I'm "going keto!" You may have heard a friend or colleague talk about his or her new diet, or read about celebrities achieving amazing results by "going keto." They are referring, of course, to the ketogenic diet—a food regimen that has gained popularity in recent years. The idea behind the ketogenic diet is to train your body to burn fat as a source of fuel instead of glucose, or sugar, by eating foods high in fat and very low in carbs, while also restricting protein intake.
Although you may initially be a bit skeptical if you're unfamiliar with it, the ketogenic diet holds positive health benefits for many. Always remember, however: You should discuss such a drastic change in food consumption with your health care provider and a nutritionist beforehand to ensure it's the right decision for you.
HERE ARE SIX BENEFITS OF A KETOGENIC DIET:
1. HELPS WITH WEIGHT LOSS
The U.S. National Library of Medicine shared a 2004 study that specifically examined the effects of the ketogenic diet on weight loss. The 83 patients not only saw a remarkable difference in their body weight, but also noticed other changes at the conclusion of the 24-week treatment.
Observations were made in week eight, 16 and 24 of treatment. Specifically, “The body weight, body mass index, total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting blood sugar, urea and creatinine levels were determined before and after the administration of the ketogenic diet.”
Patients showed a tremendous decrease in body mass index by the end of the study. They also experienced a noticeable drop in LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, triglycerides and blood glucose levels.
Such results could also lower someone’s risk of heart disease and diabetes, as discussed in another study likewise shared by the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
This 2017 study assessed weight loss, as well as cardiovascular disease, in relation to the ketogenic diet. It concluded the diet plan “may be associated with some improvements in some cardiovascular risk factors, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and HDL cholesterol levels.”
Still, it states that “these effects are usually limited in time” and they should be studied more to learn about its long-term effects.
2. Decreases Inflammation
A September 2017 article published by the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) states that research by university scientists found the ketogenic diet “may work by lowering inflammation in the brain.”
“The UCSF team has discovered a molecular key to the diet’s apparent effects, opening the door for new therapies that could reduce harmful brain inflammation following stroke and brain trauma by mimicking the beneficial effects of an extreme low-carb diet,” it explains.
3. ASSISTS WITH TREATING TYPE 2 DIABETES
As briefly mentioned earlier, the ketogenic diet could encourage weight loss, which in turn, may result in the treatment of various cardiovascular conditions. A reduction in overall carbohydrate consumption also promotes insulin sensitivity, which is compromised in those with type 2 diabetes.
Taking a closer look at the food regimen's effect on those with type 2 diabetes, the peer-reviewed Journal of Medical Internet Research shared a 2017 study that concluded "an individualized program delivered and supported remotely that incorporates nutritional ketosis can be highly effective in improving glycemic control and weight loss in adults with T2D [type 2 diabetes] while significantly decreasing medication use."
In other words, someone who goes on the ketogenic diet, under the supervision of nutritional and medical professionals, could steer his or her glucose levels under control, lower his or her blood sugar and insulin levels, and experience significant weight reduction. This may lead to an improvement in his or her health, and possibly reduce the need for certain medications.
4. Increases Energy Levels
The previous article continues: “The high-fat, low-carbohydrate regimen of ketogenic diets changes the way the body uses energy. In response to the shortage of carb-derived sugars such as glucose, the body begins breaking down fat into ketones and ketoacids, which it can use as alternative fuels.”
These changes within the body result in increased energy levels, which may be why athletes, in particular, are so interested in this diet plan.
An article published by The Science of Fitness, an organization aiming to educate people about fitness news through article reviews, study collection creation, interviews with researchers and study analyzation, also explores the relationship between the ketogenic diet and performance.
While long-term results are not yet available, the article finds that people following this food regimen could experience an improvement in strength performance. They may also maintain similar anaerobic and aerobic functions, despite the fact they're consuming minimal amounts of carbohydrates.
5. Lowers Risk of Parkinson’s Disease
A 2008 report, also published through the U.S. National Library of Medicine, reviews the effects of the ketogenic diet on multiple health conditions, including Parkinson’s disease. Citing two previous studies, the report states that evidence demonstrates the ketogenic diet’s ability to prevent Parkinson’s disease, although adding more research should be conducted.
For example, one 2005 study concludes a “high intake of unsaturated fatty acids," which is what people on the ketogenic diet primarily consume, “might protect against Parkinson's disease.”
6. Reduces Acne
Another possible benefit of the ketogenic diet is an improvement against acne. Although mostly thought of as an inconvenience for teenagers, acne affects many adults as well, and their diets could play contributing roles.
ResearchGate, a website that shares scientific studies, highlights a 2012 Science Pharmacology and Physiology review evaluating nutrition and acne, with a specific focus on the ketogenic diet.
The review infers that adhering to a ketogenic diet for a certain amount of time—30 to 60 days—could reduce “acne vulgaris” and restore “a proper hormonal status.”
Interested in giving the ketogenic diet a try? Find out how hyperbaric oxygen therapy could help improve its results.