If you're new to the keto diet, the Body Reboot book tells us it's a diet that pushes your body into ketosis. Ketosis happens when you eat more fat as opposed to carbohydrates. But what exactly is ketosis and how does it work to our benefit?
Ketosis is a normal metabolic process, and it's a normal process your body goes through to keep working. When a body doesn't have enough carbohydrates to utilize for energy, it burns fat. Burning fat, as opposed to carbs, makes a body work harder and over time helps you lose weight and enjoy many other benefits.
If you aren't pregnant or have diabetes, ketosis usually happens within 3 to 4 days after eating around or less than the ideal threshold, which is 25 carbs a day. That's about one cup of low-fat yogurt, two bananas, or three slices of bread. Fasting can also cause ketosis as well.
As we mentioned above, one of the main benefits of going on the keto diet is losing weight. Studies have shown that people on the keto diet have maintained their weight loss even if they increased the amount of food they were eating a few months later:
In a small study, published in February 2018 in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism, 12 obese people followed an adjusted version of the popular ketogenic diet that was very low in calories for about two to three months, and lost about 45 pounds each — and kept the weight off even after increasing their calorie intake one to two months later.
Everyday Health goes onto say that according to research published in the journal Obesity, that it all has to do with RMR.
The likely reason they were able to keep the weight off, researchers say, is their resting metabolic rate (RMR) was maintained, and they retained their lean muscle mass. RMR is a measure of metabolism (meaning how your body uses energy), while immobile, and it plays an important role in sustaining weight loss, according to other research, published in August 2016 in the journal Obesity.
In addition to weight loss, the ketogenic diet can help with acne. Believe it or not, many adults still suffer from acne, for various reasons. Perhaps it's your diet that is causing a build-up of excess oil, or your hormone levels fluctuate. Whatever the case may be, Medical News Today tells us that the keto diet helps with acne by clearing it out of our systems due to eating fewer carbs.
There are a number of different causes of acne, and one may be related to diet and blood sugar. Eating a diet high in processed and refined carbohydrates can alter gut bacteria and cause more dramatic blood sugar fluctuations, both of which can have an influence on skin health. Therefore, by decreasing carb intake, it's not a surprise that a ketogenic diet could reduce some cases of acne.
Besides weight loss being a positive effect of the keto diet (as well as improving acne), what's even more incredible is that this diet may also have neuroprotective benefits. Some studies suggest the keto diet may help treat or prevent conditions like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's (more on that next), and even some sleep disorders. A study from the Epilepsy Res. journal from 2014 further explains why this is so:
Multiple forms of the ketogenic diet (KD) have been successfully used to treat drug-resistant epilepsy, however its mainstream use as a first-line therapy is still limited. Further investigation into its clinical efficacy as well as the molecular basis of activity is likely to assist in the reversal of any resistance to its implementation. In this review we shall attempt to elucidate the current state of experimental and clinical data concerning the neuroprotective and cognitive effects of the KD in both humans and animals. Generally, it has been shown by many research groups that effective implementation of KD exerts strong neuroprotective effects with respect to social behavior and cognition. We will also elucidate the role of KD in the interesting relationship between sleep, epilepsy and memory. Currently available evidence also indicates that, under appropriate control, and with further studies investigating any potential long-term side effects, the KD is also a relatively safe intervention, especially when compared to traditional anti-epileptic pharmacotherapeutics. In addition, due to its neuroprotective capacity, the KD may also hold potential benefit for the treatment of other neurological or neurodegenerative disorders.
There are a variety of medical conditions the keto diet can help improve, which we started discussing above, and it also shows promise in helping those who are suffering from Parkinson's disease. In fact, Kristin W. Barañano, MD, PhD and Adam L. Hartman, MD recently did a research study on how the keto diet may improve symptoms caused from diseases like Parkinson's. Check out their opinion statement from the Curr Treat Options Neurol journal:
The ketogenic diet is well established as therapy for intractable epilepsy. It should be considered first-line therapy in glucose transporter type 1 and pyruvate dehydrogenase deficiency. It should be considered early in the treatment of Dravet syndrome and myoclonic-astatic epilepsy (Doose syndrome).
Initial studies indicate that the ketogenic diet appears effective in other metabolic conditions, including phosphofructokinase deficiency and glycogenosis type V (McArdle disease). It appears to function in these disorders by providing an alternative fuel source. A growing body of literature suggests the ketogenic diet may be beneficial in certain neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer disease, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In these disorders, the ketogenic diet appears to be neuroprotective, promoting enhanced mitochondrial function and rescuing adenosine triphosphate production.
Dietary therapy is a promising intervention for cancer, given that it may target the relative inefficiency of tumors in using ketone bodies as an alternative fuel source. The ketogenic diet also may have a role in improving outcomes in trauma and hypoxic injuries.
It's also wonderful that this low carb diet is a promising intervention for cancer, especially for those who have a chronic history of disease in their family. With continued research and more people on a diet, hopefully, in time, we'll know more about how a low carb diet can prevent cancer and other health problems.
Medical News Today also mentions that the keto diet may improve heart health. If your family has a history of high cholesterol and heart disease, then the keto diet could be an excellent way to prevent heart problems in the future.
When the ketogenic diet is followed in a healthy manner (which considers avocados a healthy fat instead of pork rinds), there is some evidence that the diet can improve heart health by reducing cholesterol. One study found that HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels significantly increased in those following the keto diet. The LDL (“bad”) cholesterol went down significantly.
Harvard Health Publishing agrees that the keto diet can help lower cholesterol, but it mentions there hasn't been any long-term research analyzing the results over time:
A ketogenic diet also has been shown to improve blood sugar control for patients with type 2 diabetes, at least in the short term. There is even more controversy when we consider the effect on cholesterol levels. A few studies show some patients have increase in cholesterol levels in the beginning, only to see cholesterol fall a few months later. However, there is no long-term research analyzing its effects over time on diabetes and high cholesterol.
It turns out that the ketogenic diet can also help improve health in women, and in particular, may improve Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is an endocrine disorder and it causes women to have enlarged ovaries with cysts.
Eleven women with a body mass index >27 kg/m2 and a clinical diagnosis of PCOS were recruited from the community. They were instructed to limit their carbohydrate intake to 20 grams or less per day for 24 weeks. Participants returned every two weeks to an outpatient research clinic for measurements and reinforcement of dietary instruction. In the 5 women who completed the study, there were significant reductions from baseline to 24 weeks in body weight (-12%), percent free testosterone (-22%), LH/FSH ratio (-36%), and fasting insulin (-54%). There were non-significant decreases in insulin, glucose, testosterone, HgbA1c, triglyceride, and perceived body hair. Two women became pregnant despite previous infertility problems.
Even though there aren't a lot of studies on the ketogenic diet and PCOS, this one, in particular, had positive results. As you just read above, the pilot study revealed that five women on the keto diet during a 24-week period experienced:
- increased weight loss
- aided hormone balance
- improved luteinizing hormone (LH)/follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) ratios
- improved fasting insulin
In conclusion, a ketogenic diet can help you achieve and maintain weight loss, and the good news is that's not all! With all of the research and findings listed above, it's safe to say that the keto diet has long-lasting positive effects. If you've been considering going on this low carb diet now is the time!
At the time of writing this post, we're currently giving away free copies of the Body Reboot book because it's our mission to increase awareness and to help people lose weight and get healthy! If you help us cover the cost of shipping, we’ll send a copy to your door FREE. Go over to this page to see if there are any copies left.
Sources: Medical News Today, Harvard Health Publishing, Everyday Health, NCBI: Nutrition & Metabolism, NCBI: Curr Treat Options Neurol, NCBI: Epilepsy Res., NBCI: Nutr Metab
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