The keto diet is a popular meal plan that focuses on foods that provide a lot of healthy fats, and very few carbohydrates. The goal is to get more calories from fat than from carbs.
The diet works by draining the body of its sugar reserves. As a result, your body will begin breaking down fat for energy. This results in the production of molecules called ketones that the body uses for fuel. When the body burns fats, it can also lead to weight loss.
There are several types of keto diets, including the Standard Ketogenic Diet and the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet.
In this article, I will break down seven major benefits of the keto diet, as well as its risks.
1. Supports Weight Loss
The ketogenic diet can help lower your weight in several ways. For example, it can boost your metabolism and reduce your appetite.
Ketogenic diets consist of foods that fill you up, and may reduce hunger-stimulating hormones. For example, our delicious Keto BHB Chocolate Powder will help keep you feeling fuller longer, which can aid in weight loss.
In a 2013 meta-analysis, researchers found that people following ketogenic diets lost 2 pounds more than those following low fat diets over one year.
2. Can Improve Acne
Acne can have several different sources. But acne is most commonly linked to diet and blood sugar levels in some people.
Eating a diet high in processed and refined carbohydrates may alter the balance of gut bacteria. This can cause your blood sugar to rise and fall significantly, both of which can have a major affect on your skin.
According to a 2012 study, a ketogenic diet could reduce acne symptoms in some people.
3. May Reduce Risk of Certain Cancers
Researchers have examined the effects of the ketogenic diet in helping prevent, or even treat, certain cancers.
In 2014, researchers found that the ketogenic diet may be a safe to use alongside chemotherapy and radiation therapy. This is because it would cause more oxidative stress in cancer cells than in normal cells, causing them to die.
A more recent study from 2018 suggests that the ketogenic diet could also lower the risk of insulin complications. Simply because the diet helps reduce blood sugar.
Although the ketogenic diet may have some benefit in cancer treatment, studies in this area are still limited. Researchers need to carry out more studies to fully understand the potential benefits of the ketogenic diet in cancer prevention and treatment.
4. May Improve Heart Health
When following the ketogenic diet, it’s important to choose healthy foods. Some evidence shows that eating healthful fats (avocados), instead of less healthful fats (pork rinds), can help improve heart health by reducing cholesterol.
High levels of cholesterol can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Therefore, a keto diet could reduce a person’s risk of heart complications.
However, the positive effects of the diet on heart health strongly depends on diet quality. Needless to say, it’s important to eat healthful, nutritionally balanced food while following the keto diet.
5. May Protect Brain Function
Some studies suggest the ketones that generate during the keto diet provide neuro-protective benefits. These benefits can actually strengthen and protect the brain and nerve cells!
For this reason, a keto diet may help a person prevent or manage conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
However, much more research is necessary into a keto diet’s effects on the brain.
6. Potentially Reduces Seizures
The ratio of fat, protein, and carbs in a keto diet alters the way the body uses energy, resulting in ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic process during which the body uses ketone bodies for fuel.
The Epilepsy Foundation suggest that ketosis can reduce seizures in people with epilepsy—especially those who have not responded to other treatment methods. Of course, more research is necessary on how effective this is. Though it does seem to have the most effect on children who have focal seizures.
Several other studies support the hypothesis that a keto diet can support people with epilepsy. The ketogenic diet may reduce epilepsy symptoms by several different mechanisms.
7. Improves PCOS Symptoms
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that can lead to excess male hormones, ovulatory dysfunction, and polycystic ovaries. A high-carbohydrate diet can cause adverse effects in people with PCOS, such as skin problems and weight gain.
There are not many clinical studies on the ketogenic diet and PCOS. However, one study in 2005 examined five women over 24 weeks. The researchers found that a ketogenic diet improved several markers of PCOS, including:
- weight loss
- hormone balance
- ratios of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
- levels of fasting insulin
A different study found that a keto diet had beneficial effects for people with hormonal disorders, including PCOS and type 2 diabetes. However, they did also caution that the studies were too diverse to recommend a keto diet as a general treatment for PCOS.
Now For The Risks
The ketogenic diet may have a range of health benefits. However, staying on the ketogenic diet long-term can cause the following health problems:
- kidney stones
- excess protein in the blood
- mineral and vitamin deficiencies
- a build up of fat in the liver
The keto diet can also cause adverse side effects commonly known as keto flu. These side effects may include:
- low blood sugar
- a low tolerance for exercise
These symptoms are especially common at the beginning of the diet as the body adjusts to its new energy source.
Some populations should avoid the keto diet, including:
- people with diabetes who are insulin-dependent
- people who have eating disorders
- those with kidney disease or pancreatitis
- women during pregnancy and breastfeeding
People who take a type of medication called sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors for type 2 diabetes should also NOT follow a keto diet. This medication increases the risk of diabetic ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition that increases acidity in the blood.
It’s important to discuss any intended diet plan with a doctor, dietitian, or trusted healthcare provider. Especially if you’re trying to manage a health problem or disease.
People looking to start the keto diet should consult a doctor to ensure the keto diet is a safe eating pattern for them. Doctors need to test for diabetes, hypoglycemia, heart disease, or any other health conditions before anyone starts this diet.
Keep in mind that studies on the long-term benefits of the ketogenic diet are still new. So it’s unclear whether maintaining this diet over more extended periods is more beneficial than less restrictive diets.
A ketogenic diet restricts, or severely limits, carbohydrates. However, some carbohydrates provide health benefits. For a less restrictive dietary approach, people should consume a diet that includes a variety of nutrient-dense, fibrous carbs, such as fruits and vegetables, alongside nutritious protein sources, and healthful fats.