A keto (or ketogenic) diet is a low-carb, moderate protein, high fat diet (read our post Keto Diet 101 here). There are a number of health benefits of a keto diet – the number one reason often touted is weight loss, and fast weight loss! Here are the top 5 reasons we love a keto diet.
1.Reduction in blood sugar levels and insulin resistance
Type 2 diabetes is caused when the body can no longer bring spikes in blood sugar levels back to normal. When we eat carbs, the body breaks them down into simple sugars (typically glucose), which is then transferred to the blood stream, elevating our blood sugar levels. As high blood sugar levels are actually toxic, the body has to respond to this spike by pumping out insulin. Now, when people are healthy, this response is often quick. However when we continually eat high carb diets (re a lot of the western world) a lot more insulin is required and this reaction becomes slowed, leading to insulin resistance and eventually type 2 diabetes. As we reduce our carb intake (as per a keto diet), we reduce the need for all of that insulin and our blood sugar levels reduce and stabilise.
2. Reduction of triglyceride levels
Triglycerides are an indicator for heart disease – the higher they are, the higher the risk of heart disease. Whilst triglycerides are fat molecules, the main driver of high triglyceride levels is actually carb consumption (and especially fructose consumption). When people reduce their intake of carbs their triglyceride levels fall (in comparison, low fat diets lead to increases in these levels). Therefore, eating more saturated fat can actually reduce your risk of heart disease!
3. Fat loss
When you reduce your carb intake and replace it with fat, your body goes into a metabolic state called ketosis. In ketosis, instead of using your glucose stores for energy, your body taps into its fats stores and burns those for energy instead. Studies have shown that people on low-carb diets tend to lose more weight (and faster), than people on low-fat diets. And because fat is filling, low-carb dieters often aren’t left feeling hungry. On the keto diet, appetite tends to be suppressed and dieters end up eating fewer calories without even trying. These studies also show that a large percentage of this fat loss comes from the visceral fat (i.e. the bad fat) that gets lodged around our organs.
4. Improvement in metabolic symptoms
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of symptoms including obesity, high blood sugar levels, high triglycerides, low HDL levels, high blood pressure and insulin resistance. It is also highly correlated to diabetes and heart disease. As we mention above, a low carb diet can actually reverse these symptoms and reduce the symptoms of metabolic syndrome.
5. Improved brain function
Saturated fat is a key building block for our body. In fact, our brains are made up of 60% saturated fat. When we eat a low fat diet, we starve our bodies of the key nutrients they need to function. Saturated fat is actually one of the main components of brain cells, and is therefore necessary for healthy brain function. Studies have shown that people who included more saturated fat in their diet reduced their risk of developing dementia by 36%. Other studies have also shown that a keto diet improves memory.