Keto Veto: Part 3 - the Fat Factor

nutritional tips Mar 20, 2019
Keto Veto: Part 3 - the Fat Factor

“The keto diet is primarily used to help reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures in children. While it has been tried for weight loss, only short-term results have been studied, and the results have been mixed. We don’t know if it works in the long term, nor whether it’s safe.”

Kathy McManus, Registered Dietitian and Director of the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital

For the last two weeks I’ve talked about why keto and other trend diets like Paleo, Atkins and South Beach are no good for you. Forcing your body to use a different type of fuel by eliminating carbs and promoting unnecessary amounts of protein may help you lose weight but it definitely isn’t healthy. If the quote above and my previous posts aren’t enough to make you give keto the side-eye, perhaps the most compelling factor of all is the diet’s focus on eating more fat.

Numbers never lie

On a 2,000 calorie diet focused on keto, the daily macronutrient breakout would look something like:

  • 165 grams of fat
  • 75 grams of protein
  • 40 grams of carbs

What’s the big deal you ask? Well the recommended daily intake of fat for a 2,000 calorie diet is 44 - 77grams. Keto’s 165 grams is more than double the recommended daily amount.

Keto lovers will argue that some healthy unsaturated fats like nuts, avocados, tofu and olive oil are included in the keto diet. But unhealthy saturated fats like lard and butter are encouraged as well in high amounts.

On this holistic nutrition journey I learned that using a visual reference when talking about nutrition is always helpful because who knows off the top of their head what 44 grams of fat looks like, amirite? So here goes…

Each of the following keto-encouraged foods has about 30 grams of fat:

  • 6 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • 2 large avocados
  • 14oz T-Bone steak
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 3 tablespoons of mayo

For context, each of these also has about 30 grams of fat:

  • Large McDonalds Fry
  • 2 glazed donuts from Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Wendy’s Dave’s single burger with cheese
  • 3 large slices of Papa John’s cheese pizza
  • Dairy Queen large vanilla shake

And that’s just 30 grams of fat folks. Keep in mind that keto encourages someone eating a 2,000 calorie diet to consume FIVE TIMES this amount of fat.

Trendy diets defy logic

A diet that encourages you to eat more fat is like a judge telling you the best way to stay out of jail is to commit a crime. It literally makes no sense. Yes, you can trick you body into a state of ketosis by eating a severely low amount of carbs and eating a dumb high amount of fat but is that what’s best for your health?

Try saying it out loud…it sounds ridiculous, “Yep, I’m on the keto diet trying to lose this weight. I need to really limit my fruits and vegetables. But no worries! I get to eat as much bacon as I want.” I mean c’mon. Common sense will tell you that can’t actually be good for you. Temporary weight loss should never take the place of what’s best for your health.

Keto risks

Wrapping this thing up, let’s review why keto gets the veto. The diet has a lot of serious risks including:

Saturated fat: Due to the increased fat intake required by keto, the diet has been linked to an increase in “bad” LDL cholesterol which is also linked to heart disease.

Nutrient deficiency: You may be at risk for micronutrient deficiencies if you’re not eating a variety of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Other side effects of lowered carb consumption include constipation, fuzzy thinking and mood swings. Constipation because the keto diet is low in fibrous foods like grains and legumes. Fuzzy thinking and mood swings because the brain needs sugar from healthy carbs to function properly. Low carb diets can cause brain fog and irritability.

Kidney problems: The kidneys help metabolize protein. The recommended intake for protein currently is on average 46 grams per day for women and 56 grams for men. The keto diet may overload your kidneys by encouraging you to eat 0.7 - 0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight. So if you weigh 150 that’s 105 - 135g of protein daily which is well over the recommended amount. The kidneys have to work overtime to process the excess protein which in the long run can cause kidney issues.

Liver problems: In the same way stress is being placed on the kidneys because they metabolize protein, the liver gets overworked on a keto diet trying to process the additional fat.

Let’s stop trying to trick our bodies into temporary weight loss. Instead let’s actually get holistically well from the inside out. That starts with fueling ourselves with whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables. Hold the bacon grease.

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