Okay, I just want to get something off my chest that has been bugging me for quite a while now.
Fair warning: there’s a bit of a rant coming on here, so if you’re not up for it, feel free to go back to the homepage and find something less polarising.
If you are up for it, then great! Not pointing fingers at anyone – just stating an opinion and I’d love to hear your opinions at the end too.
So, the thing is, I am so sick of hearing about the keto diet.
You know what I’m talking about, right?
Everywhere you look on social media – whether it’s Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook – you’ll find stuff about the ketogenic diet.
Keto on a budget.
Keto this. Keto that.
It’s flippin’ everywhere.
If you look into it, you’ll find that the keto diet has been one of the most Googled search queries for a while now, with a current average of over 2 million searches per month.
That is a whole lot of people looking for information on the keto diet.
What is the fascination. Why the obsession? Does it work or is it a con?
Well, everyone else is spouting their opinions on losing weight and dieting, so I thought I’d exploit my own little corner of the internet here to weigh in with mine.
(Ha, you see what I did there?)
In basic terms: the keto diet is an apparent solution to a common problem.
And Google is used to search for solutions to problems.
The Problem: I want to lose weight
The Solution: THIS is how to lose weight!
Actually, let me be more specific here: most people are looking for a QUICK solution to fix to their weight problem.
Yep – the quick fix. No patience or effort required. We want it all and we want it now.
More on that later, but back to the ketogenic diet.
The keto diet has been around for a while now. It’s definitely not new.
But the reason for its increasing popularity over the last couple of years is not just that it’s an apparent quick fix to a problem many of us would like to go away.
Part of the reason keto is everywhere you look online is down to digital marketers and bloggers worldwide.
Posts about keto are the current staple for pretty much any blogger who is trying to bring more traffic to their site. Even people who blog about finance, DIY or crafts manage to find a way to shoehorn in a little (or sometimes big) article about it somewhere.
They write about keto simply because they want to ride the wave of popularity, which brings more visitors to their sites and helps them increase their earning potential through more page views, whatever affiliate strategy they have set up or whatever corresponding products they are selling.
And the more it’s written about, the more popular it becomes and the more it’s seen and the more it’s searched and the more it’s duplicated.
And the cycle continues.
There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that.
I’m all for making money online and this is the reality of digital marketing in the 21st Century.
But the thing is, it makes most of what is written on the keto diet very inauthentic and contrived – and, of more concern, possibly incorrect.
Fake news and fake information spreads fast these days, because most of what is written is just a rehashed version of another popular article that usually hasn’t always been analysed or verified by the author.
Everyone’s looking for quick shares, quick likes and quick retweets.
Yes, of course, you could argue that most of the content on the whole web or elsewhere is simply a rehashed version of something that came before it.
Very few things are truly original, that’s true.
Keto itself, after all, is just a repackaged version of the Atkins Diet.
I see bloggers writing about their ‘keto journey’, which is usually a couple of short months before they fall off the wagon, but they’ll throw out a few more ‘Keto Fat Bomb Recipe’ posts after that to ensure that their blog gets found in Google searches and by Pinterest and Instagram.
This helps to boost their traffic by capitalizing on the bandwagoners and those looking for the quick fix solution to their (let’s face it, mostly self-inflicted) weight problems.
At the same time, they are increasing the amount of content on keto and assisting the momentum of its popularity, because more and more people try it on the basis that everyone else seems to be doing it.
Again, no problem with this per se – that’s the way the blogging game works.
But it can be dangerous when it is perpetuating something that may not actually be such a great idea from a nutritional perspective.
Because nobody really knows the longer term effects of this kind of diet.
But that doesn’t matter, because those looking to lose weight want to BELIEVE keto works.
They want a solution to their weight problem and they want it fast. They want it now.
And with as little effort as possible.
So they try it.
Actually, I think most people really fall in love with is the idea of losing weight without sacrificing their favourite treats like cheese, bacon, (dark) chocolate and red meat.
Sounds too good to be true.
And you know what they a say about things that sound too good to be true . . .
It’s a bit like the stuff online that promises to teach you how to easily earn thousands online from the comfort of your own home.
Sounds awesome. Be your own boss. Work your own hours. Earn loads for putting in just a few hours a week. Yes, please!!
It’s made to sound like a piece of (flourless keto) cake.
The thing is, it’s never actually that easy in reality.
Success takes a lot of hard work and it usually takes quite a bit of time before you see any results from your efforts.
Related ~ How To Stop Success Eluding You
And all of these fad diets are sold using a similar message.
The difference being, it is likely you will see some encouraging results at first, but this is invariably followed by a big plateau, which leads to becoming disillusioned.
And then you start ‘cheating’ and eating the stuff that is not on the programme. You put the weight back on and then you’re back where you started.
That’s how the story seems to go.
So, for 99% of people in the real world, diets just don’t work and that includes the keto diet.
The thing is, if diets did work, nobody would ever be overweight, would they?
And the dieting and weight loss industry relies on this fact to generate the ridiculous amount of money it generates year on year.
And when there is money to be made, you can bet your last protein shake that your needs are always going to be secondary to whoever is making the money. That’s just the way capitalism works.
Maybe you’re reading this right now and you’re going to tell me you lost x amount of pounds since starting keto and that keto is the most effective diet you’ve ever tried (to date).
And maybe that is true.
For you, at least.
So, congratulations. You’re one of the 1%.
(I have no idea what the exact figure is, but my assumption is that it is small. It may even be less than 1%.)
But I’m also willing to bet that anyone who has seen success has not been doing the keto diet continuously for years (or maybe months), because, for 99% of the population, it is simply not sustainable.
And for any kind of regime to work long-term, it must be sustainable.
As I mentioned earlier, the thing with the keto diet is that it is just a rehash of the old Atkins diet.
You’re cutting out a major food group and reducing your calorie intake.
And in the short term, you’re losing weight because of a calorie deficit. It has nothing to do with being in ketosis.
If you reduce your calorie intake, you’ll lose weight – even if you don’t exercise. That’s why strategies like intermittent fasting seem to work well, because you’re generally eating fewer calories.
Ingest nothing other than water for one week and I guarantee you will lose weight with that “programme” too.
But, it will almost certainly wreak havoc with your metabolism and possibly cause you problems in the longer term. And you can’t just drink water forever and expect to remain healthy.
You see, losing weight is not the problem.
Burning fat and keeping it off is the problem.
Maintaining healthy living habits is the problem.
It’s a complex problem that actually involves much more than calorie intake and expenditure.
But back to the keto diet . . .
Aside from calorie deficit, one of the reasons people initially seem to lose weight quickly with the keto diet is because they lose weight in terms of water their body is holding.
Stop eating carbs and you reduce the body’s glycogen stores.
A quick bit of research will reveal that each gramme of glycogen is accompanied by 3-4 grammes of water, so as you deplete glycogen stores, you lose what is often termed as ‘water weight’.
You’re losing weight, but you’re not losing fat – you’re losing water.
Another problem with the keto diet is that you’re cutting out pretty much a whole food group and by doing so, forcing the body into a ketotic state.
And just because you can elicit that response from the body, does it mean you should? Does it mean it is healthy to do so? And can you can be sure it will have no adverse effects on the body in the future?
And no food group is all bad. Carbs are definitely not bad. But you need to understand that there are different types of carbs. A banana is definitely not the same as a donut in terms of nutritional content.
It’s got to be about balance and about cutting down on the shit.
I am not saying that the keto diet does not have a place for some people in some circumstances or with certain medical conditions. But for the majority of us, it seems like it’s just a Band-Aid for a deeper problem: our lifestyle.
You’re always going to find people with success stories, but that doesn’t mean something works for the majority.
Everyone is different and not all will react well to it.
So, why not take the broader approach?
Focus on quality of food. Eat real food, not processed crap.
Review your portion sizes – most overweight people are eating more than they need. That’s the reality of the situation.
Educate yourself about nutrition.
Opinions are divided over the pros and cons of a keto diet, but can there really be such a divided opinion on the merits of a well-balanced calorie intake from carbohydrates, proteins and fats combined?
Yeah, it’s true that most people probably do eat way more carbs than they should, particularly those in the refined sugars category.
But is taking all carbohydrates out of the equation really the answer?
Carbs per se do not cause obesity. I’m pretty sure humans have been eating them for a few thousand years now.
What we humans haven’t been doing for a few thousand years is stuffing ourselves full of refined carbohydrates and processed foods and spending the majority of our waking hours sitting at a desk, behind the wheel of a car or slumped on the sofa in front of a tv.
And that is where the problem lies.
We eat too much sugar and processed shit in quantities that are too large over time periods during the day that are too long and too sedentary.
I’m not a scientist. I am not a nutritionist. I am not a dieting expert. But surely, this must seem obvious?
It’s just common sense.
You know this. I know this. I think most of us know this.
Address our lifestyle problems and the majority of people will lose the excess weight they are carrying.
Add in some more daily movement to the equation to burn off the excess calories is not going to do any harm either.
And it’s about the relationship people have with food too. If you are somebody that is prone to comfort eating, for example, then you need to reset your brain’s reward system and deal with the emotional causes of your over-eating.
Addiction to sugar is another problem.
It’s endemic in the Western world. I don’t know if sugar is actually toxic to the human body – it seems to be up for debate – but my instinct tells me that most people consume refined sugar in amounts that can’t be doing anything good for the body.
And there is no doubt that the more you eat refined sugar, the more you crave it – hence the term addiction. But with some discipline, you can break the sugar dependency. It’s all about forming habits.
Related ~ How To Lose Weight Without Trying
Once you stop eating crap foods, your body will stop craving crap foods. It’s like your body gets a kind of reset.
When you reduce your intake, sweet stuff begins to taste very sweet. Processed foods will become unpalatable.
You will learn to put more healthy stuff into your body and you will enjoy fresh, natural foods over the processed stuff.
And so back to the keto diet . . .
The ketogenic diet may well be beneficial to a small group of people with certain neurological diseases and disorders, but cutting out an entire food group is unlikely to be an optimal diet for most of us.
So, come on – before you jump into another dieting fad like the keto diet, try to honestly evaluate why you are currently overweight in the first place.
With a few exceptions, it is going to come down to eating too much of the wrong type of food and/or a lack of movement. So, you need to slowly make changes to your lifestyle to address this.
You may not see results in a few days or even a few weeks.
But you need to accept that there is no shortcut to better health and body. If you have developed bad habits over time and your body has suffered as a result of it, then you need to accept that it will take time to reverse the situation.
And you have to do things incrementally too.
If you suddenly try to cut your calorie intake to below what is required to cover your basal metabolic rate, you’re going to end up weak and moody all the time and you’ll push your body into a physiological response that will actually slow down your metabolic rate and make the goal of weight loss that much more difficult.
Most people give up because they don’t see results immediately.
If you are reading this and you are considered ‘overweight’, I’m willing to bet that this excess weight didn’t just appear overnight. Putting on weight is a process. It takes time to put it on, so don’t be surprised that it should take time to lose it!
When it comes to managing our weight, we need to start thinking in more holistic terms and consider that trying to solve problems relating to general poor lifestyle habits with quick fix solutions like keto (and other fad diets) is not the answer.
Yes, modern society can make this difficult. Or is that just an excuse?
I want to conclude by mentioning that I have never tried the ketogenic diet.
And I never will, because I think it’s freakin’ stupid.
You may say that this makes my opinion on the subject invalid, because I don’t know what I am talking about. But I suppose the same could be said about deliberately sticking a fork in an electric socket. I’ve never done it, but I am relatively certain that a pleasant outcome is unlikely.
Argh, maybe I’m just talking complete crap, but at least I got it off my chest and maybe this post will end up ranking on Google for a search on keto! 🙂
What do YOU think about the keto diet?
Have you tried it?
Is it another crazy short-lived fad or is this the way you think we should all be eating?
Let me know!