When it comes to healthy eating, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Some people may do well on a low-carb diet, while others may find that a high-fat diet is the best way to lose weight and keep it off.
The ketogenic, or “keto,” diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate way of eating that has gained popularity in recent years—proponents of the keto diet claim that it can help you lose weight quickly and improve overall health.
While there is some scientific evidence to support the claims made about the keto diet, it’s important to remember that more research is needed before any definitive conclusions can be made.
How does the keto diet work?
The keto diet works by restricting carbohydrates so that your body has no choice but to burn fat for energy. When you eat a high carbohydrate diet, your body will convert those carbs into glucose and use them for energy.
However, when you restrict carbs, your body has to find another energy source, where the fat comes in. When you eat a high-fat diet, your body will burn fat for energy instead of carbohydrates.
There are a few potential health benefits of following a keto diet. Here are 10 of them:
1. Weight Loss
One of the main reasons people try the keto diet is for weight loss. And there is some evidence to support this.
A study published in 2013 found that those who followed a keto diet lost more weight than those who followed a low-fat diet. And another study published in 2016 found that those on a keto diet lost 2.2 times more weight than those on a calorie-restricted, low-fat diet.
Of course, weight loss is not always easy, and it’s important to remember that you should never start any diet without talking to your doctor first.
2. Improved cholesterol levels
Cholesterol is a type of fat found in your blood. There are two types of cholesterol: “good” HDL cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Too much bad cholesterol in your blood can lead to heart disease and stroke. But the keto diet may help improve your cholesterol levels.
A study published in 2016 found that following a keto diet for three months resulted in significant increases in HDL cholesterol and decreases in LDL cholesterol.
3. Reduced risk of heart disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, so anything that can reduce your risk is worth considering. And there is some evidence that the keto diet may do just that.
A study published in 2016 found that the keto diet improved several risk factors for heart disease, including blood pressure, triglycerides, and “bad” LDL cholesterol.
4. Reduced inflammation
Inflammation is your body’s natural response to injury or infection. But chronic inflammation can contribute to several diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
The keto diet may help reduce inflammation in your body. A study published in 2014 found that following a keto diet for six weeks led to a decrease in markers of inflammation in people with arthritis.
5. Improved blood sugar control
If you have diabetes, keeping your blood sugar under control is essential to your health. And the keto diet may be helpful in this regard.
A study published in 2016 found that following a keto diet helped improve blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes.
6. Reduced risk of cancer
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. While there is no sure way to prevent cancer, there are things you can do to lower your risk. And the keto diet may be one of them.
Some studies have shown that the keto diet can help reduce the growth of cancer cells. A study published in 2014 found that the keto diet inhibited the growth of breast cancer cells in vitro (in a lab dish).
And a study published in 2016 found that following a keto diet helped shrink tumors in mice with colon cancer.
Of course, more research is needed before any definitive conclusions can be made. But the keto diet may be worth considering if you’re looking for ways to reduce your cancer risk.
7. Improved brain health
The keto diet has also been shown to improve brain health. A study published in 2014 found that following a keto diet helped improve cognitive function in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
And a study published in 2016 found that the keto diet improved memory and cognitive function in people with mild cognitive impairment.
8. Increased lifespan
Living longer is something we all hope for. And the keto diet may help make it a reality.
A study published in 2016 found that following a keto diet increased lifespan in rats. And another study published in 2017 found that the keto diet improved health and decreased mortality in mice.
9. Increased energy levels
Many people report feeling more energetic on the keto diet, likely due to the increased fat burning that occurs when you’re in ketosis.
10. Reduced risk of chronic diseases
The keto diet has been shown to reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.
If you’re looking for a way to improve your health and wellbeing, the keto diet may be worth considering. Just talk to your doctor first to ensure it’s right for you.
What do you eat on a Keto Diet?
Your food choices are pretty limited if you’re following a keto diet. That’s because this eating plan aims to get your body into a state of ketosis, which is when your body starts burning fat for energy instead of carbs.
So what can you eat on a keto diet? Essentially, anything that is high in fat and low in carbs. This includes meats, fish, eggs, full-fat dairy, oils, nuts, seeds, and non-starchy vegetables.
Of course, you’ll want to avoid foods high in carbs, such as grains, starches, sweets, and fruit. And while you can technically have alcohol on a keto diet, it’s best to stick to low-carb drinks like spirits and wine.
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