Benefits of Ketogenic Diets
Want to try the popular keto diet? Learn the different benefits of this meal plan and know if this is the right diet for you.
Ketogenic diets, also called “keto diets," are meal plans which aim to provide calories from fat instead of carbohydrates. These diets contain less sugar and more protein. This allows for the body to enter a "ketogenic state" where fats are broken down into "ketones" for energy. The theory is that this "fat-burning" mode carries over to your stored fat.
Benefits of Keto Diets
1. Weight loss and appetite reduction
Eating more protein promotes satiety, making a person feel less hungry. It also improves metabolism, resulting in faster weight loss compared to those who follow a low-fat diet.
2. Improvement of diabetes and acne
Following a low-carb diet can lower insulin and blood glucose levels in the body. According to a study conducted by Westman and Vernon (2016), lowering carbohydrate intake might be helpful in treating diabetes. According to registered dietician Suzanne Dixon in Leiva (2018), having low levels of insulin helps in clearing acne. Aside from this, increased levels of insulin for long periods put a person at risk for colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer. Eating quality ketogenic foods is a good way to maintain the body’s insulin at normal levels.
3. Starves cancer cells
Suzanne Dixon (2016) said that keto diets may reduce the life span of brain tumor cells, as they mostly use carbohydrates as fuel. This may be most effective when addressing specific types of brain cancer, especially those that are derived from brain tissue. However, this is a very experimental approach and has not necessarily been proven to be 100% effective.
4. Good for the heart and blood pressure
High cholesterol levels in the blood cause heart disease and elevated blood pressure. These “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides are found in the unhealthy foods that we eat, like fried and processed foods. This is why following a healthy, balanced, and low-carbohydrate diet is important. Eating foods rich in “good” cholesterol like avocado can also be helpful.
5. Promotes brain health
Aside from heart health, ketones produced during a ketogenic diet are very useful in protecting nerve cells and brain function. According to a study conducted by Neal et al. (2008), a ketogenic diet can serve as a treatment for children with drug-resistant epilepsy. It is effective in reducing seizure episodes among children with focal seizures.
6. Reduces symptoms of PCOS
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS, is a hormonal imbalance among women where male hormones are higher than the female’s. This syndrome can lead to infertility, acne, and weight gain. Although there is not much research conducted to prove that a ketogenic diet is effective in treating PCOS, a pilot study by Juanita Hepburn et al. suggests that a low-carbohydrate diet is effective in treating the signs and symptoms of PCOS such as obesity, irregular menstruation, and acne.
There are different versions of the ketogenic diet, such as the standard ketogenic diet (70% fat, 20% protein, 10% carbohydrates), cyclical ketogenic diet (5 ketogenic days followed by 2 days of high carbohydrates), targeted ketogenic diet (adding high carbs after workouts), and high protein ketogenic diet (60% fat, 35% protein, 5% carbohydrates). It is best to consult your doctor, a dietician, or a trusted medical professional before starting any of these ketogenic programs, especially if you have a medical condition. However, it shouldn't hurt to slowly transition into a high-fat, low-carb diet without fully committing to a "ketogenic diet."
Neal, E. G., Chaffe, H., Schwartz, R. H., Lawson, M. S., Edwards, N., Fitzsimmons, G., Whitney, A., & Cross, J. H. (2008). The ketogenic diet for the treatment of childhood epilepsy: a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet. Neurology, 7(6), 500–506. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1474-4422(08)70092-9
Cancer.net. (2016). Nutrition Myths, with Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RDN and Annette Goldberg, MS, MBA, RDN, LDN. https://www.cancer.net/blog/podcasts/nutrition-myths-with-suzanne-dixon-mph-ms-rdn-and-annette-goldberg-ms-mba-rdn-ldn