Last month, the comments under one of my Facebook videos pointed to public figure and fitness guru, Jillian Michaels. She was quoted in a recent article that was critical of the Keto diet. So, there began to be a trail of negative comments about her and her viewpoint.
This, of course, caught my attention and I decided to get involved.
First, I’m OK with her opinion about Keto, in fact, I welcome the critical comments because she makes some good points and there are some concerns worth addressing. Second, I deleted some of the thread because hating on others is not my style and shouldn’t be a tactic that social media users should employ. It’s counterproductive. It’s negative energy. 👊🏽❤
But, I’ve chosen to address her comments in this blog and hope the exercise will be helpful for you and me. Additionally, she’s helped a lot of people get back to fit, so I have a lot of respect for her and I consider ALL of us in the health and fitness industry to be on the same team. 👍🏼
I’ll first say that I chose to follow Keto a few years ago after much research, talking with experts and scientists, and trying it myself.
Since then, I’ve continued to track the trends and highlight user success stories and interview doctors who recommend Keto to their patients. If there are positive results and findings, I’ll report them. If there are questions, doubts or negative results, I’ll explore them and share with you what I learn. I believe healthy living can be achieved through natural means, for the most part. For example, there are ongoing studies that dig into questions such as:
- How can those on Keto avoid unhealthy types and amounts of protein and fat?
- What are the long-term effects of high-fat, high-protein in the diet?
- How can one maintain the results of a Ketogenic lifestyle?
From the beginning of my Keto journey, I’ve emphasized the importance of seeking the guidance of your doctor in your own health and fitness program. There may be some of you that are ideal candidates for Keto and there may be some that are not. I can provide the tools to follow, but the results are up to you under the care and collaboration with your doctor as well as your interfacing with your friends and online community.
That being said, let’s look at the critical viewpoints she voiced. In the last few weeks, there have been a number of articles published on the topic. I think all the buzz created an interest for interviewers to check with other fitness voices and that’s what happened here.
So, Jillian starts off with what seems to be anger and frustration.
It’s as if she’s asking, ‘why are people getting entangled with a complicated and unfounded approach to a healthy lifestyle?’ A comparison is made to the Atkins diet – the famous, low-carb approach. Then, she states that Keto might be good for those with high insulin levels, including diabetics, but not ideal for others.
A ‘fad diet’, she calls it.
In a 2017 report from the Harvard Health Blog, similar caution is expressed.
- “A ketogenic diet could be an interesting alternative to treat certain conditions, and may accelerate weight loss. But it is hard to follow and it can be heavy on red meat and other fatty, processed, and salty foods that are notoriously unhealthy.”
- “We also do not know much about its long-term effects, probably because it’s so hard to stick with that people can’t eat this way for a long time.
- “Instead of engaging in the next popular diet that would last only a few weeks to months, try to embrace change that is sustainable over the long term. A balanced, unprocessed diet, rich in very colorful fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and lots of water seems to have the best evidence for a long, healthier, vibrant life.”
These are very valid concerns and my promotion of the ketogenic diet doesn’t come without cautions. In fact, I warn followers about how to balance out their fat and protein intake so as to not fully depend on the ‘fatty, processed, and salty foods.”
Also, the Keto approach has worked for many people, including those with unique health challenges. See my podcast with Jade Nelson and her difficulties with epilepsy. Then there’s Dr. David Jockers, who explains in my podcast how he discovered the health benefits of ketosis and applied them to the health challenges of his family. (The Benefits of a Cyclical Ketogenic Diet)
Opinions alone about Keto don’t hold water.
The days of opinion-based health advice are over – we should follow a personal health plan based on professional advice and the best scientific evidence out there. And remember the source! Not all “authoritative” health commentary stands the test of time.
Remember the food pyramid on the back of those processed cereal boxes? 6-11 servings of bread, cereal, and pasta per day…
Remember when fats were deemed by the fitness community as “not healthy”?
That being said, Keto could be a fad if it wasn’t backed up by science. And you’ll notice that Jillian didn’t cite any published sources in her opinion statements.
In recent studies related to Keto, here are some findings:
- A significant decrease in the level of triglycerides, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and glucose, and a significant increase in the level of HDL cholesterol in the patients.
- The ketogenic diet acted as a natural therapy for weight reduction in obese patients.
- It is safe to use a ketogenic diet for a longer period of time than previously demonstrated.
Even with the increased fat intake, it might not make sense, but people lost weight and their “fat” scores were in a very healthy range.
One observation was a bit startling and worthy of additional consideration.
- In rodents, development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and insulin resistance were observed*.
This could’ve been due to the type of protein and fat ingested as not all of those have optimal impact. But, worth noting is the counterclaim that showed little to no impact on the human system.
Further studies are in progress. See the links below for additional related information.
In conclusion, a healthy concern for Keto is good and welcome.
Thus, it’s important to speak with your doctor and make a plan that can work for you. Study the research that’s been done and the related publications, listen to the experts and experiment to see what works for you.
Jillian’s concern should give us reason to study things out and make an informed choice.
Track the latest conversations about Keto and relevant studies by visiting our blog and podcast where we feature expert analysis and recommendations. See the most recent one on the topic of Managing Diabetes through Keto.
- *Reduction in Cholesterol & reduction of cardiovascular risk, 2017
- Ketogenic Diet vs. Plate Method Diet in helping combat diabetes in obese patients, 2017
- Maintaining weight loss through process of ketosis, 2015
- The effects of the ketogenic diet on behavior and cognition, 2012
- The neuroprotective properties of calorie restriction, the ketogenic diet, and ketone bodies, 2009
- Significant reduction in LDL & Triglycerides on long term keto diet, 2004