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Recently, the keto diet has become extremely popular for its health benefits such as weight loss and preventing disease. The keto diet can be hugely beneficial, but how does it work to provide these benefits?
What is the Keto Diet?
You may have heard of the high-protein, low-carbohydrate Atkins diet. The keto diet keeps carbohydrate levels low, but instead of ramping up the amount of protein in your diet, the keto diet increases the amount of fat. A typical keto diet aims for meals with 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbohydrate. Eating a high-fat diet can still mean eating healthy. Keto diet menu items often include seafood, meat, dairy products, eggs, vegetables, and nuts. With the increased popularity of the keto diet, keto recipes are widely available.
How Does the Keto Diet Work?
It might seem counterintuitive that adding more fat to your diet can lead to weight loss. Normally, your diet is high in carbohydrates, which are broken down into glucose, or blood sugar, for use as energy. As glucose enters your bloodstream, your body releases insulin to store excess glucose as fat. The more carbohydrates, the more glucose. The more glucose, the more insulin, and the more insulin, the more fat.
The keto diet takes advantage of the fact that when your meals are high-fat and low-carbohydrate, there is no insulin spike, and you don’t add to your fat reserves. Instead, fat from diet and stored fat are broken down to ketones (“keto” is short for “ketogenic” producing ketones). Like glucose, ketones can be used for energy, keeping your body running without increasing blood sugar or putting on excess fat. The benefits of the keto diet can be huge.
7 health benefits of a Ketogenic Diet
The Ketogenic diet refers to a form of dieting where high fats, adequate protein and low carbs are consumed. Its aim is to deplete the body’s glycogen reserves so that it relies on fat and protein for energy. The body then undergoes ketosis, which is a metabolic state in which your liver produces a high number of ketones as an alternative fuel source for the brain. This form of dieting is quite popular, with dozens of pictures showing before and after results circulating all over social media. These are some benefits of the keto diet and how it may help in achieving your goals.
Several studies have shown that people on a high fat, low carb diet burn fat at a faster rate than those with a high carb, low fat diet. This is primarily because lower insulin levels caused by the low carb diet (keto), help to remove excess water from the body. During ketosis, you experience reduced levels of hunger, which can be extremely beneficial in controlling caloric intake, promoting overall weight loss. It has been noted that low carb diets are also effective in reducing visceral fat, primarily stored in the abdominal cavity.
The ketones produced from a low carb diet are a much more efficient source of energy than glucose. Studies have indicated that they can improve cognitive impairment and even help with diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The high-fat diet helps to support the balance of essential omega 3s and omega 6s which are vital for optimal brain function. Additionally, ketosis is able to boost mitochondria production and adenosine triphosphate within the brain’s memory cells, thereby improving mental performance and clarity.
Reduced risk of Chronic Disease
A ketogenic diet can boost the body’s defense against a variety of conditions. By reducing inflammation, and improving mitochondrial function, it can help to mitigate the risk of developing several chronic diseases. Cancer cells typically possess abnormal mitochondria, which need an increased supply of glycogen. Ketosis allows for normal cells to be fed while starving the cancer cells, as they are unable to utilize the ketones for energy because of their dysfunctional mitochondria.
Potential Cancer Benefits
One study showed implementing the ketogenic diet led to a dramatically increased survival time and slower tumor growth.
Improved Blood Pressure
High blood pressure significantly increases the risk of several diseases and is a leading cause of deaths worldwide. A low-carb diet has been proven to be more effective than a low-fat diet in reducing blood pressure. In fact, some claim that it is just as effective as taking pills. This
Improved ability to focus
When you choose a regular diet that puts carbs into the body, your brain has to deal with the rise and fall in sugar levels that happens as a result. Inconsistent energy levels can make it hard for the brain to focus. With the keto diet, however, the energy source is constant and consistent. The brain is better able to stay focused.
You feel more energetic
When you are on a regular diet, your body is always on the verge of running out of energy. You need to constantly eat and refuel. With a keto diet, however, the body taps its fat reserves, a nearly unending energy source. The body, then, is able to maintain constant energy levels throughout the day. The result is, you end up feeling a lot more energetic.
A poorly functioning brain, as you may have already experienced, leads to lessened work productivity, which in turn means an unhappy boss, lack of job satisfaction, sugar cravings for energy, and depression. It’s a horrible domino effect. The original ketogenic diet was formulated by Dr. Russell Wilder in the early 20th century to treat epilepsy. The success rate was phenomenal and it is still used today to treat epilepsy and other brain disorders. Research also indicates that ketones are more efficient brain fuel than glucose. (Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5102124/)
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