As the high-fat ketogenic diet gains more traction in the fitness community, you've probably wondered whether or not you could stick to it, or if the purported benefits are actually true. But then you quickly think to yourself, "Give up cookies and bread? Thanks, but no thanks."
I encourage you to reconsider and give keto a chance. When done properly, a keto diet may support energy levels, weight loss, and longevity. And did I mention, the food you get to eat is delicious?
1. Energy Levels
We've all experienced the infamous sugar crash. Without realizing it, you plow through an entire bag of your favorite candy while watching a movie. At first, you're bouncing off the walls, ready to run a marathon. Just half an hour later, however, you feel like you've been hit by a truck and need a five-day nap.
Eating too many of the wrong type of carbohydrates can leave you riding this energy roller coaster day in and day out. These carbs spike your blood sugar instantly, leaving insulin to frequently clean up the mess by lowering blood sugars back down to normal levels. Given that glucose is your brain's primary energy source, this ebb and flow manifests as frequent fatigue and lack of focus. But what if you didn't have to rely on a consistent influx of carbohydrates to keep energy levels in line?
On a high-fat ketogenic diet, your energy levels are less likely to be inconsistent, because there are no dramatic shifts in blood sugar. There's no white rice or candy bar to create a sudden spike and subsequent drop in levels, only an endless supply of energy in the form of fat (ketone bodies and fatty acids).
2. Weight Loss
When you think weight loss, you most likely think "low-fat." Why the heck would you eat more fat if you're trying to lose fat? Well, it turns out that high-fat ketogenic diets have been shown to be highly successful fat-loss diets, and may be better for weight loss than traditional low-fat diets.
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism split subjects into two groups. Each group was placed in a 500-calorie deficit, but one group followed a very low-carb ketogenic diet, and the other followed a low-fat (25 percent of calories) diet.
Despite the same energy deficit, subjects following the ketogenic diet lost more total weight, body fat, and abdominal-specific fat versus the low-fat-diet group.
3. Longevity And Quality Of Life
A ketogenic diet may positively impact your chances of developing metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors that increase your risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD), the number one cause of death in the world.[3-4] These risk factors include abdominal obesity (carrying excess fat in the stomach), high blood pressure, high blood triglycerides, high fasting blood glucose, and low HDL ("good") cholesterol.
Any one of these risk factors increases your likelihood of CVD, not to mention diabetes and stroke. Fortunately, a ketogenic diet may support heart health by significantly lowering your likelihood of having one of the aforementioned risk factors.[5-10]
It's important that you fully understand the ins and outs of a ketogenic diet. There are many questions and minutiae that must be addressed, such as the dreaded adaptation phase, to ensure you're set up for success. But once you have all of your ducks in a row, get ready to experience the many benefits keto has to offer.
- Bueno, N. B., de Melo, I. S. V., de Oliveira, S. L., & da Rocha Ataide, T. (2013). Very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet v. low-fat diet for long-term weight loss: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. British Journal of Nutrition, 110(07), 1178-1187.
- Volek, J. S., Sharman, M. J., Gómez, A. L., Judelson, D. A., Rubin, M. R., Watson, G., ... & Kraemer, W. J. (2004). Comparison of energy-restricted very low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets on weight loss and body composition in overweight men and women. Nutrition & Metabolism, 1(1), 1.
- What is Metabolic Syndrome? (2015). National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. National Institute of Health. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/ms. Accessed 25 April 2016.
- Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs). (2015). World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs317/en/. Accessed 25 April 2016.
- Paoli, A., Rubini, A., Volek, J. S., & Grimaldi, K. A. (2013). Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 67(8), 789-796.
- Paoli, A. (2014). Ketogenic diet for obesity: friend or foe? International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 11(2), 2092-2107.
- Feinman, R. D., Pogozelski, W. K., Astrup, A., Bernstein, R. K., Fine, E. J., Westman, E. C., ... & Nielsen, J. V. (2015). Dietary carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management: critical review and evidence base. Nutrition, 31(1), 1-13.
- Nordmann, A. J., Nordmann, A., Briel, M., Keller, U., Yancy, W. S., Brehm, B. J., & Bucher, H. C. (2006). Effects of low-carbohydrate vs low-fat diets on weight loss and cardiovascular risk factors: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Archives of Internal Medicine, 166(3), 285-293.
- Poff, A. M., Ari, C., Seyfried, T. N., & D'Agostino, D. P. (2013). The ketogenic diet and hyperbaric oxygen therapy prolong survival in mice with systemic metastatic cancer. PloS One, 8(6), e65522.
- Volek, J. S., Phinney, S. D., Forsythe, C. E., Quann, E. E., Wood, R. J., Puglisi, M. J., ... & Feinman, R. D. (2009). Carbohydrate restriction has a more favorable impact on the metabolic syndrome than a low fat diet. Lipids, 44(4), 297-309.