Many people are extolling the health benefits of the ketogenic diet. Is it a fad diet? Should you jump on board with this diet trend? I’m a huge fan of the ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet has been around since the 1920’s treating epilepsy. People are now reporting feeling better on the ketogenic diet, losing weight with the ketogenic diet.
1. It is Satisfying
Low carb diets kill your appetite. When you start consuming fats to fuel your body, you no longer are burning through your fuel source quickly. You will discover that you don’t need snacks throughout the day. Because you aren’t constantly feeling the urge to eat, you tend to eat less.
Studies show that when you cut out carbs and rely on protein and fats for fuel, you tend to eat fewer calories. When researchers compared low fat and low carbohydrate diets, they had to restrict the calories in the low fat diet to have a comparable study. Most of the people in the low carbohydrate diets naturally reduced their caloric intake.
2. Flatter Tummies
When the ketogenic diet is implemented for weight loss, the fat that is lost tends to come from the abdominal cavity.
When fat is stored it can be stored as visceral fat or subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat is around the organs and more likely to lead to serious disease as it tends to lodge around the organs.
Low carbohydrate diets and especially the ketogenic diet are great at reducing visceral fat. Over an extended period of time, this can lead to
Having a lot of fat in that area can drive inflammation, insulin resistance and is believed to be a leading driver of the metabolic dysfunction that is so common in Western countries today.
Not only do they cause more fat loss than low-fat diets, an even greater proportion of that fat is coming from the abdominal cavity.
3. Reduction in Triglycerides
Triglycerides are the fat molecules in blood. They are often measured to determine the risk of heart attacks. This is determined by how much of them we have in our blood after an overnight fast.
The main driver of elevated triglyceride levels is due to excessive carbohydrate consumption, especially simple sugars and fructose.
Once carbohydrates are cut from the diet, people tend to have a very dramatic reduction to triglycerides in their blood.
4. Reduced Blood Sugar Levels
While it makes sense that you cut out the sugars in your diet, the blood sugars will level off. However, many people don’t realize that when you eat carbohydrates, they turn into simple sugars in your body once you consume them. From there, they will enter the body and start to elevate the blood glucose levels.
High blood sugar levels are toxic. The body responds with an insulin reaction. This tells the cells to bring glucose into the cells and start burning or storing it.
In healthy individuals, an insulin reaction will be a small spike in blood glucose levels. However, for individuals who are insulin resistant, they will experience further problems. It is more difficult for them to bring the blood sugar into the cells.
5. Better Brain Function
The ketogenic diet has long been known to help people with epilepsy function better. However, it is also being shown to help increase memory, cognition, and clarity. It can help to reduce migranes as well.
The ketogenic diets were first used in the Mayo clinic in 1920 to treat children with epilepsy. Researchers still have not discovered the exact mechanism for seizure prevention. It has something to do with the increased stability of neurons as well as the upregulation of mitochondrial enzymes as well as the brain mitochondria.
Due to the improvement in brain function, there has been some serious attention given to ketogenic dieting and Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists have documented that there is improvement in cognition and memory in adults with impairments in these areas. There is a growing body of research which shows improvement at all stages of dementia.
Ketosis has demonstrated that it is effective against Parkinson’s as well.
The general ketogenic dieter has often reported that they experience increased mental clarity, focus and less frequent migranes. These can be attributed to more stable blood sugars and a reduction in inflammation that occurs as a result of ketosis.
5. Reduces Inflammation
In an article recently by Nature Medicine, it was discovered that the ketogenic dieting has a profoundly anti-inflammatory impact on the body and can help with a lot of related health problems.
The NLRP3 inflammasome, which is a key player in many of the inflammatory diseases, is suppressed by BHB, which is one of the ketones produced when an individual implements the ketogenic diet.
This is significant for people who have arthritis, acne, eczema, irritable bowel syndrome, psoriasis and other autoimmune conditions. Many people have reported that these conditions clear up with a ketogenic diet.
6. Improved Sleep
Many people who have done a ketogenic diet report an increase in general energy levels and lack a carbohydrate craving by day four or five. This is due to a stabilization of insulin levels and a readily available source of energy for the brain and body tissues.
While the mechanism for improved energy is apparent. It is still unknown why sleep improves on a ketogenic diet. Some studies have shown that a ketogenic diet improves sleep through decreasing REM and increasing slow-wave sleep patterns. Some theorize that it is possibly related to the complex biochemical shifts which involve the brain’s use of ketones for energy combined with the other body tissues directly burning fat.
7. Fights Cancer
Some studies suggest that ketogenic diets may starve cancer cells. The theory behind this is that cancer feeds off of carbohydrates. A highly processed, pro-inflammatory, nutrient deficient diet is optimal for cancer cells and causes them to proliferate. It is believed that cancer cells cannot metabolically use fat for fuel as normal body cells can.
The Department of Radiation Oncology at the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center for the University of Iowa and the National INstitutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders adn Stroke conduced research on cancer cells and the ketogenic diet. The concluded that the ketogenic diet is an effective treatment for cancer and other serious health issues.
A diet which eliminates excess refined sugar and procesed carbohydrates is effective in fighting or reducing cancer.
8. Longer Life
The Lancet published a study that examined more than 135,000 adults from eighteen different countries. The high carbohydrate intake was associated with a higher mortality. However, when the total fat was related to lower total mortality. Total fat and types of fat were not associated with cardiovascualr disease, myocardial infarction or cardiovascular disease mortality.
It shows that saturated fat intake has an inverse association with the risk for suffering from a strong. This means that the more saturated fat included in someone’s diet, the more protection you have against having a stroke.
9. Improved Fertility
As I frequent many ketogenic success facebook groups, one thing I see is that many people are sharing about their “keto babies.” Women who had suffered from infertility and PCOS are finding that a ketogenic diet is enabling them to get pregnant.
PCOS offten occurs in conjunction with insulin resistance. This causes a wide range of hormonal issues, which include infertility in women. Due to the extremely low carbohydrate intake, this diet can address the insulin resistance and help those who suffer with PCOS.
10. Mood Stabilization
Many people are discovering that a ketogenic diet is showing an improvement in autism symptoms. The reason for this has to do with its impact on improving the brain function. In addition to people with autism showing improvement on the ketogenic diet, there are studies that demonstrate that the ketogenic diet is helping people who experience bipolar mood swings.
In the paper,Potential Therapeutic Use of the Ketogenic Diet in Autism Spectrum Disorders, by Frontiers in Pediatrics, it was determined that ketogenic diets were beneficial when it comes to treating autism.