By now, most of us have heard about the ketogenic diet. Whether it's because of the benefits of eating high-fat and low-carb, or because you can eat cheese
all day long, it's officially become one of the hottest diets of the year. It may not be easy to cut out all the carbs, but emerging research suggests that eating fat can actually help burn fat. So, for anyone trying to lose weight, you may find it worth the carb cut. Beyond weight loss, recent research has found some other serious health benefits of keto that may impact your life later on. Let's take a look at what the research has to say.
1. Helps prevent epileptic seizures.
While the keto diet may seem new, it has actually been around since the 1920s, when it was used to treat childhood epilepsy. Today, it’s still the go-to diet for epileptic episodes because, as research suggests, it may help reduce the frequency of seizures by an impressive 30-40 percent.
2. Battles Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s is a devastating attack on the human nervous system, partially as a result of an abnormal accumulation of a protein called alpha-synuclein. Research suggests that going keto may help break down these proteins, reducing the associated cognitive and motor symptoms.
3. Slows Alzheimer’s disease.
More great news for the aging mind. Research has found that following a keto diet may help improve the cognitive function of patients living with Alzheimer’s disease thanks to improvements in mitochondrial function.
4. Improves multiple sclerosis symptoms.
While research in this area is still in its infancy, an exciting 2016 study found that the keto diet helped improve the quality of life, physical health, and mental health of patients living with MS.
5. Keeps your ticker strong.
Wait, what?! How could a diet rich in meat, butter, and cheese do anything but increase the chances of a heart attack? Well, the tables might be turning in defense of fat. While it’s still unclear how the keto diet impacts heart health long-term, especially for those predisposed to heart disease, research has found that the keto diet may help improve triglyceride, HDL, and LDL levels, and improve overall cardiovascular risk factors. Pass the cheese, please!
6. Controls your blood sugars.
Here’s another controversial yet promising area of study: Research suggests that when patients with diabetes take on a low-carb diet (like keto), they experience improvements in insulin sensitivity by up to 75 percent, as well as a reduction in blood sugar control medications. What we aren’t sure of, however, is whether these improvements are due specifically to the effects of ketosis or to weight loss in general, so similar results could theoretically be found with any successful diet.
7. Potentially helps fight cancers.
Here’s to exciting beginnings in cancer research: While we don’t have a lot of human studies to draw on, early findings suggest that the keto diet may have anti-tumor effects by reducing the total energy for tumors to thrive. We’ve also seen animal models report successful reductions in tumor growth, gastric cancer, and prostate cancer by using a ketogenic diet.
8. Helps with weight loss.
OK, so this is the one most people probably actually care about. The great thing about the keto diet is that most dieters report not feeling hungry at all, likely because ketosis tends to suppress the hunger hormone, ghrelin, which helps tame our hangry monster within. So when you combine a satiating diet with the fact that you’re just cutting out a lot of foods, it makes perfect sense then that you’ll lose weight. One meta-analysis found that participants lost more weight on a very low-carb diet (like keto) compared with those on a low-fat diet.
But the question remains, can you keep it off? Aside from the fact that it’s a pretty hard diet to keep up (ah, no birthday cake!), one large meta-analysis found that while low-carb dieters tended to lose more weight than low-fat dieters at first, the differences disappeared by the one-year mark. This may be because cutting carbs tends to reduce bloating and water weight, which may level out over time. But the bottom line on weight loss? Calorie restriction is calorie restriction. You just have to find what works best for you, and slashing carbs for fat might or might not work.
Think you're ready to give low-carb a chance? Trust us, it's a whole lot easier when you've got a few killer keto recipes on hand that are full of healthy fat, flavor, and, yes, even cheese.