From personal trainers to celebrity athletes, the ketogenic diet has been on the tip of everyone's lips. LeBron James credits the high-fat, low-carb lifestyle for his dramatic weight loss, Halle Barry claims it's been key to managing her diabetes, and Gwyneth Paltrow praises it for keeping her svelte.
But any diet craze—particularly one with a massive following on social media—is bound to be riddled with falsehoods. The danger with this is that those not in the know may experience frustration, disappointment—even significant health consequences.
With that in mind, here are the biggest myths about the keto diet—and the facts you should know before starting it:
Myth: The keto diet is a butter and cheese free-for-all
One of the draws of the keto diet—which originated in the 1920s to treat epilepsy—is that it eschews the low-fat, tasteless diets of earlier decades. Instead, it demands a rigorous refusal of carbohydrates (as in, less than 30 grams per day, or the amount of a sweet potato) and a strategic dependence on fats. To some keto-ers, this has meant forgoing Fritos for bowls of bacon but the type of fat you eat is of utmost importance. Why? Besides the obvious—that saturated animal fats such as ham and sausage can lead to a host of health issues—filling your plate with conventional beef and dairy products may increase your exposure to xenoestrogens, compounds that can mimic estrogen and result in hormonal havoc (and the health complications that often arrive with it). Rather, reach for unsaturated fats like almonds and flaxseeds. What protein you do eat should come from organic eggs, wild-caught fish, hormone-free, grass-fed beef, lean cuts of poultry, and plant-based foods like Brazil nuts. Which brings us to our next point…
Myth: The keto diet is super high in protein
Blame The Zone and Atkins for the misconception that the ketogenic diet is low in carbs but high in protein. In fact, the breakdown of most keto diets looks like this: 75-90% fat, 5-15% protein, and 5-10% fibrous carbohydrates. In other words, you will need to eat adequate protein, but you won't be snacking on beef jerky and bun-less sliders. Indeed, eating too much protein can shift your body out of ketosis—the aimed-for metabolic state under the keto diet that burns stored and consumed fat for fuel instead of glucose. The excess protein will convert to glucose, and these are carbohydrates that you won't be able to count.
Myth: Without carbs, I'll have zero energy
True: The body's preferred source of energy is glucose, which is produced by carbs, and asking it to start relying on a new form of fuel can be physically and mentally demanding (hence the “keto flu," a cluster of symptoms that includes brain fog and
constipation, which often occurs as the body adjusts to this fresh way of functioning). But ketosis—that aforementioned metabolic state that delivers real results—actually promotes energy. For starters, it decreases cortisol release and supports your adrenals and thyroid glands—and both are central to maintaining a healthy weight, thinking sharply, and feeling vibrant. Research also demonstrates that ketosis fosters beneficial levels of “feel-good" brain chemicals. Having an improved mood almost always translates to bolstered energy. As for those star athletes dodging tortilla chips but downing chia seeds? The keto diet can also give rise to improved stamina and performance.
Myth: You can't lose fat if you're eating fat
To some, the keto diet seems farfetched, even, well, mythical. How can you possibly shed fat if you're eating mostly fat? The keto diet's potential—to aid not only in weight loss but also in clearer, more radiant skin, enhanced energy, and superior memory—comes from radically curbing carbs, the over-consumption of which tells our bodies to store fat. Instead, the keto diet lowers insulin, decreases blood sugar swings and reduces your vulnerability to the litany of health issues that occur with insulin resistance, such as obesity and type-2 diabetes. Further, healthy fats—the sort found in walnuts and avocadoes—can reduce hunger and encourage a sense of satiety, while also providing you with essential nutrients like Omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium. Or, as Dr. Ron Rosedale of The Rosedale Diet says, “Our bodies thrive on good fat" and “our metabolism needs good fat to burn bad fat." (The emphasis here being on good).
In sum, the keto diet's wild popularity may suggest it's just a fad but, its rich history and long list of potential pluses—including more balanced hormones, a stronger libido, enhanced cellular immunity, and enriched brain power—is grounded in science. It's best to know precisely what that science is, however, so that you can avoid potential pitfalls—and, instead, reap its copious benefits.
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."