The biggest argument against the ketogenic diet is the fact it is a high-fat diet. People claim that the keto diet is bad because fat causes heart disease, obesity, and is unhealthy. The truth is, the ketogenic diet isn’t just a high-fat diet, it is high in fats, moderate in protein, and low in carbs. You may be wondering what the other macronutrients have to do with it, but let’s look at the bigger picture.
What Macros Do You Eat on Keto?
The ketogenic diet is commonly broken into macronutrient ratios of 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbohydrates. The ketogenic diet is not the same as high fat. While fat intake is elevated on a ketogenic diet, carbohydrates are significantly reduced.
Why are Carbs Limited? Carbohydrates Aren’t Bad, Right?
Carbohydrates are the only macronutrient that the human body does not require. Think about it. There are essential amino acids that you’re body cannot make and you must obtain from food. There are essential fatty acids that you’re body cannot make and must obtain from food. There are no essential carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are not inherently unhealthy. The problem is, the majority of carbs consumed are highly processed and often combined with inflammatory oils (think about deep-fried foods and greasy burgers or pizza). Research shows that fat oxidation is significantly decreased and completely inhibited when in the presence of carbohydrates. This means that consuming carbohydrates has a direct impact on how fats are metabolized.
“Carbs Don’t Make You Fat, Though.”
No one is claiming that carbs alone make you fat. Carbohydrates are made of sugars. The point of the ketogenic diet is to limit carbohydrates to decrease spikes in blood glucose and insulin release. While this can help reduce body fat, going keto has a whole-body effect. Most people advocate for the ketogenic diet not just because of weight-loss potential, but for the hundreds of other therapeutic benefits.
The ketogenic diet is different from other diets because it doesn’t just put you in a caloric deficit, but rather puts you in an entirely different metabolic state. When in a state of ketosis, your body is burning fat instead of glucose for fuel. This helps regulate blood glucose levels and reduce insulin resistance. Research suggests that this metabolic state is widely beneficial for numerous conditions to include diabetes, obesity, neurodegenerative diseases, epilepsy, psychological conditions, and many more.
So, Is the Keto Diet Bad?
Following a well-formulated ketogenic diet is far from harmful or bad. This means eating high-quality meats, high-quality fats (like coconut oil or salmon, not canola oil or vegetable oil), and non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, lettuce, etc.).