More than just a weight loss trend
The ketogenic diet, A.K.A. the reason people are putting butter in their morning cups of joe, has become more popular in recent years due widely to its effectiveness in helping individuals lose weight fast.
Let’s discuss what actually happens when someone reaches a state of ketosis. Following a ketogenic diet means that an individual is depriving their body of carbohydrates, or limiting it to around 50g of carbs, or less, per day. Due to this, a drop in insulin levels occurs, and the central nervous system no longer uses the glucose that is usually provided from carbs as an energy source, and as a result uses the fat that is consumed instead.
Weight loss is one of the obvious benefits of sticking with a ketogenic diet, but researchers cannot all seem to agree on why this is. There are several reasons why following this diet can lead to weight loss, including the ideas that it can reduce one’s appetite, reduce one’s metabolic formation of fat (lipogenesis), and increase one’s metabolic efficiency. However, this low-carb and high protein/fat diet has other benefits to someone’s health that go beyond dropping pounds.
There is research to show that following this diet can be beneficial with regards to combatting the risk of cardiovascular disease. Evidence includes the fact that this diet can reduce cholesterol levels while increasing levels of high-density lipoprotein, which is better referred to as the “good” cholesterol. This diet can also be beneficial to individuals with Type 2 diabetes because of the drop in insulin levels; this leads to the symptoms of insulin resistance, such as carbs being converted to fat instead of used as energy by the body, being improved. Furthermore, there is also evidence to show the beneficial factors of a ketogenic diet with regard to epileptic individuals. The main hypothesis regarding ketosis and epilepsy is that being in a state of ketosis causes the metabolic mechanisms to have an effect on the neurotransmitters in neurons which lead to a reduction in seizures.
Other research shows that a ketogenic diet can improve conditions like acne, cancer, and polycystic ovary syndrome. The decrease in insulin levels is suspected to be the main reason why this diet can help those experiencing any of these conditions. However, some evidence is still inconclusive.
Lastly, there is some data that suggests following this diet can have therapeutic effects for those who experience certain neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. There is not any conclusive evidence regarding these claims, but the hypothesis is that the diet could possibly have a neuroprotective effect with any disease that shows abnormalities in cellular energy utilization, which is found in many neurological disorders.
Clearly, the ketogenic diet has grown to be popularly known for its effectiveness in weight loss, but there seems to be many benefits to this diet that may be getting overlooked. If you experience any of the conditions above, it might be a good idea to replace those high-carb munchies with some ketogenic treats.
Writer: Lauryn Agron
Editor: Kaitlyn Longstaff
Public Health Scientist: LaCher E-W, MPH