What's your keto transformation story

The magic pill

If you've followed keto, you've probably heard of the documentation The magic pill. Many of you reading this may have been introduced to the ketogenic diet by watching this documentary. The magic pill was originally released in May 2017, but was recently added to Netflix, making it more readily available to a much larger audience. The documentary tells about the life of an indigenous tribe in Australia, families of autistic children and people with many health problems and obesity who are learning how to drastically change their diet by using the ketogenic way of eating.


Before we saw this film, we were a little skeptical as media coverage of the documentary made some pretty bold claims. "The Magic Pill, claims that people suffering from diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and autism reduce their symptoms and rely on prescription drugs by following the diet for just five weeks" (Daily Mail, 2017) and "Elements of the discussion are just hurtful, harmful, and mean." (Daily Telegraph, 2017). We really hoped they wouldn't make these bold medical statements because 1) this is a very slippery descent and such general statements need to be backed up by peer-reviewed research, and 2) no one but a health care provider should and they have to give medical advice Know the ENTIRE medical history of a patient as there are pre-existing diseases that can affect the whole picture.

The ketogenic diet has received bad press, and most who attack it mistake it for Atkins or the Paleolithic diet ... which it doesn't. The ketogenic community doesn't need another documentary making this type of eating a bad rap, especially when there are current, peer-reviewed studies showing all of the benefits of a well-formulated ketogenic diet (see our research references below). . Needless to say, we flinched a little when the documentary started. We were pleasantly surprised to see that one of the opening scenes was a disclaimer: “While we highlight the science behind the Nutrition Council, the personal stories portrayed in the film are anecdotal and we make no claim that these experiences are typical. ALWAYS consult a doctor or health care professional before starting any diet. "

About the people in the documentation

Now for those anecdotal reports. There were two overweight women with various medical diseases / disorders such as type II diabetes mellitus, neuropathy and others. There was a family with a daughter with autism who also had frequent severe seizures. One boy with autism was non-verbal. A woman with cancer and a two-week study training an indigenous tribe in Australia (with a significantly high rate of diabetes) on traditional ways of eating and eliminating processed foods and sugary drinks. During the time the documentary was following these people, they reported drastic changes in their health for the better, a decrease in body mass (for those who were overweight) and the reduction / elimination of medication. While these reports are not unheard of in the ketogenic community, it is important to be aware of Everyone is different and reacts differently to dietary changes. Before starting a diet, a doctor should always be consulted, especially in the case of acutely ill or pre-existing illnesses. This goes for the ketogenic diet or any other major diet change that someone might consider.

We believe these anecdotal reports have drawn the ire of the mainstream media. While many of us love a story of transformation, a documentary that adopted some of the most recognized scientific and medical guidelines should put more emphasis on the research and science of why these people achieved the success they had. Explanations of the metabolic process (ketosis), the introduction to ketosis, the formulation of a balanced ketogenic diet and its effects on the body and common disease processes would have been very helpful. In addition, the inclusion of peer-reviewed research would have helped combat the negative and untrue comments made on this documentary.

Review the guidelines supported by the documentation

At the beginning of the documentary, the viewer was given some guidelines. While these guidelines didn't say they were necessary for a ketogenic lifestyle, they were strongly implied. The following was recommended:

While most would argue that these are good guidelines to follow, not all are required to be ketogenic and are definitely incomplete. "Eat whole foods" is a fantastic rule to live by. Whole foods provide essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs to thrive. They're also a great source of nutrition with no hidden fillers. Many times who are on the ketogenic diet will indulge in pre-made and processed products that appear "keto" but are not real (and excessive consumption can create stalls and knock you out of ketosis).

“Choose organic” is not always in the budget of every individual. Using this as a guideline may discourage some people from adopting a ketogenic lifestyle due to budget constraints. Additionally, there are many small local farms that may be organic but may not have the money to pay for organic certification. If it's in your budget, we recommend buying your food locally whenever possible.

Eliminate processed foods is another policy we can support. Processed foods contain bulking ingredients that are not necessarily keto and at least in SMALL amounts (amounts that really nobody would be satisfied with - see our previous article about Understanding nutrition labeling). Often times, these processed foods lack the micronutrients you need and they take in calories that you should use toward a good source of fats and proteins instead.

"Eliminating Grains and Legumes" is a breeze for those who have strictly followed the ketogenic diet. Almost all foods that fit into these categories are high in carbohydrates. So, if you are on a diet that limits carbs to 20g net grams per day, it will be difficult to activate your extra macros when you consume these foods in your day. The exception would be peanuts, which many in the ketogenic community believe are okay in moderation. As with all foods, some people react differently than others. A ketone / blood sugar measuring device is ideal here (LINK). You can test how foods are affecting you and your ketone levels to help you make informed decisions.

"Embracing healthy fats" is one of the most important elements of the ketogenic diet. Fat is fuel for keto, and it's a very different concept from how we were all raised to think. Fat does Not make you fat, nor does it cause heart disease. These are common misconceptions that have been around since the 1950s-60s. New research has shown that these misconceptions are just that, and has further explored the health benefits of a higher-fat, lower-carbohydrate diet. The documentary continues to emphasize that not all fats are created equal, and getting the right amount of fats from good sources is something the documentary handled well. Examples such as animal fats, coconut oil, olive oil, eggs, and avocados were just a few that were suggested.

"Avoid dairy products, and when you need to consume them, choose full fat and organic." In fact, dairy products consumed in moderation are not harmful to you most People. We say "most" because some are more sensitive and even small amounts of dairy products can cause inflammation, weight loss, and lower your ketones. We also see the same thing with organic dairy products as we do with meat and production. There are benefits if it's within your budget, but if you don't choose organic it won't stop you from getting and staying in ketosis or taking advantage of the ketogenic lifestyle benefits.

“Choose naturally raised, grazing animals and wild, sustainably caught seafood. This is another guideline that feels a little too restrictive. ”If it suits your budget, we recommend buying organic and local produce. However, if you fail to do so, it will not affect your level of ketosis or reduce the benefits you can get from a healthy ketogenic diet. The idea of ​​“eating nose to tail and fermented foods” also follows this thought. There are many benefits to organ meats, bone broths, and pickles, but some can't get over the idea of ​​consuming them. If you don't have them in your diet, you are not prepared to fail. You just have to make sure that you are getting these micronutrients elsewhere.

The final guideline was intermittent fasting. While fasting can be very beneficial for some, it is not safe for all. People with certain pre-existing medical conditions may not be able to fast safely or may need to fast under medical supervision. And while a 16/8 (16 hour fast and 8 hour feeding) is one of the most popular fasting intervals, it should be noted that there are other options too, and that being gender, age, metabolism, and pre-existing illnesses can all affect what works for you works best personally.

What WWe would have liked to see more of ...

While we don't mind the anecdotal reports, we would like this documentary to provide more scientific insight. If you are trying to educate the masses and you know that what you are saying goes against generations of advice not only from the government but also from health organizations, you need to come up with some in-depth, peer-reviewed scientific research to help your To strengthen reputation. And believe us, there is an abundance of this research available. Although the documentary brought the case against Dr. To poke Tim Noakes of professional misconduct / negligence (who was cleared of all charges after a trial that featured thousands of research pages in support of the ketogenic diet and his recommendations on how to use it), we would have loved it, more of his See research on film, along with other respected scientists and doctors. Even the investigative journalist Nina Teicholz appeared in the film and spoke briefly about some of the concepts she'd explored in her book, The Big Fat Surprise. Again, we would have loved to hear more from her, as well as the research she cites to support her statements.

We also believe the documentary missed the opportunity to better educate the viewer about the ketogenic diet, which has been very vaguely described. The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb, moderate-protein diet. Servings are important, and so are calories, not only to successfully lose weight, but also to maintain or gain weight, but to stay in ketosis. There was no discussion of macros (macronutrients), follow-up, or even much about the metabolic process of ketosis. While the documentary briefly goes into good fats and things to avoid, they left a lot to the imagination.

The last word

The magic pill was still a good documentary despite some of the above shortcomings. If nothing else, then it started the conversation and planted the keto seed in people's minds. It can make the viewer look at what they are eating, and it can even make them do additional research themselves. So thank you very much Magic pill, You have paid more attention to the ketogenic community and are likely to reach people who have never heard of the ketogenic way of eating and its many health benefits.