A blast from the past. I wrote the blog below back in April of 2013 actually. Crazy how time flies and life happens! After reading this over again, I felt it was fitting to share it again since the topic of ketogenic dieting has come up several times in conversation lately.
Some of you may know a bit about my personal experience with this type of restrictive diet, and how it was a hugely contributing factor in my near-death experience back in 2012. I training and dieting for a figure competition, doing all kinds of stupid crap to my body: over-exercising, under-sleeping, over-supplementing and over-dieting. I developed one of the worst cases the Foothills Hospital in my then home-town of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, had ever seen. The final straw that landed me in ICU for 16 days was thanks to the totally unnatural and messed up condition my poor body had reached.
I’ll tell you right off the hop: if you’re looking to read about how wonderful keto dieting is and so forth, you will not find that here. Not from me. My opinion is that ANY form of strict or restrictive, dichotomous thinking and disordered behavior when it comes to our bodies and food, is not okay.
The only exception is when there is a medical need for the diet and the dieter is being carefully, mindfully and holistically monitored by caring experts. Well-meaning friends and family members are not qualified to prescribe any kind of diets. Fitness professionals who do not hold nutrition degrees or licenses aren’t either. Unfortunately, many clients of the fitness industry are naive to this fact and end up paying their trainer for cookie-cutter diets like knock-off versions of the keto diet.
MLM (multi-level marketing) sales reps or “coaches” as they like to call themselves are almost always uneducated in, and certainly not qualified, to put anyone on a diet. It is a sad fact that the insecurities and frustrations of said dieters, dishing out countless dollars for pills, potions and glorified cellophane wrap (holy s**t… don’t even get me started!) are what these businesses prey upon. These businesses apply and teach very specific sales tactics to their reps, who will brilliantly convince you that what they are selling will help you lose weight. It’s true that some reps are well-meaning. They themselves having experienced some kind of weight loss success, want to help others and make a buck off of something they feel passionate about.
If your medical or nutrition professional prescribes a diet, don’t be afraid to ask questions and get another opinion. Are there options you or your physician may have overlooked or didn’t know about? What are the risks, benefits and financial costs of the diet? Misinformed, inexperienced, indifferent or otherwise inadequate representatives exist in all professions. Do your research.
The fact is, we are dealing with an amazing living organism called the human body. Each one has it’s own unique history, illnesses, needs, conditions etc. No one is the same. We’re also talking about the human psyche and spirit. It’s nearly impossible to convince dieters that it is not them who failed… it is the diet.
April 13th, 2013
Many of you know what one of my main motivations is for being a personal trainer and lifestyle coach: educate, empower and where willing, teach others NOT to make the same mistakes I made in the past with regards to reaching fitness goals.
For those of you who are not in the loop about my super-f’d up experience last September while prepping for a Figure Competition, let’s just say that what I thought was the way to go to winning a stage show, was totally the way to go to get my (then) lean ass into ICU for over a couple of weeks.
At the “professional recommendation” of my then-trainer, I was on 23 different supplements. This means anything from protein powders, pre/intra/post workout powders, vitamins, oils, caffeine, ephedrine and other supplements that, let’s just say your friendly Safeway will certainly not be doling out anytime soon. In order to sleep, I took sleeping aids, both natural and not. At the recommendation of seasoned, well-intentioned fitness-freaks and co-competitors, I was training 2 to 4 hours per day.
By the time I was whisked away that day via ambulance to the Foothills Hospital, I’d been in a deep state of ketosis for close to 3 months. The team of doctors oooh’ed and ahhhh’ed over my very unstable heart rhythm, whacked out electrolytes and near to failing kidneys and liver. The team of four attending physicians who flew in from different parts of the country included a gastroenterologist, cardiologist, immunologist and nephrologist. They concluded that my condition and its acute development was due to ketoacidosis. The elevated serum concentrations of creatine kinase (CK) in my system and overall acidity, brought on a nearly-final sentence of acute Rhabdomyolosis.
Alright, so the point this blog is to shed some light on the method of dieting called ketosis or ketogenic dieting. It is an all or nothing diet that involves high fats, high protein and low or no carbs. Some will argue that the fats and proteins are clean and there are some amounts of healthy greens in there (carbs) and carb-cycling can be thrown into the mix. Any way you look at it, it is simply NOT meant to create a balanced, healthy body.
Here is an excerpt from a book my mom told me about called ‘The Crazy Sex Diet’ by Kris Carr. (A super-fun read if you’d like to learn more about NOT dieting.):
Clean: the Revolutionary Progam to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself
By Alejandro Junger, MD
“Understanding the context in which the Atkins diet took over America, and was imported by every other country in the world, may help us avoid repeating such mostly mistakes in the future. Here are some oft h reasons why Atkins exploded and what they reveal about our culture:
Historical Context: In the 1970’s, America had just been deceived by the first mass diet movement, the low fat madness. Eliminating fat from our lives promised to be the solution to excess weight, but instead, it resulted in the fattest country in the world. The food industry saturated the market with low fat and no fat foods. The calories and flavor missing as a result of fat elimination were replaced with calories from carbs. The result was weight gain, not weight loss… Almost overnight we went from no fat to no carbs, the new enemy.
The MD Factor: America loves doctors. We watch them on TV shows obsessively. Dr. Atkins had the most important ingredient when it comes to gaining popular trust, the letters MD after his name. Gullibility is a silent American epidemic.
Effectiveness: results rule and Atkins delivers its promise: weigh loss from fat burning. This leads to a leaner body. America’s obsession with being skinny overrides it concerns for being healthy. This of course was strategically marketed by the Atkins brand. Dr. Atkins knew that depriving the body of carbs forces the metabolism to activate ist survival mechanisms. Our cells work best with they burn glucose from carbs to generate energy. If carbs go missing, the body uses stored fat as the next best fuel. When fatty acids are broken down by the LIVER and KIDNEYS to be used for fuel, ketone bodies are the by-products. The presence o ketone bodies results in a condition known as ketosis. A low level of ketosis, created by fasting briefly, by going on a very low calorie diet, or even in the morning after not eating overnight, is common. But when large amounts of ketones rapidly accumulate in the blood, as can happen with people with Type 1 diabetes who don’t get their insulin, the condition is called keto-acidosis – a medical emergency. The body is designed to use ketones as a temporary solution to a shortage of glucose. Being constantly in ketosis, however can make your blood acidic, because the molecular composition of ketones resembles alcohol.
There is nothing revolutionary about using ketosis metabolic pathway to burn fat. Body builders were using it decades before Atkins wrote about it as a way to lose weight. The overall systemic acidity that inevitably results from a high protein, low carb diet helps you lose weight but has LONG-TERM negative consequences, including inflammation, chronic digestive problems, heart disease and cancer.
If your goal is rapid weight loss, Atkins works well. It is a SHORT TERM approach, however, If your goal is to achieve wellness and longevity, you need a long-term approach what avoids systemic acidity. A diet with no animal products and plenty of fresh vegetables and whole grains avoids acidity and is satisfying while also being high in nutrients and lower in calories. You can lose weight safely while improving, not damaging, your health.”
(Credit to Alejandro Junger, MD for use of his article.)
It’s not rocket science. Achieving your health and wellness goals takes work and consistency. If you’re looking to lose body fat, you can. You’re going to have to get uncomfortable, learn new stuff and put into place actions or behaviors that will seem alien. Some people want to gain weight, others want to decrease cholesterol while other folks are looking to achieve fitness goals. If you’re not sure where to start, ask for help in taking those first few steps.
When it comes to dieting, when clients share with me about their experiences dieting or ask my opinion, I like to put the ball back in their court and encourage them to really think about it.
- Do you see yourself following this diet for the rest of your life?
- Would you put your loved one on this diet (granny, child, partner) for the rest of their lives?
- Are there any restrictions or black & white rules (can’t have, not allowed to have, specific timing, amounts, brand names)?
- What does your mind, body and spirit tell you about this diet/product?
If you’re considering dieting, going on a diet, following a diet that is pre-packaged, labelled or marketed, consider the reality of these questions and their personal truths in answering.