The closest I've ever come to following the keto diet was probably this one day over the holidays when I was being super lazy and ate tons of peanut butter and little else. I'm personally too invested in chasing the perfect dish of al dente fettuccine, or a bagel with the ideal amount of chew, to part ways with carbs for good. But some of my friends swear by following the keto diet, so I have to wonder whether it's actually legit. Well, in a recent video interview with Women's Health, Jillian Michaels called the keto diet "a bad plan," so that can't be a good sign.
In the video, which is part of Women's Health's “Rant Or Rave” series, Michaels explained her views on the concept of unnecessarily cutting out carbs from your diet. "I don't understand. Like, why would anybody think this was a good idea?" she exclaimed. “‘You know what we need to do? All fat and animal protein!’ No! Bad plan. For a million reasons.”
In case you need a refresher, the keto diet basically involves eating significantly little carbs, more healthy fats, and more protein, Scott Keatley, R.D., of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy, told Women's Health back in December 2018, with the logic supposedly being that your body will soon learn to draw energy from stored fats as opposed to carbs. In terms of what that actually looks like when fixing yourself some food, again, people who follow this way of eating keep their carbs to an absolute minimum, meaning even fruits and veggies aren't always considered to be that "keto-friendly." (One medium banana contains about 27 grams of carbs, for example.) Foods rich in fat like avocados, chocolate, and fish can all be eaten in abundance, on the other hand.
According to Michaels, despite how popular the keto diet has become, eating this way could genuinely harm your body. “Your cells, your macro molecules, are literally made up of protein, fat, carbohydrates, nucleic acids. When you do not eat one of the three macronutrients — those three things I just mentioned — you’re starving yourselves,” Michaels said in the video. “Those macronutrients serve a very important purpose for your overall health and well-being. Each and every one of them.”
All this being said, you might be curious to know why people did develop the keto diet in the first place. According to a review of the diet's history, published in the medical epilepsy journal Epilepsia, scientists began to discover a connection between a high-fat, low-carb diet and reduced epilepsy symptoms in the 1920s. But a recent survey, the review explained, found that practicing child neurologists ranked recommending the keto diet as the last therapy they might suggest to children with epilepsy, thanks to newer, more effective therapies, so following keto guidelines just isn't as necessary for people with epilepsy as it might have been in the past.
But when it comes to people who don't have epilepsy at all, Michaels wasn't being unnecessarily harsh in her critique of the keto diet. Following such an extreme eating plan could genuinely lead to negative effects for otherwise healthy people. For example, one study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, found that switching from a high-carb to a high-fat diet could lead to a decrease in oral glucose tolerance in as little as two weeks. (For context, a reduction in oral glucose tolerance could lead to diabetes, according to the research.)
Overall, your best bet isn't to say goodbye to croissants forever, but rather, something much simpler: moderation. “Do not go keto. Just work out, eat clean and don’t overeat. I promise you, balanced diet,” Michaels said. “It’s that simple.”