The Skinny On Ketogenic Diets (With No Apology to The Moody Blues)

I have to confess that I was going to entitle this post: The Ketogenic Blues. Then I starting thinking that I should add The Ketogenic Blues to my list of suggested names for bands until I realized that it sounded too much like The Moody Blues (which is a real band-as approximately half of my 27 readers know). But I overcame my reluctance and added The Ketogenic Blues to my list just the same. Here is the up-to-date list:

The Gravity Waves

The Testicle Navigators

The Volcanic Sneezes

Polar Vortex

The Climate Change Divorce Lawyers

The Rushin’ Nanospirals

Resolution #4

Fine Structure Constant (might also be a good name for a string quartet)

The Ketogenic Blues

OK, where was I?

Yes! I admit it. Along with other people in the Department Of Keeping An Eye on What People Are Putting In Their Mouths These Days, and despite having a PhD in Chemistry (it seemed like a good idea at the time) and an MD, the family of Ketogenic diets has me completely baffled.

I mean it. Just spend a few minutes in line at any supermarket and peruse the newsmagazines located right next to the chocolate bars. You will soon be bewildered by the plethora of ketogenic diets including Clean Keto, Dirty Keto, Lazy Keto, Dirty Lazy Keto, Momma Keto, Poppa Keto, Baby Keto, Sleeping Keto, Little Red Riding Keto, New Green Keto, Sly Keto, Tantric Sex Keto, Australian Keto, Keto 4.2-6a and Keto For Quantum Physicists. How is one to choose?

I’m probably making a few of these diets up, by the way. It wouldn’t surprise me.

Anyway here’s a sample headline from one of those magazines: “I Lost 323 Pounds in 6 Days On The Keto For Quantum Physicist’s Diet But The Only Problem Is That Before I Started The Diet I Weighed 258 Pounds So As A Result I Ended Up In A Parallel Universe With 65 Dimensions. Or Maybe It Was 66 Dimensions. I Lost Count. And In The Interests Of Full Disclosure, I Am Not A Quantum Physicist. I Am A Beekeeper”

…I also appear to have developed a rash but the lighting is a lot better in my new universe. Life is full of trade-offs

Don’t get me wrong. I love bees. And I hold beekeepers in very high regard. The human race would disappear without bees, and I guess that since most or probably all beekeepers are human, they would de facto disappear along with the rest of us. And by disappear I don’t mean vanish into a parallel dimension, just so we understand each other.

Since I am supposed to be talking about ketogenic diets here, I would like to point out that I also think very highly of this book:

Dr. Greger has examined weight loss from every imaginable angle: political leaning, sleep, exercise, macronutrient composition, timing of food intake, timing of exercise, genetics, totem animal and phase of the Moon, just to name a few. Greger overturns conventional thinking at every step. Here’s an excerpt from one review:

“Everything he espouses is backed by relevant scientific studies. It’s exhaustive but remarkably insightful and interesting.”

I agree. My wife, Jeanette, is currently reading this book and she plies me with a stream of insightful and interesting tidbits such as: poultry consumption (mostly chicken) is associated with three times more weight gain than red meat consumption. Especially if the chicken is one of these Giant Brahmas which can reputedly grow to be as tall as a small child:

Note that I used the word reputedly…

On the other hand, I myself am …

Wait, wait, wait! What??? If I took the “I” out of the sentence fragment above, it would read: “On the other hand, myself am…” That can’t be right. I’ll start over.

On the other hand, I am currently reading another of Aussie writer Liane Moriarty’s- in my humble opinion- excellent books: Nine Perfect Strangers. It too is insightful and interesting so I’m plying Jeanette with equally insightful and interesting tidbits. We often playfully say stuff like: “I’ll see your book-tidbit and raise you a book-tidbit” even though neither of us play Poker.

Me: Hey Sweetie, Hulu is making a TV series out of Nine Perfect Strangers and Nicole Kidman will be starring in it!

Jeanette: Really? What’s it about?

Me: It takes place at a boutique health-and-wellness resort that promises healing and transformation as nine stressed city dwellers try to get on a path to a better way of living. Watching over them during this ten-day retreat is the resort’s director Masha (Kidman), a woman on a mission to reinvigorate their tired minds and bodies. However, these nine ‘perfect’ strangers have no idea what type of ketogenic diet each of them will be put on.

Jeanette: Except for the ketogenic diet part, that sounds suspiciously like you read it directly from an Elle magazine book review.

Me: Busted. Except for the ketogenic diet part. I totally made that up. The last sentence should actually read: “However, these nine ‘perfect’ strangers have no idea what is about to hit them.”

Jeanette: Didn’t Nicole Kidman also star in Big Little Lies, also adapted from the Liane Moriarty book of the same name?

Me: Yes, come to think of it. But is that even legal?

Jeanette: Yes. It’s totally legal to bold the word also twice in one sentence. Especially in Australia.

Me: But you just bolded “also” again! Isn’t that sort of self-referential in a weird, M.C. Escher sort of way? Hands drawing each other and all that?

Jeanette: I guess so but I can’t stop thinking about that self-referential Bank of Komodo Dragons bit from that last post about how to weigh 25,000 penguins simultaneously.

Me: No one will have the faintest idea what we are talking about.

Jeanette: I know. Unless they go back to that last post if they haven’t already read it…

25,000 penguins aside but speaking of weight, here’s the thing. The reason there are so many flavors of ketogenic diets, and in general the reason why billions of dollars are spent every year in the diet industry is that we are slow learners and there are things we just keep doing with a kind of intensely morbid fascination even though we know we probably should stop doing them. This includes trying the latest fad diet. And using run-on sentences.

We can use Nori and her sprinkler for example:

Now Nori happens to be a dog and she is not, to the best of my knowledge, currently on a diet. You would have to ask one of my best friends Tim Quinlan (not his real name) to confirm this though. But the concept of Nori and her sprinkler also applies to humans. Just as Nori keeps trying to defeat her sprinkler, we humans just keep doing the same thing. Like thinking that because the roulette wheel came up red fifteen times in a row, the probability that the next spin will come up black is way better than 50:50. (It’s not.) Or like trying the latest in a long series of currently-popular diets hoping that this one is the door into summer, and the door into large, long-lasting weight loss.

Sci-fi classic which does not directly involve quantum physics

No matter what type of ketogenic diet you’re on currently, in the long run you probably need to just eat a diet that is NOT lopsided in one macronutrient such as fats. Or Scotch. Or wine. Or Brahma Chicken. Whatever. We just need to mix it up.

And one final thing. If you happen to possess a Y chromosome always remember this:

Behind every great man is the drawer I need to get into and why are you even in the kitchen right now?

Author:

Dave Barry fan and Medical Director at Rocky Mountain Analytical