What Are the Benefits of a Keto Diet?
The keto diet is a popular method of weight loss that provides several health benefits. If you have tried other diets to lose weight and nothing has stuck, switching to a ketogenic diet could be the solution.
Today, the team at Wholistically Healthy will discuss the keto diet benefits and the many health changes they can bring. We will also give you some tips to make your keto diet more manageable.
How Do Ketogenic Diets Work?
Much like other diets, keto diets all revolve around altering your intake amounts of various nutrients. With a ketogenic diet, you essentially cut out all carbohydrates and increase your fat and protein intake. Keto diets include high-fat foods and food rich in proteins.
According to traditional wisdom, the nutritional ratios for a standard keto diet should be 70% of calories from fat, 5%-10% from carbs, and 10%-20% from proteins. Some keto diets eschew carbohydrates in favour of a higher fat intake.
Keto Diets Vs. Low-Fat Diets
Many dieters might question whether a low-carb keto diet is better than low-fat diets. Ketogenic diets are more effective for short-term rapid weight loss because they take advantage of how the body metabolizes nutrients.
Typically, your body gains energy from breaking carbs down into glucose. The body converts this extra glucose into fatty acids to store for later. If you maintain a high carbohydrate intake, your body never needs to burn this excess fat.
Keto diets limit carbohydrate intake, forcing your body to burn excess fat for energy. Low-carb intake causes the body to transform fat deposits into ketone bodies, from which it draws energy.
Low-fat diets can help you lose weight and reduce the risk of heart disease. However, fat-restricted diets take longer to generate results and may not help people reach their target weight.
Ketone production starts after the liver has run out of glycogen, which typically occurs about after a week or so of a low-carb diet. So, you will have to stick to your regimen for a while until you see the potential benefits of the ketogenic diet.
Keto Diet Benefits
Below are some benefits of a low carbohydrate and low-calorie ketogenic diet:
One of the biggest reasons people don't stick with diets is because they always feel hungry and miserable. One of the benefits of the keto diet is it significantly curbs your appetite, getting rid of hunger pangs.
Cutting out complex carbs and upping your protein helps regulate ghrelin and leptin, the two hormones responsible for feelings of hunger. Lowering these hormone levels keeps you feeling full and satisfied while eating less.
Faster Weight Loss
Limiting carb intake is one of the fastest ways to lose weight. Some studies show that low carbohydrate diets are more effective for losing weight than low-fat diets, even when caloric intake is lower in the latter.
Low carb diets eliminate water weight and force your body to start consuming fat from the hips and waist. Subjects on low-carb diets can lose up to twice as much weight as those on low-fat diets.
However, it is not clear whether low-carb diets are more effective than low-fat diets in the long run.
More Fat Loss
The body contains several types of fats in different locations, the most important being subcutaneous and visceral fat. Visceral fat sits in pockets around the organs and can produce inflammation, while subcutaneous fat lies under the skin.
Low-carb diets target visceral body fat, particularly in the abdomen. Those on ketogenic diets tend to lose a more significant proportion of visceral fat than subcutaneous fat. Research suggests that lower visceral fat reduces the risk of insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
Randomized controlled trials have linked high triglyceride levels with a higher risk of heart disease and poor cardiovascular health. One of the leading causes of high triglyceride levels is a high-carbohydrate diet—particularly one heavy in fructose.
Eating a carb-restrictive diet drastically reduces triglyceride levels in overweight and obese patients. Conversely, studies have found that low-fat diets might actually increase triglyceride levels in the short term.
Lower Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels
Research suggests that a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet may benefit those with insulin resistance, diabetes, or heart disease. In addition to weight loss, ketogenic diets can reduce blood sugar and insulin levels.
Keto diets can also reduce the need for insulin medication. In one study, researchers found that 95% of subjects with type II diabetes significantly reduced or outright eliminated their need for diabetes medication for blood sugar control after six months on a keto diet.
Higher Concentration of "Good" Cholesterol
The body has two primary types of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). LDL is the "bad cholesterol" and can increase the risk of health conditions like heart disease or kidney disease and contribute to high blood pressure.
Higher concentrations of HDL than LDL can lower cardiovascular risk factors. Keto diets can cause a significant reduction in LDL levels compared to low-fat diets and reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.
Treat Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that put you at a higher risk for a kidney disorder, heart disease, obesity, and stroke. Symptoms of metabolic syndrome include:
- High blood sugar levels
- Reduced HDL levels
- High Triglycerides
- High blood pressure
- Significant fat deposits around the waist
A low-carb diet can significantly manage these conditions and may even eliminate them. Some evidence shows that low-carb diets can "starve" tumours and cancer cells.
The brain consumes glucose for energy, but high blood glucose levels can trigger inflammation in brain tissues, leading to "brain fog." Reducing glucose levels with low-carb diets can lessen brain inflammation, lower blood pressure, and produce cognitive health benefits.
Research suggests that a low-carb diet can moderately improve cognitive functioning in patients with Alzheimer's disease.
One of the most notable potential benefits of the keto diet is how it trains your metabolism. After being in ketosis, your body will adapt to immediately start burning fats when it needs energy, resulting in a higher resting metabolic rate.
So, your body will burn more calories, even when you are not doing anything. You can lose more weight while maintaining a faster metabolism compared to a low-fat diet.
Manage PCOS Symptoms
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a type of hormone disorder that can cause painful cysts on the ovaries, skin irritation, and menstruation problems. Studies have shown that a standard ketogenic diet can help manage these conditions.
For instance, a pilot study from 2005 found that a 24-week ketogenic diet significantly reduced PCOS biomarkers in the subject cohort.
Switching to a keto diet can also improve your skin—especially if you used to eat a lot of sugar. Inflammation from excessive sugar produces the oils that create pimples and acne. Low-carb diets can reduce oil production and clear pores.
Side Effects of the Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet is excellent for weight loss and provides several potential health benefits. However, it does have some risks. Below are common side effects of a low-carb diet.
It takes a few weeks for your body to enter the state of ketosis fully. In the meantime, you may find that you feel fatigued. Your body is adapting to burning fats instead of carbs, so you will go through a period of lower energy.
Once your body gets used to producing ketone bodies, you should notice feelings of this so-called "keto flu" subsiding.
Low Blood Sugar
Lowering blood glucose levels can have positive effects, but severely low sugar levels can do the opposite. Low sugar levels can cause blurred vision, weakness, drowsiness, and confusion. In severe cases, low glucose levels can lead to seizures and convulsions.
Kidney stones are another potential risk of a ketogenic diet. A high protein and high-fat diet can make your urine more acidic and increase its concentration of calcium. Calcium can solidify into kidney stones that move into your bladder. Reducing sodium intake and drinking more water are the best ways to reduce the risk of kidney stones on a ketogenic diet.
Since you cut out carbs on a keto diet, you won't be eating many foods high in fibre, like grains, fruits, or lentils. Low fibre intake coupled with water excretion can lead to constipation.
To offset this, consider keto-friendly foods high in fibre, including nuts, non-starchy vegetables, and fruits low in sugars. You should also up your water intake.
Eating a ketogenic diet produces high amounts of ketone bodies. Ketones contain acetone, the same chemical found in nail polish remover. Your body partially removes ketones through exhalation, so your breath might have a strange odour different from typical bacteria.
Is a Keto Diet Right for Me?
Keto diets are an effective means of short-term weight loss and can promote heart health and better metabolism and help manage several health conditions. However, low-carb diets are not for everyone. Keto diets may come with increased risk if you:
- Already have low blood pressure problems
- Are anemic or have other nutrient deficiencies
- Are pregnant or nursing
- Have a pancreatic or liver condition
- Have type I diabetes
You should always talk to your physician before significantly changing your diet. Consulting a nutritionist can help you create a keto diet plan and explore the benefits of the keto diet.
Keto Diet FAQ
Below are some of the most common questions we receive about keto diet benefits.
How Long Does Ketosis Take?
On average, it takes about a week for your body to start entering ketosis after restricting carb intake, and longer to reach full ketosis. You'll need to limit carb intake to less than 20 grams daily to enter a carb-deficit state.
Do I Need to Count Calories on a Ketogenic Diet?
Keto diets require a calorie deficit, so you must restrict caloric intake from normal levels. Fortunately, the fats and proteins in a keto diet should keep you full once you get past the initial stages of ketosis.
How Much Weight Can I Lose?
It all depends on your daily routine. Pairing regular exercise with a keto diet can maximize weight loss, and you will lose significant water weight as your body gets used to burning ketones.
Can I Drink Alcohol on a Keto Diet?
You can drink alcohol on a ketogenic diet but should avoid drinks high in carbs like beer, wine, and cocktails. Spirits and clear liquors have relatively few carbs. However, excessive alcohol consumption can slow the production of ketones.
Can I Overeat Fat?
Ketogenic diets typically get most of their calories from fats, so some people might be worried about consuming too much. As long as you stay calorie-deficient, you won't have to worry about fat consumption. High-fat diets will keep you full, so there is less risk of overeating.
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