The Benefits of Starting Keto in 2019
It’s the start of the year and that means it’s prime time for people to make resolutions, more than 50% of which will involve weight loss in one fashion or another. Losing weight in general can be difficult and there’s going to be about a thousand different random products and people vying for your money to “help you lose weight”.
Most of them are the hottest of garbage – meal plans that involve you purchasing pre-made foods are rubbish as you’ll never learn to cook and eat normal food without regaining the weight. Plastic wraps will literally never make you lose weight, nor will bottles of strange liquid sold on the Marketplace of Facebook, no matter what that random kid you went to high school with says.
I have personal experience with over 200 pounds of weight loss with a ketogenic diet, and I have a lot of friends for whom keto was life-changing, too, so I stand behind it as a weight loss principle. If you’re considering getting healthy in 2019 once and for all, here are some great reasons why you should give keto a try.
Keto for Weight Loss
Ketosis is appetite suppressing – It’s highly likely that most of weight loss is energy balance; that is, calories out need to be higher than calories in. There’s definitely more to it than that, but at a basic level, that’s the gist. Ketosis makes you less hungry by controlling blood sugar, making it far easier for you to stop eating, or simply eat less.
Keto stabilizes blood sugar – This goes hand-in-hand with the above, but once you have been in ketosis for a few days to a few weeks (depending on your insulin dysfunction) you’ll find that your energy is more stable, particularly after meals, or conversely, going for a while without eating.
Being in ketosis makes your body better at burning fat – Typically your body uses macro nutrients in a specific order – alcohol is burned up first, then glucose in the bloodstream, then stored glycogen in the liver and muscles, and finally stored fat. When you’re in ketosis, your body is constantly primed to use fat, so once it burns through any free-floating glucose, it should go straight to breaking down fat into ketone bodies for energy.
Ketosis makes fasting easier – Fasting has become popular in the last few years as a therapeutic approach to weight loss, among other things. Because fasting mimics the metabolic conditions of ketosis (and often can induce ketosis at length), doing both together amplifies weight loss and makes fasting easier due to the appetite suppressing and fat mobilizing effects of a ketogenic metabolism.
Weight loss happens quickly – At least at first, weight loss typically occurs quickly. Some will be water weight as your body uses up stored glycogen and glycogen is stored in water within your muscles and liver, so you’ll shed a lot of water. That said, however, for most people going from a standard western diet to keto, your body will shed fat very quickly. Amounts of 10-15 pounds in the first 2 weeks can be reasonably expected.
Keto for General Health
I want to preface this part by saying I am not a doctor. With that in mind, however, most doctors aren’t taught nutrition as part of their training, and the old model of heart disease and diabetes proposed by Ancel Keys and latched onto by western governments is simply proving to be wrong.
There are a lot of brilliant minds at the forefront of the science of obesity and obesity-related conditions making huge strides and making us rethink what is the cause of modern disease, and I’ll list some great reading/watching material at the end of this post.
Keeping that in mind, even if you’re not unhappy with your weight, keto has profound health benefits that can likely improve your well-being in tangible, measurable ways (like blood lipids, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, etc).
Here is a short list of huge benefits for your health – besides weight loss – that keto can provide when done correctly, with whole foods, and consistently:
Reducing symptoms of/reversing type 2 diabetes
Reduced inflammation which in turn reduces heart disease risks
Improved insulin sensitivity
Treatment/prevention of certain neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinsons and Alzheimers
Marked reduction in childhood epilepsy symptoms
Improved blood pressure
Reversal of fatty liver disease
Improvement in or reversal of PCOS
Better management of type 1 diabetes
Reduction in symptoms from auto-immune disorders
Reduced uric acid levels, reducing symptoms of or eliminating gout
Decreased GERD symptoms
This is a short list – to really get into the nuts and bolts of all the various diseases and conditions that keto can assist with would take its own book. The key takeaway here is that keto reduces inflammation and that’s a highly positive thing.
Keto for Mental Health
Lastly I want to touch on what keto can do for mental health issues. Ketosis – even being in a mild state of ketosis – appears to decrease depressive symptoms in those with major depression, dysthymia, seasonal affective disorder, and other depression-adjacent diseases. In addition, it reduces anxiety and panic disorder symptoms.
Though the actual studies done on these benefits are sparse at this time, they all seem to point to reduced inflammation as the key here. An inflamed brain is a sick brain, and the field of evolutionary psychology has suggested that depression – from an evolutionary standpoint – is designed to keep us away from other people when we’re sick so as not to spread diseases.
If the inflammation from sickness causes depression in the short term, then long-term inflammation can create a state in which depression continues over the long term. A solution in which systemic inflammation is reduced through exercise and a low carb, low processed food diet would be beneficial for mental health. In addition, keto has positive effects on mental clarity and overall mood, much akin to the mental clarity that those who practice fasting report.
These are just some of the benefits of a ketogenic way of eating. While keto is a “diet” in the sense that you could do it simply to lose weight, it really is more akin to how humans should be eating all the time. Even moderate restriction of carbohydrate (50-150g a day) has tremendous health benefits over the traditional recommendations of getting the majority of your energy from carbs.
Even if you have no weight to lose, keto still offers a wide range of mental and physical benefits that are worth exploring.
Have you started a weight loss goal for 2019? What method are you using?