The ketogenic diet (keto) is often dismissed as a fad. Much of the media even portrays keto as unsustainable. Even some medical practitioners are skeptical about the health benefits. But we know that the keto diet is a tenable solution to a wide variety of health conditions. Keto has a good track-record in the treatment of epilepsy, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
You may feel like you’ve stepped into The Twilight Zone when you first read a description of the Keto diet. After all, health professionals and the government have told you over and over to avoid eating fat and to grab onto whole grains with both hands. But, as we’ve written before, there have been more than 60 years worth of the food and beverage industry science that has been manipulated. The sugar industry has deep pockets and successfully demonized fat – But good fat is good for you.
The keto diet is high-fat and low-carb. Typically, you would eat less than 20g of carbohydrates a day in order to achieve ketosis. Ketosis is the process when your body runs out of carbohydrates to convert to energy, and it begins burning fat instead. Ketones are a natural result of this fat burning process . On the keto diet, you’ll eat moderate protein and high amounts of good fats. You can find good fats in coconut oil, avocado, good quality olive oil, grass-fed butter, and fatty cuts of meat from organic grass-fed livestock. You’ll avoid sugar and carbohydrate-heavy foods such as bread, cakes, cookies, candy, soda, ice cream, cereal, rice, pasta, potatoes, store-bought sauces, and most fruits.
You may be hesitant to start the keto diet if you’ve heard about the initial ‘keto flu’. The keto flu is a collection of symptoms including brain fog that sets in for the first couple of weeks once you start following the ketogenic diet. Your body needs time to adjust to running on ketones, and only by pushing through this initial discomfort you’ll be able to reap the benefits. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Here are my favorite benefits of the ketogenic diet:
1. Keto Reduces Your Visceral Fat
You’re aware that the keto diet is a fantastic way to lose excess weight. But did you know it also helps you lose visceral fat far more effectively than a standard low-fat diet? Visceral fat is the fat below your subcutaneous fat. This fat surrounds and protects your organs — most notably your kidneys, liver, and pancreas.
Your doctor can estimate your visceral fat from your total body fat or waist measurements. At normal levels, it is no cause for concern. But if you have a high level of visceral fat it increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and some cancers. The keto diet can help protect you from these conditions. Individuals on keto often report that after returning to their previous clothes size, they have a much trimmer body than before. I suspect healthy loss of visceral fat is the reason.
2. Keto Improves Your Mood And Hunger Levels
Breaking your sugar addiction through adoption of the keto lifestyle helps you feel less hungry. You’ll be less obsessed with sugary foods. You won’t feel drawn to the fridge every time you pass it! Keto dieters have an advantage as the diet contains plenty of good fats to help you feel fuller for longer. Often, this can make the reduction in calories easier to bear than in the standard low fat diet.
Remember how irritable you would get when dieting and a big juicy burger commercial comes on the TV? On keto, you won’t sweat it so much — and there’s nothing to stop you from preparing your own bunless burger with grass-fed beef.
3. Keto Enhances Your Memory
The Keto diet is used to counteract the effects of epilepsy, migraine, and other neurological conditions. Following keto reduces inflammation which can have a positive effect on your condition. Keto also reduces symptoms of brain fog and improves mild cognitive impairment.
Ketones are a more efficient energy source for your brain than glucose, and they act as a powerful antioxidant, protecting brain cells. A diet rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids also counteracts the inflammatory response in your brain. If you’re always looking for your car keys, keto can improve short term memory too.
4. Keto Improves Oral Health
Dental plaque forms when the bacteria that live on your teeth consume carbohydrates. The bacteria convert these carbohydrates into harmful acids that can eat into your tooth enamel. It can develop below the gum line as well as on the visible tooth. So it’s logical that sticking to a low-carb diet can slow the progress of tartar — hardened plaque — between visits to the dentist.
By going keto and avoiding sticky food, fruit juice, and sugary soda, you’re ensuring that your teeth aren’t bathed in a film of sugar that can take hours to work away. You’re no longer throwing a big party for the bacteria in your mouth. In fact, eating vegetables that contain plenty of fiber, which helps clean your teeth naturally.
5. Keto Helps Acne
As we’ve discussed, the keto diet has an anti inflammatory effect on your body. The most visible sign that it works in this way is in the marked improvement in acne. Adult acne can be embarrassing, particularly if it’s an indicator of an hormone imbalance such as PCOS or the beginnings of menopause.
If you move to the keto diet, the symptoms of menopause or PCOS can improve drastically, as it helps balance your hormones. You’ll also find it easier to maintain your weight, which is usually made more difficult by fluctuations in hormone levels.
Above all, I hope you consider the ketogenic diet as a real alternative to treat a wide variety of conditions. But also think of it as a complete lifestyle change. Diets usually have fixed start and stopping points. But as keto is anti-inflammatory, you should view it as an ongoing course of treatment to improve your health.
If you want to start the ketogenic diet, I urge you to seek the advice of a doctor who practices functional medicine. A functional medicine doctor focuses on your body as a whole – not just the ‘problem’ parts.
If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, you can request an appointment with the Dynamic Life Health Center today. Simply fill out the contact form here or call 817-912-1600.