It is erroneously believed that the ketogenic diet is a dangerous food strategy and can lead to health risks. Most of the myths about this diet are spread by those who have little knowledge of ketosis and its mechanisms of action.
Let’s see what are the most discussed topics.
1. The ketogenic diet is dangerous
Those who say this confuse ketosis with ketoacidosis. Ketosis is a completely physiological condition that occurs during a carbohydrate restriction or during fasting. If ketosis did not exist, human beings would have died out. Ketoacidosis, on the other hand, is a pathological condition, which can occur in subjects suffering from type 1 diabetes mellitus. The difference between ketosis and ketoacidosis lies in the levels of ketone bodies produced: they do not exceed 7/8 mmol / L in healthy subjects, while in type 1 diabetic can reach levels above 25 mmol / L with consequent reduction of blood pH.
2 The ketogenic diet is bad for the kidneys
There is no evidence that a ketogenic diet can be harmful to the kidneys. Indeed, a study published in Nutrients in January 2020 showed that the ketogenic diet is safe and effective even in subjects with mild renal insufficiency. A month earlier a study entitled “Ketosis improves kidney cyst growth in polycystic kidney disease” was published in Cell Metabolism.
3. The ketogenic diet is high protein
“High protein ketogenic” is an oxymoron. In fact, an excess of protein is converted into glucose by a process called gluconeogenesis. If this happens, ketosis is compromised. This is why the ketogenic diet cannot be high-protein. In ketogenic diets for weight loss (VLCKD) the diet is normoproteic , as it is necessary to provide the right amount of protein to safeguard lean tissue. In exogenous lipid ketogenic diets, the diet is even hypoproteic, as proteins have greater anti-ketogenic effects than pro-ketogenic effects.
4. The ketogenic diet causes you to lose muscle tissue
Losing lean mass is not one of the risks of ketogenic diets. This is explained by biochemistry, in particular the Randle Cycle, according to which there is a competition between sugar and fat metabolism. In a nutshell, when you enter ketosis and the human body uses fat for energy purposes, glucose requirements drop to such an extent that it is no longer necessary to “break down” muscle proteins to generate glucose. And that means the body spares muscle protein.
5. Once the diet is stopped, you gain more weight than before.
If the diet is drawn up by a professional and is strictly followed there is no risk of gaining weight again. This is demonstrated by a meta-analysis published in the prestigious American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. According to the study, those who followed a ketogenic pattern maintained their weight better than those who followed a low-calorie balanced diet even after 5 years.
In this regard, it is necessary to underline the importance of the carbohydrate reintroduction phase, the most delicate of the nutritional process, to be followed under close monitoring by the health referent.
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