The ketogenic diet or the "keto" diet has been gaining in popularity over the past few years. It is a diet that promises great weight loss and many health benefits. Some may be skeptical of its claims, as it seems it could just be another fad diet with empty promises.
So what exactly is the keto diet? The keto diet is a diet that primarily consists of consuming mostly fat, and in turn, our bodies burn it for energy. But how does this work? Well when it comes to our bodies and what it uses for fuel, there are two main sources; Carbohydrates and Fat.
When we greatly reduce our intake of carbohydrates and focus on consuming fat, our bodies begin to rely on fats for energy, therefore, burning them for fuel.
When we consume too many carbohydrates for energy our bodies sort of "forget" how to use the fats we consume which usually get stored and could lead to insulin resistance and other negative impacts on the body.
Our brains are also geared towards using glucose for energy but when limiting our carb intake, our bodies produce what are called ketones. Too much sugar or glucose can be toxic to our brains and reduce cognitive function, and limit our memory and attention spans. Some studies show that a high fat, low carb diet could improve the brain's function!
Another benefit of being on the ketogenic diet is our bodies go into what is called autophagy. Autophagy is a natural response to ketones and is a way for the body to "clean" out bad cells and replace them with clean new ones. Some of the benefits of autophagy have been linked to limiting the development of certain ailments such as Alzheimer's and cancer!
Another benefit of being on the ketogenic diet is that the body increases a natural compound called the human growth hormone or HGH. HGH stimulates growth in tissue and bones in humans. HGH usually greatly diminishes after you turn 30 so the keto diet helps produce it more than it would on a traditional western diet.
One concern about the keto diet is that its long-term effects of it could damage the way our bodies work and go into what is called "diabetic ketoacidosis". There aren't many studies to show if this is accurate.
The most important thing to note is that the quality of the food we consume is what can factor into whether or not this diet is beneficial or not. If you consume high fat but it is unhealthy fat or you consume artificial sugars in place of real sugar, are not eating whole foods, then you may not gain the benefits of this diet.
There are many benefits to being on a ketogenic diet but it is not for everyone. Consider speaking to your doctor or nutritionist and do some more research if you are considering trying it out!