Here are just some of the benefits of a Ketogenic or Keto Diet
On a keto diet, weight loss can often be substantial and happens quickly (especially for those who start the diet very overweight or obese). The 2013 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that those following a keto diet “achieved better long-term body weight and cardiovascular risk factor management when compared with individuals assigned to a conventional low-fat diet (i.e. a restricted-energy diet with less than 30 percent of energy from fat).”
A 2014 review published in the International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health states:
“One of the most studied strategies in the recent years for weight loss is the ketogenic diet. Many studies have shown that this kind of nutritional approach has a solid physiological and biochemical basis and is able to induce effective weight loss along with improvement in several cardiovascular risk parameters.”
One of the best things about a Keto diet is that it leads to an automatic reduction in appetite (See the study by the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center )
The studies consistently show that when people cut carbs and eat more protein and fat, they end up eating much fewer calories.
GREATER FOCUS, MENTAL CLARITY AND LESS MIGRAINES
Scientists have discovered that ketogenic dieting has led to increased cognition and enhanced memory in adults with impairments in these areas, and a growing body of research shows improvement at all stages of dementia. Ketosis has been shown to be effective against Parkinson’s disease as well.
For a broader audience of dieters, the often-reported side effects of increased mental clarity and focus and less frequent and less intense migraines are likely related to the more stable blood sugar and altered brain chemistry that improves memory and cognition as well.
PREVENTING HEART DISEASE
Besides keeping blood glucose low and stable, ketogenic dieting helps keep blood pressure in check and lowers triglyceride levels.
While it may seem counterintuitive that eating a higher percentage of fat in your diet lowers triglycerides, it turns out that the consumption of excess carbs (especially fructose) is the key driver of increasing triglycerides.
And regarding HDL and LDL particles (which the body uses to move fat and cholesterol around), ketogenic dieting helps raise HDL (“good cholesterol”) and improve the profile of LDL (“bad cholesterol”).
The researchers found that “the anti-inflammatory effects of caloric restriction or ketogenic diets may be linked to BHB-mediated inhibition of the NLRP3 inflammasome.”
In other words, the key player in many inflammatory diseases is suppressed by BHB, which is one of the main ketones produced from a ketogenic diet.
IMPROVING ENERGY LEVELS AND SLEEP
As individuals progress in their ketogenic diet, most people report an increase in general energy levels and a lack of cravings for carbs. The mechanism here involves both a stabilization of insulin levels and readily available source of energy for our brain and body tissues.
Sleep improvements are a bit more of a mystery. Studies have shown that ketogenic dieting improves sleep by decreasing REM and increasing slow-wave sleep patterns. While the exact mechanism is unclear, it likely is related to the complex biochemical shifts involving the brain’s use of ketones for energy combined with other body tissues directly burning fat.
REDUCE RISK FOR TYPE 2 DIABETES
The process of burning fat helps the control the release of hormones like insulin, which plays a role in development of diabetes and other health problems. When we eat carbohydrates, insulin is released as a reaction to elevated blood glucose (an increase in sugar circulating in our blood). Insulin is a “storage hormone” that signals cells to store as much available energy as possible, initially as glycogen (aka stored carbohydrates in our muscles) and then as body fat.
The keto diet works by eliminating carbohydrates from the diet and keeping the body’s carbohydrate stores almost empty, therefore preventing too much insulin from being released following food consumption and creating normal blood sugar levels. This can help reverse “insulin resistance,” which is the underlying problem contributing to diabetes symptoms. In studies, low-carb diets have shown benefits for improving blood pressure, postprandial glycemia and insulin secretion. However, diabetics on insulin should contact their medical provider prior to starting a ketogenic diet to see if insulin dosages have to be adjusted.
GAINING MUSCLE AND IMPROVING ENDURANCE
A Keto diet produces ketones which are three water-soluble molecules (acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate, (BHB) and their spontaneous breakdown product, acetone) that are produced by the liver from fatty acids.
BHB, specifically, has been shown to promote muscle gain. Combined with tons of anecdotal evidence over the years, there is an entire movement behind bodybuilders using a ketogenic approach to gain more muscle and less fat (typically muscle gain also comes with fat gain, so there’s understandable attention being given toward preventing this).
In addition, Dr. Stephen Phinney and Dr. Jeff Volek have a number of papers published about ketogenic dieting for ultra-endurance athletes. In short, once these athletes are fully fat-adapted, there is evidence to suggest that mental and physical performance is significantly improved beyond a “normal” carbohydrate-rich diet.
There are a number of different causes of acne, and one may be related to diet and blood sugar. Eating a diet high in processed and refined carbohydrates can alter gut bacteria and cause more dramatic blood sugar fluctuations, both of which can have an influence on skin health. Therefore, by decreasing carb intake, it’s not a surprise that a ketogenic diet could reduce some cases of acne.