Keto & Low-Carb Diets: Debunking the Hype

Keto and low-carb diets are currently the craze in the health world, but there is another side to the story. What do the studies and scientific evidence say? Here are 7 reasons to quit keto and low-carb diets; #7 may surprise you.

Let me introduce this by sharing a little background information. The body has two fuel sources: it can run on glucose, or it can run on ketones from stored fat. If we ingest more carbohydrates than we need, our bodies take them and keep them available in the muscles as glycogen.

The body can hold about 2,000 calories worth of glycogen, which it can burn up quickly. Any glucose not in the form of glycogen is stored as fat. The body will always run on glucose as its primary fuel source.

On the other hand, most humans have 100,000 calories of stored fat. This fat can be burned by fasting, restricting calories, or restricting carbohydrates and protein (high-fat diet). When carbs and protein are limited, the body goes into ketosis.

The Keto Diet: A Deep Dive

The premise of the keto diet is simple but different. Usually, the body runs on glucose from carbohydrates, such as grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits, that break down into fuel. The ketogenic diet bypasses glucose and forces the body to run on ketones, a type of fuel produced from fat intake or stored fat. These ketone levels can be measured in the breath or urine.

This all started in 1969 when Owen and his colleagues did a famous study of fasting. Subjects ate nothing but were given intravenously small amounts of protein (amino acids) to help prevent muscle loss.

Traditional diets are comprised primarily of carbs. The pancreas secretes insulin in response to rising blood glucose. Insulin acts like a cell key to open the doors so glucose can get in and be burned for energy. Glucose is the body’s preferred fuel.

When fat is consumed, lipase breaks down stored fat, and the fatty acids produced travel to the liver, where they are turned into ketones, which can also be used for energy.

Burning fat this way seems like the ideal way to lose pounds, but it gets tricky because the liver must convert the fat into ketones. If the liver function is not optimal, it can impair the process.

For this process to begin, carbohydrates and protein must be significantly restricted. For most, this means restricting carbs to 20 to 50 grams daily. One medium-sized banana has 27 grams of carbs. For most ladies, this will prevent ketosis from occurring. It can take a few days for the body to get into ketosis once the carbs are restricted enough.

Eating too much protein can also block ketosis from occurring. This is because the body can break protein down into glucose. This means that a ketogenic diet must be primarily fat. How healthy is it if your diet is mostly fat? Here’s a breakdown of most ketogenic diets: 20-25% protein, 5-10% carbs, and 70-80% fat.

The Brain-Keto Tango

Let’s spotlight the brain. Glucose is the universal preferred fuel for all human cells, including the brain, which uses a lot of energy daily.

The brain uses 20% of all the glucose in the body. It burns about a quarter pound of glucose per day. For kids, half their glucose goes to power brain functions. I’m not suggesting taking in sugar to supply energy for the brain. Instead, I recommend loading up on vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains, which break down into glucose.

If there is an interruption in glucose being delivered to the brain, it can starve, leading to death. The brain has a blood-brain barrier to protect itself. This barrier prevents fat from traveling to the brain and being used for fuel.

The body is wonderfully made and has a backup system to supply brain fuel when glucose is unavailable. That backup system is ketones. The fat in the body is taken to the liver, where fat turns into ketones for energy, which the brain very efficiently runs on. In fact, for some medical conditions like epilepsy, the keto diet seems highly beneficial.

However, there are some significant downsides to ketogenic diets. Let’s examine the science and 7 compelling reasons to avoid keto and low-carb diets.

Keto diets affect:

1. Weight loss
2. Heart health
3. Nutrient deficiencies
4. GI problems
5. Inflammation
6. Cancer
7. ???????

Rethinking Keto: A Deep Dive into 7 Eye-Openers

Seven solid reasons that might make you rethink keto—#7 is shocking!

1.  The Weight Loss Paradox Keto is often hailed as a fast track to shedding those extra pounds. But let’s put this under the microscope. A comprehensive study pitted a high-carb diet against a keto diet for four weeks. While the scale did tip in favor of keto, a startling revelation emerged: the fat loss was significantly slower on keto, suggesting loss of water weight and muscle mass rather than stubborn fat. Is this the kind of weight loss we’re aiming for?

2. Heart and Blood Vessel Health Peek behind the curtain of keto, and heart health emerges as a significant concern. The crux lies in the epithelial function, which, in simple terms, dictates how efficiently blood vessels work. A diet brimming with saturated fats – a staple in many keto diets – can tamper with this. Instead of flexible channels that move with every heartbeat, imagine rigid pipes struggling to accommodate blood flow. Over time, this undue pressure can wear out the heart and set the stage for future complications.

3. Nutritional Imbalance: The Silent Culprit The allure of keto might pull you in, but there’s a hidden cost. By adopting this diet, you risk a deficiency in 17 crucial vitamins and minerals. Think you can compensate by doubling down on fats and proteins? You’d be staring at a dizzying intake of 37,000 calories daily. And beyond mere numbers, there are real health risks. Deficiencies can pave the way for conditions like scurvy or heart irregularities.

4. Gastro Woes: More than Just a Gut Feeling The glaring absence of fiber in such diets can lead to a host of gastrointestinal issues, from constipation to a compromised gut microbiome. Over time, this can snowball into severe digestive disorders, reminding us of the importance of a balanced diet.

5. The Inflammation Escalation While inflammation is the body’s natural response to invaders, chronic low-grade inflammation is a silent saboteur. A high-fat, low-fiber diet, synonymous with keto, can agitate the body’s defense mechanisms, causing undue inflammation. This isn’t just a short-term flare-up; prolonged inflammation can lead to various health issues, from heart disease to autoimmune conditions.

6. Cancer Concerns Cancer cells love their carbs, leading many to believe that by slashing carb intake, keto might starve these rogue cells. Studies hint at ketones possibly fueling tumor growth. Add the correlation between high saturated fat intake and a higher risk of certain cancers, and you have a potent argument for moderation and balance.

7. The Longevity Conundrum This one’s the biggie. Wouldn’t you think twice if adopting a particular diet could shave years off your life? Research shows a tangible correlation between low-carb diets and a heightened mortality risk. This isn’t about scare tactics; it’s about making informed choices for a long, fulfilling life.

So, what’s the best plan? Embrace a balanced, sustainable diet like the 7 Systems Plan. Nurture your body’s 7 Systems, aiming for peak health and longevity.

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Dr. Pat Luse

I'm the president and CEO of one of the largest multi-disciplinary clinics in the Midwest. As one of the most highly trained health coaches in America today, I am uniquely qualified to help individuals have amazing health transformations and I can't wait to help you!


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