The keto diet has been all the rage for quite some time now and the impetus doesn’t seem to be slowing.
But is this diet really worth all the fanfare?
The keto diet has actually been around for a long time.
Dr Russel Wilder discovered its benefits in the 1920’s for treating epilepsy in children as an alternative to fasting, which up to that point had been the recommended dietary approach for that condition.
Its benefits over fasting were that the patient could adopt the keto diet in the long term which wasn’t really sustainable with fasting.
The idea behind the keto diet was that the patient could be in a “fasting” state indefinitely which meant the body could burn fat instead of glucose over a more sustained period which allowed for a long term lowering of blood sugar.
Doctors are still stumped as to why the keto diet works in reducing seizures but it is still used today as an alternative treatment when anticonvulsant medications fail.
As time went by it became clear that the keto diet wasn’t just beneficial for those with a relatively rare condition like epilepsy, but it could also be used as a healthy diet for everyday people without any neurological condition.
keto v atkin’s
The keto diet was kind of hijacked as a popular weight loss diet by the Atkin’s diet (another low carb diet) in the 1970’s with the main difference between the diets being that on the Atkin’s diet you gradually increase your carb intake, whilst on the keto diet, not so much!
However, since the mid 90’s the keto diet has gained traction.
And lots of it!
Tons more scientific research has been conducted and in the last 5 years keto has exploded!
So, I wanted to explore some of the reasons for that and to look at the diet’s benefits to a prospective “keto dieter”.
Do not get me wrong, there are downsides to the keto diet (for example it may not be suitable for those with heart disease), but this post will look at the upsides that have made this diet so popular!
Let’s take a look….
1. its speed
It’s no secret that the keto diet can bring about rapid results (here’s a personal story where 10 pounds was lost in 3 weeks).
I have previously covered on this blog why I think the keto diet is one of the best diets for rapid weight loss.
The great thing about its fast delivery of results is the encouragement it provides.
One of the biggest problems people have when dieting is they don’t give it enough time.
They don’t see rapid results so they think dieting is impossible for them and that they are destined to be overweight forever!
The keto diet can help keep those doubts at bay because it tends to deliver results faster than other diets!
This spurs you on and removes those wanton thoughts.
This can be invaluable for those with poor willpower and can give you the encouragement and confidence you need!
2. it reduces your appetite
One of the main nemesis for any new dieter is their own appetite!
People in the western world tend to overeat and, at first, it can be very difficult to curb those cravings when we’re suddenly trying to cut down!
A low carb diet like the keto diet will help with this as it has been shown to actually suppress appetite meaning you’ll be much less inclined to reach for the snack cupboard between meals!
This in turn means a reduction in calorie intake, which of course leads to weight loss!
3. it’s great for your waistband
Low carb diets are excellent for belly fat as they are proven to help burn visceral fat, which is the fat known to collect around your abdomen.
One of my main bug bears when I was trying to lose weight was my muffin top.
Aka the blubber around my midriff that overhung my trousers!
The keto diet will help shift this stubborn overhang and have your waist looking fantastic in quick time!
4. it will help control blood sugar
The keto diet has been shown to work wonders for controlling blood sugar and can even reverse type 2 diabetes!
If you have diabetes or insulin resistance then the keto diet has been shown to be very helpful for these conditions with some diabetics able to reduce their required insulin dose by 50% after starting it.
In fact one of the best ways to reduce your blood sugar level is to consume a low carb diet!
5. increased energy levels and cognitive clarity
For the first few days on the keto diet you may feel groggy, of low energy and slightly ill. This is known as the “keto flu” and is essentially due to your body getting used to not relying on sugar for its energy source.
As a few days pass your cravings for carbs and sugars will gradually decline as your body starts to burn fat for energy instead of carbs!
As you enter the state of ketosis, where your brain starts burning ketones instead of sugar, your blood sugars should start to stabilize and most people report an increase in energy levels, mental clarity and a lessening of brain fog!
This is because ketones are a much more sustainable and efficient source of fuel than glucose.
6. it reduces inflammation
Provided you eat unprocessed keto foods whilst on the keto diet, it will help reduce inflammation throughout your body.
Inflammation is your body’s way of dealing with the unhealthy foods you eat.
Essentially your body mounts a chemical response, which over time leads to chronic inflammation which can cause cancer, heart disease, neurological conditions and diabetes.
If you eat unprocessed foods on the keto diet, then your body should begin releasing less of these chemicals and this in turn will lead to a reduction in inflammation and will improve your overall health.
7. it may protect against cancer
There is a growing body of evidence that the keto diet may actually suppress tumor growth and ward off cancer.
The Warburg effect shows that tumors can break down glucose much faster than normal cells and by inhibiting the tumor’s fuel (glucose) you can stall their growth and prevent their spread.
Therefore, the keto diet may be beneficial not only for those wanting to ward off cancer from ever developing, but also for those who are in remission from the disease.
8. improve your sleep
Sleep is a key component of any weight loss strategy.
Without sufficient sleep your body will produce more stress hormones like cortisol which will likely make you feel hungrier and less satisfied when you do eat!
Not good for calorie cutting!
The keto diet is thought to improve your sleep by increasing slow wave sleep patterns over REM patterns which will make your sleep feel more satisfying and will be of a better quality!
9. prevent heart disease
It may sound like wishful thinking to think increasing your fat and protein intake will lessen heart disease.
However, studies have shown that it is actually the consumption of carbs that causes increased levels of triglycerides and not eating more fats.
The keto diet also helps to raise good cholesterol (HDL) which will also help fend off heart disease.
10. increasing Fertility in women
If you’re looking to get pregnant soon then the keto diet may be the one for you.
Studies have shown promising signs that a keto diet may be good for fertility.
This is because when women do not eat enough fat this can have an impact on hormone balance and can lead to an under production of progesterone, which is an essential hormone for reproduction.
The keto diet is also recommended for women who suffer from poly-cystic ovary syndrome and have struggled to get pregnant.
Whilst the keto diet is not for everyone (it is quite extreme) it does come with a whole host of health benefits that are supported by solid scientific research.
Not only that but the keto diet is a sound choice if you are looking to lose weight fast, albeit normally with some effort and persistence required for the first few days to battle through the keto flu (that not everyone gets I should add).
If you’re on the fence about going keto, then I hope this post has helped to provide some easily digestible information to help you make up your mind.
Like with any diet, you should read as much information as possible before you start and that’s definitely the case for the keto diet.
The keto diet does require a disciplined approach and it is fairly restrictive in terms of the foods groups it permits.
But if you are prepared to commit, you are highly likely to see results!
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About the author
Catherine holds a bachelor of science degree and is a registered mental health nurse.
She is a self-confessed health and fitness freak, nutrition fanatic and mental health boffin.