weight, then I request that they please update me a year from now on how they are doing. In all the many years I have been doing this, and with regard to all kinds of bizarre diets, not one person has ever contacted me a year later.

Why not? Because they finally woke up and realized they had been hoodwinked and they stopped the diet.

So, what is the Keto Diet?

It’s a very high-fat and very low-carb diet. Sound familiar? It should, because not long ago high-fat diets were all the rage. The result? Americans got fatter. Then, predictably, they fell out of vogue just like every other fad diet that promises big weight loss quickly, including the Blood Type Diet, the Cabbage Soup Diet, the Paleo “Caveman” Diet, the Cookie Diet, the Fat Flush Diet, the Grapefruit Diet, the Master Cleanse Diet, the Beverly Hills Diet, the Scarsdale Diet, the Hollywood Diet, the list goes on and on.

Duh! Get the picture?

If you are on the Keto Diet, or thinking about it, here is what you should know.

FAT BURNS IN FLAME PROVIDED BY CARBS

When you take a biochemistry class you learn that when you break down carbs, specifically glucose, fragments from the breakdown are used in processes that metabolize fat. In fact, without these fragments you cannot metabolize fat, and thus the saying: “Fat burns in the flame provided by carbohydrates.” This is the basis for the Keto diet – restricting carbs to barebones while loading up on fat.

Ironically, the Keto diet creates circumstances similar to diabetes that is out of control. When you have diabetes, glucose cannot get into the cells and it accumulates in the bloodstream. Desperate for fuel, your body will mobilize fat from storage and release it into the bloodstream. But, without carbs, you can’t metabolize the fat, so you send it to the liver where it is converted into ketones.

In other words, your body is forced into an unnatural state that in the extreme can be dangerous. In fact, in one of the notes I received the writer asked her doctor about the Keto Diet. He replied: “Much of the Keto Diet seems counterintuitive.”

I agree. Why would you go out of your way to push your body into an unnatural state that mimics severe diabetes?

In fairness, by accident the Keto Diet does something helpful. It causes you to cut out harmful simple sugar, and this is why good things happen. In other words, good things do not happen because you consume gobs of fat and create ketones.

Hmm, if cutting simple sugar from your diet is the key, and ketones are problematic, why bother creating ketones? Exactly! Why not simply reduce your intake of simple sugar, AND cut way back on fat.

Revolutionary? No. It’s called a healthy diet. Next week, I give the Keto Diet the common sense test.

 

 

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