10 graphs showing the power of a ketogenic diet

The ketogenic diet low in carbohydrates and high in fat is a proven way to lose weight (1).

It also has powerful benefits against type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, and may even help treat cancer (2, 3, 4).

In addition, it has been used to treat epilepsy since the 1920s (2).

Here are 10 charts that show the many powerful benefits of a ketogenic diet.

1. It can help you lose more fat

Body weight by Timepoint - Low fat diet versus ketogenic diet

More than 20 studies have shown that a low carbohydrate or ketogenic diet can help you lose weight. Weight loss is usually much greater than with a high-carbohydrate diet (5).

In the graph above, the ketogenic group in the study lost more weight, despite the fact that their protein and calorie intake was equal to the non-ketogenic group (6).

The ketogenic group was also less hungry and found it easier to stick to the diet.

This suggests that a low carbohydrate or ketogenic diet provides a "metabolic advantage" other than a high-carbohydrate diet, although this is still being debated (7, 8, 9, 10).

Bottom line: The ketogenic diet is effective to lose weight. It is superior to a diet high in carbohydrates, and may even provide a metabolic advantage.

2. It helps you reduce harmful belly fat

Change in kg per mass (body mass, fat mass, truck fat mass, lean body mass)

Abdominal obesity, or excess abdominal fat, is a serious risk factor for all types of metabolic diseases (11, 12).

This type of stored fat can increase the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and premature death (12).

Interestingly, a ketogenic diet is a very effective way to lose belly fat.

As shown in the graph above, a ketogenic diet reduced total weight, body fat and abdominal fat much more than a low-fat diet (11).

These findings were more evident in men than in women, probably because men tend to store more fat in this area.

Bottom line: A ketogenic diet can help you lose belly fat, which is closely related to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and reduced life expectancy.

3. It can help you burn more fat during exercise

Source: Volek JS, et al. Metabolic characteristics of the corridors of resistance ultra adapted to keto. Metabolism magazine, 2008

A ketogenic diet improves your metabolic flexibility and helps you burn stored body fat for energy, instead of glucose (9, 13, 14).

The graph shows that runners who are adapted to a ketogenic diet can burn 2.3 times more fat per minute during a workout, compared to runners on a low-fat diet.

In the long term, a greater ability to burn fat can provide various health benefits and protect against obesity (15).

Bottom line: A ketogenic diet can dramatically increase your ability to burn fat during exercise.

4. It can lower blood sugar levels

Source: Dashti HM, et al. Beneficial effects of the ketogenic diet in obese diabetic subjects. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry., 2008

Over the years, high-carbohydrate diets and poor insulin function can lead to high blood sugar levels (16).

High blood sugar levels can lead to type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease and premature aging, to name a few (17, 18, 19, 20).

Interestingly, a ketogenic diet can be highly beneficial for people with diabetes and high blood sugar levels.

As shown in the chart, eliminating carbohydrates from your diet can drastically reduce blood sugar levels in those who have a high blood sugar level (16).

Bottom line: The ketogenic diet is extremely effective in reducing blood sugar levels, a key marker of long-term health.

5. Drastically reduces insulin resistance

Source: Samaha FF, et al. A low carb compared to a low fat diet in severe obesity. New England Journal of Medicine2003

As with blood sugar, your level of insulin resistance is directly related to your health and risk of disease (21, 22, 23).

This study found that a ketogenic diet significantly reduced insulin levels in diabetics, indicating a reduction in insulin resistance (21).

The ketogenic group also lost 12.8 pounds (5.8 kg), while the high-carbohydrate group lost only 4.2 pounds (1.9 kg). Triglyceride levels decreased by 20% in the ketogenic group, compared to only 4% in the high-carbohydrate group.

Bottom line: A ketogenic diet will drastically reduce insulin resistance, one of the most important markers of metabolic health.

6. Can help reduce triglyceride levels

Source: Sharman MJ, et al. Diets that are very low in carbohydrates and low in fat affect fasting lipids and postprandial lipemia differently in overweight men. The nutrition magazine, 2004

Triglycerides in the blood are an important marker of heart health and describe the amount of fat in your blood. High levels are related to an increased risk of heart disease (24, 25).

The increase in risk can reach 30% in men and 75% in women (26).

This study found that a ketogenic diet reduced fasting triglyceride levels by 44%, whereas no changes were found with the low-fat and high-carbohydrate diet (24).

In addition, the amount of fat in the blood after meals was significantly reduced, as shown in the chart above.

The ketogenic diet also improved other markers of the metabolic syndrome. For example, it caused more weight loss, decreased the proportion of triglycerides: HDL and reduced blood sugar levels (24).

Bottom line: Despite a high fat content, the ketogenic diet can cause massive reductions in triglyceride levels in the blood.

7. It can increase HDL cholesterol (the "good")

Source: Dashti HM, et al. Beneficial effects of the ketogenic diet in obese diabetic subjects. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry., 2008

HDL cholesterol plays a key role in cholesterol metabolism by helping your body recycle or get rid of it (27, 28).

Higher levels of HDL are related to a lower risk of heart disease (29, 30, 31).

One of the best ways to increase HDL is to increase the intake of fats in the diet with a low carbohydrate or ketogenic diet (16).

As you can see in the graph above, a ketogenic diet can cause a significant increase in HDL levels (16).

Bottom line: HDL (the "good") cholesterol plays a key role in the metabolism of cholesterol and is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. A ketogenic diet can cause a large increase in HDL levels.

8. The perceived hunger is lower

Source: Johnstone AM, et al. Effects of a ketogenic diet high in protein on hunger, appetite and weight loss in obese men who eat at will. The American magazine of clinical nutrition, 2008

When dieting, constant hunger often leads to overeating or leaving the diet altogether.

One of the main reasons why low-carbohydrate and ketogenic diets are so beneficial for weight loss is the fact that they reduce hunger.

The previous study compared a ketogenic diet with a low-fat diet. The ketogenic diet group reported much less hunger, despite the fact that they lost 46% more weight (6).

Bottom line: Levels of hunger play a key role in the success of the diet. It has been shown that a ketogenic diet reduces hunger compared to a low fat diet.

9. Can reduce epileptic seizures

Source: Martins LD, et al. Effect of the classic ketogenic diet in the treatment of refractory epileptic seizures. The Journal of the De Nutrição Magazine, 2012.

Since the 1920s, researchers and physicians have tested and used the ketogenic diet for the treatment of epilepsy (2).

As shown in this graph above, one study found that 75.8% of epileptic children with a ketogenic diet had fewer seizures after only one month of treatment (32).

In addition, after 6 months, half of the patients had at least a 90% decrease in the frequency of seizures, while 50% of these patients reported a complete remission.

At the beginning of the study, a large majority of subjects were malnourished and had a healthy weight. By the end of the study, all the subjects had reached a healthy weight and had improved their nutritional status (32).

One year after the diet, 5 of the 29 participants remained seizure free, and several of the participants reduced or completely stopped their anticonvulsant medication.

Bottom line: A ketogenic diet may help reduce the frequency of seizures in epileptic children. In some cases, diet can eliminate seizures altogether.

10. Can reduce the size of the tumor

Source: Zhou W, et al. The ketogenic diet restricted in calories, an effective alternative therapy for malignant brain cancer. Nutrition and metabolism., 2007.

Medical interventions for brain cancer may fail in the growth of tumor cells and often adversely affect the health and vitality of normal brain cells (33).

This study compared a normal diet (shown as SD-UR) with a ketogenic meal plan with higher caloric content (KD-UR) and with restricted calories (KD-R) in mice with brain cancer.

The bars in the graph represent the size of the tumor. As you can see, the two tumors were reduced by 65% ​​and by 35% in the ketogenic group with calorie restriction (KD-R) (33).

Interestingly, there was no change in the high-calorie ketogenic group.

Other studies in humans and animals show incredible benefits against cancer, especially when detected early (34, 35, 36).

Although the research is still in its early stages, it is likely that a ketogenic diet will be used in conjunction with more conventional cancer treatments.

Reference: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-graphs-power-of-ketogenic-diet


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