Developed in the 1920s for the treatment of epilepsy, the keto diet has come a long way. A low carb, high-fat diet – keto has tons of benefits to offer that has made it a favorite among dieticians.
But who knew in 1920 that this eating approach could solve obesity, high sugar levels, skin, and even cholesterol problems?
Yet, this diet is not the holy grail because it comes with risks.
What are these keto diet benefits and risks? Is the diet worth trying? Or is there a better diet? Stay tuned till the end of this article, and you’ll have all your questions answered!
12 Keto Diet Benefits You Don’t Want To Miss Out On
When you add keto diet foods like avocados, coconuts, nuts, and green veggies in your diet and remove the carbs, there’s a lot for you to gain from. Here’re the benefits you should look out for:
1) Weight Loss
Keto diet benefits for weight loss are famous, but very few people understand why.
Firstly, following a keto diet plan reduces your appetite. It keeps you full for longer because the keto diet foods usually digest slower compared to carb foods.
In a 2007 study, participants who committed to a low carb, ketogenic diet observed reduced hunger levels than those who didn’t. (1)
Keto also helps lose excess water from your body in the first few weeks. A study checking the composition of the weight loss says that more than 60% of the weight loss was water. This is fantastic news for anyone who suffers from abdominal bloating. (2)
Keto diet helps reducing weight by decreasing the water amount in body.
2) You Lose Belly Fat
Another reason keto is so effective for weight loss is that it works directly on trunk/belly fat (visceral fat).
This is one of the most harmful kinds of fats you can store in your body and is difficult to get rid of.
3) Reduced Blood Sugar Levels
Now there are benefits of the keto diet besides weight loss you can take advantage of. Being able to manage or prevent Diabetes is a big one.
A low-carb diet helps manage your insulin levels and reduces insulin resistance. This resistance is the primary reason behind Diabetes, and solving it can help you manage your blood sugar levels better.
Research proves this. According to a 2008 study, within six months of following the keto diet, 95% of participants with type 2 diabetes had lowered or removed their glucose-lowering medication. (3)
4) Reduced Acne
The benefits of a ketogenic diet on the skin aren’t talked about much. However, they are significant, considering our diet has a crucial role to play in our skin’s health.
By reducing simple carbs, in particular, you may target the body’s excess inflammation – which is a primary promoter of acne. Additionally, the omega 3 fatty acids included in keto diet foods such as avocados are beneficial to the skin.
However, stay away from bad fats as they may make your skin oily and lead to breakouts.
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5) Reduced Risk Of Cancer
Cancer happens due to many reasons. Sometimes it’s because of the complications with hormones like insulin or the effects of the harmful rays of the sun. But the primary culprit is oxidative stress. It happens when free radicals start damaging the healthy cells.
The keto diet firstly helps balance hormones like insulin. It also helps use oxidative stress against the cancerous cells instead of the healthy ones. A 2014 study suggests this can help make chemotherapy more effective.
6) Reduced PCOS Symptoms
Polycystic ovarian syndrome usually happens due to hormonal imbalance. And insulin resistance can be blamed here.
But as mentioned above, the keto diet helps manage insulin levels. It also reduces your extra weight – a symptom of PCOS. Thus helping you fight PCOS and regulate your menstrual cycle.
7) Improved Energy
When you eat carbs, you get instant energy which is great for some but may lead to jitters for most of us. However, when you consume fats in place of carbs, you get energy slowly, thanks to the slow breakdown of fatty foods.
This slow release of energy also means you stay energized for longer.
8) Prevent Diseases of the Arteries
Whenever you consume some extra calories that don’t get digested right away for energy, the body turns them into triglycerides which get stored in fat cells.
Research suggests the higher the number of triglycerides you have in your body, the more you are at risk. The risk involves conditions like heart attack, stroke, and peripheral arterial disease.
All these occur when triglycerides cause your arteries to narrow down. They reduce their size, which is not enough for blood cells to flow and carry oxygen to the necessary parts of the body.
9) Controlled Blood Pressure
Being overweight, consuming unhealthy junk food (full of carbs), and having too much sodium in your body can lead to high blood pressure.
However, the keto diet helps reduce weight. It also discourages the use of carbs – be it healthy or that of junk food, and it causes excessive urination, which helps get rid of excess sodium in your body. Thus helping keep your blood pressure levels in check.
10) Improved Immunity
A low carb, high fat diet helps reduce inflammation thanks to its antioxidant activity. Research suggests that such a diet also helps by activating immune cells.
When inflammation persists, it may damage tissues and overwhelm the body’s defense – immunity. So, by fighting inflammation, keto helps strengthen your immune system as well.
11) Improved Heart Health
A diet with more fats helps increase HDL (good) cholesterol and reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol. This helps ensure blood flow happens as it should without increasing blood pressure or the risk of stroke or heart attacks.
12) A Treatment Against Diseases
During the ketogenic diet, ketones are produced that provide neuroprotective benefits. They strengthen and protect nerve cells in the brain and are thus useful against diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. (7)
Also, according to the Epilepsy Foundation, ketosis can reduce seizures in patients with epilepsy.
Similar studies have found keto’s effectiveness against Parkinson’s and Bipolar disorder, as well.
3 Keto Diet Risks That Make Dieting Difficult
If you have ever tried quitting sugar, you know how difficult it is. Now, consider quitting all carbs altogether – that means quitting natural sugar as well. It’s not easy and comes with withdrawal symptoms. One of these symptoms is keto insomnia.
When you start following a keto diet plan, the body faces a shortage of the hormone serotonin which helps it make melatonin – the sleep hormone. That’s because carbs are responsible for serotonin production. When you don’t have enough sleep hormone, sleeping on time becomes problematic. (6)
While a high-fat keto diet benefits in many ways, it’s not easy to digest so much fat if your body is not used to it. The metabolization of fat may take more time and effort from the body, which can be difficult at the beginning of the dieting days.
So, when the body isn’t able to break down these fats sometimes, the undigested food may go to your colon. Now, to remove this fat as a stool, the colon starts drawing more water to assist the excretion. However, this results in watery diarrhea.
Watery diarrhea further causes an imbalance in fluids. Thus, leading to electrolyte imbalance, which can be more problematic. How? Read on!
Do you know that every time you consume carbohydrates, your body creates the hormone insulin? Insulin is responsible for helping your kidneys retain water, among other things.
When you cut back on carbs, you also cut back on insulin, which leads to less water retention. As a result, your body will expel fluids in the form of urine.
Additionally, you lose electrolytes like sodium when you lose water with urine excessively. This sodium is crucial to keep the fluid balance in your body and must get replaced.
However, the keto diet foods don’t have enough sodium in them. The lack of sodium leads to reduced water retention and thus increased dehydration. The solution here is to drink more water when you follow the keto diet. You should also make sure to consume electrolyte drinks to prevent electrolyte imbalance.
This is necessary because dehydration symptoms like fatigue, cramps, and constipation may make matters worse for your body.
Is The Keto Diet Worth It?
The keto diet benefits by reducing obesity, blood sugar levels, and skin problems. But it has risks like diarrhea, dehydration, and insomnia.
Yet, I would say trying the keto diet is worth it. That’s because most of these risks are only short-term. Once your body is used to digesting the fats and once you know how much water you should drink on keto, these risks won’t be of much harm to you.
These risks, commonly known as the keto flu symptoms last for 1 to 4 weeks only. (7)
But if you still think keto isn’t for you or that it’s risky, you can always try other healthy-eating approaches. You can try intermittent fasting, monk fasting, or even the paleo diet.
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Is eating a keto diet healthy?
Yes, consuming a keto diet is healthy for the most part. However, you need to ensure you drink enough water, make slow changes to your regular diet and give your body time to get used to this new diet to ensure you don’t have to suffer the risks for long.
What are the benefits of a keto diet?
The keto diet benefits include weight loss, reduced sugar levels, reduced acne, improved immunity, and therefore, longer life. However, when it started getting popular, the primary benefit of the keto diet was its ability to cure epilepsy in children.