Recently, the keto diet has become extremely popular for its health benefits such as weight loss and preventing disease. The keto diet can be hugely beneficial, but how does it work to provide these benefits?
What is the Keto Diet?
You may have heard of the high-protein, low-carbohydrate Atkins diet. The keto diet keeps carbohydrate levels low, but instead of ramping up the amount of protein in your diet, the keto diet increases the amount of fat. A typical keto diet aims for meals with 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbohydrate.
Eating a high-fat diet can still mean eating healthy. Keto diet menu items often include seafood, meat, dairy products, eggs, vegetables, and nuts. With the increased popularity of the keto diet, keto recipes are widely available.
How Does the Keto Diet Work?
It might seem counterintuitive that adding more fat to your diet can lead to weight loss. Normally, your diet is high in carbohydrates, which are broken down into glucose, or blood sugar, for use as energy. As glucose enters your bloodstream, your body releases insulin to store excess glucose as fat.
The more carbohydrates, the more glucose. The more glucose, the more insulin, and the more insulin, the more fat.
The keto diet takes advantage of the fact that when your meals are high-fat and low-carbohydrate, there is no insulin spike, and you don’t add to your fat reserves. Instead, fat from diet and stored fat are broken down to ketones (“keto” is short for “ketogenic” producing ketones).
Like glucose, ketones can be used for energy, keeping your body running without increasing blood sugar or putting on excess fat. The benefits of the keto diet can be huge.
Overall, the keto diet is an excellent way to burn fat and lose weight. Eating fewer carbohydrates suppresses appetite, and studies have shown that keto diet participants eat fewer calories overall because of this. Burning fat for energy can lead to rapid weight loss.
Reduced Blood Sugar and Insulin
Since carbohydrate intake is limited, blood sugar and insulin levels are lowered. This is particularly important for people with type 2 diabetes, which causes a buildup of glucose in the bloodstream. The keto diet can be used to reduce or eliminate the need for diabetic insulin injections.
Fat subunit molecules called triglycerides normally circulate in your bloodstream. High levels of triglycerides are a significant risk factor in the development of heart disease. In the keto diet, because fat is being burned for energy, the number of triglyceride molecules in the bloodstream decreases, reducing the risk of heart disease.
“Bad” (LDL) cholesterol is another risk factor for heart disease. Too much bad cholesterol in your bloodstream builds up in your arteries, narrowing them and causing atherosclerosis, a type of heart disease. The keto diet reduces bad cholesterol levels while increasing the level of “good” (HDL) cholesterol in your body.