Keto: more than just weight loss

Updated: Feb 28, 2019

The keto diet has shown numerous health benefits and alleviates unpleasant symptoms and diseases.

By Meg Taylor, News Editor

The popular ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that turns the body into a fat-burning machine as well as offers many positive health benefits against diabetes, epilepsy and cancer.

It is called the keto diet because by following the meal plan, your body produces small fuel molecules called “ketones.” This is an alternative fuel for the body, used when blood sugar (glucose) is in short supply. Ketones are produced if you eat very few carbs and only moderate amounts of protein. They are then used as fuel throughout the body, including the brain.

“On a ketogenic diet, your entire body switches its fuel supply to run almost entirely on fat,” according to Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, MD. “Insulin levels become very low, and fat burning increases dramatically. It becomes easy to access your fat stores to burn them off.”

Many people assume the keto diet is restrictive due to the low-carb factor. This common misconception does not take into consideration that as long as you are sticking to the overall guidelines of the diet, you can indulge in your cravings in moderation. This diet focuses more on the quality of the food you are consuming, not the caloric intake.

“I’ve been doing ketosis on and off for the last five years,” said Valley College student Jessica Lange. “Monday through Friday I do a low-carb and high-fat diet. Saturdays and Sundays are my load days where I can have carbs, sugar, alcohol, etc.”

Self discipline is a key factor not only in the keto diet, but in any attempts to lose weight. The  increased fat and weight loss resulting from the keto diet plays a strong role in controlling Type 2 diabetes. A study conducted by the Department of Medicine at Duke University tested the hypothesis that a diet lower in carbohydrate would lead to greater improvement in glycemic control in patients with obesity and Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

“Dietary modification led to improvements in glycemic control and medication reduction/elimination in motivated volunteers with Type 2 diabetes. The diet lower in carbohydrate led to greater improvements in glycemic control, and more frequent medication reduction/elimination than the low glycemic index diet. Lifestyle modification using low carbohydrate interventions is effective for improving and reversing type 2 diabetes.”

Along with Type 2 diabetes, the keto diet has shown remarkable results in assisting epileptic children. A research study conducted in 2001 at Johns Hopkins Medical Institution in Maryland measured the correlation between the ketogenic diet and children suffering from extreme seizures. Forty-nine percent of the children in this cohort symptom study experienced a nearly complete resolution in seizures.

“Three to six years after initiation, the ketogenic diet had proven to be effective in the control of difficult-to-control seizures in children. The diet often allows decrease or discontinuation of medication. It is more effective than many of the newer anticonvulsants and is well-tolerated when it is effective.”

The Department of Biology at Boston conducted a research study in 2007 to test if the keto diet was an effective alternative therapy for malignant brain cancer. This study evaluated the efficacy of KetoCal after seeing the positive impact it was making for children with epilepsy.

“The results indicate that KetoCal has anti-tumor and anti-angiogenic effects in experimental mouse and human brain tumors when administered in restricted amounts. The therapeutic effect of KetoCal for brain cancer management was due largely to the reduction of total caloric content, which reduces circulating glucose required for rapid tumor growth.”

With years of studies and research, the keto diet has proven to be extremely helpful not only in weight loss, but in aiding serious illnesses. If you are looking for quick weight loss results or a lifestyle change to reduce harmful symptoms, the keto diet is a great choice.