5 Benefits Of The Ketogenic Diet That Have Absolutely Nothing To Do With Weight Loss
When diets become buzz-worthy, it’s usually because either someone you know or a celebrity shares their before-and-after stories that have little to nothing to do with health, and everything to do with a physical body transformation. There’s nothing wrong with changing your eating habits to meet your aesthetic goals if that’s something you genuinely want for yourself, but shouldn’t the actual health benefits of a food program count for something, too? Take the benefits of the ketogenic diet, for example. When you hear “keto,” I can almost guarantee the first thing to come to mind is shedding pounds or images of Kourtney Kardashian’s lean figure. While it’s true the keto diet is primarily advertised for weight loss, there’s a lot more to this way of eating than numbers on a scale.
Before diving into all the healthy benefits you can reap by switching to a ketogenic diet, let’s identify what it even means to go keto in the first place. To break it down, nutritionist and founder of Pure Change, Dr. Charles Passler, tells Elite Daily that, essentially, the ketogenic diet is a “low carbohydrate, high fat and moderate protein diet” in which, by eliminating carbs from the bulk of your meals, the body is forced to “find alternative sources of fuel." It does this by breaking down stored fats and converting them into energy.
Personally, I love me some carbs, so I know for a fact this food program isn't for me, but it is relatively easy to follow if you can get past giving up bread, pasta, Oreos, and the like. According to Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C., founder of DrAxe.com, and co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, a ketogenic diet is comprised of healthy fats (think olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds), non-starchy veggies like zucchini and leafy greens, and high-protein foods.
All of these foods are great for your body and your mind, and truly, there are plenty of benefits to be found in the keto diet that have nothing to do with weight loss. Here are a few of the positive changes you'll notice in your body if you decide to go keto.
1. Your Brain Will Love It
If you’re someone who thrives on carbs (aka me), the keto diet will definitely be an adjustment because, essentially, you’re rewiring how your body has functioned for the past 20 (or more) years. However, according to health and wellness practitioner, Richard Purvis, author of Recalibrate: Six Secrets to Resetting Your Age, a keto diet can do wonders for your brain health.
When your brain runs on carbs, it's more than likely you'll experience foggy memory and feel really sluggish. Purvis tells Elite Daily that cutting out carbs and, instead, fueling your body with foods like veggies, fruits, and whole sources of protein, enhances mental clarity and focus.
2. Your Energy Levels Will Skyrocket
I know I’m about to break your heart saying this, but someone has to: Sugar does more harm than good for your body. Natural sugars aren’t the problem; it’s the processed junk and artificial additives in carbs, desserts, and the snack foods you gravitate toward during that 2 p.m. slump that'll do you in.
When you eat a lot of these foods, your body has to switch to overdrive to burn it off and, according to Purvis, this entire process does serious damage to all kinds of cells and DNA structures in your body.
But when you're sticking to a keto diet, “your body has a more sustained and reliable energy source, allowing you to feel more energized throughout the day," Purvis tells Elite Daily.
However, you might not feel this burst of energy initially. Dr. Axe tells Elite Daily that people often go through a kind of “keto flu” during their transition, experiencing symptoms like headaches, low energy levels, and even digestive issues. Once the adjustment period subsides, though, “your energy levels should go up and cognitive performance should increase," says Dr. Axe.
3. Your Acne Will Clear Up
In case you didn't know, your diet can play a huge role in your skin health. In fact, if you're in your 20s and still have acne, it could be because of the foods you're eating: Processed foods, like takeout, and sugary treats, like the five or so boxes of girl scout cookies you’re hoarding in your kitchen, can lead to serious breakouts.
That’s where keto comes in. To provide some scientific background, Purvis explains that sugar “boosts bodily sebum [aka oil] production,” and when oil gets excessive, it “finds its way out of the pores and onto the skin.” Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?
Well, because the keto diet draws back on carbs, less sugars can be found clogging up the bloodstream. As a result, Purvis tells Elite Daily, “the body’s sebum production and excretion” slows down, to the point where acne might just disappear entirely.
4. You'll Have Better Blood Pressure
Because keto diets are significantly low-carb, your body isn’t dealing with as much glucose (aka simple sugars) production, or wearing itself thin trying to produce enough insulin hormones to combat said overabundance of glucose.
When sugar molecules weasel their way into the bloodstream, Purvis tells Elite Daily, they “attach themselves to protein and cholesterol, creating plaques.” If that’s the case, the higher your blood sugar is, the higher your blood pressure will spike. Therefore, he continues, “a keto diet eliminates the constant supply of blood sugar, allowing better blood flow through the body and improving blood pressure.”
5. It Can Help Prevent Diseases Later In Life
In my experience, any time I come across the latest fad diet or food program, weight loss is almost always at the forefront of its advertised benefits. That’s fine, if that’s what you’re looking for, of course, but rarely do you ever get hard-hitting information about how eating a certain way actually affects your body in a long-term sense.
Dr. Axe explains that, because the keto diet is low-carb, by following it, your body won’t be consuming a lot of high-glycemic carbohydrates — aka things like sugar, white breads, rice cakes, etc. — which can help protect you from developing chronic diseases such as diabetes.
Bottom line: There are plenty of other reasons to experiment with the keto diet if weight loss isn't something you're working toward. As always, if you have any concerns about how a new diet will affect you as an individual, it's definitely in your best interest to talk to your own doctor, and figure out what's right for you.