The ketogenic—keto—diet gets credit for being a fast way to lose weight, but research suggests many other benefits are possible with this low-carb, high-fat approach to eating. Here, 10 unexpected changes people following a keto diet plan might see.
Energy levels rise
In the first few days of the keto diet, it’s not uncommon for people to experience the “keto flu,” a brief period in which you may have headaches, fatigue, confusion, and nausea. These symptoms are a sign that your body is making the switch from burning glucose (sugar from carbs) for energy to burning fat—a process called ketosis. The changeover can leave you feeling depleted for a day or two, but once you break through to the fat-burning phase, you may find you have much more energy and greater endurance. “You are able to do more without hitting ‘the wall,’ says Carrie Burrows, PhD, a health and fitness expert. “When we use fat as fuel, our endurance improves and is more sustainable.” That extra energy will carry over to your workouts, Dr. Burrows says. Here are more things you need to know before starting the keto diet.
Anxiety and depression diminish
While these findings are preliminary, in one study of mice, the keto diet helped reduce anxiety. The research suggests this could be due to the protective brain benefits of intake of healthy fats and low levels of sugar. A follow-up study found that mice exposed to a ketogenic diet while in utero showed less susceptibility to anxiety and depression than mice born to mothers who were not on the keto diet. Here’s what it’s really like to follow the keto diet.
You’ll get protection against type 2 diabetes
The keto diet cuts your daily carbohydrates to less than 20 grams; for people with diagnosed diabetes, this may help them manage the condition. A one-year study found that putting people with type 2 diabetes into ketosis dramatically improved their blood sugar control. Also, reports study author Steve Phinney, MD, PhD, chief medical officer of Virta Health, a type 2 diabetes reversal treatment, “Patients were able to lose on average 12 percent of their body weight, about 31 pounds.” Doctors want you to know these 13 things about the keto diet.
The liver gets healthier
Fat accumulation in the liver is commonly associated with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. In serious cases, fatty liver disease can damage the liver. Doctors test for the condition by measuring levels of liver enzymes using blood tests. “These enzymes were significantly reduced after one year in the clinical patients, indicating less risk of developing fatty liver disease,” Dr. Phinney says of the diabetes study. If you’ve been told you’re at risk for fatty liver, you may want to give this diet plan a try. Before you embark on any new eating plan, arm yourself with knowledge. You’ll want to read this: 11 hidden dangers of the keto diet.