Myths and Mistakes of the Ketogenic Diet

Learn everything you need to know about going keto — separate facts from myth, avoid common pitfalls, and get optimal nutrition for outstanding physical fitness

Keenan Eriksson
May 22 · 36 min read
anaumenko / stock.adobe.com
Defining the Ketogenic DietFasting & The History of the Ketogenic Diet
Ancel Keys & the demonization of fat
Don’t call it a comebackMyths & Misconceptions
Myth #1: You will lose muscle on a ketogenic diet (and can’t gain muscle on it)
Myth #2: Keto slows down your metabolism
Myth 3: Ketosis is bad for your thyroidCommon Mistakes on the Ketogenic Diet & How To Avoid Them
Mistake #1: Being too concerned about eating excess protein
Mistake #2: Not eating enough (read: any) carbs
Mistake #3: Eating too many omega-6 fats & dairyPutting It All Together: How To Do the Ketogenic Diet
The Keto Flu
Measure your macros
Measure your ketones
Quality over quantityConclusion and My Experience With KetoStudies and Resources for Further Reading

Defining the Ketogenic Diet

Here are the basics: The ketogenic diet is designed to make your body enter a metabolic state known as ketosis. Ketosis occurs when your body switches from burning glucose as its primary fuel source to burning fats instead. When this happens, your body produces ketones as a bi-product of fat-burning, which are then used as fuel throughout the body and brain.


Fasting & The History of the Ketogenic Diet

Keto is inextricably linked to fasting, for fasting is the state which the ketogenic diet was created to mimic.

Ancel Keys & the demonization of fat

Despite these discoveries, the ketogenic diet and low-carb diets would be all but wiped off the map starting in the 1950s. It starts with a researcher named Ancel Keys, creator of the “Diet-Heart” hypothesis and a major influence on the high-carb dietary guidelines that would be adopted by the U.S. henceforth.

Don’t call it a comeback

As high-carb diets became more popular, keto and low-carb fell by the wayside. Still, some remained fervent proponents — and none more famous (or infamous) than Dr. Robert Atkins.


Myths & Misconceptions

We’ve covered some benefits of keto, defined it, and covered the history of keto, and now we’re going to cover some common myths about the diet.

Myth #1: You will lose muscle on a ketogenic diet (and can’t gain muscle on it)

This one is especially for athletes, and I’ll just nip it in the bud here in the first few sentences. You are actually more likely to gain muscle on a ketogenic diet than to lose it.

Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash

Myth #2: Keto slows down your metabolism

Keto is popular for weight loss, but some people think that the ketogenic diet will cause your metabolism to slow down in the long run, which is a common problem for other weight loss diets.

Myth 3: Ketosis is bad for your thyroid

This myth is a favorite among keto-diet opposition. Your thyroid is a gland in your neck which helps control your metabolism, and when it isn’t working right you can feel pretty crummy.


Common Mistakes on the Ketogenic Diet & How To Avoid Them

As the title implies, here is where we step from myth into reality, and the ketogenic diet does have a few common mistakes that can make this otherwise amazing diet less effective.

Mistake #1: Being too concerned about eating excess protein

This mistake occurs because people give the process of gluconeogenesis too much credit. If you’ll recall the earlier section on building muscle on keto, gluconeogenesis is when the liver converts protein into blood glucose.

Mistake #2: Not eating enough (read: any) carbs

But carbs are the enemy, right? Not necessarily. The biggest enemy of health isn’t that people eat carbs, it’s that we’ve eaten such high amounts of carbs for so long that for many of us have impaired metabolic function (particularly insulin sensitivity) and we can no longer easily use fats for fuel.

Mistake #3: Eating too many omega-6 fats & dairy

The ketogenic diet is popular, heck, it was the most popular diet in America in 2018. I love that, and I commend anyone who is trying to improve their health. However, it is not necessarily enough to just be in keto. The quality of the foods you eat matters, especially the fats you eat.

Photo by Juan Gomez on Unsplash

Putting It All Together: How To Do the Ketogenic Diet

If you’ve stuck with me and read this guide so far, then you already have a great foundation for doing a ketogenic diet yourself. You know about some of the false myths of doing keto, so you won’t shy away from it just because you lose water weight or are worried about slowing your metabolism. You also know about common mistakes people make, such as consuming poor quality fats or never eating carbs.


The Keto Flu

When you start the ketogenic diet, you may not feel very good during the first week. However, this doesn’t mean you should quit. Many people experience something known as the keto flu, which as the name implies can feel like flu-like symptoms. You will likely feel lower energy, possibly fatigue, and maybe headaches. However, the reasons behind keto flu can be used to help make things more manageable.

Measure your macros

A common nutrition logging technique is to measure your macros. This simply means to keep track of how much protein, fat, and carbs you eat on a daily basis.

Measure your ketones

Entering ketosis is defined by your body creating ketones from burning fat for fuel. Therefore, you only know if you’re doing the ketogenic diet correctly if you enter ketosis.

Quality over quantity

I think the biggest mistake people make with nutrition in general is that they don’t prioritize eating high-quality food. Heck, I think it’s better to just start eating organic whole foods than to do most “diets” in the first place, and it’s not that difficult to figure out:

“Eat real food,

not too much,

mainly vegetables.”

This mantra, made popular by the food author Michael Pollan, is the best, simple diet advice I have ever heard, and we’ll apply it to the ketogenic diet as well.


Conclusion and My Experience With Keto

I won’t get too in-depth about it, but I started my journey into health and fitness expertise when I developed a condition known as HPA-axis dysregulation in 2017.


Studies and Resources for Further Reading

Better Humans

Better Humans is a collection of the world's most trustworthy writing on human potential and self improvement by coaches, academics, and aggressive self-experimenters. Articles are based on deep personal experience, science, and research. No fluff, book reports, or listicles.

Keenan Eriksson

Written by

Founder: www.keenanerikssonfitness.com ISSA Certified Trainer, Ziglar Legacy Certified Speaker, Biohacker, Perspectivist, Kaizen & Kokoro Lifestyle

Better Humans

Better Humans is a collection of the world's most trustworthy writing on human potential and self improvement by coaches, academics, and aggressive self-experimenters. Articles are based on deep personal experience, science, and research. No fluff, book reports, or listicles.