THE BENEFITS OF A KETO DIET: FROM WEIGHT LOSS TO MENTAL CLARITY

Written by: Suzie Walker

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Time to read 14 min

Keto Benefits go so much further than just turning your body into a fat-burning machine, although to be honest, that's probably why many of you started on your Keto Journey.

 

But have you thought deeper about what else is happening to your body when you are in full-on ketosis mode? 

And have you thought about the other Benefits of a Keto Diet?

 

In this article, we are going to have a look at some of those unbelievable extra benefits that you weren't considering while on a low-carb diet, and a couple of Keto Side-Effects that you NEED to look out for!

beneficial Keto Meal

Fundamentals Of A Keto Diet

For the newbies out there, The ketogenic diet, commonly known as a keto diet, involves a drastic reduction of carbohydrate intake while increasing the consumption of fats. This low-carb, high-fat dietary approach aims to help your body enter a state of ketosis, wherein it efficiently burns fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. It's like other low-carbohydrate diets, but with extra fat. Make sense?

 

When you follow a keto diet, your body starts to produce ketone bodies as an alternative source of fuel. These ketone bodies come from the breakdown of fatty acids in the liver and serve as an efficient energy source for your brain and other organs.

 

Here are the essential principles of a Keto Diet:

Reduced carbohydrate intake: It is crucial to significantly cut down on your carbohydrate consumption, typically to 20-50 grams per day. This restriction allows your body to switch from using glucose as the primary energy source to utilising stored fats.


Increased fat intake: Your diet should consist predominantly of healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. This facilitates the process of ketosis and provides a steady supply of energy for your body.

 

Moderate protein consumption: While the focus is on fats, remember to consume an adequate amount of protein to support muscle growth and repair. However, be mindful not to overconsume proteins, as this may lead to a decrease in ketone body production.

 

Sufficient fibre and micronutrients: Prioritise nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits such as leafy greens, berries, and cruciferous vegetables. They not only offer essential vitamins and minerals but also provide fibre to support digestion and gut health.

By following these simple Keto principles, you can successfully adopt a keto diet to tap into its numerous potential benefits.

 

RELATED: If you are new to Low-carb living check out our Beginners Guide to the Keto Diet

 

Let's get onto those benefits, shall we?...

benefits of keto

What are the Benefits of a Keto Diet?

When the Keto Diet forces your body into Ketosis and switches from using carbohydrates as the primary source of energy to using ketones produced from fats, lots of magical things start occurring in the human body, resulting in a host of health benefits to the user. 

 

Several studies have explored the positive effects of the ketogenic diet, including its potential role in enhancing cognitive functions and managing chronic diseases. For instance, research indicates that following a keto diet may provide cognitive benefits for patients with epilepsy. Additionally, there's evidence suggesting that it could help mitigate the impact of certain chronic diseases

 

Another of the benefits associated with Keto is Autophagy: 

Autophagy

Autophagy is an amazing natural process within your body that involves the breakdown and recycling of damaged cells, proteins, and other cellular components to make room for new, healthy ones. When you follow a keto diet, you may experience an increase in autophagy, which can be beneficial for your overall health and well-being.

 

During periods of fasting or carbohydrate restriction, such as on a ketogenic diet, your body relies more on fat and ketone metabolism. This promotes a state of ketosis, which may stimulate autophagy and lead to the removal of dysfunctional cellular components. By doing so, your body can clear out harmful waste and maintain the proper functioning of cells, tissues, and organs.

 

If you have been living many years on the western diet of burgers, pizza, and Coca Cola, Autophagy may be a literal life saver for you!

The increased autophagy associated with a keto diet can offer a variety of health benefits, including:

 

  • Improved brain function: Autophagy has been linked to the removal of toxic proteins from brain cells, which can help maintain cognitive function and prevent age-related cognitive decline.
     
  • Reduced inflammation: By clearing damaged cells and reducing oxidative stress, autophagy may help decrease inflammation in the body, potentially reducing the risk of chronic diseases.
     
  • Boosted immune system: Autophagy plays a key role in maintaining a healthy immune system by clearing out pathogens and promoting immune cell function.

Rapid Weight Loss

When you first start a ketogenic diet, your body needs to adapt to burning fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. This transition often leads to rapid weight loss in the short term, primarily due to your body depleting its glycogen stores, which also results in a loss of water weight. Keep in mind, however, that this initial weight loss may not be entirely due to fat loss. 


As soon as you ingest carbs again, your body glycogen stores will refill and your body will start holding water again. Depending on your bodyweight, you could be holding anywhere from 4 to 20+ pounds of water!

Body Fat Reduction

Over time, as your body becomes more efficient at using fat for energy, a ketogenic or very low-carbohydrate diet can lead to a reduction in body fat. This effect is particularly beneficial if you're aiming to improve your body composition or target long-term weight loss goals. It's essential to maintain a consistent pattern with your diet and combine it with regular physical activity to maximise body fat reduction when on the Keto diet. Intermittent Fasting is also an option at increasing weight loss and improving body composition quickly.

 

In addition to fat loss, a keto diet might also help maintain or improve your energy levels. The fats become the primary source of energy as your body adapts to using ketones, a by-product of fat metabolism. This change can contribute to sustained energy levels throughout the day, preventing energy dips that are more common with fluctuations in blood sugar.

weight loss keto benefit

Remember: The keto diet may have multiple benefits for body composition, but individual experiences may vary. It's crucial to listen to your body and consider consulting with a medical professional before starting any new diet regimen.

Healthier Cholesterol Levels

Adopting a ketogenic diet can have positive effects on your heart health, primarily by increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. HDL cholesterol, often referred to as "good" cholesterol, helps protect against heart disease by transporting excess cholesterol away from your arteries and back to your liver. By consuming healthy fats as a key component of a keto diet, such as avocados, nuts and olive oil, you can improve your HDL cholesterol levels and support overall heart health. 

Beyond raising HDL cholesterol, a ketogenic diet can also improve other aspects of your cholesterol profile, such as reducing triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. High triglyceride levels are associated with metabolic syndrome, a combination of health issues that can increase your risk of heart disease. 

 

The keto diet aims to minimise carb consumption, leading to a decline in insulin sensitivity, which can lower triglycerides and improve cholesterol ratios.

 

By sticking to the ketogenic diet over a long time, you can experience improved cardiovascular health, reduced risk of heart disease, and better management of metabolic syndrome. 

keto benefits cholesterol

Try and monitor your cholesterol levels and blood pressure, and don't hesitate to seek advice from healthcare professionals if you have any doubts or require guidance.

Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Studies have shown that the ketogenic diet can help reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension or prehypertension, potentially decreasing the risk of heart disease. 

 

The low-carb nature of the diet, coupled with its emphasis on healthy fats and adequate protein, contributes to improved blood pressure regulation. However, it's essential to monitor your blood pressure closely, especially if you take medication, to ensure that your blood pressure stays within a healthy range.

Diabetes Prevention And Management

A very low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet (VLCD) may be an effective tool for diabetes prevention and management, particularly for individuals with type 2 diabetes. 

Reducing your carb intake can help achieve better blood glucose control by maintaining lower HbA1c levels, an important marker used to monitor your blood sugar levels over time.

 

Moreover, the ketogenic diet may help lower the risk of hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar. When you consume fewer carbs, your body needs less insulin, which decreases your susceptibility to hypoglycaemic events. 

 

This can be especially beneficial for people with type 1 diabetes who struggle with maintaining stable blood sugar levels.


If you want to learn more, you should read our article on Keto and Diabetes.
 

keto effects on blood sugar

You don't have to go without treats! If you are dealing with Diabetes, check out our Diabetic-Friendly Snacks to satisfy your cravings!

Cognitive Function

A Keto Diet can have a positive impact on your cognitive function. By consuming a diet high in healthy fats and low in carbohydrates, your brain begins to use ketone bodies for energy instead of glucose.  

This alternative energy source has been suggested to enhance brain function, particularly in individuals with Alzheimer's disease


The inclusion of fatty acids, such as Omega-3s, found in certain ketogenic-friendly foods also promotes overall brain health and cognitive performance. 


You might also experience an increase in mental clarity while adhering to a Keto Diet. When following a high-carbohydrate diet, blood sugar fluctuations can lead to varying energy levels, affecting your focus. In contrast, ketone bodies are a more stable energy source, contributing to improved concentration and mental clarity. Nothing beats the feeling of waking up with a clear head while on Keto!

cognitive function benefits of keto

Due to the high-fat nature of a keto lifestyle, you will also remain fuller for much longer, reducing those distracting cravings and the need for a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. You will spend less time fantising about your favourite chocolate bar or baked good, and more time spent getting the more important stuff in your life done.

Better Sleep & Increased Energy

As the keto diet works wonders with controlling your blood sugar levels you are not going to be on an energy roller coaster during the day, say goodbye to those mid-afternoon energy slumps.

 

Not only that, but the combination of balanced hormones (cortisol, serotonin, and melatonin) stopping spiking and no more sugar crashes can help to ultimately reset your circadian rhythm, boosting the quality of your sleep.

 

After the first week or so of adapting to the keto diet, you will start to find yourself naturally tired when you should be, rather than be stuck on the carb rollercoaster of late night snacking and regret.

Health Conditions And Disease Prevention

Everyone knows that the Keto diet is great for weight loss, but it can also provide a wealth of positive health benefits that may help prevent several conditions. 

 

In this section, we'll discuss the potential benefits of a Keto diet on some health conditions and diseases that you may not have thought of…

Cancer

The Keto diet may support the treatment of certain types of cancer. By lowering glucose levels, this diet can effectively starve cancer cells that rely on glucose for energy.


Additionally, ketogenic diets may help minimise the side effects of conventional cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy. Since cancer cells can't effectively use ketones for energy, a Keto diet may help inhibit their growth!


Also, it is well known that maintaining a healthy weight reduces the chances of cancer developing in the human body. The keto diet can help the user keep slim and healthy into older age.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is characterised by insulin resistance, which can lead to hormonal imbalances. A Keto diet has been shown to help improve insulin sensitivity, potentially reducing the risk of developing PCOS or helping manage its symptoms. 

 

By consuming fewer carbohydrates, you stabilise your blood sugar levels, which can result in better hormonal balance and overall health. It’s particularly effective for women managing menopausal symptoms. 

 

Because it optimises insulin and other hormone levels, you minimise symptoms such as hot flashes through to brain fog. It also reduces other menstrual issues and is an effective treatment for PCOS.

 

Check out our article on Keto & Menopause for more!

Neuroprotective Effects

The Keto Diet has been demonstrated to offer neuroprotective effects that may protect your brain from various neurological disorders. 

 

Research suggests ketone bodies, especially β-hydroxybutyrate, have a positive impact on brain health, with potential benefits in conditions such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and other brain disorders

 

In addition to ketone bodies, the keto diet's focus on high-quality fats and nutrient-dense, whole foods like leafy greens and avocados may further contribute to these neuroprotective effects. 

 

Make sure to load on as many green vegetables as possible while on a keto diet!

Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

NAFLD is a common liver condition affecting a significant portion of the population. Too much drinking sugary alcohol and eating the wrong foods leads to a fatty liver. 

 

Luckily, there are steps you can take to reverse this condition through diet and exercise.

 

Reducing carbohydrate intake through a Keto diet can help enhance liver function and decrease the accumulation of fat in the liver. Keeping to a Keto diet may help prevent or even reverse non-alcoholic fatty liver disease over the long-term.

 

Exercise will speed up this recovery, and help burn through excess fat accumulating in your body.

Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic Syndrome is a cluster of conditions, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and excessive abdominal fat, that increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke.

 

If your waist circumference is over 35 inches for women, or 40 inches for men, then you should be making efforts to reduce your bodyfat. Most ‘bad’ bodyfat will accumulate at the waist.

 

Following a Keto diet can help address several aspects of metabolic syndrome by aiding in weight loss, reducing blood sugar levels and insulin resistance, and improving other beneficial effects of the diet on cardiovascular health.

keto side effects

Keto Side Effects

While super popular for its potential weight loss benefits, the Keto Diet does come with some side effects that you should be aware of. Now don't panic, these issues shouldn't put you off going Keto, but you can prepare for these minor side-effects and minimalise their impact on your day.

Keto Flu

When starting the keto diet, you may experience what's commonly referred to as the "Keto Flu". As your body transitions from burning carbohydrates to burning fat, you might feel flu-like symptoms, including fatigue, dizziness, irritability, and muscle cramps. You might have issues sleeping at night due to night sweats.

 

To alleviate these discomforts, make sure to stay hydrated, replenish your electrolytes, and get enough rest. Crack open a window when you are getting ready for bed, and use a cool blanket or pillow to keep your night sweats to a minimum.

 

RELATED: Read our article on The Keto Flu if you want to learn more!

Bad Breath

One side effect of the keto diet that may affect your social life is bad breath. This is caused by the production of acetone—a byproduct of ketosis—which can make your breath smell like nail polish remover. 

 

It sounds worse than it is, I promise!

 

To combat this, try drinking more water, maintaining proper oral hygiene, and using sugar-free gum or breath mints. Despite its unpleasantness, this side effect is generally a sign that your body is successfully entering ketosis and adapting to your new food intake.

 

So if you wake up with extra bad breath, that's actually a good thing! You are deep in ketosis and are closing in on your goals.

Kidney Stones

While relatively rare, kidney stones can be a potential side effect of the keto diet. The increased breakdown of fats can lead to a higher concentration of calcium and oxalate in your urine, which may contribute to the formation of kidney stones. 

 

To help prevent this, ensure that you drink enough water and consider talking to your healthcare provider about adjusting your meal plan to include fewer foods that are high in oxalates. 

 

If you have a history of kidney stones or have concerns about this side effect, be especially mindful.

 

Remember, this is an extremely rare side-effect, so don't let it put you off going Keto!

Finally... On the Benefits of a Keto Diet

So there you have it! 

 

Keto has loads of positive benefits, and only a few negative side effects. if you are looking for a way to improve your body composition by losing a bit of fat around the middle, or if you are looking to improve your health overall, then Keto may be the answer you are looking for!

 

If you enjoyed this article and want to know more, you may want to check out our article on Losing Weight on Keto!

Suzie Walker - Keto Collective

Suzie Walker

Suzie Walker is a qualified Nutritional Therapist from the College of Naturopathic Nutrition London and co-founded The Keto Collective, a company that aims to make it easier for those following the keto way of eating to find whole food, great tasting, keto alternatives to their everyday favorites.

What are the Primary Health Advantages of Keto?

The ketogenic diet is a popular method for managing weight and improving overall health. One of the primary advantages of this diet is its ability to aid in weight loss. It has also been linked to better blood sugar control, improved mental clarity and focus, increased energy levels, and management of neurological diseases.

How Does the Keto Diet Contribute to Weight Loss?

The keto diet works by shifting the body's primary energy source from carbohydrates to fats. This is achieved by consuming a low-carb, high-fat diet. As a result, the body enters a state called ketosis, in which it begins to burn fat for energy, leading to weight loss.

Can Keto Improve Mental Clarity and Focus?

There is some evidence suggesting that the ketogenic diet may help with mental clarity and focus. By fuelling the brain with ketones instead of glucose, some people have reported improved mental performance, sharper focus, and reduced brain fog.

How Does Keto Affect Energy Levels?

The ketogenic diet may lead to improved energy levels for some individuals. Ketones, which the body produces when in ketosis, can provide a steady, long-lasting energy source that's more efficient than glucose. As a result, you may experience less fatigue and more sustained energy throughout the day.

Is Ketosis Effective for Managing Blood Sugar Levels?

Ketosis can help with the management of blood sugar levels by reducing your dependency on carbohydrates and promoting the use of fat for energy. This can lead to better blood sugar control in individuals with diabetes or those at risk of developing the condition.

What are the Potential Drawbacks of a Keto Diet?

While the ketogenic diet offers numerous health benefits, it may also result in some side effects. Common issues include flu-like symptoms, known as the "keto flu", and nutrient deficiencies due to restricted food choices. To minimise these risks, it's essential to consult a healthcare professional before starting a keto diet and monitor your progress throughout.

What Happens to your Body when you do Keto?

When you follow a keto diet, your body enters a metabolic state called ketosis. In this state, the liver starts converting fat into ketones, which become the primary energy source instead of glucose. This shift can result in weight loss, improved mental clarity, and increased energy levels. However, it's crucial to maintain a healthy, balanced diet and consult a healthcare professional for guidance during this process.