What You Need To Know About Low Carb Dieting & Ketosis

Low carb diet detractors have maligned Dr. Atkins’ controversial diet for decades, citing the dangers of ketosis. Now, learn the truth of how humans maintained a ketogenic diet for millenia, and that a low carb diet is what the human metabolism is made for.

Ever since the dawn of the low carb diet in the 1960s, doctors, nurtritionists, and spokespeople for the sugar industry have maligned Dr. Atkin’s famous and controversial Diet Revolution, citing a wide range of different reasons why the diet is either ineffective or even dangerous. One of the most enduring claims is that ketosis, the metabolic state that results from reducing carb intake, is in fact dangerous and degenerative to the liver. Other claims conclude that humans need a large intake of carbohydrates to fuel exercise and other physical exertations, and in this way, a low carb diet underfuels the body.

However, top analysts — including the work of Dr. Atkins himself — have proven that neither of these claims are true.

Ketosis Versus Ketoacidosis

The cornerstone of the argument against the low carb diet is that the restriction of carbohydrates in one’s diet creates ketosis, a degenerative state found in people who suffer from Type I Diabetes. The thinking behind this is that low carb dieters are constantly putting themselves in a dangerous metabolic state and putting stress on their pancreas and liver as a result.

The truth of the matter, however, is that ketosis is not what people with Type I Diabetes suffer with. Diabetes patients experience what is called ketoacidosis, which is “a pathological metabolic state marked by extreme and uncontrolled ketosis” The operative words here are “extreme” and “uncontrolled;” just as a diabetic struggles to control their insulin, so too do they struggle to control their ketone levels as well. This is why many diabetics check their ketosis levels alongside their blood sugar levels.

It is important to understand that ketosis, or the process of ketogenesis that low carb diets induce, is not the same thing, because the condition is neither extreme nor uncontrolled; the dieter is always in complete control of their ketone levels, and can adjust them simply by reintroducing carbohydrates in their diet. It is for this reason that all reliable low carb diet plans do not keep dieters in a high level of ketosis for the duration of their diet. Rather, after an induction period, low carb dieters slowly reintroduce carbohydrates gram by gram, with the long-term diet plan being not a state of ketosis, but rather a non-ketogenic state that is just below a person’s Critical Carbohydrate Level (CCL).

From The Dawn of Low Carb to the Dawn of Man

There’s more to the legitimacy of the low carb diet than just biology. The field of biological anthropology also shows that, when you survey the history of humankind, the vast majority of our metabolic history has been dominated by ketogenesis, and that the rise of obesity, diabetes, and other maladies associated with blood sugar have resulted from a rise in sugars and carbohydrates.

Nutrition scientist Stephen D. Phinney states categorically is his 2004 abstract that our developmental period as hunter-gatherers most certainly featured a ketogenic metabolism, and that even current tribal societies function on ketogenic metabolisms without any health issues related to high ketone levels and a lack of carbohydrates. In this way, the “dawn of low carb” and “the dawn of man” are inextricably linked, and help to bring us back to our more primal metabolic state.

The Low Carb Conspiracy Theory

When you consider how the science and logic behind the low carb diet easily dispels the talking points against low carb living, it’s hard to imagine why such fear-driven campaigns have been levied against the likes of Dr. Atkins and all of the diets that are based on his original Diet Revolution. But if you dig deep enough, the answer to this question is simple:


Dr. Atkins was not merely peddling his own low carb diet books; he was also pro-actively engaged in revolutionizing the way that sugar is processed, marketed, and regulated. He believed that sugar and all of its food byproducts are in fact a public health hazard, and he even appeared before a Congressional panel in 1980 to testify on his findings and call for warning labels to be affixed to all high-sugar food products, much like the warning labels on cigarettes.

Since the sugar industry is one of the largest and most profitable industries in the U.S., the combination of the low carb diet’s effectiveness and Dr. Atkins’ calls for regulations on sugar has been and continues to be a major threat to the sugar industry. Simply put: if all the dieters in the world today went on a low carb diet, it would dramatically affect sugar-made products.

So, every time you hear the arguments against the low carb diet, remember the facts, and keep in mind that ketosis is as old as being human.

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Michael Nace is a low carb blogger for Linda’s Diet Delites. He is not a Doctor, and his article does not represent the view and opinions of Linda’s Diet Delites, nor are his articles meant to be construed as medical advice.