You know those keto zealots who claim keto is the best diet for weight loss and everyone should do it? I know one because I gave him a box full of ‘you’re blocked’ right after I wrote my first post on Medium. These people would be completely banned if I were in power because they spread misinformation based on misinterpreted data.

They’ll go ‘keto is better for weight loss because lower insulin levels and induced ketosis which I don’t know much about but I’m sure black magic has something to do with it.’ That’s where misinterpretation of the research comes into our story.

They cherry-pick studies involving higher protein intakes in the ketogenic groups. This gives an unfair playing field for keto because protein seems to be the most satiating macronutrient — it makes you eat fewer calories (source).

Even worse, they throw studies at you forgetting to mention that calorie intake isn’t matched between the ketogenic and high-carb groups.

So these studies can effoff. But what would happen if we looked at studies that matched protein and/or calorie intake between the keto and non-keto conditions? Kevin D. Hall answered this perfectly in a 2017 review:

There has never been an inpatient controlled feeding study testing the effects of isocaloric diets (i.e. having the same caloric intake) with equal protein that has reported significantly increased energy expenditure or greater loss of body fat with lower carbohydrate diets.

He is right you know. I’ve been digging into the research so thoroughly that my eyes have begun to flow blood — except for one study, all tightly controlled studies that matched protein and calorie intake between the keto and non-keto groups showed no fat loss advantage of the keto diet.

This study did this:

Seventeen overweight or obese men were admitted to metabolic wards, where they consumed a high-carbohydrate baseline diet (BD) for 4 wk followed by 4 wk of an isocaloric KD with clamped protein.

Despite vastly different carbohydrate intake between the groups — 31g vs. 300g — both groups lost similar amounts of fat. Oh, and the high-carb group consumed 147g of sugar while the keto group only 10g (suck on this, ‘clean eaters’). I told you long ago that sugar doesn’t prevent fat loss.

The other study by Soenen et al. put 132 participants into four calorie-matched diets differing in protein and/or carbohydrate intake:

he study showed irrefutably, that, despite the success all-over with all four diets, the answer is that it is the relatively high-protein content per se, that supports the even greater success, and not the relatively lower carbohydrate content

So keto superiority is all complete claptrap so far. Let’s continue because I promised you six studies.

A 2017 study randomly assigned 47 men into two groups:

very high–fat, low-carbohydrate (VHFLC; 73% of energy fat and 10% of energy carbohydrate) or low-fat, high-carbohydrate (LFHC; 30% of energy fat and 53% of energy carbohydrate)

Since both diets were equal in calorie intake (2091 kcal/d) and protein (17% of total calories), similar reductions in body weight have been observed:

A small deviation from the post:

I started writing this post at 6:30 am when it was still raining. But now, raining has stopped and the sun came out. So I want to go out and get my steps in. This is why I’ll cram the rest three studies into one fancy-pants infographic.

Deal with it:

Loss of fat mass was similar on the high fat-low carbohydrate (i.e. 66% fat, 4% carbohydrate) and moderate fat-moderate carbohydrate (i.e. 35% fat, 35% carbohydrate) diets in both studies (i.e. ad libitum and isocaloric) | KLC (i.e. ketogenic low-carbohydrate) and NLC (i.e. nonketogenic low-carbohydrate) diets were equally effective in reducing body weight and insulin resistance, but the KLC diet was associated with several adverse metabolic and emotional effects. The use of ketogenic diets for weight loss is not warranted. | Long-term weight loss diet studies targeting different macronutrients demonstrate similar mean body weight trajectories corresponding to a similar exponential decay of diet adherence with all diets.

Now, by all the offensive words — fuck, dumbfuck, motherfucking, moronic, etc. — I tend to use in my posts, you might have noticed that I’m not really what people would call ‘a scientist.’ This is why I managed to read through only six studies until I started looking out of the window due to monumental boredom.

Luckily, Hall and Guo conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of carbohydrate restriction on body fat which included only calorie- and, protein-matched studies. Unlike me, they’re well-educated, well-spoken professionals and so they found 32 studies with carbs ranging from 1 to 83% and fat ranging from 4 to 84% of total calories. Lo and behold:

Obesity Energetics: Body Weight Regulation and the Effects of Diet Composition

In sum, I hate keto diet. It doesn’t work better than other diets for weight loss or health outcomes. I think it’s a hopelessly moronic diet. It’s not for me. And as I wrote in this article, it’s not for most people either. It’s just too fucking rigid.

But if you happened to be an outlier who found keto sustainable, keep doing it. I don’t think this advice matters, though. I don’t think keto people read my stuff. They get pissed (at science?) after the first paragraph and go back to pretending that their homemade low-carb chocolate bar tastes just as good as the real Snickers. Phleeease.

P.S. If you need help losing weight and building muscle and you don’t want to cut your favorite foods from your diet, check out my 1×1 Coaching Program. Cheers.


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Originally published by me on Medium on July 16, 2022

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