Learn about the dangers of ketogenic diets and why you should avoid them if you have cancer. Discover 7 common low-carb lies you need to be aware of before risking your life. And find out why a plant-based diet is better at preventing cancer and not the keto diet.
The weight-loss industry is a huge business. Many different diet fads are coming and going. One popular food trend right now is the low-carb diet.
In 1972 Atkins published his book Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution.It was a huge success, selling millions of copies. He taught people that you could lose weight by eating more fat and protein.
The book praised foods like pork rinds, meat, and cheese. And at the same time, he condemned carbohydrates such as whole-wheat bread and potatoes.
To him, insulin was poison to the body and caused weight gain. Atkins was himself overweight and suffered a heart attack in 2003 and died at the age of 72.
There are many different incarnations of the low-carb craze. One such diet is the ketogenic diet. Many different sites claim that the ketogenic diet can prevent cancer and diabetes.
In this blog post, you're going to learn why this diet is unhealthy and not recommended for cancer patients. Discover 7 common lies that the keto movement spreads and why you shouldn't believe them.
So let's start by learning about the ketogenic diet.
The ketogenic diet started when doctors at the Mayo clinic treated epilepsy patients in the 1920s. They observed that patients that had low blood sugar levels or starved had fewer seizures. So they wanted to create a diet that mimicked this starvation mode.
There are three macronutrients that we all need for optimal health, carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Carbs are simple or complex sugars from plants, fruits, beans, and grains.
The ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate diet. It allows a maximum of 30 grams of dietary carbohydrate per day.
The diet prohibits carbohydrate-rich foods like fruits, starchy vegetables, legumes, and grains. Instead, you eat meat, dairy, leafy greens, non-starchy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and oils.
It is a meal plan where 60-75% of your food consists of fat, 15-30% protein, and 5-10% carbs.
The goal of this diet is to reach a state called ketosis. To achieve this state, you are only allowed to eat a small number of carbohydrates.
We store excess carbs as glycogen in the liver and our muscles. Glycogen consists of glucose mixed with water.
When the body depletes its glycogen store, it then goes into starvation mode. The body creates ketones in the liver to digest the fat and use it as fuel.
So what this diet does is to mimic starvation. This method may seem like a logical approach to reducing blood glucose fluctuations. But one problem with this approach is that your brain cannot switch from glucose to fatty acids.
Your brain runs off of glucose and is dependent on carbohydrates for energy. Ketone bodies from the liver can work as an emergency backup fuel for your brain. But it is not its preferred food source.
When you remove carbohydrates, there is only protein and fat left. Therefore this diet consists primarily of meat and fatty foods.
So how can you lose weight by eating so much fat?
You lose weight on the ketogenic diet by eating so little carbs that your body needs to use its stored glycogen. Your body then creates ketones to burn the fat.
This same condition, ketosis, occurs when people are starving to death. During starvation, your body suppresses your hunger signals. So, in essence, the ketogenic diet simulates this sick state.
You eat a lot of fat or protein to control your hunger signals.
The initial weight loss is rapid, and thus rewarding, for the desperate dieter. But most of the reduced weight is because of water loss.
The ketogenic diet also reduces our desire to eat, thus lowering your caloric intake. One side effect of the ketone production is nausea, which makes you eat less.
Ketones also have a diuretic effect on the kidneys, which results in even more fluid loss. As you reach your desired weight on these diets, you can eat more carbohydrates.
Living with ketosis gets old fast. It's a restrictive diet, and that is the reason why so many people give up. Stating that ketones are the body’s natural way to digest food is misleading. It's like saying that the gag reflex is a natural mechanism; therefore we should use it to lose weight.
There are many misconceptions that the low-carb movement spreads. Let's look at some of these claims and why they are false.
Advocates of the ketogenic diet tell you that insulin is a fat hormone and a poison to the body. They claim that carbs in fruits and vegetables spike insulin and are therefore bad for you. And that fat reduces the secretion of insulin and make you less prone to diseases.
Saying that insulin is bad for us is misleading and dangerous. Let me explain what insulin is and why it is not bad for you.
Your pancreas creates insulin. Insulin tells the cells in the body that it is time to receive glucose. When insulin attaches to the insulin receptor in the cells, it activates enzymes. This process acts as a gateway for glucose to enter the cell. So, insulin is the key that unlocks the door to our muscle cells.
If there is no insulin, the cells can't receive the sugar, and it gets stuck in the bloodstream. A consequence of this process is that sugar levels rise. That’s what happens in type 1 diabetes.
The reason we get type 2 diabetes is because of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is when our muscle cells can't receive insulin.
So what is stopping the cells from receiving insulin? Fat. So long as fat gets stuck in our cells, our glucose can't reach the cells.
Therefore the body can't take in glucose, and blood sugar levels build up in the blood. Too much fat can start causing insulin resistance. Therefore consuming too much fat as in the ketogenic diet increases insulin resistance.
When you, on the other hand, lower your fat intake your insulin resistance goes down. So when you clear out the fat from the blood, your body can utilize the sugar again.
As the amount of fat in our diet gets lower and lower, insulin works better and better.
A high-fat, high-protein diet is effective at reducing blood glucose in the short term. But many people become more insulin resistant over the course of time.
Insulin is not something bad. It is part of a natural process. You need it to digest food. If you can’t generate insulin, your body dies. Sugar from carbs is the fuel every cell in our body needs for energy.
The ketogenic movement argues that protein causes no increase of insulin. But that is a lie. Meat causes the body to use more insulin than vegetables. Beef, for example, raises insulin more than whole grain pasta.
Eating animal products is the best way to create insulin resistance. It is the reason why diabetes is on the uprise.
The best way to reduce insulin resistance is to eat complex carbs and reduce your fat intake.
Another misconception we often hear is that carbs make us fat.
The biggest lie you will hear is that carbohydrates alone make you fat. But it is the fat in the American diet that is the biggest culprit.
Excess starch does not turn to body fat that easily. After eating, we break down the complex carbohydrates in starches into simple sugars.
Your body absorbs these sugars into the bloodstream. It then transports the sugar to trillions of cells throughout the body for energy.
If you eat more carbohydrate than your body needs, you’ll store it as glycogen. Your body burns off excessive carbs as body heat. Or it can use it when you exercise.
Your body can turn carbs into fat in a process called de novo lipogenesis. Pigs and cows use this process to convert carbohydrates into calorie-dense fats.
We, humans, however, are inefficient at converting glucose into fat under normal conditions. The cost for this conversion is 30% of the calories consumed.
Why should the body turn it into fat when it can use it as direct fuel?
Overeating fat makes you fat. If you combine carbs with fat, as in the Western diet, they promote obesity.
Keto supporters often say that there is nothing as an essential carbohydrate. Labeling glucose as a nonessential implies that there is no use for it in the body.
But your muscles, liver, and other tissues are capable of oxidizing glucose. They can also use amino acids and fatty acids for energy.
But your brain, cannot oxidize either amino acids or fatty acids for energy.Therefore it needs to use glucose as its main fuel source.
The primary function of insulin is to help transport glucose out of your blood and into your tissues. And the secondary effect of insulin is to move fatty acids out of your blood and into your tissues.
Therefore some people may believe that insulin will make you fat. But labeling insulin as your fat storage hormone is incorrect.
If starches make you fat then why are Asians slim and healthy even if they eat tons of rice? They have less diabetes, heart disease, and cancer than Western countries.
Americans eat lots of animal products and are one of the sickest populations in the world. If fat doesn’t make you fat then why are there so many obese people in the US?
And if carbs are not essential, then why can vegans survive and thrive on eating about 80% carbs? Vegans also have a healthier BMI than meat eaters and less cancer.
Another myth the low-carb movement spreads is that humans are carnivores.
Every animal has their perfect diet. Meat is an ideal food for carnivores like cats and lions.
Cows and horses are herbivores and would get sick on a meat diet. The same happens with humans when they eat a meat-centered diet.
Humans are herbivores, not meat eaters.
Carnivores have a wide mouth opening in relation to their head size. This gives them advantages in catching, killing and cutting their prey into pieces.We humans can move our mouth side to side, dogs and other carnivores can’t do that.
Lions have sharper canines needed for ripping apart their prey. But our teeth are much smaller. They are better for chewing the food.
Carnivores' stomach is capable of holding a lot of food. The size of the stomach in a carnivore represents 60-70% of the total capacity of the digestive system. They kill on average once a week.
A large stomach volume is helpful because it allows the animals to eat as much meat as possible at one time. They then can digest the food later while resting. Humans´ stomach works more like the herbivores.
Our hands are perfect for grabbing and picking fruits and vegetables. We don’t have sharp claws to seize and hold down a prey.
Most of us lack the instinct to chase and kill animals. Many people can't look at blood without feeling disgusted.
But if carnivores see a bunny, they perceive it as food and start chasing it.
Our intestines are long. Carnivores have short intestines so they can get rid of all that rotting flesh they eat fast.
Humans have no protein or fat receptors on our tongues, and that is the reason why meat is tasteless. Have you ever tried to eat meat without using any seasoning? Or can you imagine eating cheese without any salt?
Human beings are not carnivores. Animal flesh contains cholesterol and saturated fat, which was never intended for us. Our evolution and anatomy are herbivorous.
When we eat meat, we get decreased energy and need more sleep. We also increase the risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Ketogenic advocates say that the keto diet is not a high-protein diet. But is that true?
According to science, more than 15% of total calories from protein is dangerous. This is especially true if the majority of your protein intake originates from animal foods. Too much protein can lead to protein toxicity.
The Standard American Diet contains on average 16% calories from protein or more.It is almost impossible for a ketogenic diet to be low in protein. The food used in the ketogenic diet include:
Most of the foods that they eat except for oils are not only high in fat, but also protein. So if you eat this way you will exceed the dangerous 15% protein level. The only way they can lower their protein intake is to get most of their calories from vegetable oils.
But the problem is that vegetable oils are not health promoting either. They are the most calorie dense substance you can eat. Oils clog arteries which lead to heart disease and diabetes.
The extraction of oils remove all the other ingredients of the whole food. Oils have no longer the proteins, carbohydrates, or minerals from the whole food. When we remove these nutrients, the oils are no longer food.
Vegetable oils supply concentrated calories but nothing else from the plants. Cold-pressed olive and coconut oil are not any better. Like any other oil, they contain as little or fewer nutrients as white sugar.
But the big question is, can this diet prevent cancer?
Otto Warburg discovered that cancer cells used sugar as a primary fuel source instead of oxygen. So restricting carbs should, in theory, stop feeding your cancer cells.
But there are no long-term studies that show that a ketogenic diet can prevent cancer. The ketogenic diet also encourages you to use foods that promote cancer growth. There are also many long-term side effects of this diet such as:
A ketogenic diet can cause a loss of appetite and restrict one's calorie intake. That can explain why blood cholesterol, sugar, and triglyceride levels may go down.You can lose weight on any diet as long as you restrict calories. But this doesn't mean that the food is healthy.
Chemotherapy can suppress your hunger drive and reduce your food intake. That can lead to weight loss, lowered cholesterol and triglycerides.
Does that mean that we should promote The Chemo Diet? No.
Toxins manifest cancer, not carbs.
If you eat a lot of meat and fat your body will become toxic and can cause cancer. Your cancer cells then need to feed on sugars to survive. So sugars seem to be the problem. But it is the meat that causes the dilemma.
Vegetables and fruits alkalize your body. Cancer cells can’t survive in an alkaline state. When you eat animal products, you make your body more acidic and more prone to cancer and other problems.
A plant-based diet has time after time shown to prevent type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Shouldn’t you use something that is proven to work? Why should you try a diet that is experimental?
Another dangerous myth I often hear is that animal products are safe for our body. Let's learn why this myth is all wrong.
Meat is detrimental to our health. It is high in fat. The fat promotes obesity, type-2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Meat is high in protein. Too much protein overworks and damages the liver and kidneys. Animal flesh is also acidic.
Meat contains no fiber. Your body needs it to create healthy stools. Vegetables and fruits provide a lot of fiber which helps your digestion.
Cholesterol exists only in animal foods. Excess cholesterol is detrimental to our health. Meat also contains environmental contaminants. It is also a breeding ground for infectious agents. Animal flesh is one of the greatest risk factors for getting cancer.
Another risk factor in meat is IGF-1. IGF-1 is a growth hormone that makes cancer cells grow faster. It can increase the risk of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung, and colon. Overstimulation of IGF-1 leads to premature aging too.
Heterocyclic amines (HCA:s) are chemicals formed in meat or animal protein during cooking. They develop when you prepare meat at a high temperature or over an open flame. HCA:s may contribute to cancer development.
Meat also contains unhealthy saturated fat. When you eat a primarily meat-based diet, you don't get enough of some nutrients.
Dairy is also problematic to the body. Milk is food for calves, not humans. It is the perfect food for calves when they need to grow the most.
Dairy products are one of the leading contributors to excess body fat. It is also high in calories, fat, and cholesterol. It contributes to heart disease, strokes, type-2 diabetes, and obesity.
We should not be afraid of carbs from whole foods like fruits and vegetables. Instead, we should be fearful of too much fat and meat.
Another myth the low-carb movement likes to spread is that organic and grass-fed meat is healthy.
Factory farmed animal products are full of bacteria, viruses, antibiotics, and industrial chemicals.
Many animals thrive on grass. When we feed them grains, it causes inflammation and bacteria growth. So grass-fed meat should be better than the meat we buy in the store.
But grass-fed meat still causes inflammation in the body. Inflammation is the body's attempt to protect itself from harmful stimuli. If grass-fed meat was our primary food source then why does it cause inflammation?
Populations that eat animals in their natural state don't live longer than us.
The Maasai is a nomadic tribe inhabiting southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. They are cattle ranchers and eat lots of meat, including the organs, and big amounts of blood. But they only live for forty to fifty years, on average.
Inuits in the Canada, Greenland, and the United States also die young. They depend on large amounts of seafood, blubber, and fat. The rest of their diet consists of wild berries, kelp, flowers, and nuts when available.
Inuits are not healthy at all and suffer from many chronic diseases. They live, on average, ten years less than Canadians. They have the worst longevity of all populations in North America.
There are many reasons for their short life expectancy. One reason is a high rate of infections and tuberculosis, as well as high suicide rates. Inuits also die of cancers of the GI tract and stroke.
Grass-fed meat is not much healthier than factory farmed meat. You will still get exposed to IGF-1, HCA:s, and too much fat and protein.
In 2009, Dan Buettner wrote the book The Blue Zones. He visited places where people lived the longest. Their diets were for the most part plant-based. The Blue Zones rarely had meat. At most, they ate meat once a week or at special occasions.
Meat is more like a side dish and not the primary source of their diet as in the west. Strict Adventists avoid meat entirely.
If grass-fed meat is so fantastic, then why didn't he visit the Inuits and Masai tribe? Well, because they didn't live that long.
If you want to be healthy, then you need to copy healthy populations. Learn how to do that in the next section.
The carbs we eat is not the reason we become sick. It is the meat and dairy we consume. Carbohydrate is the human body’s primary fuel. The brain, red blood cells, and kidney cells need glucose.
A whole food, plant-based diet consists of whole, unrefined, plants. It’s a diet based on fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains, and legumes. And it is devoid of meat (including chicken and fish), dairy products, oils, and eggs.
The high-carb low-fat diet contains all the macronutrients you need. It’s almost impossible not to get enough protein, even when you eat a vegan diet.
In the western world, we have an obsession with protein. Many believe that it’s our most critical nutrient. It is also common to think that we need to eat a lot of animal products to be lean, muscular, and healthy.
But most of us eat way too much protein. When you eat a whole-food plant based diet, you get the right amount of protein.You do not need to eat animal products to get enough protein.
Plants contain the right amount of fats for our needs and no cholesterol.You don't need to restrict foods or count calories on this diet. Eat delicious food and remain healthy. There is no need to limit your calorie intake or starve yourself.
Vegetables are our body’s perfect food. When we eat food like starch, our bodies become healthy.
Healthy Asians thrive on high-carbohydrate, rice-based diets. Japanese people eat food abundant in rice and vegetables and only small amounts of meat. They have lower incidences of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer than the western world.
The China Study shows that vegan food is better for you health and reduces your risk of cancer. It is also the diet the healthiest people on the earth eats. Learn how to follow this diet below.
The ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate diet that gets most of its calories from fat.
The goal of the ketogenic diet is to reduce your carb intake and use ketones to burn fat.
Insulin resistance is a state of carbohydrate intolerance, caused by overeating fat.
Carbohydrates don't make you fat that easily.
Humans are herbivores, not meat eaters.
It is almost impossible for a ketogenic diet to be low in protein.
There are no long-term studies that show that a ketogenic diet prevents cancer.
Animal products are detrimental to our health.
Grass-fed meat is not much healthier than factory farmed meat.
A whole food, low-fat, plant-based diet can reduce your cancer risk.
Today you learned about the dangers of ketogenic diet.
1. Join the 12 Day Vegan Cancer Challenge
After reading this blog post you should be aware of the dangers of ketogenic diets. If you want to decrease your cancer risk, then you should eat a whole food high carb low-fat diet.
We have created a 12-day program that teaches you how to convert from a meat based diet to a vegan diet in 12 days.
You’ll learn what foods to eat and what to avoid if you have cancer.
Join our free 12-day vegan cancer challenge to learn how to eat a plant-based diet for cancer. Receive seven emails that teach you how to eat a healthy plant-based diet. As a bonus for joining the challenge, you will receive a free recipe book with many delicious recipes.
Simon Persson is a holistic cancer blogger with a passion for natural health cures. When he is not blogging, he enjoys nature, cooking and learning about the latest gadgets on the market.
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