My wife and I went to a cupcake store and were a little surprised when we saw a sign for “Keto Cups.” The “keto” or “ketogenic” diet is the latest diet fad that’s actually been around since the days of the Atkins Diet. The idea is to deprive the body of simple carbohydrates, like refined sugar or even fructose (the sugar in fruits). This will allegedly make your body use fat for fuel instead, and one of the products of fat metabolism are ketones. Ketones can then be used for fuel instead of carbohydrates.
The problem here is that this is a very simplistic view of how metabolism works in the human body. There is this complex system that keeps everything in balance, and ketogenesis is part of that system. We produce ketones not so much for the benefit of our muscles but for the benefit of our brain. The brain can’t really do much with low blood glucose levels. That’s why you pass out and die if you run out of glucose in your blood. Ketones are a last-ditch effort to get some fuel to the brain. The thing is, ketones acidity your blood, kicking in a whole other system to try and regain the acid-base balance in your circulation.
So on and so forth until something breaks. So ketogenesis is definitely something to avoid if you really want to get healthy. A balanced diet, with the right amounts of fat, carbohydrates (“carbs”) and protein will do the trick along with exercise.
It’s easier to say this, of course. Don’t I know it… And that’s why we fall for these fad diets that, at best, work only in the short run and, at worst, don’t work and cause injury.
Finally, did you notice the mistakes in that sign?
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
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