The Health Benefits of a Low-Carb and Ketogenic Diet
There has been much controversy about low-carb ketogenic diets, because they tend to be high in protein and poor quality fats and too restrictive on fibrous fruit and vegetables
However, more recent studies,have shown that low-carb ketogenic diets can be healthy and beneficial as long as fat consumption is mostly derived from healthy mono unsaturated fats and omega 3 oils, protein intake is not excessive and that quality low starch vegetables are included.
A low-carb ketogenic diet ensures quick weight loss but also leads to major improvements in most risk factors for heart disease, including cholesterol as well as lowering the risk factors for many preventable chronic diseases resulting from chronic cellular inflammation.
So what are the principles of the low carb ketogenic diet
Principle #1 There is shift from sugar to fat as the principal source of energy for your body
When you lower your carbohydrate intake it lowers your blood sugar and insulin levels. As insulin levels normalise and energy is needed, fatty acids flow from the fat cells into the bloodstream and are metabolised by your body for fuel. The low-carb ketogenic diet is not about starving your body of food – it’s about allowing your body to be in a better metabolic state.
Principle #2 Fat is your friend
Healthy fats like mono-unsaturated fats (olive oil) and polyunsaturated omega 3 oils from fatty fish and some nuts are vital for a number of functions including hormone production, cell metabolism, brain function and better utilisation of fat soluble vitamins.
Healthy fats contribute to a feeling of satiety as they takes longer to digest than other nutrients and when eaten in combination with protein and low carb vegetables contribute to the normalisation of blood sugar levels
(Note it is important to understand that long term low fat diets are in effect starving our brain, cell and hormone production of this essential building block.)
The following are 10 health benefits of low-carb and ketogenic diets
- Low-Carb Ketogenic Diets Reduce Your Appetite
Hunger tends to be the worst side effect of dieting.
It is one of the main reasons why many people feel miserable and eventually give up.
However, low-carb, moderate protein and fat intake leads to an automatic reduction in appetite
Studies consistently show that when people cut carbs and eat more protein and fat, they end up eating far fewer calories
Summary: Studies indicate that cutting carbs can automatically reduce your appetite and calorie intake.
- Low-Carb Diets Lead to More Weight Loss at First
Cutting carbs is one of the simplest and most effective ways to lose weight quickly.
Studies illustrate that people on low-carb diets lose more weight, faster, than those on low-fat diets — even when the latter are actively restricting calories.
This is because low-carb diets act to rid excess water from your body, lowering insulin levels and leading to rapid weight loss in the first week or two In studies comparing low-carb and low-fat diets, people restricting their carbs sometimes lose 2–3 times as much weight — without being hungry
One study in obese adults found a low-carb diet particularly effective for up to six months, compared to a conventional weight loss diet. After that, the difference in weight loss between diets was insignificant In a year-long study in 609 overweight adults on low fat or low-carb diets, both groups lost similar amounts of weight
Summary: Almost without exception, low-carb diets lead to more short-term weight loss than low-fat diets. However, low-carb diets seem to lose their advantage in the long term
- A Greater Proportion of Fat Loss Comes From Your Abdominal Cavity
Not all fat in your body is the same.
Where fat is stored determines how it affects your health and risk of disease.
The two main types are subcutaneous fat, which is under your skin, and visceral fat, which accumulates in your abdominal cavity and is typical for most overweight men.
Visceral fat tends to lodge around your organs. Excess visceral fat is associated with inflammation and insulin resistance — and may drive the metabolic dysfunction so common in the West today
Low-carb diets are very effective at reducing this harmful abdominal fat. In fact, a greater proportion of the fat people lose on low-carb diets seems to come from the abdominal cavity
Over time, this should lead to a drastically reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Summary: A large percentage of the fat lost on low-carb diets tends to be harmful abdominal fat that is known to cause serious metabolic problems
- Triglycerides Tend to Drop Drastically
Triglycerides are fat molecules that circulate in your bloodstream.
It is well known that high fasting triglycerides — levels in the blood after an overnight fast — are a strong heart disease risk factor
One of the main drivers of elevated triglycerides in sedentary people is carb consumption — especially the simple sugar
When people cut carbs, they tend to experience a very dramatic reduction in blood triglycerides
On the other hand, low-fat diets often cause triglycerides to increase
Summary:Low-carb diets are very effective at lowering blood triglycerides, which are fat molecules that increase your risk of heart disease
- Increased Levels of ‘Good’ HDL Cholesterol
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is often called the “good” cholesterol.
The higher your levels of HDL relative to “bad” LDL, the lower your risk of heart disease
One of the best ways to increase “good” HDL levels is to eat healthy fat (correct ratio of omega 6 and omega 3 fats)
Therefore, it is unsurprising that HDL levels increase dramatically on low-carb only diets ie. minimal fat inatke
Summary: A Low carb ketogenic diet tend to be high in fat, which leads to an impressive increase in blood levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol
- Reduced Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels
Low-carb and ketogenic diets can also be particularly helpful for people with diabetes and insulin resistance, which affect millions of people worldwide
Studies prove that cutting carbs lowers both blood sugar and insulin levels drastically
Some people with diabetes who begin a low-carb diet may need to reduce their insulin dosage by 50% almost immediately
In one study in people with type 2 diabetes, 95% had reduced or eliminated their glucose-lowering medication within six months
If you take blood sugar medication, talk to your doctor before making changes to your carb intake, as your dosage may need to be adjusted to prevent hypoglycemia.
Summary:The best way to lower blood sugar and insulin levels is to reduce carb consumption, which may treat and possibly even reverse type 2 diabetes
- May Lower Blood Pressure
Elevated blood pressure, or hypertension, is a significant risk factor for many diseases, including heart disease, stroke and kidney failure.
Low-carb diets are an effective way to lower blood pressure, which should reduce your risk of these diseases and help you live longer
Summary: Cutting carbs leads to a significant reduction in blood pressure, which should reduce your risk of many common diseases
Effective Against Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a condition highly associated with your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
In fact, metabolic syndrome is a collection of symptoms, which include:
- Abdominal obesity
- Elevated blood pressure
- Elevated fasting blood sugar levels
- High triglycerides
- Low “good” HDL cholesterol levels
However, a low-carb diet is incredibly effective in treating all five of these symptoms
Under such a diet, these conditions are nearly eliminated.
Summary:Healthy low-carb diets effectively reverse all five key symptoms of metabolic syndrome, a serious condition which increases your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes
- Improved ‘Bad’ LDL Cholesterol Levels
People who have high “bad” LDL are much more likely to have heart attacks
However, the size of the particles is important. Smaller particles are linked to a higher risk of heart disease, while larger particles are linked to a lower risk
It turns out that low-carb diets increase the size of “bad” LDL particles while reducing the number of total LDL particles in your bloodstream
As such, lowering your carb intake can boost your heart health.
When you eat a low-carb diet, the size of your “bad” LDL particles increases, which reduces their harmful effects. Cutting carbs may also reduce the number of total LDL particles in your bloodstream
- Therapeutic for Several Brain Disorders
Your brain needs glucose, as some parts of it can only burn this type of sugar. That’s why your liver produces glucose from protein if you don’t eat any carbs.
Yet, a large part of your brain can also burn ketones, which are formed during starvation or when carb intake is very low.
This is the mechanism behind the ketogenic diet, which has been used for decades to treat epilepsy in children who don’t respond to drug treatment
In many cases, this diet can cure children of epilepsy. In one study, over half of the children on a ketogenic diet experienced a greater than 50% reduction in their number of seizures, while 16% became seizure-free
Very low-carb and ketogenic diets are now being studied for other brain conditions as well, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
Summary:Low-carb and keto diets have proven beneficial in treating epilepsy in children and are being studied for their effects on other brain conditions
Few things are as well established in nutrition science as the immense health benefits of a low-carb ketogenic diet.
Not only can it improve your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar, it can also reduce your appetite, boost weight loss and lower your triglycerides.
The Como Diagnostic Rapid Weight Loss Plan is based on a keto-genic low carb diet which specifically aims for accelerated fat burning and is extremely effective for rapid weight loss – a great early motivator!
Having reached your weight loss goal you will be transitioned into a lifelong sustainable healthy eating program.
Hunger control is the key. The key to maintaining weight loss is feeling full. The body can adjust to the new lower weight set point if hunger is well controlled.
At Como Diagnostic we understand the physiological nature of weight loss and can help you maintain that hard won success.
Need to lose a few kilograms and require a kick start? Want to lose weight fast? Tried every diet & failed? Or would you just like a bit of guidance from a medical expert?
Dr. Sandi and her team have put together a number of weight loss programs that will ensure your success. Our Rapid Weight Loss can help you shift those stubborn kilograms quickly and set you on the path to long term weight control.
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