The Benefits of The Ketogenic Diet

There is a ton of hype surrounding the ketogenic diet. Some researchers swear that it is the best diet for most people to be on, while others think it is just another fad diet.

To some degree, both sides of the spectrum are right. There isn’t one perfect diet for everyone or every condition, regardless of how many people “believe” in it. The ketogenic diet is no exception to this rule.

However, the ketogenic diet also has plenty of solid research backing up its benefits. In fact, it has been found to be better than most diets at helping people with:

  • Epilepsy
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Chronic Inflammation
  • High Blood Sugar Levels
  • Obesity
  • Heart Disease
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
  • Fatty Liver Disease
  • Cancer
  • Migraines

Even if you are not at risk from any of these conditions, the ketogenic diet can be helpful for you too. Some of the keto benefits that most people experience are:

  • Better brain function
  • A decrease in inflammation
  • An increase in energy
  • Improved body composition

As you can see, the ketogenic diet has a wide array of benefits, but is it any better than other diets?

How The Body Adapts To The Ketogenic Diet The Main Reason for Many of the Benefits

From The Cell’s Point of View

Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred fuel source. When its consumption is restricted, the body reacts as if it is fasting. This stimulates new energy pathways to provide energy for the cells. One of these energy pathways is called ketogenesis, and the result of ketogenesis is an alternative fuel source called a ketone body.

These ketones bodies can be used by almost every cell in your body for fuel (except for the liver and red blood cells). However, sugar and ketone bodies affect the body in many different ways.

For example, burning sugar for fuel creates more reactive oxygen species. These reactive oxygen species cause damage, inflammation, and cell death when they accumulate. This is why consuming too much sugar is known to impair brain function and cause plaque build up in the brain.

From The Body’s Perspective

Now, let’s zoom out and look at how the ketogenic diet changes the body. It all begins with a change in insulin levels.

By restricting carbohydrates, we take the biggest stimulator of insulin out of the diet. This decreases insulin levels, increases fat burning, and reduces inflammation. The combination of these three changes addresses the primary drivers of many chronic diseases  — insulin resistance, inflammation, and fat accumulation.

The Takeaway The Mechanisms Behind The Ketogenic Diet 

From a mechanistic level, here is why the ketogenic diets can lead to benefits that reach beyond caloric restriction:

On a cellular level:

  • Ketones burn more efficiently than sugar.
  • Carbohydrate restriction triggers autophagy and anti-inflammatory processes.
  • Burning ketones for fuel creates less reactive oxygen species.
  • Ketone usage enhances mitochondrial function and production.

In the body:

  • Insulin levels decrease because dietary carbohydrate isn’t stimulating its release.
  • Fat burning increases because the body needs to use alternative fuel sources.
  • Inflammation is reduced because inflammatory fat levels decrease and less reactive oxygen species are formed.

The combination of the cellular and bodily effects of the ketogenic diet provides us with a basis for why they may be useful in the treatment of the conditions we mentioned earlier. However, this is only biochemistry. Is the ketogenic diet scientifically proven to help people with those conditions?

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