With scientific studies showing low-carb and ketogenic diets to be healthy and beneficial, here are 5 science-backed reasons why you should go keto.
1. It is great for losing weight and keeping it off
Restricting your carb intake is one of the simplest and most effective ways to lose weight. Several studies have shown that people on low-carb diets lose more weight, faster, than those on low-fat diets — even when the low-fat dieters are eating fewer calories. In two studies, one published in The New England Journal of Medicine and the other in The Journal of Pediatrics, low-carb and low-fat diets were compared for weight loss. Both studies found that people who cut their carb intake lost on average 2–3 times more weight than those who restricted fats.
A meta-analysis study from the British Journal of Nutrition, which reviewed 13 randomised controlled trials, also found that those people who followed a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet saw greater weight loss than those following a low-fat diet in the long term. The verdict? If you want to get lean and stay lean, the keto diet could be the key.
2. It can help manage or even reverse diabetes
Many studies show that reducing carb intake benefits people with diabetes. In fact, a review study in the journal Nutrition reports that the keto diet was the standard diabetes treatment before the discovery of injectable insulin.
Additional research published in Annals of Internal Medicine also found that when type 2 diabetics went low-carb for two weeks, they improved insulin sensitivity by up to 75%. Another study involving 21 individuals with type 2 diabetes found that seven of them could stop their diabetes medication within 16 weeks of going keto and 10 were able to reduce their medication. In a similar study involving 84 volunteers with type 2 diabetes, 95% reduced or eliminated their glucose-lowering medication within six months of following a ketogenic diet.
How does this work? Studies have proved that cutting carbs lowers both blood sugar and insulin levels drastically. But a key part of the ketogenic diet is the high-fat aspect too. The high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet can potentially change the way your body stores and uses energy, easing the symptoms of diabetes. Essentially it retrains your body to convert your fat stores into energy, instead of replying on carbs or sugar. By reducing carbohydrate intake the amount of glucose and insulin circulating in the bloodstream is dramatically reduced.
3. It boosts brain power
When going keto, most people report experiencing an improvement in their cognitive function and mental clarity. Studies also illustrate this to be true. In a study from the journal Appetite, participants were assigned to two groups. One group followed a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic style diet and the other group stuck to a reduced-calorie balanced diet. Prior to beginning their diets and at regular intervals throughout their eating regime, participants were subjected to a battery of cognitive and memory related tasks. Those following the low-carb diet showed greater vigilance attention and less self-reported confusion than those in the other group.
A similar study, which was conducted over a period of 6 weeks on adults with mild cognitive impairment, found that those following a low-carbohydrate diet showed improved memory performance, leading the researchers to conclude that “very low carbohydrate consumption, even in the short term, can improve memory function in older adults with increased risk for Alzheimer's disease.”
One major reason that the ketogenic diet is able to support your brain so efficiently is that ketosis enhances the function of your mitochondria – the powerhouses of your cells that release the energy your bodies need. Researchers believe ketosis stimulates the formation of new mitochondria in your brain, which leads to improved mental clarity, memory, and energy levels.
4. It can prevent and fight some types of cancer
Whilst maintaining blood sugar levels can be helpful for your overall health, early research also points to the benefits of keeping blood sugar levels low to help fight cancer.
A recent study published in the journal Nature Communications, found that certain cancers are particularly reliant on glucose as a fuel to sustain themselves and survive. New research – such as that published in the journal Cell Reports – shows that ketogenic diets may help prevent and fight the disease by lowering your blood sugar levels. For instance, a study in the journal Carcinogenesis found that when in-vitro cancer cells only receive ketones and fat for energy, they often die. Plus, various studies, including one published in the Journal of Cancer Research and Therapeutics show the keto diet helps fight brain cancer.
5. It can lower your blood triglyceride levels
Triglycerides are fat molecules that circulate in your bloodstream.
Studies have long shown that if your fasting triglyceride levels are high (levels in the blood after an overnight fast) you are at a higher risk for heart disease. One of the main causes of elevated triglycerides is carb and sugar consumption, particularly in people who do little physical activity. However, numerous studies have shown that when people cut carbs, they tend to experience a significant reduction in their blood triglyceride levels.
In one study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, 60 randomised participants aged 28 to 71 years were assigned to follow either a low-carbohydrate diet, which included protein and monounsaturated fats, or a low-fat diet consisting of higher levels of carbohydrates. The group following the low-carb diet not only lost significantly more weight (nearly double) but also had significantly favorable changes in all lipid levels whereas the low-fat group did not.
The bottom line? Low-carb, ketogenic diets are very effective at lowering blood triglycerides, making them effective at protecting your waist and your heart.
If you're ready to reap the benefits of a ketogenic diet but want some help and guidance on where to begin, get in touch for a free consultation or to get a personalised keto meal plan to suit your needs.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor or healthcare provider before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.