Ketogenic diets, also known as low carb diets, are known for their weight loss benefits. However, few people know that eating fewer carbohydrates and more fat has a wide range of long-term health benefits.
[Source: Rami Abramov]
1. Low Carb Diets Contribute to Weight Loss
Carbohydrates are broken down by the body into glucose (sugar). When eating a high carbohydrate diet, insulin levels are elevated after meals to help break down the glucose for energy and restore blood sugar levels to normal. However, insulin is a fat storing hormone, and at high levels, it tells the body to store fat.
On a low carb diet, fats are used as energy instead of carbohydrates. The metabolic process called ketosis begins when the body adapts to a lower carbohydrate intake and converts to burning fat for energy. By eating very few carbs, insulin levels never rise too much and fat storage is greatly reduced.1
2. Low Carb Diets Contribute to Belly Fat Loss
Contrary to common knowledge, there are a few different types of fat making their rounds within the body. The type of fat that many people tend to focus on with dieting and exercise is called visceral fat. Visceral fat tends to accumulate in the abdominal cavity around the body’s internal organs.
Low fat diets can be effective at reducing body fat, but low carb diets have a great proportion of that fat loss coming from visceral fat, giving a quicker tummy reduction. Not only is this result more aesthetically rewarding, but it can be healthier. Too much visceral fat can cause several metabolic issues.2
3. Low Carb Diets Decrease Triglyceride Levels
Triglycerides are more than just a fancy word for fat—these are specific molecules of fat composed of three fatty acid groups and the addition of glycerol. If you’re unfamiliar with the risks of high levels of triglycerides, they include an elevated risk of stroke and heart disease.
Since triglyceride levels are raised mainly by carbohydrates, particularly simple sugars, cutting out carbs will decrease these levels and decrease your risk for the associated ailments. In low fat diets, carbs can often be increased, which will raise triglycerides.3
4. LDL Levels Are Increased by Low Carb Diets
High density lipoproteins (HDL for short), or “good” cholesterol, is good for your body and having high levels will help ensure a healthy heart. HDLs help to migrate cholesterol out of the blood stream to the liver, where it is broken down and either disposed of or reused by the body.4
Low carb diets see an increase in fat consumption, which is good for raising the body’s levels of HDL. This increase in fats should be due to consumption of healthier fats, such as olive oil and nuts.
5. Low Carb Diets Help Control Blood Sugar
Blood sugar is one of the first and foremost concerns of diabetics when tweaking or manipulating their diets, and rightfully so. Changing the amount of sugars in the body can affect insulin levels, which can have a few side effects.
However, when you are consistently cutting carbohydrates, the body doesn’t need as much insulin. This can give those suffering from diabetes more control over their insulin levels and needs.5
6. Low Carb Diets Can Reduce Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a risk factor for many people, especially with age. Several conditions are tied to increased blood pressure, including stroke, heart disease, and several other life threatening diseases. A low carb diet reduces insulin resistance by eliminating blood sugar spikes. Improving insulin resistance helps lower blood pressure and reduces all associated risks.6
7. Low Carb Diets Minimize Metabolic Syndrome Symptoms
Metabolic syndrome isn’t actually as much of a condition as it is a pre-condition. Metabolic syndrome is basically a precursor, and major red flag warning, of oncoming diabetes or heart disease if no changes are made.
Symptoms of metabolic syndrome include abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, elevated fasting blood sugar levels, increased triglyceride levels, and HDL levels dipping toward the low side. With the implementation of a low carb diet, all of these symptoms can be treated and improved.7
8. LDL Structure Improves with Reduced Carbs
While HDL levels are increased by low carb diets, the structure of LDL (low density lipoproteins) levels in the body can also be improved. Basically, the larger LDL particles are, the less of them that are floating around in the body.
Diets low in carbohydrates can help to grow small LDL particles, preventing more from floating around in the bloodstream. Smaller LDL particles are more dangerous because they can float around more freely and collect to clog up blood vessels.8
9. The Ketogenic Diet Helps with Brain Disorders
If you think that diet a person’s diet only affects them physically, here’s some evidence to the contrary: studies have shown that epileptic children who suffered from seizures saw a great reduction in seizures by following a ketogenic diet. In one study, more than 38% of children on a ketogenic diet saw a reduction, compared to only 6% from the control group.9
The burning of ketones in the brain can stimulate areas that necessarily burn glucose, like many parts of the brain do. Studies are beginning for many other brain disorders, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
10. Low Carb Diets Are Great Appetite Suppressants
One of the main complaints of those that are dieting is the incessant feelings of hunger. Snacking and giving into cravings due to simply being hungry eventually causes the diet to fail.
A high fat diet suppresses appetites, leading to better appetite control and, thus, more weight loss. This is directly related to the reduction in carbs and increases in proteins and fats in ketogenic and low carb diet.10
Take a Look at the Ketogenic Method
Ketogenic diets certainly have some positive effects on your health, and go well beyond dropping your body fat percentage. Nutrition, as a whole, can be complicated, but the many benefits of a low carb diet are clear cut. If you’re interested in starting a ketogenic diet, you can check out the complete keto diet guide for beginners to learn about how to get started, including what you should eat, your recommended daily calorie and macronutrient intake, and more.