Lower blood sugar and insulin levels — helping to prevent and manage diabetes
When carbs are consumed, they are broken down into glucose, increasing the blood sugar levels.
The body responds by releasing insulin (to lower blood sugar levels). Unfortunately, if you overload your body continuously with sugar (as a result of insulin), the cells in your body becomes resistant to the insulin.
Your body’s natural process to reduce your blood sugar is reduced, hence your blood sugar remains unnaturally high.
This is type II diabetes. So what’s the simple solution to bringing your blood sugar down? Do not eat carbs (which produce the sugar).
One study suggested diabetics on a low carb diet can reduce their insulin dosage by 50% (1). Lower blood sugar also results in feeling better.
Remember when you have a big lunch then feel sleepy for the rest of the afternoon? That was because of a spike in your blood sugar.
Suppressing your appetite
On a Ketogenic diet you feel fuller, which means you crave food (including junk food), far less.
This then becomes a simple equation, if you feel like eating less, you eat less. Eating less ultimately leads to weight loss.
Greater fat loss — particularly the stubborn belly fat
Potentially one of the biggest and best benefits of a ketogenic diet is increased fat loss around the stomach area.
Shedding this visceral fat around the mid region was always something I struggled with and I began to see a significant reduction in fat on a ketogenic diet.
One study which compared a low fat and a low carb diet was surprised at this finding: Both between and within group comparisons revealed a distinct advantage of a VLCK (low carb) over a LF (low fat) diet for weight loss, total fat loss, and trunk fat loss for men’ (2) They also highlighted the trunk loss in women, but it was not as significant as within men (women tend to store fat more proportionally around the body).
The loss of visceral (internal) fat helps to reduce the chances of diabetes and general health problems in the future.
Lower levels of triglycerides
Triglycerides are fat in your blood. You may think this is a bad thing, but they are needed to provide energy around the body.
If you have too many of them, however, your body saves them for a rainy day somewhere around your body as fat.
High levels also lead to a higher chance of diabetes and heart disease. One of the biggest contributing factors to high levels is simple sugars.
Cutting out these sugars reduces your triglyceride levels.
Increase in good cholesterol and a decrease in bad cholesterol
At one point, all cholesterol was considered bad, however within recent years it has been proven that there is good and bad cholesterol.
LDL (low density lipoprotein) is the bad stuff, while HDL (high density lipoprotein) is the good stuff.
HDL carries cholesterol from the rest of the body for processing, where it is used or ‘thrown away’.
LDL can clot and form fatty deposits, blocking arteries (contributing to heart conditions and increased blood pressure).
Studies have shown one of the best ways to increase HDL levels and reduce LDL levels is a high fat diet.
Increased mental focus
Low carb diets were one of the earliest forms of treatment for epilepsy (until more effective drugs were developed).
The diet is also now being explored as a way to treat and stave off Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Fatty acids (particularly omega 3 and 6) are considered beneficial for cognitive functioning and help you keep more focused and alert.
What Benefits Of A Ketogenic Diet Can You Expect?
The long term health benefits of a ketogenic diet have been well documented; lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, lower triglycerides levels, fat loss, increased energy, greater mental acuity, better moods and improvements to the digestive system.
Over the first week or so, you should notice a sudden drop in weight as your body begins to adapt.
In particular, your body will begin to retain less water (which is needed for a diet containing higher levels of carbohydrates).
As such, you may feel thirsty and require a higher frequency of trips to the toilet!
During your first week your body will undergo a sort of ‘carb detox’ which may result in you feeling subpar — this is sometimes referred to as the ‘keto flu’.
It should only last for a few days and is evidence that your body is shifting and changing for the better.
Tip — If you do experience ‘keto flu’, perceive it as a positive and evidence that it is working — focus on the end outcome (fat loss etc.). It will only last a few days.
Take care not to overdo it!
As with everything in life, too much of a good thing is often more harmful than good and things should never be taken to the extreme.
This is a very low carb diet, but not a no carb diet, as it will often be extremely difficult (if not impossible) to avoid all carbs completely.
Anything which is done in excess is a bad thing! While it is extremely unlikely, there is a risk of ketoacidosis, when there are too many ketones released into the body and the blood becomes acidic.
This is extremely unlikely to occur on this diet, as it is more commonly associated with poorly controlled type 1 diabetes or alcoholism.
However, it is important to be aware of the symptoms which include; extreme tiredness, blurry vision, vomiting, dehydration and collapsing.
If you experience any of these then consult your physician and increase your daily carbohydrates.
This can be easily avoided by ensuring that you do not go to extremes, (e.g. cutting all carbs completely) and follow the guidelines set out in this post.
To enjoy the benefits of a ketogenic diet it should always be part of a balanced lifestyle (diet and exercise).
While eating 4kg of ice cream everyday adheres to the principles of a ketogenic diet (low carb / high fat), it is obviously not the best approach for a healthy lifestyle.
It is important to ensure that your food choices are sufficient enough to provide you with a balanced diet.
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