The ketogenic or keto diet, sometimes also known as the paleo diet, has been getting a lot of attention lately. Celebrities are trying it, people of all kinds swear by it, and there is even ketogenic dog food available know for your pets!
But what are the advantages of this approach to eating in reality? Here’s how eating keto can improve your physical and mental health.
It Reduces Your Blood Sugar Levels
One of the key advantages of eating a keto diet is that reduces your blood sugar levels, and in turn reduces insulin levels. High blood sugar has been linked to a range of health conditions, from obesity and diabetes to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Lowering blood sugar levels also minimizes blood sugar spikes that make you feel physically and emotionally tired and can play havoc with your moods, as well as contributing to stress and workplace burnout. High blood sugar can also encourage unhealthy eating habits such as emotional eating.
As a low-carb diet, keto rapidly reduces blood sugar and insulin levels. This has significant impacts, including for those with type 2 diabetes. One study showed that 95% of participant with type 2 diabetes reduced or eliminated their glucose-lowering medications within six months of starting a low-carb diet.
Better Energy Levels
One noted impact of following a ketogenic diet is a notable improvement in energy. Most people report an increase in energy levels by day four or five of following these eating patterns. This is closely linked to the reduction of blood sugar and stabilization of blood sugar levels through eating very few carbs.
Another consequence of a keto diet is improvement to sleeping patterns. Although studies have not yet confirmed the reason for this, it is thought to be linked to the biochemical shifts caused by the brain using ketones for energy. Good sleep is vital to both physical and mental health, so this is a big advantage.
Of course, one of the major and most well-known results of following a keto diet is that you will lose weight. Losing weight is not just for vanity: obesity is a major problem in modern society and causes a range of health issues, including fatal conditions like heart disease. Some research has also linked obesity to mental illness, especially in women.
A keto diet is highly effective in leading to weight loss: multiple studies have shown that people on low-carb diets lose weight faster than on low-fat diets, including compared to people actively restricting calories. However, it should be noted that this difference in weight loss was only significant in the first six months of following a ketogenic diet, and particularly in the first few weeks.
Antioxidants are important for the body because they prevent oxidative damage to cells, and promoting better health in cells and organs. Free radicals are a destructive force that can attack cells, and antioxidants protect cells from free radical damage.
Cells that have too much sugar, usually due to high blood sugar levels, produce excess levels of these damaging free radicals. These free radicals not only attack various components in cells including DNA, they can also damage the blood-brain barrier, which lets unwanted components into the brain. A keto diet reduces the incidence of free radicals and boosts antioxidants, helping to prevent these problems.
Improved Brain Function
Keto originally found popularity because of the way it improves brain function. It was first used as a treatment for epilepsy in children who were resistant to other treatments. Following a ketogenic diet puts your body in a state of ketosis which means that your body processes energy from fat rather than sugars, and completely changes the body’s metabolism.
This ketogenic state completely changes the energy metabolism in all parts of the body, including in the brain. This, in turn, leads to better cognitive function and improved mental health.