|There is not enough data to prove that ketosis is dangerous.|
– Stephanie Person
If you’ve been exposed to what has been most commonly said about ketosis brought on by a low-carb, high-fat diet, then no doubt you have heard such dastardly-sounding terms as “extreme,” “toxic,” “dangerous,” “life-threatening,” and “unhealthy.” It amuses me to hear this kind of hyperbolic rhetoric used to describe a completely normal and natural metabolic state. But it’s disappointing that some of the loudest voices against ketogenic diets are America’s most prominent health and advocacy groups, as summarized below.
The positions these groups take on ketosis are all based on misinformation and confusion. We’ll spend the rest of this book explaining the problems with their positions and giving you the truth about ketosis and its amazing health benefits. First, though, here’s the misinformation we’re trying to correct.
American Medical Association (AMA)
The AMA is a highly respected organization dedicated to educating those involved in the medical profession about the latest health information and standard of care. What do they have to say about ketosis? It is characterized as an “abnormal” state brought on by a “deficiency or the inefficient use of carbohydrates.” Hoo boy! We’ll go down that rabbit hole in chapter 5, but suffice it to say for now that there is no such thing as a carbohydrate deficiency.
Source: American Medical Association Concise Medical Encyclopedia (2006)
|There is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate. . . . Anyone who tells you to start eating carbohydrates in order to fix a health problem is totally missing the point.|
– Nora Gedgaudas
American Heart Association (AHA)
The AHA is another well-known and prestigious health group whose goal is to share information with the general public about heart-healthy living. They’re no fan of saturated fat, which they claim raises your cholesterol levels to the point that you’ll get cardiovascular disease. Thus, it shouldn’t be surprising that they discourage the consumption of a low-carb, high-fat, ketogenic diet, stating that it is “high in protein,” which brings on “a condition called ketosis” that “may cause nausea.” Once again, ignorance about this subject matter abounds. In chapter 6, we’ll explain how the moderate consumption of protein in the ketogenic diet helps bring about the production of ketones for a variety of purposes (and inducing nausea is not among them).
Source: American Heart Association website
|I think it has been shown fairly conclusively that it is only the high-fat, not the high-protein, diet that produces the greatest health benefits in combination with a low carbohydrate intake.|
– Dr. Ron Rosedale
The Mayo Clinic
The Mayo Clinic, one of the country’s premier medical practices and research groups, acknowledges that the body does burn fat for fuel. But they claim that burning fat without consuming large quantities of carbohydrates creates “by-products” of ketone bodies that “build up in your bloodstream.” They admit ketones will suppress your appetite, but warn that being in ketosis will “cause fatigue and nausea.” I’m getting nauseated just hearing this unfounded claim about ketogenic diets being repeated by people who should know better.
Source: The Mayo Clinic website
Ketones are an efficient and effective fuel for human physiology without increasing the production of damaging free radicals. Ketosis allows a person to experience nonfluctuating energy throughout the day as well as enhanced brain function and possibly resistance to malignancy.
– Dr. David Perlmutter
WebMD has established itself as one of the most trusted websites for everyday people to find quality health information. Want to know what they have to say about ketosis? They say that when you don’t consume enough carbohydrates in your diet to produce blood sugar, your body is “forced” to begin using blood sugar that is stored in the liver and muscles before eventually switching over to using ketones and fatty acids for fuel. Although they acknowledge ketosis can bring about weight loss (though they state that the weight lost is “mostly water”), WebMD gives a stern warning that this has some “serious” consequences, including “irritability, headaches, and enhanced kidney work” as well as “heart palpitations and . . . cardiac arrest.” Yep, they went there. If this is your current thinking about the effect of ketones on the body, then keep reading this book to get the truth.
DOCTOR’S NOTE FROM DR. ERIC WESTMAN: The mistaken notion that the weight loss from a ketogenic diet is “just water weight” comes from a study with some significant problems. First, the study was only done for a few weeks—and many studies now show that over a period of months, considerable fat is lost, too. Second, the study showed that the water weight returned when the research subjects started eating carbohydrates again. When you start changing your lifestyle, you are not supposed to go back to eating the same amount of carbohydrate that you did before—which led to the water weight regain!
Medical News Today (MNT)
MNT is a popular online health news aggregator website, and they describe ketosis as “a potentially serious condition if ketone levels go too high.” Ostensibly they’re referring to diabetic ketoacidosis, but they go on to say that while ketosis lowers hunger, societies around the world are dependent on carbohydrates (not ketones and fat) for energy. If “insulin levels are too low,” the website says, stored body fat needs to be broken down and “toxic” levels of ketones are produced, making the blood more acidic and causing damage to your kidneys and liver. Unfortunately, this isn’t a joke. And yet this is the kind of misinformation that we find online about ketosis brought on by consuming a low-carb, high-fat diet.
Most doctors are not aware that a ketogenic diet lowers insulin levels and that this directly affects the kidney’s handling of sodium and water. Low insulin levels are a signal to the kidney to excrete sodium and water, whereas the high insulin levels associated with a high-carbohydrate diet are a signal to retain sodium and water. Physicians are taught to prescribe diuretics and advise salt restriction in sodium- and water-retaining states such as hypertension and congestive heart failure. But they should be taught the much more powerful effect of restricting carbohydrates.
– Dr. Keith Runyan