Why I wouldn’t follow a ketogenic diet

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In this episode, Katrina Mills and I discuss ketogenic diets and the type of ketogenic diets that are out on the market at the moment. We discuss their use in medicine treating kids with epilepsy and more commercially in adult weight loss.

We explore some of the negative side effects of going ketogenic, as well as some of the results people are experiencing on the ketogenic diet. If you like this episode please tell your friends, write us a comment below and rate the show on iTunes!

Check out this episode!

Podcast summary

Why I wouldn’t follow a Ketogenic Diet

With Gabby & Katrina Mills

  • Low carb, high fat Ketogenic diets are very popular on social media and a wide range of people are trying it.
  • 80% of diet comes from fat and 20% comes from protein and a very small amount of carbohydrates.
  • Body uses ketones (from stored fat) for energy instead of glucose. Keeps the body in a fat-burning state as fat is used for energy instead of glucose. Popular with bodybuilders.
  • Used in some medical circles to treat children with epilepsy as it may help prevent seizures in children who are non-responsive to medication (but studies have shown it only helps 30% of these children).
  • Organ damage is a warning of this diet and when it is used for children with epilepsy, strict medical supervision must accompany the diet.
  • The calories you’re eating must be strictly monitored to make sure you’re not eating more than your body needs.
  • This diet maybe unsustainable in the long-term for a lot of people.
  • Cons: places a huge stress on liver and kidneys and kidney and gallstones are a possible side effect of the diet.
  • The food plan is very rigid: 80% coming from fat needs to be a lot of pure fat sources. There’s not a lot of room in the diet for much else. Lacks vitamin and minerals and leads to extreme fatigue, therefore training might suffer as a result.
  • Doesn’t allow for high-performance energy boosts. This fuel system doesn’t allow for the extra boost at the end of the race (e.g. such as hill climbs in a triathlon) that glycogen stores would have given you.
  • Ability to perform high intensity work might be decreased from this diet.
  • Research shows that people who eat carbs win podiums. Find out how carbs can fuel performance here.
  • It’s an extreme form of eating and the body doesn’t like extreme changes, especially in regards to gut health. Some people may experience bad breath and/or a ketogenic scent. Hair loss is another potential side effect.
  • There’s so many other ways to lose weight than going to this extreme and putting your body through this much stress.
  • It is not sustainable and is not meant to be followed in the long-term.
  • Imagine trying to eat out whilst following this diet; it would be extremely hard.
  • It takes a long time for the body to adapt to the ketogenic diet so don’t expect weight loss straight away.
  • It takes away from food enjoyment and you can’t sustain this way of eating for that long.

The benefits of Grains

  • Carbs trigger serotonin release (the happy hormone) in the brain and make us happier. Carbs therefore have a physiological benefit.
  • Grains help with bowel movements and bowel health.
  • It’s a low fat product (and when it contains fat it’s the good type of fat), provides B vitamins (that help unlock energy from other foods) and having wholegrains in your diet allows you to balance your meals out so you’re not eating too much of one particular food group.
  • Eating good quality carbohydrates also help to prevent snacking on unhealthy foods later on.
  • Grains have never shown to have adverse side effects.

*This is not a word for word transcription of the podcast. Before commenting, my suggestion is to listen to the podcast in full for our reasoned views. I will not be responding to comments seriously, if I can clearly tell that you have only read the summary. In addition, vile and insulting comments will not see the light of day. See my reason here, I will be saving you from embarrassment in the future from friends, family and work places. No one likes or employs abusive people. Most of all, have a nice day! 🙂

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13 Comments

  1. This person obviously doesn’t know how macro nutrients affect your body. “Eating good quality carbohydrates also help to prevent snacking on unhealthy foods later on,” except that they raise blood sugar which makes you hungry for bad foods. Fat does not do this, and actually suppresses the hormone ghrelin so you are satiated much sooner and for a longer amount of time. It is for this reason that many people on a keto diet find intermittent fasting to be very easy to do.

    “places a huge stress on liver and kidneys and kidney and gallstones are a possible side effect of the diet.” This is a completely made up and unfounded statement. Mass over consumption of protein will do these things, but a keto diet is only 20% protein intake. You seem to be thinking of 1980’s Atkins. Actually half these bullet points are total bollocks, but you aren’t going to read this and actually look up studies anyways to find out how the body works so I’m just typing to no one now. lol

  2. I couldn’t even stand to read this. Next time you want scientific evidence on the ketogenic diet, discuss it with some who actually does it.

  3. Christopher Loflin on

    >80% of diet comes from fat and 20% comes from protein

    There’s problem #1. You were undoubtedly not getting enough protein. This is a moderate-protein, not low-protein diet.

    >Used in some medical circles to treat children with epilepsy as it may help prevent seizures in children who are non-responsive to medication (but studies have shown it only helps 30% of these children).

    This diet is INCREDIBLY restrictive and is NOT the ketogenic diet that most people are on. To treat epilepsy the diet has to be very controlled with medical supervision. This is not a requirement outside of major health concerns.

    >Organ damage is a warning of this diet

    I’ll get to that in a second because it’s a dangerous and incredibly vague statement to be making.

    >The calories you’re eating must be strictly monitored to make sure you’re not eating more than your body needs.

    Every single diet requires that you are cognizant of your daily caloric intake. The ketogenic diet is not any different from any other diet.

    >This diet is totally unsustainable in the long-term.

    Opinions based upon fact are quantitatively better than opinions.

    >Cons: places a huge stress on liver and kidneys and kidney and gallstones are a possible side effect of the diet.

    Please read these studies that state the complete opposite of what you are stating. Gallstones are a possible side effect of any diet, correct?

    No toxic effects from ketosis: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22653255?dopt=Abstract
    1 year study, no difference: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16652223
    24 week study, Type-II diabetes, renal function unaffected: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19099589/
    Improved liver function in cancer patients, 6 weeks: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21794124?dopt=Abstract&holding=f1000,f1000m,isrctn
    A six week study, GGT/ALT/AST for liver function, BUN/creatinine for kidney function:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21992535

    >The food plan is very rigid: 80% coming from fat needs to be a lot of pure fat sources. There’s not a lot of room in the diet for much else. Lacks vitamin and minerals and leads to extreme fatigue, therefore training might suffer as a result.

    If this statement were true your conclusion may be as well. It isn’t. Your lack of research is what stopped this from being successful for you. And, again – ANY DIET can lack vitamins and minerals. It’s imperative that people research what they are doing and make sure that they are taking care of their bodies!

    Training may suffer as a result but it has more to do with the necessary upregulation of enzymatic activity to burn fatty acids for fuel. This takes some time and varies from person to person.

    Having said that, glycolytic exercises will suffer in performance overall but there are ways around this, namely targeted carbohydrate intake to fuel glycogen stores.

    >Doesn’t allow for high-performance energy boosts. This fuel system doesn’t allow for the extra boost at the end of the race (e.g. such as hill climbs in a triathlon) that glycogen stores would have given you.

    May want to ask this guy how well he did:

    http://www.meandmydiabetes.com/2012/08/11/western-states-100-low-carber-wins-ultramarathon-steve-phinney-and-jeff-volek-study/

    For the “high-performance” energy boost you fail to mention the complete lack of necessity during those events of having to constantly refuel glucose. There’s an upper limit to absorption by the body that a low-carb endurance athlete needn’t concern themselves with.

    >Ability to perform high intensity work might be decreased from this diet.

    Finally, something I can agree with. Still temporary!

    >It’s an extreme form of eating and the body doesn’t like extreme changes, especially in regards to gut health. Some people may experience bad breath and/or a ketogenic scent. Hair loss is another potential side effect.

    All hyperbolic adjectives aside, anything that bucks the trend is easy to label extreme. Where’s your data or scientific proof regarding gut health?

    This “extreme” change was a biological adaptation over millions of years that allowed our species to evolve and survive. Do you understand the ketone pathway and the necessity of this in low-carbohydrate energy environments during our ascent to the top of the food chain?

    >There’s so many other ways to lose weight than going to this extreme and putting your body through this much stress.

    I’ll give you this – the *psychological* stress may be very unappealing to some and it seems very obvious you were in that camp.

    >It is not sustainable and is not meant to be followed in the long-term.

    You repeated this. Saying this more than once doesn’t make it true.

    >Imagine trying to eat out whilst following this diet; it would be extremely hard.

    Just this past Friday I had a monster salad at Dave & Busters and fit well within my macros. Imagine being successful on this diet because you want to, not because you throw in the towel at the slightest pressure.

    >It takes a long time for the body to adapt to the ketogenic diet so don’t expect weight loss straight away.

    You clearly do not understand how this diet, or the body, functions in ketosis.

    >It takes away from food enjoyment and you can’t sustain this way of eating for that long.

    That’s 3x. OK, we get it. You couldn’t hack it. That’s fine. Use science to base your opinions next blog post. This is irresponsible.

    >Carbs trigger serotonin release (the happy hormone) in the brain and make us happier. Carbs therefore have a physiological benefit.

    Until you become depressed from being overweight, having constant mood swings due to insulin spiking/crashing. Hopefully no metabolic pathologies develop as a result of overeating carbs.

      • George Henderson (@puddleg) on

        Gabby, your non-responses to counter-arguments, and repeated references to the traffic on your site, tell everyone what you are here for.
        It’s not to learn enough to advise more responsibly, nor to discuss the science more generally, it’s to grow your business.
        You can do anything with the worried well, who mainly need to be encouraged to eat, and this might delude you into thinking that carbohydrate restriction is unnecessary in a wide range of conditions for which there is evidence of benefit.

        • Dear George,

          My response to counter arguments is justifiable considering no one bothered to actually listen to the podcast for reasoning. If any of the commenters bothered to actually listen to what was said they would realise;
          1. We actually state that this method of dieting has been successful for a number of people, however its not the only way to lose weight.
          2. There are many types of keto diets, including Optifast, Atkins, the lemon detox and versions of what people do on paleo or current LCHF practices
          3. That it wasn’t actually me talking, it was myself and other dietitian reviewing our experience in clinical practice with what we have observed with our patients who have tried this diet.
          4. This review was never intended to be a literature review, it’s a light hearted conversation with two health professionals and we review a different diet every week.
          5. Ive stated many times, I don’t care if you want to follow a particular diet, your not my client, so you aren’t my concern.

          So thank you for your concern about my business, but my business is thriving with people who no longer want to diet and I am perfectly fine with that. I am here to serve the people that want my help, not internet trolls 🙂

          Have a wonderful day

  4. Great points. I always emphasize to people that the recommended daily macro nutrient intakes, expressed as percentages of the whole diet, are set as they are so that a balanced diet delivers the required amounts of micronutrients. Focusing on micronutrientss instead of macronutrients would be much a better dietary choice ! And more fun !

    • I hear you. Far too much emphasis on macronutrients, just not an intuitive way to eat. Food enjoyment is key to long lasting change. Thanks for the comment 🙂

  5. Another great comprehensive insight into the ketogenic diet. I thought you may find it interesting I also work for f45 and they promote this diet as part of their “shock mode” diet plan. High intensity interval training and ketogenic diets… I don’t think it is a great mix.

    • Hi Zoya,

      A lot of fitness & personal training centres do combine the two. They certainly get weight loss results during challenges, however in my experience clients do yoyo in results when they finish dieting. Personally I don’t see it as a viable long term solution for a number of people. Its unfortunate because I do see a number of people through my clinics who are quite emotionally scared from such programs, and finally seeking to find a longer term solution to the dieting roller coaster. Thats why my preference is taking a non dieting or individualised approach to weight loss, which includes all food groups. People can handle that a lot better.

      Thanks for your comment I appreciate it 🙂

  6. > Grains help with bowel movements and bowel health.

    I have a digestive disease. Vegetables are very high in fiber. They are the best at improving bowel health. I eat a bowel of blended (in the blender) green vegetables almost every day and have had fantastic results.

    Grains are hard to digest. Although I’m not on the Ketogenic Diet, I avoid carbs as much as possible.

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