Last week, while listening to an episode of The Survival Podcast, I experienced something that surprised me. I felt irrationally triggered by a naysayer, and as a result, I’m committing to get my health back on track by following a well-formulated ketogenic food plan.
What Triggered Me?
I was listening to “EXPERT COUNCIL Q&A FOR 9-1-17” (episode 2077 of The Survival Podcast). Around 36:25 into the podcast, Jack announced a question for Gary Collins on the differences between ketogenic and paleo diets. Given Collins’ passion for primal and paleo lifestyles, I was definitely not expecting what I heard next.
His tone of voice was dismissive, and he almost seemed to mock folks who follow a ketogenic meal plan. He defined a ketogenic diet by saying, “A ketogenic diet is a high-fat diet which is usually 80-85% of your calories are consumed in fat, roughly 5% or zero in carbohydrates and the remainder in protein.”
Setting his definition aside for the moment, I kept listening. He went on to say ketogenic diets are only “good for a two to three week window”, they’re “trendy”, and they’re used for weight loss when people are “going on vacation in Hawaii and want to look good in a bathing suit”.
One of my favorite quotes was, “I know a lot of these yahoos teach you can ketogenic diet long term. Trust me. It doesn’t work and it’s not worth it because think about it. That’s a lot of fat!”
Who are the “yahoos”? Jimmy Moore and others? And why is eating a lot of fat a problem? I guess it all comes down to Collins’ idea of how people eat while following a ketogenic approach. According to him, “Most of these people their breakfast is a stick of butter you know melted and cooking two eggs in it.” He goes on to desribe “a half a stick of butter in a cup of coffee” and “a lot of bone broth” as the foundation for a ketogenic diet.
He also claims that going keto means that you’re missing out on anti-oxidants, fiber in the form of vegetables, and the real kicker — carbohydrates. “You do need carbohydrates somewhat. You can’t just eliminate them long-term forever. It doesn’t work unless you come from a different ethnic background such as the Inuit or the Eskimos who lived on high fat content because they have very little vegetation and a very short growing season.”
His overall recommendation was to “do paleo” and then “experiment with keto in between”. Then he wrapped up his answer by explaining why fat is good but too much fat will make you fat. I was stunned!
Collins’ understanding of what constitutes a ketogenic diet is fundamentally flawed and he uses a number of logical fallacies to convince his listeners that keto has no merit long term. What’s more, he doesn’t even really address the listener’s question. I expected to hear comparing and contrasting talking points, and what I heard instead were ad hominem, evasion, and false analogy arguments that left me entirely unimpressed.
So what did he get wrong? First, and most importantly, the majority of folks who follow a well formulated keto plan do not eat zero carbs as a lifestyle choice. Are there folks out there who’re living on nothing but bone broth, eggs, butter and coffee? There might actually be, but if those folks do exist, they’re certainly the exception and not the rule. Pointing those folks out as an example of keto perfection is misleading at best.
He also gets the underlying science wrong when it comes to chemistry and metabolism. His opinions seem based on old dogma rather than current data and real world experiences.
Lastly, he uses name-calling to set himself apart from others who’re doing fantastic work in a space that isn’t yet mainstream. It seems to me that falling into an us against them mentality only serves to make Gary look bad instead of spreading the message of primal/paleo living.
What’s Next for Me?
Over the past few months, I’ve been thinking seriously about bariatric surgery. That doesn’t mean I’d given up on low-carb or keto; it just meant I thought I needed yet another tool in my toolbox to take control of my health again.
Then I heard Gary’s segment on TSP. I decided that I was going to write a formulated rebuttal on the episode’s webpage. I made sure I had all my ducks in a row first though by having plenty of resources to cite. In gathering those resources, I had an epiphany. In all my years of low-carb eating, I have never achieved long term nutritional ketosis, and as a result, I experienced a lot of the challenges that can be so discouraging. Surely I owed it to myself to give it a try, and that’s what I’ve decided to do.
I’m actually really excited, and I’ll be sharing my journey here on my blog. I’m feeling optimistic, encouraged, and empowered, and I haven’t felt that way regarding my health since medication side effects damaged my kidneys. I’ve lost a lot of ground since then, but I’m ready to take it back!
- Keto Clarity: Your Definitive Guide to the Benefits of a Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet — a fantastic book that is well cited and explains the philosophy and science behind ketogenic diets
- Keto Talk with Jimmy Moore & Dr. Will Cole — the podcast that inspired my epiphany