By Alex Reed
Have you ever wondered, where does your energy come from? Well, for most people, it comes from carbohydrates. But for anyonefollowing the ketogenic diet, the answer is fat.
Yes, that’s right, they run on pure fat.
You probably have already heard a lot about low-carb diets and the effects they can have on the human body. Maybe you have also heard about the ketogenic diet and its magical effects?
The keto diet is slowly becoming the superstar of the dieting world, mainly because of how effective and sustainable it is, once you get the hang of it.
The keto diet appeals to most people because of its ability to lose weight effectively. But at the same time, the list of benefits of the ketogenic diet are far more long-term than just weight loss.
The ketogenic diet is super simple: it is a highly low carb, adequate protein and high-fat way of eating.
Why low-carb? By removing carbohydrates from your menu will force your body to find new sources of energy. The majority of your menu will be based on fats. The ketogenic diet macronutrients ratio is 80% fat, 15% protein and up to 5% carbohydrates.
In other words, it’s basically the opposite of the “low-fat” diet craze that has driven so many Americans into the poorhouse when it comes to their personal health bank account.
The Main Idea and History Behind the Keto Diet
The main idea, behind the keto diet is to transfer your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. In other words, once your body is in ketosis, it will use fats for energy, instead of glucose. So that’s why your body starts producing ketone bodies by breaking down fats. This is a mechanism of your body, how it adapts to lack of carbs (and also hunger).
And ketosis is the very state you want to be if your dream is to get rid of those excess pounds that have been bugging you. Once you cut out carbs from your daily menu, you are then forced to deplete all the glucose sources in your body.
The keto diet was developed during the 1920s by Dr. Russel Wilder (see study info here).
The purpose was to use keto diet as a treatment for childhood epilepsy. It was effective and widely used.
But what are the benefits of the ketogenic diet? That’s a good question. Here are 10 positive effects the keto diet has on the human body.
1. Weight loss-
This may be the biggest benefit of keto: a sustainable way of eating and losing fat at the same time. The big reason, why keto diet is sustainable, is because of reduced cravings. Low carb diets have shown to be particularly effective up to six months. The main reason for that is, people often tend to give up the diet and tend to fall back to old eating habits.
Thus, the ketogenic diet is a lifestyle choice, not a Sunday crash diet. By consuming more fat and fewer carbs during your diet, your body will start using the stored body fat as an alternative energy source.
2. Reduced appetite-
Magical things will start happening once you cut out carbs from your daily menu. This is because fat as an energy source is way more stable and fulfilling. Studies have shown that when people cut out carbs and replace them with protein and fats, they tend to eat much fewer calories even without trying.
When you are following the ketogenic lifestyle and you are in a state of ketosis, you are consuming fat as a primary source of energy. Then, higher levels of a hormone leptin are released. Leptin is available because it helps to regulate your body’s energy balance by restraining the hunger feeling.
3. Reduces acne problems-
Probably one of the most awesome unexpected bonuses, when it comes to keto, is an improvement in skin quality, including a decrease in the frequency and severity of acne. Studies (see here) suggest that there is a link between carbs and acne. More precisely carbohydrates may be the main dietary culprit in acne, due to their negative effects on hormonal regulation. Keto also helps with skin problems.
You may wonder how? With keto comes reduced insulin levels which are one of the main sources of acne eruptions. It has an anti-inflammatory effect on your skin, which in turn reduces inflammation that drives acne development. Many people have reported that their skin becomes way clearer upon following the keto diet.
4. Improved cognition-
One of the most desirable side effects of the keto diet is that it helps a lot with brain function, cognitive skills and brings clarity of thought. The main problem with carbs is that they cause your blood sugar levels to rise and fall. Carbs as an energy source aren’t consistent, it makes it harder for your brain to stay focused for long periods of time, it also often can be the reason for mood swings. There are many scientific studies which confirm the positive effect of being in ketosis to your cognition abilities.
But at the end of the day, experience is king. Anyone who has experienced the state of ketosis can tell you the benefits of this improved cognitive function first-hand.
5. Increased physical endurance-
If physical endurance is important and measurable for you (going to the gym or if you are an athlete) then there are definitely many things you can gain from the keto diet. Research has concluded that long-term, high-fat diets are showing strong results and are favorable for aerobic endurance athletes. Other studies have shown a positive effect on endurance sports combined with the keto diet. One study found that exogenous ketones demonstrated acute nutritional ketosis during exercise, while reducing lactate production and improving performance.
6. Improved blood pressure-
High blood pressure is probably one of the most common health issues worldwide. It is not necessarily something that you can feel day-by-day. But, as we all know, high blood pressure can increase the risk of strokes and heart attacks. Research has shown that a low-carb diet is effective in lowering the blood pressure.
This, of course, does not mean that it will fix all the blood pressure related issues, however, and one should avoid all the medications at any cost. The takeaway is, that the keto diet may be something to consider when you have high blood pressure (of course you should always consult a licensed naturopathic doctor first).
7. Increased levels of good cholesterol-
Many people mistakenly think all cholesterol is bad, but HDL (the good type of cholesterol) carries the bad cholesterol away from the body to the liver where it will be reused or excreted. Elevated levels of cholesterol are vital in order to maintain optimal cardiovascular health. Higher levels of HDL will also help to lower the risk of heart diseases. Additionally, high levels of HDL may have anti-inflammatory effects on your body.
8. Cancer treatment?-
Cancer is definitely one of the leading causes of death around the world. Research has shown that a keto lifestyle can be beneficial for some types of cancer treatment. The keto diet eliminates carbs which in turn lower the calorie intake, which in turn reduces the energy available for the cells in your body.
In turn, in some cases, this can slow down tumor growth and cancer’s progression. In simple terms, the main idea behind the keto diet and cancer treatment is, that following keto diet, will force your body to “starve” the cancer cells and deprive it of its preferred fuel, sugar.
9. More stable energy levels-
Anyone who has ever switched from standard western diet to a keto diet will soon see a big difference in energy levels. One will experience how their energy levels are more stable through the day and they don’t experience any afternoon slumps or cravings.
Usually, after the first week, most people have experienced a boost in energy levels and a drop of daily cravings. This happens, because fat is a way more stable energy source for your body than carbs ever can be. Once, your body is adapted to fat, you can go longer times without eating and you will not feel any drastic mood swings.
10. Reduced risk for Type 2 diabetes-
It’s a known fact that carbs elevate your blood sugar. Because the keto diet restricts carbs, there is not enough sugar available for your body to use for fuel. The keto diet can also help your body with type 2 diabetes because it allows the body to maintain its glucose levels on a very low level (but healthy).
Thus, when there are no spikes in blood sugar, there is no need for higher levels of insulin.
Why You Should Try the Keto Diet
While the keto diet is not nearly as well known as classic diet types like the Mediterranean, low-fat, or other mainstream diets, its benefits are being proven on a growing level with the passing of time.
The keto diet is definitely a cherry that comes with many benefits, the biggest one being fat loss (see a full list of keto friendly foods here). Keto is especially effective for modern health challenges because the keto lifestyle comes without constant hunger feeling or cravings, all because fatty foods are more fulfilling and satisfying.
Although a keto diet can help with many medical conditions, no one should consider the keto diet as a fix for a disease by its own, and be sure to consult a naturopathic doctor before trying it.
Nonetheless, the list of positive effects of the keto diet on a human body is impressive to say the least, and one that could solve many of the health ills of the modern world if practiced correctly.
Thanks for reading! This article is for informational purposes only, not medical advice. For more information on the keto lifestyle, check out this article on exogenous ketones.
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