5 Science-Backed Keto Health Benefits
You’ve probably heard about the ketogenic diet more in recent years, and you might be wondering whether it’s a healthful diet or just a fad that people use to lose weight. The truth is that Keto was developed as early as the 1920s to help children and adults with seizures. It’s not a fad, and emerging evidence has shown that Keto health benefits include the ability to manage many other physical and mental conditions. From obesity and epilepsy, to diabetes and heart disease, there seems to be no limit to the benefits of Keto.
What Exactly is Keto?
Before we further discuss Keto’s health benefits, we should define exactly what a Keto lifestyle is. The basics of this lifestyle encourage a high fat and low carbohydrate intake to adjust how your body reacts to food. You might think the Keto regimen is counterintuitive because it tells you to eat more fats, but it’s important to know the *right* fats to consume. Adding bacon and fried foods to your daily intake isn’t the best source of fat; instead, the fats you should be eating include nuts, high-fat vegetables (avocados, olives, etc.), cheese, eggs and fatty fish.
The reason behind the shift to fatty foods is to achieve ketosis. During ketosis, your body runs out of carbohydrates to convert into energy and instead starts burning fat. Avoiding sugar is key to enjoying the full benefits of Keto, which is found in just about everything from soda and sugar-filled granola, to pasta and many fruits.
At Within/Without, we strive to provide great tasting treats for you to enjoy even while you’re making big changes to your eating habits. Our nutritious granola products are developed with specific lifestyles (including Keto) in mind and can fit into your new health regimen perfectly!
If you’re curious about following a Keto diet, read on to learn more about the five science-backed Keto health benefits you could enjoy.
1. Reduces Visceral Fat
Everyone talks about losing excess weight as the main benefit of Keto, but it isn’t just the jiggle in your belly or the love handles at your hips that you’ll be losing, it’s also the visceral fat between your organs. Keto has been proven far more effective in losing visceral fat below the subcutaneous layer (i.e. the innermost layer of skin) than a standard low-fat, low-calorie diet. Once you enter the state of ketosis, your body starts producing ketones that are very efficient at burning fat to maintain your energy levels. Ketones don’t differentiate between subcutaneous and visceral fat, so they use up everything available to them.
Finding out the amount of visceral fat in comparison to your total body fat is best done by a doctor, and they can tell you if there’s any cause for concern. If your visceral fat is especially high, you may be at risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke and even Alzheimer’s. Since one of Keto’s health benefits is reducing your visceral fat, it can help protect you from these conditions.
2. Improves Mood
When you reach ketosis, several hormonal and chemical changes take place in your body. One of the big changes you experience is an increase in the production of a neurotransmitter called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). Studies have shown that many anxiety and depression disorders are a result of dysfunctional GABA activity.
There’s also evidence that the benefits of Keto extend to reducing oxidative stress and inflammation throughout the body, including in the brain. Lower inflammation, enhanced energy and more GABA neurotransmitters all equal a happier, more positive person.
3. Enhances Memory & Brain Function
Keto’s health benefits for your brain do more than just make you feel good — the anti-inflammation, added antioxidants from ketones and reduced oxidative stress enhance your brain function. Less inflammation in the brain improves memory, mitigates mild cognitive impairment and reduces brain fog.
The ketones produced while your body is in ketosis are also a better source of energy for your brain and body than glucose. Mitochondrial function is much higher because of the stimulation from ketones, and the polyunsaturated fatty acids you’re consuming protect brain cells.
4. Helps Manage Diabetes
The biggest problem for people with Type 2 Diabetes is the high levels of sugar in their blood. Because they don’t produce enough insulin, glucose doesn’t get metabolized and moved into cells for energy storage. Instead, it floats around in the bloodstream causing fatigue, slower healing, blurred vision, frequent infections and more.
Because the Keto lifestyle shifts the body’s dependence from carbs to fat for energy, one of the automatic Keto health benefits is the reduction in carb and sugar intake. Some studies have shown that this lower carb intake improved insulin sensitivity by over 70%!
5. Helps Manage Epilepsy
As the origin of the development of the Keto regimen, it’s no surprise that doctors still recommend Keto for people who suffer from epilepsy. Some epileptics cannot control their seizures with AEDs (anti-epileptic drugs) and must turn to alternative solutions to preserve their health. Keto health benefits include a measurable reduction in seizures for people who can’t take AEDs, and in some cases eliminate seizures completely.
Since the benefits of Keto include improved brain function through the production of ketones, it makes sense that this lifestyle affects many different brain dysfunctions. Scientists have observed that ketosis causes a change in the body’s energy consumption that eventually leads to an anticonvulsant effect. As the ketones alter the genes that are in charge of energy metabolism in the brain, they protect and stabilize the function of neurons, ensuring they are better prepared to withstand the metabolic challenges of epilepsy.
Making Keto a Lifestyle
Using Keto’s health benefits to manage your own health conditions are best done under the supervision of a doctor. They can test your blood to determine ketosis, track visceral fat changes, as well as monitor your body’s reactions over time. Talk to your doctor about Keto today to decide if it’s the right choice for you!