In the recent months and weeks, there’s been a lot of writing, blogging, vlogging, and podcasting about Keto and whether it’s a “terrible, terrible idea” for “a million reasons.”
This current keto back-and-forth has been spurred by former Biggest Loser host Jillian Michaels’ comments.
During 2019, she has been blogging and speaking about Keto to her readers, listeners, and on other people’s podcasts. Her opinions have become far-reaching, rather quickly.
Many media outlets have summarized and covered her sentiments, such as this Fox News article (1), Prevention (2), and more.
But what has she said exactly? And, is it true?
Today, we’ll use her blog as our source for Keto Myths in order to use first-hand information rather than interviews and secondary sources. Let’s dig down to the statements, truth, science, and myths that need busting.
First, a review of Jillian Michael’s blog post from April 2019 (3).
Surprisingly, the first portion of the article contains her thoughts on the benefits of Keto. However, as someone who has preached “moderation” and “exercise more, eat less” throughout her career, she believes keto takes these benefits too far.
First, she explains that Keto is a “godsend” because it:
But then, she moves on and questions the long-term safety and whether or not the benefits can be achieved in a “safer” way. It’s within this portion of her blog post that there are myths mixed with half-truths.
Here, we’ll cover Keto Myths #6-#13 (you can find #1-#3 in Keto Myths Busted, Part 1, and #4-#5 in Keto Myths Busted Part 2). Let’s get to busting.
Michaels states that ketosis is considered a state of medical emergency, but the only state similar to this is ketoacidosis.
Now, ketoacidosis is a very real emergency. But it is impossible for anyone to achieve it (or fall into it) unless they have Type I Diabetes.
What Keto Zone eaters achieve is dietary ketosis. This is altogether different than ketoacidosis, and in no way is a medical emergency.
Like many of our myths, this is sort of a half-truth mixed with the inference that’s completely false.
First, I don’t know of any Keto Zone eater who eats no carbs. There are carbs in the majority of foods, and most Keto Zone eaters fall somewhere around 20-40 grams net carbs per day.
Next, in those who suffer from high-blood-sugar or high-insulin conditions, yes, reversing them is absolutely the safest way for the body to thrive.
Study after study has shown that even mild weight loss can reverse many conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hyperglycemia and more. Yes, this means the body is thriving.
Lastly, ketone production and its noted neuro-protection can vastly improve energy, leptin/grehlin balance, and brain health. Thriving.
Of course, some people achieve good health, healthy weights, long life, and overall wellness without Keto.
But, these are not the people Keto typically reaches or helps.
And, just because it’s possible without Keto, doesn’t make keto a bad choice or unsafe.
In fact, many people find and use Keto Zone eating successfully after years and even decades, of unsuccessful dieting otherwise.
For many with insulin resistance, no amount of calories in / calories out produces results.
To quote the blog post directly, Michaels states “The obvious is that our body needs all the vitamins and minerals. When we cut out entire food groups like fruit, whole grains, legumes, alcohol (yes, this has it’s benefits when in moderation), what price are we paying? You can get a ton of fiber and phytonutrients in veggies for sure, but to cut out apples, citrus, berries, and other fruits is absurd. Fruits, whole grains, legumes all have extremely vital minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, prebiotic fiber and other nutrients for optimal health.”
First, she answers her own questions with the right answer.
You don’t really need fruits when you get enough vegetables. As we discussed in Keto Myths Busted, Part 1, vegetables contain all the fruit-and-vegetable nutrients, without the sugars.
What’s more, almost all the research on “fruits” and their benefits, is actually on fruits and vegetables. This is incredibly easy to see if you read any of the actual studies.
Next, I don’t know of any essential nutrient from whole grains, legumes, alcohol, or fruits that you can’t get from a well-planned Keto Zone diet with nuts, seeds, vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats.
As Michaels explains, there are longevity benefits linked to calorie restriction.
This is true.
But, carbohydrate restriction mimics calorie restriction and also produces these results in human (1) and animal studies (4).
What’s more, since Keto Zone eating is incredibly satiating, most keto eaters actually vastly reduce calories, regardless of original intent.
In terms of longevity produced by calorie restriction, most research shows that very low-calorie intake, such as what’s achieved with restricted time eating, fasting, and diets <1000 calories per day, is required to produce the results. This is not what’s achieved with her own recommendations of 1200-2200 calories per day. But, carbohydrate restriction does achieve it.
While there is a definition of a Keto diet, there are many programs, plans, and recommendations to partake in it. And as discussed in Keto Myths Busted Part 2, most of them recommend anti-inflammatory, healthy fats and proteins along with whole-foods such as nuts, seeds, and vegetables.
Telomeres are a compound structure at the end of a chromosome that protects genetic information. Shortened telomeres are associated with aging.
According to Jillian Michaels, all the researching is showing that high-fat diets are shredding our telomeres. It’s difficult to know to which research she’s referring since none are listed.
In looking at a few available studies, you can see that:
This is in no way exhaustive but establishes that fats and saturated fats do not conclusively cause “shredded” or shorten telomeres. What’s more, a Keto Zone diet can easily fit into a diet that likely protects them.
While this statement wasn’t made in her most recent blog post on the subject, it’s the statement that’s been quoted extensively and was first sourced in the podcast #Adulting.
In the quotes of this interview, she really just states that “it’s a terrible idea” for “a million reasons.” But, she doesn’t really give the reasons. So, we’re left with these reasons she stated in her blog post.
And, as we’ve explained, they are myths.
Want to learn about all the Keto Myths we’ve busted? Read:
Keto Myths Busted, Part 1: Fruits, Fiber, and Digestion (Don’t worry, Keto vegetables, seeds, and nuts work well, too!)
Keto Myths Busted, Part 2: Dietary Fats (Same ol’ anti-fat dogma)
Keto Myths Busted, Part 4: Energy, Fatigue, and Athletes
It’s easy to make statements simply because you do not follow, recommend, or agree with a specific lifestyle or diet. However, this does not make an opinion true. In this case, this blog post and quotes from interviews are filled with myths. Keto Myths now Busted, #6-#13.