Episode 51: AMA | Keto, Calories & Muscle Mass

Dr. Simonds and Michelle Kennedy NPC addressed viewers’ questions about keto misconceptions, calories, the carnivore diet, maintaining muscle mass, and more.

Our offices are open and accepting new patients. Contact us for more information.

Q: What’s one of the most common misunderstandings that people have about keto?

A: Great question! There are so many misunderstandings about the ketogenic diet! Probably the most common one we hear is that it has to be one specific thing. For example, you must follow Atkins, or you have to eat certain bars. There isn’t really any one way to do a ketogenic diet. Don’t put yourself in a keto box! A keto diet is simply eating a low enough number of carbohydrates so your body is burning fat in the form of ketones instead of burning glucose. It’s fairly simple, yet gets very convoluted and complex. It’s all about eating fewer carbohydrates and you don’t even need to eat excessive amounts of saturated fats. It’s not only for carnivores either! Vegans and vegetarians can also follow a keto diet. The main point to focus on is limiting carbohydrates, which then generates the ketones to promote fat loss. Supplements and products marketed specifically for keto are not necessary either. Most Americans need to be eating less processed and unprocessed carbohydrates overall.

We love keto, but we do not require our patients to follow any diet that doesn’t work for them.

Q: What are your thoughts on the Carnivore Diet?

A: Yes, we approve of the carnivore diet for sure! A carnivore diet is when you eat only animals and animal products. Some individuals will include small amounts of plant foods or fibers but mainly stick with animal products. Organ meats are often included in a well-formulated carnivore diet due to their high nutrient levels. These types of diets are anti-inflammatory and actually fix diseases such as obesity. Unprocessed, whole foods are the way to go!

Q: Are all calories the same, whether from whole foods or processed ones?

A: All calories are NOT created equal! Don’t listen to those big companies that advertise directly to us and tell us otherwise. A calorie is not just a calorie. It really matters, however where the calorie is coming from matters the most. A calorie is basically a unit that is used to measure energy. A device is used to measure the heat that comes off and that is the stored energy in the food. Our bodies operate optimally when we consume nutrient-dense foods. Not nutrient devoid, depleted, or ultra-processed foods. Please don’t just focus on the calories. It’s imperative to know where the calories are coming from and stick with nutrient-dense sources.

Q: Carrots are something I want to eat regularly. I hear yes and no.

A: Carrots can definitely get confusing since they are considered a starchy vegetable. They do have a little bit more carbohydrates than other vegetables when compared to lettuce, spinach, or cucumbers. Carrots are not unhealthy but if you are following a keto diet or very low carbohydrate diet then it’s best to limit their consumption. However, if you are able to eat them and still lose weight, then that’s great! Carrots are a healthy, nutrient-dense food.

Q: How can I ensure that my weight loss is fat loss and I don’t lose muscle mass along the way?

A: It’s important to keep insulin levels down to ensure weight loss, produce ketones and stay in a fat storage mode. If you have high insulin levels, you will hold on to and store fat, especially in the abdomen area. A great way to hold on to muscle mass is to keep insulin levels down by lowering carbohydrates and staying in a fat-burning mode. There is some evidence that exercise during weight loss may protect your lean body mass and make sure the energy being burned is fat mass.

man walking in park

Walking is a great form of exercise that helps burn fat mass without putting too much burden on muscles. Protein is extraordinarily important and you should aim for 30 grams of protein with each meal. Eating enough protein ensures that muscle protein synthesis is activated, which aids in burning energy, and building and repairing muscles. This will ensure that you will keep, protect and grow muscle mass.

Q: When drinking water, is it a good idea to add flavoring, such as a zero-calorie flavor?

A: If it helps you drink more water, then go for it! As long as adding flavor to water doesn’t trigger you into wanting to eat more or make you feel hungry. There are many flavored but unsweetened beverage options available. Just make sure to avoid beverages that are sweetened with sugar.

Q: Does the keto diet cause heart disease, high triglycerides, or high cholesterol due to eating saturated fats?

A: Naturally occurring saturated fats are not bad for you. There is no historical evidence that consuming saturated fats such as animal fats and butter is bad for you, until recently. This is due to being influenced by companies and government officials to keep information circulating, regardless of the truth.  There is no relationship between someone’s total cholesterol and your risk for heart disease. Triglyceride levels actually plummet in our patients that follow a keto diet. HDL, the good cholesterol also rises. There’s no other therapeutic tool such as medicine, exercise, or tool that can produce these types of results like the keto diet can.

Q: When eating protein, I eat a lot of boiled eggs. I’m concerned about the cholesterol and what would be considered moderate.

A: The cholesterol that is found in foods such as egg yolks, or shrimp for example does not increase our blood levels of cholesterol. Eating cholesterol does not raise cholesterol. Cholesterol is essential for proper function and is not the enemy. There are so many other factors such as blood sugar, triglycerides levels, and other markers to look at when determining health.

deviled eggs

We love eggs! They are so good at signaling the body to burn fat and stay in a ketone-burning low sugar state. An egg fast is a great way to break through a plateau and to kickstart ketosis.

Q: I have an injury that is keeping me from physical exercise. Is there any way to continue keeping the weight off?

A: Yes! Diet is effective for weight loss, especially a low carbohydrate plan.

Q: Is taking glucomannan safe and effective for weight loss? Would you recommend it?

A: Glucomannan is a dietary fiber that is digested by the bacteria in your gut. As long as you can tolerate it, then it’s okay. This goes for any type of fiber.