Low-carb nutrition plans have been controversial for decades—the keto diet is no exception. Some experts warn that going high-fat raises cholesterol levels and is actually harmful. While others, backed by sound research, completely disagree. I tend to put myself in the latter group.
That’s why, in today’s article, I’m summarizing the core scientific evidence behind the ketogenic diet but without delving into the more technical aspects of the research. I’ve provided a plethora of links and further resources for those of you who want to nerd out on the science.
So what is the Ketogenic Diet?
First designed for patients with epilepsy in the 1920s, the keto diet is a high-fat, moderate protein, very strict carb diet that is taking the nutrition world by storm.
The goal is to get more calories from healthy fats and lean proteins than from carbs. The keto eating plan depletes your body of its store of sugar (glycogen, carbs) so it’s forced to break down fat for energy, resulting in ketosis. In this state, your body produces and burns ketone bodies, mainly acetoacetate and its derivatives hydroxybutyrate and acetone.
On the keto diet, you’ll be eating mainly fats, cheese, meats, poultry, eggs, low carb vegetables, fish, other seafood, and plain yogurt. The main foods to avoid include anything that has moderate to high carb content, such as bread, pasta, legumes, fruits, and anything with added sugar.
By opting for the keto diet, you’ll not only lose weight and keep it off, but you’ll also increase your performance, rev up your energy levels, and improve your body’s ability to overcome a host of health conditions.
Keto Aids in Weight loss
One of the main perks of the keto diet is the weight loss effect.
Research has found that people who go on low carb diets shed weight faster than those on low-fat diets, even the low-diet group is actively restricting calories.
According to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, subjects following a keto diet were able to achieve better long term bodyweight management when compared to their peers who opted for a conventional low-fat diet.
According to another research, low carb diets were specifically effectively for up to six months, compared to a standard weight loss diet.
2. Increased Energy Levels
It’s quite common during the first few days on the keto diet to go through the keto flu. This is a short period in which you experience fatigue, headaches, nausea, confusion, and other unwanted symptoms.
These are the telling signs that your body is making the shift from burning carbs (glucose) for energy to burning ketones (fat)—a process known as ketosis.
Think of it as a rite of passage to the keto world.
This transition phase can leave you feeling depleted for a few days—up to a week, but once you become keto-adapted, you may experience a sharp increase in energy and endurance.
There are many reasons, as explained by keto experts following a ketogenic diet. Some of these include:
- Reduced inflammation
- More ATP per molecule of ketone Vs. Glucose
- Steady blood sugar levels upregulation of mitochondrial biogenesis.
3. Keto Reduces Appetite
Most of the dreadful hunger pangs are caused by chronic blood sugar instability. This what could be blamed for the sudden urge to eat and reach for unhealthy food.
To control your cravings, you’d need to regulate your blood sugar levels. That’s where the keto diet comes in handy.
Getting into ketosis, then maintaining for an extended period, helps regulate blood sugar, drastically reduces cravings, and provides the brain and tissues with stable energy.
Research had regularly revealed that when subjects avoided carbohydrates and eat more fat and protein, they end up consuming far fewer calories.
Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that high fat, low carb diet were more effective at managing hunger than diets with a greater percentage of carbohydrates.
Further study suggests that high-fat low carb eating may suppress hunger hormones more effectively than standard weight-loss regimes.
4. Increased Levels of Good HDL Cholesterol
Despite being high in fats, the ketogenic diet is unlikely to negatively impact your cholesterol levels.
The reverse happens. Eating this way may cut the risk of heart disease markers, such as triglycerides and cholesterol.
Research shows that one of the best ways to increase the good HDL level is to consume fat—and the keto diet is roughly 70 to 85 fat.
When you’re applying the keto diet in a healthy way—as in focusing on healthy sources fats, avocadoes instead of pork rinks for instance—you may improve your heart health by reducing cholesterol.
A one-year study found that 22 of 26 cardiovascular risk factors drastically improved with a keto diet.
The subjects reported a reduction of their fasting triglyceride by 24 percent and an 18 percent boost in good HDL cholesterol and drastic reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Another research found that HDL cholesterol—the good one—drastically improved in those following the keto diet while the bad one—the LDL significantly plunged.
5. Good For Metabolic Syndrome
There is plenty of studies—roughly more than 160 research paper currently on PubMed with the words “ketogenic” “ketosis,” or “diabetes” in the title alone.
Check out of the studies
- Study 1
- Study 2
- Study 3
- Study 4
Let’s check a couple.
A 10-week study found that high fat and low diet can help diabetic subjects maintain a healthy blood glucose level range. This research assessed 232 obese patients with type II diabetes.
The result: 36 percent of the subjects no longer needed insulin therapy, with over 50 percent drastically lowering their dose.
Research has found a strong link between the metabolic syndrome and increased risk for diabetes and heart disease.
This condition is a mix of symptoms that include:
- Increased blood pressure
- Abdominal obesity
- High triglycerides
- Low good HDL cholesterol levels
In other words, eating a diet rich in fat and void of carbohydrates, contrary to classic thinking, is actually what might help you reverse cardiovascular diseases symptoms
The keto diet is, again, works very well for treating and alleviating all of these symptoms, research shows.
A body of recent research has looked into the effect of the keto diet on obesity and found that it works very well for not only losing fat but also sparing muscle mass.
6. Stable Insulin Levels
The high-fat, low carb diet may be very beneficial for people with type II diabetes, which affects hundreds of millions worldwide, especially in the industrialized world.
When you reduce your intake of carb-rich and high processed food, you’ll be better able to manage your blood sugar levels by eliminating—or significantly reducing—large spikes in your blood sugar, reducing the need for insulin.
Research shows that diabetic patients who get on the low carb path may need to cut their insulin dosage by up 50 percent almost immediately.
In a study, 95 percent of subjects with type II diabetes have significantly reduced or eliminated their glucose-lowering medication within six months.
According to a review published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, XX number of studies proved that a ketogenic diet could drastically improve insulin sensitivity for those with type II diabetes.
Yet be careful. If you’re already taking blood sugar meds, consult with your doctors before making changes to your carb intake—as your dosage may need to be adjusted to prevent hypoglycemia.
7. Helpful for Many Brain Disorders
Did you know that the ketogenic diet was first used way back in the 1920s to treat children with epilepsy?
This is something I learned about a few months ago in a Joe Rogan podcast. And I instantly became fascinated with the applications of the keto diet for treating brain disorders.
In research, over 50 percent of the children on the low-carb, high-fat regime had lowered the number of their seizure by up to 50 percent while 16 percent of the participant became seizure-free.
Some research goes as far as to claim that the ketogenic diet provides neuroprotective benefits. These may help reduce the risks for conditions like Alzheimer’s Parkinson.
The theory is, drastically reducing glucose levels by opting for high fat and very strict carb diet forces body to produce ketone bodies for fuel. This shift may help treat and reverse neurological disorders and cognitive issues, such as Alzheimer’s symptoms, epilepsy, and anxiety.
8. Lowered Blood Pressure
Hypertension, or elevated blood pressure, is a significant risk factor for a host of diseases, such as stroke, heart disease, and kidney failure—the list goes on.
Here’s the good news.
A growing body of research over the past few years shows that eating low-carb diets has a huge positive impact on blood pressure, which could cut your risk of these conditions and help you live a longer, healthier life.
9. You’ll Sleep Better
Your sleep quality will take a massive hit during the first few days on the ketogenic diet. That’s typical during the adjustment period—when you reduce your carb intake to no more than 20 net gram per day.
But once your body gets adjusted, you’ll find yourself experiencing more alertness during the day and sleep deeper at night.
Research published in the journal Nutrients revealed hat following a low-carb calorie diet drastically reduce daytime sleepiness in a group of obese participants.
During this phase, you may experience insomnia and a bunch of other issues, but once you go over this initial bump, your sleep quality will improve.
You’ll sleep much deeper and much sounder, and feel more rested and energized when you wake up.
Few things are as divisive in the nutrition world as the keto diet –and the health benefits of low carb and ketogenic diets.
My suggestion is simple. Try the keto diet for a few months and see for yourself.
A few months may seem like a long time, but that’s long you need to be fully keto-adapted so you can form your own opinion.
If you are not experiencing any of the above benefits, then maybe the keto diet is not for you. If it does help, welcome to the growing club of keto enthusiasts—known as ketones.
As we have seen in today’s post, the research on the keto diet is quite conclusive when it comes to its positive impact on cholesterol blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and brain functioning,
I can’t wait to meet you on the other side.
In case you have no idea where or how to start with the keto diet, here are a few sources that can help:
These are some of the best guides written on the keto diet. I’ve used these websites as reference materials for most of my writings on the keto diet.
Oh, and remember to check this podcast too.
LINK TO PODCAST.
In the meantime thank you for reading my post.
Feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.
Keep Running Strong.