Is the Keto Diet Healthy?

Updated on May 5, 2019
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Mario has been an online writer for several years. He is a dedicated researcher into many different topics.

You won't see potatoes, rice, couscous, bread, or any other high-carb ingredients on the plate of people who are into a ketogenic diet. These foods are banned from their list. But why?
You won't see potatoes, rice, couscous, bread, or any other high-carb ingredients on the plate of people who are into a ketogenic diet. These foods are banned from their list. But why? | Source

Is a Low Carb Diet Healthier?

The ultimate answer to that question appears to be very surprising. Most people breath shallow, and that is the reason why they seem to benefit from a low-carb diet.

Burning carbohydrates requires more oxygen while fat requires less oxygen when we compare both their energy yield gram for gram. Thus, if the person in question does not change his or her respiratory behavior, but switches from a high-carb diet to a low-carb diet, the benefits can be witnessed at a relatively short term.

The result: there is more oxygen available in each cell while the relative level of carbon dioxide decreases after stepping into this diet. The Ph level of the body increases. The energy level stays the same or even increases. A better balance is the result.

On the other hand, if the person in question does not change his or her diet, but switches to a more conscious respiratory behavior, similar benefits can also be witnessed. That is interesting.

And is Jillian Michaels right about what she says about Keto? I think she exaggerates for an (to me) unknown reason. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

Sugar Addiction

Most of the process of oxidation of glucose and the oxidation of fats is the same. But glucose gets into the process more quickly than fats.

Breathing Is Taken for Granted

Since much more people are into healthy eating, diets, and all sorts recipes most attention goes to eating and diets. The more complicated, the better so it seems.

And let's not forget about the countless numbers of dietary experts. How many breathing experts are there?

How many times do you eat a day? And how many times do you breath on that same day? What would be more beneficial if you improve it? Diets and recipes can be difficult and expensive. Breathing is simple.

Many people prefer difficult, expensive things over simple, cheap things. That seems to be part of the complicated human psyche. Breathing is taken for granted, because it is for free.

Respiratory Volume

The average respiratory volume is about 0.5 L per cycle (tidal). The average person takes in 12–18 breaths per minute. On a high-carb diet this is too less to burn all the carbohydrates effectively. The results are slag and low Ph values in the body
The average respiratory volume is about 0.5 L per cycle (tidal). The average person takes in 12–18 breaths per minute. On a high-carb diet this is too less to burn all the carbohydrates effectively. The results are slag and low Ph values in the body | Source

Respiratory Quotient

The Respiratory Quotient is expressed as a dimensionless number. This number tells us something about the amount of consumed oxygen compared to the amount of exhaled carbon dioxide when we burn a specific substance, fat or carbohydrate for example.

The formula: RQ = CO2 eliminated / O2 consumed

The value for carbohydrate oxidation is 1.0. That means that carbohydrates require less oxygen to oxidate. And that is logical, because carbohydrates have already oxygen atoms in their molecular structure. The value for pure fat oxidation is around 0.7.

When we regard this process at molecular level, it is relatively easy to understand that a carbohydrate molecule requires less oxygen. While for oxidation of a fat molecule around 42% more oxygen is required.

I know, that sounds contradictory compared to the initial claim made above. But that is probably why there is so much confusion around this subject. The real comparison must be made at energetic level gram for gram.

Fat Molecule vs. Carbohydrate Molecule

Oxidation of a carbohydrate molecule is easily triggered by adding some more oxygen atoms. Fat molecules oxidate slower to but provides much more energy.
Oxidation of a carbohydrate molecule is easily triggered by adding some more oxygen atoms. Fat molecules oxidate slower to but provides much more energy. | Source

So What is Happening?

Like already said, most people breath superficially. Life can be tough, and so they exist while holding their breath, so to speak. And if they breath, they breath high, only through the top of their lungs. They simply lack oxygen. That is why fat is difficult to burn for them and that is also why carbohydrates are preferred to get a quick energy boost. And that behavior is chronically. Day after day, year after year. They are also called "top breathers." Sports do not really help to break the pattern, it is a way of living, it is in the mindset.

When a person burns calories, the body uses oxygen and produces carbon dioxide. Inhalation oxygenates, exhalation excretes carbon dioxide. Shallow top breathing leads to an imbalance between oxygen and carbon dioxide in our cells, i.e., to a surplus of carbon dioxide. Eating too many carbohydrates worsens the imbalance. A surplus of carbon dioxide leads to an acidic environment in the body, also called acidosis.

An acidic environment is what most viruses, bacteria, and other unwanted invaders prefer, which can lead to a wide variety of diseases. People can become literally sour and bacteria like that habitat. A sour physical state has also impact on the mindset, which on its turn has impact on the body. A vicious circle is created which is, if you are unaware of it, difficult to break.

A healthy cell is slightly alkaline, between 7.4 and 7.6. Below that Ph, bacteria have much more chance to develop a specific disease in a body, which varies from person to person. The weakest spot is attacked first. Your weakest spots depend of your genes, the environment you live in, how much stress you endure, what you eat, and of course how you breath and go through life. There are countless more factors involved in this process. Research even suggests that low oxygen levels could drive cancer growth. However, breathing is the ultimate key.

If you learn to breath well, you can eat what you like. That's the whole point.

Gram for Gram—A Comparison

Like already said, there is lots of confusion around this subject. The Respiratory Quotient of carbohydrates is higher, hence these molecules require less oxygen to burn.

One gram of carbohydrates provides 4 kilocalories of energy, while one gram of fat provides 9 kilocalories.

So burning one gram of fat requires 40% more oxygen, but it provides 225% more energy. And it is the unchanged energy output level while switching to a low-carb diet that makes the big difference. The oxygen consumption of each cell drops dramatically. The sudden oxygen surplus in each cell can increase up to almost 60% compared to a high-carb diet. This has huge positive effects on the overall health of the body. This might be one of the main reasons why low-carb diets are associated as anti cancer diets.

However, the breath is a much easier way with even better results than the Keto diet.

Full Yogic Breath

The Energetic Balance

If you are a top breather, switching to a diet that requires less oxygen helps. However, Keto is ultimately symptom control. On top of that, it is an animal diet. Humans are not very good at digesting an animal diet; our intestinal system seems too long for task. The debate is undecided, but this article seems to do a good job in finding a balance. Eating more meat in order to lower the amount carbohydrate intake might not be such a good idea at all.

Fat provides more energy than carbohydrates. So if you live at the same energetic level after you have switched to a ketogenic diet, your oxygenation level increases. And this is good for all functions in your cells and finally for your overall physical and mental health.

And this is the reason why shallow breathers have so much benefits from the ketogenic diet. They have more energy while maintaining their superficial respiration pattern. Their Ph increases which is good to fight a wide range of illnesses.

What many might not realize is that the ultimate key to improve their lives is much simpler: start breathing.

The Best Alternative: The Wim Hof Method

Like explained above is the ketogenic diet good for shallow breathers. For people who are not aware of the power of the breath. Because they need less oxygen to maintain their present energy level they see benefits from this diet. The key is much simpler: breathing.

There are many yogic teachings that focus on the breath. But some paths come with all sorts of complicated philosophies that do not fit very well in our Western mindset.

There is an alternative to this. The Wim Hof Method. Do this every morning. And become conscious of your breath during the day. Most diseases will disappear like snow in the sun.

Breathing Tutorial

We Are All Ice Men and Women

Well known as "The Ice Man", has Wim Hof become a guinea pig of many scientific studies. An often heard phrase was that because he was the ice man he could do all sorts of strange things. Like sitting in an ice bath for almost two hours, or climb Mount Everest in shorts.

He has now proved by training other people that everyone can do what he does. There are currently several scientific studies done to his method and the evidence is growing rapidly. It's all in the BREATH. His philosophy is condensed into three main pillars and comprehensible to most of us: breath, cold showers, and mindset.

The best way to improve your life is to start breathing properly instead of switching to a (ultimately unhealthy) fatty meat-rich diet.

© Mario Buildreps 2019

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers


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      • Buildreps profile imageAUTHOR


        2 weeks ago from Europe

        Thank you for your lovely comment, Lilly! ;)

      • profile image


        2 weeks ago

        Well done Mario! I agree! Spread the message! Lots of Love XXX :-)

      • Buildreps profile imageAUTHOR


        3 weeks ago from Europe

        Thank you for your comment, John. I started these breathing exercises since almost two months now. I do them every morning together with swimming in ice water :) and taking cold showers. The benefits are tremendous. My sports endurance has almost doubled. I am a vegatarian, so keto was not the solution for me. After doing much research I discovered the patterns, connected the dots, and discovered later the Wim Hof Method. It's awesome and so simple: the key is in the breath.

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        3 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Thank you for sharing this Mario. My son has recently started the keto diet and a friend is considering it.....these breathing exercises may be a better alternative. Good information.


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