Benefits of the Keto Diet
You know that old adage about as you get older, you start packing on the pounds? And that with every year, it gets harder and harder to stay in shape and stay slim and fit?
When you’re operating with the carb-burning, standard American diet that’s of course true. Decades of overeating carbohydrates, a broken metabolism and a host of other major health issues all come to a head seemingly as we get older.
With the keto diet however, getting fatter as you age doesn’t have to be a sad, inevitability that we resign ourselves to.
I noticed myself that when I was on the keto diet, my metabolism was suddenly very different. When you’re fat-adapted and not having to constantly switch between metabolizing carbohydrates and metabolizing fat, the whole game changes.
At age 33, I actually lost body fat with little to no exercise, getting down to around twelve percent or so. I didn’t want to go much lower than that, but I did find it was possible to alter my metabolism based completely on what I was eating.
And I’m not the only one - there are plenty of success stories out there showing how people completely reverse the metabolisms - even at an age where most people wouldn’t think it possible.
Why does this happen? Simple - most of us get fat because we’re consuming too many carbohydrates over a long period of time. As this happens over months and years, we find that we overload our bodies with carbohydrates, which are then converted to fat, and then are never used for fuel.
By converting to a fat-adapted lifestyle, we are able to constantly burn fat all day long - both the fat that we eat, as well as the fat that we have stored on our body. It’s a gamechanger, and one that will help you not to gain weight excessively.
Stable blood sugar
It’s not hard to figure out that stable blood sugar is one of the main benefits of the keto diet. When you’re not eating added sugar and you’re not eating a large amount of carbohydrates, you’re not going to be giving your body much reason to have a glycemic response.
In addition to the keto diet being naturally low carb, your body will become much more efficient and sensitive to the few carbs that you do eat. That’s why so many call keto a reset - because it gets your body back to where it should be, clearing your body of all the sugar and carbs that are overwhelming it.
There are studies showing that keto can improve blood sugar in diabetics type 2, especially, some to the point where they no longer are classified as diabetic which is pretty phenomenal. It makes sense however - if diabetes type 2 is caused by the body being overwhelmed by carbohydrates and sugars, then the removal of them will cause reversal of the disease.
Slowing the effects of aging (and anti-aging)
There’s a lot of studies that show that fat is the only macronutrient that doesn’t age us. Carbohydrates do, and protein does as well. Fat is really the only macronutrient that doesn’t seem to have deleterious effects on our health as far as the quantity that we consume.
Just being in ketosis for example, has anti-aging properties by activating a naturally occurring process called autophagy where the human body essentially “tidies up”. It removes dead cells and debris and even can mark potentially cancerous cells for deletion. This helps us keep our cells in order, and helps to delay the aging process.
There is the fact too, that by eating a high quality keto diet that we are able to supply our body with the nutrition it needs to age gracefully and well. Through the consumption of lots of vegetables (supplying ample antioxidants, phytonutrients and fiber) as well as high quality protein and fats (providing collagen for good skin, iron, calcium and omega 3 fatty acids in bioavailable forms) we prevent ourselves from looking haggard or gaunt or pinched the way that some people who eat “healthy” do.
Anti-cancer (in some cases)
Better appetite control
Keto is great because it is a very satiating diet. Instead of eating raw vegetables or trying to eat small portions and feeling like you’re starving all the time, one of the reasons why so many people are successful with keto is the fact that it fills you up and prevents cravings.
First of all, keto is mostly fat - 70% of your calories - and all that fat is very satiating. It also does something to your stomach - it slows down the rate that food goes through it (also known as gastric emptying) which means you stay full, far longer.
Protein too, helps to keep you keep satiated, even more so than fat. It also takes a lot of energy to burn protein, increasing the number of calories you burn, giving you a double win.
By resetting your body through keto, your carb and sugar cravings will naturally decrease, allowing you to perform even better on the diet by getting your taste buds acclimated to the way your body was meant to eat.
Preventing heart disease
The factors that put you at increased risk for cardiovascular disease include two markers: triglycerides and LDL (low density lipoproteins).
Basically, these two factors are bad - they are the markers that your doctor looks for that would put you at risk of having a heart attack. The higher your levels of these two markers, the greater your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Can you guess the two ways you can get high levels of these two markers?
If you guessed a high-carb diet, you would be correct.
Eating a high-fat, low-carb diet on the other hand not only lowers the two markers, but also increases your HDL (high density lipoprotein) which is a desirable marker that actually lowers your risk of developing heart disease.
The keto diet naturally reduces your inflammation due to the type of foods you’re eating. Of course there is a way to mess up on keto - if you’re eating foods like canola oil and processed meats and hydrogenated vegetable fats then you’re going to have issues with inflammation.
On the other hand, if you’re eating keto correctly by eating high quality fats - coconut oil, grassfed butter and ghee and cheese and heavy cream, high quality olive oil and avocado - then you’re actually going to be decreasing your inflammation due to the high amount of omega 3 fatty acids naturally occurring in those foods.
Additionally, since you’re not eating a copious amount of nuts or grains - both of which contain a high amount of omega 6 fatty acids - your omega 3 to omega 6 profile is going to be even better, reducing your general level of systemic inflammation.
Decreasing inflammation is important for everything from reducing joint pains and aches to decreasing risk of chronic diseases, and is a very important part of being healthy.
The keto diet helps a lot of people with their digestion due to a three-way approach.
First of all, the keto diet removes a lot of irritants for people, even helping you discover food sensitivities. For example, if you have a gluten sensitivity (or even celiac) you may incidentally find that removing carbs (including bread and other wheat containing products) may help you not have digestion issues - the bloating and cramping and pain may be gone. That certainly was the case for me.
Second, the high amount of fiber from all the vegetables being eaten will help to ensure that your gut is very happy. Feeding your gut flora, and ah, stimulating your gut with a large volume of food will ensure that your digestion is very active and effective. Note that if you have issues with SIBO or other bacterial imbalances this may not be the case, which you can read more about here.
Third, the protein (especially collagen) and fat will help to heal over your gut, allowing your gut membranes to be very healthy and strong. Leaky gut is an issue in a lot of people, and once you get that restored your digestion will be even healthier.
Reducing risk of PCOS
PCOS - otherwise known as polycystic ovarian syndrome - plagued my friends and classmates in their upper twenties and early thirties. It seemed that every month one of my friends was having PCOS surgery, and they had no idea where it came from or what caused it.
Now it seems obvious that there was of course a commonality - a poor diet high in inflammatory foods and causing systemic inflammation. In otherwise healthy women with high health IQ who were staying fit and trying to eat healthy, PCOS was running rampant in all of them more than likely due to a diet high in grains and inflammatory seed oils and fats. The majority of women who suffer from PCOS have increased risk of insulin resistance and glucose intolerance - hallmarks of a high carbohydrate diet.
Keto is a perfect diet to reduce the symptoms of PCOS due to its naturally anti-inflammatory nature as well as eliminating the inflammatory or irritating foods. You lose weight, decrease your insulin resistance, help out your hormones, and that will help with reducing or potentially eliminating your PCOS symptoms.
Muscle gains in a “lean” fashion
One of the main complaints that I hear from my friends that are trying to bulk is that it’s a two-part process - you bulk up, then you have to cut - the fat that is. It’s frustrating for one friend in particular because he feels like for every one step forward, he has to take two back.
The keto diet on the other hand, can help you gain muscle steadily and quickly - without having all of the bloat and fat associated with the usual bulking process. Though you continually burn fat while on the keto diet, you don’t lose muscle. Again, the body’s natural design is pretty amazing, and works so very well.