The ketogenic diet, or keto as it is commonly referred to, is a diet high in healthy fats, moderate in proteins, and very low in carbohydrate content from a macronutrient standpoint. What this type of diet does is cause the body to burn fats for fuel instead of carbohydrates. This also includes stored fats in the body, which has been show to be beneficial for fat loss. If there is little to no glucose being ingested or stored glycogen in the body, the liver is forced to convert fatty acids into usable fuel called ketones.
Below, I want to outline some of the science-based and research-supported pros associated with a ketogenic diet, and how this type of nutrition program could assist you in achieving your wellness goals. As with any nutritional program, prior to implementing it is important to speak with your trusted healthcare provider to see if it is a good fit for you. Here are the Top 10 Health Benefits that make keto my go-to dietary approach:
(1) Reduces Visceral Fat: One big issue with visceral fat is that it can lead to high blood pressure. High blood pressure is associated with serious health conditions including stroke and cardiovascular disease. It can also lead to hormonal imbalance and insulin resistance which increases the risk of developing Type II Diabetes.
(2)Reduces Appetite: By decreasing appetite while dieting, it has been shown to improve mood in those using the keto approach while dieting for fat loss. Cravings and hunger are the leading barrier to people being successful in losing weight long-term.
(3) Can Help to Enhance Memory: Studies have shown that ketones can act as antioxidants and protect brain cells. It has also been shown to help improve short term memory as well.
(4) Can Improve Oral Health: Bacteria on the teeth and gums live on sugars produced from the breakdown of carbohydrates. This sugar is converted to harmful acids by the bacteria and can eat away tooth enamel and cause tooth decay. By eliminating the consumption of excess carbohydrates, we reduce the food source for these harmful bacteria in the mouth.
(5) Has an Anti-Inflammatory Effect on the Body: Increased inflammation can lead to pain, especially musculoskeletal pain in the joints, muscles and other soft tissue. It can also weaken the immune system. Other symptoms associated with inflammation include increased hunger and thirst, increases allergic reactions, weight gain, it can lead to ulcers in the stomach and digestive system, and increase the risk of diabetes and pancreatitis.
(6) Decreased Triglyceride Levels in the Blood: Triglycerides and fat molecules that circulate in the blood. Increased triglyceride levels are linked to increased risk of heart disease.
(7) Increased Levels of Good Cholesterol: The keto diet is linked to an increase in HDL levels which is commonly referred to as the good cholesterol. Increased HDL levels are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.
(8) Helps to Stabilize Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels: The ketogenic diet is great for diabetics in that studies show that it lowers both blood sugar and insulin levels. One research study demonstrated that 95% of test subjects with Type II Diabetes were able to reduce or eliminate glucose-lowering medications within 6 months of flowing a ketogenic diet.
(9) It Has a Positive Effect on Several Brain Disorders: In medicine, the ketogenic diet is used to treat epilepsy in children who do not respond to drug therapy. A large portion of the brain can utilize and burn ketones as a fuel source, while the liver can convert proteins into glucose to fuel the small portion of the brain that requires glucose specifically for fuel. There is also encouraging research supporting the use of the keto diet in improving brain function in those suffering from brain disease such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis.
(10) Keto Helps with Weight Loss: Without a doubt, this is the number one reason why people try the keto diet, and for good reason. It works! When consuming carbohydrates, the excess sugar is removed from the bloodstream by insulin and once muscle and liver glycogen stores are full, the remainder of this glucose is stored in fat cells. By drastically reducing the consumption of carbohydrates, you eliminate the root source of glucose that has the potential of being stored as fat.
As you can see from the above list, the ketogenic diet is more than just another fad diet. There are multiple science-backed health benefits associated with it and it is utilized by the medical community to treat certain disorders. If this is something that appeals to you and you want to give it a shot, talk with your doctor to see if this is a good fit for you and your lifestyle. We will discuss some of the cons associated with the ketogenic diet in another blog post! Until then…
In Wellness and Love,
Dr. Christopher Weaver DC, PAK is a Doctor of Chiropractic and Professional Applied Kinesiologist. He's published two books on health and Wellness.