Weight loss is a the number one ketosis benefit and the main reason why keto diets are so popular right now. These low-carb, high-fat diets put your body into a fat-burning state known as ketosis. When you're in ketosis, your body burns fat for fuel instead of storing it as it normally does. The result of this switch is rapid weight loss you rarely see with other diets.
But there's more to keto than speedy weight loss. These diets have been in use since at least the 1920s. Doctors prescribed them for treating everything from neurological and hormonal disease to reducing cancer and cardiovascular disease risk . All these ketosis benefits are a direct result of the therapeutic effect of ketone bodies.
If you want to find out about other ketosis benefits, take a look at the list below. We go over 6 major ketosis benefits and the science behind them. Hopefully, you'll find our list convincing enough to start your keto journey today if you already haven't.
The second most cited ketosis benefit is better mental functioning. You'll likely notice changes in your concentration, mood, and mental sharpness once you go keto. This effect comes from the protective effect ketones and ketosis have on the brain.
In fact, researchers have originally developed the ketogenic diet to treat a brain condition called epilepsy. Epilepsy is a common neurological problem that causes unpredictable seizures. Studies show that half of all patients experience at least a 50% reduction in seizure frequency on a ketogenic diet . Unfortunately, nobody really knows how exactly ketosis reduces seizures. There are some theories, however, and they include the following:
· More polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) to the brain – PUFAs are essential fatty acids that form the brain’s cell membranes. Low levels of PUFAs lead to depression and cause ADHD, cognitive deficits, and even psychosis . On a keto diet, we tend to eat more of these fatty acids supporting brain structure, but ketosis also helps your body use these fatty acids more effectively.
· Better energy metabolism – Your brain uses more energy than any other organ, 20 % of your body's total energy in fact . Fats and ketones are potent fuel sources feeding the energy-hungry brain more effectively. Ketones provide long-lasting energy that can't compare to glucose. These compounds also don't require as much oxygen as glucose which protects the brain against oxidative stress.
· Ketones are natural anticonvulsants – Ketone bodies have anticonvulsant properties. This means that they suppress the excessive rapid firing of neurons and prevent the spread of the seizure within the brain. But another great thing about anticonvulsant is that studies also show they treat bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and neuropathic pain .
Studies also show that ketones protect against age-related brain diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and even stroke . Ketones reduce oxidative stress in the brain and even boost γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels. GABA is another chemical that inhibits neuronal excitability. GABA calms you down, helps you sleep better, and allows you to focus.
Another popular ketosis benefit is diabetes control and prevention. Studies show that ketogenic diets are effective in preventing type II diabetes . These diets reduce blood glucose levels and subsequent insulin release. They also reduce hunger hormone levels and boost weight loss which is another plus for diabetes prevention.
Carbs, especially refined carbs, cause a rapid rise and fall in blood glucose and insulin . Many people also experience blood glucose falls within the hypoglycemic range, which is particularly bad for health. Research shows that frequent episodes of hypoglycemia increase your risk of insulin resistance and type II diabetes . That's why controlling blood glucose levels is so important.
A diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugar is also bad for your waistline. These blood sugar fluctuations also cause spikes in hunger hormones. This makes you eat more than you should and you end up gaining weight. And speaking of weight gain, being overweight is another risk factor for type II diabetes along with genetics, poor sleep, and inactivity.
Keto diets can also help control diabetes in those already diagnosed. Keto diets help you lower your carb intake while steel being satiating and enjoyable. One study comparing keto to a low glycemic index diet found that participants on the keto diet showed a better improvement in blood glucose levels and a lower reliance on medication than those on the low glycemic index diet .
The energy you get from carb-based meals comes as fast as it goes. The keto diet allows your body to use a more efficient source of energy – fats. One reason why fat is a better energy source than carbs is that it provides double the calories of carbohydrates per gram. Another reason is that fat turns to ketones when you're in ketosis and ketones are an even better fuel source according to research.
One study compared the efficiency of glucose from carbs vs ketones in energy metabolism . The study found that ketones require less oxygen to produce energy than glucose and that your body releases less heat when ketones are metabolized for energy production.
The increase in energy you'll feel will most likely be limited to your brain and just moderately felt in your physical activity. Evolution designed ketones primarily to fuel our brain during times of starvation. This is because our brains can't use fats for energy like muscles can. Research shows that your muscles use 50% of the ketones made when production is low but only 5% of ketones when production is high . This is because your brain needs ketones more.
With all that being said, if increased mental energy is your goal, then ketosis is right for you. But for better workout performance, you'll have to include a bit more carbs pre-workout to get enough energy. You may also benefit from taking exogenous ketones if you're an athlete. Exogenous ketones give your body a quick supply of ketones for better workouts. And there’s a greater chance these ketones will go to your muscles instead of your brain.
Cardiovascular disorders are the leading cause of death worldwide. They include coronary artery disease, heart attacks, stroke, and heart failure. All these problems are easy to prevent with diet and lifestyle changes. Switching to a keto diet, for example, reduces several risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as:
- High blood cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Metabolic syndrome
Before we had an understanding of the role of fat in health and disease, the standard recommendation for the prevention of cardiovascular disease was to reduce your fat intake. The logic was that eating more fat makes you fat and increases your cholesterol levels. Now, we know that this is simply no the case, and that fat is essential for cardiovascular health.
Also, the type and not the quantity of fat is what makes all the difference. Essentially polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially omega-3 fatty acids from fish, are good for heart health. On the other hand, trans fats from partially hydrogenated oils are bad for you because they raise bad LDL cholesterol and lower good HDL cholesterol  — a double whammy for heart disease.
Saturated fats are somewhat neutral when it comes to heart health. Medical experts will still recommend limiting your intake of these fats. We don't recommend that because many healthy foods contain saturated fats and besides, there's no solid evidence that excluding them helps prevent heart disease .
Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide . Aging, free radicals, radiation, and inflammation are all known risk factors for cancer. You can't control all these risk factors, but you can reduce your risk with diet and lifestyle changes, including with the help of ketosis.
The main reason why ketosis prevents and helps with cancer is that it starves cancer cells. We know for sure that cancer cells thrive on glucose. This is one reason why people with diabetes are at a higher risk of cancer. Switching to a keto diet deprives cancer cells of their fuel stopping their spread. Studies even show that ketogenic diets slow down the spread of cancer .
Another reason keto diets are effective in cancer prevention is that it because ketosis reduces inflammation and free radical damage. Rising blood glucose and insulin levels both increase inflammation. Also, glucose metabolism tends to generate a large number of free radicals which can damage the DNA. Ketones and ketosis reduce both minimizing your risk of cancer significantly.
There are currently no studies examining if keto diets can prevent cancer. But some researchers did take a look at the effectiveness of the keto diet as an adjuvant cancer therapy, and the results are promising . These types of studies show that keto diets are safe and effective in shrinking tumor size and preventing tumor spread. With that take into account, it stands to reason that they should also be effective in preventing cancer.
Ketogenic diets can help you live to be a hundred, not just because they improve overall health, but also through something called autophagy. Autophagy is a normal physiological process where the body's cells devour themselves. This may sound like something bad at first, but it's actually completely normal and even healthy.
During autophagy, your body's cells dissemble unnecessary or damaged parts and recycle the parts that are functional. Autophagy helps your body have healthy, functioning cells and this boosts health and increases longevity according to countless studies.
Studies also show that ketone bodies upregulate autophagy . On the other hand, eating a high-carb diet and being physically inactive downregulates autophagy which accelerates aging. This is because our cells tend to accumulate damaged organelles and proteins when our metabolism is running non-stop. Autophagy helps make new, healthy cells that function properly only when our body is not busy metabolizing food.
In other words, autophagy can't happen without a bit of help from a healthy diet and lifestyle. Upregulating autophagy through ketosis further improves your overall health which helps with this recycling program. If you include intermittent fasting in your keto diet, then you further boost autophagy as your body can focus on recycling cells instead of digesting food.
One of the most widely sought-after ketosis benefits is rapid weight loss. In fact, it is the main reason why ketogenic diets are going through a resurgence in the past couple of years. But there are many other ketosis benefits worth noting, some of which we've listed here.
From improved mental functioning and diabetes control to greater overall energy and longevity, ketosis benefits are many and varied. All these benefits come from the health-protecting effects of ketone bodies. Ketone bodies reduce inflammation, lower blood glucose and cholesterol, and boost the process of autophagy.
Another reason why keto diets provide so many ketosis benefits is that they boost weight loss. Being overweight is a major risk factor for a wide range of chronic conditions. The keto diet is one of the most sustainable diets for shedding excess weight.
To reap all these wonderful benefits of the keto diet, start planning today. Our Ketocademycourse can help you learn the basics of going keto in under three hours. You can also read our articleon keto meal planning if you need some practical tips on how to start keto.