The ketogenic diet is getting more and more popular due to its effectiveness for weight loss and numerous health benefits. As a result, a number of myths about it have appeared. Some of them quite persistent and widespread.
You’ve probably encountered many of these in different forums, blog posts, Facebook groups, YouTube videos, and the like, and you might have fallen victim to some of them.
If you want to make the best out of your keto journey, you should make sure the information you have is accurate, and if in doubt, check at least 2-3 reputable sources.
Here we’ve collected the most popular myths that we have seen around.
#1. Calories Don’t Matter / You Cannot Gain Weight on Keto
Unfortunately, the keto diet is not magical and calories still do matter. You cannot eat unlimited amounts of food and expect your body to never store any of it as fat.
If you’re eating more than what you’re burning, you will gain weight, and keto doesn’t make you immune to that. However, most foods you’ll be eating on keto are very nutritious and filling, which is a definite advantage, as you’ll be naturally inclined to eat less. Actually most people notice being less hungry on keto compared to other diets.
Which brings us to the next point:
#2. On Keto You’ll Never Feel Hungry
If you’re in a caloric deficit, especially if you’re already close to your goal, hunger is normal and you are very likely to experience it. You need to accept that hunger is a normal part of the weight loss process and learn to not reach for a snack every time you’re feeling a little hungry – and especially if you’re more likely to be bored instead of genuinely hungry.
Keto helps most people feel less hungry, but it doesn’t make hunger disappear completely all the time.
Your body likes balance and will fight any drastic changes in your weight, especially if you’ve been overweight for a while.
Keep in mind that long cardio workouts, while useful for creating large caloric deficits, might make you feel ravenous on the next day. Resistance training (such as bodyweight exercises or weight lifting) is less likely to provoke intense feelings of hunger, but you’ll have to experiment and see for yourself what works best for you.
#3. Keto is a Free Pass to Eating Huge Amounts of Fat
Keto is not about eating huge amounts of fat – it is about limiting carbs.
You need to make sure that you’re consuming adequate amounts of protein in order to maintain your lean body mass, and you’ll need to add some fat to make up for the calories that came from carbs before.
However, keto is very likely to change your eating habits completely, and adding unlimited fat would be counterproductive. After all, if you want to lose weight, a part of the fat should come from your body and not from your plate.
Fat is also very caloric: a gram of fat comes at 9 calories (compared to 4 calories for a gram of protein or carbs).
Keep in mind that the ketogenic diet was first formulated for people suffering from epilepsy, and that medical keto (aimed at managing epilepsy) is, indeed, quite high in fat. Keto for weight loss – not necessarily.
Yes, keto is a high fat, low carb and moderate protein diet but it doesn’t mean eating all the fats you want. Always track and make sure you are eating a calorie deficit to lose weight. It’s important to plan your meals to stay on track.
#4. The Deeper The State of Ketosis, The More Fat You’ll Lose
Measuring ketones is a tricky business, and actually not even really that necessary.
If you’re using urine sticks to measure ketones, you should know that your body will adapt to the state of ketosis and after a while there won’t be a spillover of ketones in your urine, which is what the sticks are measuring. Deeper purple does not equate a more rapid weight loss.
The same goes for the other measuring methods – losing fat will depend mostly on your caloric deficit, and not on how much ketones your body produces.
#5. If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM), The Quality of Food You Eat Is Not So Important
While organic vs. non-organic is an endless debate and there isn’t a simple answer to “Is it worth the higher cost?”, the quality of the food you’re eating matters a lot, especially on keto.
Eating whole and nutritious food is always a better choice than protein bars and deli meat. It will be more filling and will help you get all the micronutrients your body needs to function properly.
Keep it simple and your body will thank you for it: salads and green veggies, meat, seafood, eggs, and the occasional dessert or treat (if this is what helps you stick to your diet in the long run) is a recipe for success.
#6. You Should Only Consume A Minimal Amount Of Protein, Anything More Than That Will Kick You Out Of Ketosis
How much protein you should be consuming depends a lot on your goals, activity level, and specific preferences (for more information on that, check out our article on protein).
While it is true that some protein will indeed turn into glucose – in fact, your brain needs some glucose to function – this process (called gluconeogenesis, or GNG for short) is actually demand-driven and not supply-driven.
Consuming tons of protein is just not necessary and might turn out to be quite expensive. However, you don’t need to fear protein and try to avoid it. If you want to maintain your muscle mass, you need to make sure you consume enough of it.
#7. Keto Is The Best Diet For Everyone
The ketogenic diet is an excellent choice for a big percentage of the population and helps combat many serious health issues. However, not everyone responds to it in the same way, and not everyone likes it as much as we do.
While some people thrive on it and decide to stick to it for years (or even for life), others might not find it easy to follow or enjoyable.
In order to keep the weight off, you need to make sure that you’re committed to your new way of eating for the long run, and that won’t go back to eating junk in a couple of months.
Remember that most of the benefits of keto will come once your body is fat adapted, which normally takes 4-6 weeks. So if you are the type of person who just wants a quick fix 3-week diet, keto is not for you. If you don’t have the dedication and commitment, keto won’t work for you.
Plenty of different options exist, so if keto doesn’t feel right for you, you might wish to experiment with low-carb, Paleo, clean eating, alkaline diet and so on.
#8. It Doesn’t Matter Where The Carbs Come From
Five grams of carbs from spinach is by far not the same thing as five grams of carbs from the dextrose added to deli meats. Spinach is much more nutritious and will provide you with a number of micronutrients (such as magnesium and potassium, which are essential for keto), while dextrose will not have any of these benefits.
Given that the amount of carbs that you’ll be consuming daily is so limited, you need to plan strategically and choose foods that will be both filling and nutritious at the same time. Most green veggies are a great choice.
#9. Going A Few Grams Above 20g Net Carbs A Day Will Kick You Out Of Ketosis And You’ll Get The Keto Flu All Over Again
20 to 25 g net carbs daily is a kind of a safety net. You will be in ketosis if you limit your carbs to that number, but that doesn’t mean that this is your personal upper limit of carbs you can consume daily in order to stay in ketosis.
In fact, it is different for most people and once you’re fat adapted, you can experiment with it a little to see where it lies for you. It will depend on a number of factors, such as your activity level, metabolic flexibility and insulin resistance, and it might also change with time.
#10. Intermittent Fasting Defies the “Calories in – Calories out” Principle
Intermittent fasting is also not magical when it comes to weight loss (sorry!). The main reason that intermittent fasting works for weight loss is because it helps you eat fewer calories.
Most people manage to lose more weight with it because it helps them better control their appetite and makes it easier to stick to a caloric deficit, but it still does not defy the basic energy principle of calories in – calories out. Just because you practice intermittent fasting, it doesn’t mean you can eat as much food as you want.
If you’re eating 2 big meals, these tend to be more filling and more satisfying than 6 tiny ones, and intermittent fasting does have other benefits that you might wish to consider (for more on that, check out our article on intermittent fasting), but the actual weight loss will depend on the caloric deficit above everything else.
#11. You Need to Have Exogenous Ketones to Be in Ketosis
No, you don’t. To be in ketosis, all you need is to follow the ketogenic diet macros and limit your daily carbs intake to 20g of net carb per day. It’s that simple!
Some exogenous ketone products and promoters claim instant ketosis/weight loss, which is not true. Yes, taking exogenous ketones will put BHB in your blood and effectively in ketosis (typical boost is about 30 min – 3 hours) BUT then your ketone levels will return to your baseline, which is A) in ketosis from eating a REAL ketogenic diet or B) not in ketosis. So what’s the point?
The point is, if you are NOT following keto diet effectively first, exogenous ketones won’t do much for you.
Remember: exo means external, from outside. It’s not a carb blocker or eraser. Stay away from those who promise that you can stuff your face with cake then drink exogenous ketones and you’ll be okay and still lose weight. It doesn’t work like that. These things are called supplements, i.e., supplementing a proper nutrition and a proper lifestyle, NOT replacing bad lifestyle choices.
Here’s the reality: the absolute best thing you could do to achieve your goals with ketogenic diet is not take ketones, it’s to eat real, whole foods.
Ketones supplements are not magic pills. However, they do have some benefits such as improving your energy and reducing the amount of time you could be dealing with keto flu.
These are some of the most persistent myths we have seen in the keto community. We always strive to make sure that you are well-informed, so that you can make the right decisions regarding your diet and lifestyle, and providing you with adequate information is one of our top priorities.
What are some other myths regarding keto that you’ve encountered? Share them with us in the comments!
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