Keto diets have become immensely popular, and why not? After all, the diet is very effective for weight loss, and it’s no secret that the world has a weight problem, with large percentages of the population being overweight or obese.
But this way of eating is much more than a weight loss hack. What many people don’t realize is that the advantages of a ketogenic diet go far beyond the number of pounds you can lose.
Need a quick refresher on what keto is? Basically, you cut out most carbohydrates, eat a moderate amount of protein, and increase your intake of healthy fats, like those from avocados, fatty fish, olive oil, nuts, and seeds.
You also stop eating pre-packaged, ultra-processed, industrialized foods and start cooking with whole, fresh ingredients. If you’re looking for a complete introduction to the keto world, PlanKetogenic is a good place to start.
Now, about those benefits!
Yes, the low-carb diet makes your body switch over to burning fat for energy instead of carbs, which helps with weight loss. But it also creates ketones, a different type of energy source that has advantages for the body, the brain, and even mental health.
Here are some of the other key benefits of following a keto diet.
- The keto diet is appetite-suppressing: Studies have shown consistently that when people cut down on carbs and consume healthy fats, they get less food cravings, feel fuller faster, and can keep away from binge eating. As the low-carb diet decreases appetite, you end up naturally consuming fewer calories without feeling deprived. That’s one reason many people think of it not as a diet, but as a lifestyle.
- It keeps the waistline in check: Most people who are overweight are anxious about the fat in their abdominal cavity, which is visceral fat. And not just for aesthetic reasons. Excess visceral fat is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance. Low-carb keto diets are very effective at decreasing this harmful abdominal fat and can help reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
- A ketogenic lifestyle can improve heart health: Studies of people on the keto diet found a significant reduction in triglycerides and an impressive increase of HDL levels in the blood because of lower carb consumption. Triglycerides are fat molecules in the bloodstream that are a strong heart disease risk factor, while high-density lipoprotein (HDL) is good for the heart. The healthy, low-carb keto diets thus promote heart health.
- It is efficient against metabolic syndrome: Metabolic syndrome patients are known to carry a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease. However, a calorie-restricted ketogenic diet can help control their blood sugar and blood pressure level and improve their cholesterol values. As a result, they find significant improvements in many features of metabolic syndrome.
- A keto diet is helpful for diabetics: Low-carb ketogenic eating is found to get insulin resistance under control and can be particularly helpful for people with diabetes. There are many diabetic patients who were able to reduce their insulin dosage by simply cutting the carbs. However, people who are insulin-dependent must talk to their doctors before making any changes to their diet.
- Keto can improve skin health: It is a known fact that our diet and blood sugar levels have a direct link to skin condition. Millions of people around the world suffer from acne and other skin health conditions. The ketogenic diet is known to reduce acne symptoms in some people as they are better able to manage their blood sugar levels. Thus, when they change their food intake from a high-carb to a low-carb model, they can see a positive impact on their skin health. Keto’s anti-inflammatory effects also plays a role.
- It may be therapeutic for several brain disorders: According to some experts, the ketogenic diet may be especially beneficial for brain conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Parkinson’s Disease (PD), Alzheimer’s disease, and even cancer. The mechanism behind the ketogenic diet works to make improvements in various brain patterns, improve balance and coordination and provide protective effects on the brain and nervous system.
- Ketogenic eating can provide relief from migraines: Those who suffer from migraines may find improvements in their migraine symptoms and frequency. Several observational studies have reported a decrease in the frequency and intensity of migraines, and lesser dependency on pain medication among those who followed a keto diet.
- The keto diet may help with depression: More research is needed in this area, but several sources have suggested that ketogenic eating may help relieve depression by improving mitochondrial function, reducing oxidative stress, stabilizing blood sugar, and reducing inflammation.
- May have anti-cancer affects: Obesity and elevated blood sugar levels have been linked to some types of cancers. Thus, keto can help fight cancer by reducing body weight and stabilizing blood sugar. Small studies have also shown that ketogenic eating may slow tumor growth, reduce inflammation, protect healthy cells during radiation or chemotherapy treatment, and help anti-cancer drugs work more effectively.
- Significant decrease in migraines: Migraines can cause severe pain and discomfort, and many migraine patients on a keto diet have reported a considerable reduction in the frequency of their headaches. Moreover, many patients have become even migraine-free and reduced their drug consumption.
Ketogenic diets are being increasingly considered to promote weight loss and their beneficial effects on metabolic health, the nervous system, brain health, and mental health. As studies continue on the keto diet and its positive impacts on the human body and wellness, it can be further leveraged for exploring more benefits.
Regardless of the keto diet benefits, one must check with a doctor or dietitian before making any dietary changes or shifting to keto. As following this diet correctly requires careful planning, it is highly recommended to do so only under the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider. The objective should be to take full advantage of the keto diet and follow a well-planned and balanced diet.
Want to see what a keto-friendly recipe looks like? Check out our low-carb lowcountry seafood boil.