Keto Benefits Beyond Weight Loss [E03]

Keto Benefits Beyond Weight Loss
Join us in Episode 3 for a deep dive into the myriad benefits of keto beyond fat loss and body composition. Learn surprising ways keto positively influences health and wellbeing.

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Welcome to the Ketogasm podcast. I’m your host, nutrition educator Tasha Metcalf. Here to help women like you take charge of your keto eating habits without the self sabotage. Each week, learn simple but effective tips that you can put into practice to transform your body, health, and well-being. We’re talking all things keto nutrition, habit change, mindset, self-care and the behind the scenes of what this all looks like in real life. Let’s dive in.

Welcome to Episode 3 of the Ketogasm podcast. Today we’re gonna be talking about the benefits of keto. But I want to do a deep dive beyond the weight loss focus and explore other ways a keto dietary pattern can positively influence your health and wellness. Keto has exploded in popularity in the past few years and that’s in large part because of the weight loss obsession in our society. Everybody is looking for the best diet that will help them drop unwanted pounds, usually as quickly as possible. And for many people, keto delivers those kind of results. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense why people see the weight loss success that they do on keto. Nutritional ketosis is a natural appetite suppressant, causing many keto dieters to spontaneously eat less even when they’re not intentionally eating at a calorie deficit or counting calories. And this is obviously a huge benefit for people who struggle to just eat less or maybe they have binge eating issues. Personally, this is one of the most obvious things I noticed on keto. I felt like I was so much more in tune with my actual hunger and it really just helped me so much when taking charge of my eating habits. I was a habitual over eater. I didn’t stop eating when I was full. I stopped eating when I was stuffed. My stomach was stretched out. My pants wouldn’t button the whole nine. Now, I don’t know if you guys have heard it before, but Louis C.K. has this bit about eating cinnamon rolls, and I’m going to ruin the punchline because… I’m totally “that guy”. But he says, “I don’t stop eating when I’m full. I stop eating when I hate myself.” And everybody laughs. It’s just this big funny joke because there’s truth to it. And that joke perfectly describes how I used to eat. Every meal was an all you can eat buffet, so to speak. And I hated myself when I was finished eating. So naturally, having built-in appetite control from the foods I was eating on keto and the hormonal changes that facilitated that really felt like a godsend for me. And a lot of people feel the same way. And people are usually like, “What is this sorcery? Keto is straight up magic!” And it can honestly feel like that when food rules your world, but it’s just our body’s natural response to carb restriction. There’s a lot of science behind this and I’d love to do a deep dive into that. So if that’s something you want to hear, just let me know. I cover it at length in my book, “Keto A Woman’s Guide,” but if you’re more of a listener than a reader, I totally understand. And I’m happy to cover it here too so just let me know.

Another reason keto is so effective for weight loss is because the foods are highly satiating. Aside from the overall hormonal effects of ketosis, the foods just keep you fuller for longer. Protein is the most satiating macronutrient. Fiber is also known to be highly satiating and many people find that fat can be as well. These are the nutrients that are making up the majority of your foods on keto. So between the satiating foods and the increased appetite control of ketosis, it’s easy to understand why keto dieters see such dramatic weight loss results. Beyond that, and perhaps even more importantly, is that people who find success on keto genuinely enjoy the foods that they’re eating. Now any diet or dietary pattern can be used for weight loss, but the best one for YOU is the one that you can actually stick to. If people are eating foods that are compatible with keto and enjoying their meals, it doesn’t really feel like a restrictive diet with an expiration date. It just feels like you’re eating delicious food, OK. It just becomes the way that you eat your fuel in your body. You’re not dieting, so you can be doing a keto diet without, quote unquote “dieting”, so to speak. But what many people don’t expect are the other benefits that keto brings beyond simply weight loss.

Beyond the vanity of fitting into skinny jeans and looking good naked there are so many other benefits to a keto dietary pattern. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today. Now, this is no means a comprehensive end all be all list of all the possible benefits, but these are some of the key points that come to mind.

Keto benefit #1 is: keto can be anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is at the root of many, many chronic health issues. And it’s not something that people focus on directly. The symptoms just aren’t as obvious as carrying around those extra 50 pounds. Sometimes inflammation can be obvious, like if you have a red, swollen, painful area in your body. But when but when it comes to cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, PCOS, diabetes, etc, etc, etc.. chronic inflammation isn’t something that you can just see or even feel. Your diet is a direct way to alleviate inflammation and many dietary patterns have been shown to do so, including keto.

Jonasson, L., Guldbrand, H., Lundberg, A. K., & Nystrom, F. H. (2014). Advice to follow a low-carbohydrate diet has a favourable impact on low-grade inflammation in type 2 diabetes compared with advice to follow a low-fat diet. Annals Of Medicine, 46(3), 182–187.

In a study comparing low carb to low fat dietary patterns, the low carb diet significantly improved inflammation. And this is huge because if you can reduce that low-grade inflammation, the kind that isn’t glaringly obvious, you can reduce your risk of chronic health conditions sneaking up on you. Again, it’s not just keto that can positively influence inflammation. But if keto is a dietary pattern that you enjoy, it’s great knowing that improved inflammation is part of the package. Especially if you have to defend your way of eating to family members, friends, co-workers, people around you are like, “what are you doing that’s not healthy?” This is a great way to prove them wrong.

Smitka, K., & Marešová, D. (2015). Adipose Tissue as an Endocrine Organ: An Update on Pro-inflammatory and Anti-inflammatory Microenvironment. Prague Medical Report, 116(2), 87–111. Ouchi, N., Parker, J. L., Lugus, J. J., & Walsh, K. (2011). Adipokines in inflammation and metabolic disease. Nature Reviews Immunology, (2), 85.

Now, this has to do with inflammation as well, but it also keys into using keto for fat loss purposes. Many people think of body fat as just stored energy, but excess body fat in and of itself is inflammatory. So just carrying around the extra body fat can contribute to inflammation. Now adipose tissue or stored body fat isn’t just for storage. It actually acts like this giant extra endocrine organ that secretes cytokines. And cytokines are chemical messengers, some of which actively promote inflammation. This is one of the reasons that obesity is a risk factor for many chronic diseases. The inflammatory cytokines promote inflammation that doesn’t go away. This in turn promotes insulin resistance, which leads to all kinds of health problems. So just by losing weight, you can reduce inflammation as well. So even if you’re using keto for weight loss, it’s not just for vanity. It’s not just about the way you look. You’re healing your body through weight loss as a result of reduced inflammation. And that is a lot cooler than just fitting into certain clothes, if you ask me.

Yancy Jr, W. S., Foy, M., Chalecki, A. M., Vernon, M. C., & Westman, E. C. (2005). A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet to treat type 2 diabetes. Nutrition & Metabolism, 2, 34–7. Noakes, M., Foster, P. R., Keogh, J. B., James, A. P., Mamo, J. C., & Clifton, P. M. (2006). Comparison of isocaloric very low carbohydrate/high saturated fat and high carbohydrate/low saturated fat diets on body composition and cardiovascular risk. Nutrition & Metabolism, 3, 7–13.

Keto benefit #2 is related to the management of blood sugar and insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is becoming more and more common. And you can see this manifested in the rise in type 2 diabetes, PCOS, and metabolic syndrome, just to name a few. Because keto is very, very low carb, this helps regulate the body’s faulty response to insulin. Keeping carbs low helps keep blood glucose from skyrocketing, which in turn prevents excess insulin from continuously flooding the system without getting any response. With clinical supervision, some people with type 2 diabetes and PCOS manage their symptoms this way without the prescription drugs just because it can be so effective. Cutting down on carb intake results in lower blood sugar and insulin levels and improves insulin sensitivity.

For those who are more interested in fat loss, low insulin levels can also give your body a break from storage mode. When insulin levels are chronically high, break down of stored body fat is inhibited. This means our body literally stops burning stored energy when insulin is elevated. This happens all the time with insulin resistance. And if it’s always elevated, then we really aren’t tapping into body fat storage. Instead, we’re just piling more and more fatty acids into storage, getting fatter and fatter from overeating. Chronically high insulin promotes fat storage. So again, there’s that aspect if you’re interested in keto from a weight loss perspective.

I know most of my readers and listeners have interests geared towards weight maintenance or a weight loss perspective. People just want to manage their weight and keto is a great way to do that. So this is another one that goes hand-in-hand with that. I should clarify though, that insulin isn’t bad and doesn’t inherently cause fat gain. It’s a totally necessary hormone in our body. We don’t need to demonize an important hormone. But in the context I’m talking about. I’m talking about chronically elevated insulin from overeating and excessive carb intake.

Okay, so those are my top two keto benefits beyond weight loss the reduced inflammation and improved insulin sensitivity and glycemic control. But I do have a few more I’d like to add to the list. Again, this is definitely not intended to be the most comprehensive. I just want to get you thinking of the positive benefits outside of exclusively weight loss.

Brietzke, E., Mansur, R. B., Subramaniapillai, M., Balanzá-Martínez, V., Vinberg, M., González-Pinto, A., … McIntyre, R. S. (2018). Ketogenic diet as a metabolic therapy for mood disorders: Evidence and developments. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 94, 11–16.

Keto benefit #3: improved moods and mental health. keto dietary patterns have demonstrated antidepressant and mood stabilizing effects. There have been really promising studies showing relief from depression and bipolar disorders. This is in large part due to the link between inflammation, oxidative stress, and insulin dysfunction and the development of mood disorders. And we talked about all those things in the first couple of benefits, right? We know keto is anti-inflammatory and it improves insulin function. Keto offers neuroprotection, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits that may also alleviate mood disorders–mood disorders that are rooted in inflammation, insulin resistance and oxidative stress.

So as you can see, there’s this big, huge root cause for most of our health disorders. And inflammation, insulin resistance, oxidative stress–all of these kind of dysfunctions happening in the body–these are at the root of everything that could possibly go wrong. OK.

So if we can eat in a way that addresses those things, then all of the disorders that come from those inflammatory things or the dysregulation of insulin, then we can prevent those disorders from developing in the first place and make ourselves healthier. We can totally take charge of our health by fueling our body differently. The fuel you put in your body is responsible for your health and well-being. OK. It’s not just about your weight. It’s about your quality of life. It’s about being healthy and able to run around with your kids. It’s about growing old with your partner. It’s about everything. It’s not just about how you look. It’s not just your outward appearance.

Keto benefit #4 is migraine relief. And this is making it to my list for sure, because this is something that I have personal experience with and not something that most people are actually aware of. Now, when I eat a keto dietary pattern, I rarely have headaches or migraines. But whenever I eat high carb for an extended period of time, I have migraines almost every single day. And I realize that this is entirely anecdotal and n=1. But this is something that has dramatically impacted my life and ultimately brings me back to eating low carb. Every time I’ve deviated from keto, even when I’ve taken vacation, gone on intentional diet breaks, or whatever reason I’ve chose to eat outside of the traditional keto guidelines. I am right back to keto because my migraines are so out of control if I don’t eat low carb. Now this was really a struggle for me in the beginning because I had this on-again off-again relationship with keto. And I felt like keto was just another diet, and it was very rigid and restrictive, and it had all these rules, and I don’t do well with rules. So I kind of rebelled against that. I don’t like living with a limiting mindset and personally, I find that diets fall directly into that category. It’s very limiting. And I’ve intentionally quit keto in the past thinking “I don’t need to be on a diet.” But as soon as I start eating high carb content in my diet for an extended period, it just reinforces that the foods that I eat on keto have a therapeutic effect on me. And it’s a really jarring difference, it’s like night and day. I feel so much better and my migraines disappear completely when I’m doing keto dietary pattern. So I hate that I’m on a diet all the time, but this is what I naturally gravitate towards. I feel better, my migraines disappear, and not to mention the part where I don’t feel like a bottomless pit when I’m eating my meals. So keto just works for me.

Di Lorenzo C, Pinto A, Ienca R, et al. A Randomized Double-Blind, Cross-Over Trial of very Low-Calorie Diet in Overweight Migraine Patients: A Possible Role for Ketones? Nutrients. 2019;11(8):1742.

Out of curiosity. I like to see if this was a “just me” occurrence or if there was anything in the scientific literature to actually back this up, if ketogenic diets are supported for the use of migraine treatments. And sure enough, there was a study that found ketogenesis is a useful strategy for migraine treatment, with greater than 50 percent response rate. That’s crazy. OK. The author suggested that this could be due to the decreased insulin and glucose levels or the therapeutic action of ketones counteracting the migraines. The mechanism is still pretty unclear, but they do know that there is a correlation between ketogenic diet and decreased migraine occurrence.

And this is so interesting to me! Because this is one of the things that made me naturally gravitate back towards a keto dietary pattern. After trying out high carb eating again, I went straight back to low carb because it got rid of my migraines. And I love that there’s research being done to uncover the mechanism of why this actually works.

The list of keto benefits discussed might as well be called “Why Tasha Does Keto.” Like I said, there are so many more benefits than what I discussed here, but I immediately think of these because it’s why I do keto. And I don’t really talk a lot about my reasoning behind choosing this dietary pattern, but maybe it will help someone else in a similar situation if I put it out there.

Other benefits of keto include Alzheimer’s management, epilepsy management, reduced triglycerides, lower blood pressure, and improved fertility. Just to name a few! If you have any keto benefits that you would like to share, please drop me a line in the comments on the show notes, send me an email, or however you’d like to reach out. I am happy to share!

Thank you so much for tuning into this at the soda. The Ketogasm podcast. You are awesome. I really hope the show has added value to your keto journey. Making big changes to your eating habits can be a little tricky, but if you’re taking the time to listen and learn about keto, you’re well on your way. You got this. Be sure to visit Ketogasm dot com for the show notes with full transcripts, references and resources to help you out, including a totally free course called Hello Keto. It’s helped over seventy five thousand people start keto with confidence. I’ll see you in the next episode. Bye!

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Welcome to Easy Keto with Tasha, the Ketogasm podcast!

Today’s episode focuses on the benefits of keto. While keto is most famous for helping people lose weight, we’re exploring the keto benefits beyond weight loss.

Keto For Weight Loss

It’s not hard to see why keto has wooed people as a weight-loss wonder.

Nutritional ketosis is a natural appetite suppressant. Once your body has entered ketosis, you may find that you are eating less without any additional work. This keto benefit is especially useful for people who struggle with overeating or bingeing.

Beyond the appetite-suppressing qualities of ketosis, the foods you consume during keto tend to be more satiating. If your body feels full, you are less likely to keep eating. You are also more likely to avoid snacking between meals.

Finally, weight loss from keto occurs because people are enjoying the food they eat! By shifting the focus from the “best” keto foods to the food you enjoy eating, it prevents keto from becoming a restrictive diet. Less restriction helps to prevent people from getting caught up in the right or wrong way to follow keto and instead allows them to enjoy fueling their bodies.

Keto Benefit #1: Keto Can Be Anti-Inflammatory

Inflammation is the root of a variety of chronic health problems, and your diet is a direct way to alleviate inflammation. Following a keto dietary pattern has been shown to significantly improve inflammation.

Reducing low-grade inflammation is great, but it doesn’t end there. This reduction can also reduce your risk for future chronic health conditions. 

Weight Loss and Inflammation

While reducing inflammation does not appear to be related to weight loss, it actually can be! Excess body fat is inflammatory, which means carrying extra body fat can contribute to inflammation. This occurs because the stored fat secretes cytokines. Cytokines promote inflammation, which in turn promotes insulin resistance. Eventually, this leads to various health issues.

Keto Benefit #2: Management of Blood Sugar and Insulin Resistance

The low carb nature of keto helps to regulate the body’s faulty response to insulin. This is especially important given the rise in insulin resistance. Restricting carbohydrate intake helps to prevent blood glucose from skyrocketing. In turn, excess insulin is not able to continually flood your system with no response.

Decreasing carb intake results in lower blood sugar and insulin levels and improves insulin sensitivity.

Insulin and Fat Loss

Insulin is not bad. It is an important hormone in our bodies! However, chronically high insulin levels can cause weight gain. This occurs when elevated insulin prevents the body from breaking down stored body fat. If insulin levels are continually raised, fat continues to be stored.

Keto Benefit #3: Improved Moods and Mental Health!

Another keto benefit is the ability to positively affect mood and mental health. This is due to the antidepressant and mood-stabilizing effects of following a keto dietary pattern.

The development of mood disorders has been linked to inflammation, oxidative stress, and insulin dysfunction. On the other hand, keto can be anti-inflammatory, offers neuroprotection, and improves insulin function.

Following a keto dietary pattern can not only improve these disorders, but it can also help prevent them from ever developing. Changing the way you fuel your body can improve your quality of life.

Keto Benefit #4: Migraine Relief

A personal keto benefit that I’ve experienced is the elimination of migraines and headaches that were otherwise constant while I was eating a high-carb diet.

In one study, ketogenesis was found to be a beneficial strategy in reducing migraines. The response rate, which was greater than 50%, was credited to carbohydrate restriction. The authors of the study suggest that decreased insulin and glucose levels or the therapeutic action of ketones may be responsible for counteracting migraines.

While this mainly reflects my own experience following keto, it is important to remember that we all have our unique reasons for gravitating towards this dietary pattern.

Other Non-Weight Loss Benefits of Keto

  • Alzheimer’s Management
  • Epilepsy Management
  • Reduced Triglycerides
  • Lower Blood Pressure
  • Improved Fertility

Further Resources

The Easiest Way to Start Keto [E01]
Hello Keto course
Keto Mistakes That Everyone Makes [E02]

Timestamp

Intro
1:21 – Keto For Weight Loss
5:18 – Keto Can Be Anti-Inflammatory
6:49 – Weight Loss and Inflammation
8:10 – Blood Sugar Management and Insulin Resistance
9:05 – Insulin and Fat Loss
10:55 – Mood and Mental Health
12:53 – Migraine Relief
16:49 – Other Benefits of Keto

References

Brietzke, E., Mansur, R. B., Subramaniapillai, M., Balanzá-Martínez, V., Vinberg, M., González-Pinto, A., … McIntyre, R. S. (2018). Ketogenic diet as a metabolic therapy for mood disorders: Evidence and developments. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 94, 11–16.

Di Lorenzo C, Pinto A, Ienca R, et al. A Randomized Double-Blind, Cross-Over Trial of very Low-Calorie Diet in Overweight Migraine Patients: A Possible Role for Ketones? Nutrients. 2019;11(8):1742.

Jonasson, L., Guldbrand, H., Lundberg, A. K., & Nystrom, F. H. (2014). Advice to follow a low-carbohydrate diet has a favourable impact on low-grade inflammation in type 2 diabetes compared with advice to follow a low-fat diet. Annals Of Medicine, 46(3), 182–187. 

Noakes, M., Foster, P. R., Keogh, J. B., James, A. P., Mamo, J. C., & Clifton, P. M. (2006). Comparison of isocaloric very low carbohydrate/high saturated fat and high carbohydrate/low saturated fat diets on body composition and cardiovascular risk. Nutrition & Metabolism, 3, 7–13.

Ouchi, N., Parker, J. L., Lugus, J. J., & Walsh, K. (2011). Adipokines in inflammation and metabolic disease. Nature Reviews Immunology, (2), 85.

Smitka, K., & Marešová, D. (2015). Adipose Tissue as an Endocrine Organ: An Update on Pro-inflammatory and Anti-inflammatory Microenvironment. Prague Medical Report, 116(2), 87–111.

Yancy Jr, W. S., Foy, M., Chalecki, A. M., Vernon, M. C., & Westman, E. C. (2005). A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet to treat type 2 diabetes. Nutrition & Metabolism, 2, 34–7.

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