The ketogenic diet has so many benefits, it's easy to justify its use!
It is certainly not made easy by the food industry since they add sugar or carbohydrate fillers to almost every packaged food.
Keto dieters typically have to learn how to cook with fats and flours they're not used to. But, there are so many benefits to ketosis!
Keto truly is worth it.
A diet low in sugar that lowers blood glucose and insulin levels will have several positive effects on the body, especially in overweight or obese people. The ketogenic diet gives your body the chance to re-adjust its glucose and insulin levels.
How the Keto Diet is Great for Your Body
Weight Loss Benefits
Weight loss is a huge benefit to the ketogenic diet.[i] It is probably the top reason people use keto.
The keto diet causes increased satiety and therefore is associated with decreased consumption of calories - leading to weight loss.[ii] Ketosis causes a reduction in fat storage and an increase in use of bodily fat stores as energy. The keto diet can even cause an increase in metabolic rate of fats.
You will actually see weight loss as soon as the first week of the diet. This is usually water weight. But seeing progress that early in the diet keeps you motivated.
Reduction of inflammation and pain
Inflammation is a root cause of a lot of diseases, so anything to lower inflammation is helpful. This is another top benefit to using the keto diet.
Compared to glucose metabolism, ketone metabolism produces fewer reactive oxygen species (ROS)- which are known to contribute to inflammation.[iii] ROS actually hurt the body in several other ways, so reducing these is super beneficial.
Increasing your ratio of omega 3's to omega 6's can also reduce inflammation in the brain. We recommend paying attention to this ratio, especially if you are using keto to treat brain diseases.
Cholesterol Levels and Cardiovascular Disease
The keto diet has shown in studies to lower total cholesterol levels but increase HDL, the good cholesterol.
The effect of the ketogenic diet on lowering insulin and glucose levels in the body can also decrease production of LDL, the bad cholesterol. The lowering of LDL causes decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.[iv]
Reduce Insulin levels and Diabetes- Type 2
Because of the reduction of glucose in the bloodstream from the keto diet, insulin is not as active.
People with type-2 diabetes are typically termed insulin resistant. Increasing insulin sensitivity is known as a good thing in the medical community. By reducing the activity of insulin, your body becomes more insulin sensitive.
It's been shown in studies that people with type-2 diabetes can begin to reverse it by using the ketogenic diet.
Brain Fog and Increased Focus Benefits
One of the first benefits noticed by keto dieters is increased focus and decreased brain fog.
You know the feeling of brain fog - you're trying to read a page in a book, but you end up having to re-read the same sentence 5 times to understand it.
Try the keto diet. The fog will be lifted. You'll be reading books right and left with increased focus.
Reduced Cravings and Hunger Pangs
The keto diet has been associated with increased satiety.
Sugar is known to increase cravings and hunger. With the keto diet your food cravings will subside. Because your body will be running on fat, including the fat stores in your body.
You'll be able to go hours without eating and not even notice.
Brain Neurodegenerative Diseases
The keto diet has been noted to improve symptoms in many neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimers, ALS, MS and traumatic brain injuries.
There could be several reasons for the therapeutic treatment for brain diseases.
Increased Energy for Endurance Athletes on Keto
If you're an endurance athlete, you'll notice that you can go farther for longer when your body is in ketosis.
It does take some getting used to, but after about 4 weeks you'll notice the increased energy. If you're exercising above 85% maximum intensity, you'll want to use a variation of the keto diet for exercise purposes. Muscle glycogen is the main energy source used at high intensities, so you won't be able to even attain high intensity without adjustment to the diet.
Athletes of all intensity levels will notice improved recovery times and reduced inflammation after exercise.[v]
PCOS Benefits of Ketosis
Improvements in women with PCOS. One study noted that 2 out of 5 women that completed 24 weeks on the keto diet actually became pregant when they previously could not conceive. Other results from this study were reduced free testosterone and reduction in fasting insulin.[vi]
Cancer Patients in Ketosis
Firstly, as metioned above, a ketogenic diet is shown to create less ROS than a normal diet. Increased ROS have been linked to cancer. This, in itself, should help decrease cancer risks.
In addition, a ketogenic diet can be used with radiation and chemotherapy to treat cancer. It will aid in these treatments because it weakens the cancer cells. Cancer cells thrive on glucose.
When the body is not given glucose, these cancer cells cannot thrive and are weakened.[vii]
Side Effects and Long Term
You should know that the side effects of a ketogenic diet are still being studied. There have been short-term studies that reflect side effects known as the keto flu. However, there have not been significant studies for long term dieters.
There are definitely people in the keto diet community that have used the diet long term and rave about the benefits.
Because the diet has not had significant research done in people doing the diet over a two years, we recommend a small break from the diet every now and then to reintroduce carbohydrates for a small period.
A perfect time for this is around the holidays, so you can feel like you're partaking without having to feel like an outsider at the dinner table.
If you want to get back on the keto diet quickly after the holidays, use our quick guide to ketosis.
[i] Hussein M Dashti, MD PhD FICS FACS, Thazhumpal C Mathew, MSc PhD FRCPath, Talib Hussein, MB ChB, Sami K Asfar, MB ChB MD FRCSEd FACS, Abdulla Behbahani, MB ChB FRCS FACSI PhD FICS FACS, Mousa A Khoursheed, MB ChB FRCS FICS, Hilal M Al-Sayer, MD PhD FICS FACS, Yousef Y Bo-Abbas, MD FRCPC, and Naji S Al-Zaid, BSc PhD. "Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients"
[ii] Sumithran P, Prendergast LA, Delbridge E, Purcell K, Shulkes A, Kriketos A. "Ketosis and appetite-mediating nutrients and hormones after weight loss."
[iii] Susan A. Masino, Ph.D. and David N. Ruskin, Ph.D. "Ketogenic Diets and Pain"
[iv] Hussein M Dashti, MD PhD FICS FACS, Thazhumpal C Mathew, MSc PhD FRCPath, Talib Hussein, MB ChB, Sami K Asfar, MB ChB MD FRCSEd FACS, Abdulla Behbahani, MB ChB FRCS FACSI PhD FICS FACS, Mousa A Khoursheed, MB ChB FRCS FICS, Hilal M Al-Sayer, MD PhD FICS FACS, Yousef Y Bo-Abbas, MD FRCPC, and Naji S Al-Zaid, BSc PhD. "Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients"
[v] Caryn Zinn, Matthew Wood, Mikki Williden, Simon Chatterton and Ed Maunder. "Ketogenic diet benefits body composition and well-being but not performance in a pilot case study of New Zealand endurance athletes"
[vi] John C Mavropoulos, William S Yancy, Juanita Hepburn and Eric C Westman. "The effects of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet on the polycystic ovary syndrome: A pilot study"
[vii] Bryan G. Allen, Sudershan K. Bhatia, Carryn M. Anderson, Julie M. Eichenberger-Gilmore, Zita A. Sibenaller, Kranti A. Mapuskar, Joshua D. Schoenfeld, John M. Buatti, Douglas R. Spitz, and Melissa A. Fath "Ketogenic diets as an adjuvant cancer therapy: History and potential mechanism"