The Ketosis (Keto) Diet has taken the nutrition world by storm and shows no signs of weakening. In its most basic form, it is a diet with a high percentage of fat and protein with limited carbohydrates. It has sometimes been characterized as the “paleo-diet”, as it supposedly represents the diet eaten by primitive humans.
Of course, Christians know there never were any primitive humans so the idea of mimicking their diet is absurd. We were created by God in His image. It’s easy to move on from this factual reality and dismiss the entire Keto Diet as a bit of science fiction with no basis in reality. That’s a mistake. The Keto Diet demonstrates God’s astonishing design of the human body.
Start at the Top
The Bible is clear that God knew Adam and Eve would sin before He shaped Adam from the clay of the earth. He prepared humanity for the struggle of surviving in a fallen world by structuring our bodies to run on either meat or plants. We are omnivores, as demonstrated by our teeth. Some are built for biting meat, and some are suitable for grinding grain. Our digestive systems also processes either type of food.
Everything we eat gets chewed up—by the appropriate teeth, of course—and passes through the stomach into the small intestine where the nutrients are absorbed. At this point the body treats meat and protein differently from carbohydrates. Based on what it needs to digest, the body creates specific enzymes to convert what is available into fuel for muscles and metabolic activity.
The End of Science
Any excess energy gets stored by the body as fat, again demonstrating God’s wisdom in designing a system that saves in times of plenty in preparation for possible lean times ahead. Of course, most of the Western world no longer encounters lean times, leading to an epidemic of obesity. This problem has gotten worse in spite of the attempts of food scientists to create low- and zero-calorie snack foods.
Limiting calories by itself is ineffective because God designed the body to slow its metabolic rate when it reaches into fat reserves for energy. This is a fantastic strategy for survival that also reduces the effectiveness of dieting to lose weight. However, when the body is getting a high percentage of fat and protein and needs more energy from fat reserves, it reaches for them without slowing the metabolism.
Why Keto Works
This is why a reduced-calorie diet with a high percentage of them coming from protein and fat works better. The body continues burning calories at a normal rate. Better yet, since the body has adapted to digesting fat by producing more of that type of enzyme it is never hungry for more calories as long as it has reserves of fat to burn. The person eating a keto diet maintains their metabolic rate and does not experience the hunger pains typically associated with a low-calorie approach to weight loss.
The physiology of a keto diet has nothing to do with what “primitive man” supposedly ate and everything to do with God designing a physical body flexible enough to survive the rigors of a fallen world with unreliable sources of food. It’s like a car that can run on either gasoline or diesel fuel and which adapts to run better based on which fuel it is given. A keto diet exploits the benefits of God’s design for the benefit of the person who wants to lose weight.
The Bible seems to be silent on specific guidance regarding the keto diet, and perspectives gained by inference can be misconstrued and unreliable. The most relevant reference to meat is in Peter’s vision recorded in Acts 10: 9-16. However, this clearly has more to do with salvation coming to the Gentiles than the physiology of the human body. The importance of the spiritual meaning is also obvious in the reference to meat in 1 Corinthians 3:2.
The clear instruction by God to Ezekiel in chapter 4 of that book starting in verse 9 is similarly about something other than a diet with a high percentage of calories from protein and fat. “Ezekiel bread” is intended to teach a lesson about surviving during the coming famine. While it teaches an important lesson about the nutritional quality of sprouted grain, it is not an instruction about eating meat.
This lack of specific instruction seems to put the keto diet into the category of behavior discussed by Paul in Romans 14: 13-21. We are allowed to follow our own understanding in matters such as this, but we should not use that liberty to cause another follower to stumble. A situation where eating a keto diet would cause someone else to stumble in their faith is hard to image, but it certainly should be avoided.
Similarly, while losing weight on a keto diet we should not criticize overweight believers for enjoying a donut. Encouraging them is certainly a loving gesture, and testifying about the effectiveness of keto in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight also demonstrates love. Most of all, understanding that keto is nothing more than utilizing God’s design of the human body helps everyone depend on Him for all things, and nothing can be better than that!