I’ve grown to loath “plant based nutrition” dietitians, doctors, and organizations to the point of… well, writing a blog post. It’s all I’ve got? 😉
Their “data” is almost always misleading to the point of fraud. I used to just think, it’s fine, let them believe what they want to believe. If you practice a way of eating in hopes of being healthy, good for you. Want to convince someone with data and experience, okay, no problem with that either. We should all be able to eat how we want, that’s great. (insert shrug here)
Keto Diet, Donna!
The line gets drawn when the demonization of a diet (in this case, KETO) is presented with “facts” that are completely misleading and/or false. The narrative on the news is: EXPERTS WARN – KETO DIET KILLS!
Okay, so now you think you have this point to prove. You just knew Keto was bad, it had to be because you couldn’t understand it. Stupid fad, you thought… um think? Time to share the article you saw on your favorite news site to that lady, you know, Donna who lost 85 pounds back in 2019 doing Keto. You feel vindicated as you sit there on your iPad, 50lbs overweight. Boy… are you gonna show Donna how dumb she is.
Plant Based Nutrition Advocacy
The only problem is… the data presented in these articles ALWAYS leads back to: plant based nutrition and the war against meat. The data is shaky at best and nearly always completely refutable.
I saw the headline today and thought exactly this (before reading the articles) : “it’s gonna be a vegan/vegetarian either doctor or dietician that provides a damning quote about how dangerous Keto is due to saturated fat and PROCESSED MEATS and how that quote will be the driver of the content.” le GASP!
This just in…
Here’s what the headlines read:
“Keto diet is a ‘disease-promoting disaster,’ researchers warn“
“Most Comprehensive Review Yet of Keto Diets Finds Heart Risks, Cancer Risk, Dangers to Pregnant Women and Kidney Patients“
And here’s the quote from the dietician, no joke:
“The typical keto diet is a disease-promoting disaster,” says lead review author Lee Crosby, RD, nutrition education program manager… “Loading up on red meat, processed meat, and saturated fat and restricting carbohydrate-rich vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains is a recipe for bad health.”
So what did I do? I googled Lee! Who is Lee?
“Lee Crosby, RD, LD, is a staff dietitian. Ms. Crosby enjoys using plant-based nutrition to help patients lose weight in a body-positive way” – Meet Lee
No way! She’s a plant-based dietitian?!?!?! le Gasp again!
Plant Based is NOT the Enemy, However…
Plant based is not my enemy. Ideas disparaging scientific data related to health are my enemies. Just so happens that the plant based zealots are usually the ones hurling misinformation.
Let’s look at the data they present and then refute it:
CLAIM: Ketogenic diets can also lower blood glucose, although their efficacy typically wanes within the first few months.
Yes, when you reduce carbohydrate consumption significantly you’ll lower blood glucose levels. There’s really no debate on this topic as carbohydrates turn to sugar in the blood and if you consume less your blood sugar will normalize.
As for “efficacy typically wanes” – I don’t know how that would be scientifically possible. After several months of a low carbohydrate diet it’s not as though efficacy via lack of carbohydrate changes. I assume they’re referring to adherence to a low carbohydrate diet but that’s not what they’re saying. “Efficacy typically wanes” is misleading and vague. Next…
CLAIM: Very-low-carbohydrate diets are associated with marked risks. LDL-C can rise, sometimes dramatically.
Yes, most people that are on the Keto Diet, LDL rises. Metabolic Syndrome is the concern here: they’re making the assumption that LDL rising equates to poor health outcomes (specifically: heart disease). LDL is not under consideration when referring to Metabolic Syndrome. Triglyceride levels and HDL are 2 of the drivers for metabolic syndrome (not LDL levels).
Triglycerides are Too High
If your triglyceride levels are too high, you will have heart disease. What causes high triglyceride levels?
- Over consumption of Sugar/Carbs (high blood sugar)
- Genetic Disorders
How to find out what your triglyceride levels are? A blood test (usually accompanied as a lipid panel (triglycerides, cholesterol, and HDL).
How to know you’re in trouble: 150 milligrams per deciliter,(mg/dL), or 1.7 millimoles per liter (mmol/L), or higher of this type of fat found in blood
What happens via low carbohydrate or Keto diet?
You lower your triglycerides and improve health outcomes.
Not convinced? Read this Study: Carbohydrate restriction has a more favorable impact on the metabolic syndrome than a low fat diet
HDL is Too Low
Low HDL May Mean:
- You have uncontrolled diabetes
- You are a smoker
- You are too sedentary
- You are overweight
- You have a lousy diet
- You have bad genetics
How to find out if your HDL is too low? Blood test (usually accompanied as a lipid panel (triglycerides, cholesterol, and HDL).
You’re in trouble if your HDL is less than 40 mg/dL (1.04 mmol/L) in men or less than 50 mg/dL (1.3 mmol/L) in women
HDL on the Keto Diet
Your HDL goes UP (not down) when restricting carbs and increasing protein and fat consumption – this is exactly what you want to happen.
Not convinced? Read this study: An isoenergetic very low carbohydrate diet improves serum HDL cholesterol and triacylglycerol concentrations, the total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratio and postprandial pipemic responses compared with a low fat diet in normal weight, normolipidemic women
LDL Danger Conclusion: The Data is Clear
HDL gets a bump, Triglycerides drop when on a Ketogenic Diet. The authors of the article I’m refuting made it clear, they don’t care about science, they care about agenda. LDL is not part of the calculation of metabolic syndrome. Yes, drugs are amazing at reducing LDL but this doesn’t mean LDL is the main driver of heart disease. It means there is money to be made in demonizing LDL. If you’re a plant based nutritionist, there’s also incentive to demonizing LDL.
Triglycerides and HDL are much more important markers (than LDL) in managing heart health. This argument is over. Get a lipid panel now and look at your Triglycerides and HDL markers to evaluate heart health.
CLAIM: Pregnant women on such diets are more likely to have a child with a neural tube defect
“Neural tube defects are considered a complex disorder because they are caused by a combination of multiple genes and multiple environmental factors. Known environmental factors include folic acid, maternal insulin dependent diabetes, and maternal use of certain anticonvulsant (antiseizure) medications.” from Duke.edu
How did the authors of this ANTI-KETO release come to the conclusion that pregnant women on a Keto diet “are more likely to have a child with a neural tube defect”?
A questionnaire. In the study author’s words:
“The popularity of “low carb” diets raises concern that women who intentionally avoid carbohydrates, thereby consuming fewer fortified foods, may not have adequate dietary intake of folic acid.“…
…”Carbohydrate and folic acid intake before conception were estimated from food frequency questionnaire responses.” …
…“We found that women with restricted carbohydrate intake were 30% more likely to have an infant with anencephaly or spina bifida. However, more research is needed to understand the pathways by which restricted carbohydrate intake might increase the risk of NTDs.“
The conclusion that a Keto Diet causes birth defects is summed up by: “more research is needed” and dietary intake of folic acid is important.
This is hardly enough data to conclude that Keto eating women who have children are more likely to have a child with a neural tub defect. There’s no data here indicating why or how… just a questionnaire that lumps people who restrict carbs to an outcome at birth. While I’m not saying it’s not possible – I am saying that the data needs to be evaluated and that folic acid and other dietary concerns may be larger culprits than carbohydrate reduction.
CLAIM: And these diets may increase chronic disease risk: Foods and dietary components that typically increase on ketogenic diets (eg, red meat, processed meat, saturated fat) are linked to an increased risk of CKD, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease
Ah…. there it is, they’re demonizing saturated fat and specifically red meat… obviously! So their worry is: heart disease; cancer; diabetes; Alzheimers. Looks look at the data:
Here’s an entire post on studies showing the benefit of nutritional ketosis or ketone bodies.
- Prevent or Reverse Heart Failure with the Keto Diet
- Ketone Bodies Used in Treatment and Prevention of CVD (Cardiovascular Disease)
- Cardiovascular Disease Risk Improvements in T2D Patients Following Nutritional Ketosis Guidelines
- 6 Year Review of a Low Carb Diet on Type 2 Diabetes Therapy
FINAL CLAIM: Current evidence suggests that for most individuals, the risks of such diets (referring to Keto) outweigh the benefits.
Their claim goes against scientific data showing a benefit to the Keto diet. Isn’t that uh… wrong, misleading, and dangerous? How does this go unregulated? Making outrageous claims that may negatively impact health outcomes is wrong. Dead wrong.
The data on this page is for informational purposes only. These are my opinions alone. Have a difference of opinion or have more data to build up this argument, let me know in the comments!