Although the ketogenic diet is very popular nowadays, there are a lot of keto misconceptions floating around. So let’s address them.
The keto diet is no doubt a popular eating routine that helps to manage weight and comes with many benefits in addition to weight loss.
Keto diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet, where you completely cut out the carbs from the menu and rely on fats as the main energy source.
The absence of carbs will eventually put your body into a metabolic state called ketosis.
The ketosis is a magical place where your body’s main source of energy is fat. This means weight loss, improved mental state, and much more awesomeness.
This all sounds great, right? Keto diet can be beneficial when you understand how it works, have realistic expectations, and you are following the eating style properly (e.g. not cheating with carbs).
However, there are many common misconceptions about a ketogenic diet that gives the wrong perspective and false hopes about the diet.
It’s often the result of a bad first experience and unrealistic expectations of weight loss.
Common Keto Misconceptions
Here are some of the most common misconceptions about the ketogenic diet:
1. You Can Eat As Much Fat As You Want
This is somewhat true. The number one goal, once you start your keto journey, is to enter ketosis. And to do that, you need to cut out all the carbs from your menu and eat loads of fat.
During this time your main goal is to eat enough fats and deplete all your glycogen stores.
Now, in order to start losing weight during the keto diet, two things need to happen: your body needs to be in ketosis and you need to be in a caloric deficit, meaning you need to burn more calories than you consume. That’s where the weight loss happens. (1)
So in short: once you start out the keto diet, don’t worry about the number of calories you are consuming. Just eat as much fat as possible and minimize your carb intake. Once you have entered ketosis, calculate your daily macronutrient ratios and start following that. It’s simple as that.
The easiest and the most delicious way to ramp up your fat intake is to add MCT oil to your diet. You can spice up your salads and make your morning coffee bulletproof.
2. Keto Is Dangerous
As with everything in life, things come with ups and downs, and the keto diet is no different. One of the biggest keto misconceptions is that it’s dangerous to your health.
The ketogenic diet isn’t inherently dangerous, but if you have health issues, if you are not following the diet correctly, or if you are having other contraindications, the keto diet will not be beneficial for you.
The ketogenic lifestyle has its potential side effects like vitamin and mineral deficiencies, gastrointestinal distress, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, and much more. But these symptoms mainly occur during the starting phase of keto where your body is experiencing these symptoms because it’s transferring into ketosis. (2)
The keto diet was first developed in 1920 as a cure for epilepsy for small children. (3) It is a tool used in medicine for a long time for managing different symptoms and fighting against different diseases.
Before starting any kind of new diet consult with your doctor and be certain that it is suitable for your body and health.
3. Everyone Will Get The Keto-Flu
Keto diet has loads of benefits in addition to weight loss, but it also has a dark side. It’s called the keto flu and it’s also the scary reason why many people choose not to try keto life.
Every person reacts to the keto diet somewhat differently. Not everyone will experience the keto flu the same way. That’s why it’s hard to say what type of side effects you might experience and for how long.
For some, the transition to ketosis will be more smooth and faster, while others will experience fatigue, brain fog, and loads of digestion issues.
It’s also related to your eating habits in the past, what foods are you eating, how much carbs are you still eating, and if you are getting enough electrolytes or not.
While these side effects might be uncomfortable, in most cases these will pass in a couple of weeks.
The easiest way to minimize potential side effects is to support your diet with light exercise (to help to deplete the glycogen stores), drink enough water, and consume enough fiber and electrolytes.
4. You Can Cheat On Keto
Cheat days are often perceived as saviors in the keto community. The general idea has often been that adding occasional cheat days to your strict lifestyle choices will give you the needed motivational boost and eventually result in better results in case of weight loss. While this approach can work for classical western diets, it does not apply to the keto diet.
The biggest roadblock with keto is the period where your body transitions from carb-burning mode to fat-burning mode. Once you are in ketosis things will get a lot easier.
The problem with cheating is that, depending on how much you cheat, there’s a good chance that your cheat days will knock you out of ketosis. (4)
So every time you cheat you will zero out all your efforts and need to start over getting into ketosis. This, in turn, means that you will experience all the potential keto flu symptoms again and again.
This is the reason why you should try to avoid cheating during keto and follow the diet as correctly as possible.
If you need something sweet, then another alternative is to add natural low-carb sweeteners to your diet. Although I don’t think everyone should use sweeteners, they have their own place and time.
5. Keto Is A High Protein Diet
Unlike the Atkin’s diet, the keto diet is not high in protein. It’s a low carb, moderate protein, and high-fat diet.
In fact, if you eat too much protein during keto, with the absence of carbs, your body will start converting the excess protein into glucose once consumed. This, of course, is counterproductive and does not support your ketosis goals.
But how much protein do you need to eat? Generally, it’s suggested during keto to get 75% of calories from fats, 25% of calories from protein, and 5% calories from carbs. (5)
Keep in mind that you need to recalculate your macros for every 3-4 months of following the diet, as you will lose weight and plateau will come quickly.
6. You Cannot Drink Alcohol
Alcohol can make following the keto diet somewhat tricky, but it doesn’t mean that you need to cut it out completely. Some people choose to still consume alcohol in moderation.
The thing with alcohol is that, in general, light drinks can be full of sugar and will ruin your dietary efforts pretty quickly.
The most ironic part of alcohol is that the problem cause isn’t so much in alcohol itself, as what it makes us do. If you have a couple of drinks, it’s way more likely that you will get that pizza or other carb-heavy food afterward. Not to mention hangover days – aka carb fests.
You can enjoy an occasional drink or two during keto but only drink hard liquor in moderate amounts. Oh, and keep in mind that during keto your alcohol tolerance is way more down, so take it easy.
7. The Brain Needs Sugar To Function
A common keto misconception is that your body and brain require sugar to survive and thrive. Nowhere are carbs listed as an essential nutrient.
The reason why carbs are the center of every diet is that they provide a fast and easy source of energy for the brain and muscles. But it’s also the very reason for weight gain. (6)
Once you cut out the carbs and your body transfers into ketosis – fat-burning mode, your brain starts working primarily on fat. Not only are ketone bodies a preferred fuel source for the brain, but you will also experience cognition, mental acuity improved focus, and you can say goodbye to mood swings.
Once fully keto-adapted and following the well-formulated keto diet, your brain can actually flourish.
There are many studies showing the benefits of a ketogenic diet for Alzheimer’s and Epilepsy. So switching the brain to run on ketones can have huge benefits in reducing symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Epilepsy patients. (7)
Hopefully, this list of the most common keto misconceptions will make you realize that the ketogenic diet it’s actually a simple to follow lifestyle.