Despite a constant barrage of negative press, the keto diet is gaining immense popularity. According to Google Trends, interest in the keto diet has doubled since 2016. For people searching for “lose weight,” the related query “keto diet” has shown a +5000% increase in the last 5 years.
I am an active Quora contributor and one of the most frequent questions I get is, “Why is Keto so popular?“
This is pretty remarkable considering all the negative press attacking the popularity of keto. I am a news junkie and read almost all the articles both pro and con.
Remember celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels coming out strongly against keto in January 2019?
“People can criticize me all they want, but the bottom line is its science and the science is there — and (keto) is bad for your overall health and wellness,’’ Michaels said.
The problem is Jillian Michaels is not a scientist and lacks basic knowledge of ketogenic fundamentals. She uses this quote as her argument :
“Your cells, your macromolecules, are literally made up of protein, fat, carbohydrates, nucleic acids,’’ she said. “When you do not eat one of the three macronutrients — those three things I just mentioned — you’re starving yourselves.
One of the most common keto myths associated with the keto diet is that it is a no-carb diet. Keto still includes eating carbs, you just replace sugar and starches with low glycemic carbs mostly in the form of vegetables.
Like any diet there are some legitimate negatives of the keto diet and this article explores some of the downsides of keto.
I am not going to try and debunk every negative article, and there’s been quite a few of them. But here is one more:
There is so much wrong with this article, but I’ll just cover one point. The author contends, “Our bodies simply aren’t designed to fuel up on fats unless we’re literally starving.”
Really? With no facts, the author states another common misconception. Our bodies are absolutely designed to fuel up on fats. Millions of years ago when humans were hunter/gatherers, we would have had to go days without food. During those periods, the body would break down stored fats and turn them into ketones.
So why then has keto become so popular?
I could sum up this entire article with the answer:
Keto just works.
Unfortunately, mainstream media can’t be trusted much anymore. Everyone has an agenda. The sugar/grain industry hates the ketogenic diet. The United States is among the world’s largest sugar producers. Between the years 2010 and 2018, sugar produced from sugar cane grew from 2.9 million short term raw value (STRV) to 4.0 million STRV. Here is an in-depth article about the dangers of sugar.
If you’re not sure what the keto diet really is I recommend reading this resource: The Keto Diet Explained
Who do you think is funding these ant-keto studies?
The other problem is, doctors are taught very little about nutrition in medical school and nutritionists and dieticians are taught outdated information based on a bogus study from 1958. An American scientist named Ancel Keys started a study called the Seven Countries Study. He cherry-picked select countries to “prove” his point that fat and cholesterol causes heart attacks.
In 1977, the U.S. Senate published the first Dietary Goals For The United States based on Ancel Keys’ questionable study. People started lowering fat in their diet and replacing it with sugar, grains, and bread. The obesity and diabetes epidemic followed soon after.
Remember in the 1980s when the “experts” advised us to eat margarine instead of butter? Margarine has trans fats which raise bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowers good cholesterol (HDL). Most knowledgeable nutrition will now tell you that real grass-fed butter is perfectly healthy.
In fact, I just read an article yesterday that shows that Higher Cholesterol Is Associated With Longer Life.
Social media is helping the popularity of keto.
There are literally hundreds of keto Facebook pages and you can lurk and read testimonial after testimonial on how people have transformed their health by eating a ketogenic diet. Look at the image above, this is a recent photo that I snapped at the grocery store. Keto Diet magazines occupied every slot on the newsstand.
No one is really making money on keto so you don’t see TV commercials.
Because keto works it’s spreading mostly by word of mouth. The beauty of America is sooner or later word gets out about what works and what doesn’t.
It doesn’t surprise me, after 30 years of failing on various diets keto has worked for me. You can read about my keto transformation here.
Keto works because it lowers blood sugar.
This is the secret sauce that most people don’t understand. Blood sugar is a very powerful factor in our lives. It controls, mood, hunger, energy, cravings, and food choices. Most experts will warn you never to shop when hungry. What they really mean is you shouldn’t shop while you have low blood sugar. When you lower blood sugar in your body, you change how you look, act, and feel.
When you eat a high carbohydrate meal your body breaks it down into blood sugar (glucose). Let’s say, for example, the bagel and orange juice you eat raises your blood sugar to 210. The sugar high that you get is your cells filling up energy.
Insulin gets rid of the excess glucose.
Since more than about a teaspoon of blood glucose becomes toxic, your pancreas releases insulin to utilize the glucose. Insulin is a powerful anabolic hormone that stimulates growth and fat storage. Based on the above example, insulin lowers the blood sugar after a few hours, to say, for example, to 120.
Since you felt really good when your blood sugar was 210, now when it dips to 120 you feel jittery, hungry, and uncomfortable, so you snack again. You feel like you have low blood sugar, but you really don’t. The feeling is actually called “hangry.” Here is a definition of the word Hangry.
The psychological aspect of blood sugar has to be understood.
Burning fat isn’t really a math problem. We love to count macros (carbohydrates/protein/ fat), blood sugar, and calories but don’t focus enough on how we feel. We eat when we feel hungry and how we feel dictates what, how much, and how often we eat. Maintaining steady and low blood sugar helps us feel better. Here is an informative article on the futility of focusing just on calories.
There is actually a medical term for this condition. It’s called General Anxiety Disorder or GAD. The condition of GAD shows a link between the average American diet (high glycemic) and the development of anxiety and depression symptoms. Here is the case report published on the US National Library of Medicine.
Here is an interesting quote from the above study:
“The dry weight of the brain is 60 percent fat and low levels of omega-3 fats and cholesterol are significant risk factors for major depression and suicide.”– Essential fatty acids and human brain
See the problem with a high carbohydrate diet?
With keto, your blood sugar gradually goes down. When you need extra energy your body breaks down fat and converts it into ketones. Your body learns to use both ketones and glucose as energy. Now you have two different fuels you can use when needed.
Blood sugar doesn’t own you with keto.
Over time you get used to having lower blood sugar and you don’t have the massive spikes and dips that controls you. You are in control of when and what you eat. When you do need some glucose your liver can actually make what it needs through a process called gluconeogenesis.
Lowering blood sugar also has massive health benefits.
I could write an entire article on the many health benefits of the keto diet, but helping a type 2 diabetic put their condition in remission is an area of particular interest. You can read about the science behind the ketogenic diet and type 2 diabetes here.
Keto is popular because it’s perfect for the older population
As we get older many of us to become insulin resistant. That’s just a fact, it’s called impaired glucose tolerance or prediabetes. A low carbohydrate diet stops this trend and for people trying to lose weight past 40 is the ideal solution.
Keto is popular, it’s not a fad diet and is here to stay.
Keto might be a trend, but it’s not a fad. Success breeds success and word of mouth is making keto the most popular diet in the nation. Most of the people that fail keto just don’t stick with it long enough. It does take a few weeks to get keto-adapted, but if you can stick with it I am confident you will see a positive transformation to your body fat levels and health.