Keto Benefits!

Keto Benefits!

Keto Benefits

Losing weight is the main benefit of any diet, but what if I told you that ketogenic (keto, for short) eating has a plethora of health benefits too?

Eating a keto diet improves your cholesterol, blood pressure and insulin sensitivity; all of that has great effects on heart health and diabetes. Add that to the easiest healthy way to lose weight and you have a winning combination.

How Does Keto Work?

The benefits of keto come from how it works and eliminating foods that truly cause the problems. The basis of keto is eliminating most carbs from the diet. The reasoning is that the starch and sugar are both glucose that get stored as fat when you eat an excess of it, which (on the standard American diet, aka SAD) is every day and can be in a single meal.

Since insulin is a storage hormone that is produced to clear glucose from the blood, more starchy carbs eaten means higher blood glucose and higher insulin levels. That can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes. Since insulin is about storage, it also prevents you from access your fat stores for energy. You literally can’t burn fat from your body when you are consuming a third of your calories (the USDA recommendation) from carbs.

When you eat very few grams of carbs (20g a day) and all from high-fiber vegetables, you don’t have excess to store, which also allows you to access your fat stores for energy. Some of the fat is converted to ketones, which is a clean and efficient energy source, and some is used as fatty acids. The body can create glucose for the few tissues that must run on glucose. That leads us to the benefits.

Keto’s Benefits

  • Fat loss
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Improvements for diabetics
  • Improved heart health
  • And more!

Fat Loss

As you read above, insulin prevents you from burning fat. Since we consciously keep insulin low, we can readily access our fat stores for energy. Keto is so good at satisfying hunger and burning fat that people tend to lose weight without deliberately reducing calories. In fact, one study showed that keto with unrestricted calories resulted in an average of almost 22 pounds lost, but low-fat and calorie restriction only resulted in 9 pounds of loss. [1]

Studies prove that keto is a safe way for overweight or severely obese children to lose weight without calorie restriction. [2] It is also safe and effective for adults that are healthy, diabetic or severely obese. [3, 4, 5]

Blood Pressure Reduction

There have been quite a few studies on the safety and effects of keto. Several of them have documented the reduction in blood pressure that happens on keto. The most impressive study, however, compared a ketogenic diet to a low-fat diet combined with orlistat (a medication used for high blood pressure). Amazingly, not only did the ketogenic diet produce better results (both the systolic and diastolic numbers were about 5mm Hg lower), but the medicated group actually saw a slight increase in blood pressure. [6]

Lower Cholesterol and Triglycerides

Many people are concerned about the “high-fat” keto diet and fear that it will negatively affect their heart health, but these fears are unfounded. Triglyceride levels decrease on a keto diet (as does LDL cholesterol), and HDL cholesterol (the “good” kind) increases, which is great for your ratio of total to HDL cholesterol.

While many studies show that both a keto and a low-fat diet can cause beneficial changes to serum lipids (fats in the blood), there are some exceptions. One study found that keto did markedly better than the low-fat diet at improving lipid levels. [7] Another found that the low-fat diet caused a negative change to HDL cholesterol while the ketogenic diet improved HDL. [8]

Improvements for Diabetics

The primary problem that diabetics face is insufficient insulin to clear glucose from the blood, and the common solution is to prescribe insulin. Sadly, taking insulin effectively sentences people to never-ending weight gain. Obviously, eating less carbs (and therefore less glucose) is helpful for both type 1 and 2 diabetics because less insulin is needed.

While type 1 diabetics will need to continue with at least some insulin (because they can’t make enough), type 2 diabetics can get off insulin entirely with proper keto eating. That’s because T2D have conditioned their bodies to be insensitive to insulin, but that can often be reversed. [9, 10, 11]

Note: while ketones are one indicator of the dangerous condition diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), when managed properly, the keto diet does not make DKA likely. It is the high levels of glucose in the blood that cause most of the danger with DKA, but a low-carb diet prevents that and allows ketone production at safe levels that do not acidify the blood. [12]

Heart Health

Blood pressure, weight, serum lipids and diabetic status are good indicators of one’s risk for atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries), heart attack and stroke. Since keto improves all those markers, your risk of cardiovascular disease decreases markedly.

Extra Benefits

Ketones are a great fuel for the brain and body, and many people experience improved mental clarity and an increase in energy. Those mental clarity benefits can even happen in those with degenerative memory conditions, including Alzheimer’s and dementia. [13] Keto also causes improvement in Parkinson’s symptoms, and it has been used to prevent seizures for nearly 100 years. [14, 15]

Keto also helps your hormonal health. Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) who try a ketogenic diet lose weight and have a reduction in free testosterone. They also have improved menstrual cycles and LH/FSH ratio and are more likely to get pregnant. [16]

When you tally all of these benefits and compare diets, keto is the clear winner. Or, to put it more precisely, you are the winner when you make the switch to a ketogenic diet.

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