I’m seeing this more and more these days, and I feel it’s important to educate the Keto Community, especially those just starting out on what these companies and products are really about.
Pyramid schemes have been around for a long time. Remember Amway, Tupperware, Avon? Yeah yeah… I know, we don’t call them ‘Pyramid Schemes’, because that would imply they’re shady and just out to steal your money. It’s called Multi-level marketing, or Network Marketing. No matter what you call it, there are a few people at the top of the pyramid getting very rich, while all the worker bees are running around doing home parties selling useless products, earning a measly commission and making the people on the top richer. The only way to get these products is by buying into the whole scheme, hosting parties, using a ‘coach’ or becoming a rep yourself.
There’s always some compelling story about the ‘Founder’ of the company, and how these products changed his/her life, and 80% of the presentation will be a pitch to recruit you, with promises of earning thousands of dollars a month all by sitting at home on your butt. They entice you with exciting incentives, and all the perks and discounts you will get if you climb on board the money train.. and oh yeah, let’s talk a little bit about how amazing these products are for like 10 minutes. And if you sign up for a home party tonight, you’ll receive 30% off your first order!
Folks, this is nothing new. They’ve just got more sophisticated with it. Keto is gaining more recognition with each year, which is fantastic. Unfortunately with that comes the people who are looking for an opportunity to capitalize on it. And now with social media, they have multiple platforms in which to advertise and recruit people. Have you ever been in a Facebook group and had someone private message you, offering to send you ‘free samples’ of some product that is going to change your life? Have you been asked to be part of a ‘trial’ for some new products in exchange for discounts? Run away! For every new recruit someone brings in, earns them another notch in the Pyramid. Don’t get sucked in.
These products will be presented to you as something you NEED to be successful with keto. How our primal ancestors survived all these years without these products is a mystery, but there’s some magic ingredient that will bypass the very complicated metabolic process that our bodies are hard-wired to do all on their own, and make it MUCH easier for you.
They claim that eating/drinking ketones will PUT your body into ketosis, without the need to eat low carb, so you can continue to eat all your favourite foods while you lose weight and enjoy all the benefits from being in ketosis, such as athletic performance enhancement, more efficient weight loss, cognitive improvement, neuroprotection and anti-inflammatory properties, and can even prevent cancer. All while eating the carb-laden diet that was responsible for making us unhealthy in the first place. How amazing is that?! And just to prove it works, they will tell you to purchase urine test strips (Ketostix) so you can see for yourself that there are ketones in your body.
Whoa! Back up the bus. You mean if you ingest supplements, of any kind, that are not utilized by your body, therefore exiting your body the only way it can (by urine), that test strips designed to detect the substance being expelled in your urine will test positive on the strip? Shut the front door!
Of course you’re pissing out ketones, and of course they’ll turn a stick pink. For the same reason people just starting out on keto will turn Ketostix every shade of pink/purple, doesn’t mean your body is using them all. What comes out in your urine is excess that your body hasn’t figured out what to do with yet. The longer your body is in a ketogenic state and you become fat adapted, the ketones expelled in your urine will dwindle to nothing as your body has worked out how to use them efficiently. This is exactly the reason we tell people that Ketostix, though a good tool in the beginning, become irrelevant after time.
Understand that the ketones in these products are synthetic. Manufactured in a lab. The whole point of nutritional ketosis is to get your body to produce its own endogenous ketones (much different than exenogous ketones), and that’s how it all has to work. Ketones are produced in the liver… and all the magic happens from the inside out. Your body will produce all the ketones it needs, all by itself – for free. There are no shortcuts, and nothing to be gained by trying to take the easy way out. By eating/drinking ketones you are attempting to bypass that whole complex metabolic process, and they’re going straight out in your urine without doing anything purposeful whatsoever. If you’re still eating a high carbohydrate diet, your blood sugar would be in higher ranges and you’ll still be using glucose as your primary fuel source, not fats and ketones.
These products aim to undermine years of scientific research and data behind a ketogenic lifestyle for the sole purpose of making money. Hmm.. kind of like the food industry, and the government food pyramids, right? There’s that word again.. pyramids. As I always say, follow the money.
Deception and Ignorance
More alarmingly, the people pushing these products are not very knowledgeable about keto at all. Out of morbid curiosity, I recently watched a webcast of a home party presentation for one ‘keto’ product, and could hardly contain my laughter at the misinformation she was giving a group of unsuspecting souls. One of the products, a protein supplement (packed with a whole 15g of protein, lol), had 5g net carbs per serving. That is 25% of the daily recommended intake for anyone doing strict keto. She proudly boasted how healthy it was because it was made primarily with pea and brown rice protein. Wait… peas and rice are keto now? Who knew! In her infinite wisdom, she also told the class that keto was not a ‘new’ thing, that it’s been around for, like, almost 100 years. Mmmm.. not quite sweetie, add a couple 0’s onto that number and we might be in the range.
The truly sad thing about this, is keto is confusing enough to anyone just starting out. Getting past the ‘high carb/low fat’ mentality that’s been drilled into our heads our whole life is tough enough, then trying to find reliable information on the internet, in a sea of conflicting information, and now there are special products you have to buy? No, there’s not. There never has been, and there never will be.
Some athletes believe that exogenous ketones have their place in endurance training, based on the premise that ketone bodies induce an acute ketosis that lasts for several hours and mimics the physiology of starvation. Exogenous ketones present a way to elevate ketone levels without having depleted muscle glycogen stores, as low muscle glycogen is well known to impair sustained physical performance. However, at this time there is little direct data that shows performance enhancements after ingesting exogenous ketones. A very well formulated study by Jeff Volek et al. has shown that fat adapted athletes have much higher glycogen stores than was previously anticipated and the athletes can replenish glycogen stores as efficiently as athletes on a carbohydrate based diet.
What the products will do is suppress hunger, and due to the high levels caffeine in most of the products, it will give you an energy rush. For these reasons alone, some athletes may find them helpful in strenuous endurance training.
For the average Joe like us just trying to adapt to a keto lifestyle, they produce very expensive pee, but serve no real purpose.
The Bottom Line
You know that old saying, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. There are no special ‘keto’ products you need to buy in order to be successful. The basis of keto is eating real, whole foods. You should be able to walk into your local grocery store and buy everything you need to maintain a perfectly balanced low carb/ketogenic lifestyle.
These people have done the detective work of researching these companies, their backgrounds, their owners and operating executives, so I will just link these articles here. Make of them what you will