Health Benefits of the Keto Diet
The health benefits of the keto diet are gaining interest. They and range from weight loss, helping reverse Type 2 diabetes, improved mental focus and more. Here we look at the health benefits of keto and the mechanisms at work behind-the-scenes.
What is the Keto Diet?
The keto diet is a low carbohydrate diet, but it differs from other low-carb diets (such as Paleo) in that it manipulates the ratios of carbs, fats, and protein to change fat into the body’s primary source of fuel.
Our bodies are used to turning carbohydrates into insulin to use as fuel. That means the extra fat is stored and keeps adding on the pounds. The ketogenic diet uses fat for fuel, which means it gets used instead of stored. Thus, weight loss becomes easy.
Besides weight loss, the ketogenic diet is a healing diet. Reducing sugar intake has been proven to prevent many diseases, from heart disease, high blood pressure, cancers, epilepsy, and many symptoms of ageing.
The manipulation of carbs, fats, and protein is called ketosis. It’s a state when the body, deprived of the usual carbohydrates and sugar, is forced to use fat as its primary fuel.
Of course, turning insulin into fat also means lowering the amount of insulin in your body. That is why the keto diet has been so successful in helping people deal with diabetes. It adjusts the sugar level naturally.
In the keto diet, the ratio of carbs, fat, and protein can vary. Many people allow themselves up to 50 grams of carbohydrates a day and still lose weight. On a stricter regime, the carb intake can be between 15 and 20 grams daily. The fewer carbs, the quicker the weight loss, but the diet is very flexible.
On the keto diet, you don’t count calories. You count carbohydrates and adjust the intake of carbs vs. fat and protein. A typical keto diet will get 60 percent of its calories from fat, 15 to 25 percent of calories from protein, and 25 percent of calories from carbohydrates.
The only limitation on the diet is sugar, which you need to avoid.
The Health Benefits of the Keto Diet
Many scientific studies have shown the benefits and healing effects of ketosis (burning fat for fuel, instead of sugar).
Keto Diet Health Benefit #1: Combating Obesity
The keto diet is more than just a weight loss diet – it’s a healthier diet – but, of course, weight loss is a big reason why people are drawn to the keto diet. Weight loss and higher levels of energy are only a side effect of the keto diet, a kind of bonus. It has been scientifically proven that a low carbohydrate diet is the fastest and easiest way to lose weight. But, the keto diet has many more medical benefits.
A high carbohydrate diet, with its many processed ingredients and sugars, has no health benefits. These are empty calories, and most processed foods serve only to rob your body of the nutrients it needs to remain healthy.
Why is the keto so effective in fighting obesity? Because it puts the body in a state of ketosis (burning fat, not sugar, for fuel). Your body becomes a 24/7 fat-burning machine – yes, even when you sleep! This may sound like an exaggerated infomercial, but it’s scientific fact.
Besides weight loss, here is a list of the health benefits of the keto diet. These benefits are brought about by lowering your carbohydrates and eating healthy fats for energy.
Keto Diet Health Benefit #2: Control of Blood Sugar
Keeping blood sugar at a low level is critical to manage and prevent diabetes. The keto diet has been proven to be extremely effective in preventing symptoms of diabetes.
Many people suffering from diabetes are also overweight. That makes an easy weight-loss regime a natural.
But the keto diet does more. Carbohydrates get converted to sugar, which for diabetics can result in a sugar spike. A diet low in carbohydrates prevents these spikes and allows more control over blood sugar levels.
Keto Diet Health Benefit #3: Mental Focus
The keto diet is based on protein, fats, and low carbohydrates. As we’ve discussed, this forces fat to become the primary source of energy. This is not the typical diet, which can be deficient in nutrients, particularly fatty acids, which are needed for proper brain function.
When people suffer from cognitive diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, the brain isn’t using enough glucose. The brain lacks the energy needed to function at a higher level. The keto diet provides an additional energy source for the brain.
The American Diabetes Association found that Type 1 diabetics improved their brain function after eating coconut-oil. That same study indicated that people who suffer from Alzheimer’s may experience improved memory capacity on a keto diet. Those with Alzheimer’s have seen improved memory scores that might correlate with the amount of ketones levels present.
What does this study mean to the average person?
With fatty acids, such as omega 3 found in seafood, the keto diet may provide the brain with more nutrients to help achieve a healthier mental state. Brain tissue comprises largely of fatty acids. Our body does not produce fatty acids on its own; we can only obtain it through our diet. And the keto diet is rich in fatty acids.
A diet high in carbohydrates can lead to a “foggy” brain, where you have difficulty in focusing. Focusing becomes easier with the increased energy provided by the keto diet. In fact, many people who have no need or desire to lose weight use the keto diet to improve and enhance brain functions.
Benefit #4: Increased energy
It’s not unusual, and has become almost normal, to feel tired and drained at the end of the day as a result of a poor, carbohydrate-laden diet. Fat is a more efficient source of energy, leaving you feeling more vitalized than you would on a “sugar” rush.
Benefit #5: Reduces acne
While most of the benefits of a keto diet are well-documented, one benefit catches some people by surprise: better skin and less acne.
Acne is very common. Ninety percent of teens suffer from it, and many adults do, as well.
While it was always thought that acne was at least exacerbated by poor diet, controlled research is still being conducted. However, many people on the keto diet have reported clearer skin. There may be a logical reason. A 1972 study found that high levels of insulin can cause the eruption of acne. Since a keto diet keeps insulin at a low and healthy level, it may very well affect skin health.
In addition, acne thrives on inflammation. In fact, research is showing that chronic inflammation may be the common factor in many diseases. Scientific thinking on inflammation has created a shift in medical thinking. For two millennia it has been viewed mainly as a necessary, even beneficial, response to illness or injury. But now studies are indicating that inflammation may be the causative factor in many diseases.
One of the major health benefits of the keto diet is that it eases and reduces inflammation. Fatty acids, which are found in abundance in the keto diet are a known anti-inflammatory.
Benefit #5: Keto and Anti-Ageing
Many diseases are a natural result of the ageing process. While there have not been studies done on humans, studies on mice have shown brain cell improvement on a keto diet.
Several studies have shown a positive effect of the keto diet on patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
A diet filled with good nutrients and antioxidants, low in sugar, high in protein and healthy fats – while low in carbohydrates – enhances our overall health. It protects us from the toxins of a poor diet.
Using fatty acids for fuel instead of sugar may slow down the ageing process. In addition, eating less and consuming fewer calories is a matter of basic health, as it prevents obesity and its inherent side effects.
A normal western diet laden with sugars and processed foods are detrimental to warding off the signs of ageing.
Benefit #6: Keto and Hunger
One of the major reasons diets fail is hunger. People who diet feel hungry and deprived and simply give up. A low carbohydrate diet naturally leaves people feeling full and satisfied. Less hungry means people will actually remain on the diet longer while consuming fewer calories.
Benefit #7: Keto and Eyesight
Diabetics are aware that high blood sugar can lead to a higher risk of developing cataracts. Since the keto diet controls sugar levels, it can help retain eyesight and help prevent cataracts. This has been proven in several studies involving diabetic patients.