Bursting the fat bubble

nutrition Feb 25, 2019
Despite the trendiness, the ketogenic diet is not healthy. Let’s talk about why... 

There sure is a lot of buzz around burning fat for fuel, i.e. ketosis and the ketogenic diet. It makes total and complete sense to me, as I know how much we all love to hear good news about our bad habits. Butter and bacon will forever beat kale and potatoes in popularity contest.

Each time I read about it, or see it, smell it, or hear it, I do my best to keep an open mind and learn a little bit. I do appreciate that there is so much thoughtful investigation into the topic, though it is all looking at very short term, biometrics.

This is your body on Keto

One thing that the keto diet surely provides is dietary restriction, which will take a lot of people a long way, for a short time. Though this sort of carbohydrate restriction isn’t only unsustainable, it is unhealthy. It comes down to the simple fact that fat is not the preferred fuel for your body.

Think about taking your Ferrari to the gas station and putting in diesel fuel.

The car with surely run differently, and it may even feel good for some amount of time, but your Ferrari is not designed to use diesel fuel, and in the long run it leads real issues. 

Your body naturally starts to burn fat for fuel when you are fasting. After at least 14–16 hours with no food, you burn through glucose and glycogen to access fat for fuel. This is healthy and natural, and a way that humans have adapted to survive for periods without food.

Fasting is the best ketogenic diet. In fact, periods of caloric restriction (which has certainly been natural throughout all of human history up until modern times), is probably one of the healthiest practices and a key to extend the human health span. Eating high fat foods to “trick the body” into metabolizing fats, however, comes with significant side effects, both in the short term and in the long term.

In the short term you can experience…
  • dizziness/drowsiness

  • dysregulared blood sugar

  • constipation/diarrhea

  • muscle cramps

  • headaches

  • fatigue

  • irritability

  • sleep issues

  • bad breath

  • heart palpitations

  • sugar cravings (duh!) 

A lot of this get’s chalked up to the so called, “keto flu.” In my experience, such symptoms are never the sign that the body is actually moving into a greater state of health.

And in the long term…
  • gall stones (1)

  • high cholesterol (2)

  • fatty liver disease (3)

  • increased cancer risk (4)

  • insulin resistance/diabetes (5)

  • cardiovascular disease and stiffened arteries (6)

  • weight GAIN (7)

To Fat or Not to Fat... that is the question!

So, if this is what eating ~70%+ fat does to the body, than what should humans eat instead?

WHOLE FOODS, aka plants, that are naturally high in carbohydrates and lower in fat to provide the glucose, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that fuel your Ferrari optimally. When the body is fueled the way it’s meant to be, weight, disease, and any other health concern has a way of resolving naturally, with ease. After all, healing is what the body does best.

  1. Ahmed MH, Ali A. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and cholesterol gallstones: which comes first?. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2014;49(5):521-7.

  2. Kephart WC, Pledge CD, Roberson PA, et al. The Three-Month Effects of a Ketogenic Diet on Body Composition, Blood Parameters, and Performance Metrics in CrossFit Trainees: A Pilot Study. Sports (Basel). 2018;6(1)

  3. Kosinski C, Jornayvaz FR. Effects of Ketogenic Diets on Cardiovascular Risk Factors: Evidence from Animal and Human Studies. Nutrients. 2017;9(5):517. Published 2017 May 19. doi:10.3390/nu9050517

  4. Cunningham W, Hyson D. The skinny on high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets. Prev Cardiol. 2006;9(3):166-71.

  5. Jornayvaz FR, Jurczak MJ, Lee HY, et al. A high-fat, ketogenic diet causes hepatic insulin resistance in mice, despite increasing energy expenditure and preventing weight gain. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2010;299(5):E808-15.

  6. Kossoff E. Danger in the pipeline for the ketogenic diet?. Epilepsy Curr. 2014;14(6):343-4.

  7. Paoli A. Ketogenic diet for obesity: friend or foe?. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014;11(2):2092-107. Published 2014 Feb 19. doi:10.3390/ijerph110202092


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