023: Keto Diet Myths

Welcome to another Thrivingonfat Podcast show notes blog post!! These are not like most show notes, because I include a decent bit of extra stuff not found in the episode. This is mostly because I like to fact check myself, and I also cannot go as in-depth while recording as I would like.

At the beginning of the episode, Ash references a podcast we did earlier. That episode is lost, which really blows, I am trying to see if I can recover it. Until I am successful with that I do apologize for the lack of episode.

As we check up with Ash and Whit, Ash is doing well, her migraines are down, and her weight is steady. Considering this was a week or so after Thanksgiving, that is awesome.

As for Whit, her weight is up, which she did not like because she worked so hard to the loss. Luckily, she is staying in high spirits. The reason her weigh has increased is most likely because she has been on strong meds to kick her sicknesses. Not to mention she has also been couch ridden, due to doctor orders. As she gets better she plan to start moving as much as she can. After we catch up with them we get into the fun stuff, Diet Myths.

Diet Myths:

#1: Caloric restriction is the best way to lose weight.

In the short term, you can lose weight. Over the long term, however, your body will adjust to the deficit and will lower your metabolic rate accordingly. This is to accommodate to new amount of calories you are at. If you are using the high-carb approach (think weight watchers) you could end up going too low which could wreck your metabolism in the long run. If you are constantly hungry you should up the caloric intake.

If you are doing a high-fat approach you should still not go too low, but due to the filling nature of many keto/primal foods, it can be easier to feel full on a lower caloric load. However, in my opinion, you should NEVER go below 1300-1400 calories (I say 1200 in the podcast, but that is even too low, I was using that number as a reference), and in some cases, even that may be too low.

An important note is that if you are not hungry, it may be okay to skip a meal, but it is not good to purposely restrict calories in spite of hunger.  Again this is a broad suggestion, and if your hunger signals are wonky, this piece of advice may not work for you. At that point I would suggest that you work with someone to help you dial in an eating strategy that could work for you. This is why I offer my coaching. If you are looking for a coach fill out my contact form, so I can help you reach your goals

#2: There is bad cholesterol and good cholesterol

This is true, however not it the way most people mean it. HDL and LDL is not all good, nor is it all bad.

It is important to note that, cholesterol can be made in our bodies and it is circulated throughout our bloodstream. This is so can be used by cells as needed, because it is needed for the health of our cells and hormones. Any extra then returns to the liver to be converted into bile acids or is used for other purposes.

Cholesterol cannot travel around our bloodstream on its own since it is a hydrophobic (water-repelling) substance. This means it must be packaged within lipoproteins to moves around our bloodstream. So our cholesterol levels, are really referring to the amount of cholesterol contained in the different lipoprotein particles. To add to the complexity, these lipoprotein particles also contain special proteins called apolipoproteins, triglycerides and other compounds.

The important note on cholesterol breakdown:

  • Lipoproteins that contain apolipoprotein B is the LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol.
    • there is also VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein) and IDL (intermediate density lipoprotein) particles also contain apolipoprotein B and are precursors to LDL particles.
  • Lipoproteins that contain apolipoprotein A is referred to as HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol.

This may seem a bit technical, but the cholesterol is not the bad guy. The problem comes from the particle sizes of the lipoproteins.

LDL is called “bad” cholesterol because high levels have been linked to an increased chance for heart disease. HDL, in contrast, is “good” cholesterol, since increase HDL is associated with a decreased chance of heart disease. One role of HDL, is to carry cholesterol back to the liver to be used as needed[1].

LDL Sizes:

LDL particles are subdivided into large and buoyant or small and dense.

  • small, dense LDL particles can become glycated and stick to compromised arterial walls and this can start the inflammatory process.
  • Large, buoyant particles are less likely to become glycated and stick to the arterial walls.

So, having a greater number of small LDL could put you at higher risk for heart disease than the LDL is mostly the larger, more buoyant[2].

When testing for particle size, having high levels of small LDL can be a concern if there is a lot of Lipoprotein(a), or Lp(a). Lp(a)s are a subtype of small LDL cholesterol particle that inflames the blood and makes it glycated, which can make the blood more prone to clotting.

HDL also has subtypes and these subtypes will have a varied rate in how efficiently they remove excess lipids. according to Dr. Sinatra: “Just like LDL cholesterol, not all HDL cholesterol is created equal. You want to be high in the most functional HDL cholesterol subgroup, HDL2[2]”.

#3: All pork is processed, and in turn all pork is bad.

Nitrates

Nitrates are a common concern when it comes to processed meats. In simple terms, “Nitrates are natural chemicals that are found in the soil, air, and water. Nitrates are also used as a food additive to stop the growth of bacteria and to enhance the flavor and color of foods[3].”

So when we say all nitrates are bad, we must also say that the nitrates found in plants would be bad. To explain my point further, “a rich source of inorganic nitrate in the human body comes from diets rich in leafy green foods(the bold is my emphasis), such as spinach and arugula. NO3 (inorganic nitrate) is the viable active component within beetroot juice and other vegetables[4].”

Are all nitrates bad?

Saying all nitrates are bad, but excluding the plant-based ones is a straw-man fallacy and in my opinion, is a silly thing to nitpick about. Considering many who bring up this argument while half way through a doughnut and eye-rolling at your choice of bacon. Why is a wheat and sugar-filled doughnut better option that a nitrate filled slice of bacon? I use this example, because it happened, and I was trying not to face-palm.

There is a possibility of nitrate toxicity. However, it happens in babies, since they are “especially vulnerable to methemoglobinemia. Methemoglobinemia in infants is known as blue baby syndrome…. Infants exposed to water containing nitrates are at highest risk of developing blue baby syndrome during the first 6 months of life[4].”

Also, it is very importan to note, that all of the studies I have seen where the is a problem, is because of contaminated drinking water[5] when they are drinking way more then normally ingested amounts that would be found in vegatables or processed meats. Due to this being a known issue, these is a Safe Drinking Water Act, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has set a maximum contaminant level of 10 mg/L or 10 ppm of nitrates in drinking water[6].

Another key thing is that this contaminates water happens in, “rural well-water near agricultural fields [they] can become contaminated with nitrates due to manure, fertilizers, or septic tanks. Exposure commonly occurs when formula is mixed with well-water containing nitrates or infants under 6 months are fed vegetables washed with the contaminated drinking water. It is important to note that infants who are breastfed by mothers who ingest water with concentrations of nitrates (100 ppm) are not at risk of methemoglobinemia. It is recommended that foods like green beans, carrots, spinach, squash, and beets are not fed to infants under 3 months.[22] (the bold is my emphasis) These foods have naturally occurring nitrates which can be harmful to the infant[4].”

Nitrates in Vegatables

Diets rich in green, leafy vegetables typically accompany an increased nitrate intake[7]. Also there are some medical conditions that are linked to being sensitive to nitrates, “such as food allergies, asthma, hepatitis, and gallstones, may be linked with low stomach acid; these individuals also may be highly sensitive to the effects of nitrates[4]” If that be that case you may want to avoid foods high in nitrates, both veggies and meats.

The veggies that have come up a lot in my research are:

green beans, carrots, spinach, squash, beets[8], broccoli, cauliflower, turnips[7], lettuce, and radishes[3]. Also when picking packages meats stay away from added nitrate. Look for bacon that is uncured and nitrate free (Pederson’s Farms has great bacon for that). Again you do not need to stay away from nitrates unless they affect you, see the above paragraph.

Moving on with the show notes, the above will not be found in the podcast since I did research after recording to back up what I was saying.

The hotdogs I referenced are these:

My no-go items are all the sugars and any wheat-based ingredients.

Curing:

Let’s talk a bit about the curing process, again this will not be in the episode, but it is an important thing to cover so let’s get into it.

Why the heck would we cure food?

The main reason is to keep food longer. In the times before refrigeration we would use salt to keep meat and produce longer. This was awesome when traveling across the seas to find the New World. To really dive into this, let’s look at the science of it. The following is a long quote from The Science of Cooking 

Well is all comes down to keeping things from spoiling. In the times of sail, we would need to salt and cure foods to make them shelf stable for a sea voyage. To be fair, it goes back much farther than that. Back to curing, let’s dive into the science of it. To fully understand the science I will be pulling a long quote from the Science Of Cooking Site:

Salt inhibits the growth of spoilage-causing microorganisms by drawing water out of microbial cells through osmosis. As the unwanted bacterial population decreases, other beneficial bacteria, primarily of the Lactobacillus genus, come to the fore and generate an acidic environment (around 4.5 pH).

The sugar included in the cure is used as food by the lactobacilli; generally dextrose is preferred over sucrose, or table sugar, because it seems to be more thoroughly consumed by the bacteria. This process is in fact a form of fermentation, and, in addition to reducing further the ability of the spoilage bacteria to grow, accounts for the tangy flavor of some cured products. Concentrations of salt up to 20% are required to kill most species of unwanted bacteria. Smoking adds chemicals to the surface of an item which affect the ability of bacteria to grow, inhibit oxidation (and thus rancidity), and improve flavor.”

I love how the site breaks down the reason for the salt and sugar, because they aid in the preservation of the food, even smoking the meats help. If done in the right way I see no issue with eating dried smoked meat. If you are using chemical smoke and too much sugar or poor quality salt that is where the problem lies[9].

What about Nitrates

The nitrate and nitrite compounds themselves are not harmful, however, and are among the antioxidants found in fresh vegetables. (National Academy 1981) The usage of either compound is carefully regulated in the production of cured products; in the United States, their concentration in finished products is limited to 200 ppm, and is usually lower. Finally, they are irreplaceable in the prevention of botulinum poisoning from consumption of dry-cured sausages[9].

Overall these items are neither good nor bad. the main goal should be to focus less on nitrates and nitrites. Instead focus more on getting high quality mean and veggies, while eliminating sugar, grains and most starches.

#4: Grains are needed for healthy development

Honestly, you can get all the nutrients from veggies and meat that you can get from grains. If you feel that you need more carbs to stay “regular” then eat more veggies. But even that is not fair, because I eat maybe 10 total carbs most days, and I stay plenty regular. So again that is subjective, and you need to find what works for you.

After we address the myths we move on totaling about caloric restriction and how if you restrict, once you stop restricting you will gain the weight back, and sometimes there will be added weight gain. This is because your diet change needs to be sustainable, and something you can stick to. If you cannot stick to it, there will be a weight regain, because going back to what got you overweight, will still make you overweight.

Also, when you hear the soda tabs pop, we were drinking Zevias. Zevia is a soda I enjoy from time to time that have pretty quality ingredients if you can handle stevia.

#5: If I “cheat” I can burn it off

Just when I thought we were done with the myths, Whit mentioned another one. Which is a good one to address.

The notion that if I “cheat” on my diet I can just run it off, is a flawed one in my opinion. I say this because we are not a dog that needs a treat for good behavior. The food we eat can take up closer or farther from our goals, yes. Instead of seeing it as cheating, just to burn it off, just take it for what it is, and do better next time. After all it takes over an hour of cardio to burn off a candy bar.

Don’t focus on burning off the cheat. Instead, don’t tempt yourself with those foods. If you do end up doing it, allow it to happen and do better next time. This is not a transgression you need to do cardio penance for.

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