The benefits of a keto diet are similar to those of other low-carb diets, but it’s more powerful than liberal low-carb diets. Think of keto as a super-charged low-carb diet, maximizing the benefits.
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Turning your body into a fat-burning machine has obvious benefits for weight loss. Fat burning is vastly increased, while insulin – the fat-storing hormone – levels drop greatly. This creates ideal circumstances in which fat loss can occur, without hunger.
More than 30 high-quality scientific studies show that, compared to other diets, low-carb and keto diets result in more effective weight loss.
On keto, you’ll gain a new control over your appetite. When your body burns fat 24-7, it has constant access to weeks or months of stored energy, dramatically reducing feelings of hunger. It’s a very common experience, and studies prove it.
This makes it easy to eat less and lose excess weight – just don’t eat until you’re hungry. This makes intermittent fasting easy, super-charging efforts to reverse type 2 diabetes and speeding up weight loss. Plus, you’ll save tons of time and money by not having to snack all the time. Many people only feel the need to eat twice a day (often skipping breakfast), and some just once a day.
Not having to fight feelings of hunger can also potentially help with problems like sugar or food addiction, and possibly some eating disorders, like bulimia, as well. At least feeling satisfied can be part of the solution. Food can stop being an enemy and become your friend – or simply fuel, whatever you prefer.
Constant energy and mental performance
Ketosis results in a steady flow of fuel (ketones) to the brain, and you avoid big blood sugar swings. This often results in the experience of improved focus and concentration. Any brain fog will be long gone!
A lot of people use keto diets specifically for increased mental performance. Also, many people experience an increase in energy when in ketosis.
On keto, the brain doesn’t need carbs. It’s fueled 24-7 by ketones, a perfect brain fuel for focus and energy.
Control blood sugar and reverse type 2 diabetes
A keto diet controls blood sugar levels, and is excellent for reversing type 2 diabetes. This has been proven in studies.
It makes perfect sense since keto lowers blood-sugar levels and reduces the negative impact of high insulin levels.
As a keto diet may even reverse existing type 2 diabetes, it’s likely to be even more effective at preventing it or reversing pre-diabetes.
Improved health markers
There are many studies showing that low-carb diets improve important health markers, including the cholesterol profile(HDL, triglycerides), blood sugar levels, insulin levels and blood pressure.
These commonly improved markers are connected to something called “metabolic syndrome”, and improvements in weight, waist circumference, diabetes type 2 reversal etc.
A calmer stomach
Keto can result in a calmer stomach, less (or no) gas, less cramps and pains, etc.
For quite a few people this is the top benefit, and it usually only takes a day or two to experience it.
Increased physical endurance
Keto diets can vastly increase your physical endurance by giving you constant access to all the energy of your fat stores.
The body’s supply of stored carbohydrates (glycogen) only lasts for a couple of hours of intense exercise or less. But your fat stores carry enough energy to easily last for weeks or even months.
The keto diet is a proven and effective medical therapy for epilepsy that has been used since the 1920s. Traditionally it was used primarily for children, but recently adults have benefited from it as well.
Using a ketogenic diet in epilepsy can allow people to take less or no anti-epileptic drugs, while still remaining seizure-free. This reduces drug side effects and thus increases mental performance.
More possible benefits
The benefits above are the most common ones. But there are others that are potentially even more surprising and – at least for some people – life-changing. Did you know that low carb often normalizes blood pressure, results in less acne, controls a migraine, might help with certain mental health issues and helps with a lot more?
Other potential benefits
There’s even science-based speculation that a keto diet could increase longevity and help treat or reduce the risk of cancer.
Here are a couple of pilot studies where a ketogenic diet was used in cancer patients. The conclusions are that an insulin-inhibiting diet is safe and feasible in selected patients with advanced cancer.
- Fine, EJ et al. Targeting Insulin Inhibition as a Metabolic Therapy in Advanced Cancer. Journal of Nutrition, 2012.
- Tan-Shalaby, JL et al. Modified Atkins diet in advanced malignancies – final results of a safety and feasibility trial within the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System. Nutrition & Metabolism, 2016.
In brain cancer in particular the ketogenic diet looks like a promising addition to other treatments:
- Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience 2016: Tumor Metabolism, the Ketogenic Diet and β-Hydroxybutyrate: Novel Approaches to Adjuvant Brain Tumor Therapy
NOTE: This is only an experimental additional treatment of selected cancers, with highly limited evidence. Many conventional cancer treatments (surgery, chemo etc.) are highly effective and they often offer excellent chances of a cure when used in early stages of the disease. To turn down such treatment would be a mistake that could easily be fatal.
It’s also being used as an experimental treatment for some people with Parkinson’s disease.