Although ketogenic diet has been around for almost a century, it is rapidly gaining popularity today. There is a reason why keto is so highly regarded. It’s not a fad diet. It actually works, and it has tremendous health benefits in addition to weight loss. When on the keto diet, you are feeding your body exactly what it needs, while eliminating toxins that will slow it down.
The keto diet focuses on low carbohydrates, which the body converts into energy to help speed up weight loss.
What exactly is the problem with high carbs, and why should you avoid them? Carbohydrates are converted into glucose and cause a spike in insulin. As the insulin enters the bloodstream to process the glucose, which becomes the main source of energy. A spike in insulin can also result in storage of fats. The body uses carbohydrates and fats as energy, the former being the primary source. So the more carbs you consume in your daily diet, the less fat is being burned for energy. Instead, the spike in insulin will result in more fat storage.
When you consume less carbohydrates, the body goes into a state referred to as ketosis. Thus, the name for this low-carb diet.
Ketosis helps the body survive on less food. By being in ketosis, you ‘train’ your body to utilize fats as the main source of energy instead of carbs, simply because there is close to zero carbs to begin with. During ketosis, the liver breaks down fats into ketones, which enables the body to use the fat as energy. During a keto diet, we don’t starve ourselves of calories; we starve the body of carbohydrates. This makes weight loss easy and natural. Later on, you’ll learn that the keto diet has many additional health benefits besides fat loss.
The keto diet is an easy diet, but some people do miss beans and breads. It takes a bit of getting used to, starting anything new is challenging after all. But ultimately, you’ll feel much better, both physically and mentally that you’d be happy to avoid carbs once and for all. And being able to eat bacon on a diet does have its rewards!
What is Ketogenic Diet?
The keto diet is a low or zero carbohydrate diet, but it differs from other low-carb diets (such as Paleo) in that it deliberately manipulates the ratios of carbs, fats, and protein to switch fat into the body’s primary source of fuel. Our bodies are used to using carbohydrates as fuel. Fats, which is a secondary source of fuel, are rarely tapped on. That means the extra fat is stored and keeps adding on the pounds.
The only ways to reduce fat in a ‘normal’ diet are to consume less fat and workout a lot in order to increase energy expenditure over daily calories intake, which is why most people fail to lose weight on conventional diet.
On the other hand, the ketogenic diet uses fat for fuel, which means it gets used instead of being stored. So, weight loss becomes easy. In addition to weight loss, the ketogenic diet is known as the “healing” diet. The lack of sugar intake has been proven to help and prevent many diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, cancers, epilepsy, and many symptoms of aging.
The manipulation of carbs, fats, and protein is crucial in order to get into ketosis. It’s a state when the body, deprived of the usual carbohydrates and sugar, is forced to use fat as its primary fuel. So the ratio of fats and protein are significantly higher than carbs in general.
Of course, consuming less carbs also means lowering the amount of insulin in your body. Less insulin; Less glucose and fat storage. That is why the keto diet has been so successful in helping people with diabetes. It adjusts the sugar level naturally.
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 less 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 ketogenic diet is not a fad. Many scientific studies have shown the benefits and healing effects of ketosis. Discuss the ketogenic diet with your doctor if you are interested in consuming less sugar, losing weight, or as preventive measures against vulnerable health problems.
Benefits of Keto Diet
Although ketogenic diet is popularly known as a ‘rapid fat loss diet’, it is actually more to this than meets the eye. In fact, weight loss and higher levels of energy are only by-products of the keto diet, a kind of bonus. It has been scientifically proven that the keto diet has many additional medical benefits.
Let’s begin by stating that a high carbohydrate diet, with its many processed ingredients and sugars, has absolutely no health benefits. These are merely empty calories, and most processed foods ultimately serve only to rob your body of the nutrients it needs to remain healthy. Here is a list of actual benefits for lowering your carbohydrates and eating fats that convert to energy:
1. 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 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. 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 normal western diet, which can be quite 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, thus becomes lacking in energy, and the brain has difficulty functioning at a high level. The keto diet provides an additional energy source for the brain.
A study by the American Diabetes Association found that Type 1 diabetics improved their brain function after consuming coconutoil.
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 an average person? With the emphasis on fatty acids, such as omega 3 and omega 6 found in seafood, the keto diet is likely to fuel the brain with the additional nutrients to help achieve a healthier mental state. The brain tissue is made up largely of fatty acids (you’ve heard fish referred to as “brainfood”), and the increased consumption of those fatty acids will logically lead to improved brain health.
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.
2. 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, carbohydrateladen diet. Fat is a more efficient source of energy, leaving you feeling more vitalized than you would on a “sugar” rush.
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 fairly 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Keto and Autism
We know the keto diet affects brain functions. In a study on autism, it was found that it also has a positive effect on autism. Thirty autistic children were placed on the keto diet. All showed improved in autistic behavior, especially those on the milder autistic spectrum. While more studies are needed, the results were extremely positive.
In addition, acne thrives on inflammation. The ketogenic diet eases and reduces inflammation, thus enabling the body to decrease acne eruptions. Fatty acids, which are found in abundance in fish, are a known anti-inflammatory.
While research is still being done, it seems likely that a keto diet has beneficial effects for clearer, healthier, more glowing skin.
7. Keto and Anti-Aging
Many diseases are a natural result of the aging 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. What we do know is that 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.
There is also research indicating that using fatty acids for fuel instead of sugar may slow down the aging process, possibly because of the negative effects that sugar has on our overall wellbeing.
In addition, the simple act of eating less and consuming fewer calories is a matter of basic health, as it prevents obesity and its inherent side effects.
So far, studies have been limited. However, considering the powerful positive effects of the ketogenic diet on our health, it is logical to assume this diet will help us grow older in a more natural way while delaying the natural effect of aging. A normal western diet laden with sugars and processed foods are certainly detrimental to warding off the signs of aging.