Keto Diets: Muscle Growth & Bone Density

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“Keto Diets: Muscle Growth
and Bone Density” An official International Society
of Sports Nutrition position paper covering keto diets notes the
erotic effects of keto diets on both high and low-intensity workouts. Ergolytic is the opposite of ergogenic.
Ergogenic means performance-boosting, whereas ergolytic means
athletic-performance impairing. For nonathletes, ketosis may
also undermine exercise efforts. Ketosis was correlated with increased
feelings of perceived effort and fatigue and mood disturbances during physical
activity, suggesting that the ability and desire to maintain sustained
exercise might be adversely impacted in individuals adhering
to ketogenic diets for weight loss. I already mentioned the shrinkage
of measured muscle size among CrossFit trainees. So a ketogenic diet may not
just blunt the performance of endurance athletics, but
strength training as well.

Have people do eight weeks of all
the standard upper and lower body training protocols— bench press,
pull-ups, squats, deadlifts— and, no surprise, you boost muscle
mass unless you’re on a keto diet, in which case there was
no significant change in muscle mass
after all that effort. Those randomized to the nonketogenic
diet added about 3 pounds of muscle, whereas the same amount of
weight lifting on the keto diet tended to subtract muscle, an average
loss of about 3.5 ounces of muscle. How else could you do
eight weeks of weights and not gain a single ounce of
muscle on a ketogenic diet? Even keto diet advocates call
bodybuilding on a ketogenic diet an oxymoron. What about bone loss? Sadly, bone fractures are
one of the side effects that disproportionately plague
children placed on ketogenic diets, along with growth stunting
and kidney stones. Ketogenic diets may cause
a steady rate of bone loss, as measured in the spine, presumed
to be because ketones are acidic, and so keto diets can put people in
what’s called a chronic acidotic state. Some of the case reports of children
on keto diets are truly heart-wrenching.


One 9-year-old girl seemed to get it
all— osteoporosis, bone fractures, kidney stones— and then
she got pancreatitis and died. Pancreatitis can be triggered by
having too much fat in your blood. A single high-fat meal can cause a
quintupling of the spike in triglycerides in your bloodstream within
hours of consumption, which can put you at risk for
inflammation of the pancreas. She had a rare genetic disorder called
glucose transporter deficiency syndrome where you’re born with a defect in
ferrying blood sugar into your brain. This can result in daily
seizures starting in infancy, but a ketogenic diet can be used as
a way to sneak fuel into their brains. So a ketogenic diet can be a
godsend for the 1 in 90,000 families stricken with this disorder. As with anything in medicine,
it’s all about risks versus benefits.

As many as 30% of patients with epilepsy
don’t respond to anti-seizure drugs, and the alternatives aren’t pretty,
including things like brain surgery. This can mean implanting deep
electrodes through the skull or even removing a
lobe of your brain. This can lead
to serious side effects, but so can having
seizures every day. So if a ketogenic diet
helps with seizures, the pros can far outweigh the cons. For those just choosing a
diet to lose weight, though, the cost/benefit analysis would
seem to go the other way.

Thankfully, you don’t need to
mortgage your long-term health for short-term weight loss. We can get the best of both worlds
by choosing a healthy diet. Remember that study that showed
that the weight loss after being told to eat the low-carb Atkins diet
for a year was almost identical to those told to eat
the low-fat Ornish diet? The authors concluded: This supports
the practice of recommending any diet that a patient will adhere
to to lose weight. That seems like terrible advice. There are regimens out there,
like The Last Chance Diet, which consisted of a liquid
formula made from leftover byproducts from a slaughterhouse that was
linked to approximately 60 deaths. Well, it did promise to
change people’s lives. An ensuing failed lawsuit from
one widower laid the precedent for the First Amendment
protection for deadly diet books. It’s possible to construct a healthy low-
carb diet, or an unhealthy low-fat diet — a diet of cotton candy would be
zero fat — but the health effects of a typical low-carb
ketogenic diet like Atkins is vastly different from a low-fat
a plant-based diet like Ornish’s.

Not only would they have
opposed effects on cardiovascular risk factors in theory,
based on the fiber saturated fat and cholesterol contents of their
representative meal plans, when put to the test,
low-carb diets were found to impair artery function. Over time, blood flow to
the heart muscle itself is improved on
an Ornish-style diet and diminished
on a low-carb diet. Heart disease tends to progress
on typical weight loss diets, actively worsen on low-carb diets, but
maybe reversed by an Ornish-style diet. Given that heart disease is the number
one killer of men and women, “recommending any diet that a patient
will adhere to to lose weight” seems irresponsible.
Why not tell people to smoke? Cigarettes can cause weight loss, too, as
can tuberculosis and a good meth habit, but the goal of weight loss is not to
lighten the load for your pallbearers.

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