Many people jump on the keto diet to lose weight, however, this diet offers many more benefits.
In this article, we’ll go over 10 unexpected benefits of the keto diet.
1. Lower Anxiety and Depression
Since the keto diet has been shown to positively impact the chemistry of the brain (1, 2), and the brain and depression are closely linked, researchers have been studying and using it to treat depression. (3)
This study (1) done in mice, showed reduce anxiety on mice when fed a keto diet.
Researchers believe this happens because of the several benefits healthy fats have on the brain.
This other study (2), also done in mice, showed that mice exposed to a keto diet while in utero were less susceptible to anxiety and depression than those born to mothers who were not fed a keto diet.
2. Improved Focus
It’s no doubt that sugar is great for a quick boost of energy, however, it doesn’t really help your brain perform at its best.
Studies (5) have shown that the brain functions more efficiently when using ketones as fuel than it does on glucose (sugar).
On a regular diet, the brain gets all of its energy from glucose. On the keto diet, however, it gets about 2/3 of its energy from ketones.
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3. Reduced Cravings
When you drastically reduce your carb intake, your blood sugar becomes more stable.
When your blood sugar is not constantly spiking and coming back down, your cravings for sugar and carbs will diminish.
Reduced cravings for carbs and sugar can also help you lose weight. Carbs and sugar are not very filling, which causes people to overeat, and ultimately gain weight.
If you’d like to explore more, you can check out this article about how long it takes to see results on keto.
4. May Help Treat Cancer
Studies (6) suggest that the keto diet could help boost the effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy to treat certain cancers.
The keto diet could boost the effects of these treatments by selectively inducing metabolic oxidative stress in cancer cells without affecting the normal ones.
Other studies (7) have found that some types of cancers rely heavily on glucose (sugar) for energy.
Therefore, limiting carb intake will help starve those cancer cells and make them more sensitive to chemotherapy.
5. Better Sleep
Several people have reported having much better sleep when following a keto diet.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that you might experience the complete opposite when first starting the keto diet.
If you’re new to keto, you may experience some insomnia or difficulty staying asleep during the adaptation period (typically the first 3-5 days).
Once your body has completely adapted to using fat for energy instead of carbs, you should be able to feel more relaxed and increase sleep quality.
6. Lower Inflammation Levels
If you follow a proper keto diet, you’ll find yourself cutting back on processed foods like bread, pasta, and cereals that can damage your gut and lead to inflammation.
You’ll instead focus on eating healthy fats, protein, and low-carb vegetables that will improve your gut health and reduce inflammation.
This study (8) found that people who ate a diet focused on whole foods, such as fish, vegetables, and fruits, were less likely to be diagnosed with depression than those who ate processed foods like refined grains and sugary and fried foods.
7. Steady Energy Levels
While it’s normal to feel weak and experience some headaches the first few days of the keto diet (often called the “keto flu”), these symptoms are a great sign that your body is switching to burning fat instead of carbs for energy.
This state of using fat for energy instead of carbs is called ketosis.
Because you won’t be spiking your levels of blood sugar, your body will experience a steady stream of energy instead of dips throughout the day.
Here are a few ways to get into ketosis fast.
8. Reduced Appetite
Feeling hungry is one of the most crappy parts of losing weight or dieting.
And it is, in fact, one of the biggest reasons why most people give up on their weight loss goals and feel frustrated.
Interestingly, studies (9) have shown that keto and low-carb diets often lead to reduced appetite.
They also show that when people drastically reduce carb intake and bump their protein and fat intake, they end up consuming way fewer calories.
9. May Lower Blood Pressure
One of the great unexpected benefits of the keto diet is its ability to help lower blood pressure.
High blood pressure (hypertension) can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.
10. Reduced Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels
In this study (14) done in people with type 2 diabetes, 95% of them had reduced or completely stopped taking their glucose-lowering medication within 6 months.
Intermittent fasting has also been shown to be of great help when it comes to lowering blood sugar and insulin levels.
It also shows several benefits on cancer, Alzheimer’s, and aging, which is why many people who start the keto diet also adopt intermittent fasting.
Medications and Keto the Keto Diet
Taking medications to lower blood sugar and cutting carbs from your diet at the same time can make your blood sugar levels drop too low (hypoglycemia).
Therefore, if you’re currently taking medications to lower blood sugar, make sure to talk to your doctor before making any changes to your diet.
For more in-depth info on the keto diet, you can check out my complete keto beginner’s guide.
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