keto benefits

We often hear the how one of the primary keto benefits is weight loss. However, a ketogenic diet yields many additional benefits when compared to standard nutritional routines.

The ketogenic diet derives its name from the ketone bodies that provide energy. Utilization of these ketone bodies rather than glucose (metabolized from carbohydrates) offers a number of peripheral health and performance benefits when compared to a standard American diet rooted in carbohydrates.

 

1.      Ketones Effectively Replace Glucose

In only a few days on a primarily fat-based diet, you will become ketone-adapted as your body alters its main energy source from glucose to ketones. Unlike glucose, ketones do not use insulin as a transport structure, but like glucose, they can still pass the blood–brain barrier. Thus, all parts of the body can still be effectively fueled without some of the drawbacks associated with excessive insulin release (or inability) by the pancreas necessary for glucose usage. [1]

 

2.      Decreased Inflammation

Inflammation is a natural defense mechanism of the body’s immune system. However, when you are in a continual state of inflammation, it can become chronic and the source of almost any chronic condition or non-communicable disease. [2]

Glucose and insulin release has been linked to increased inflammatory response, therefore a diet higher in fat can be an approach to decrease such an immune response. [3] When the immune system can return to normal levels, it can better allocate its resources to address actual immune threats and develop specific acquired immunity.

3.      Ketones May Help Fighting Cancer

Maintaining a state of ketosis can also be a tool to fight some forms of cancer. Cancer is classified by rapid, uncontrollable cell division that occurs when there is a mutation to a protein that helps arrest cell growth and division during the cell cycle. With this protein now rendered inoperable, there are no brakes to this proliferation. This is a massively energy-expensive process that is incredibly efficient and optimized when using glucose. [4]

Ketone bodies, however, are not an optimal energy source for rapid division, and they can slow the growth and metastasization of cancer cells that would otherwise proliferate when in the presence of abundant glucose. [5]

4.      Correcting Metabolic and Neurological Diseases

Ketones can bypass many impaired pathways in the body that normally use glucose for energy. By supplying energy through a different pathway, a ketogenic diet can be a helpful tool in addressing several metabolic and neurological diseases by restoring function.

Ketone bodies are a viable energy alternative to glucose because they can also pass the blood–brain barrier. Alzheimer’s disease is thought to be the result of several degraded chemical and mechanical pathways associated with cognitive ability and memory. [6]

Given the ubiquitous neural nature of the brain and its very elevated energy demand, degradation of glucose pathways here can have quick and severe impact on brain activity. Ketone bodies have potential to alleviate symptoms associated with neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s by absorbing past the blood–brain barrier and circumventing these compromised glucose-reliant pathways. [7]

Other neurological diseases a ketogenic diet can positively address include Parkinson’s disease, autism, PTSD, dementia, and epilepsy.

 

5.      No Energy “Crashes”

When carbohydrates are metabolized, they are broken down into glucose for immediate use. When this immediate source is exhausted, the body will turn to burning fat. However, during this transition, there is little readily available energy, which can result in feelings of “crashing” until metabolic pathways and enzymes in the body become re-optimized for metabolizing fatty acid triglycerides (from which ketones are produced) in a process called ketogenesis.

When the body is ketone-adapted, it burns the same type of energy during periods of feeding (when supplying fat-based fuel) and fasting (between meals where ketones are constantly being mobilized from stored fats). This results in little to no gaps in energy levels between meals as well as prolonged physical endurance due to the sparing of glucose in the muscles. [8]

 

What Do You Think of these Keto Benefits?

Are you on the ketogenic diet? What benefits have you noticed since you started? Interested in going keto? Why do you want to give it a try? Let us know in the comments below!

 

References:

  1. Wilcox G. Insulin and insulin resistance. Clin Biochem Rev. 2005;26(2):19-39.
  2. Hunter P. The inflammation theory of disease. The growing realization that chronic inflammation is crucial in many diseases opens new avenues for treatment. EMBO Rep. 2012;13(11):968-70.
  3. Dandona P. Insulin infusion suppresses while glucose infusion induces Toll-like receptors and high-mobility group-B1 protein expression in mononuclear cells of type 1 diabetes patients. American Journal of Physiology. 2013;304(8):E810-E818.
  4. MIT News. How cancer cells fuel their growth. http://news.mit.edu/2016/how-cancer-cells-fuel-their-growth-0307
  5. Poff AM, Ari C, Arnold P, Seyfried TN, D’Agostino DP. Ketone supplementation decreases tumor cell viability and prolongs survival of mice with metastatic cancer. Int J Cancer. 2014;135(7):1711-20.
  6. Krikorian R. Dietary ketosis enhances memory in mild cognitive impairment. Neurobiology of Aging. 2012;33(2):425.e19-27.
  7. Henderson ST. Ketone bodies as a therapeutic for Alzheimer’s disease. Neurotherapeutics. 2008;5(3):470-80.
  8. Chang CK, Borer K, Lin PJ. Low-Carbohydrate-High-Fat Diet: Can it Help Exercise Performance?. J Hum Kinet. 2017;56:81-92. Published 2017 Mar 12. doi:10.1515/hukin-2017-0025

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