Recently, CNN posted about US News ranking the Keto Diet as the worst diet on their list. Considering how popular the Ketogenic Diet is, it's quite an attention-grabbing headline when you mention it's at the bottom of the U.S. News rankings and since controversy gets clicks, in a way, it could be said that the Ketogenic Diet has gone totally mainstream. The CNN article can be found here. Now, let's clarify some things about this diet.
MANY TYPES OF KETOGENIC DIETS
While the Ketogenic diet ends up being an elimination diet and utilizes the mechanism of primarily using fats, stored or consumed, to fuel the body, the methods can vary across communities, subjects and clinics. The percentages of proteins, carbs and fats can vary depending on your goals ranging from fat loss, muscle gain or combating several chronic conditions. Dismissing the entire diet in its infancy and disregarding the context when it is being used for several health reasons may severely limit the people who could potentially benefit from this dietary protocol.
A RESTRICTIVE DIET?
As much as we love to innovate new food products as human beings and the world of nutrition is to be explored, it also opens up a free-for-all gateway to provide foods that people can overconsume. Masked behind the health and nutritional claims are several food products that are addictive, hyper palatable and lead to obesity and chronic conditions that are putting a massive toll on our healthcare system in the long run. Though this is a problem with every single diet, it needs to be addressed immediately. We are perpetually stuck in the vicious cycle of making endless and diverse portfolio of cheaper foods and then having our healthcare system pay the price for it. Maybe, it's time to change up the message a little bit now and not constantly prey upon the circuitry of our brain using food and nutrition? A whole new topic for a whole new article.
THE POWER OF ANECDOTES
There is an interesting paradigm shift that is happening currently that is creating a big disparity between the "experts" and the "public". People are noticing fantastic results to their health across various social media platforms when they embark on a Ketogenic diet. This creates a strong distrust towards the existing media and expert panels which may have some answering to do in case several of anecdotes turn into a massive movement. Also, most people don't care about research or anyone's PhD credentials. Science, research and credentials are a means to an end. People care about results. They are getting those on a Ketogenic Diet. Despite the constant push from the government and dietary committees, people are still switching to low carb or ketogenic diets. Though we should exercise caution when some novel diet pierces through our existing wisdom, it's also cautionary in context to the health and evolution of our civilization to ignore this way of eating
THE PROBLEM WITH ANECDOTES
Anecdotes aren't going to be perfect. Skepticism needs to be thrown at them and even in the Ketogenic (or any community) sphere, there are some claims that may make Moses's splitting of the river trick seem a bit of a joke. It can quickly turn into that scene from Monty Python & The Holy Grail where everyone starts yelling "She's a witch!" This is where we think critical reasoning and common sense(yes, yes, broad words) need to come into play. So, yes, we can definitely see the problem here with experts holding back or throwing caution to the wind when it comes to the Ketogenic diet. However, there's one, tiny little problem... that turns into a big one...
CITIZEN SCIENCE & FUTURE OF NUTRITION
What happens when your dietary guidelines fail and the person on the receiving end of the bad news is a smarty pants? Well, they start digging deeper into the scientific literature and figuring it all out themselves. Here's a great example of Ivor Cummins & Dave Feldman who are on a tireless journey to figure out everything about Cholesterol, heart disease and much much more! Now, this makes things interesting because sometimes, citizen scientists can perform small self-studies (nicknamed N=1) and these can then create communities around it when the small study gets replicated by other people following the same protocols. These citizen scientists are able to quickly figure out paradoxes and replicate them, bypassing all the grants and funding required to perform a study in a nutritional setting. Considering the distrust and how much nutritional science may be junk, many people in the public then form online communities revolving around this duplicable paradox and this challenges conventional wisdom.
ENTER KETOGENIC DIET
Well, this brings us back to the Ketogenic diet and why it's popular despite being ridiculed by the mainstream media and dietetics. It poses some interesting questions that extend beyond just the diet itself such as, how can we expedite and utilize the power of social media to conduct studies? It may be time for the government health system to change its antiquated structure and start taking social media and the power of online communities a bit more seriously. We need to start build bridges here, not battlegrounds. After all, it may not be the Ketogenic Diet that may be the concern. The problem is ignoring these paradoxes that turn into a global virus, bypassing the gatekeepers i.e. media outlets and government dietary authorities that are entrenched in safety nets of antiquated science.
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