When people are challenged with new nutritional beliefs, obviously there comes a lot of skepticism.
If you’ve been wondering, “does the keto diet really work?” this is actually what we’re going to cover in the article.
It’s only been as of the past recent years that this nutrition protocol has become a trend. But what makes it more compelling than any other diet out there is that it’s been widely studied and backed by science for its effectiveness in weight loss, cognitive benefits, amongst several other positive health factors.
So let’s dive into it and talk more about whether the keto diet really works.
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
Keto is a low carb, moderate protein, high fat diet that encourages people to eat healthy dietary fats like steak, bacon, eggs and salmon.
One of the main goals of going keto is to keep carbohydrates down to a minimum. When you restrict carbs, your body depletes its glycogen stores. This means you are preventing your body from using carbs as an energy source.
Once your body is fully depleted of carbs, it seeks an alternative fuel source, ketones.
The keto diet largely focuses on running on ketones for energy (also known as being in a state of ketosis). Ketones are produced from both dietary fat that you consume as well as your own stored body fat.
Several studies have proven that burning ketones for energy is actually the preferred source of energy for the body and brain. I’m sure you can see why this is is beneficial. Because you are literally burning off your own fat for energy which will help you lose weight[*][*]!
But the ketogenic diet wasn’t initially created as a weight loss tool. In fact, back in the 1920’s doctors discovered that keeping their patients who had epilepsy on a low carb diet significantly helped prevent seizures[*].
Does the Ketogenic Diet Work?
The short answer? Yes, absolutely.
But in terms of what? We can go heavy into the science behind the mechanism of ketones and how it’s the most efficient fuel source of the body. But as I’ve mentioned in previous articles, the goal of my blog is to make the keto lifestyle (and all of the science) as simple as possible for you to understand.
With that said, let’s go into what aspects of the ketogenic diet work best on:
Does it Help You Lose Weight?
Success story after success story and study after study will show you that eating a low carb, high fat ketogenic diet is one of the best ways to lose weight.
When you are on keto, you’re running off healthy fats as well as your own stored body fat as a main fuel source. This means your body shifts its metabolism to literally be able to melt off fat and turn it into energy.
There’s more to it. Once you start running off ketones, you’ll notice that you won’t get hungry as often.
This happens due to a couple of reasons:
- Your body has a hunger hormone also known as ghrelin. Going keto has been proven to regulate hormones back to its most optimal state. Healthy dietary fats are one of the main contributors to healthy hormones.
- You no longer experience carb cravings. Everyone knows that feeling when you eat a carb heavy meal for breakfast only to experience hunger again just a couple hours later. When you shift into a fat burner instead of glucose, you’ll notice that you’re able to last for several hours without feeling hungry.
- The structure of keto prevents you from binging. When you have a properly formulated keto diet in place, it becomes much easier to know what you can and cannot eat. This helps prevent any crazy food binges you may experience with other diets.
This is why so many people praise ketogenic dieting when they are trying to lose weight. Because the reasons above allow you to no longer become a victim to food addiction.
Just take a look online and you will see hundreds of thousands of testimonials of people who lost up to 100 pounds by following the low carb, high fat lifestyle.
So yes, the ketogenic diet is one of, if not the most effective diet for weight loss.
Does it Help with Anything Else?
I’m glad you asked! You see, many people start the keto diet because of the weight loss benefits but what people stay for is all of the other perks that come along with it.
Science has shown that the brain prefers ketones for energy instead of glucose. This means you’ll begin to experience a myriad of cognitive advantages when you stick to the ketogenic diet.
Here are just a few brain-related benefits of keto:
- Mental clarity. Once you are keto-adapted, your body starts using ketones for fuel instead of glucose. BHB specifically, has been shown to improve focus and is known as the brains preferred energy source.
- Improved mood. Studies have shown that ketones help with anxiety and depressive symptoms. This could be due to the neurotransmitter regulating benefits of ketones. GABA is one of the neurotransmitters that helps with feelings of anxiousness which increases when ketones are present.
- Enhanced memory. Studies have shown that older adults with risk of Alzheimer’s experienced improvements in memory after following a ketogenic diet for six weeks[*].
- Mitigates headaches. Researchers have reported migraine relief in sufferers following a ketogenic diet.
Things the Ketogenic Diet May Not Work For
While the low carb, high fat lifestyle seems to be the end-all-be-all diet when it comes to weight loss and brain-boosting benefits, there are a few situations where a standard ketogenic diet may not be the most efficient way of eating.
Here are a few scenarios where keto may not be the most optimal diet:
- If you’re a serious athlete with an event coming up soon. Athletes who are considering the keto diet still have to go through the transition period that often leaves people lethargic. If you’re an athlete who has to compete soon, it’s advised to wait until after the competition to start the low carb, high fat diet.
- If you’re trying to build muscle fast. Building muscle and gaining strength on the ketogenic diet works but it takes a longer period of time. If you want to build muscle on keto, it’s best to try a targeted or cyclical ketogenic diet instead as it will give you some carbs to work with during your lifts.
- If you’re struggling to eat at all or have an eating disorder. People who have an eating disorder such as Anorexia may benefit from sticking to a less restrictive diet. This is because going keto provides satiating effects that will make you less hungry. It’s best to allow yourself to eat whatever you want if you’re experiencing symptoms of an eating disorder.
Keto Adaptation Phase: Make Sure You Don’t Give Up Before You See Results
While there are several naysayers who believe that the ketogenic diet is just a trend that doesn’t work long-term, most of the cynics have never actually stuck to the diet long enough to experience lasting results.
During the beginning stages of keto, there is a transition phase called keto-adaptation.
Keto-adaptation is the period of time where your body is transitioning from burning glucose as its main source of energy to burning fats (ketones) as its primary fuel source.
Think about it, you’ve most likely been eating a carbohydrate-rich diet your whole life. This means your metabolism is dependent on glucose for energy. But when you restrict carbohydrates, it has to find an alternative fuel source — ketones — to start using as energy.
During keto-adaptation, you may feel lethargic, drowsy, hungry and may experience flu-like symptoms.
It’s important to weather this storm as the benefits won’t come until after this phase. Once you are keto-adapted, your metabolism will be more efficient in burning fats and the flu-like side effects will soon disappear, leaving you with only the positive health benefits of keto.
Here are some quick tips to help mitigate flu-like symptoms during keto-adaptation:
- Monitor your electrolytes. When you are first restrict carbs, your body will flush out essential electrolytes such as sodium, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. It’s important to increase your electrolyte intake especially during this phase to prevent any ill effects.
- Stay hydrated. It’s important to increase your water intake because your body excretes extra water when carbs are restricted.
- Eat at a calorie maintenance or surplus. Don’t try to eat at a calorie deficit when you first start out. This is because your body is going through a stressful period when you switch to a low carb high fat lifestyle. Keeping an adequate amount of calories will allow you to make the transition easier on your body.
- Use exogenous ketones. Exogenous ketones will help prime your body to burn fats for energy even when you currently have glucose stores present.
YES! The Keto Diet Really Works …If You Do it Correctly
If you’ve been hesitant, asking yourself, “does the keto diet really work?” then hopefully this article clears up any uncertainties. The science is clear, going keto is your body’s preferred method of dieting.
Remember, make sure you are fully keto-adapted before making any proper assessments on whether or not the diet works for you!
If you’re looking to lose weight and gain mental clarity through the ketogenic diet, make sure to follow a proper ketogenic diet plan to ensure the best results.