It’s bad enough there are so many misleading “FAKE NEWS” articles circulating the web about the keto diet right now, full of misinformation and scare tactics, but the chaos and confusion within our own keto communities is just totally mind-blowing.
Should you eat high protein, eat high fat, limit protein, count calories, take electrolytes? Does eating high fat mean eating low protein? Is fasting required to lose weight? And why are vegetables all of a sudden BAD for you, or are they?
It’s enough to make your head spin!
Then there’s the dogma, food shaming, fast-bragging, inflammatory comments and childish arguments. 🤦♀️
It’s TOTAL DISORDER out there.
There’s people dishing out “health advice” on Instagram, and worse: people taking advice from random strangers online for “a quick fix” without knowing the context or history behind that advice, doing their own research on it – or considering the potential side effects.
Following up on my last post: Keto vs Atkins I want to discuss some of these HOT TOPICS openly and clear up the confusion, or at least give you a better “filter” to help you easily navigate all the chatter and make smart choices.
Fat vs Protein vs Calories – What?!
I’ll show you some VERY confusing social media updates about fat vs protein and calorie talk etc, and WHY they’re misleading and/or confusing.
Each of these points needs a lot more explanation, so after you read through this let me know what interests YOU most – and we’ll do a deep dive into those specific topics. 😉
Common Keto Myths in Misleading Keto Articles
Let’s take a look at this article as just one example, with all kinds of inaccuracies about the keto diet: “Keto Diet: What Older Adults Should Know” on SilverSneakers.com
The first part of the article starts out great, getting the facts straight. But it takes a nose dive from there, then closes with the all-too-common hateful arguments in the comments.
The article itself is not helpful at all, but the “diet fighting” at the end is a total turn-off, and very confusing (and not very encouraging) for anyone looking to improve their health.
Here are 5 points from that article that I don’t personally agree with:
❌ 1. “It’s complicated” and, “It’s a lot of work.”
NOT TRUE. You have to eat anyway, it’s just a matter of deciding what to eat. That’s all. I don’t do any major planning, meal prep or calculating into what I eat every day. It’s actually very easy.
When I first started eating low carb (keto) I didn’t even use a macro tracker or app. I just read labels or Googled things and stuck to 20 net carbs per day. That’s it.
❌ 2. “To lose weight on any diet, you have to consume fewer calories than you burn.”
This is a common misconception. I lost all of my weight just eating very low carb – without counting calories and without exercise.
In fact, what “sold me” on Atkins / the keto diet was this statement by my mother, who had been doing it since the 70’s: “You can eat as much as you need to stay both physically AND emotionally satisfied as long as it’s 20 net carbs or less per day.”
And that’s exactly what I did in the beginning, even if that meant bingeing on a box of Atkins bars, or eating an entire pound of bacon dipped in mayonnaise at night instead of chips & dip.
I lost 8 pounds in the first 10 days, and went on to reach my goal weight.
Of course once you’re in ketosis, it’s really hard to overeat. It’s a natural appetite suppressant and curbs your cravings, which just makes it EASY.
When I did finally start tracking, I was eating 2,000+ calories most days with a very sedentary lifestyle. 🤷♀️
❌ 3. “On this (keto) diet, you’re cutting out almost all dairy, so you’re not getting calcium or vitamin D.”
What?! Unless you’re eating dairy-free due to an allergy, that’s totally NOT true. Most people I know that eat keto enjoy plenty of heavy cream, cheese, real butter, etc.
❌ 4. “all those carbs you cut will be replaced with fat, and you’ll probably eat much less protein than you are now — or certainly than you have on other low-carb diets. That can be a bad thing for people who want to retain muscle mass while losing weight or as they age.”
Also not true. I eat more than double the recommended daily amount of protein most days while staying below 25% of my total daily calories.
You can easily increase your protein by grams, but still eat at least 70% of your total daily calories in healthy fats. I recently increased my daily protein again without any problem.
I wasn’t tracking macronutrients before I went keto over 8 years ago, but I’m quite sure I’m eating WAY more (good) protein than I ever have in my life. 😉
❌ 5. “Long-term side effects can include kidney stones and nutrient deficiencies.”
*sigh* This is not true either.
Interestingly, there have been a number of cases where people report “getting” or passing kidney stones in the first 6-12 months of eating keto.
But here’s the thing: it takes YEARS for kidney stones to form, and they can lie dormant for a long time without causing you any discomfort. It’s when they start to move and/or pass that they become painful and you even become aware of them.
Some speculate that something about changing your diet or even eating a ketogenic low carb diet may cause them to break up and pass (which is a good thing), but there is absolutely ZERO proof that they cause kidney stones to form in the first place.
High Protein vs High Fat Argument : LCHF vs LCHP
The protein vs fat argument is not a new one, but it’s rising up strong again lately – and definitely needs some clarification.
Because when it’s NOT clarified (with specifics) it just presents a LOT of confusion, and people go about making drastic changes without really understanding the details.
Or worse: stressing over the details.
For example, in this post on Twitter: Atkins vs Keto / Fat vs Protein Dr. Jay Wrigley aka @KetoDocCLT says:
“The original Atkins diet worked beautifully for most everyone who followed it. Why ? Because it put no restrictions on Protein which is the most satiating & satisfying of the Macros. When Keto started restricting protein and jacking up the fat…results seem to vary far more.”
The original Atkins diet worked beautifully for most everyone who followed it. Why ? Because it put no restrictions on Protein which is the most satiating & satisfying of the Macros. When Keto started restricting protein and jacking up the fat…results seem to vary far more.
— Dr. Jay Wrigley (@KetoDocCLT) July 23, 2019
First, Atkins has always been about eating “adequate protein” and not “excessive protein.” They suggest you eat sufficient protein (a 4-6oz serving per meal) and that you don’t restrict fats – as the fat is essential for both energy and weight loss when you restrict your carbs to such a low level.
Second, “keto” didn’t restrict or jack anything up – people just started making up their own rules, and mainly based on unfounded announcements made by other people, who made up their own rules. 😉
Taking just one example so you can get a visual, this Atkins recipe: Chorizo, Green Chili and Tomato Frittata has 24 grams of fat and 22 grams of protein.
That sounds about equal, right?
But when you enter a single serving into MyFitnessPal, it comes out to 68% fat and 28% protein. Why? Because some foods are both protein AND fat of varying amounts.
This is the part I don’t really see anyone clarifying with specifics in these LCHF vs LCHP (fat vs protein) discussions. 🤔
As I said above, I can easily eat double the daily recommended amount of protein and still be eating “high fat” (70% or more of my total daily calories).
On my recent trip to Austin when I was eating mostly plain meat with a little avocado, I was having MCT Oil in my morning coffee, and very fatty meats at my meals.
Here’s an example of one meal logged in MyFitnessPal:
High protein? Yes. But obviously high fat – too.
Just because someone says they’re having better results eating high protein, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re eating “low fat” – and vice versa.
Unless you are logging and tracking your meals, or unless they’re sharing their specific macros, it’s all GUESSWORK.
You could also make the case that just changing something up, whether it’s your fat or protein or calories or whatever, may cause you to break out of a plateau. Not that the actual thing you changed is the “magic trick” but that you shock your body by breaking a usual daily cycle… and cause a shift. Bodies are complex things!
Sometimes I’ll play with different macros, all while staying within the usual keto macros (20 net carbs max, 70% fat minimum), such as increasing calories or increasing protein, or changing up the types of foods I eat even, and see a shift in weight and/or body composition – just from “breaking routine” more than anything.
When you shake things up, your body has to adjust. 😉
Counting Calories on Keto – or Not?
In addition to the “high fat / high protein” debates, there are many people in keto circles that believe you have to ALSO limit calories while you’re in ketosis.
In Mayra’s recent Instagram post she says, “You still need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight, even in ketosis.”
I love her updates, by the way. But this post is confusing!
Here are the points she made in that post:
* You can be in ketosis and still gain weight.
* You still need a caloric deficit to lose weight.
* If you eat more calories than you burn… regardless of Keto, Atkins, Vegan, Paleo, etc… you will gain weight.
* Being in a state of ketosis makes it easier to lose weight because your hunger is suppressed and when you’re not eating, your body is burning your stored fat as energy/fuel.
* As for adding fats to your diet. In MY opinion, eating fatty meats, cream, cheese, eggs, avocado and green veggies is what is needed. You can add a little oil or butter to your food, but not in excess because you want your body to burn your own fat, right? If you add a ton of fat, well then your body needs to burn the fat you eat before tapping into your own fat stores for fuel.
I’m not sure where she’s getting this information. 🤷♀️
Other than the usual scale fluctuations, I have NEVER gained weight in ketosis, or sticking to keto macros consistently.
The only time I have ever gained true weight (other than a few pounds back and forth, normal fluctuations) was when I ate off plan, or cycled on and off a keto diet (cheating frequently).
If you gain 20 pounds “eating keto” consistently (20 net carbs max) then something’s not right. Either you aren’t tracking properly, or you have a major health problem.
As for calories…
You know how you can lose inches or get leaner without your weight on the scale changing? That’s because your body composition is changing. The number on the scale is JUST about gravity (your total weight).
I can be the SAME weight I am today but several sizes smaller when I have more lean muscle and less body fat. I used to be this same weight I am now and be a size 4/6, but right now I’m a size 8 for example.
Calories are just as misleading. It’s just a number, like the one on your scales, and not the whole truth. Not all calories are created equal, and not all calories are stored/burned the same – or the same in different bodies either.
It’s more complex than that.
Things like thermogenesis and your basal metabolic rate have to be taken into consideration.
It goes back to bio-individuality.
No macro calculator on the world wide web can tell you how many calories you should or shouldn’t eat based on your BMR and your bodies own unique “heat index” and calorie burning rate.
There’s also the fact that some calories are stored, and some are burned.
That’s the reason I did the whole article on coconut oil vs mct oil, that being one of the primary differences between mct oil and coconut oil – or between the quality of various mct oils.
A pure MCT C8/C10 Oil like this one stimulates thermogenesis, raises your metabolism, and bypasses the liver. You get a noticeable energy boost because your body immediately burns those calories – and more calories. Versus coconut oil, which contains lauric acid and does NOT bypass the liver, thus calories stored in comparison.
See? It’s more complex than CICO (calories in, calories out). 😉
Anyway, that’s why I don’t worry about the calories in mct oil. It’s also a SERIOUS appetite suppressant though, so I discover (just by interested observation) that I eat way less and therefore consume less calories on the days I use mct oil.
This whole thermo-thing is just one of the many benefits of a ketogenic diet, and how it causes your body to burn more calories and burn your body fat.
Keto gives you a metabolic advantage.
There’s a science to the way a ketogenic low carb diet works. 😉
As for fat, she’s obviously eating “high fat” (fatty meats, cream, cheese, eggs, avocado). I agree that it’s ideal to eat whole food healthy fats that have good nutritional value.
That said, eating (new) fat actually stimulates your body to burn OLD fat.
I lost all of my weight eating 70-80% of my daily calories in fat, usually just high fat foods like: pecans, avocado, almond butter, cream cheese, cheese, salmon, chicken thighs, eggs, etc.
I still eat 70-80% fat and easily maintain my weight loss doing that.
Fasting Marathons & Fast-Bragging SCARE me 😳
Lately it seems like everyone is competing on how long they can go without food.
Fasting is “the hot thing” in keto communities lately, but it has turned into bragging and competition – which really concerns me.
I’m concerned less about someone choosing to fast. There’s nothing new about religious or spiritual fasts, medical fasting, or even intermittent fasting (on any diet).
It’s more concerning to see people pressured to (or pressuring themselves to) go as long as 90 hours without food. And why? So you can brag about it? Or to see how much weight you can lose in the least amount of time?
The mindset behind (most of) it doesn’t seem healthy to me AT ALL.
It borders on being an eating disorder in my personal opinion.
People ask me almost daily if I do fasting. This is my response:
I don’t do fasting, not intentionally anyway. I just eat when I’m hungry and don’t when I’m not.
You really want to focus more on mindfulness and on listening to your body, rather than trying to control everything (or “diet”). But that’s just my opinion and experience.
It all depends *why* you want to fast, so explore that a bit. 💕
Here’s how the rest of that conversation went the last time someone asked me about fasting. Note the part about “obsession” which is what some (most actually) fasting puts me in mind of: obsessive compulsive type eating disorder.
On that note, someone said on Twitter that they did a “total reset on their microbiome” (gut flora) by fasting for 72 hours.
This intrigued me given my gut health issues, so I asked my gastroenterologist about it. He said NO, that wouldn’t reset anything. He said you would have to not eat anything at all for at least two full weeks to starve off ALL the bacteria in your gut as a total reset – and did NOT recommend that of course.
Just because you read it on the interwebs does not make it true.
Keto Culture: Elitism & Extremists
There’s a lot of misinformation floating around the keto communities as you can see. It’s enough to make your head spin.
Some of it is downright scary, but at the very least: exhausting.
Worse than that is the elitism and extremism rising up lately.
It seems everyone is trying to one-up each other, or arguing their own dogmatic beliefs with authority as if they’re a hard rule (for everyone), and some are getting VERY extreme with food eliminations and extended fasting periods, etc.
It’s all very confusing and discouraging and scary for anyone new to keto, or anyone trying to learn how to get started with a healthy low carb lifestyle!
I’m not the only one that feels this way…
In Shawn’s post she states:
“Spending 3 years in the keto community opened my eyes to JUST HOW BAD “diet culture” has intertwined itself into a space that is (and always has been) meant as a tool to heal the body. Like, it’s REALLY BAD. And it scares me and leaves a bad taste in my mouth, to be honest.
WE HAVE GONE ABOUT THIS ALL WRONG. And, I’m having a hard time with it. Because here is what I know for sure. Your diet mindset, even if it IS with keto, is causing you more harm than good. A LOT MORE HARM.
Something needs to change. We need to change what’s going on in our heads before we ever stand a chance of changing what’s going on in the rest of our bodies. PERIOD.”
Comments on that post from others include:
“It can be so tough being a part of the keto community and not getting whiplash from the next shiny thing. It’s scary how much counting and tracking and restricting is encouraged and often touted as the only way.”
“Exactly! Folks create such drama and angst when it comes to diet. Not healthy.”
“Keto healed many things for me, but it replaced one unhealthy relationship with food with an obsession.”
“It’s awful. It’s like parenting. People just annihilate one another for different approaches, when realistically it’s about what works best for each individual person. I’m tired of being ruled by other people’s emotions and I’m so over being guilted into doing other junk just because others think that legalism is what works best.”
* * * * *
I see things like this constantly too, another sign of being obsessed with the scales or with trying to rush weight loss:
It’s totally normal for the scales to “hold” after you drop a significant amount of weight, by the way. It’s simply a normal adjustment period – your body has to adjust. Don’t do anything extreme, simply keep doing what’s obviously working well for you and power through the brief “hold” periods.
It’s easy to get obsessed to the point that you’ll TRY ANYTHING to get the scales to move. I get it. But always do your research before you try something, and also do your “soul search” too…
Ask yourself WHY am I considering trying this or that?
Is it for a healthy reason, or unhealthy reason?
Just because “Allison” lost 8.4 pounds in 5 days doing a “beef & butter fast” doesn’t mean you should do that too. Allison probably carb-loaded right before that on a 3-day pizza & ice cream binge, and lost the water weight & inflammation she would have just cutting back to 20 net carbs max again.
Most of what you read online does not involve any clean testing, healthy weight loss mentality, or make any real nutritional sense.
⭐️ Put everything you read through those three filters. ⭐️
Tip: If you find yourself getting worked up, stressed out, obsessive, trying fads and gimmicks and ANYTHING to get the scale to move… STOP, take a deep breath, and just: eat for your health, period.
I used to be “on a diet” too, and drove myself MAD chasing numbers and trying everything, only to get discouraged or disgusted and totally binge out in retaliation.
It was a vicious cycle.
If you’re on that roller coaster right now, STEP OFF.
Trust me, it’ll be the best thing you ever do for yourself. 😉
* * * * *
I mentioned Carnivore and Antinutrients briefly in my last post.
Carnivore means eating only meat, fish, and animal products, eliminating all other foods. Supposedly because vegetables contain antinutrients which makes vegetables bad for you. 🙄
Note: If you choose to “Carnivore Keto” you MUST eat nose-to-tail animal parts, and especially organ meats, in order to get the nutrients you’ll miss from all the other foods you eliminate.
Do you need electrolytes? No. Everyone is selling them, everyone is taking them, you don’t need them. I have never bought or used electrolyte supplements in over 8 years of eating a ketogenic low carb diet.
Just salt your food, don’t overdrink water, and have a nice hot mug of chicken broth if you need a boost.
You also do NOT need exogenous ketones. I’ll have to write a full post on this alone with ALL the details because this is a BIG issue that really scares me.
Just don’t take them, okay? 😉
* * * * *
Another good post on Instagram from Shawn:
I like that. ❣️
Beware The Viral Keto Graphics
They’re not all accurate.
Here’s a popular “keto glossary” graphic that’s floating around the web.
That last definition is totally off point. I’ve been eating LCHF for over 8 years, with the goal of being and staying in ketosis. 😜
Like I said in my last post…
Your diet does not need a label.
You don’t need to be classified in a “social food group” such as strict keto, just low carb, lazy keto, dirty keto, paleo, carnivore, etc.
You simply need to find what works for you, for your specific health needs and desired results, and eat in a way that provides you with the widest range of nutrition and health benefits.
Learn to Listen to Your Body – Instead of Listening to Everyone Else
There are no hard and fast rules, there is no Right and Wrong that is set in stone.
There are some basic concepts that you do need to follow to get and stay in ketosis, and there is a science to how it works. Then there’s bio-individuality.
Learn the basics.
Learn the science.
Then keep learning to listen as your body heals, improves… and changes over time.
What worked for me 8 years ago when I first started is not at all how I eat now. I came off a horrible diet and a terrible relationship with food. I was a binge eater to the max, and ate tons of processed junk food.
I made an easy transition into ketosis eating all the bars (literally, the whole box – lol), a pound of bacon dipped in mayo, still binge eating and trying all the low carb replacement foods.
But guess what? It worked. I lost 8 pounds in the first 10 days, got into ketosis and had WAY less appetite, and slowly started improving my food choices and my relationship with food from there.
My journey is STILL evolving.
What I needed to eat, or the macros I needed to mind a year ago to maintain nutritional ketosis – is not the same for me now, one year later. My body is changing. We go through different periods of illness and wellness, various phases of healing from past damage, your thermogenesis and metabolic rate can change, you can increase your ketone levels and expand your carb tolerance.
SO many things can change and improve when you start focusing on nutrition, your own personal health, and on listening to your body more. ❤️
With that comes testing, and learning to perform “clean tests” on yourself to identify your own food culprits, health issues, etc.
Start with the basics and ignore everything else.
Or: start over with the basics and erase everything else you’ve learned.
Limit your carbs to the point that you get and stay in nutritional ketosis. You don’t need any products to achieve this. Simply eat 20 net carbs max and plenty of healthy fats.
That’s a good starting point for anyone.
It’s where I STAYED for almost 8 full years, even.
As for the state of our Keto Community, I would love to see:
MORE open discussions
NO medical advice
MORE support & encouragement
NO defensive bickering
NO bragging about starving yourself
NO food shaming or body shaming
Those things do NOT serve the community, or you, or anyone else – not the people involved, and especially not the others silently following along getting more and more confused – and likely giving up because they feel defeated.
THAT makes me sad.
If I had stepped into the current “keto culture” when I started my own low carb journey… I would have totally freaked out – and backed out. I hate to think others are being scared away from becoming the happiest healthiest version of themselves. 🙁
This was long, and I (barely) covered A LOT of different topics. I’d love to hear YOUR thoughts, and any questions this raised for you.
What has your experience been?
As always, I’m here for you….
I’m happy to help any way I can, or at least try to point you in the right direction to get some real answers on anything you feel concerned or unsure about.
What are your thoughts on fat, protein, calories, fasting or the current state of the keto communities?
Let’s talk! 💕
p.s. If you’re struggling, suffering, going hungry, stressing out, feeling deprived or obsessing – it’s time to STOP and get “keto happy!”
Are you with me on that?!
Discount Code: LOWCARBTRAVELER