Turn the news on any given day of the week, and you’re bound to get smacked with some new fad diet. This week it might be the Mediterranean Diet, next week it could be the South Beach or Military Diet. Each diet brings the promise of substantial weight loss, improved metabolic profiles, and an altogether healthier lifestyle.

However, few of these claims are ever backed by any substantial amounts of research. There is one particular diet gaining popularity among the masses that does have a considerable amount of research backing its efficacy for weight loss AND treating a number of health conditions — The Ketogenic Diet.

What is the keto diet, and how does it benefit you?

We’ve got all that covered ahead!

The Ketogenic Diet

Ketogenic diets are nothing new to the world of nutrition, they only seem that way due to their increasing popularity among the mainstream media and population in general. Ketogenic diets are a form of ultra-low carb diet that has an individual consuming the vast majority of their calories from dietary fat. More specifically, the typical keto diet contains the following macronutrient breakdown:

  • 75% fat
  • 20% protein
  • 5% carbohydrates

    Consuming such a low amount of carbohydrates and high amount of fat forces your body to shift from a “sugar-burning” machine to a fat-burning one fueled ketones. And, don’t believe those myths that eating fat makes you fat. As you’ll soon see, the benefits of eating a high fat, low carb diet are rather impressive!

YES

Meats:
Any Type, Including Beef, Pork,
Lamb, Chicken, Fish & Shelfish

Eggs:
Whole Eggs Including Yolk

Vegetables:
Grown Above Ground All Kinds Of Cabbage, Cauliflower,
Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Asparagus, Zucchini, Eggplant,
Olives, Spinach, Mushrooms, Cucumbers, Lettuce, Avocado,
Onions, Peppers, Tomatoes etc.

Dairy:
Always Select Full-Fat Options Like Real Butter, Cream, Sour
Cream, Yogurt & High Fat Cheeses

Nuts & Seeds:
Almonds, Walnuts, Hazelnuts, Macadamia Nuts, Sunflower

Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, etc

SOME

Roots: 
Yams, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Beetroots, Parsnips, etc

Fruit:
Eat Once A Day In Small Amount, Treat Fruit As A Natural Form Of Candy

Alcohol:
Dry Wine, Whiskey, Brandy, Vodka, And Cocktails Without Sugar Once Or Twice Per Week

Dark Chocolate:
Above 70% Cocos, Preferably Just A Bit Once Or twice A Week

 

 

 

 

STOP

Sugar:
Anything Containing Added Sugar, Soft Drinks, Candy, Juice, Buns, Pastries, Ice Cream, Breakfast Cereals, Avoid Sweeteners As Well

Starch & Grains:
Bread, Pasta, Rice, Potatoes, French Fries, Potato Chips, Cereal, Porridge, Muesli, etc

Processed Oils:
Margarine, Cooking Oils

Beer:
Full Of Carbs

Health Benefits of Keto

So, what are all the benefits to going keto? The easier question to answer might be, what is keto not good, given the long list of benefits you’re about to see, beginning with:d

  • Improved Blood Sugar

Under normal circumstances when you consume high sugar foods, the body releases insulin to transport extra glucose into muscle and fat cells to maintain an even blood sugar level. However, when blood sugar levels are chronically elevated, your cells stop “seeing” insulin and therefore it’s more difficult for the body to transport blood sugar into its cells. This is known as insulin resistance.

High blood sugar levels are a growing problem among the population and a key factor in the development of insulin resistance and Type II Diabetes, one of the fastest growing epidemics around the world.

Cutting carbs from the diet is the easiest and most direct way to help maintain stable blood sugar levels and avoid the spikes that inevitably come with high carb diets. Clinical studies show that ketogenic diets drastically improve blood sugar and insulin levels, so much so that in one trial, 95.2% of patients with Type II Diabetes reduced or completely eliminated their glucose-lowering prescriptions within 6 months of adopting a ketogenic diet.[1]

  • Weight Loss

    There’s a reason people cut carbs when trying to lose weight — it flat out works! Research indicates that people reducing carbohydrate intake (i.e. low-carb dieters) lose a greater amount of weight faster than those adopting a low-fat, moderate carb diet.[2]

    In fact, low-carb / keto dieters have been shown to lose 2-3x as much weight (abdominal obesity in particular!) than low-fat dieters, and without the incessant hunger pangs that plague low-fat diets.[3]

  • Better Cholesterol Readings

    When discussing cholesterol, you almost always here of “good cholesterol” and “bad cholesterol.” The “good” cholesterol is HDL Cholesterol, short for High Density Lipoproteins, while “bad” cholesterol is LDL, short for Low Density Lipoproteins.

    The reason HDL is “good” is that it transports cholesterol away from the body and to the liver, where it can either be excreted or reused, whereas LDL carries cholesterol from your liver to the rest of the body, where it gets stored in places you don’t want it.

    One of the most effective ways to increase HDL levels is by eating fat[4], and studies involving patients following ultra-low carb diets do in fact have higher HDL levels than low-fat dieters.[5]

    Additionally, low-carb diets have also been shown to improve the Triglycerides:HDL ratio and reduce LDL cholesterol[6], which has a dramatic impact on reducing your risk for developing cardiovascular disease later in life.Lowers Blood Pressure

    High blood pressure is one of the hallmark signs of metabolic syndrome, a disease characterized by a number of symptoms that eventually lead to heart disease. It also is a tell-tale sign for strokes, kidney failure, and a number of other conditions too.

    Yet again, low-carb and ketogenic diets have been shown to lower blood pressure levels, improve markers of metabolic syndrome, and lower your risk for developing cardiovascular disease.[7,8]

  • Reduced Appetite

    Anyone who’s ever gone on a weight loss diet before is well-acquainted with the incessant hunger pangs that plague you day in and day out. If this sounds like an all-too-familiar scenario while you dieting, then keto might be your ticket to successfully dieting without the hunger pangs.

    In fact, research has shown that individuals adopting a high fat, low carb keto diet have an almost automatic and immediate reduction in appetite.[9] Ditching carbs and fueling up on fats and protein have a more satiating effecting in the body, which means you’re consuming less calories each day without even trying, resulting in faster weight loss!

  • Neuroprotectant

    You’ll often hear that consuming carbs is essential because the brain “runs on glucose.” While it’s true that certain portions of the brain run on glucose, a large portion of the brain also runs on ketones. And, FYI, the liver can produce sufficient glucose to run the brain from the protein you eat on a daily basis.

    So how does keto dieting protect your brain? Well, various studies have shown that over the years, keto diets have been effective for treating seizures and epilepsy.[10,11] On top of that, new research is underway investigating the possible benefits ketogenic diets have for treating truly debilitating brain disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.[12]

  • Combat Cancer

    While some take the benefits offers for those suffering from various forms of cancer a bit too far (i.e. keto can “cure” cancer), it is true that adopting a ketogenic diet can significantly enhance your fight against this terrible disease.

    Several human clinical trials have conclusively shown that ketogenic diets as an adjuvant cancer therapy significantly enhance chemotherapy and radiation treatments for patients.[13,14,15] Researchers believe that keto diets help by two different mechanisms that both lead to the same result — increased oxidative stress inside cancer cells.[13]

    More specifically, metabolism of lipids (i.e. fats) limits the availability of glucose for cancer cells, which causes oxidative stress and ultimately toxicity. In other words, going keto essentially “starves” the cancer cells of the sugar they need to run.

    While keto may not be an outright “cure” for cancer, it certainly can help things along your course of treatment, and when one is fighting cancer, every little extra bit of help is needed!

Takeaway

Few diets advertised in the media are as well researched and proven effective for a wide variety of things than ketogenic and low-carb diets. Given the vast amount of positive research surrounding keto diets, it’s still a wonder that most governments and major health organizations still promote low-fat diets when those have little to no backing for improving metabolic problems. There’s simply too many benefits to ketogenic diets to not at least consider trying them out if your previous diet attempts have all ended in failure and you’re looking for real change be it for aesthetics or health!References:
1. Westman EC, Yancy WS, Mavropoulos JC, Marquart M, McDuffie JR. The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nutrition & Metabolism. 2008;5:36. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-5-36.

2. Volek JS, Westman EC. Very-low-carbohydrate weight-loss diets revisited. Cleve Clin J Med. 2002;69(11):849, 853, 856-8 passim. 
3. Samaha FF, Iqbal N, Seshadri P, et al. A Low-Carbohydrate as Compared with a Low-Fat Diet in Severe Obesity. N Engl J Med. 2003;348(21):2074-2081. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa022637. 
4. Mensink RP, Zock PL, Kester ADM, Katan MB. Effects of dietary fatty acids and carbohydrates on the ratio of serum total to HDL cholesterol and on serum lipids and apolipoproteins: a meta-analysis of 60 controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr . 2003;77(5):1146-1155.
5. Foster GD, Wyatt HR, Hill JO, et al. A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet for obesity. N Engl J Med. 2003;348(21):2082-2090. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa022207. 
6. Wood RJ, Volek JS, Liu Y, Shachter NS, Contois JH, Fernandez ML. Carbohydrate Restriction Alters Lipoprotein Metabolism by Modifying VLDL, LDL, and HDL Subfraction Distribution and Size in Overweight Men. J Nutr . 2006;136(2):384-389. 
7. Feinman RD, Makowske M. Metabolic syndrome and low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets in the medical school biochemistry curriculum. Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2003;1(3):189-197. doi:10.1089/154041903322716660. 
8. Volek JS, Feinman RD. Carbohydrate restriction improves the features of Metabolic Syndrome. Metabolic Syndrome may be defined by the response to carbohydrate restriction. Nutr {&} Metab. 2005;2(1):31. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-2-31. 
9. McClernon FJ, Yancy WSJ, Eberstein JA, Atkins RC, Westman EC. The effects of a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet and a low-fat diet on mood, hunger, and other self-reported symptoms. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007;15(1):182-187. doi:10.1038/oby.2007.516. 
10. Neal EG, Chaffe H, Schwartz RH, et al. The ketogenic diet for the treatment of childhood epilepsy: a randomised controlled trial. Lancet Neurol. 2008;7(6):500-506. doi Diet for Pediatric Epilepsy. Nutr Clin Pract. 2008;23(6):589-596. doi:10.1177/0884533608326138. 
11. Gasior M, Rogawski MA, Hartman AL. Neuroprotective and disease-modifying effects of the ketogenic diet. Behavioural pharmacology. 2006;17(5-6):431-439. 
12. Allen BG, Bhatia SK, Anderson CM, et al. Ketogenic diets as an adjuvant cancer therapy: History and potential mechanism. Redox Biology. 2014;2:963-970. doi:10.1016/j.redox.2014.08.002. 
13. Zahra A, Fath MA, Opat E, et al. Consuming a Ketogenic Diet while Receiving Radiation and Chemotherapy for Locally Advanced Lung Cancer and Pancreatic Cancer: The University of Iowa Experience of Two Phase 1 Clinical Trials. Radiat Res. 2017;187(6):743-754. doi:10.1667/RR14668.1.the quality of life in 16 patients with advanced cancer: A pilot trial. Nutrition & Metabolism. 2011;8:54. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-8-54. 

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